A press conference was held Tuesday afternoon regarding the ongoing legal battle of DeRidder Councilman At Large Michael D. Harris and the new lawsuit filed against him stemming from a complaint filed by former Mayor Ron Roberts.

At the press conference the Southwest Louisiana Community Coalition for Action voiced their support of Councilman Harris and opened the press conference. Reverend J.L. Franklin is the leader of the Coalition and opened with prayer.

Franklin recapped the events leading up to this most recent lawsuit and voiced the Coalitions support for Harris.

“We are standing with Mr. Harris today because we believe in his integrity, we believe in competence, and we believe in his confidence to serve. We are deeply saddened by the saga and fiasco that the former Mayor Ron Roberts is creating.”

Franklin accused Roberts of refusing to accept the will of the people by continuing to attempt to remove Harris from the DeRidder City Council after he was elected.

The next to speak at the press conference was Councilman Harris’ attorney R. Michael McHale who gave legal background on the issue.

McHale recounted the result of the previous civil trial filed by Ron Roberts on behalf of the city, which Harris won.

McHale emphasized that the legal issue is of whether Harris maintains domicile in the city of DeRidder. McHale maintains that Harris does maintain legal domicile at 806 Lake Court Dr. in DeRidder.

“Mr. Harris is registered to vote within the city limits of DeRidder, and his driver’s license states that he lives in the city limits of DeRidder.” McHale said.

McHale stated that although Harris’ owns another home which is outside the city limits of DeRidder.

“It’s like if someone has a camp. They may spend a lot of time at their camp, but that’s not their home. We believe that when this matter goes to court that it will show that Mr. Harris is domiciled in the city limits of DeRidder.” McHale said.

The District Attorney’s Office claims that their investigation found that Harris does not maintain the legal definition of domicile at 806 Lake Court Dr.

The District Attorney’s office has also claimed that they found through that investigation that Michael Harris’ legal domicile is at 386 Harmony Trail which is outside the city limits.

McHale closed his portion of the press conference by stating how important elections are, and how it is his belief that former Mayor Ron Roberts is attempting to take away the votes of DeRidder citizens.

“Elections are important things. Democracy is what we are built on. The power of the vote. Unfortunately, former Mayor Roberts wants to tell all those people that voted for Mr. Harris that their vote does not mean anything. That they can vote for whoever they want to but if he doesn’t like who they choose he can throw him out.” McHale said.

He stated that that they are very confident that they will win the case.

Harris thanked everyone for coming before he started to speak. He stated that the purpose of the press conference was to bring the city together.

He also stated that Ron Roberts is the source of this issue.

“This is not the doing of the city or the district attorney. This is the doing of former Mayor Ron Roberts.” Harris said. “If there has ever been a time for the city of DeRidder to come together it is now.”

He expressed that no matter what has happened he will do everything he can for the citizens of DeRidder.

He also condemned Roberts for not facing him with this issue instead of dragging it through the court system and “hiding.”

Harris stated that unlike Roberts he will continue to live in DeRidder and fight for the community.

“I wasn’t elected to be a quitter. I was elected to do what is right. If you have any questions for me give me a call, come by and see me. I will be here in DeRidder. I won’t be hiding in Russia or New Orleans.” Harris said.

Harris’ family was in attendance at the press conference and Harris stated that the seemingly endless legal battle has taken a toll on his entire family.

“Last Monday my wife was admitted to the hospital due to stress, and stayed overnight. Most people see this when they open the newspaper or on TV. I deal with this ongoing issue every day. I pray for the person that is doing this to me, because I am a christian. This is a small community, and I need the city council to tell me that they have my back because I have theirs. I haven’t got that from all of them. I have Misty’s back.” Harris concluded.