Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has been served with a subpoena by the office of the Sheriff of the Parish of East Baton Rouge to appear at a hearing on the lawsuit objecting to her candidacy held by Judge Winston Fields in Baton Rouge in his courtroom at the 19th Judicial Court on Friday at 9 am.
However, the subpoena issued by the Clerk of Courts failed to explicitly require Senator Landrieu’s attendance at the hearing, as Judge Fields’s order of September 2 directed the Clerk of Court to do.
Instead, the citation gave Senator Landrieu an alternative to a personal appearance in court Friday.
The order, signed by Judge Wilson Fields on September 2, directed the Clerk of Court to “prepare a citation for service on the defendants directing them to appear in court at 9:00 am on September 5, 2014, for a hearing on the merits in this matter, as required by La. R.S. 18:1406 (C).” It also directed the Clerk of Court to “accept service on behalf of defendant, Mary L. Landrieu, as her agent for service of process in this action, pursuant to La. R.S. 18:1407.”
Judge Fields also “FURTHER ORDERED that the Sheriff of East Baton Rouge Parish make a diligent effort to personally serve defendant, Mary L. Landrieu, at 4301 S. Prieur Street, New Orleans, Lousiana.”
The Clerk of Court issued a citation, dated September 3, 2014 and addressed to “Candidate Mary L. Landrieu through the Clerk of Court for the Parish of East Baton Rouge, Doug Wellborn,” signed by Catherine A. Brandon, Deputy Clerk to the Clerk of Court, Doug Wellborn.
The citation, however, did not follow the judge’s order to compel Senator Landrieu to appear in court personally on Friday.
Instead, it stated, “You must EITHER do what the petition [submitted by plaintiff’ Hollis’s attorney] asks [that is, to appear in court on Friday September 5] OR, within fifteen (15) days after you have received these documents, you must file an answer or other legal pleadings in the office of the Clerk of Court at 200 North Boulevard, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. If you do not do what the petition asks, or if you do not file an answer or legal pleading within fifteen (15) days, a judgement may be rendered against you without further notice.”
Casey Rayborn Hicks, public information officer for the Sheriff of the Parish of East Baton Rouge, told Breitbart News Thursday that the subpoena issued by Louisiana’s 19th Judicial District and delivered to the Sheriff’s office for service on Wednesday has been legally served on Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA).
As Breitbart News reported Wednesday, Senator Landrieu was issued two subpoenas by Louisiana’s 19th Judicial District to appear in person on Friday morning at a hearing in a Baton Rouge courtroom held by Judge Winston Fields on the case of Paul Hollis versus Mary L. Landrieu and Tom Schedler, Louisiana Secretary of State.
“The service requested in East Baton Rouge was on Mary Landrieu thru the Clerk of Court, and also on Doug Welborn. Meaning it was served to the Clerk of Court,” Ms. Hicks told Breitbart News.
According to the plaintiff in the case, State Representative Paul Hollis, under Louisiana Election Code, all candidates for public office agree to accept service in civil litigation through any Clerk of Court in any Judicial District in the state. Legally, serving the Clerk of Court with a subpoena addressed to Senator Landrieu is no different than personally serving Senator Landrieu with a subpoena addressed to her.
Ms. Hicks also told Breitbart News, “[t]he clerk would have sent a copy of this petition to New Orleans for the Sheriff in New Orleans to serve at the address listed in New Orleans.”
The supporting documentation sent to Breitbart News by Ms. Hicks shows that Craig Landry, an employee of the Sheriff’s Department, served Doug Wellborn, the Clerk of Court in the 19th Judicial District, with the subpoena addressed to Senator Landrieu at 10:31 am on Wednesday, September 3.
Breitbart News asked Senator Mary Landrieu’s Washington office on Thursday morning if the Senator had been served with the subpoena and if she intended to appear in the Louisiana courtroom on Friday. A member of her Senator Landrieu’s staff told Breitbart News, “that would be a question her campaign would need to answer.”
Several calls to Senator Landrieu’s campaign offices were not returned Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
The existence of the judge’s order compelling her appearance and the subpoenas requiring her to either appear or submit a pleading within 15 days, however, present Senator Landrieu with legal and political problems.
Though the failure of the Clerk of Court to follow the judge’s order requiring her personal appearance may give Senator Landrieu some temporary wiggle room, failure to appear in court tomorrow or to indicate an intention to submit a pleading within 15 days could expose her to significant legal consequences.
When civil defendants fail to respond to lawfully served subpoenas, one legal consequence available at the discretion of the presiding judge is to issue a bench warrant for their arrest.
Judge Fields’s order of September 2 also directed the Clerk of Court to issue a citation to the other defendant in the case, Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler. There is no evidence that the Clerk of Court complied with that directive from Judge Fields.
“Secretary of State Tom Schedler has not been subpoenaed in the Landrieu suit,” Meg Casper, spokesperson for Louisiana Secretary of State Schedler told Breitbart News on Thursday.
Breitbart News has left several messages with the public information officer for the Clerk of Court in Louisiana’s 19th Judicial District over the past three days requesting comment on this story but has not received a response.