Pardon, dismissal issue hit
OPELOUSAS — A state district judge is expected to issue a ruling sometime later this week on whether a St. Landry Parish School Board member should be removed from office.
Lawyers squared off Monday during a hearing before state District Judge James Doherty over whether Quincy Richard Sr. should lose his position on the board.
No testimony was presented during the hearing, which lasted less than an hour.
The District Attorney’s Office filed a petition in 27th Judicial District Court in April seeking to remove Richard from office.
Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Ardoin contended Monday that Richard should be prohibited from holding office after he pleaded guilty to filing false records in a 2004 case over the sale of diplomas and grades at Southern University.
Ardoin said the state constitution does not allow convicted felons to hold public office unless they are granted a governor’s pardon or 15 years have passed since the completion of a sentence.
Richard won a 2006 election for the District 10 seat on the St. Landry board and was reelected in 2010 and did not get a pardon, Ardoin said.
Quincy Richard Jr., who served as his father’s attorney during Monday’s hearing, told the judge his father is not a convicted felon and should be permitted to serve as a School Board member.
“(Quincy Richard Sr.) has never been convicted. He received a dismissal and doesn’t need to get a pardon and is not subject to the 15 years,” Richard Jr. told the judge.
However, according to newspaper accounts in 2005, Quincy Richard Sr., a St. Landry School Board member at the time, and Cynthia Richard, a teacher, were fined a combined total of $6,000 and ordered to serve 100 hours of community service after each was found guilty of filing false public records.
According to Richard Jr.’s petition, which was filed in May, his father’s guilty plea was set aside by a judge, who was not named during the Monday hearing.
Richard Jr. also said his father’s record was expunged “of any and all criminal records.”
The attorney told Doherty the only way his father can be removed from office is by recall or impeachment.
However, Doherty told Richard Jr. that expunging a criminal record, “doesn’t wipe out the conviction.
“There are two ways a person who is convicted can hold office: Either getting the pardon, which some call the golden seal, or the 15 years,” Doherty said.
Richard then said that the 2004 case against his father was a civil matter, not a criminal matter,
He also argued that because his father’s guilty plea was expunged, his father’s civil rights of confidentiality were violated when the District Attorney’s Office filed the petition in April disclosing information about the 2004 case.
“You violated (confidentiality) yourself when you filed with the court. It was put into the public record and it was done so without being sealed,” Doherty said.
Ardoin told Doherty “that the record is clear. (Richard) was a convicted felon who had not sought a governor’s pardon,” when Richard chose to run for office in 2006.
“(Richard) does not have that governor’s pardon and he should be removed from office.
“In this case the constitution trumps everything,” Ardoin said.
Most recently, Richard and board member John Miller were indicted in 2012 by a federal grand jury for asking for $5,000 each in return for their vote in last year’s election for St. Landry Parish school superintendent.
Richard and Miller have both pleaded not guilty to the charges.