St. George verdict expected in a few weeks as trial ends

(Photo illustration by Hoa Vu)

The St. George incorporation trial ended today with the judge saying he will issue a ruling in the next few weeks.

Whichever way ad hoc Judge Martin Coady rules, the losing side is likely to appeal the decision, possibly all the way to the Louisiana Supreme Court. 

Coady, filling in for the recently retired William Morvant, will weigh whether the incorporation petition complied with the law, whether the proposed municipality will be able to provide services in a reasonable amount of time, and whether the incorporation itself is reasonable. In determining whether creating St. George is “reasonable” under the law, the judge can consider possible harm to neighboring communities. 

In a pretrial hearing, Coady ruled unconstitutional a provision of the East Baton Rouge Parish plan of government limiting the number of cities in the parish, which means a parishwide election would not be necessary for incorporation if the defendants prevail and the ruling is upheld. 

Voters who live in the proposed municipality approved forming the parish’s fifth city by a margin of 54%-46% in an October 2019 election. Mayor Sharon Weston Broome and Mayor Pro Tem LaMont Cole sued to block incorporation.