Metro Council to form search committee for new parish attorney

Metro Council
The Baton Rouge Metro Council.

The Metro Council will form a five-member search committee to review and recommend candidates for a parish attorney position that came open in January when Lea Anne Batson abruptly resigned amid an effort to remove her from the job.

The committee will consist of designees from the LSU Law Center, Southern University Law Center and the Baton Rouge Bar Association, as well as Metro Council members Erika Green and Trae Welch, both attorneys.

The Metro Council also approved a motion, sponsored by Chandler Loupe, to begin advertising for the parish attorney job, allowing applicants 60 days to submit resumes.

Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wilson recommended creating the search committee as an amendment to Loupe’s item, which the council approved without objection.

In 2015, the last time the council had to hire a parish attorney in 2015—after the Loupe-led firing of Mary Roper—it followed the same protocol, a process that took months.

Welch, who served on the 2015 committee, says the search process will likely be similar this time around. After the 60-day advertising period, the committee will begin reviewing applications.

“We’ll have public hearings,” Welch says. “Last time we had some requirements that they have certain experience. I expect it to be the same.”

Councilwoman Chauna Banks, who also served on the 2015 search committee, was the only council member to raise issue with the committee, though she did not object.

“In theory, I like the idea, but it didn’t really work last time,” Banks said during the meeting. “There’s no fidelity in these things.”

Ultimately the Metro Council will go with the candidate they want, Banks told Daily Report today. During the last search, she says a deal had already been made among council members to choose Batson—though Batson was one of the candidates recommended by the committee.

“If the council creates a committee,” adds Banks, “it should have respect for the process.”

A more recent example of a search committee attempt gone awry was the airport director debacle, exposing a racial divide on the Metro Council that stalled the process, prompting most candidates to drop out.

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