Judge dismisses lawsuit by St. George supporters seeking to overturn petition rejection

A Baton Rouge judge dealt yet another blow to supporters of the St. George incorporation movement today, when he threw out on a technicality a lawsuit filed by leaders of the incorporation movement against parish Registrar of Voters Steve Raborn.

St. George organizers filed the lawsuit last month, challenging the determination by Raborn’s office that their petition was 71 signatures shy of the nearly 18,000 needed to get the incorporation measure on a ballot. But 19th Judicial District Court Judge Wilson Fields said Raborn “did his job” and should not be compelled to review mistakes the St. George organizers claim his office made in the verification process.

“He threw it out before we even got to argue the merits,” says attorney Daniel Redmann, who represents the St. George supporters. “We have over 285 signatures that we have identified as being erroneously rejected, and we didn’t even get to present those.”

Redmann says he will meet with his clients to determine next steps. St. George spokesman Lionel Rainey says the group will decide in the coming days whether to file an appeal.

“It’s sort of surreal at this point,” Rainey says. “But we’re not going away.”

For opponents of the St. George movement, today’s ruling was not only the latest blow to the proposed city but a key one that could signal the end of the effort once and for all. Attorney Mary Olive Pierson—who has represented the city-parish in legal matters regarding the incorporation effort—says Field’s decision is a very positive result.

“Hopefully this will be over now and they can turn their attention to supporting our new superintendent of schools,” Pierson says.

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