Attorney for DeRidder Council member seeks records to prove residency

Attorney for DeRidder Council member seeks records to prove residency

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It’s been an ongoing dispute for months. DeRidder City Council member Michael Harris won round one in court, dealing with whether he was properly qualified to be on the ballot. However, the district attorney investigated and filed a suit aimed at declaring his council position vacant, alleging he does not live in the district.

The attorney for Harris, Mike McHale, says he won the election fair and square.

Even though Harris has, at last word, not officially received the lawsuit seeking to remove him from office, McHale is seeking a large volume of records he thinks will prove Harris does meet the residency requirements at the heart of the issue.

"To me, it’s like if you have a nice camp. You may spend more time at your camp than you do at your house, but it doesn’t mean that you’re domiciled at your camp. Your house is where you register to vote, where your homestead exemption is, where your drivers' license is,” said McHale.

At the request of the former mayor, the D.A. did an investigation and concludes Harris does not live in the city limits of DeRidder and wants a judge to declare his seat vacant. But McHale says that will go against the vote of the people.

"This is an elected official who was legally elected, has been certified, sworn into office and they're trying to throw him out of office. I think it sends a chilling message to the people who voted for Mr. Harris," said McHale.

McHale says Harris simply wants to serve. The attorney is also asking for records aimed to determining how much the attempt to remove Harris from office is costing taxpayers.

"This is coming out of the taxpayers' pockets. And it's unfair to the people of Beauregard Parish for these funds to be spent in what is, in our opinion, a frivolous lawsuit," said McHale.

Once Harris is served with the papers, the DA says a hearing must be held within 20 days.

We reached out to Beauregard District Attorney Jimmy Lestage.

He says he’s received McHale’s request and is working to provide the records.

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