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Ponchatoula , Louisiana
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April 25, 1985     The Ponchatoula Times
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April 25, 1985
 

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Thursday, April 25, 1985--4th Year, Number 30 50 ˘ THE PONCHA TO ULA TIMES on-judge judge on Ponchatoula bench By BRYAN T. McMAHON Editor & Publisher i Hundreds of Ponchatoula citizens ve been fined, sentenced to jail or put on prisoner work crews by a "judge" aPParently not qualified to hold court. That is the chief finding of an ongoing into the Ponchatoula Court conducted by this .paper. h Information obtained by the r_Onchatoula Times indicates that Mayor hazles Gideon illegally appointed Ouncilman Danny Pepitone to the i,rYOr's seat on the local bench, even both men learned that such an aPPointment was forbidden by a 1981 lte law (Louisiana Revised Statute :a,41). The law states that if the mayor does t preside over mayor's court he can, h the approval of the city council, int a practicing attorney to sit in his (see box for exact wording of , but not a non-attorney Uncilman. the legal opinion supplied by the Municipal Association was just anoth.er nonbinding legal opinion• The mayor read from a purported letter asking Attorney General William Guste Jr. to give an opinion on the matter, which he said was dated April 9, 1985. As of Friday, Attorney General staffers in Baton Rouge said they had received no such letter or request. Gideon, for the first time since the early months of his current term, took the bench in mayor's Court Monday night saying earlier that day that Pepitone had stepped down until the attorney general's opinion arrived at City Hall saying he could serve. But during his Monday morning interview Gideon stood by his agreement with Pepitone to let the councilman preside over the local court. He claimed that other cities in Louisiana (without naming any) were in an identical position, with non-mayors, non-attorneys acting as judges. Gideon praised Pepitone for attending La. Municipal Association THE LAW R.S. 33:441. Mayor's court A. Except as provided in Chapter 7 of Title 13, there shall be a mayor's COurt in the municipality, with jurisdiction over all violations of municipal dinances. The mayor may try all breaches of the ordinances and !mpo es or imprisonment or both, provided for the imraction thereol. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the mayor may also impose court costs not to exceed fifteen dollars for each offense, as defined by ordinance, on any defendant convicted of a violation ot a municipal ordinance• B. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the board of aldermen in its discretion may, upon request of the mayor, appoint an ttorney who shall be designated as court magistrate and who shall serve at e pleasure of the mayor and may from time to time be designated by the mayor to serve in his stead as the presiding official over the mayor's court. Whenever the magistrate is so designated by the mayor to preside over the mayor's court, he shall exercise the powers and authority of the mayor over Said court. The board of aldermen shall fix and pay the salary of the magistrate, if one is appointed. on the bench locally, Pepitone cases ranging from simple traffic to offenses punishable by up days in iail. and hefty fines with d reduced sentences spent their time on a prisoner attorneys questioned by the agree the city is now in serious of suffering lawsuits brought by who were fined or inprisoned by Pepitone. the real judge who conducted a court seminar at the La. Association's convention in Charles August II, 1984, ded by Gideon, Pepitone and City Bob Troyer, said he made it "in layman's language" that only or duly appointed attorneys serve in the state's mayors courts. George Murray Jr. of Vidalia in a telephone interview Monday the 1981 law banning non-lawyer s to the bench was the of his address to the Municipal members, saying that it have been hard to his message. s has also learned that early the newspaper's investigation, obtained a legal opinion from Municipal Association, never public, which stated that the to the bench law. Still Pepitone was to hear cases in Ponchatoula's Monday concerning his of the apparent illegality, stonewalled, saying of Judge ss, "That judge's opinion not have the authority of an opinion," adding that Ward Court seminars such as the one conducted by Judge Murray in August and said he was pleased with his performance on the bench. "! got a lot of street work done, a lot of free labor that helped us clean up the city. l'd have to have a long talk with any attorney who wanted to be judge to explain the benefit of the street crew," said the mayor. "If the attorney general tells me no, 1'11 stop," said the mayor, who added that he disagreed with the mayor's court law in Louisiana: "The mayor shouldn't be judge. The mayor should have some kind of judicial training to do that...lf there are any repercussions I will bear the brunt of them," said Gideon. City Attorney Bob Troyer ducked questions put to him by. reporters investigating the case, saying that his position with the mayor and council constituted a confidential attorney-client relationship. But former Mayor Collins Bonicard, who held court during his recent two term stint as Ponchatoula's chief executive, expressed surprise that Gideon would appoint a non-lawyer to hear local cases that could result in jail time for Ponchatoula citizens. Citizens ordered before the apparenfly-fflegal judge are included in the following list obtained from public court records kept by the Ponchatoula Police Department, dating from September 1984, about the time Gideon let Pepitone take over the bench (pressed fnr ,n exact date, Gideon said he could not recall when he turned over the benchl: John Davis Mark Clayton . Edward M. Perret J.W. Palmer t take Ponchatoula's cases Staff Report Ward Court is no longer cases from Ponchatoula, those involving juveniles, Walter Parker confirmed official reason given is that there nger any available prosecutors state. unofficial reasons for the standoff between Judge John court and Mayor Charles , hall are not hard to find. Gideon who alerted Times to the story when he was regarding apparently in Ponchatoula's Mayor's You want to ask questions about why don't you ask why we have :ut off from service by the Seventh spite of the fact that elected the judge and the supposed to serve the entire a letter from (Clerk of Court) Parker saying they would no take Ponchatoula cases,'" Gideon told the Times. Seventh Ward Court, in addition to its juvenile division which is still handling Ponchatoula cases, used to handle misdemeanors too serious for the Mayor's Court here to handle, such as Driving While Intoxicated offenses, Driving Under a Revoked License, Possession of Marijuana, Shoplifting and the like, according to Ponchatoula's Walter Parker. Told of Gideon's suggestion to ask him why the ward court was no longer serving Ponchatoula, Parker replied, "He (Gideon) should be asked why Ponchatoula has never contributed to the funding of this court. There has been only one time in the past when Ponchatoula provided funds, $1,500, for juvenile court. This court's annual share should be between 10 and 30 percent (of court operation cost), according to the statutes." Parker confirmed that cases normally heard in Seventh Ward Court In Hammond will now be referred to district court tn Arnlte If they originate In Ponchatoula. Leroy Jenkin Danzat David Trudy Waguespack Clinton Mizell Jr. Tammy Mitchell Ro.y Mercier Francis Chauvin Roy Mercer Praton Murry Connie Brown Andrew Patterson Jr. Steve Craig Alfred Graf Sr. Charlie Davis dimmie Davis Carol Stamper Leonard Retable John Davis Donald Hampton ,Jerry McMorris Hebert Strong Debra Strong Brenda Jones Micheal Quave Charles J. Gersch Wayne Jones Robert Cook Michael R. Harrell Herbert McKay Lee West Jimmie L. Alexander Brent Wigman Stephen Schmidt Melanie Babin Charles Baker James McK,nny Charles S. Lenox Charles Lenox Craig Craft Selveater Johnson Rayord Allen May James Hammon Angelina Jarrett Thomas Stephen Angelia Collins Angelia Collins Richard Zetterbey Ida Perkin Donald Edward Mille Lexie }-lines Brenda Bridgewater Dentruier McKay Joe Waller Charles Baker Victor Fendtason Robert Sparks Steve Coats Sylester Johnson Julie A. Westho Gatlin Henderson / Do you know these girls? These slightly-familiar looking Womanless Wedding and Beauty "ladies" were spotted roaming the Pageant. Can you identify these well- streets of Ponchatoula Saturday night dressed misses? following the benefit St. Joseph (Times Photo) 1985 Antique Festival to be a civic group money maker Staff Report Now in its third year, the 1985 Antique Festival June 1-2 is already setting festival records. The only state-recognized Antique Femal was started by Ponchatoula's Stanley Cowen in 1983 as a means of highlighting Ponchatonla's importance In the antique world. The Ponchatoula Auction Company, owned by Cowen, is the largest antique aection house In the South, and buyers regularly fly in or drive in on a Saturday night to take part in the Ponchatoula auction. The festival that showcases Ponchatoula as "Antique Auction Capital of the South, will feature a carnival of coHectibles and antiques, with music, food, antique cars, entertainment, a charity auction, a first class antique auction, and booths representing antique dealers from over 13 rotes. "Already the tmflde booths are rented in both the Haride Building and the Auction Building. The felivnl auction has beem moved to the Blue Room, and most of the outdoor antique booths are already reserved, though some are still available," said Stanley  when asked if he thought the third year was going to be the charmer, following two solid years with successful festivals. "! didn't want to throw It open to civic and chmch" roups until 1 was reasonably certain we were going to have a succmm,  Cowen, who went on to add: "This year ! and the rest of the festival commlmuB would  to Invite civic and church groulm to set up refreshment bootlm fr-ocharge, as a means of mnldng money for their organizations. Because this is the first year, we will accept requests on a first come-first served basis since space is somewhat limited." Groupa interested in |tting up booths during the Antique Festivnl should submit their plan in writing to: 1985 Antique Festival Committee, P.O. Box 52, Ponchatoula, La. 70454 in time for the committee to respond by May 15. Ponchatonla Times Publisher Bryan T. McMahon has been named co- chairman of the 1985 Antique Festival. An exclusive interview Sen. Cross favors "supervising" abusive parents By W.F. "BILL" CHAPMAN Ponchatoula Times. Times Correspondent Cross is serving his second term in the State Senate and is married with two Abusive parents need to be children. He has also been mentioned "supervised." by some as a possible candidate for the That is one of the ovinions of seat of U.S. Representative Henson Ponchatoula's State Snator Mike Cross In an exclusive Interview vvth "]'he SEE PGE TWO Roger Jordan Linda Jackson Carolyn Jackson Vicent Diaz William Threeton Bettie Gudrey Norwood Arledge Roger Jordon Ricky Lynn Robert Ricky L. Robert Joey Kramer Rufus Davis Paul Traylor Agnes M. Boudreaux Victor Fendlason Joann Vester Brodrick Douglas James Watkins SEE PAGE TWO Ch amber meeting Friday The Ponchatoula Chamber of 4. The Chamber invites the public to its Commerce meets Friday. April 26. luncheon. noon at the Rotary Hut in Memorial We thank the public for its fine Park. reception of our "Swamp Stomp" Speaker for the luncheon will be poster and their support of the Gator Lynn Hoover. newly appointed to the cage renovations. There are a few Library Board of Trustees for posters left and can be purchased at Tangipahoa Parish. Her topic concerns Charlotte's Webb, Country Cupboard the library tax which will be voted May and Olde Town Shoppe. MY PONCHATOULA By OLE HARDHIDE The Alligator Hey, sweet June Pregeant, I'm sorry if I blew my big surprise dinner, but don't reschedule it or get mad. I just couldn't help noticing you wheeling out your prize winnings of fifty dollars worth of Bohnings groceries Monday. Remember, when it comes to feeding this gator, cooking is the part of the recipe you can skip. Looks like Ron Morgan's on the same diet. There he was looking vibrant and healthy as always Saturday at the volunteer firemen's big banquet, but friends among my smoke eaters wanted to be sure he stayed on his super strict healthy heart diet, so they saved him from the agony of eating a beautifully cooked steak and instead served up the most delicious raw chicken I have ever whiffed or sniffed. Ron's been staying real close to the smoke eaters ever since that day at the Western Auto when Asst. Chief Paul Pevey gave him a welcome beating in the chest and forever established credit for himself at the local store that has everything. (Let's hear it for the city's lifesavers!). How many of you bosses out there are in the gator cage today because you forgot Wednesday was Secretary's Day? (Better make up for it Thursday - in triplicate). How many of you P.H.S. gridiron maulers are ready to hang up your football cleats today because of the superb play you saw on the field Wednesday during the annual Bloomer Bowl? (You Saturday night quarterbacks ought to have known those girls were tough). Congratulations Baby Christine, born Thursday night, for having such a super newspaper momma - April Cain (congratulations to you too, April). They started spraying black gunk on the new southern lane of main street just as Pinchpepny was fetching my column for this week's paper. Pretty astounding in view of the fact that the entire lane had to be redone after the highway department refused to accept it, which is why we got another dust storm this past week made up of the latest batch of concrete. (Hang in there merchants and shoppers)• Don't stop by the fence next to Hollis Poche's strawberry patch because he has no time to talk now that harvest is upon him in a big way and yet another daughter has said those words "I Do" again• Better get back to work, Hollis. You've got a couple more crops to put in and harvest again before your second honeymoon comes around. This is all by way of announcing that the former Cheryl Poche is the current Mrs. Doug Knowles, following a ceremony at Ned and Patricla Richardson's Catawba home, followed by a reception at her sister's Court d' Paulette. To those who thought a party thrown by an association of local citizens devoted to those who are dying would be a trifle somber, guess again. As many of our local lords and ladies can well tell, the Great Gatsby Bash at Zemurray Park Friday was a howling success worthy of the swell guy, Richard Murphy, the hospice was named for. In his fun-filled memory, thanks to all who attended. If you come downtown to buy hot boiled crabs, be sure to wear your sunglasses. Penny at Whitey's Meat Center is flashing a sparkler given to her by her husband of ten years Rod Sparnecht (1 didn't know oysters produced diamonds, seafood buddy). We went for how many years without a single pizza place in Ponchatoula, right? Not that pizzas aren't my favorite food, it's just that the pizzeria owners generally try to run me out whenever l ask for a raw nutria and flapping chicken extra large with double cheese. Anyway, at last count we had not one, not two, but three places opening up to sell us pizza (pass the chianti). If I miss out on all this raw chicken, prize winning lottery food, and pizza, I'II just have to crash the school helper luncheon being hosted Friday at I p.m. at D.C. Reeves, where Mrs. Cindy Newton has fired up yet another group of parents interested in top-notch education (Yeah Cindy, and Yeah school lunch,oom workers). Where's my seat? I suppose I'II have to tidy up a bit now that Homemaker's Week Is upon us April 29-May 3 (promise you'll call before you visit for an Inspection, Mrs. Gertrude Kraft), At least there's not much dusting to do In a pond. Now that you all have been kept up on at least the tlp of the Iceberg of what SEE PAGE TWO