Louisiana’s full Senate convened as a disciplinary committee Wednesday morning, preparing for next Monday’s hearing on whether or not to remove Napoleonville Senator Troy Brown from office.
Brown, who twice pleaded “no contest “ to battery on two different women, served jail time in January for one of those convictions. He has already been removed from serving on all Senate committees, and has also filed state district court motions to try and halt the Senate’s proceding to expel him.
Brown’s attorney, Jill Craft, appeared before the committee of the whole to request subpoenas for next week’s hearing. First, she asked to receive all senators’ recent emails and text messages.
“We just want to know if y’all have been straw-polling and taking votes outside the confines of this disciplinary proceeding,” Craft explained.
There were objections, and Craft responded, “We are subject to the laws of the State of Louisiana, specifically the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure. Under the law it’s relevant, and likely to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence at the trial.”
Senate President John Alario clarified: this is not a court.
“It is a regular committee meeting, not a trial. Procedure would fall under the normal rules of the Senate for committee hearings,” Alario said. “The Code of Civil Procedure belongs in judicial proceedings, and certainly doesn’t apply in this case.”
“Are you telling me that the law of the state of Louisiana is not going to apply in this proceeding?” Craft asked
”The laws of the state of Louisiana apply to the rules of the Senate,” Alario replied.
That subpoena was denied, as was one for records of all legislative disciplinary actions, going back to January1, 1900.
It was acknowledged by the Senate that the only prior time a senator had been ousted from the body was in 1981. Gaston Gerald of Baton Rouge was convicted of extortion – a felony -- and sent to federal prison, and was removed from his seat while serving time.
Noting that her client had only faced misdemeanor charges,Craft also asked to subpoena all police records concerning all lawmakers.
“He is absolutely entitled to find out how many of y’all have misdemeanors, as well.”
Senator Dan Claitor, author of the resolution to expel Brown, told Craft, “It is not a question of misdemeanors. It is a question of beating women multiple times.”
Becoming increasingly frustrated by having each subpoena request voted down, Craft said at one point, “Part of the problem is y’all have absolutely no standards!”
Senator J.P. Morrell, who is also an attorney, reminded her, “The standard is not in the rules as a felony or a misdemeanor. The standard is what we determine as a body is ‘unbecoming a senator’.”
“I’m sorry, but I thought the standard was the Louisiana Constitution and the laws of this state, many of which you wrote and enacted!” the exasperated lawyer for Sen. Brown replied.
The full Senate hearing on whether to suspend or expel Brown is scheduled for 9 a.m., Monday. morning at 9.