Councilman files lawsuit to view recall petition

Posted at 5:55 PM, Aug 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-28 19:15:05-04

The councilman facing a recall petition in St. Martinville is still waiting to receive the list of signatures on that petition. According to court records, councilman Dennis Williams filed a lawsuit against petition organizers to see the signatures two weeks ago.

That document is public record, and according to Williams’ attorney, petition organizers won’t give it to them.

Last week, KATC spoke to one of the organizers, Mourice Smith. When asked how many signatures the petition had, he responded:

“That I care not to reveal. I think my opponent and his constituents may use a scare tactic to come back and suppress these signatures and ask them or force them to remove their names from the list. We’re not going to reveal that right now.”

Organizers have not publicly released the signatures. Now Williams and his attorney are going to court, demanding to see them.

“Once any citizen signs a recall petition, that document becomes a public record subject to the louisiana public records act,” Williams’ attorney Allan Durand said.

Durand says it’s been about 10 days since they requested the documents. According to the public record law, a custodian of the record must provide a written reason why the document isn’t public record within three days.

In the recall petition, organizers say they believe that Williams does not best represent the district.

“It came as a shock to him,” Durand said. “He just got re-elected recently and he’s been on the city council for a number of years now.”

Durand says the only reason they are requesting the list of names is because they want to make sure the people signing it actually live in the district and are registered to vote.

A court hearing will be held September 4. Durand says if the documents are not provided, organizers could face penalties and attorney fees.

Any order regarding fees would have to come from a judge.

In the meantime, Durand says Williams is doing everything he can to stay on the council.

“I think he plans to visit all the constituents in his district and explain to them what he’s doing,” Durand said. “What he’s trying to do is ask them to continue to keep him in office like he’s done for so many years.”