Posted: Oct 7, 2013 10:47 PM by Erin Steuber
Updated: Oct 8, 2013 10:01 AM
A state senator is back in hot water after he was ineligible to practice law for nearly a month. A viewer came to us with concerns about Senator Elbert Guillory's representation as her attorney. She has since filed a complaint against Guillory with the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, claiming Guillory has pursued suits without her knowledge. Janice Goudeau-Ardoin hired Guillory back in 2008 to file several lawsuits, one against St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz, aimed at proving her mother was murdered.
While Guillory admits to representing her, he says he would never file a suit against the sheriff in this case, and Goudeau filed the suit on her own.
"Why would I hire an attorney if I was one?," said Goudeau.
But we did some digging and found court documents that prove Guillory was the attorney in this case. One of Goudeau's complaints to us is that Guillory has done a better job representing the sheriff. That is where the potential conflict comes in, since both Guillory and Guidroz have contributed to each others campaigns.
"This is always a problem in state and local government," said KATC Political Analyst Dr. Pearson Cross. "And that is, the ethical line between having to represent clients, make money, having to represent the people against the interest of your clients. It's a very murky area and it seems the senator wondered into some of that murkiness."
That murky area is a suit filed in 2008 for Guillory's client against campaign contributor Sheriff Bobby Guidroz; A suit Guillory claims, as of a week ago, he was never aware of.
"No I didn't know that there was a lawsuit filed against the sheriff," said Guillory in an interview on September 25. "And certainly I would not have participated."
Since 2008, Guidroz has contributed $1,100 to Guillory's campaign, and Guillory has contributed $900 to Guidroz.
"To pursue a case against someone who he has a cordial relationship, someone with whom he has regularly exchanged campaign contributions," said Cross. "Are you really going as far as you need to go for your client? Do you really have your client's interest at heart when it's so clearly contradictory to your own interests? I think that's the core in this case."
According to court minutes from January 2009, in this exact case, it lists Guillory as the attorney representing the plantiff. Despite the evidence, Guillory is sticking to the same story.
"I have never represented her in a lawsuit against the sheriff," said Guillory. "Looking at the case, even now, there is no reason to file a lawsuit against the sheriff."
This case, he claims he didn't file for his client, was ultimately thrown out. One reason was because the wrong name was listed on the second page. That client's name, and the exact verbage, is found on a separate case, also against the sheriff. The clerk of court tells us Guillory was also the attorney in that case.
"I have heard your questions, and I have answered clearly," said Guillory. "My answer remains the exact same as it did before."
The state disciplinary board is continuing to look into the allegations made against Guillory. As of last Thursday Guillory was once again eligible to practice law in the state. He was late turning in his yearly dues and documents, but that issue has since been settled.
We reached out Sheriff Bobby Guidroz for comment on this report, but our phone calls were not returned.