Court hears Lipsey’s appeal

Published 12:01 am Thursday, November 29, 2007

VIDALIA — The Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Lake Charles heard arguments in the case of the contested Concordia Parish sheriff’s election Monday.

A verdict is expected no later than 1 p.m. today.

Plaintiff Glenn Lipsey appealed the decision of Judge Sharon Marchman to throw out his election contest after the 21-vote difference in the election between himself and heretofore winner Sheriff Randy Maxwell was narrowed to a 12-vote difference during trial.

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Lipsey’s attorneys — Andy Magoun of Monterey, Brady King of Monroe and Sherri Marcus Morris of Baton Rouge — told the justices on Wednesday that some Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office employees held out-of-state homestead exemptions but still voted in Concordia Parish because they thought it was part of their jobs.

The attorneys also stated that residents with homestead exemptions in Mississippi voted in the race using the addresses of friends or relatives in Concordia Parish.

Magoun said he was unsure how to feel about the proceedings Tuesday.

“We felt good coming out of trial and obviously it didn’t go the way we saw the facts,” Magoun said. “I am frustrated at the fact that people can look at this in a different light than I can.”

“I don’t know what the likelihood of an appellate court overturning the trial judge is, but we still believe in our case,” Magoun said.

Tom Jones, Maxwell’s attorney, countered that the decision was thoroughly examined by the trial judge and argued that residency is the basis of voter registration, not citizenship.

Steve Hoffman, an attorney with the Secretary of State’s office, told the justices that every issue concerning the election was addressed and the results are upheld by the law.

Maxwell’s attorney Jack McLemore Jr. said he was optimistic about today’s ruling.

“Our argument was basically that the opinion rendered by Judge Marchman was very thorough, accurate and on the point, and that she covered all the issues,” McLemore said. “We agreed with her decision 100 percent.”

Magoun said their arguments before the appellate court were similar to what they argued before the trial court.

“We went back over the homestead exemption issue and people who were allowed to vote even though they shouldn’t have,” he said.

Another argument they took was that it is nearly impossible for a candidate to perform the required due diligence before an election required for an election contest, Magoun said.

“It’s a ridiculous standard to try to catch somebody before or while they are doing wrong,” he said. “I acknowledge the law, but I think it is a bad one.”

The Secretary of State’s office also had a representative — Stephen Hawkland, who represented the office at the initial trial — at the hearing, McLemore said.

“He basically got up and said the State of Louisiana adopts Judge Marchman’s arguments,” McLemore said.

If the appeals court sides with the previous ruling, any further appeals would have to be made within 48 hours to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

John Guidroz of the Lake Charles American Press contributed to this story.