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State v. Jones

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

September 30, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA, BOARD OF ETHICS
v.
JACKSON JONES, JR., ET AL.

          APPEAL FROM THE TENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF NATCHITOCHES, NO. C-91344 HONORABLE ERIC R. HARRINGTON, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Tracy M. Barker, Kathleen M. Allen, David M. Bordelon, Latoya Jordan Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellee: State of Louisiana, Board of Ethics

          Jackson Jones, Jr. Counsel for Defendant/Appellant: Jackson Jones, Jr.

          Court composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, Phyllis M. Keaty, and Van H. Kyzar, Judges.

          PHYLLIS M. KEATY JUDGE.

         The plaintiff/appellee, the Louisiana Board of Ethics (BOE), filed suit against the defendant/appellant, Jackson Jones, Jr., objecting to his qualification as a candidate for the office of Parish President, Natchitoches Parish. After a hearing, the trial court rendered judgment ordering Mr. Jones to withdraw from the election or otherwise be disqualified (disqualifying judgment). That same day, Mr. Jones filed motions for a continuance, for a new trial/rehearing, and to vacate the disqualifying judgment, all of which the trial court denied within hours of their filing. Eight days later, Mr. Jones filed, inter alia, a motion to appeal the disqualifying judgment, which the trial court denied as untimely. Mr. Jones has now perfected this appeal from the trial court's denial of his motion to appeal. Finding that Mr. Jones failed to timely comply with the expedited appellate procedures set forth in La.R.S. 18:1409(D), we affirm the trial court ruling denying the motion to appeal as untimely.

         I.

         ISSUES

         The only issue properly before this court is whether the trial court erred in denying Mr. Jones's motion to appeal. Although the parties have argued the merits of the disqualifying judgment in brief, we note at the outset that the disqualifying judgment is not before this court, and its merits are not at issue in this appeal.

         II.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Mr. Jones qualified to run for the office of Natchitoches Parish President by submitting a notice of candidacy during the qualification period that ended on Thursday, August 8, 2019. The BOE filed a petition on August 15, 2019, objecting to Mr. Jones's candidacy on the grounds that he had an outstanding late fee of $2, 500.00 and had "falsely certified on his notice of candidacy that he does not owe any outstanding fines, fees, or penalties pursuant to the Code of Governmental Ethics as provided in R.S. 18:463(A)(2)." La.R.S. 18:492(A)(6). This matter was set for hearing on August 20, 2019.

         During the hearing, the BOE submitted both documentary and testimonial evidence through which it sought to prove: (1) Mr. Jones was required by La.R.S. 18:1495.7 to file a 2014 Tier 2 Candidate Personal Financial Disclosure Statement by December 9, 2015, when he qualified for the March 5, 2016 election for the office of Mayor, City of Natchitoches; (2) Mr. Jones failed to timely file his disclosure statement and was assessed with a late fee of $2, 500.00 pursuant to La.R.S. 42:1124.4 and La.R.S. 42:1157 of the Code of Governmental Ethics; and (3) Mr. Jones had not filed his disclosure statement or paid the late fee at the time he executed his August 8, 2019 notice of candidacy, wherein he swore he did "not owe any outstanding fines, fees, or penalties pursuant to the Code of Governmental Ethics."

         The trial court found that the BOE made a prima facie showing that Mr. Jones was not qualified to run for office due to his false certification and that Mr. Jones failed to rebut the BOE's showing. On August 20, 2019, at 9:47 a.m. the trial court issued and signed a judgment ordering Mr. Jones to ...


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