If the Metro Council approves Councilman LaMont Cole’s proposal to remove Parish Attorney Lea Anne Batson, which will be introduced at tonight’s meeting, the process for removal could unfold relatively quickly.
City-parish employees appointed by the Metro Council—such as Batson—can be removed by the council as long as it follows the procedure outlined in the city-parish Plan of Government, section 2.13.
A majority of the 12-member council must approve the removal measure, which will be taken up for a public hearing and vote at the Jan. 23 meeting if the introductory item passes tonight.
Then the council must give notice to the parish attorney containing a “clear statement of the grounds for such removal,” although the Plan of Government does not spell out what the grounds for removal must be.
The notice should also contain a time and place for a hearing at which Batson would be given the opportunity to defend her job.
The hearing must take place within 10 days after the notice is served and can be open to the public at the will of the person sought to be removed, Batson. She may also be represented by counsel at the hearing.
After Batson’s hearing, the council will make a final decision.
The Plan of Government does not outline any recourse the parish attorney may take if she believes she was fired unfairly. Her predecessor, Mary Roper, however, sued the city after the council removed her in 2015.
It still remains unclear why Cole has requested to remove Batson, although it appears to deal with personnel issues. According to emails obtained by Daily Report, Batson has said Cole wants to appoint her outgoing first assistant, Tedrick Knightshead, to the position. Knightshead submitted his resignation in November, which takes effect Jan. 31.