Agenda Item
Docket No. 20-084
A request for an advisory opinion, submitted by Rachel Edelman (the Court Administrator for the Twenty-Second Judicial District Court), concerning whether the Louisiana Code of Governmental Ethics ("Code") would prohibit Marty Dean (District 1 - St. Tammany Parish Councilman) from entering into several transactions with the Twenty-Second Judicial District Court's Specialty Court.
Ms. Edelman stated that the 22nd Judicial District Court submits a yearly budget and amendments to the St. Tammany Parish President and the Parish Council for consideration and approval. However, the yearly budget does not include budgetary matters related to the 22nd Judicial District Court's Specialty Court because the Specialty Court is funded separately by grants. Despite this fact, Ms. Edelman is inquiring as to whether Councilman Marty Dean may enter transactions with the 22nd Judicial District Court's Specialty Court. The request for advisory opinion seeks guidance concerning the following three (3) situations:

  1. The Court is in need of office space for its Specialty Court staff. The Councilman owns several office spaces which are immediately available. The Court will be charged at the current rate; which other tenants are charged for similar space.
  2. The Court has a treatment provider for their Substance Abuse and Driver's Improvement Program ("SADIP") classes. When a defendant is sentenced to misdemeanor probation, a condition of their probation may be successful completion of the SADIP classes. The current provider for these classes charges a specific rate and requires a security officer to be present during these classes. However, the amounts collected by the Court from the defendants to cover these expenses have exceeded the amount collected, thus causing the court to sustain a loss over the last few years. The current provider has requested an increase in their contract rate and failed to sign our current contract so we are looking at other providers for this service. The Councilman has the requisite qualifications and credentials to provide the same or similar SADIP classes at the current rate without the need for a security officer present, nor the Court's involvement in collecting fees associated with this program. The Councilman, was previously the treatment provider for this class which was prior to him serving on the parish council.
  3. The Court, in family law matters, is in need of treatment providers who conduct substance abuse assessments and treatment, mental health evaluations and treatment, parenting coordination appointments. The Councilman has the requisite qualifications and credentials to provide this service to domestic litigants as ordered by the Court. The Councilman's name will be included on the Court approved list of treatment providers, but the litigants, self-represented or through their counsel of record, may select and agree on the Councilman as the appointed treatment provider.
La. R.S. 42:1111(A) prohibits a public employee from receiving anything of economic value, other than compensation and benefits from the governmental entity to which he is duly entitled, for the performance of the duties and responsibilities of his office or position.

La. R.S. 42:1111(C)(1)(a) prohibits a public servant from receiving any thing of economic value for any service, the subject matter of which is devoted substantially to the responsibilities, programs, or operations of the agency of the public servant and in which the public servant has participated.

La. R.S. 42:1112(A) states that no public servant, except as provided in R.S. 42:1120, shall participate in a transaction in which he has a personal substantial economic interest of which he may be reasonably expected to know involving the governmental entity.

La. R.S. 42:1113(A)(1)(a) states no public servant, excluding any legislator and any appointed member of any board of commission and any member of a governing authority of a parish with a population of ten thousand or less, or member of such a public servant's immediate family, or legal entity in which he has a controlling interest shall bid on or enter into any contract, subcontract, or other transaction that is under the supervision or jurisdiction of the agency of such public servant.

La. R.S.42:1120 provides that if an elected official, in the discharge of a duty or responsibility of his office or position, would be required to vote on a matter which would be a violation of R.S. 42:1112, he shall recuse himself from voting. An elected official who recuses himself from voting pursuant to this Section shall not be prohibited from participating in discussion and debate concerning the matter, provided that he makes the disclosure of his conflict or potential conflict a part of the record of his agency prior to his participation in the discussion and debate and prior to the vote that is the subject of discussion or debate.

Adopt the proposed opinion.
Assigned Attorney: LaToya Jordan
2020-084 - Advisroy Opinion Request Rachel Edelman
2020-02-24 Advisory Opinion.v2.draft (Docket No. 2020-084)