Appeals court disqualifies Skipper

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 27, 1999

VIDALIA, La. – An appeals court has ruled that James Skipper should be disqualified as a candidate for the Concordia Parish Police Jury because 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 court records.

Police Juror Carey Cook filed suit Sept. 15 against Skipper in Seventh Judicial District Court, charging that under the Louisiana Constitution, a felon cannot run for office. Two days later, Judge Leo Boothe agreed, disqualifying Skipper as a candidate.

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Skipper appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Lake Charles. On Monday afternoon, Judges Sullivan, Doucet and Pickett affirmed Boothe’s decision.

&uot;That’s what I&160;thought would happen … at least, I&160;hoped it would,&uot;&160;Cook said Monday. &uot;It’s nothing personal against Mr. Skipper. But everyone should have to abide by the same guidelines.&uot;

Neither Skipper nor his attorney, Philip Hunter of Alexandria, could be reached Monday to see if they would appeal that decision to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

If so, Skipper would still be listed with the Concordia Parish Clerk of Court’s Office as a candidate until the Supreme Court ruled on his appeal.

In his appeal, Skipper said that the election code was unconstitutional in that it denied him &uot;sufficient time to retain counsel or to have counsel appointed for him.&uot;

In a decision written for the panel, Sullivan said the code’s constitutionality had been upheld by previous decisions.