The hearing was called to order by Judge Bruce Bolin, Judge ad hoc, appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court. The hearing on August 13, 2019 was scheduled pursuant to the request for temporary restraining order and permanent injunction filed by local resident and taxpayer, Alan McMurtry, who filed suit against the Natchitoches Parish Government and Rick Nowlin as the president of the Natchitoches Parish Government.
McMurtry alleged in his Petition that Rick Nowlin as Parish President, had violated the Home Rule Charter and local ordinances passed by the Parish Council by declaring “emergencies” and circumventing the Parish Council regarding budgetary matters.
Judge Bolin, after considering the pleadings that were filed into evidence as well as exhibits filed into evidence by counsel for Alan McMurtry, Geoff Westmoreland, and counsel for the Natchitoches Parish Government, Steve Mansour, denied Mr. McMurtry’s request for a temporary restraining order as of the hearing date, but held open the option for the court to issue a TRO or injunction at a later date, if necessary. Judge Bolin indicated that the matter would be set for trial at some point soon in the future on the permanent injunction issue. The trial date has not been scheduled at this time.
McMurtry presented evidence that included his pleadings, ordinances of the Natchitoches Parish Government which limit the Parish President’s authority to spend funds, and two (2) Emergency Declarations by Rick Nowlin as Parish President, declaring emergencies on the 25th day of March 2019, and on the 29th day of May 2019, together with five videos from the June Parish Council meeting.
Judge Bolin viewed the video evidence presented by counsel for McMurtry that documented public comments made by both President Rick Nowlin and Director of Public Works, John Richmond, admitting that there were no “emergency” conditions that led to one or both of the emergency declarations. One of the videos presented to the Court documents the admissions of Nowlin and Richmond that no emergencies existed. (The videos introduced into evidence are attached for the public to view).
McMurtry, through his counsel, argued that the Parish President had violated the Home Rule Charter and Ordinances adopted by the Parish Council which limit the capability of the Natchitoches Parish President and imposes spending restrictions on line-item budgetary matters. McMurtry requested that the court enter a restraining order to stop the practice of the Parish President acting through “Emergency” Orders, which are alleged to violate the Home Rule Charter. The parties stipulated that the emergency orders on their face had expired and that the expenditures under said emergency declarations had been exhausted.
The court, after considering the pleadings and exhibits, denied the request for temporary relief but did not dismiss the lawsuit and ordered the matter fixed for trial on the merits.
NOTE: The Video clips shown above were obtain by a written request to the McMurtry attorney.