Lafayette mayor practices law, did not report new law firm
Lafayette mayor-president Josh Guillory practiced law while in office, likely even during his three-week rehab program, and he did not disclose a second law firm to the administration. state ethics.
Guillory announced on Monday, July 25, that he entered a 21-day inpatient rehabilitation program over the weekend for untreated post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol abuse. He clarified last week that he entered rehab on Thursday July 21 and returned to Lafayette on August 11.
The first-term mayor-president insisted on retaining control of Lafayette’s consolidated government during his extended absence, sparking a local leadership crisis in his first week of rehab.
But government work wasn’t all Guillory insisted on while seeking treatment for his mental health issues, as records show he filed suit on August 11 – the day he said that he had returned from rehab — to overturn a client’s 2014 arrest by Broussard. police for possession of marijuana, the Current first reported on Wednesday.
The revelation comes with information that Guillory has been teaching at UL since August 2020, got a license to sell title insurance in September 2020, and started an equipment rental business with his wife last year. illustrating many ways to strengthen the income of the mayor-president.
The mayor-president’s first term was under pressure to shut down his law firm after winning the November 2019 election because Lafayette’s Home Rule Charter prohibits mayor-presidents from “any activity unrelated to business (from local government) that would interfere with or damage the performance of duties”.
Instead, he launched a new firm, Acadiana Family Law, shortly after his victory and moved the location of his old firm, The Law Office of Joshua S. Guillory, to another office.
Guillory filed the recent expungement case Aug. 11 using the phone number and law firm address of City and Parish attorney Greg Logan.
He included an Aug. 10 letter and an Aug. 9 form from 15th Judicial District Attorney Don Landry certifying that the possession charges were dropped in 2015 and falsely confirming that the client had no pending felony charges.
But Guillory’s client is currently in a pretrial diversion program for felony drug possession charges filed in March, which would likely make the client ineligible for expungement from the 2014 arrest.
Landry told the Daily Advertiser the problem on the form was likely a clerical error and the client would likely be eligible for expungement once the pre-trial diversion is successfully completed.
On Friday, August 19, Guillory filed a motion to delay the expungement and withdraw from the case.
He included a letter to the client saying he could not represent her because her arrest in March was conducted by the Lafayette Police Department, creating a potential conflict of interest for the mayor-president and reimbursing him for a amount of money redacted.
It’s unclear how many expungements Guillory has worked on since taking office, as those records are removed from public view once a judge approves the expungement.
But the recent case is not the only time since taking office that Guillory has worked as an attorney for Lafayette Parish clients.
In October 2020, he took on an estate case for a client, using the same post office box and phone number he and his wife had used to set up their newly revealed equipment rental company in August 2021.
Prior to that, Guillory suffered another disbarment in February 2020, shortly after taking office.
In this expungement, records show that Guillory was in court on May 20, 2020, days after the Lafayette Parish Courthouse reopened during the first wave of COVID-19, to argue for the expungement of the conviction of another client in 2016 for two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm. .
Asked about his delisting work Thursday on his weekly radio show on KPEL, Guillory said it was a way to supplement his income as mayor-president for which he felt no need to apologize.
“While I’m grateful for the salary we have, we’ve taken a pretty big pay cut. That’s not to say I’m not grateful for what I have, but I’m trying to top it up in time. in time. But I am not doing anything to take away my duties as mayor-president,” he said.
“It’s something I’m passionate about and I can bring a little more to my family,” he added. “I don’t apologize for that.”
Since announcing his term as mayor-president in 2019, Guillory’s willingness to stop practicing law while in office has been a central issue.
The issue was raised during the final debate ahead of the second round of elections when Guillory acknowledged that he “should close my practice, the physical practice.”
“I’ll do my best to close my files before I take the oath. In reality, that probably won’t happen,” he said during the Nov. 13, 2019, debate.
But a month later, in December 2019, he launched a new company – Acadiana Family Law – saying he would not work there as a lawyer as mayor-president, but would oversee cases handled. by another lawyer.
He later said he had received legal opinions that allowed him to own the new practice while he was mayor-president, but these have not been made public.
KATC later reported that he had quietly closed both law firms, and Guillory informed the Lafayette Court on February 13, 2020 that he had “closed the physical location of (his) law firm” and provided a new address for a nearby building owned by Logan’s brother.
But documents filed with the Louisiana secretary of state show the two companies have remained active in the years since he took office, with Guillory at the helm.
Did not report a new law firm
While Guillory has followed the Secretary of State’s requirements for both companies, the same is not true for its required annual financial disclosures to the Louisiana Ethics Administration.
Since founding Acadiana Family Law LLC in December 2019, Guillory has never reported his ownership of the firm to the Ethics Administration.
For public offices like Guillory’s, officials are required to list all businesses in which they and their spouse own at least 10%, as well as any income they receive from those businesses, in their annual financial returns.
Guillory did this in 2019 and 2020 for his original law firm and his wife’s consulting firm, reporting combined income of between $5,000 and $24,999 from those two operations in 2020.
He also updated his 2020 financial disclosure in June to include details about his teaching earnings at UL, where he has earned $15,800 since August 2020 for typically teaching one business law course per semester, although he deals almost exclusively with criminal defense and family law in his private sector. practice.
But his failure to do so with Acadiana Family Law in three ethics disclosures, despite maintaining his corporate documents, raises questions about whether he used the firm to practice law during his tenure and will it was a source of income for him.
The Daily Advertiser initially contacted Lafayette Consolidated Government spokesman Jamie Angelle for comment on July 22. Angelle declined to comment on Friday, Aug. 19, and declined an interview request with Guillory.