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State dismisses challenge of Anseman's candidacy - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

State dismisses challenge of Anseman's candidacy

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Vanessa Waguespack Anseman is running for Third Circuit Court of Appeal Judge. Vanessa Waguespack Anseman is running for Third Circuit Court of Appeal Judge.

UPDATE:  Vanessa Waguespack Anseman can proceed with her campaign for the Third Circuit Court of Appeal, an election for which thousands of early votes have already been taken just a week before this Saturday's primary election.

At an appeals hearing Monday morning at the Lake Charles-based court Anseman's vying to join, the 27th Judicial District Attorney's Office moved to dismiss its case because of a correction on the candidate's record issued late Friday by the state Supreme Court. The high court's measure means Anseman reached the 10 years in question last month.

Don Richard, who represented the 27th Judicial District in its challenge, quickly moved to dismiss the case Monday morning.

"We've wasted everybody's time already," Richard said in court.

The dismissal vacates a ruling issued by 27th Judicial District Judge Alonzo Harris, who upheld the DA's challenge and found Anseman ineligible to run. It also dismisses  the Secretary of State's challenge to Harris' ruling, which came weeks beyond the seven-day deadline state law mandates to challenge a candidate's eligibility.

"The election code is not just a document. It's the law," Anseman said after the hearing.

According to a notice issued Friday, the state Supreme Court rescinded a notice of ineligibility that found Anseman ineligible to practice on May 31, 2013, because she lacked the appropriate continuing education hours.

Her new ineligibility date is listed as Sept. 9, 2013, for failing to pay her Louisiana State Bar Association and Louisiana Attorney Discipline Board, which means she'll be beyond the 10 years in question from the January date she became re-eligible to practice to the March 25 election.

Anseman said her records show she took more than enough continuing education hours that year, but the Supreme Court did not review her documents in time for last week's trial in St. Landry Parish.

Still, Anseman maintained her argument that the Louisiana Constitutional language that states one must be "admitted" to the practice for 10 years means 10 years from the moment an attorney is admitted into the bar, lest that attorney be disbarred.

"You get one birthday. You get one admission date," Anseman said.

Harris determined Anseman was ineligible based on a three-prong test: could she practice practice law, could she collect fees and could she appear in court. The answer to each question was no, Harris ruled, and that means the state's challenge to her eligibility was correct. Prior to that, he ruled that St. Landry District Attorney Earl Taylor's challenge to her candidacy wasn't filed too late.

The Secretary of State's Office appealed the ruling on the timing of the challenge, citing a state law that requires all candidacy challenges to be filed within seven days of a candidate's qualification for office. Anseman challenged the timing of the challenge and the ruling itself, claiming that she did meet the state Constitution's requirement of 10 years as a practicing attorney.

To read our prior stories on the case, click here and here

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