Louisiana Record

Friday, October 18, 2019

Dispute between Rayne city clerk and political activist ends with struck charges

By John Revak | Jul 8, 2017

BATON ROUGE — A legal dispute between the Rayne city clerk and a political activist has been resolved by the Acadia Parish Court.

The initial lawsuit was filed by Theresa Richard against the clerk to obtain a document she believed could expose corruption in the mayor’s office. Richard is a political activist and journalist for the website Photography Is Not A Crime (PINAC). She describes herself as having “been involved in governmental accountability for the past seventeen years.”

Specifically, she sought a delivery slip for pipes installed at the residence of Charles Robichaux, mayor of Rayne. Richard believed that the mayor had used city funds to pay for the installation, and Richard wanted the delivery slip to bolster her case.   

The administration claimed that although the entry had mistakenly been put in for the city, the mayor paid for the pipes. Therefore, the city was not obligated to turn over the slip because it was no longer in its possession.  

“The salesman inadvertently put the entry in for the city,” Joy Rabalais, the city’s risk management attorney, told the Louisiana Record. “The city never paid for the pipe.”

After her continued efforts to obtain the slip, the clerk countersued Richard for defamation, a charge that has now been struck by a judge in the Acadia Parish Court.

“My legal team and I are thrilled with the outcome of the trial, and I could not be prouder to have been represented by the best civil rights attorneys in the State of Louisiana,” Richard said in an article on PINAC.

However, the mayor’s office isn’t too dismayed by the outcome.

“It’s how we figured it would come out,” Rabalais said.

Although the court didn’t find Richard guilty of defamation, it didn’t force the city to turn over the documents Richard desired.

“There was no deception," Rabalais said. "She was provided with an explanation.” 

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Acadia Parish