Felon trying to get name on ballots

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 22, 1999

VIDALIA, La. – James Skipper of Ferriday is appealing a judge’s decision to bar him from running for a Concordia Parish Police Jury seat on the grounds that he pleaded guilty to a felony five years ago.

Skipper pleaded guilty in July 1994 to a charge of possession of cocaine base with intent to distribute in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, according to records in Seventh Judicial District Court in Vidalia.

Carey Cook, who has been District 1, Place A’s police juror for 14 years, filed suit against Skipper, charging that the Louisiana Constitution bars felons from seeking public office.

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&uot;It’s nothing personal,&uot;&160;Cook said. &uot;It’s just that the law says that if you’ve done certain things, you can’t run. But it’s his right to appeal, I can’t argue with that.&uot;

Judge Leo Booth ruled in Cook’s favor Friday, but Skipper appealed the ruling this week. The appeal was scheduled to be filed with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Lake Charles, Wednesday.

In his appeal, Skipper said that, under the election code, he was given less than 24 hours after he was served with the suit to appear in court.

That part of the code, he claims, is unconstitutional in that it denied him &uot;sufficient time to retain counsel or to have counsel appointed for him.&uot;

Pending the outcome of that appeal, Skipper is still listed with the Concordia Parish Clerk of Court’s office as a candidate. Skipper could not be reached for comment Wednesday and his attorney, Philip Hunter of Alexandria, did not return calls.