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Faulty ruling requires LA Supreme Court intervention

Faulty jurisprudence has kept Joe Shyne’s Shreveport City Council campaign alive for the moment, but it appears likely that the Louisiana Supreme Court will have to take up this matter to resolve it fully.

Reversing the lower court decision by Judge Jeanette Garrett, the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a pardon issued by former Gov. Mike Foster, which restored all rights except gun ownership to Shyne after his conviction on federal corruption charges, did in fact apply to a federal crime and thereby got around Art. I Sec. 10 of the Louisiana Constitution’s prohibition against convicted felons running for office until after 15 years have passed since sentence completed. Since Shyne’s sentence ran out (including probation) in 1998, he otherwise is ineligible to run for office.

But in a decision that has the hallmarks of washing, wringing, folding, spindling, and mutilating the Constitution to achieve a desired effect, the Court argued that the literal wording of the relevant section, an amendment added in 1998, didn’t actual mean what it says:

A person who has been convicted within this state of a felony and who has exhausted all legal remedies, or who has been convicted under the laws of any other state or of the United States or of any foreign government or country of a crime which, if committed in this state, would be a felony and who has exhausted all legal remedies and has not afterwards been pardoned either by the governor of this state or by the officer of the state, nation, government or country having such authority to pardon in the place where the person was convicted and sentenced. (emphasis added).

The majority argued that imprecision in the wording of the amendment and that by a stretch it could be viewed in conjunction with other parts of the Constitution as slightly confusing gave the Court permission to substitute its own interpretation of what that part of the Constitution actually meant. A dissent written by Judge D. Milton Moore III correctly noted that the decision was “littered with fallacies” beginning with the entire notion that the amendment left the incredible amount of latitude the majority needed to stake its claim and the Constitution allows for this. He also turned the majority’s assertion of inconsistency and confusion that allowed it to make free-wheeling interpretations against itself by showing how the majority selectively used prior jurisprudence and interpretations to buttress its claim.

Moore also pointed out that the decision even entirely misconstrued arguments made by Garrett. This powerful demonstration should be more than enough to interest the Louisiana Supreme Court into accepting the case on an expedited basis, and rendering a judgment once and for all reaffirming the amendment – serving as a reminder that, ultimately, the Constitution is what Louisianans, through the proper procedures, say it is, not what some judges think it ought to say.

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