Judge defers contempt hearing

Written by Emily Bell on . Posted in Local

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18th Judicial District Court Judge Alvin Batiste deferred a contempt of court hearing Tuesday morning on “Audrey McCain versus Demetric Slaughter” until May 29 at 9 a.m.

Batiste originally ordered Mayor of Port Allen Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter to appear before the court on April 30 in regards to a rule for contempt filed by Port Allen CFO Audrey McCain’s attorneys, Cy J. D’Aquila, Jr. of New Roads and Seth Dornier of Baton Rouge.

The rule for contempt alleged that, since a Feb. 20 preliminary injunction restoring McCain to her position of CFO, Slaughter has interfered with McCain’s job duties by excluding McCain “from necessary officer and department head meetings,” excluding McCain “from budget preparations, in favor of doing it herself” and failing “to deliver to Ms. McCain the keys to her desk and filing cabinets such that sensitive and confidential city records can be kept secure and under lock and key.”

McCain’s attorneys said between now and May 29 they must provide written documentation of the powers of the mayor, or “specifically delineate what it is the mayor can’t do and what it is the mayor can do,” Dornier said.

“Now it’s just a process to try to find that fit, to find how everybody in city hall can mesh together to make the city move forward,” D’Aquila said. “We don’t want to have to stay stalled.”

Slaughter was not present at the hearing in Port Allen due to her attendance at the Louisiana State Capitol. WBR Parish President Riley “PeeWee” Berthelot confirmed that Slaughter was at the Louisiana State Capitol, in addition to the mayors of Addis and Brusly, for a meeting on Senate Bill No. 239, a bill for fire protection in the parish.

Officials cannot yet confirm if the city is paying for City Attorney Victor Woods to represent Slaughter in court.

Chief of Staff Ralph Slaughter said Tuesday afternoon, "If the mayor gets counsel, that's the responsibility of the city."

A budget amendment on the issue has not yet been presented at a city council meeting.

Tuesday, additional attorneys joined Woods in representing Slaughter. “Out of an abundance of caution, the mayor did retain some additional counsel,” Ralph Slaughter said.

In regards to claims of the mayor interfering with the CFO’s budget preparations, he said, “The budget according to the statute belongs to the mayor.”

Ralph Slaughter cited La. revised statute 33:404, which states it is a duty of the mayor, "To prepare and submit an annual operations budget and a capital improvements budget for the municipality to the board of aldermen in accordance with the provisions of R.S. 39:1301 et seq. and any other supplementary laws or ordinances."

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