The Supreme Court of Louisiana. From left: Justice Jefferson D. Hughes, III, Justice Greg G. Guidry, Justice Jeannette Theriot Knoll, Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson, Justice John L. Weimer, Justice Marcus R. Clark, Justice Scott J. Crichton.
NEW ORLEANS–The Louisiana Supreme Court recently banned Pointe Coupee Parish Justice of the Peace Stacie Pourciau Myers from judicial office for the next half-decade following multiple alleged failures to report financial communications and then ignoring resulting sanctions.
Myers, who served as a police juror for District 4, first neglected to remit a court-ordered fine in 2012, when the state Supreme Court levied a $1,500 civil penalty for violating financial reporting regulations, according to the court. Not only did she fail to comply with standard procedures, the court said, but she also neglected to offer any explanation when given several opportunities to make amends.
Suspended without pay for a one-year period beginning in October 2014 for the oversight, Myers allegedly made no effort to file the paperwork in question despite a three-month window of opportunity during which she could have reduced her suspension and ultimately saved her position.
“A judicial officer who refuses to abide by the law and … refuses to comply with a court order is not worthy of holding the title of judge and sitting in judgment of others,” Justice John Weimer wrote in the court’s decision. “A judgment issued by a judicial officer who refuses to respect the law or an order of a court will not be respected.”
Tagged as either “absent-minded or belligerent” by the South Carolina Lawyers Weekly, Myers allegedly made a conscious, deliberate choice by taking no action when requested to claim mail received from the Louisiana Judiciary Commission.
The news came as a surprise to staff members at the Louisiana State Association of Justices of the Peace. Association President Connie Moore pointed out that even as recently as two weeks ago, when the group held its monthly conference call, the subject never came up.
“Even the district coordinator had not heard about it,” Moore said.
She noted, however, that such an ousting is not unusual in the state’s judicial system; even insiders may not learn of the event right away, especially when the party in question is from a different parish.
“It was probably her legislative auditors’ report,” Moore said. “People get removed or sanctioned for all kinds of reasons. For (someone) to be removed for not filling out her financial statements has happened, and not that long ago.”
For example, in October 2015, John “Sassy” Pourciau, another Pointe Coupee police juror, was disqualified from maintaining his District 2 seat on the Police Jury after serving for 12 years because he allegedly failed to report that he owed more than $5,000 worth of fines to the state’s Board of Ethics when it came time for re-election.
Louisiana’s 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled at that time that outstanding debts to the ethics board had to be settled in order for candidates to be re-elected. The Board of Ethics documented 15 claims that year against elected officials who had committed the same oversight—ultimately resulting in 11 disqualifications.
In opting to disbar Myers, the court stated in its report that “the most severe sanction is necessary” after careful consideration.
“There can be no doubt that Respondent knew or should have known of the need to abide by the order of this court requiring payment of the $1,500 penalty,” court documents stated. “(Myers’) misconduct is so prejudicial to the administration of justice that she cannot be allowed to remain on the bench. Any discipline less than removal would undermine the judicial discipline process and diminish the integrity of the judiciary.”
Myers was previously cited by the commission for the same infraction three times. Now ineligible to hold judicial office for the next five years, she also has been ordered to pay $288 to the Judiciary Commission for investigational costs incurred. Originally slated to serve through 2020, if Myers desires to be reinstated, it won’t be unless Louisiana’s highest court first gives her its permission.
The Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury, based in New Roads, may not even bat an eyelash at the loss—half of its 12-member body was replaced in January, marking the parish’s largest change in 20 years.