St. Tammany coroner to hand over emails - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

St. Tammany coroner to hand over emails, avoiding contempt citation

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File photo of Dr. Peter Galvan File photo of Dr. Peter Galvan
Baton Rouge, La. -

Representatives for the St. Tammany Parish coroner and the legislative auditor's office announced the coroner will release tens of thousand emails by the end of the week.  Another couple of thousand emails will be reviewed by a Baton Rouge judge to see if they do in fact contain privileged information.

A court hearing had been set to determine whether Coroner Peter Galvan would be held in contempt of court for not turning over those emails.  But Monday's agreement defused the possibility of a contempt citation, at least for now.

Representatives for the legislative auditor's office showed up at state court in Baton Rouge . But once again, the coroner himself was a no-show.

For the last three months, the legislative auditor has been trying to uncover emails from the coroner  after a series of reports by FOX 8's Lee Zurik on allegations of payroll fraud and misspending.

"They agreed to produce to us all the documents they considered non-privileged, and give us a privileged log to give us those documents they consider privileged," said Jenifer Schaye, an attorney for the legislative auditor.

The agreement was reached between Schaye and the coroner's new attorney, Billy Gibbens. It calls for the coroner to turn over 80,000 emails by  Friday.

2,000 emails that the coroner's office deems privileged will be turned over to19th Judicial District Court Judge William Morvant, who will determine whether they should be released.

"They're claiming attorney-client or deliberative process are privileged, so I can't tell if the privilege is good or not from the log.  So that will be a decision of the court," said Schaye.

With or without the privileged documents, the emails are expected to go a long way toward helping the legislative auditor conclude an investigation into allegations which have led to a recall petition against the coroner.

Schaye says a team of auditors will begin going over the emails, almost as soon as they are received.  She says she's hoping to wrap up this investigation within the next six months.

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