Judge rules city must fully fund Orleans Parish Clerk of Court's Office



Posted on December 10, 2013 at 7:49 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 10 at 8:00 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- Clerk of Court Arthur Morrell is claiming victory. Mayor Mitch Landrieu says the city will appeal the judge's ruling.

Morrell sued the city last October after his budget was cut by about $140,000.

That's when Landrieu ordered a 3.8 percent spending reduction for most departments. He said that forced him to reduce his 90-person staff by about 10 employees.

Morrell argued that he operates a state-run office that the city is obligated to fully fund at $4.3 million.

The Landrieu administration argued the state legislature does not have the authority to overrule the city's home rule charter and it can't impose unfunded mandates.

Judge Sidney Cates sided with Morrell, noting that a new state law bolstered his claim.

“My office is controlled by the legislature. They are the ones who tell me what I need to do,” Morell said. “If you want to make some adjustments in my office, you have to go to the legislature.”

Landrieu said, “The clerk is in substantial error in not trying to run his office more efficiently. He doesn't need that level of a budget and that many employees. The office ought to be automated like every other 21st century is and he can save the taxpayers a lot of money and help us keep the streets safe.

The city now has 30 days to appeal. Landrieu said he's prepared to take the issue to the Louisiana Supreme Court.