Franklin withdraws bill to split city court district

By By John Guidroz / American Press

BATON ROUGE — Rep. A.B. Franklin, D-Lake Charles, decided Wednesday to pull a measure that would have created two subdistricts

within the Ward 3-Lake Charles City Court District.

Franklin said he voluntarily deferred House Bill 553 because he did not have enough support from lawmakers who sit on the

House and Governmental Affairs Committee. Last year, the committee rejected Franklin’s bill with a 7-3 vote.

“It was still short a vote or two,” he said. “But I received more support this time around.”

The measure would have created one district that was 77.5 percent white while the another would have been 68 percent black.

Franklin said it would put the districts “on a level playing field” because Ward 3 has more whites than blacks.

Lake Charles City Councilman Marshall Simien testified last year that the Ward 3 population in Lake Charles is 54 percent

white and 41.8 percent black.

Franklin said he filed the measure because Judge Thomas Quirk plans to retire at the end of his term in 2014. Quirk represents

Division A, and Judge John Hood represents Division B. Both opposed the bill last year.

Franklin said he was disappointed that committee member Mike Danahay, D-Sulphur, would not support the measure.

“He lives in Sulphur,” Franklin said. “He’s not even in Ward 3. I figured I’d get more support out of him this time. I thought

he would be more open-minded.”

Danahay said the measure would take away from “representing the law fairly and equally.”

“The concern I had is when you create that district, you create a constituency,” he said. “Judges should represent the law,

not people.”

Danahay said the Judicial Branch asked the Legislature in 2009 to not realign court districts.

“That is something we leave up to them to do,” Danahay said. “They know their system better than we do.”

Franklin said he plans to file the measure next year.