LAFAYETTE, La. (The Advertiser)- Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope has filed a federal lawsuit over the release of his emails in 2015.
Named in the lawsuit are Lafayette Consolidated Government, former CAO Dee Stanley and former City-Parish Attorney Michael Hebert.
Pope’s lawsuit, filed in federal court in Lafayette, claims the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act was violated when, under the direction of Stanley and Hebert, employees accessed the computer and emails of Pope and the marshal’s office.
The Stored Communications Act, the lawsuit claims, “prevents ‘providers’ of communication services from divulging private communications to certain entities and/or individuals.”
The Act makes it unlawful for a person to obtain access to stored communications on another person’s computer system without their consent or court authority, the lawsuit states.
Pope claims in his lawsuit that the city marshal’s office is “independent and separate from” LCG.
Even though LCG provides support to his office, including internet and computer services, Pope maintains that there is no intergovernmental agreement giving LCG authority to access his email messages.
LCG provides internet service to Pope’s office through its Lafayette Utilities System.
In December 2015, in response to a public records request, LCG accessed emails on Pope’s work computer and released them to The Independent news organization, which pursued a lawsuit against Pope for violating state law in refusing to release the emails himself.
The Independent wanted the emails because it suspected Pope had used his office to campaign on behalf of Chad Leger, who was a candidate for Lafayette Parish Sheriff.
Release of Pope’s personal emails led to a deposition in the public records lawsuit which, in turn, led to charges against the city marshal for malfeasance and perjury.
Pope’s trial on those charges is set for Feb. 20 in 15th Judicial District Court. On Nov. 3, he filed a motion asking that the district attorney’s office recuse itself from prosecuting the case.