BR Attorney Who Defeated CH2MHill, Saved Ralph Washington, Halted Rouzan
What are the odds?
A small town newspaper takes on a $6 billion international corporation over access to public records.
The small town newspaper wins!
A black city councilman is sued by the Louisiana Board of Ethics for allegedly making false statements on his qualifying form. The Board asked that he be disqualified from running for office. The white Republican judge says that’s really not what happened.
The city councilman wins!
Two homeowners are surrounded by a $100 million development that city government badly wants to see built. The homeowners sue to stop the project.
The homeowners win!
All of these cases have been handed down in past few months, and they have one thing in common: A long-time but little-known Baton Rouge attorney named Alex St. Amant.
For most of his career, he’s been a one-man law firm. Some would say a “one-man army”! A few years ago, one of his daughters, Sacha Tessier, joined him. Now the firm is St. Amant & Tessier.
After 40 years of practicing law, Alex St. Amant still works in the same modest 800-square-foot office on North Boulevard he’s been renting from his father since graduating from the LSU Law School.
His wife, Floris Cespedes St. Amant, who fled with her family years ago from Communist Cuba and retired from the LSU Library staff, is his receptionist and legal secretary. Floris sometimes babysits the grand-
kids at her desk in the front office.
There are more than 3,000 attorneys in East Baton Rouge, but there’s something different about this one: He specializes in beating some of biggest and most powerful adversaries in Louisiana, and his clients are almost always the little guys.
For Alex St. Amant, it’s not about money but about doing justice for his clients.
“He’s the best lawyer I know!” said Capital City News editor Woody Jenkins, who graduated from law school with St. Amant in 1972.
Last year, after a four-year battle, $6 billion corporate giant CH2MHill — the former city contractor that ran the City of Central — finally yielded to St. Amant and turned over public records it had been fighting to withhold since 2010. Like so many other cases, Community Press LLC v. CH2MHill ended in victory for St. Amant’s clients.
For Alex St. Amant, it was as much a cause as a legal case. He was concerned that a big, out-of-state company could take over a city in Louisiana and decide who had access to public records and who didn’t.
Then this past week, St. Amant scored two more big victories.
On Tuesday, he saved the political life of his client, Central Mayor Pro-Tem Ralph Washington, when District Judge Tim Kelley booted the State of Louisiana out of court in its efforts to have Washington disqualified from reelection to the Central City Council in the April 5 primary.
St. Amant was upset to see one of Central’s top officials and the highest ranking black Republican city official in the state targeted and persecuted for doing nothing wrong.
Then on Thursday, St. Amant won a six-year battle against developer Tommy Spinosa, when the Louisiana 1st Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that the Metro Council’s rezoning of the Rouzan development on Perkins Road was illegal.
St. Amant did for his clients — two homeowners who were surrounded by Spinosa’s 119-acre development — what many thought impossible: The Court of Appeal reversed six years of decisions by District Judge Wilson Fields.
The case had gotten St. Amant’s dander up. He was upset that his clients had their natural gas cut off for more than a year simply because their homes were inconvenient to Spinosa and his development.
Now St. Amant is preparing for Spinosa’s likely appeal and preparing for a companion case before District Judge Janice Clark.
His clients will be seeking damages from Spinosa for the six years of turmoil they have had to endure.
It’s all in a day’s work for Alex St. Amant, attorney at law and one-man army. On Monday, he’ll be back in his office, planning his next crusade.