Growing controversies with the Lafayette Parish Library Board of Control have led parish council members to seek legal advice on how to remove board members in recent weeks.
The library board has regularly been the subject of local and sometimes national controversy in recent years. Most recently Chairman of the Board Robert Judge appeared to violate the state’s open meeting law during an attempt to fire an employee who also likely violated her employment rights.
This appears to have raised questions among parish council members as to whether they have the power to summarily remove library board members.
State law requires the parish council to appoint seven of the eight council members, but it does not expressly authorize the council to remove council members, and does not include any rules or guidelines on how this can be done. do.
Judge, a straight talker 2018 Drag Queen Storytime event opponentwas appointed to the board in February 2021. Guilbeau, along with councilors Bryan Tabor and Josh Carlson, supported his nomination, while councilors AB Rubin and Kevin Naquin proposed different candidates.
Judge was elected Chairman of the Board by its members in January and was the hotbed of anger from library supporters on various controversies this year.
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Councilman John Guilbeau told a meeting on Thursday that he contacted council attorney Paul Escott last week after several constituents asked him to remove library board members .
“(Escott) hasn’t given me the legal opinion at this point, but he said the first thing we’ll have to do is review the state statutes and see what they say in terms of appointments. Can we delete, can’t we delete, and if not (let’s say), it’s up to us to make that decision,” Guilbeau said.
“So we didn’t get an opinion, but I asked Mr. Escott to give it to us,” he added. “I had a lot of people asking me.”
Guilbeau later said his investigation did not specifically concern the judge and was instead prompted by the council’s frequent controversies.
But Councilor AB Rubin specifically referenced Judge in frustration over the proposed Northeast Regional Library branch at Thursday’s meeting, and other council members privately expressed concerns about his role on the board.
Local law states that members of the library board serve at the pleasure of the parish council, but later at Thursday’s meeting, Naquin said he was told by city-parish attorney Greg Logan that the Library board members probably couldn’t be removed without cause and a “due”. process” hearing before the board.
“The dismissal of a member of the library board can only be justified after a hearing or a public meeting with the members of the board … The accused has the right to defend himself, as does a trial for impeachment before the Senate,” Naquin said.
This explanation seems to correspond to Louisiana Attorney General’s Office Notice based on a 1939 court case regarding the removal of the Sabine Parish Treasurer.
In that case, the court ruled that individuals appointed to positions whose terms are set by state law are “entitled to serve” until the end of that term. For the Lafayette Library Board, these terms are typically five years.
The state attorney general’s office has referenced this decision in at least two notices directly related to the removal of members of a parish’s library board and has concluded that they cannot be removed for cause only. after a public hearing.
“We are of the view that where a warrant is fixed by the legislature, the police jury cannot remove an individual from that position before the expiration of his term,” the office wrote in a 1975 opinion on the Saint-Jean-Baptiste parish library. Plank.
This was reiterated in a 2001 GA notice on the removal of members of the Lafourche Parish Library Board, which cited a 1940 notice finding that members of the East Parish Library Board Baton Rouge could not be removed “without cause based on sufficient complaint of dereliction of duty, etc.” , during their tenure.
“The very purpose of the law in providing for the overlapping terms of the members of the Board of Control (of the library) was to prevent their removal without cause and to allow them to exercise their judgment without interference,” reads in the opinion of 1940.
It remains to be seen whether the Lafayette parish council will choose to hold a hearing to remove a member of the library board, and how it will do so if it chooses.