Judge set to render decision related to court involvement in Mary Roper termination hearing

Judge set to render decision related to court involvement in Mary Roper termination hearing

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A hearing related to the lawsuit filed by the parish attorney of East Baton Rouge against the Metro Council went before a judge Tuesday morning, but he will not make a ruling until Friday.

Mary Roper's attorney is asking for Judge R. Michael Caldwell to put a process in place for the Metro Council to follow for her termination hearing. Roper wants an assurance of proper due process for the hearing because the decision cannot be appealed.

"I need to make sure things are done appropriately on the front end and that is the greatest concern," said Roper. "That if it's not done appropriately on the front end that we will be stuck with a decision at that point."

The attorney for the Metro Council, Murphy Foster, said there is a government plan of action and that is what will be followed for the termination hearing. The council's attorney added a judge cannot give legal advice.

"The problem is that Ms. Roper sees herself as an employee and the Metro Council as an employer, as opposed to an attorney-client, which is subjecting this matter to an entirely different set of rules," said Foster.

Caldwell gave both sides until Wednesday afternoon to submit briefs. He said he will render his decision Friday at 10 a.m. The three issues they must submit arguments on are:

Is this a real controversy?
Why or why not should judge give advisory opinion?
Prior restraint - Court cannot keep government from following its own plan of action

Roper filed suit against the entire East Baton Rouge Metro Council on August 12. She was scheduled to have a termination hearing before the Metro Council the next day. However, on the morning of August 13, a judge granted a temporary restraining order on due process grounds only. The TRO postponed the 2 p.m. termination hearing that was set to go before the Metro Council until Tuesday's hearing.

Roper came under fire after some members of the Metro Council said they lost confidence in her as parish attorney after an investigation in which officials said she sent an East Baton Rouge Parish-developed computer program to a personal email account.

A hearing before the Metro Council on whether to remove Roper as parish attorney was initially set for June, but was deferred because Roper struck a deal to take over as legal counsel for the Retirement System Office. The job would have allowed her to keep her retirement with the city-parish.

However, Roper declined the job and filed the suit.

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