Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Campbell v. Edwards

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

January 23, 2019

LAURA CAMPBELL, ET AL.
v.
JOHN BEL EDWARDS, ET AL.

          RULING AND ORDER

          JOHN W. DEGRAVELLES JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This matter comes before the Court on the Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment (Doc. 35) filed by Defendant Jeff Landry, in his official capacity as Attorney General of Louisiana (the “Attorney General”). The motion is unopposed. Oral argument is not necessary. The Court has carefully considered the law, the facts in the record, and the arguments and submissions of the parties and is prepared to rule. For the following reasons, the Attorney General's motion is denied.

         I. Relevant Factual and Procedural Background

         In this case, Laura Campbell and other pro se plaintiffs filed a class action seeking to “declar[e] the current method of judicial elections in St. John the Baptist Parish unconstitutional” and to enjoin “judicial elections in the parish, until such time as remedial legislation, providing for at-large election of judges, can be passed.” (Doc. 1 at 1.) Plaintiffs alleged that “The 40th Judicial District, in and for the Parish of St. John the Baptist, was subject to re-districting/sub-districting as a result of the ruling in Clark v. Roemer, 777 F.2d 445” which “was decided on or about June 12, 1990.” (Doc. 1 at 6.) Plaintiffs further claim: “Shortly after the ruling in Clark v. Roemer occurred, an at-large judicial election took place and resulted in the election of a Black/African American female to the bench, the Honorable Madeline Jasmine.” (Id.) But, Plaintiffs state: “Despite the result of the foregoing parish-wide judicial election, St. John the Baptist Parish was divided into three subdistricts-Division A, Division B, and Division C- with only those voters domiciled and residing in each district able to cast a ballot for candidates running for judgeships within each division/subdistrict.” (Id.) District A was a majority African-American district, but “Divisions B and C were comprised of purportedly contiguous and compact areas where White voters constituted a majority.” (Doc. 1 at 7.) According to Plaintiffs, “[t]he problem of vote dilution currently exists by election of state judges by subdistrict, rather than at-large, in St. John the Baptist Parish, because minorities, such as Pro Se Plaintiffs, who reside outside of Divisions B and C, are precluded from casting a vote for candidates running in these subdistricts.” (Id.)

         Plaintiffs sought the following relief:

Under the totality of the circumstances, St. John the Baptist Parish's method of electing members for the 40th Judicial District by subdistrict, rather than at-large, has the purpose and effect of denying a substantial percentage of registered Black voters the opportunity to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and the constitutional guarantees of the Fourteenth and Fifteen Amendments.
. . . Unless enjoined by order of this Court, Defendants will continue to act in violation Of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the constitutional guarantees of the Fourteenth and Fifteen Amendments by administering, implementing, and conducting future elections for the 40th Judicial District using a method of election, which, history shows, was never needed, and, which, if allowed to continue, violates the equal protection and voting rights of Pro Se Plaintiffs and other Black/African American residents situated similarly to them in St. John the Baptist Parish.

(Doc. 1 at 8.) Plaintiffs also prayed for the following: (1) a declaration that the “Defendants' method of electing members for the 40th Judicial District by subdistrict violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973, and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution”; (2) a declaration that the method of electing judges to this district “has the result of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color” in violation of the same laws; (3) an injunction prohibiting defendants from enforcing or conducting “any future elections” to that district “under the current subdistrict method of election”; (4) an order “[s]etting an immediate and reasonable deadline” for the State “to enact and adopt an at-large method of election” for the district, or, alternatively, an order for “the implementation of an election system” for the district “that complies” with the above laws; and (5) an order retaining jurisdiction over the case and requiring the parish “to obtain preclearance” from the Court or U.S. Department of Justice for all future changes in voting law affecting the district, until there is compliance with the above laws. (Doc. 1 at 8-9.)

         After suit was filed, Plaintiff Deborah Weber moved to dismiss herself from the case. (Doc. 5.) On December 6, 2017 that motion was granted.

         On the same day, the Attorney General filed an answer. (Doc. 6.) There, he asserted a few affirmative defenses and then addressed the allegations in the Complaint. (See Defendant Jeff Landry's Answer to the Complaint, Fourth Defense, Doc. 6 ¶¶ 1-39.) The Attorney General then set forth a number of separate paragraphs, wherein he stated that the “election of judges from subdistricts is inherently unfair” for a number of reasons and that the historical and racial reasons for utilizing this method of election “have changed” such that “election subdistricts for judicial elections are no longer warranted.” (Id. ¶¶ 40-44.) The Attorney General prayed for, among other things, the following:

III. The court reopen Clark v. Roemer and order joinder of the parties thereto to the extent protection of their interests may be impaired by a ruling herein; and
III. The court enter judgment declaring that subdistricts for the election of district court judges are no longer legally viable and ought to be dissolved and that the method of electing district judges district wide should be restored and reinstated beginning with the first regular primary election following a final decision in the case;

(Id. at 10.)

         Subsequently, other plaintiffs moved to dismiss themselves. (Docs. 11, 14.) The Court ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.