Tara Wicker files Louisiana Supreme Court appeal

Updated: Aug. 15, 2020 at 7:16 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) -Tara Wicker and her legal team filed an appeal with the Louisiana Supreme Court Saturday, as she fights to get on the November ballot in the race for East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President.

Wicker’s appeal urged the high court to consider the fact that when there is not convincing evidence one way or the other, Louisiana law generally favors the candidate and the right for the electorate to be able to choose from among a wide range of candidates.

This situation began when three EBR parish residents filed suit challenging Wicker’s candidacy.

They allege that when Wicker qualified to run for mayor, she had not filed state income taxes for the years 2016 and 2018.

When qualifying to run last month, Wicker stated that she had indeed filed taxes for all five of the previous years. That is a condition required to run for that office.

Wicker continues to maintain that, to the best of her knowledge, all of her returns had been filed at the time she qualified to run.

In their initial lawsuit, the plaintiffs produced a response to their public records request they had filed with the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR).

The plaintiffs said they asked the agency for information about Wicker’s tax filings for the past five years.

The LDR’s response, introduced as evidence, said the agency was unable to “confirm filing” by Wicker for the years 2016 and 2018.

In their appeal to the Louisiana Supreme Court, Wicker’s legal team zeroed in on the fact that the response from the LDR was vague and that the plaintiffs did not produce the actual records request they filed with the LDR.

Wicker’s legal team says, without the actual records request being introduced into evidence, there is no way of knowing if the plaintiffs requested the correct information from the LDR.

“Without these documents, the Court could not determine whether the department’s inability to ‘confirm’ filings resulted from inaccurate information in the initial request,” the appeal stated.

District Court Judge Tim Kelley initially heard the case and ruled in favor of Wicker, saying he found her testimony to be credible.

The plaintiffs appealed to the First Circuit Court of Appeal and a panel of five judges reversed Kelley’s ruling in a 3-2 decision. That ruling meant Wicker was disqualified from running for mayor in November.

Wicker’s camp believes a hearing before the high court could happen as early as Tuesday but no date or time had been set as of early Saturday evening. Reached by email Saturday, one of the plaintiffs who filed suit, Sonny Cranch, referred questions to his attorney.

“l prefer not to comment on our case, but rather refer you to our attorney for any thoughts he might be willing to share about the matter,” Cranch said.

Cranch’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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