SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A Caddo District Judge has ruled that Louisiana State Rep. Barbara Norton does not live in Senate District 39, effectively disqualifying her from running to represent the district.
Caddo District Court Judge Craig Marcotte made the ruling late Friday night after a daylong hearing that included more than two hours of testimony from Norton herself.
Norton, who has served as Louisiana State Representative for District 3 since 2008 and is term-limited, was seeking the Senate District 39 seat currently occupied by fellow Democratic Sen. Greg Tarver. Tarver, who is running for his third term, filed the suit Monday claiming Norton does not live in District 39. Under state election laws, a hearing was required to take place within four days of filing.
Norton was the last to testify Friday. Judge Marcotte returned with the ruling within 30 minutes of testimony wrapping up. Norton has 48 hours to appeal and indicated in an interview following the ruling that she intends to do so.
“Well, I feel that as a woman, what happened today happen to a lot of women throughout this country, Norton said. “That we’re shelved, pushed, pretty much pushed back in any way that it can be done, but I look at the fact that today was not about justice and I feel that, as I stand here tonight, to continue to fight, to fight for women, throughout this country, to say that we have a place here, too. And things of this magnitude. There were so many things that were said that was untrue, and listening at them, and still they were able to get through the system, and I just think that we have to continue to stand up for the right thing and continue to make sure.”
Norton went on to allege that Tarver is not being honest about his residency in the district, either. “Because my opponent is filing for Senate under his business, under his business office. How can you file for, to be a candidate up under your business office? It’s supposed to be a residence. Even though his business is in the district, but it’s not a residence. It’s not a residence. I just don’t think that that’s fair.”
Norton alleged Thursday that Tarver was also potentially ineligible to run for the office because she says he used his Senate office address on Pierre Avenue in Shreveport as his residential address to qualify for candidacy.
“Well, you know, she tried to run for office that she do not live in, she was not domiciled in, but I wish her the best,” Tarver said after the ruling. “I’m not going to take anyone for granted, I have an opponent and I’m going to go on the campaign starting tomorrow.”
Republican Jim Slagle is also running for Senate District 39. With Norton’s disqualification and Wells’ withdrawal, Slagle becomes Tarver’s only opponent and eliminates the need for the October 12 primary in the race. The general election is November 16.
Tarver filed a similar lawsuit against Shreveport attorney Shante Wells, who bowed out of the race on Thursday before a scheduled hearing could take place on Monday.
On the stand Friday evening, Norton said she has a verbal lease agreement with Franny Lee Dixon, the owner of the property at 5627 McAlpine St. That is the address Norton used to qualify for her candidacy in the District 39 race.
According to testimony from the manager of the Caddo Parish Registrar of Voters Office earlier in the day, Norton notified the registrar’s office in July 2018 that she had moved to the McAlpine address. However, Norton testified that she was unsure of the name of the man who also lives there, Ronnie Mayfield.
Dixon, who also took the stand Friday afternoon, testified that Norton gives her $75 a month, but later said Norton occasionally gives her $200, but never more than $250. Dixon said the home has 3 bedrooms and one bath and that there is no written lease for Norton. She also testified that Norton does not receive any bills there and that there are no bills for utilities there in Norton’s name.
Tarver’s attorney asserted in court that the home is 925 square feet. Norton’s attorney also pointed out in court that Norton had been subpeonaed earlier in the week and required to provide several documents within 24 hours to prove she lived at the McAlpine address. However, Tarver’s attorney argued, Norton had not produced the documents. On the stand, Norton said she tried to get the paperwork, but could not.
Norton’s time on the stand followed a day’s worth of testimony from several witnesses, including at least three people claiming to be neighbors of hers at a home that is outside the Senate district she is running for.
Those alleged neighbors were subpoenaed by Tarver and said that they’ve seen Norton often and recently at what they describe as her home on Spyglass Circle, which is in District 38. Norton has previously said that she is leasing a room at the McAlpine address and uses the Spyglass address primarily for business purposes.
Earlier Friday, the parole office supervisor for a man who lives in the District 39 home Norton listed as her residence testified that Norton was never listed as someone who lives at that address.
William Tuggle is the district supervisor of the office overseeing the parole of Ronny Mayfield, a registered sex offender who lives at 5627 McAlpine Dr. in Shreveport. That’s the same address Norton listed in the documents filed with the Secretary of State’s office to qualify to run in the election. Tuggle testified that Mayfield is required to report all people living with him to the probation office. He also testified that his probation officer has to check on him once a month because of his history.
Mayfield’s probation officer also took the stand. Catherine Reedy said there are only two rooms in the house on McAlpine, and that she could tell Mayfield and Dixon share one of them. Reedy said the other room had a lot of stuff in it. She also testified that there is no evidence a third party lives at the house.
In other testimony Friday, both Norton’s current and previous legislative assistants took the stand and said Norton lives on Spyglass.