Another hearing, another delay as couple pursues judgment against Metro Council member Dunn
BATON ROUGE — What was supposed to be a contempt of court hearing for a Metro Council member's lawyer turned into something else entirely Tuesday: a hearing on whether a judge in a property dispute should be on the case at all.
Two of councilman Cleve Dunn's neighbors sued, saying a cabana and fence Dunn built in the wrong place caused flooding on their side of the property line. The legal fight has been the subject of numerous 2 On Your Side reports.
Judge Beau Higginbotham ruled in the couple's favor last spring after Dunn and his lawyer missed court hearings. The judge told Dunn to Donna and Eugene Michelli $57,000 and set a contempt hearing for lawyer Edmond Jordan to explain his absences.
Jordan is a state lawmaker and had asked for delays so he could tend to legislative matters. Higginbotham said no. In court Tuesday, Jordan said Higginbotham was obligated to grant him legislative privilege. "In our minds that creates an appearance of bias," Jordan said.
The state Supreme Court has upheld Higginbotham's rulings.
Along with no resolution to the contempt question, the attempt to remove the cabana and fence is at a standstill, the Michellis' lawyer said Tuesday.
"This is now six months old and there's still been no action by Mr. Dunn to remove the real threat of flooding of his neighbor's property," lawyer Charlotte McDaniel said. "I don't think it's fair to have these people in constant peril to have their property flooded because Mr. Dunn simply refuses to participate and chooses to continue and continue and continue."
Higginbotham turned down Jordan's request to step aside and set another hearing for Sept. 5 at 10 a.m.
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