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How can Suspended Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope qualify to run for re-election?

Brian Pope qualified to run for Lafayette City Marshal on July 24.
Brian Pope out of jail following last indictment
Posted at 4:49 PM, Jul 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 23:07:10-04

LAFAYETTE, La. — KATC Investigates is looking into how Suspended Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope is able to qualify for re-election for Lafayette City Marshal on the Nov. 3 ballot despite his felony conviction.

Pope qualified to run as a candidate for Lafayette City Marshal on Friday, July 24 with the Lafayette Clerk of Court.

Despite a felony conviction in 2018 and the Third Circuit Court of Appeal upholding it, Pope is still eligible to qualify until he exhausts the entire appeals process, which would be with the Louisiana Supreme Court.

KATC Investigates confirmed with Pope's attorney John McLindon that he has filed an appeal with the Louisiana Supreme Court.

On Oct. 3, 2018, a jury convicted Pope on one count of perjury and three counts of malfeasance in office, stemming from a public records dispute with The Independent.

According to the Secretary of State’s Office, a candidate with a felony conviction may still qualify to run for an election in Louisiana if they are still actively pursuing an appeal of their conviction.

A 2018 Louisiana Constitutional Amendment states that a person convicted of a felony may run for and hold public office if he or she has not exhausted all appeals and legal remedies and is not under an order of imprisonment.

According to the Lafayette Registrar of Voters Office, Pope is the only candidate running for Lafayette City Marshal who is unable to vote in Lafayette. He was suspended as a voter on Dec. 6, 2018, which is about two months after his conviction.

"We have checked this out and it is a unique situation," said Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court Louis Perett.

Perret added that, according to state law, Pope can still technically call himself the Lafayette City Marshal pending the outcome of his final appeals. But since he is suspended without pay that allows him to still seek re-election.

According to Perret, if the supreme court upholds Pope's conviction, then he would not be allowed to run for city marshal. However, if the supreme court overturns the court of appeal's decision prior to Nov. 3, then Pope would be reinstated as city marshal and would be allowed to vote.

According to court records, an appeal in Pope's case has been filed with the Louisiana Supreme Court on July 17.

McLindon said he expects a decision from the supreme court within the next month.

According to the Secretary of State’s Office, if a candidate fills out their candidacy form and signs and attests that they meet all of the qualifications then the Secretary of State’s Office and the Clerk of Court’s Office will accept that paperwork as a ministerial function. They will not challenge it, because challengers are done judicially.

However, a voter in the district could challenge it.

So in this case, a registered voter in Lafayette Parish could challenge Brian Pope’s qualification to run as Lafayette City Marshal because he is not currently registered to vote in Lafayette Parish.

Pope could then potentially be disqualified to run as Lafayette City Marshal. A challenge could be made to Pope's qualification to run until Friday, July 31 at 4:30 p.m.

Pope faces another trial for his 19 malfeasance in office charges from his December 2018 indictment that accuses him of supplementing his income with nearly $85,000 in fees collected by his office, despite an Attorney General’s opinion saying the money could only be used for office expenses.

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