GONZALES — Ascension Parish officials are hopeful a replacement hearing officer for the parish’s year-and-a-half-old Administrative Adjudication Court can be in place by the end of the month.
The court’s first officer, John Lieux, resigned earlier this year for health reasons, said Carla Bourgeois, court recording secretary and an office manager and administrative assistant in the parish administration.
After several years of discussion and some legal changes by the Louisiana Legislature, the Adjudication Court, also known as a litter court, opened in early 2011 to deal with code violations in the unincorporated parts of Ascension.
Bourgeois announced Lieux’s departure last month before the Parish Council Strategic Planning Committee, which helped drive creation of the civil court.
In an interview Tuesday, Bourgeois said that two applicants to be the next hearing officer are waiting to interview with Parish President Tommy Martinez.
She said once an officer is selected, the court will be back up an running.
Bourgeois said the court did not have any cases in February, March or April, so Lieux’s departure, which was in March or April, has not held up any court action.
She said more complaints have since come in, however. The court operates on a complaint-driven system.
Bourgeois said about 90 percent of the complaints handled so far were dealt with before the matters got to the Adjudication Court, which meets in the Parish Council chambers at the Parish Courthouse Annex in Gonzales.
She provided additional statistics to the Strategic Planning Committee on April 2. Of 35 complaints made since adoption of the ordinance creating the court, 29 were cleaned up before going to court or found not to be violations.
Of the six that did go to court, only one resulted in a monetary judgment, she said, according to a parish video recording.
“That’s the idea. We don’t want to fine people. We just want people to comply and be good neighbors,” Councilman Kent Schexnaydre told Bourgeois, according to the video recording.
Schexnaydre is chairman of the committee.
She said the majority of complaints so far have involved junk cars and white goods, such as old refrigerators and washing machines.
Copyright © 2011, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved