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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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Judge grants injunction against parish president

Judge grants injunction against parish president

Judge Buddy Larose has granted a preliminary injunction against Lafourche Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle and his rejected nominee for parish administrator who has been serving in the position on an interim basis.

Lafourche District Attorney Kristine Russell filed the preliminary injunction against Cantrelle and Brent Abadie, represented by James A. Cobb Jr.

After the Parish Council rejected Abadie’s nomination to serve as the permanent administrator, Cantrelle announced that he would continue to keep Abadie on in the interim role, despite a district attorney’s opinion that contradicted him.

In court filings, Russell argued that because Abadie was rejected by the Parish Council from being able to fulfill the duties of permanent parish administrator, he could not fulfill those same duties on an interim basis according to the rules of the parish charter.

During a hearing held Nov. 16, Larose granted the injunction request.

“I do not buy into the argument that these are two separate and distinct positions,” Larose said.

In a statement issued Thursday, Russell said she was satisfied with the ruling.

According to court documents, the defense’s team contested that Russell had a conflict of interest pursuing the case because her office represents the parish government. Larose threw out that notion as “not sensible,” stating it would create a void if the chief enforcement agency of the parish could not act on behalf of the people.

Cobb also contested whether the District Attorney’s Office had the right to pursue the case. Larose also dismissed the complaint.

“To rule that your chief law enforcement officer cannot act to defend that Constitution would create just a completely unworkable situation,” Larose said.

After Larose made his decision to grant the injunction, Cobb said he intended to appeal and asked for a stay of the ruling.

“No. I’m not going to stay my own injunction that I just issued,” Larose said.

A second hearing will be held Dec. 10 for declaratory judgment, a binding decision defining the legal relationship between parties and their rights in a matter before the court.

“This litigation did not arise simply because there was a dispute over the interpretation (of the) charter, however. Rather, the potential liability for parish government as a result of a violation of the charter dictated that I take action to definitively resolve the question,” Russell said.

Since the judge’s ruling, Abadie said he is “transitioning” back to his civil service position as risk manager.

“We’re going to comply with judge’s order in good faith,” Abadie said. “At the moment, we’re not appointing an interim yet.”

In the meantime, Cantrelle has made another nomination for the permanent job, as required by the 60-day time limit outlined in the charter.

Cantrelle announced Thursday he would put Tommy Lasseigne up for a council vote at the Dec. 11 meeting.

The is the first time Lasseigne has been formally nominated for parish administrator, although he has served as the interim administrator twice for several months at a time. However, Lasseigne was removed from the interim position by the Parish Council in August with a 7-2 vote.

Lasseigne marks the fourth nomination for the job since former administrator Leif Haas resigned Feb. 1. The three others, including Abadie, were rejected by the council.

The first two nominations, Rodney Doucet and Ernest Boudreaux Sr. did not attend their confirmation hearings. Abadie attended his originally scheduled hearing, but it was deferred to a special meeting that he did not attend.

-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or Follow her on Twitter at @JuliaArenstam.