Baton Rouge (PPN), Today Attorney Whitney Higginbotham Greene, brought forth a challenge in the 19th Judicial District Court regarding whether newly elected Judge Johnell Matthews can serve as Baton Rouge City Court Judge. Greene claims that due to Johnell Matthews’s age (70) that the court should vacate the election results and declare Greene the winner.
The case came before Judge William Morvant who previously heard a similar issue on August 11, 2020, when resident and taxpayer Donald Luther Jr. filed a state court lawsuit seeking to stop the election, remove Matthews’ name from the ballot and have Greene declared the winner.
Judge Morvant denied that request and said any challenge to Matthews’ candidacy had to be filed by January 17, a week after she qualified.
Today, Judge William Morvant believes that Greene’s challenge was similar to the previous claim filed by Donald Luther Jr. Judge Morvant still felt that any challenge to Matthews’s candidacy should have been before the election. Morvant referred back to the decision from the Louisiana Supreme Court, which allowed Matthews to remain in the race for Judge. The Louisiana Supreme Court cited that had it not been for the global pandemic, Matthews’s age would not have restricted her to serve.
Judge Morvant also referred to the exceptions the Louisiana Supreme Court used when it considered Matthews’s reasoning for remaining in the race. The Louisiana Supreme Court considered Governor John Bel Edwards’s proclamation that pushed the election day back a few months due to COVID-19. Morvant believes, “but for” the global pandemic, Matthews’s age would not have been a factor.
Judge Morvant said, “I do not believe that it is proper to grant Greene the winner after the people of this parish have voted Matthews as Judge. At best, if Greene’s petition is granted, a new election would be the remedy.”
Judge Morvant felt as though it would be unfair to Matthews to disqualify her even after all of the Louisiana Supreme Court’s previous exceptions due to COVID-19. Judge Morvant believe that Matthews had no control over the Governor’s decision to push back the election due to the global pandemic. “She should not be punished for something she had no control over,” said Morvant. He rationalized his decision to dismiss Greene’s case, citing the Louisiana Supreme Court decision to allow Judge “Chip” Moore to properly qualify after the deadline and the exception to enable law students to practice law without taking the bar exam.
Judge Morvant dismissed Greene’s case with prejudice and authorized the Louisiana Secretary of State to issue Matthews’s commission to sit as Baton Rouge City Court Judge.
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