A Baton Rouge city judge today threw out a restraining order request filed by East Baton Rouge Council on Aging Executive Director Tasha Clark-Amar against the family of a deceased elderly woman at the center of a recent controversy that became another black eye for the embattled nonprofit.
Judge Tarvald Smith told lawyers for Clark-Amar and Helen Plummer’s family, who allege Clark-Amar coerced the 95-year-old Plummer into naming her as the paid manager of Plummer’s estate, that the requests for a restraining order and an injunction belonged in district court, not Baton Rouge City Court.
Clark-Amar filed a defamation lawsuit in the 19th Judicial District Court against Tracie Davis, Plummer’s granddaughter, and other members of her family, after Davis alleged Clark-Amar used her position at the COA to influence her grandmother. Plummer was a client of the COA and died earlier this year.
Clark-Amar would have received $500 per month over the next 21 years to oversee Plummer’s will, but stepped down after facing scrutiny from the media and other public officials after the arrangement surfaced.
Smith, who earlier this week granted Clark-Amar’s request for a temporary restraining order until today’s hearing, decided the matter belongs in district court where the defamation suit is taking place.
“I commend you all for adhering to this temporary restraining order,” Smith said at the hearing, adding there is a “larger, looming” proceeding in district court.
Smith noted the request for a restraining order did not cite any specific allegations that Davis or the other members of her family harassed Clark-Amar at her home or job.
Charlotte McDaniel McGehee, Clark-Amar’s lawyer, said Clark-Amar has been receiving “hate mail” from people unconnected to the case but who have read media reports about the allegations.
“I get the emails,” Smith said of the alleged hate mail. “Minus those integral details that say she is in immediate threat … this court feels it should not hear it.”
Clark-Amar has faced public criticism since last year, when allegations began swirling that the COA illegally campaigned for a tax proposal that would more than double the agency’s budget.
The tax narrowly passed by a vote of the public in November, and this week the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office released a report that said the COA used public resources to campaign for the election—an apparent violation of state and federal law.
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III told Daily Report earlier this week his office is reviewing the report and will decide whether to bring criminal charges. Any non-criminal campaign or ethics-related charges will be handled by a separate agency from the DA.