Court made right call in allowing Jefferson Parish's former attorney to pursue restitution case, law professor says

By Carrie Bradon | Jan 29, 2019

Former Jefferson Parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson was recently allowed to proceed with his lawsuit against Karen Parker, the ex-wife of former Parish President Aaron Broussard, that claims she did not pay her portion of restitution that was part of a settlement in a political corruption case.

Louisiana's Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal, in a Dec. 27 decision, said Wilkinson “may seek to assert any rights he believes he is entitled to in the state court," a posting on said. 

Parker, Wilkinson and Broussard were three of five defendants in a political corruption case in 2010 which resulted in the collapse of Broussard's administration. As part of the settlement, the defendants were to pay restitution to the parish government, the posting said. Wilkinson's suit alleges that Parker never paid her fair portion of the restitution.

Dane Ciolino, a writer for Louisiana Legal Ethics and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans, said he believes the appeals court made the proper decision in allowing Wilkinson to pursue his lawsuit against Parker. 

"I think the Fifth Circuit (Court of Appeal) got it right," Ciolino recently told the Louisiana Record. "This is not an effort to try to undo something in federal court, it is essential just an effort in a court of general jurisdiction to force a solidary obligor to live up to the obligation that was opposed by another court." 

In June 2018, Judge Scott Schlegel of the 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna ruled against Wilkinson and his allegations, believing, like Parker, that the state court would be overstepping if it sought to change the orders from the federal court.

"Now, it looks like Wilkinson's case is going to move forward; he's got a very good claim and the only issue is whether or not it will be collectible from this defendant," Ciolino said. 

When asked if the appeals court decision would have any implications for Jefferson Parish, Ciolino said it would not. 

"This has nothing to do with the parish," CIolino said. "This is really just a matter of a personal claim by Mr. Wilkinson against another solidary obligor who needs to pay her share."

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