Caddo Commission Files Motion to Dismiss Confederate Monument Lawsuit

Cross-posted, with permission, from Commissioner Steven Jackson’s campaign website.

The Caddo Parish Commission formally filed its motion in response to the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDofC) in federal court this morning. The motions filed in the US Western District Court of Louisiana ask the judge to dismiss individual Commissioner named in the lawsuit due to immunity granted under state and federal law. Commissioners names are: President Steven Jackson, Lyndon Johnson, Louis Johnson, Jerald Bowman, Matthew Linn, Stormy Gage-Watts, and Lynn Cawthorne who voted in favor of removal of the monument from courthouse grounds.

In addition to dismissing Commissioner in the personal capacity, the motion ask a federal judge to deny a preliminary injunction due to the UDofC failure to adequately prove: (1) – ownership of plat for which the monument sits on, (2) – no violation of the UDofC’s free speech, (3)-no violation of Due Process, and (4)-failure to demonstrate irreparable harm.

The brief filed by Parishs’ internal legal staff Donna Frazier (Parish Attorney) and Henry Bernstein (Assistant Parish Attorney) cites the 1903 minutes that deliberately “reserved the plat” for the purpose of erecting the monument and not the original motion “to give the plat” to the UDofC. The Parish also asserts any attempt for the Police Jury to give/donate public property for a non public purpose was expressly prohibited under the 1898 La Constitution, Art 58. Thus, “the plaintiffs (UDofC) are not entitled to rely on any actions other than what the state law clearly requires.”

“The bedrock of our judicial system is in the 14th Amendment, which guarantees ALL Americans the right to due process and equal protection under the law. The Confederacy for whom the monument is dedicated to strongly opposed the initial ratification of the 14th Amendment and many other post-Civil War/Reconstruction era amendments,” Caddo Parish Commissioner Steven Jackson states. “While, none of us can turn the clock of history back to 1903 when the Caddo Parish Police Jury allowed the monument to be erected we must consider the issue before us in the light of its current ‘sitz in leben’ (setting in life).  The United States Supreme Court is the only court mentioned in the United States Constitution. When you visit the court, you find no monuments or statues dedicated to anyone or thing other than justice being blind and equal.”

The Caddo Parish Commission voted October 18, 2017 to remove the Confederate monument from courthouse grounds where it has stood since 1906. The vote marks an official turning point for the controversial monument that sits in front of the  1st Judicial Courthouse at 501 Texas St.  “Block 23” also known as the Courthouse Square since 1857 has been under the dominion and operation of the Caddo Parish Police Jury (now Caddo Commission) for approximately 124 for a courthouse and previously parish jail.

“In short, the UDofC are claiming ownership to the piece of property the monument sits without proof of a recorded deed and nothing that explicitly transferred ownership of that plat,” Jackson states. “It would set quite an interesting legal precedent throughout the country for a court to rule that a private citizens and organizations may claim ownership to property without any proof of true ownership”

A hearing on this matter has been set for a court hearing on December 11, 2017. The Honorable Robert James is assigned the case.

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Lamar White, Jr.
Lamar White, Jr. is an award-winning writer and the publisher and founder of the Bayou Brief, Louisiana’s only statewide news and culture publication. Born and raised on the banks of the Red River in Alexandria, he is a proud product of the Louisiana public education system and a graduate of Rice University in Houston and SMU’s Dedman School of Law in Dallas. Lamar has been writing about politics and public policy in Louisiana for twenty years, beginning as a weekly youth columnist for his hometown paper, the Town Talk. After earning his undergraduate degree in English and Religious Studies, Lamar moved back to Alexandria, where he launched a popular blogsite, CenLamar, and worked for five years as the Special Assistant to the Mayor. He exposed significant problems with Louisiana’s school voucher program, which resulted in a series of other investigations and ultimately in the removal of several schools from the program. He was the last person to argue online with Andrew Breitbart. He investigated and then broke the report that U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise had once attended a white supremacist conference. He was the first to share a photograph of Bobby Jindal’s portrait in the state Capitol. He exposed U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy’s incomplete timesheets while the then-representative moonlighted as a physician. He earned headlines in Texas after the gubernatorial campaign of Greg Abbott falsely claimed he had been exploited as a “campaign prop” by Abbott’s opponent, Wendy Davis, and after exposing U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign for relying on online “bot farms” to counter Beto O’Rourke, and he earned headlines in Mississippi after publishing videos of U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith making bizarre comments about public hangings and voter suppression tactics which were both perceived as racist. Lamar was the recipient of the 2011 Ashley Morris Award, given to the writer who best exemplifies the spirit of New Orleans, and in 2019, he was honored as one of Gambit’s Top 40 Under 40 and as the year’s Outstanding Millennial in Journalism at the annual Millennial Awards. He has been the subject of profiles in the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, Above the Law, and the Advocate and has appeared multiple times as a guest on CNN and MSNBC. Lamar currently lives in New Orleans with his two golden retrievers, Lucy Ana and Ruby Dog.