Judge rules Woody Jenkins has no standing in annexation lawsuit

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Louisiana Politics

POSTED: Monday, August 4, 2014 - 9:08pm

UPDATED: Friday, August 8, 2014 - 11:47am

The future of the city of St. George is far from decided, but supporters lost an important fight in court Monday. Judge Janice Clark ruled against a lawsuit that challenged the annexation of the Mall of Louisiana and Baton Rouge General.

Woody Jenkins argued that the Metro Council violated local and state law when it approved those annexation requests. But Judge Clark ruled that Jenkins does not have standing to file a suit in this case.

"The case is over. For now," said Mary Olive Pierson, the attorney representing the city-parish, "until it gets to the Court of Appeal."

Jenkins claimed that forcing the Baton Rouge Police Department to cover the mall would deplete its resources, making crime worse in his neighborhood.

"No, we're not spread too thin. We're serving the citizens of Baton Rouge just like we have been, and will continue to do," said Chief of Police Carl Dabadie.

"I have one officer assigned to the mall. We typically handle about 4-5 calls a day, on average. So that officer is more than, can more than easily handle that call volume.

"And let's not forget that the mall has its own security force, also. So we're not the only ones that are out there, actually providing security services."

When the Metro Council extended the city limits to include the mall and the hospital, critics said they were trying to derail the St. George incorporation effort. Jenkins favors St. George, but claimed his motives were non-political. 

"Well, if it were a political interest, we would've challenged the annexation of Our Lady of the Lake," he stated. "Because what they did was, they annexed Our Lady of the Lake, the Baton Rouge General, and the mall in order to mess up the boundaries of St. George.

"Our concern here is lawlessness at the Metro Council level."  

"The political foes of the city and the ones that want to support St. George, they just picked the wrong horse to ride in this lawsuit," Pierson said, based on the judge's ruling.

The big box stores at the mall were not included in the annexation petition, and the Kansas City Railroad and a home-builder did not sign on.

"The plan of government and state law says that an area annexed has to be a compact body of land," Jenkins noted. "And obviously, if you look at the map of the mall and what was annexed and what was not, it looks like donut holes."

Jenkins said he will appeal Monday's decision to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. He expects the final decision on his standing in the case will not come any time soon.

"Probably, either way it goes in the Court of Appeals, it'll go up to the Supreme Court on the standing issue," he guessed. "And if we do prevail at the Supreme Court on standing, then it'll come back down for a hearing on the merits.

"And we think the merits are very strong. That's why the City of Baton Rouge is fighting it on procedural grounds, because the merits are really against them."

To read Jenkins' suit, click the attachment below. 

Woody Jenkins Annexation Lawsuit.pdf86.18 KB

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Dear judge, check is in the mail. Kip

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