Justice really is blind in the case of Matthew Morris

Matthew Morris

In April 2017 an Ascension Parish grand jury charged Matthew Morris with 84 felony criminal counts stemming from his dealings with victims of August 2016 flooding.  Morris was accused of similar criminality in four other parishes including Livingston where he recently pleaded guilty to a single count of Maintaining False Public Records in return for a four-year sentence.  According to his lawyer the 18 months Morris spent in various parish prisons satisfies that sentence and Morris won’t spend another day in jail for the crimes allegedly committed in Ascension.

Morris did not admit guilt in Livingston and he won’t do so in Ascension pursuant to the Alford best-interest plea agreement he entered last week.  Such a plea allows the accused to maintain innocence while conceding the prosecution’s evidence would likely be sufficient to meet the burden of proof; beyond a reasonable doubt.  According to Morris’ lawyer a similar agreement will be reached in Ascension with a concurrent sentence; i.e. Morris’ 18 months in jail will be credited against whatever sentence is meted out by Judge Jessie LeBlanc in Ascension.

Morris must serve only 35% of his sentence in accordance with Louisiana Department of Corrections sentence calculation.

Ascension Grand Jury indictment of Morris [April 2017]

As part of the agreement $85,000 restitution will be made to 11 Livingston victims by the insurance company covering Morris’ company, Complete Construction Contractors.  Had Morris been convicted of any crime that included “intent to defraud” as an element the insurer would not have ponied up, and Morris lacks the wherewithal to pay off the victims.  We can’t help but wonder how much Morris spent on a succession of defense lawyers (five different lawyers made appearances in the Ascension proceedings, beginning with Parish Councilman Travis Turner).

Morris faces similar charges in East Baton Rouge and St. John the Baptist parishes.  EBR District Attorney Hillar Moore has already stated that his office will drop charges against Morris, as will his St. John counterpart, in a “multi-jurisdictional plea agreement and insurance settlement” reached after lengthy negotiations.  According to Morris’ lawyer he will be released from jail in two weeks.

Morris issued a press release which included this jewel:

“In the very emotional process in which flood victims attempted to secure insurance and FEMA payouts for construction work, Mr. Morris was unfairly vilified and consequently an equal victim in the rebuilding process…”

Maybe there was something to the insanity defense Morris put forward at the end of 2017 in EBR and Livingston.

His last three Ascension court dates (May 22, June 18, and August 20) were all continued, the last without setting a new date.