Dispute over Red River Waterway Commission appointment moves into Natchitoches courtroom

Dispute over Red River Waterway Commission appointment moves into Natchitoches courtroom
(Source: KSLA)

NATCHITOCHES, LA (KSLA) - The spar over an appointment made by Governor John Bel Edwards to the Red River Waterway Commission has now entered the legal arena.

Attorney General Jeff Landry filed a lawsuit back in September after Governor John Bel Edwards appointed Michael DeVille, a resident of Rapides Parish, to the board following the death of Mickey Prestridge.

The lawsuit, filed in Natchitoches Parish, claims the appointment was unlawful.

The Caddo Levee Board unanimously voted to recommend Carolyn Prator, a long-time officer of the board who oversaw flood control during two floods of the Red River, to take over the seat vacated by Prestridge. Carolyn Prator is also Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator’s wife.

(Source: KSLA)

The governor’s office rebutted with a lengthy statement in September saying “Everyone should see this for what it is – another cheap political stunt from the attorney general. The simple fact of the matter is that Caddo Parish is not lacking any representation on the commission." Read the full statement here.

The lawsuit also requests orders from the court to stop the Red River Waterway Commission from recognizing DeVille as a member of the commission and from recognizing and treating Ronald Lattier, as the Caddo Parish member of the commission.

On Thursday, December 6 lawyers presented three arguments.

The first was from Edwin Dunahoe, who is representing Lattier, questioned if Carolyn Prator was a proper party to be a plaintiff in this lawsuit. Dunahoe said she didn’t hold any title to the office that would permit her to qualify as an interested person in the case.

The second argument was from the Red River Waterway Commission’s lawyers. They feel the commission shouldn’t be in the lawsuit because it’s asking them to do things that are improper and things they don’t have the authority to do.

The last was from Michael DeVille’s attorney. He argued that the main person constantly mentioned was Governor John Bel Edwards and he should be included in this lawsuit.

Attorney General Jeff Landry told KSLA News 12 he thought the hearing went great. Landry said he is here to protect the interest of the people of Louisiana when it comes to making sure laws are followed.

Landry’s attorney, who is also representing Mrs. Prator, is Alexander Reinboth. He said they just want the court to recognize that these appointments were unlawful and that they want the Red River Waterway Commission to uphold this if the judge rules in their favor.

The Red River Waterway Commission, Michael DeVille and Ronald Lattier’s lawyers will have to write and submit briefs in the next 30 days. Landry’s attorney will then get three weeks to respond, and then the other lawyers will have two weeks to respond after that.

A court date for everyone to meet again was not set.

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