TERRIBLE BILL O’ THE DAY: “Legislator Privilege” In Louisiana’s Courtrooms?

Here’s something more than a little bizarre, and seeing as though it’s such a naked bit of self-dealing, we thought it worthy of mention.

Edmond Jordan is a black Democrat from North Baton Rouge, and some think he’s destined to succeed Sharon Weston Broome as the city’s next mayor-president. That’s a year away, so it’s hard to handicap. What we can say is that Jordan is known for agitating on behalf of Alton Sterling’s family after that career criminal was killed in a scuffle with police, he’s managed to poke the racial bear more than once and he’s decidedly on the left of the Democrat Party in Louisiana. Jordan’s LABI scorecard rating last year was 31 percent, which was one of the lowest in the legislature (far-left Denise Marcelle, generally regarded as the worst of the Baton Rouge area legislators, outpaced Jordan at 35 percent last year).

But this doesn’t even have anything to do with ideology. It doesn’t even involve public policy, really. It’s just a straight-up privilege grab.

We’re talking about HB 544, which deals with getting continuances in Louisiana courtrooms if you’re a state legislator. And it’s nuts.

The bill goes seven pages. From the digest…

Proposed law expands present law and provides that the peremptory grounds are available when such person is engaged in activities in connection with the legislator’s role as legislator or duty to the constituents for which the legislator is eligible to receive a per diem.

Proposed law provides that the court shall take judicial notice any time the legislature or any legislative committee, task force, special select committee, commission, or subcommittee convenes, and the member or employee is required to attend.

Present law (R.S. 13:4163(D)(2)) provides that a motion for legislative continuance or extension shall be filed at no cost to the member, employee, or a member or employee’s client.

Proposed law retains present law and provides that if a party or attorney opposes a motion for continuance or extension, the court shall award attorney fees of at least $1,000 and court costs to the member or employee. The attorney who opposes a motion for continuance or extension shall also be subject to sanctions pursuant to C.C.P. Art. 863 by the judge presiding at the time of the motions.

So if you’re a lawyer who’s in the state legislature, you get to file for a continuance in a case you’re representing a client in, pretty much at any time you can say legislative business tightens your schedule. And if the opposing party doesn’t agree they’ve got to cough up a grand to you, not to mention court costs. Oh, and Jordan wants sanctions on those dissenting lawyers as well.


There’s a back story to this bill. There usually is a back story when something this stupid turns up. In this case the back story actually makes it worse.


One Baton Rouge attorney tells 2 On Your Side that House Bill 544 is not constitutional. Last year, a similar bill was filed (HB644) but stalled in the senate and didn’t go anywhere.

The bill filing follows a civil suit where Jordan represented East Baton Rouge Metro Councilman Cleve Dunn. Eugene Michelli filed suit against Dunn in 2021 after he did some work on his home, which is outside of his district. Dunn installed a pool cabana, fence, and a new driveway. The city found several issues with the work that’s not permitted. Last month, Michelli won the case after Dunn and Jordan missed two court appearances.

“We want to move on, we just want to move on,” Michelli said.

While in contempt after missing the first March court date, Jordan filed a continuance for the next hearing on March 23. It was denied and he sought legislative continuance by the State Supreme Court, which was also denied. On that court date, neither Dunn nor Jordan showed up and the case was handed to Michelli.

Soon after, Jordan filed HB544, which essentially gives a lawyer/legislator an excuse to get out of court with no opposition.

So this is about getting popped in court and filing a bill to show everybody who’s boss.

Baton Rouge attorney Jennifer Prescott says as it’s written now the bill is unconstitutional, giving the lawyer-legislator a lot of power that could delay the court process.

“Cases could just completely flounder both on the criminal and civil side by continuances that many not be necessary,” Prescott said.

In Michelli’s case, a civil matter was delayed and could have been delayed further.

“Mr. Jordan was trying to delay any penalties or damages or any judgements in this case for as long as possible and the actions that were taken by Judge Higginbotham and his order denying the ex parte continuance have been reflected in the bill that has been filed this session,” she said.

As Prescott also noted, legislator-litigators can get judges who deny these continuances recused according to this bill.

We’ll give Jordan credit for the sheer audacity of bringing such a flaming pile of poo disguised as a real piece of legislation. HB 544 is certainly not that, and as such the award for Terrible Bill O’ The Day goes to Democrat state representative and not-all-that-successful-litigator Edmond Jordan.



Interested in more news from Louisiana? We've got you covered! See More Louisiana News
Previous Article
Next Article

Trending on The Hayride