In 2004, Henry C. Walker, a Shreveport attorney and former member of the local Indigent Defender Board (IDB), filed a lawsuit against the State of Louisiana, through its legislature and judges of its First Judicial District, in the First Judicial District Court for the District of Caddo, LA. The ...
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In 2004, Henry C. Walker, a Shreveport attorney and former member of the local Indigent Defender Board (IDB), filed a lawsuit against the State of Louisiana, through its legislature and judges of its First Judicial District, in the First Judicial District Court for the District of Caddo, LA. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, sought declaratory and injunctive relief from what he claimed was an unconstitutional appointing process used to staff IDB boards across the state. Specifically, Walker asserted that by not appointing him to the IDB and by imposing one year, non-staggering terms of service, the judges had exerted undue influence and control over the indigent defender system and violated the separation of powers clause in Article II, Section 2 of the Louisiana Constitution.
At the trial court, the defendants argued that since Walker had no contract to serve on the IDB and had no right to be appointed, he had no interest in the appointment process, and therefore no standing to bring the lawsuit. Walker countered that, as a former IDB member and a Bar Association nominee who had been denied appointment two years in a row, he must have standing to question the constitutionality of the process. The Trial Court (Judge John R. Harrison) agreed, and denied the defendants' motion.
The defendants appealed to the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit. On December 21, 2005, Chief Justice Brown (joined by judges Sterwart and Moore) affirmed the trial court's judgment that state statues set a minimal threshold for standing for declaratory relief, and that Walker met this threshold. Walker v. State, 917 So.2d 1229 (La.App. 2 Cir. 2005).
The defendants appealed once again, and the Supreme Court of Louisiana denied certiorari on April 28, 2006. Walker v. State, 927 So.2d 296 (La. 2006).
Notably, the Plaintiff's language, as quoted in the Second Circuit opinion, states that this case and another case in the Clearinghouse, Anderson v. State (PD-LA-0001), were brought to address the two biggest problems with the Louisiana state indigent defense system. While Anderson dealt with the issue of underfunding, Walker dealt with the risk of undue political influence on the state's indigent defender boards. Walker v. State, 917 So.2d 1229 (La.App. 2 Cir. 2005).
Because we do not have a docket or further court documents for this case, we cannot say whether the plaintiffs were ultimately successful or if this case is ongoing.Nick Niles - 07/11/2007