NEIL S. KAVANAGH
ROY EUGENE HEBRON
FROM THE NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF RAPIDES, NO.
263, 744 HONORABLE MONIQUE FREEMAN RAULS, DISTRICT JUDGE.
Charles David Elliott Charles Elliott & Associates
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT APPELLANT: Roy Eugene Hebron.
Gene Taylor, III Attorney at Law COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF
APPELLEE: Neil S. Kavanagh.
composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, Elizabeth
A. Pickett and Phyllis M. Keaty, Judges.
defendant, Roy Eugene Hebron (Hebron), appeals the trial
court's judgment in favor of the plaintiff, Neil S.
Kavanagh (Kavanagh), on his request for injunctive relief
regarding whether Hebron could take or hold public office
under newly enacted La.Const. art. 1, § 10.1 with a
felony conviction in 2011 and a sentence ending in December
2017. Finding no legal error or abuse of discretion on the
part of the trial court, we affirm the judgment.
(1) whether the trial court erred in applying La.Const. art.
1, § 10.1; and
(2) whether the trial court abused its discretion in granting
the injunction requested by Kavanagh to prevent Hebron from
taking and holding public office in January 2019.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Mayor of Ball, Louisiana, along with Hebron and Gene Decker,
were opposing candidates in the November 6, 2018 mayoral
election in Ball. Hebron won the election with 56% of the
1450 votes cast, and Kavanagh came in second. Also on
November 6, 2018, Louisiana citizens voted statewide to
approve a new constitutional amendment, La. Const. art. 1,
§ 10.1, which prohibits a convicted felon from holding
public office until more than five years have elapsed since
the completion of his sentence. The amendment was approved
with over a million Louisiana citizens voting in favor of its
enactment into law. In Ball, Louisiana, the amendment passed
with 60% of the electorate voting it into law. Pursuant to
La.Const. art 13, § 1(C), the effective date of the new
constitutional amendment was twenty days after the Governor
proclaimed it law, which occurred in this case on November
21, 2018. The parties stipulated that the effective date of
La. Const. art. 1, § 10.1, was December 12, 2018.
Kavanagh filed suit against Hebron on December 17, 2018,
seeking a declaratory judgment and an injunction to prevent
Hebron from taking or holding office in January 2019.
trial court heard the matter on December 21, 2018. The record
reveals that in 2011, while Hebron was the sitting Mayor of
Ball, he was convicted of conspiracy to defraud The Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the town's
application for disaster relief funds. Hebron served four
years in prison and three years of probation, all of which
were completed on December 18, 2017. Thus, when the new law
became effective on December 12, 2018, less than one year had
elapsed since the completion of Hebron's sentence for the
end of the hearing on December 21, 2018, the trial judge
found that the new amendment, La.Const. art. 1, § 10.1,
applied to Hebron. She indicated that proceedings for a
declaratory judgment would be held separately at a later
time. The trial court then signed a judgment in open court
granting Kavanagh's injunction to prevent Hebron from
taking and holding public office in January 2019. The
December 21, 2018 judgment also denied Hebron's motion to
strike and his exceptions of prematurity, no cause of action,
no right of action, improper cumulation of actions,
non-joinder of parties, and unauthorized use of summary
proceedings. The trial court's judgment also ordered
Kavanagh to remain in office as mayor, pursuant to La.R.S.
42:2, until further order of the court and/or further
proceedings in accordance with law. While Kavanagh and the
trial court agreed that this suit did not fall under the
Election Code,  Hebron's appeal requested an expedited
hearing, which we granted. For the following reasons, we
affirm the judgment of the trial court.
appellate court may not set aside a trial court's
findings of fact in the absence of manifest error or unless
it is clearly wrong. Stobart v. State, through DOTD,
617 So.2d 880 (La.1993); Rosell v. ESCO, 549 So.2d
840 (La.1989). "A trial court's determination as to
whether to issue a preliminary injunctionis subject to the
abuse of discretion standard of review." Ryan v.
Calcasieu Par. Police Jury, 17-16, p. 4 (La.App. 3 Cir.
9/26/18), 256 So.3d 1044, 1048 (quoting Mount Zion
Missionary Baptist Church v. Jones, 11-961, p. 4
(La.App. 3 Cir. 2/1/12), 84 So.3d 674, 678.) "Questions
of law involving the correct interpretation of legislation
are reviewed de novo, without deference to the legal
conclusions of the trial court." State v.
Merrill, 14-530, p. 4 (La.App. 3 Cir. 6/11/14), 140
So.3d 1237, 1239 writ denied, 14-1227 (La. 9/19/14),
149 So.3d 249 (citing Durio v. Horace Mann Ins. Co.,
11-0084 (La. 10/25/11), 74 So.3d 1159).
Constitution Article 1, Section 10.1
Constitution Article I § 10.1, entitled,
Disqualification from Seeking or Holding an Elective Office
or Appointment, was added by Acts 2018, No. 719, § 1. It
provides (emphasis added):
(A) Disqualification. The following persons shall not be
permitted to qualify as a candidate for elective
public office or hold elective public office or
appointment of honor, trust, or profit in this state:
(1) A person actually under an order of imprisonment for
conviction of a felony.
(2) A person who has been convicted within this state of a
felony and who has exhausted all legal remedies, or who has
been convicted under the laws of any other state or of the
United States or of any foreign government or country of
a crime which, if committed in this state, would be a
felony and who has exhausted all legal remedies and has
not afterwards been pardoned either by the governor of this
state or by the officer of the state, nation, ...