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Mike Perlstein / Eyewitness News
Email: mperlstein@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mikeperlstein

NEW ORLEANS -- Suspended New Orleans Juvenile Court Judge Yolanda King is fighting to keep her seat on the bench, contesting criminal charges that she lied about her residence on election papers.

Now there's a question about whether King will even have a seat to return to.

Although the fall election for Yolanda King's juvenile court seat has been approved by the secretary of state's office, Mayor Mitch Landrieu filed a lawsuit Monday to invoke a new law he spearheaded to shrink the number of juvenile court judges from six to four.

The law calls for the two extra seats to be abolished as they become vacant. According to the writ of mandamus filed by the Landrieu administration, King's seat became vacant when she was suspended from judicial duties.

A coalition of community groups called Justice and Beyond says not so fast.

While the law allows for the downsizing of the court when there's a vacancy on the bench, Rev. Dwight Webster points out that King remains innocent until proven guilty.

'This suit, this writ of mandamus, seems to fly in the face of the rights that the electorate has exercised voting this person into that office,' he said.

Pat Bryant of the Justice group sent a letter to Secretary of State Tom Schedler urging him to keep King's seat on the ballot, portraying the matter as a fundamental voting rights issue.

'If the attack on this seat stands, as the pastor said, where will it end? There's a sharp curve in the road, and it doesn't look good.'

But the city in its motion says the matter is clear. If a judge is disqualified by the Louisiana Supreme Court as King was the seat can be abolished.

There's another wrinkle in the case, one that could trump the Landrieu motion. Yolanda Kings' attorney has filed a motion here in criminal court to throw out the indictment. That motion is scheduled to be taken up Thursday, before any of the proceedings in Baton Rouge.

If King is successful in getting her indictment thrown out, the attorney general can reinstate charges, but not without this messy legal battle getting even messier.

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