Galvan suit gets kicked back to St. Tammany

Baton Rouge, La. - Embattled St. Tammany Parish coroner Peter Galvan took his fight against a law that reigns in his powers to a Baton Rouge courtroom Tuesday morning.

A judge ruled that law-suit would be better heard somewhere else.

Galvan was a no show at the hearing before Baton Rouge state court Judge Wilson Fields.

Even though St. Tammany has already taken steps to grab the financial reigns of the coroner's office, Tuesday's hearing was an attempt to throw out the law which gives the parish council that authority and takes it away from Galvan.

Since it was a constitutional question, the suit was set to be heard in Baton Rouge where state government resides. But Judge Wilson Fields found that the 'cause of action' for the lawsuit challenging the new state law resides in St. Tammany where the coroner's alleged transgressions occurred. That means the hearing over whether the new law is constitutional has been moved to Covington.

"We filed it here because we thought it was appropriate to sue the state and get the state involved directly. It's an issue as to whether the state can be named as a party over whether they should be heard when they want to. They want to be heard when they want to, and not when they get sued. That's a decision that the court made today, and we will be happy in St. Tammany Parish as well, said Galvan's attorney Phil Whittman.

St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister released a statement responding to the ruling.

She said, "Judge Fields' ruling this morning is a vindication of the parish's position that this is a case where all affected political entities are located in St. Tammany Parish. It's only natural that it be heard in St. Tammany."

The lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Act 181 will likely be joined with another lawsuit which attempts to enforce the new law giving the parish council financial control of the coroner's office.