Today in St. Joseph, Louisiana, the trial of Waterproof mayor Bobby Higginbotham began. As we reported last week, Tensas Parish Sheriff Rickey Jones and District Attorney James Paxton have accused Higginbotham of various charges of corruption. Bobby Higginbotham and his supporters, including Police Chief Miles Jenkins and school board member Annie Watson, say that Paxton and Jones are attempting to carry out a coup against Black political leadership in the parish.
Mayor Higginbotham, who is not a lawyer, represented himself at the trial today. Displaying confident knowledge of the law and an array of legal precedents and statistics to back him up, the mayor brought motions to have DA James Paxton removed from the case for conflict of interest, as well as for change of venue and for a continuance. The presiding judge ruled against Higginbotham on all counts, and jury selection began.
A six person jury was selected, with five white members and one Black member. According to the 2000 Census, the parish is 55% African American.
Several supporters of Higginbotham came to the courtroom to observe the trial, including Chief Jenkins, Ms. Watson, and Concordia Parish NAACP President Justin Conner.