School Board member loses dismissal case
OPELOUSAS — A state district judge on Tuesday ordered that St. Landry Parish School Board member Quincy Richard Sr. be removed from office immediately.
The ruling by Judge James Doherty Jr. came a day after he listened to arguments from Richard’s attorney and an assistant prosecutor from the St. Landry Parish District Attorney’s Office, which filed a petition in April requesting Richard’s dismissal from his seat on the board.
In the ruling issued Tuesday, Doherty said that a provision in the state constitution prevents a convicted felon from holding public office unless he obtains a governor’s pardon or 15 years has elapsed from the time he completes his sentence.
Richard pleaded guilty June 4, 2004, to one felony count of filing or maintaining false public records, the judge said in the order. The case involved the sale of diplomas and grades at Southern University. Richard was placed on probation.
Two years later, Richard won election to a seat on the St. Landry board and was re-elected in 2010.
When contacted Tuesday, Richard Sr. declined comment.
Richard’s son and attorney, Quincy Richard Jr., said Tuesday he hadn’t talked with his father about what further legal steps should be taken.
“I’m almost positive we will appeal,” Richard Jr. said. “Right now I would have to say that would be something more likely than not.”
Richard Jr. said he put forth his arguments at Monday’s hearing.
“I don’t agree with the judge’s ruling, but I respect it,” Richard Jr. said.
He told the judge Monday that his father is not a convicted felon and that all rights suspended by Richard Sr.’s conviction had been restored as though he had never been arrested or convicted.
Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Ardoin told Doherty Monday that although Richard Sr. had his criminal record expunged in the case, the state constitution says that Richard should not remain in office.
“The constitution trumps everything,” Ardoin said.
Doherty also told Richard Jr. on Monday that expunging a criminal record “doesn’t wipe out the conviction.”
Ardoin said that Richard never received a governor’s pardon since his conviction less than 15 years ago.
“He is illegally and improperly holding an elected position,” Ardoin wrote in a memorandum placed in the court record. “His removal should be imminent.”
School Board attorney Gerard Caswell said Tuesday that it is up to the District Attorney’s Office to notify the Louisiana Secretary of State about the ruling.
“Once the Secretary of State receives the judgment, it has 20 days from that date to declare a vacancy for Richard’s seat,” Caswell said.
The board will have to set a special meeting to appoint an interim board member to serve Richard’s remaining term, which expires in December 2014, Caswell said.
The board will also have to set a date for a special election, Caswell said.