SHREVEPORT, La. -- A Caddo District Court judge late Friday disqualified state Rep. Barbara Norton from seeking election to the Senate District 39 seat, saying there was “clear and convincing evidence” she does not live in the house she claims as her residence.
The ruling concluded a more than 12-hour day of testimony where state Sen. Greg Tarver challenged Norton's eligibility to run, saying she had concocted a ruse where she claimed to live with a relative at a house in Tarver’s district. Tarver said Norton actually lives in adjoining Senate District 38.
Caddo District Judge Craig Marcotte ruled that Tarver proved his case. The judge questioned why Norton would live in a small house on McAlpine Street with two other people -- one of whom is a registered sex offender -- instead of alone in a larger brick home.
In his decision, Marcotte singled out testimony earlier in the day from Kathy Reedy, the parole officer who oversees Ronnie Mayfield, the sex offender who lives in the McAlpine Street home with Fannie Dixon, a relative of Norton's. Marcotte noted Reedy made unannounced early morning visits to the house and didn’t encountered Norton.
Even though Dixon claimed Norton did live there, Marcotte said her testimony was "not credible."
Norton, during her testimony, said she didn't know Mayfield was a registered sex offender and couldn't recall his name.
"What the court finds disturbing is if you live with someone for over a year and you do not know that person's name," Marcotte said.
Norton testified for more than two hours, continuing to insist she lives on McAlpine Street, although she gave conflicting testimony about when she moved there and also admitted she often slept at a house she rents on Spy Glass Circle.
Norton did not produce documents that could show her residency, such as tax returns, bank statements and bills.
Tarver’s attorney, Ron Miciotto, pressed Norton about that. Her answers became increasingly vague and contradictory as cross-examination wore on, her voice almost at a whisper at times as Miciotto showed document after document he obtained that didn’t list McAlpine as her home address.
“Why didn’t the (parole officer) ever see you at McAlpine?” Miciotto asked at one point.
“I maybe had a meeting. I’m probably sleeping,” Norton said.
“Sleeping where?” Miciotto asked.
Norton, who challenged Tarver for re-election because she is term-limited in the House of Representatives, said she will appeal Friday’s ruling. She has 48 hours to file.
SHREVEPORT, La. – Repeated visits over the past year have never found any indication state Rep. Barbara Norton lives at a house on McAlpine Street, the parole supervisor of a registered sex offender who lives there testified Friday during a hearing on whether to disqualify Norton from a state senate race on the grounds she does not meet residency requirements.
Those things changed this week after Sen. Greg Tarver filed a lawsuit challenging Norton’s qualifications to run for the District 39 Senate seat. When the parole officer knocked on the door for a regular visit early Thursday morning Norton answered the door in a nightgown.
Determining Norton’s domicile, which is usually where a person sleeps every night, is at the heart of Tarver’s lawsuit. The hearing got underway Friday morning. Tarver rested his case around 4 p.m. in the afternoon.
But it was during the day’s testimony that parole officer Kathy Reedy said she frequents the house where her parolee Ronnie Mayfield lives. Mayfield is on parole after being convicted of attempted aggravated crime against nature, crime against nature and robbery.
Mayfield has never listed Norton as living there on his required monthly reports, said Reedy, who makes monthly visits to the house – usually getting there before dawn.
Reedy said there’s no indication Norton lives in the two-bedroom, one bath house. One of the two bedrooms is described as a “junk room.”
“I was a little surprised,” Reedy told attorney Ron Miciotto when asked her reaction to Norton being there Thursday. “I was not expecting to see her.”
Norton was surprised too, Reedy said. Reedy went into house and found a makeshift bed on the couch.
Testimony also offered by two neighbors who live on Spy Glass Circle, which is where they said Norton lives. Both talked about Norton’s comings and goings from the brick home.
Then there was a SWEPCO representative who said Norton is not the account holder for the electrical service at the McAlpine residence. However, she is the secondary account holder at the Spy Glass Circle home.
Tarver’s last witness was his wife, Velma, who said she and Tarver lived at their North Cross Drive for 29 years. She objects to Norton’s candidacy, saying, “I’m very concerned about having someone who doesn’t live in my district represent me.”
Vercell Fiffie, Norton’s attorney, then began Norton’s defense. He is attempting to show the house on Spy Glass Circle is Norton’s business for her non-profit.
His first witness was Fannie Dixon, who told KTBS earlier in the week that she is engaged to Mayfield. Dixon testified that Norton does live with her and Mayfield at the McAlpine home. She disputed earlier testimony of the parole officer about the dwelling only being two bedrooms. She says it has three bedrooms and Norton occupies one of them, paying Dixon anywhere from $75 to $250 a month.
Questioning of Dixon also took a personal turn, with Miciotto asking where Norton keeps her wigs, her clothes, and he asked how many toothbrushes were in the bathroom.
The judge’s decision will determine if Norton is allowed to race for the Senate seat.
The hearing in the Caddo District courtroom has drawn a packed crowd.
This morning as court convened, Norton immediately tried to have Tarver’s lawsuit tossed out. The judge denied Norton’s motion for dismissal.
Miciotto then asked the judge to hold Norton in contempt of court. He said Norton did not hand over utility bills, voter registration information, bank statements and her driver’s license – information that was a part of the court order associated with Tarver’s lawsuit.
Norton only handed over the items this morning. The judge called a recess in the hearing to allow Miciotto to go over the documents. The judge has not made a decision on the contempt.
Tarver filed the challenge against Norton on Monday. He contends Norton, who is term-limited in the House of Representatives, leases a house on Spy Glass Circle and maintains that as her primary residence. The house is in not in District 39, which is the district Tarver wants to keep representing.