State Troopers’ Temporary Restraining Order dissolved, but Judge Johnson acknowledges court may hear subsequent challenges on troopers’ allegations of Constitutional rights violations.

LSP Troopers Arrested for alleged excessive force, turning off body cameras, and lying about past arrests  (left to right):  Jacob Brown, Randall Dickerson, George Harper, and Dakota DeMoss.  (Ouachita Correctional Center and Franklin Parish Sheriff’s Office via AP).

To say that our feature last week entailing three Louisiana State Police (LSP) troopers’ successful obtaining of a Temporary Restraining Order stopping the administrative investigations of their alleged use of excessive force, turning off of body cameras, and lying entailing prior arrests was our most viewed post ever in the history of Sound Off Louisiana is no understatement!

The reason for that is directly attributable to Associated Press reporter Jim Mustian directly linking our feature with his own the next day.  Mustian’s direct link, in turn, led to many other major national publications including a direct link to our feature as well.  A few examples include this Washington Post feature, this New York Daily News’ feature, and even far-flung publications like this Aljazerra feature, which not only directly linked our feature but even moved that link to the top of their own feature.

We’re only aware of one publication which chose to publish material on the matter without so much as referencing the first word that much of its material originated from us, and that would be this Advocate feature from our own hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Of course, we guess we shouldn’t be surprised at The Advocate’s slight of us given that it took a full week for The Advocate to even run with ANYTHING concerning our original feature exposing the Ronald Greene matter.  Mustian, who is a former Advocate reporter, immediately followed up our feature on Greene and, once coverage was appearing all over the world, apparently the top brass at The Advocate decided maybe an article on their part just may be in order!

We also gained a ton of subscribers from last week’s post, so we want to welcome all of our new subscribers.  We hope you’ll be happy with our features, and we also hope you’re quite content with the price of subscribing!  We promise, you won’t EVER see ANY form of advertising on this blog because we steadfastly will not accept advertising dollars, nor will we accept donations from our subscribers.

Of course, long-time subscribers may recall one anonymous follower of our blog who did send us a snail-mail letter stating that we could expect a monthly payment in the mail if we would merely agree to refrain from casting former Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chairman Ronnie Jones in a negative light.  In the preceding feature, we expressed appreciation for the offer,  but we also let whomever sent the anonymous letter and all other parties know that we’ll shut this blog down in a second before accepting a dime from anyone!  Simply put, we intend to report on the facts as we’re able to substantiate them without any regard for advertisers (since we won’t ever have any) or donors (again, because we won’t have any).

Now, just as The Advocate chose to deploy our material for the linked feature above, we’ll invite them to do the same for today’s feature because there was no reporter from The Advocate in 19th JDC Judge Ron Johnson’s courtroom earlier today to report upon his ruling entailing the troopers’ Temporary Restraining Order.

Much of the court arguments were repetitive of the Troopers’ Appeal Brief (though LSP attorney Faye Morrison argues it’s only “couched as an appeal,” and is, in reality, a direct attempt to impede LSP’s investigation and try to keep the troopers from losing their jobs), together with LSP’s Counter Brief.  For that reason, we’re going to repeat our video of each side’s arguments in full at the LSPC meeting of March 11, 2021 in the video below:


Entirety of arguments of Michael DuBos (troopers’ attorney) and counter arguments of LSP attorney Faye Morrison at LSPC meeting of March 11, 2021 regarding whether the LSPC has the authority to stop an administrative investigation due to rules violations regarding conducting such investigations.

As we originally reported, Judge Johnson asked for submissions of Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law by Monday, March 15, 2021, and he further indicated that he would make his ruling either on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 or Wednesday, March 17, 2021.  Instead, Judge Johnson chose to utilize an already-scheduled court hearing of today (Thursday, March 18, 2021) to make his final ruling.

Judge Johnson indicated that the Court “struggled” with the issue of exactly which venue (LSPC v. District Court) is appropriate for a matter wherein the Louisiana Legislature has granted exclusive jurisdiction to a body (in this case, the LSPC) versus potential “hybrid jurisdiction” when an allegation of Louisiana Constitutional Rights violations are asserted.  The troopers assert that, because the administrative investigation was not initiated within 14 days of LSP top brass becoming aware of the incidents, their rights have been violated.

Morrison countered that there have been no Louisiana Constitutional violations but rather only alleged violations of LSPC rules regarding the conducting of administrative investigations.  She emphasized that, while the LSPC has jurisdiction over the matter, the LSPC cannot grant the specific remedy being sought by the troopers, which is for the investigations to be stopped.  She indicated that, when an alleged violation of the rules is filed (i.e. a trooper appeals any discipline imposed by LSP Colonel Lamar Davis to the LSPC), the available remedies are for the LSPC to either reduce, modify, or reverse the discipline.

DuBos, who participated in the Court hearing via Zoom, countered that Morrison’s statement that, “the LSPC cannot grant the remedy,” sought by the troopers is a tacit admission that the LSPC lacks jurisdiction and therefore adjudication in 19th JDC is appropriate.  DuBos also argued that LSP asserts that the LSPC can only concern itself with appeals of discipline.  He thus emphasized, just as he did beginning at the 8-minute mark of the above video, that, in making that assertion, LSP is essentially saying that troopers must, “Wait ’til it’s all over.  Wait until everything has all happened, and then you can clean up the mess.  Let us do the damage then………”  Morrison countered emphatically that, “no trooper has the right not to be investigated for alleged wrongdoing!”

Judge Johnson also inquired what property rights have been violated that would rise to the level of a violation of Louisiana’s Constitution.  Morrison pounced all over that inquiry like a basketball power forward who’d just been provided a perfect lob just above the basket by a point guard as she wound up for the basketball-equivalent of a thunder-dunk (yeah, it’s March Madness time!).  Morrison emphasized to Judge Johnson in response to his inquiry that, “These troopers remain on their jobs.  They are not behind a desk or on patrol, but they are at their homes continuing to be paid for up to 400 hours of administrative leave.”  Morrison’s point is that there have been no property rights violations.

Those 400 hours of administrative leave would be the “taxpayer-funded vacations” that:  1) LSP Col. Lamar Davis lamented indicating that, “the public is having an outcry because, hey, police officers are being treated special;” and, #2) Belinda Parker-Brown, founder of Louisiana United International, voicing frustration that, “taxpayers are being burdened” with the costs of keeping rogue troopers on the job and they are being allowed, “to go on taxpayer-funded vacations for murdering innocent people.”

Judge Johnson rendered his decision in open court in stating that he, “simply cannot justify not permitting the agency to gather information and facts” pertinent to the incidents.  He therefore ruled to dissolve the Temporary Restraining Order but indicated that, if troopers feel after the matter is concluded that Constitutional rights have been violated, they may return to 19th JDC to take that issue up with the Court.  [Sidebar:  We may be wrong, but we believe there’s a statute that says an appeal of an LSPC ruling must go directly to the First Circuit Court of Appeal and thus bypass 19th JDC.]

Prior to issuing his ruling, Judge Johnson stated that the original Temporary Restraining Order had already been modified so as to lift the block that had arisen on eight (8) other administrative investigations presently underway by LSP entailing matters other than the three troopers DuBos represents but which arose as offshoot investigations from investigations of those same troopers.

So, barring an expeditious action by Col. Davis, we taxpayers could be in for yet another exhausting of 400 hours (10 weeks!) of paid administrative leave, exhausting of compensatory time, exhausting of time-and-a-half compensatory time, exhausting of annual leave and, if no action is taken after all that (as was the case for Michael Satcher and Kasha Domingue, who was FINALLY terminated two days ago), potentially leave without pay.

What should be obvious to anyone with even a modicum of intelligence is that Louisiana needs to operate its state government employment (including LSP troopers) the same way so many other states have for decades, which is to be an at-will employment state.

What’s happening is that taxpayers are being raped by state employees who feel emboldened to engage in activities which would get a private-sector employee fired in a nanosecond.  Davis makes that point at the link above, and the public is beyond fed up with it, but no elected official at the Louisiana State Legislature nor Gov. Edwards (who is probably as pro-state-employee, anti-taxpayer of a Governor to occupy the Mansion in the last 50 years!) seems inclined to do anything to fix the problem!

The results of our antiquated civil service system are matters such as we’ve illustrated over the last seven days entailing these three LSP troopers, and it is WAY BEYOND time that it be remedied for the average, everyday taxpayer in Louisiana!

If you would like to be added to our Sound Off Louisiana email list to be notified of future posts, simply go to our home page and scroll to the bottom (mobile devices) or to the top of the right-hand column (desktops).  Supply your email address within the subscribe box.  You’ll then receive an automated email from Word Press, and all you have to do is click on the blue “confirm follow” bar contained within that email, and you’ll begin receiving great posts such as the preceding one above.

Three arrested Louisiana State Troopers obtain Temporary Restraining Order stopping administrative investigations; assert Col. Davis is abusing his power and that State Police Commission is the only vehicle to rein him in.

Attorney Michael DuBos, who strongly argued before the Louisiana State Police Commission on Thursday, March 11, 2021, that the administrative investigations into three recently-arrested troopers he represents should be stopped because LSP Col. Lamar Davis is abusing his authority and the investigations are not timely.

On February 8, 2021, Louisiana State Police (LSP) troopers Dakota DeMoss, Randall Dickerson, and George Harper were arrested for alleged excessive force, turning off body cameras, and lying about arrests.

On March 4, 2021, their attorney, Michael DuBos, succeeded in obtaining this court-ordered Temporary Restraining Order stopping the LSP administrative investigations on the three troopers dead in their tracks until March 18, 2021 with the intent for the Order to be extended to a Preliminary Injunction.

LSP, in turn, filed this  Motion to Dissolve the Temporary Restraining Order the very next day, March 5, 2021.   The hearing for LSP’s Motion was conducted in Judge Ron Johnson’s Courtroom at 1:00 p.m. today (Thursday, March 11, 2021), and Sound Off Louisiana’s founder, Robert Burns, attended the court hearing.

DuBos lit into LSP Col. Lamar Davis in essentially stating that Davis is abusing his authority and attempting to open up old cases which have been handled by former LSP Col. Kevin Reeves and basically saying, “If we had been in charge, we would have handled these matters differently.”

DuBos also stressed that, in all the years he’s been litigating matters like this, he has never encountered an instance wherein a criminal investigation was initiated prior to an administrative investigation.  He accused Davis of instituting the criminal investigations before the administrative investigations, “because they get headlines whereas administrative investigations do not.”

LSP attorney Morrison argued that the Temporary Restraining Order has not only stopped the administrative investigations of the three troopers DuBos represents, but that all investigations that have been offshoots of those investigations have also been stopped, “due to the broad wording of the Temporary Restraining Order.”  Morrison also stated that no evidence has been submitted that a Captain had been notified to trigger a 14-day clock to start running regarding when an administrative investigation has to start.  DuBos countered that all anyone has to do is read LSP’s filing wherein it’s stated that, “the highest levels of State Police have reviewed these matters.”

DuBos also stressed that LSP Sergeant Gustave Bethea has, “confirmed in writing that LSP Internal Affairs has a leak,” and he further stated that Internal Affairs matters have been leaked to WBRZ (Channel 2 in Baton Rouge)’s Investigative Reporter Chris Nakamoto.

In the support documentation for the Temporary Restraining Order DuBos supplied, LSP placed some interesting text messages in the Arrest Warrant for Dakoto DeMoss entailing an apparent reveling among him and his colleagues about an “ass whoop in” inflicted upon an arrestee (see pages 22 and 23 of the Temporary Restraining Order link above).  From that document:

The troopers then escorted Harris to one of their marked police vehicles. As they placed Harris in the back seat, Tpr. Harper threatened him by saying, “stupid motherfucker, I hope you act up when we get to the fucking jail. I am going to punish you, dumb bitch. What the fuck is wrong with you, stupid motherfucker. ”

It should be noted that the system sends the messages out in a similar fashion as group messages on a cellular phone. When a message is sent out, it went out to each of the four troopers simultaneously.

Jacob Brown “How was his attitude at the jail?”

George Harper “Complete silence”

Jacob Brown “Lmao”

Dakota DeMoss “lol he was still digesting that ass whoop in”

Jacob Brown “its gonna take him a couple days … ”

Jacob Brown “he gonna be sore tomorrow for sure”

Jacob Brown “BET he wont run from a full grown bear again”

Dakota DeMoss “Bet he don’t even cross into LA anymore”

George Harper “GRIZZLY Nah he gonna spread the word that’s for damn sure”

Jacob Brown “lmao”

Dakota DeMoss “he’s gonna have nightmares for a long time”

Jacob Brown “lmao…..warms my heart knowing we could educate that young man”

Dakota DeMoss “lolol”

Larry Shappley “haha”

Three hours before the hearing in Judge Johnson’s courtroom, DuBos lit into LSP attorney Faye Morrison, accusing her of, “not correctly stating the law.”  He interrupted her statements to the LSPC, which prompted Chairman Eulis Simien, Jr. to tell him not to interrupt and to, “show a little politeness here!”  Let’s take a look, shall we?:


DuBos, after describing himself as, “a little old country lawyer in Monroe,” indicates that LSP has to follow the law just like anyone else and later states that LSP Legal Counsel Faye Morrison is, “not correctly stating the law.”

Now, DuBos stated to Judge Johnson that, at the prior LSPC meeting of only a few hours before, “LSP did not even argue that LSPC has jurisdiction.”  Morrison countered that LSP has never even questioned LSPC’s jurisdiction.  Judge Johnson then stated, “Well, that’s what he just said,” to which Morrison responded, “I know.”

That’s the nice thing about a camera!  Here’s the entirety of the matter with not one second edited out so that the issue in controversy can be resolved:

 
Entirety of DuBos’ arguments for the administrative proceedings to be stopped and/or an investigation into his clients’ complaint entailing Col. Davis, followed by  LSP’s counter arguments.

As is evidenced by the preceding video, the LSPC declined to initiate any investigation into whether Col. Davis is abusing his power; furthermore, they deferred until the next LSPC meeting the question of whether or not the body even has the authority to initiate such an investigation.

At the court hearing at 1:00 p.m., Judge Johnson directed both parties to submit to him written Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law by Monday, March 15, 2021.  He further indicated that he would then render his decision either on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 or Wednesday, March 17, 2021.

Morrison then emphasized the fact that LSP’s hands are tied right now with investigations on hold and that time deadlines apply.  Judge Johnson responded, “that’s why I told you I’d make my ruling so quickly.”

If you would like to be added to our Sound Off Louisiana email list to be notified of future posts, simply go to our home page and scroll to the bottom (mobile devices) or to the top of the right-hand column (desktops).  Supply your email address within the subscribe box.  You’ll then receive an automated email from Word Press, and all you have to do is click on the blue “confirm follow” bar contained within that email, and you’ll begin receiving great posts such as the preceding one above.

Evidence becoming overwhelming that Louisiana State Trooper Association efforts to oust Braxton, Derbonne rooted in steadfast resolve to make political campaign contributions.

A stack of depositions taken recently in the defamation civil trial of Braxton v. Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA) and Jay Oliphant.

Not long back, we stated that we’d be publishing a multi-part, in-depth series on the latest developments in the civil trial of former Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) member Calvin Braxton, who is suing the Louisiana State Trooper’s Association (LSTA), which serves as a “fraternal organization representing the men and women of the Louisiana State Police,”  for defamation.  Notwithstanding the fact that many individuals have stressed to us that the LSTA is not a union, it is often loosely referred to as a labor union, including by one news reporter, an episode of which will be provided in this feature.

We have already published several features on Braxton; however, since it has been a while since we have and also taking into consideration the fact that our subscribership has increased substantially since our early posts on Braxton, we think the best thing to do on this initial feature of our series is to sort of review everything from scratch entailing Braxton via short, bullet-point items presented in a chronological table.  That table follows:

Date (Timeframe)Event Transpiring
June 10, 2015Former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal appoints Calvin Braxton to LSPC.
December 4, 2015LSP Trooper Jayson Linebaugh pulls over Braxton's daughter for DWI.
June 2, 2016 (a stunning 181 days after the incident on 12/4/15).Then LSP-Captain (Troop E) Jay Oliphant authors this incident report essentially stating Braxton is an egotistical, arrogant, power-hungry individual willing to throw his weight around to obtain special treatment for his family (namely his daughter).
June 24, 2016At the LSTA convention in Lafayette, open outcries are allegedly made for Cathy Derbonne, former Executive Director of the LSPC, to be terminated.
July 16, 2016LSTA attorney Floyd Falcon sends Gov. Edwards this letter calling upon Edwards to initiate proceedings to remove Braxton from his LSPC position.
July 19, 2016Ronnie Jones, Gov. Edwards' former Gaming Control Board Chairman, while on a conference call, allegedly states that, "Gov. Edwards' office has told Derbonne to 'shut the f--- up.'" (About illegal campaign contributions to Edwards' and other campaigns by the LSTA).
November 9, 2016The Louisiana State Board of Ethics, acting on a filing by Derbonne with that agency, imposes this $5,000 fine on the LSTA for the campaign contributions.
January 7, 2017Derbonne, with Braxton voting "no" on acceptance, tenders her resignation from the LSPC which, in turn, votes to "accept" that hurriedly-slapped-together, on-the-fly resignation letter. Derbonne has asserted that the resignation letter was strong-armed out of her in a closed-door LSPC Executive Session minutes before the letter was drafted.
Early 2017Jay Oliphant, author of the 6/2/16 incident report referenced above, makes this Facebook post expressing concerns for the safety of himself and his family entailing Braxton.
February 20, 2017As a Commissioner, Braxton openly ponders "how liable are we?" entailing the Derbonne matter.
June 19, 2017LSTA attorney Floyd Falcon sends Gov. Edwards this follow-up letter asking him whether he (Edwards) is going to proceed with measures to remove Braxton from the LSPC.
July 17, 2017Fox8 (New Orleans)'s Lee Zurik broadcast this feature wherein Braxton is confronted head-on about Oliphant's incident report referenced above. Zurik's feature is soon followed by this WWL-4 feature. PLEASE SEE CONSOLIDATED VIDEO # 1 BENEATH THIS TABLE FOR THE TWO FEATURES.
July 21, 2017Braxton "resigns" from LSPC. [Note: Our public records request of Gov. Edwards' office for a signed resignation letter was fruitless, with his office supplying only a news release that Braxton had "resigned."]. We will have MUCH more to say on this matter in an upcoming feature of this series.
January 9, 2018Derbonne files this "constructive discharge lawsuit" against the LSPC. Note: Judge Morvant tossed the suit based on Derbonne as an employee having no whistleblower protection. Derbonne appealed to the First Circuit, which overturned Morvant's ruling and remanded the case back to Morvant. The LSPC then appealed to the Louisiana Supreme Court, which declined to hear the matter.
February 8, 2018LSTA makes plea before the LSPC for it to give a green light to political contributions, even using representatives of child cancer organizations to plead with commissioners for such contributions to be approved by the LSPC.
May 10, 2018Braxton sues the LSTA and Jay Oliphant for defamation alleging that the incident report of 6/2/16 above is a fabrication.
May 17, 2018WWL-TV in New Orleans airs this May 17, 2018 feature on Braxton's defamation lawsuit against the LSTA and Jay Oliphant. NOTE: The feature is also provided below as the second video of this feature.
August 15, 2018LSTA sues the LSPC stating that the restriction imposed prohibiting it from making political contributions is "unconstitutional." NOTE: Sound Off Louisiana is the ONLY media outlet to even report on this lawsuit's existence.
February 21, 2020Braxton adds LSP to his LSTA civil lawsuit stating that he has been "falsely accused of murder."
May 15, 2020LSTA adds Jason Hannaman, Derbonne's successor, as defendant alleging liability for having drafted and having distributed a circular prohibiting political campaign contributions.
July 1, 2020Then-LSP Col. Kevin Reeves, having already promoted Jay Oliphant twice up to Lt. Col., dictates a pay raise for Oliphant, taking his salary to $155,275 a year.
January 4, 2021Reversing one of two promotions under former LSP Col. Reeves, newly-installed Col. Lamar Davis demotes Jay Oliphant back to Major.
February 1, 2021Hearing is conducted in 19th JDC Don Johnson's courtroom on LSTA v. LSPC entailing the latter's efforts to have the former's lawsuit seeking a judgment to permit political contributions dismissed.
February 14, 2021Judge Johnson issues this ruling drafted by LSTA attorney Floyd Falcon denying LSPC's Exceptions to the LSTA lawsuit on political contributions, thus permitting the litigation to continue subject to a potential LSPC appeal to the First Circuit if it so chooses.

The video of Zurik and WWL-TV’s Katie Moore’s features as they pertain to Braxton’s allegations of defamation are presented in the following video:


July 17, 2017 features of Fox 8’s Lee Zurik and WWL’s Katie Moore as they related to what Braxton asserts are defamatory statements made about him initiated by the LSTA and Jay Oliphant.


WWL-TV in New Orleans airs this May 17, 2018 feature on Braxton’s defamation lawsuit against the LSTA and Jay Oliphant.

What should be obvious to anyone with two functioning brain cells is that the LSTA is going to annihilate anybody and anything that stands in the organization’s way of making political campaign contributions, and Derbonne and Braxton are the road kill to demonstrate that fact!  Additional road kill would be evidenced by retired LSP Trooper Leon “Bucky” Millet and three other LSP retirees who filed the original complaint with the LSPC’s Cathy Derbonne objecting to their dues as LSTA retiree members being used for political campaign contributions.  What was the LSTA’s reaction?  The LSTA immediately expelled all four former LSP troopers from the LSTA!  Anybody feel the word “annihilate” above is too strong?

What any person using logic ought to ask is, “Why is the LSTA so emphatic and dogmatic that it is going to make political campaign contributions come Hell or high water?”

It just may be that making such contributions assists greatly in DAs like East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore finding creative ways to perform acts like dropping all felony charges against former LSTA Executive Director David Young.  From the preceding feature:

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore said Tuesday, March 9, his office carefully reviewed the facts of the case before deciding not to move forward with prosecution.

We can only openly question if an African American individual had engaged in the kind of reckless behavior Young demonstrated on the video of this WAFB feature if DA Moore would have been so creative?

Regarding Young, yes, he’s the same man who served as a “straw donor” to enable the LSTA to make illegal campaign contributions into Gov. Edwards’ and other politicians’ campaigns!

We’ve now concluded our first installment on Calvin Braxton.  Our second installment will entail a very recent development in the Braxton litigation that we believe everyone will find most intriguing.

If you would like to be added to our Sound Off Louisiana email list to be notified of future posts, simply go to our home page and scroll to the bottom (mobile devices) or to the top of the right-hand column (desktops).  Supply your email address within the subscribe box.  You’ll then receive an automated email from Word Press, and all you have to do is click on the blue “confirm follow” bar contained within that email, and you’ll begin receiving great posts such as the preceding one above.