New Iberia Councilman could lose seat - KLFY News 10

New Iberia Councilman could lose seat

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The state has filed a petition challenging the seat of New Iberia Council Member David Merrill.

According to the petition, Merrill pleaded guilty to two felony charges back in 2003, and did not wait the mandatory 15 year period to run for office.

"My record was expunged back then, so I have a lawyer looking into that," says Merrill.

But, District Attorney Phil Haney says under the state constitution, no convicted felon can serve in office for 15 years after sentencing without a governor's pardon.

Merrill was sworn into office in 2009.

"The governor must sign a pardon for that to happen and the expungement does not eliminate that requirement," says Haney.

The petition to challenge Merrill's seat on the council states that he pleaded guilty to two possession charges on April 22, 2003. He then had them expunged in 2005, but has not received a governor's pardon.

Merrill says he has "done nothing criminally wrong."

"I'm not worried about it you know? What I'll have to do is just continue to fight it, until I have everything taken care of and cleared up. But, I have no plans on stepping down," says Merrill.

Haney says he doesn't believe Merrill intentionally broke state laws.

"I don't think there's any indication that Mr. Merrill attempted to hide what happened. It's just one of those things. He had good faith and thought the expungement was something that cleans his record," says Haney.

If the 16th Judicial Court rules in favor of the state, Haney says Merrill could appeal the decision, just like Quincy Richard did when his seat on the St. Landry Parish School Board was being challenged over his expunged felony conviction in 2004.

"He would have the option to appeal the case to the third circuit, which is similar to what happened in the case of St. Landry Parish and the circuit will decide whether or not his argument about the expungement has any merit or not," says Haney.

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