Tony Gibson is not eligible to remain in office because he was not qualified to run for the seat due to a felony conviction in 1997. He was elected in 2010.
He had received a first-time-offender pardon, and his attorney asserted that this allowed Gibson to seek office under the Louisiana Constitution. Under its provision, a convicted felon may run for an office after 15 years or being pardoned by the governor.
Louisiana’s 1st Circuit Court of Appeal overturned a ruling in 16th Judicial District Court regarding a local elected official’s eligibility to hold public office. The ruling was rendered May 11.
State law provides for a challenge to a candidate’s qualification for an election within seven days, but the conviction did not become known until after that time had elapsed.
Sixteenth Judicial District Attorney Phil Haney recused his office since it was also prosecuting Gibson on a misdemeanor drug charge, and Camille “Cam” A. Morvant II, Lafourche Parish District Attorney, took over.
In Tuesday’s ruling, the Supreme Court said first-offender pardons are not adequate to allow a convicted felon to hold office.
Gibson’s attorney, Nelson Taylor, indicated in reports that he would seek a rehearing by the Supreme Court and hinted at a review by the United States Supreme Court might also be forthcoming.
Gibson was accused of carnal knowledge of a juvenile in 1997 and entered a guilty plea. He was sentenced to five years in prison which was suspended and was on probation for three years.