Investigative Unit: Legal experts believe New Roads mayor is breaking the law
NEW ROADS - Tonight there are allegations the Mayor of New Roads is breaking the law. It involves juveniles he's been prosecuting in mayor's court.
Initially, Mayor Robert Myer acted like he didn't know what we were talking about, but after showing him our records it refreshed his memory.
"It's just wrong, clearly wrong," Attorney Cy D'Aquila said.
D'Aquila practices law in the New Roads. It's where he grew up. Tonight, he's worried the Mayor may have violated multiple juveniles' constitutional rights. We caught up with the mayor this afternoon, to get his explanation about prosecuting juveniles in mayor's court.
"I can't talk about juveniles underage in a court proceeding," Myer said.
Meeting minutes obtained by the WBRZ Investigative Unit from a council meeting last June show "Mayor Myer reported that four juveniles and their parents appeared in mayor's court as a result of an incident involving a bike theft. The parents will make restitution and the kids will be taken to visit the detention center as their community service," the minutes read.
"I can't talk about juveniles," Myer said. "I don't recall prosecuting any juveniles in mayor's court."
There are multiple attorney generals opinions dating back 30 years that say mayor's courts are not allowed to prosecute juveniles. When we caught up with the mayor, we found out he routinely has juveniles come before mayor's court.
About two minutes into our interview, and reminding him about what was in the public meeting minutes, Myer remembered.
"We've had juveniles come to mayor's court before," Myer said.
Loyola Law Professor Dane Ciolino in New Orleans believes the mayor is breaking the law.
"Mayors' courts have no juvenile jurisdiction," Ciolino said. "Louisiana Childrens' Code Art. 302, which establishes the juvenile jurisdiction of Louisiana's courts, does not include mayors' courts."
"We obviously have these laws and there's a system of checks and balances to make sure constitutional rights are protected, and clearly juveniles in our city, their rights are not protected," D'Aquila said.
We asked if it was concerning that Myer may have broken the law, "I don't think so," he replied.
Juveniles are supposed to face prosecution in juvenile court. If there's a municipality that doesn't have one the cases go to the parish or district courts. There are approximately 250 mayors' courts in operation across the state of Louisiana. Many of them primarily handle traffic citations.
Tonight, Mayor Myer gave no indication whether he'll stop his practices that have now been called into question.