ADAM IRVIN, CARL IRVIN AND LONNIE HAMMOND, JR.
HOWARD ANTHONY BROWN AND THE HONORABLE ARTHUR A. MORRELL
FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2017-07039,
DIVISION "J" HONORABLE Cherrell Sims Taplin, PRO
Charles Ferrier Zimmer, II Daniel Ernest Davillier DAVILLIER
LAW GROUP., COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLANTS.
A Brown, Pro Se, DEFENDANT/APPELLEE/IN PROPER PERSON.
composed of Chief Judge James F. McKay, III, Judge Edwin A.
Lombard, Judge Daniel L. Dysart, Judge Rosemary Ledet, Judge
Paula A. Brown.
A. BROWN JUDGE.
an election suit. Plaintiffs, Adam Irvin, Carl Irvin, and
Lonnie Hammond, Jr. (collectively, "Plaintiffs"),
appeal the trial court's judgment overruling
Plaintiffs' objection to the candidacy of the defendant,
Howard Anthony Brown, for Assessor of Orleans Parish.
Plaintiffs contend that Mr. Brown falsely certified on his
Notice of Candidacy form that he had filed his state and
federal income taxes or was not obligated to file taxes, in
contravention of La. R.S. 18:463(A)(2)(a)(iv). For the reasons
that follow, we reverse the judgment.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Brown filed a Notice of Candidacy form to qualify as a
candidate for Assessor of Orleans Parish. Paragraph 8 of the
form required Mr. Brown to certify that he had filed his
federal and state income taxes for previous five years, had
filed for an extension of time for filing or was not required
to either file a federal or state income tax return or both.
In response to Mr. Brown's certification, Plaintiffs
filed a "Petition for Action Objecting to
Candidacy", seeking to disqualify him as a candidate.
Plaintiffs averred that Mr. Brown's certification in
Paragraph 8 of the form was false.
matter was set for trial on July 24, 2017. At trial,
Plaintiffs introduced into evidence Mr. Brown's Notice of
Candidacy form, a public records request made to the
Louisiana Department of Revenue ("LDR"), and the
LDR's response to the request. Plaintiffs individually
testified that the basis for their respective objections to
Mr. Brown's candidacy was that he falsely certified that
he filed his state income tax returns for each of the
previous five years.
Blanchard, LDR's representative, verified that LDR
received a public records request inquiring whether or not
Mr. Brown was current in filing his Louisiana tax returns.
Mr. Blanchard testified that LDR's records confirmed that
Mr. Brown had filed tax returns for 2012, 2013, and 2014;
however, LDR could not confirm that he filed for 2015 and
Brown testified, on his behalf, that he was not required to
file federal tax returns in 2015 and 2016 because "you
have to earn income to do that." Because he was not
required to file federal tax returns, he testified he also
was not required to file state income tax returns. In
response to direct questioning from the trial court, Mr.
Brown reiterated that he did not file income tax returns for
2015 and 2016 because he did not earn any income.
cross-examination by Plaintiffs' counsel, Mr. Brown
acknowledged that he had no documentary evidence to show that
he filed state income tax returns for 2015 and 2016, and had
no documentary records to establish he was not required to
file a tax return. Mr. Brown explained that he was
self-employed, that he was the sole proprietor at A.J.A.
Electric, and that he did not receive any compensation
generated by A.J.A. Mr. Brown testified, however, that he and
A.J.A. are one and the same, and "[w]hen A.J.A. Electric
do (sic) work, … and A.J.A. Electric collect (sic) any
type of compensation, [he] collect (sic) compensation."
Under further questioning, Mr. Brown conceded that A.J.A. was
compensated and may have received "some type of
money" for work; nevertheless, he maintained that A.J.A.
did not receive any income or profit for 2015 and 2016. Mr.
Brown testified his certification on Paragraph 8 was to that
portion which provided that he "was not required to file
either a federal or state income tax return."
trial court found Plaintiffs presented a prima facie case
that Mr. Brown had not filed federal or state tax returns in
2015 and 2016, and that he had not requested any filing
extensions. Nonetheless, the trial court found that
Plaintiffs had not met their burden of proof on the issue of
whether or not Mr. Brown was required to file federal or
state tax returns in 2015 and 2016. Accordingly, the trial