IN RE MATTER UNDER INVESTIGATION BY THE JEFFERSON PARISH OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL NO. 2018-0028
JEFFERSON PARISH OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL MARK SPEARS
APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH
OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 789-232 C/W 793-101,
DIVISION "I" HONORABLE NANCY A. MILLER, JUDGE
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT, JEFFERSON PARISH OFFICE OF
INSPECTOR GENERAL Kim C. Raines Chatelain.
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE, COUNCILMAN MARK SPEARS,
Richard T. Simmons, Jr., W. Evan Plauche', Michael L.
composed of Judges Fredericka Homberg Wicker, Stephen J.
Windhorst, and John J. Molaison, Jr.
STEPHEN J. WINDHORST JUDGE.
the Jefferson Parish Office of Inspector General
("JPOIG") appeals the trial court's June 21,
2019 judgment granting the petition for declaratory judgment
filed by Councilman Mark Spears, an elected member of the
Jefferson Parish Council, and ordering the JPOIG to provide
Councilman Spears a "fair description of the subject
matter of the subpoena ad testificandum, and of any
documents to be reviewed during his interview, so that he may
assert any legislative privilege that may exist prior to
being interviewed." Appellee, Councilman Spears, has
filed a Contested Motion to Dismiss Appeal for Lack of
Jurisdiction and to Suspend Briefing Delays, arguing that on
October 21, 2019, this Court vacated the June 21, 2019
judgment and remanded the matter for further proceedings.
Therefore, he argues that this Court lacks jurisdiction.
Finding that the June 21, 2019 judgment was vacated on
October 21, 2019, we grant the motion and dismiss this
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
JPOIG is a department of the Jefferson Parish government
created by Jefferson Parish Code of Ordinances
("JPCO") §2-155.10. The JPOIG may make
investigations and examinations, within or outside of the
State of Louisiana as it deems necessary, in order to carry
out the duties of its mandate under law, and may gather
evidence in any legally appropriate manner. La. R.S. 33:9613
A(1). In the performance of its duties, an office of
inspector general may compel the attendance of witnesses to
be deposed under oath by issuing a subpoena upon judicial
approval from the trial court. La. R.S. 33:9613 A(3). If a
person refuses to obey a subpoena issued by the JPOIG, the
trial court may issue an order requiring the person to appear
before the trial court to show cause why an order shall not
be issued ordering such person to obey the subpoena.
Spears is an elected official and is subject to the
jurisdiction of the JPOIG. La. R.S. 33:9613. It is the duty
of every official to cooperate with the JPOIG in any
investigation. JPCO §2-155.10(19). JPOIG has asserted
that commencing in 2018, it made several attempts, to no
avail, to schedule an interview with Councilman Spears in
regards to an open matter under the investigative
jurisdiction of the JPOIG.
to La. R.S. 33:9613 A(3), the JPOIG initiated a summary
proceeding by filing a motion for subpoena ad
testificandum in the 24th Judicial District
Court, In re Matter Under Investigation by the Jefferson
Parish Office of Inspector General, case number 789-232,
Division "I," seeking approval from the trial court
for the issuance of a subpoena ad testificandum to
Councilman Spears. On November 30, 2018, the trial court
granted an order authorizing the JPOIG to issue the subpoena
ad testificandum. Councilman Spears was served with
the subpoena ordering him to appear at the JPOIG's office
on December 7, 2018 to be interviewed, to which Councilman
Spears did not appear. On December 12, 2018, the JPOIG filed
a Motion for Show Cause Hearing on Subpoena Ad
Testificandum, which was set for January 10, 2019. The
matter was continued without date on Councilman Spears'
unopposed motion to continue and reset hearing.
March 14, 2019, Councilman Spears filed a Petition for
Declaratory Judgment, an ordinary proceeding, in the
24th Judicial District Court entitled Mark
Spears v. Jefferson Parish Office of Inspector General,
No. 793-101, Division "A." The petition sought a
judgment declaring that prior to being interviewed,
Councilman Spears is entitled to a fair description of the
subject matter of the subpoena ad testificandum and
of any documents to be reviewed in regards with his
interview, in order that he may be able to evaluate whether
the subject matter or documents may be subject to any
legislative immunity or privilege afforded him by law.
March 27, 2019, the JPOIG filed a motion to reset hearing on
its subpoena ad testificandum and for sanctions.
JPOIG's motion was set for hearing on April 25, 2019.
Councilman Spears filed an opposition. On April 25, 2019,
JPOIG's rule to show cause on its subpoena ad
testificandum and for sanctions was continued to May 30,
April 30, 2019, the JPOIG filed a motion to transfer and
consolidate the petition for declaratory judgment pending in
Division "A," with the rule to show cause on the
JPOIG's subpoena ad testificandum and for
sanctions in Division "I." The trial court set the
motion to transfer and consolidate for hearing on May 30,
30, 2019, the trial court granted the motion to consolidate.
The same day, the trial court in Division "A"
agreed to transfer the petition for declaratory judgment to
Division "I" and a judgment was signed transferring
and consolidating the matters. After argument of counsel, the
trial court also granted the petition for declaratory
judgment ordering the JPOIG to provide a fair description to
Councilman Spears as to the subject matter in order that he
may assert any privilege prior to being interviewed, and a
fair description of any documents which will be reviewed with
Councilman Spears ...