United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
M.C. MOORE, ET AL.
TANGIPAHOA PARISH SCHOOL BOARD, ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
the Court is “Plaintiffs' Motion to Reconsider
and/or to Alter and/or Amend Order Pursuant to Rule
59(e).” Rec. Doc. 1502. The Tangipahoa Parish School
Board filed an opposition. Rec. Doc. 1504. Plaintiffs'
instant motion relates to previously-filed objections to a
recommendation from the Court Compliance Officer (CCO). Rec.
Doc. 1494. For the reasons discussed below, IT IS
ORDERED that the motion (Rec. Doc. 1502) is
IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiffs' Objections
(Rec. Doc. 1494) are OVERRULED and the
CCO's Recommendation (Rec. Doc. 1494-1) is
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
election held in Tangipahoa Parish on November 18, 2017,
included three taxes that would have raised funds for the
Tangipahoa Parish School District. See Rec. Doc.
1494-1 at 2-3. None of the taxes passed. See Rec.
Doc. 1494 at 11. On October 10, 2017, prior to the election
being held, Plaintiffs raised concerns about the impending
tax election in a formal complaint to the CCO. See
Rec. Doc. 1494-2. In their complaint, Plaintiffs argued that
prior court orders required the School District to formally
submit the proposed tax ballot measures for analysis and
approval prior to the election. See Id. at 6-7
(referring to Rec. Docs. 325, 612). The School Board
responded, arguing that (1) the proposed taxes were not
governed by the prior court orders, (2) Plaintiffs were
adequately notified of the Board's plans to put the tax
measures on the ballot, and (3) that the tax measures were
consistent with the Board's obligations to desegregate
the school system. See Rec. Doc. 1494-4. Plaintiffs
then filed a reply that responded to the Board's
arguments. See Rec. Doc. 1494-10.
issue in Plaintiffs' instant objections is the
application of a pair of orders issued in 1977 and 2007 to
the three taxes that were on the ballot in November
2017. See Rec. Docs. 325, 612. The 1977
Order requires the Board to submit for review and approval
“a planning study and analysis” “at least
90 days prior to any bond election or submission of bids on
any capital improvement other than routine maintenance . . .
.” Rec. Doc. 325 at 4. The 2007 Order adds and modifies
these obligations by requiring that “[a]ny expenditure
over $125, 000.00 must go through the analysis procedure
outlined in the  court order and must be presented to
the plaintiff and the compliance officer . . . at least 180
days prior to the election.” Rec. Doc. 612 at 1.
November 3, 2017, the CCO issued a recommendation that prior
court orders regulating Board expenditures do not require the
Board to “provide notice that it intends to call a
property tax election.” Rec. Doc. 1494-1 at 6. The CCO
reasoned that the notice provisions in the prior court orders
only apply to a subset of Board expenditures, not the
collection of tax revenue via a parish-wide tax. See
Id. Twenty-one days later, on November 24, 2017,
Plaintiffs filed objections to the CCO's recommendation.
See Rec. Doc. 1494. The objections were dismissed as
moot because the election occurred-and the taxes failed to
pass-six days before Plaintiffs filed their objections.
See Rec. Doc. 1496. Plaintiffs then filed the
instant motion to reconsider, arguing that the objections are
not moot because the Board might seek to pass a similar tax
measure in the future. Rec. Doc. 1502-1 at 2. The Board
timely filed an opposition. Rec. Doc. 1504.
seek reconsideration under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
59(e). See Rec. Doc. 1502 at 2. “Rule 59(e)
serves the narrow purpose of allowing a party to correct
manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered
evidence.” Templet v. HydroChem, Inc., 367
F.3d 473, 479 (5th Cir. 2004). “A Rule 59(e) motion . .
. is not the proper vehicle for rehashing evidence, legal
theories, or arguments that could have been offered or raised
before” the order was issued. Id. at 478-79. As a
result, the “extraordinary remedy” available
under Rule 59(e) “should be used sparingly.”
Id. at 479. This is one of those rare situations in
which reconsideration is appropriate because Plaintiffs'
objections fall within a narrow exception to mootness
III of the Constitution limits federal courts to deciding
‘Cases' and ‘Controversies, ' and an
actual controversy must exist not only at the time the
complaint is filed, but through all stages of the
litigation.” Kingdomware Techs. Inc. v. U.S.,
136 S.Ct. 1969, 1975 (2016). A controversy is moot when
“no court is . . . capable of granting the relief
[plaintiff] seeks.” Id. A court cannot
normally grant injunctive or declaratory relief when the
complained-of act has already ended. See Id. at
1975-76. This would seem to foreclose Plaintiffs' efforts
here because the election has already occurred and the
objected-to taxes failed to pass.
Plaintiffs allude to an exception to mootness doctrine in
their instant motion. Rec. Doc. 1502-1 at 2. A controversy is
not moot when it “is capable of repetition, yet evading
review, ” which means that “(1) the challenged
action is in its duration too short to be fully litigated
prior to cessation or expiration, and (2) there is a
reasonable expectation that the same complaining party will
be subject to the same action again.” Id. at
1976 (citing Spencer v. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1, 17
(1998)). The Supreme Court has “held that a period of
two years is too short to complete judicial review of the
lawfulness of” an agency's decision to award a
the exception is readily applied when the controversy
involves the regulation of elections because elections occur
with relatively short notice and it is difficult for courts
to order relief after the election has occurred. See,
e.g., FEC v. Wis. Right to Life, Inc., 551 U.S.
449, 461-64 (2007); Ctr. for Individual Freedom v.
Carmouche, 449 F.3d 655, 661-62 (5th Cir. 2006). Prompt
resolution of election-related controversies is valuable
because, for example, clarifying ”[t]he construction of
[a] statute [regulating an election], an understanding of its
operation, and possible constitutional limits on its
application, will have the effect of simplifying future
challenges, thus increasing the likelihood that timely filed
cases can be adjudicated before an election is held.”
Storer v. Brown, 415 U.S. 724, 738 n.8 (1974);
see also Wis. Right to Life, 551 U.S. at 461-64;
Morial v. Judiciary Comm'n, 565 F.2d 295, 297
n.3 (5th Cir. 1977); Ctr. for Individual Freedom,
449 F.3d at 661-62; Kucinich v. Tex. Democratic
Party, 563 F.3d 161, 164-65 (5th Cir. 2009); cf.
Wilson v. Birnberg, 667 F.3d 591, 596-97 (5th Cir.
instant dispute about whether the Board was required to
submit planning studies and analyses for the three proposed
tax measures 180 days before the election falls within the
“capable of repetition, yet evading review”
exception to the mootness doctrine. At most, the Board is
required to seek approval of these tax measures six months
prior to the election. See Rec. Doc. 612 at 1. Given
that the Supreme Court has held a two year period to be too
short for complete review, a six month period is also too
short. See Kingdomware Techs., 136 S.Ct. at 1976.
second requirement of the test is also met because there is a
“reasonable likelihood” that the same parties
will be involved in a similar dispute in the future. The
notification and approval requirements at issue here are
specific to this case. See Rec. Docs. 325, 612. And
given that the Board will likely need to raise additional
funds to complete its obligations under the desegregation
orders, it is reasonable to expect that the Board will put
forward similar tax measures in the future. See,
e.g., Rec. Docs. 927, 935, 956, 1117, 1264 at 12-13.