Lawyers for New Orleans' sheriff say a federal move to strip him of his authority to run the city's jail amounts to an illegal coup attempt.

U.S. Justice Department attorneys and lawyers for inmates last month filed a motion seeking to have a third-party "receiver" run the jail, which has long been plagued by inmate violence. Officials for the city of New Orleans, which funds the jail, are supporting the motion.

Sheriff Marlin Gusman's lawyers answered in a court filing late Tuesday, blasting the attempt as a move to illegally thwart the will of voters who elected him. The document says Gusman has had too little time and too little money from the city to fully implement court ordered reforms.

Gusman was elected to a third full term in 2014.