Lipsey takes stand

Published 12:01 am Saturday, November 17, 2007

VIDALIA — The closing arguments in the trial for the contested Concordia Parish sheriff’s will be at 8 a.m. today.

Fourth Judicial District Judge Sharon Marchman will render a verdict Monday morning.

Glenn Lipsey filed the contest after he lost the election by 21 votes to incumbent Randy Maxwell.

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The Lipsey legal team rested their case at approximately 4:45 p.m. Friday, and Maxwell’s lawyers rested 15 minutes later.

Lipsey took the witness stand late Friday afternoon, and was questioned about how much information his campaign had and how many votes they had planned to contest before Election Day.

Questioned by his lawyer Brady King if at the time of the election he had any personal knowledge about possible unqualified voters, Lipsey responded he did not know anything at that time.

“I got calls from people after the election to help with documentation,” he said.

Upon cross-examination by Maxwell’s attorney Tom Jones asked Lipsey about 14 votes his campaign had pre-filed to contest.

“Most of these (pre-filed contested votes) are employees of the sheriff’s office,” Jones said. “How did you know to investigate them?”

Lipsey replied that people involved with his campaign had reason to doubt the voters’ qualifications.

“We investigated whatever names were given to us,” he said.

“After the election, we started receiving more and more information about those who might or might not live here,” Lipsey said. “Some of those turned out to, and some did not.”

One of the crucial arguments for the Lipsey campaign was that non-residents of Concordia Parish were allowed to vote in the election.

When Jones asked Lipsey why he did not investigate possible unqualified voters before the election, Lipsey said he had not had the time or resources to do so.

Representing the Secretary of State’s office, attorney Steven Hawkland asked Lipsey how he was able to conduct an investigation after the election if he did not have the resources before it.

Gesturing to a group of supporters, Lipsey said, “Many of these people here in the courtroom.”

Member of the Concordia Parish Election Commission Justin Conner also testified Friday.

Conner said as a member of the election commission he had contacted the attorney general’s office for an opinion about the procedure for the election commission’s approval of those allowed to participate in the handicapped voting program.

Lipsey’s campaign has contested several of the votes cast in a nursing home on the grounds the persons who voted were allowed to participate in the handicapped voting program — in other words, to vote with assistance — without being qualified to do so.

The commission was supposed to approve all those allowed to participate in the program, but did not do so, Conner said.

Registrar of Voters Golda Ensminger later testified about the same matter.

The commission had granted a previous registrar permission to approve those in the handicapped program without prior approval from the commission, “as long as all the paperwork was in order,” Ensminger said.

“I continued doing what (the former registrar) was doing,” Ensminger said. “I never gave it a second thought.”

When Conner raised objections to how the handicapped program was being implemented earlier this year, the commission voted to grant Ensminger the same authority as the previous registrar, she said.

At a later meeting, the commission reviewed those who were allowed to participate in the program and no one — including Conner — objected, Ensminger said.

Upon cross-examination by Lipsey’s attorney Sherri Morris, Ensminger said the approval came after the meeting was officially adjourned.

At the close of Friday’s proceedings, Marchman praised the legal teams involved for their courtesy and preparation.

“I cannot recall a case in which I have seen the level of professionalism presented by both sides from the very first phone conference we had,” she said.

The court also heard testimony from several more citizens as Lipsey’s legal team tested the legitimacy of their claim to Concordia Parish residency.