Councilman questions attorney's role in annexation lawsuit

Councilman questions attorney's role in annexation lawsuit
Attorney Mary Olive Pierson (Source: Byron Thomas/WAFB)
Attorney Mary Olive Pierson (Source: Byron Thomas/WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The city limits of Baton Rouge proper grew larger Wednesday night, as the East Baton Rouge Metro Council said yes to some annex requests, but not before some rumbling.

The new moves don't help the cause of the proposed St. George movement. LSU at Ben Hur, L'Auberge Casino and several spots of land that link the areas were approved for annexation into the city of Baton Rouge. Obviously, the proposed city of St. George is surrounded by passionate debate on both sides.

However, the biggest debate at the council meeting was not on the annexation. It was on the role of attorney Mary Olive Pierson, who was hired to represent the city in a different annexation lawsuit.

"Who were you representing when you went to Kansas City?" asked Councilman Buddy Amoroso.

When the city of Baton Rouge was sued to challenge the annexation of the Mall of Louisiana, the Metro Council hired Pierson to represent its fight. She won the case, which is currently under appeal. That lawsuit is where her contract with the city ended. However, Pierson has also been very vocal against the proposed city of St. George.

"I will do everything I can, paid or not, to make sure that this city survives what I consider an attack on its base," Pierson said.

Not long ago, Pierson traveled to Missouri to meet with the heads of L'Auberge Casino and encourage them to annex. She paid for the trip herself and said she went on her own accord. During Wednesday night's meeting, it was that trip that Amoroso questioned.

"My question is: Can you do both? Can you be a community organizer, representing yourself going up to L'Auberge and same time, represent the city of Baton Rouge with the annexation item with Mr. Jenkins?" Amoroso asked.

"I don't see any conflict. I mean, I'm on your side," Pierson said.

"On whose side?" Amoroso questioned.

"The side of the city and the parish and my own side," Pierson responded.

"I think there is a conflict there and I move, I'm going to make a motion, that we remove you as attorney on the Jenkins case. I would like to go ahead and offer that as a motion," Amoroso stated.

His motion was tossed since it did not follow proper procedure. Other council members then went to Pierson's defense.

"I think it's absurd to think that she cannot do what she wants to do with her own money," said Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle.

Amoroso was the only council member to vote against the annexation request. The latest annexed properties are expected to take millions out of the proposed city's budget.

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