The Metro Council will soon begin the search process to appoint a permanent East Baton Rouge Parish Attorney, a position vacated in January when Lea Anne Batson abruptly resigned amid an effort to remove her from the post.
Metro Councilman Chandler Loupe, who was involved in the effort to remove Batson, will introduce an item at tonight’s meeting, authorizing the council administrator to advertise for applicants to submit résumés for the position, according to the meeting agenda.
The item will be up for public hearing at the March 13 council meeting. If approved, applicants will have 60 days to submit a résumé from the date of the first advertisement.
It’s unclear how the search and selection process will proceed following the 60-day period. Last time the Metro Council hired a new parish attorney, after a Loupe-led firing of Mary Roper in 2014, a search committee was formed to vet candidates and present recommendations to the council, which took months.
Loupe did not return multiple requests for comment. Other council members either did not return calls, declined comment or did not yet know how the search will be carried out.
The parish attorney position has been in question since December when councilman LaMont Cole initiated an effort to oust Batson. Cole never gave a reason for the move. Before the Metro Council could hold a removal hearing, though, Batson resigned on Jan. 22.
Former city prosecutor Andy Dotson was appointed as her interim replacement.
The ordeal unveiled deeper issues within the parish attorney’s office, particularly those involving Batson’s first assistant at the time, Tedrick Knightshead.
Despite a 2016 sexual harassment complaint and an unexplained month-long suspension in 2012, Knightshead remained key staff member in the office under Batson, and, although Knightshead was supposed to resign Jan. 31 over an unwillingness to follow rules put in place by Batson, Dotson has kept him on the payroll in a new position, with reduced hours.
The Metro Council, which oversees the parish attorney’s office, has remained essentially silent regarding these issues, as have other city-parish leaders, including Mayor Sharon Weston Broome.