BAKER — A majority of the Baker City Council rejected Mayor Harold Rideau’s appointment Tuesday of newly minted lawyer Christopher R. Dassau to serve as the prosecutor in City Court.
The city’s home-rule charter gives the mayor the authority to appoint a prosecutor and several other officials, but the appointment requires council concurrence.
Councilmen Robert Young, John Givens and Charles Vincent voted against the motion by members Pete Heine and Joyce Burges to concur in Rideau’s appointment, with Givens and Vincent saying Dassau does not have enough experience for the job.
Dassau, 28, graduated from Southern University Law School in May and passed the Louisiana bar exam in July.
He is working as a judicial clerk in the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge.
Heine reminded the council members of a Louisiana attorney general’s opinion issued in the summer after the council balked at concurring with Rideau’s appointment of City Attorney Ken Fabre and several other city officers.
“The attorney general was very clear: It’s his (Rideau’s) appointment. It is not our appointment. It’s the mayor’s appointment. If we don’t concur, the ball’s back in the mayor’s court,” Heine said before Givens cut him off.
“We understand what you’re saying,” Givens said.
Vincent said he could not support Dassau because the recent graduate had no experience as a prosecutor.
“I think we’re going to have to get someone with a little more experience,” Vincent said.
Rideau said he likely will put Dassau’s name before the council again, as he did with Fabre and other key officials.
He said Dassau would work with Fabre, who now serves as prosecutor without pay.
“Chris is going to be able to learn and grow,” Rideau said.
Fabre said Dassau has participated in moot court competition that gives him experience in a courtroom setting.
“We’re not trying criminal cases. We’re only dealing with misdemeanors and traffic violations,” Fabre said, adding that as head of the city’s Legal Department, he will not “throw the whole ball of wax at him.”
The arguments continued for several minutes after the
concurrence motion failed, with Rideau at one point challenging Vincent to publicly state whom he supports for the job.
Dassau said his moot court and judicial administrative experience would enable him to take over Fabre’s role.
“There’s nothing that can hold me back,” Dassau said.