APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH
OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 785-869, DIVISION
"E" HONORABLE JOHN J. MOLAISON, JR., JUDGE
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, BILLY JOSEPH NORTH, Stephen
M. Petit, Jr., Brittany D. Rogers
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, MELINDA DOUCET W. J.
composed of Judges Jude G. Gravois, Marc E. Johnson, and
Marion F. Edwards, Judge Pro Tempore
F. EDWARDS, JUDGE PRO TEMPORE JUDGE
an election suit contesting a candidate's qualification
for candidacy for the Jefferson Parish School Board District
For the reasons articulated below, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
18, 2018, Melinda Doucet, who is the incumbent, filed a
signed and notarized Notice of Candidacy form, which included
the following certification as required by La. R.S.
If I am a candidate for any office other than United States
senator or representative in congress, that for each of the
previous five tax years, I have filed my federal and state
income tax returns, have filed for an extension of time
for filing either my federal or state income tax return
or both, or was not required to file either a federal or
state income tax return or both. (Emphasis added).
23, 2018, plaintiff, Billy Joseph North,  filed suit
objecting to Ms. Doucet's candidacy,  asserting that
Ms. Doucet had falsely certified in her Notice of Candidacy
that she had filed her state income tax returns for three of
the five previous years - 2013, 2016, and 2017 - and,
therefore, must be disqualified as a candidate for office
pursuant to La. R.S. 18:492 and La. R.S. 18:494(A).
trial on July 26, 2018,  Mr. North introduced correspondence to
and from the Louisiana Department of Revenue
("LDR"), which, in response to a public records
request, stated that LDR had a tax return filed by Ms. Doucet
for the year
but could not confirm the filing of state tax returns by Ms.
Doucet for the years 2013, 2015, 2016, or 2017. A
representative of LDR verified this in testimony at trial.
The representative confirmed he had performed a diligent
search but could find no record of any income tax returns
filed by Ms. Doucet in 2013, 2015, 2016 or 2017.
Doucet admitted at trial that she did not file state tax
returns for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017. She stated that
she filed for extensions for those years. However, on further
questioning, Ms. Doucet admitted that the extensions for the
years 2016 and 2017 were federal tax, not state tax
Doucet's tax attorney, John Ponsetti, testified that
there was some confusion between Ms. Doucet and her daughter
with the IRS that began with the 2013 tax returns. Mr.
Ponsetti stated that he filed extensions for federal taxes in
2016 and 2017, but not for state taxes. Mr. Ponsetti verified
documents showing an online request for an extension was
filed with the state for the 2015 tax year, and requests for
federal extensions for the years 2013, 2016 and 2017.
However, he denied filing for state extensions in 2013, 2016
or 2017. Mr. Ponsetti explained that under the old law,
federal extensions automatically applied to state tax.
However, that law changed "a few years ago." In
conclusion, Mr. Ponsetti testified that, to his knowledge,
Ms. Doucet did not file state income tax returns for 2015,
2016 and 2017.
close of the hearing, the trial judge found that there was no
evidence to show that Ms. Doucet filed her state income tax
returns for 2015, 2016 and 2017. The trial court ...