Gov. Edwards Falsely Used AG’s Name to Try To Intervene in Criminal Case Against Pastor

By Woody Jenkins, Editor, Central City News — NEW ORLEANS ––  In what have to be two of the most extraordinary filings in the history of the Louisiana Supreme Court, Gov. John Bel Edwards tried to intervene in a criminal case pending before the court ­— an unprecedented move — and Attorney General Jeff Landry filed a motion to throw out the governor’s intervention because he says the governor falsely filed  the document in the name of the Attorney General.  The AG also said the governor has no authority to intervene in a criminal case on his own.

It all began Tuesday, Jan. 18, when Gov. Edwards filed a 76-page document with the Supreme Court claiming to have the right to intervene in the criminal case charging Rev. Tony Spell of Central with the crime of holding church contrary to Edwards’ orders back in March 2020.  The document purported to be from the Attorney General.

Edwards wrote the “law” which supposedly made it a crime for Pastor Spell to hold church.  Actually, he issued an Emergency Order, which the governor says trumps the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Attorney General says the governor has no power to make laws and his orders cannot supercede the Constitution.

Edwards’ attempted intervention filed with the Supreme Court Tuesday would allow the governor to assist in prosecuting the pastor.

Rev. Spell’s attorney, Jeff Wittenbrink said Edwards is trying to serve simultaneously in all three branches of government.  As governor, he is head of the executive branch.  As a lawmaker, he is part of the legislative branch.  And as a prosecutor, he is part of the judicial branch.  Wittenbrink said that is called one-man rule and doesn’t fly in American-style government.

On Wednesday, Jan. 19, Attorney General Jeff Landry filed a “Motion to Strike or Alternatively, Opposition to Motion to Intervene Filed by Gov. John Bel Edwards.”

The Attorney General’s motion is extraordinary in its frankness:


“May It Please the Court:

“The Attorney General moves to strike the Motion to Intervene filed by Governor John Bel Edwards, through Special Assistant Attorneys General, filed on January 18, 2022, or, in the alternative, opposes the motion to intervene filed by the Governor for the reasons set forth below.”

“The Motion to Intervene – submitted, in part, by the attorneys with the law firm of Sher Garner Cahill Richter Klein & Hilbert, LLC and by Jack M. Weiss, Attorney at Law – was filed by those counsel purportedly as ‘Special Assistant Attorneys General.’ However, Attorney General Jeff Landry has never appointed these attorneys to represent the Governor in connection with any criminal proceeding against Applicant, Mark Anthony Spell, including the instant writ application. It would not be proper for the Attorney General to make an appointment for special counsel, as this is not either a risk-covered case or a criminal case being prosecuted by the Attorney General.”

“Additionally, and very deceptively, the attorneys filing the Governor’s Motion to Intervene included ‘Jeff Landry Attorney General’ in the list of ‘Attorneys for Gov. John Bel Edwards,’ and on their signature block. Let us be clear. Jeff Landry does not represent Gov. Edwards in this matter nor does any attorney with the Louisiana Dept. of Justice. This filing was done without the knowledge or consent of the Attorney General or anyone with authority to give such consent.”

“Furthermore, neither the Attorney General nor any Assistant Attorney General appointed by the Attorney General were consulted or notified about such representation in this matter. A search of Department of Justice records revealed no approval of the appointment of Jack Weiss, James Garner, Darnell Bludworth, Joshua Force and Christopher Chocheles as attorneys for or on behalf of the Gov. John Bel Edwards in this matter.”

“Governor’s counsel are well aware that they are not authorized to represent that they are Special Assistant Attorneys General to this Honorable Court without an appointment by the Attorney General. Previously, counsel were instructed to correct future pleadings in a case where they were representing the Governor, in order to avoid confusion to this Honorable Court. See Exhibit A. The continued use of the Special Assistant Attorneys General title to this Court—the Supreme Court of Louisiana—is misleading and improper, and it appears intentional.”

“Unlike the Governor, the Attorney General has constitutional authority (1) to institute, prosecute, or intervene in any civil action or proceeding; and (2) upon the written request of a district attorney, to advise and assist in the prosecution of any criminal case. La. Const. art. IV, § 8.”

“The Governor does not. Additionally, it is the Attorney General alone who, as a matter of right, shall be heard on constitutional challenges. La. Code Civ. P. art. 1880.”

“The Governor does not have such authority.”

“Moreover, this is a criminal case, where the State of Louisiana is represented by the local District Attorney. The use of ‘Special Assistant Attorneys General’ and the name and title of the Attorney General affixed to the Governor’s pleadings, and appearing on the signature block as an attorney in the case, denotes that the Attorney General somehow authorized this filing in a criminal case. Such representation is patently false.”

“The Governor’s counsel appears to blur the line of the Attorney General’s role as criminal prosecutor (although not a prosecutor in this case) and the Attorney General’s role as counsel for the State in civil litigation. This filing implies that the Attorney General is trying to influence or advocate for a decision in a criminal matter. It is improper, misleading, and unprofessional.”

“These lawyers have made representations to this court that are clearly false and inaccurate. Jack Weiss, James Garner, Darnell Bludworth, Joshua Force and Christopher Chocheles do not have the authority to act on behalf of the Attorney General or the State of Louisiana in this matter, and they have never been appointed as Special Assistant Attorneys General in this matter.”

“WHEREFORE, Attorney General Jeff Landry prays that the motion to strike be granted and for all other relief this Honorable Court deems appropriate. Additionally, the Attorney General prays that any costs associated with this matter and the motion to intervene be taxed against the attorneys for the Governor.”

“Respectfully submitted,

Jeff Landry, Attorney General”


Rev. Spell said Wednesday that it all shows the degree to which the governor will go to persecute him and his family.  The pastor said, 

“Imagine this. The most powerful man in the State of Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards, has intervened in a criminal case against a private citizen.  This is unheard of!  He has shown that he has a personal vendetta against a man he cannot control.” 

“Read the story of Haman vs. Mordecai, Esther chapters 6 and 7 in the Bible.  It is this kind of dilemma that Gov. Edwards has created for himself.”  

“In 2 Kings 7:5, when four lepers rose up, God went out ahead of them and rained down a spirit of insanity upon their enemies. Yesterday, it’s almost as though God put the same spirit of insanity upon Governor Edwards, for only an insane man would do what he has done.  January 19, 2022, was Gov. Edwards’ Waterloo, the day that God intervened in our case.”  

“This serious misconduct will garner the attention of our judicial branch and possibly be grounds for impeachment, maybe prison, but certainly a loss of respect and credibility from professional people who see his personal grudge against a Pentecostal pastor.”

If the Supreme Court agrees that the governor or his attorneys have engaged in serious misconduct, the court has a variety of tools at their disposal. However, the case is so unusual and the facts so strange that it is difficult to know what, if anything, the court may decide to do.

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