St. Tammany Parish judge candidate rejected over domicile issue

St. Tammany judge candidate rejected over domicile issue

ST. TAMMANY PARISH, La. (WVUE) - A Covington judge this afternoon rejected the candidacy of a lawyer who was running to fill a judicial seat in the same courthouse. The move came after a challenge filed by an opponent in the race who questioned candidate Justin Marquez’s residency and tax status.

Former judicial candidate Justin Marquez left the St. Tammany court house disappointed.

“I respect Judge Knight and everybody else involved but I’m disappointed with the ruling,” said Marquez.

Judge William Knight had just rejected Marquez’s candidacy in the race to fill the seat vacated by the death of Former judge Peter Garcia.

“I feel bad for Mr. Marquez. It seems like he had some rough times but none of this is about whether he’s a good person or bad person,” said attorney Scott Sternberg, representing the campaign of Marquez’s opponent.

Attorneys for the campaign of the only other candidate in the race, former Mandeville Councilman John Keller, challenged Marquez’s residency status. Marquez claimed he lived on Penns Chapel Road but in court admitted he spends time there, but rarely sleeps there, after his divorce.

FOX 8 asked Marquez, “Why didn’t you list your apartment as your domicile?’' “I don’t believe it’s my domicile,” he said.

Marquez’s candidacy was also challenged because he failed to pay income taxes in 2018 claiming he didn’t meet the income threshold.

In an effort to try and determine whether candidate Marquez actually made money in 2018, the attorney for the man challenging Marquez’s qualifications went through a list of several of his 180 clients that year, asking him if he had been paid.

“He got a number of cases in 2018 but it’s hard to believe he didn’t make $12,500,” said attorney Sternberg.

But while the judge rejected Marquez’s candidacy on domicile issues, he did not rule on whether Marquez was required to file income taxes in 2018.

Judge Knight issued his ruling after nearly two hours of debate, setting the stage for a possible appeal.

“I look forward to the appeal. These cases are fun,” said Sternberg.

If the decision stands, former Mandeville Councilman John Keller will be the only candidate.

“Well Mr. Marquez has a right to appeal and we’re not going to take anything for granted,” said Keller.

But it’s not clear if Marquez will legally push his candidacy any farther.

FOX 8 asked Marquez, " Are you confident on appeal?” “No,” he responded.

Even though the judge ruled that Marquez didn’t live where he said he did, he says he resides in St. Tammany Parish.

Under Louisiana election law, Marquez has 24 hours to file his appeal.

The election is November 3rd.

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