Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, whose office purportedly told whistleblower Cathy Derbonne to “shut the f— up” entailing her complaints regarding Edwards’ alleged unconstitutional appointments to the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC).
UPDATE (July 30, 2019): Judge Morvant did dismiss Derbonne’s suit using the rationale (and citing a previous case entailing the New Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office) that it was merely a part of Derbonne’s job duties to investigate and report wrongdoing. Therefore, in conformity with that New Iberia case, she was ineligible for whistleblower protection status.
On January 28, 2018, we published a feature on former Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) Executive Director Cathy Derbonne’s constructive discharge lawsuit wherein Derbonne averred, in paragraph 17 of her litigation, that Ronnie Jones, Gov. Edwards’ Gaming Control Board Chairman, stated that he’d left a meeting in Gov. Edwards’ office at which Derbonne was supposedly told to “shut the f— up” entailing Edwards’ unconstitutional appointments to the LSPC.
Attorney General Jeff Landry, acting through an Assistant Attorney General outside legal counsel and tasked with the somewhat awkward obligation to defend the LSPC, filed a Peremptory Exception of No Cause of Action which largely focused on the fact that most of Derbonne’s allegations entailed the actions of people or entities other than the LSPC (most notably Gov. Edwards and former LSP Col. Mike Edmonson). In February of 2019, the first hearing of the Derbonne litigation was held before 19th JDC Judge William Morvant, who concurred with Landry’s arguments and granted the peremptory exception.
Morvant also granted the obligatory 30-day window for Derbonne to amend her petition to attempt to cure the peremptory exception. Accordingly, on March 12, 2019, Derbonne amended the petition. Thereafter, Landry, again through an Assistant Attorney General outside legal firm, reasserted the peremptory exception. On Friday, July 19, 2019, Derbonne filed her Opposition Memorandum to the LSPC’s reasserted exception in preparation for a court hearing in Judge Morvant’s courtroom on Monday, July 29, 2019.
In today’s Sound Off Louisiana feature, founder Robert Burns covers some of the highlights of Derbonne’s opposition memorandum linked above:
Burns provides brief historical background leading to Derbonne v. LSPC and covers the highlights of her opposition memorandum.
(Note: the above paragraph has an incorrect date, and July 19, 2017 should be July 19, 2016).
(Note: the “particular gubernatorial candidate” referenced in the preceding paragraph is none other than current Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.)
The above-referenced Edmonson pay raise even caught the eye of the mainstream media:
Derbonne’s attorney also strongly argues that Derbonne’s “employer” is the State of Louisiana, which includes the Governor, such that her whistleblowing activities, which directly targeted Gov. Edwards as the perpetrator of the wrongdoing, are protected actions on Derbonne’s part.
Finally, the lawsuit and the opposition memorandum both reference a purported illegal appointment of Jason Starnes as de facto LSP Undersecretary. As long-time subscribes to Sound Off Louisiana are aware, it was that appointment that led to the most heated exchange we’ve ever videotaped in our history. The exchange, which has now been viewed over 1,800 times, transprired between then-LSP Member Lloyd Grafton and Member Jared Caruso-Riecke. For those who have not already viewed the hostile exchange between them, here’s the video for your viewing pleasure:
Grafton and Riecke go at it entailing former LSP Col. Edmonson’s appointment of Jason Starnes as de facto Undersecretary.
The court hearing is Monday. If Judge Morvant grants the reasserted peremptory exception a second time, the only avenue left is an appeal to the First Circuit Court of Appeal. If, on the other hand, he overrules the peremptory exception (i.e. basically says the amended petition now states a valid cause of action), the case proceeds unless the LSPC opts to appeal Morvant’s ruling. Such an appeal, however, is extremely unlikely because appeals courts tend to be very reluctant to deny a plaintiff his “day in court” once a district judge has ruled that he is entitled to have that day in court.
Either way, we’ll update this feature to provide our subscribers with Judge Morvant’s ruling at the hearing of Monday, July 29, 2019.
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