Expungement loophole allows councilman to retain seat - KLFY News 10

Expungement loophole allows councilman to retain seat

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A judgement handed down by District Judge Gerald Wattingy on February 14, allows New Iberia Councilman David Merrill to retain his position with the city. Merrill attended his first meeting since the ruling was handed down and said this is only a small victory.

"I always said it all along God didn't bring me this far to leave me."

In January of 2013, Merrill was elected to his second term residing over District 4. Eight months later, the state filed a petition; stating he was prohibited from serving due to prior felony convictions.

Merrill pled guilty to first offense cocaine and marijuana possessions in 2003. A drug court judge signed an order dismissing the arrest, prosecution and convictions against Merrill two years later. Phil Haney, District Attorney, contended that Merrill was disqualified as he had not waited the state mandated fifteen years, following a felony conviction.

Upon completion of drug court probation, Merrill's records were expunged and under state law, his rights to be restored. It is for this reason, he will be legally allowed to retain his city seat .In St. Landry Parish, Quincy Richard Jr, also argued expungement without a governor's pardon as a loophole to serve office but was unsuccessful resulting in his removal from the school board.

Merrill said, "This guy had bribery charges on him; he was not a good person. It made me nervous though." He then added, "There are guys coming after me that had some situations in their life before and they want to be able to change and run for office and do things in their community and this for them also to know there are able to change and move forward and so positive things in the community."
Merrill said he doesn't believe knowledge of an 11-year-old drug conviction will hurt his chances to serve or be re-elected in New Iberia
"People know me now as David Merrill, the City Councilman. I think people are looking for honesty these days."

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