23 July 2009
normally in louisiana a political subdivision is exempt from complying with any judgment rendered against it.
the ongoing case of richard j. heath v. city of alexandria, louisiana could be unique in that it involves louisiana public records law, political subdivisions and judgments against them and the political subdivision judgment exemption law.
looks like we are going to find out if the complete judgment that the third circuit court of appeal rendered against the city of alexandria, la. of which $2,500.00 of it, the city is so far refusing to pay: will stick.
the third circuit court of appeal wrote that an alexandrian named richard heath, properly filed a public records request to the city of alexandria, la. on 25 january 2008 and that the city did not provide him with the public records he sought; until well after 14 march 2008 -- 45+ days beyond the five day rule provided for in the public records law.
supposedly, the louisiana public records law are "enshrined" in the constitution, as is, the political subdivision judgment exemption law. because public records law judgments apply only to political subdivisions and we guess, that since the legislature provided for the awarding of judgments therein, then, the theory goes, in a public records law judgment the political subdivision judgment exemption law does not apply and the judgment is enforceable like any other judgment; including seizing a political subdivisions property and assets to satisfy it.
this would seem to make sense because why would the third circuit order an award that they must have known beforehand is -- due to constitutional and statutory limitations, unenforceable and likely to be scoffed at? additionally, they noted how la. r.s. 44:35(e)(1) provides for a civil penalty award of up to a $100.00 per day that the city was violating public records law.
judge randow wouldnt order a civil penalty and in their reversal to which the third circuit found three assignments of error on judge randow's part, they wouldnt either -- seeing how courteous the city of alexandria was in their treatment of mr. heath, wrote judge john d. saunders for the three judge's who decided the appeal which included judges michael g. sullivan and elizabeth a. pickett. which makes us wonder just how they define courteous, when, after all -- alexandria was suing mr. heath and as the third circuit pointed out was unlawfully denying him public records, including never complying with one portion of public records law.
mr. heath wanted public records which showed how the city attorney was authorized to file a lawsuit against him. the city attorney's balking, for all we know, was the result of his being caught without the legal documentation and was a ploy to buy him time to manufacture them.
if mr. heath had went the discovery route, like the city attorney wanted, this would have given the city time to get their documents and stories straight and no one would have ever been the wiser.
this theory may or may not be true but considering that this is louisiana, it was certainly worth the trial court and the appeals court time pondering it. both courts should have vigorously enforced the public records law and awarded mr. heath the maximum civil penalty -- not, as in the case of the third circuit, pay compliments to the city for treating mr. heath so well. that was lame.
oh yeah, alexandria never did provide mr. heath with a "a final written determination as to whether he had the right of access to the records," they were lawfully required to provide him with either.
soft on political and governmental corruption judges -- like these four, essentially do the political subdivisions bidding by selectively ignoring and half-assed enforcing public records law.
attorneys are less likely to take on a public records law case -- especially for someone who cant afford to outright hire an attorney to see the case through the end, when they know the deck is already stacked against them.
so now the city of alexandria, is on record saying that they will not comply with the judgment;
mr. heath has filed a motion that the city council be found in constructive contempt of court [la code of civil procedure 224 a (2)]; requiring all seven of them to appear and show cause why they should not be jailed until the judgment is paid.
we hope that judge randow grants mr. heath's motion. we think that the judge should go even further and lock-up the entire city hall until it can be investigated and the citizens of alexandria can finally find out what -- in their name is going on there. this is a perfect opportunity to identify and destroy the organized crime gangs that control alexandria.
unfortunately, judge randow's prior rulings in this suit as well as some others, suggests that he is a corruption cover-up artist and not really a judge looking for truth or justice.
richard j. heath motion for contempt of court
there is an interesting caveat at article 224 (8) the aforementioned part of the code civil de l'etat de la lousianne that deals with a constructive contempt of court. it reads:
comment by a newspaper or other medium for the dissemination of news upon a case or proceeding, then pending and undecided, which constitutes a clear, present, and imminent danger of obstructing or interfering with the orderly administration of justice, by either influencing the court to reach a particular decision, or embarrassing it in the discharge of its judicial duties;we could see how this could possibly be a useful rule up to the parties first court appearance or ruling in some cases, here, (assuming the theory of public records law superiority holds out) however, it would seem to be especially unconstitutionally vague and/or a prior restraint on free speech. particularly since it involves a political subdivision, elected officials, governmental bureaucratic intrigue all within the citizens right and request to know the innermost workings of same.
follow the link to learn more about richard j. heath v city of alexandria, louisiana.
Posted by wst... at 13:28