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Judge to Lafayette marshal: Act on your sentence or pick up tras - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Judge to Lafayette marshal: Act on your sentence or pick up trash

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Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope speaks at an October 2015 press conference that ultimately led to a public records lawsuit, house-arrest sentence and seven-count felony indictment. Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope speaks at an October 2015 press conference that ultimately led to a public records lawsuit, house-arrest sentence and seven-count felony indictment.
LAFAYETTE -

The judge overseeing the public records lawsuit against Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope is threatening him with 173 hours of litter abatement if he fails to act on his community service sentence.

Judge Jules Edwards, of the 15th Judicial District, has given the marshal until Sept. 15 to provide a plan for how he’ll spend 173 hours teaching local public officials about public records law and compliance.

More than a year ago, Edwards found Pope guilty of contempt-of-court for failing to provide public records to The Independent. Along with financial penalties lodged against the marshal in the March 2016 judgment, Edwards ordered Pope to teach public officials 173 hours on public records law.

The judgment included specific orders to submit for the judge’s approval his plan for fulfilling the sentence.

In an Aug. 9 letter to Pope’s attorney, Edwards writes the marshal has so far not provided a plan.

“This suggests the Marshal has not yet started his community service work,” Edwards writes.

Marshal's latest reprimand

It’s the second time Edwards has admonished the marshal for failing to act on his sentence. In March of this year, he called on Pope to defend himself against a possible second contempt-of-court conviction for not providing any record of his community-service plans. The hearing came a year after the judgment and months after the marshal exhausted his appeal options.

In this month's correspondence, Edwards acknowledged Pope’s earlier argument that “there are limited opportunities” for the marshal to perform the community service. But he also points out that Pope hasn’t engaged the judge about how to best complete his sentence, either.

“Ignorance and innocence are not synonyms,” Edwards writes.

It's unclear whether Pope or his attorney have responded to the letter. Pope's attorney had not yet responded at press time to questions about the marshal's response.

Meanwhile, Edwards has signed off on a garnishment judgment for Pope to pay the more than $27,000 he still owes The Independent in the records lawsuit.

The sheriff will garnish 25 percent of Pope’s wages until the debt is paid off, according to the judgment. Pope signed the agreement, which was filed on Tuesday.

UPDATE, Aug. 25 12:30 p.m. Attorney Joy Rabalais, who represents the marshal and had been unavailable for comment earlier in the week because of a trial, said on Friday that Edwards approved the marshal's presentation materials this week, that Pope and the judge are in communication and that he "will fulfill every obligation" in the case.

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