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All Things Legal in Louisiana


March 16, 2005

Attorney Challenges Tapes

The Town Talk reports that Noland Hammond, an Alexandria attorney, has filed suit against Avoyelles Parish District Attorney Charles Riddle and Rapides Parish Sheriff William Earl Hilton seeking a preliminary injunction barring the transcription and distribution of taped conversations between himself and clients at the Rapides Parish Detention Center III. The action is related to criminal allegations made against Mr. Hammond after he allegedly filmed a woman as she performed oral sex on two Avoyelles Parish inmates.

Posted by AJR at 08:18 AM

March 15, 2005

Drug Court Makes Impact

The Town Talk reports that the Rapides Parish Drug Court is making a difference in the lives of those who participate in it. Judge Thomas Yeager is looking at expanding the program in Alexandria. The District Attorney's office supports the program as a good alternative to probation and incarceration for those addicted to drugs.

Posted by Capital Clerks at 10:10 AM

January 25, 2005

They Didn't Fire Him the First Time?

An Avoyelles Parish Juvenile Detective was fired for forging a judge's signature, the Town Talk reports. The Detective, who was sharing a home with a Bunkie police auxiliary officer, signed Judge William Bennett's name to a custody form, releasing a minor child to his father - the Bunkie-officer roommate. The Detective was fired after the child was returned to the mother. Apparently, it was Deputy Ducote's second arrest in a year. In August, the 36-year-old pleaded guilty to criminal mischief after allegations surfaced that he and another man defrauded an insurance company.

Posted by AJR at 10:17 PM

January 24, 2005

Rapides Sheriff's Office Goes Online

The Town Talk reports that the Rapides Sheriff's Office now has an official web site. "This is another technological tool that can help us solve [cold] cases," said sheriff's Maj. Herman Walters.

Posted by AJR at 07:58 AM

August 17, 2004

Grand Jury to Hear Wright Case

The Town Talk reports that a Rapides Parish grand jury will determine whether or not charges made by a park ranger are sufficient to indict state Representative Tommy Wright on charges of obscenity. Wright was arrested after a Buhlow Lake park ranger told deputies he saw the men engaged in sexual activity inside a public restroom at the recreation area on August 9.

Posted by AJR at 08:10 AM

August 16, 2004

Young Man Changes Law

The Town Talk profiles 17-year old Michael Barker who successfully fought to change Louisiana's Freedom of Information Act. Specifically, Barker succeeded in convincing the legislature to remove a requirement preventing anybody under the age of 18 from accessing public records.

Posted by AJR at 08:07 AM

August 10, 2004

Update on ETS Lawsuit

The Town Talk reports on the multiple lawsuits filed against Educational Testing Services and provides a tragic story about David Bruce. The article also notes that Charles Brown, a member of The Murray Law Firm of New Orleans, has clients from all over the state and is seeking class-action status for the suit.

Posted by AJR at 10:51 PM

Hypes Jury to be Drawn from Lincoln Parish

The Town Talk reports that Ninth JDC Judge Harry Randow has ruled that Lincoln Parish residents will decide the fate of a Rapides Parish woman accused of setting fire to her home to kill her three children. Amanda Gutweiler Hypes' trial on charges of first-degree murder will begin January 24, 2005. She faces the death penalty.

Posted by AJR at 10:47 PM

July 15, 2004

LaSalle Parish Courthouse to Reopen Soon

The Town Talk reports that portions of the LaSalle Parish Courthouse may reopen as soon as today. The courthouse was damaged by a fire on July 1 and court proceedings have been held in the School Board's media center since that time.

Posted by AJR at 09:50 AM

July 13, 2004

Community Outraged at Foreclosure

The Town Talk reports that a recent attempt to foreclose a mortgage is drawing threats of civil suits and criminal investigations. The Wells Fargo bank has agreed to delay the foreclosure and investigate the mortgage after it was made clear that one of the co-signors of the loan had been dead for seven years before he allegedly signed the note.

"I think this company is going to look at this old mortgage and decide that whoever took this mortgage should never have taken it," [Alexandria attorney Chris] Roy said, adding that he hopes the bank "writes it off," restoring James' full ownership.
Posted by AJR at 10:25 AM

September 09, 2003

Pineville City Court Missing Money

The Town Talk reports that the Pineville City Court appears to be missing money and has requested the State Police to investigate the case. Investigators have not indicated how much money might be missing.

Posted by AJR at 08:00 AM

July 30, 2003

Former School Superintendent Sues School Board

The Town Talk reports that former Rapides Parish school superintedent Betty Cox has been retained by a school secretary to sue the school board for damages allegedly arising from a moldy ceiling tile. Cox had a rocky tenure with the Rapides Parish Schoolboard from 1994 to 1998 that included lawsuits filed against most of the board and ended with her acceptance of $1.7 million to leave the position. Cox subsequently went to LSU law school and Bergeron, the school secretary, sought Cox to represent her claims.

Posted by AJR at 07:47 AM

July 28, 2003

Principals Must Report Crimes on Campus

According to the Town Talk, the law says principals must report crimes on campus.

Posted by AJR at 07:43 AM

July 21, 2003

Rapides Parish Schoolboard Still Involved in Desegregation Suit

The Town Talk reports on the desegregation efforts of the Rapides Parish Schoolboard. A new high school will be opening soon, but the Peabody Magnet High School principal is concerned that he will not have enough qualified teachers.

Posted by AJR at 07:56 AM

June 26, 2003

Sex-in-School Lawuit Dismissed

The Town Talk reports that a 9th JDC Judge Ross Foote dismissed a suit against the Rapides Parish School Board because it was not filed timely.

The plaintiff's daughter developed a sexually transmitted disease from the nonconsentual sex act with a male student at Alexandria Junior High, according to the suit and the plaintiff's law firm, Edward Larvadain Jr. and Associates.

I thought this story was a follow-up to this, unfortunately I was wrong.

Posted by AJR at 07:48 AM

May 29, 2003

Woman Thinks Cops Can't Arrest Her at Home

The Town Talk provides some required reading. Renetta Fells of Alexandria led police on high-speed chase through the city, finally stopping in her driveway and getting out of the car as if nothing had happened. Apparently, she believed that police could not arrest her once she made it home because of a television show.

Posted by AJR at 07:45 AM

May 27, 2003

'Roe' to Visit Central Louisiana

The Town Talk reports that Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade, is scheduled to appear at the Best Western Conference Center in Alexandria on June 7.

McCorvey, who was victorious in the Jan. 22, 1973 decision that led to the legalization of abortion, has since changed her stance on the issue. Her decision came after years of working at abortion clinics, she said.

Tickets are on sale for $15 through May 30 and no tickets will be sold at the door.

Posted by AJR at 06:43 AM

May 19, 2003

Rapides Parish School Board Faces Suits

The Town Talk reports on the array of lawsuits faced by the Rapides Parish School Board. The article notes that most lawsuits arise from injuries that occur on school grounds, then personnel disputes, and finally student-discipline appeals.

While no one knows the exact number of open lawsuits against the school system, district officials are touting more aggressive defense strategies that will cut down on lawsuits and settlements.

The Town Talk also reports on three federal suits involving the Rapides Parish School Board.

Posted by AJR at 07:32 AM

Profile on New Western District Judge Drell

The Town Talk profiles Dee Drell, the western district judge set to take the bench on May 30. The article outlines Drell's educational and work background and provides some insight into his personal ideals.

Posted by AJR at 07:27 AM

May 02, 2003

Dee Drell Speaks at Law Day Luncheon

The Town Talk reports that Dee Drell, who becomes a federal district judge in the Western District this month, spoke at the annual Law Day luncheon in Alexandria. Drell spoke about America's waning confidence in the justice system. "In order to restore respect for the system, Drell said, the only criterion 'that we must insist on from our judges is, no kidding, absolute impartiality.'"

"Drell later said he will take his oath of office on May 9 at his law office and will participate in a public investiture on May 30, at the federal courthouse in Alexandria. "

Posted by AJR at 11:41 AM

April 25, 2003

'Lost Bitch' to Return to Alexandria

The Town Talk reports that Cindy Renee "Lost Bitch" Anderson, who was arrested in Texas on suspicion of helping her boyfriend shoot, dismember and stuff two people in plastic boxes, is not fighting extradition back to Louisiana where the alleged crimes occurred. "Her boyfriend, Larry 'Lost Larry' Suratt, was indicted in March in connection with the deaths of Lawrence William 'Larry Larry' Cook, 40, and Sheila Kirby, 34."

Posted by AJR at 07:38 AM

April 21, 2003

9th JDC Judge Orders Destruction of Expunged Records

The Town Talk reports that 9th JDC Judge George Metoyer recently ruled that felony arrest records can be destroyed when arrests do not lead to prosecution. Misdemeanor records are already destroyed, so Judge Metoyer ruled that not destroying both kinds of records is unconstitutional. "The state Attorney General's Office will appeal automatically the case to Louisiana's Supreme Court."

Posted by AJR at 07:40 AM

Vernon Parish Sheriff's Office Gets An E-mail Address (Yes, 1)

The Town Talk reports that the Vernon Parish Sheriff's Office has set up an e-mail tip site for its criminal investigation division. No web site address is mentioned, but the new e-mail address is vpsocrim@hotmail.com. The story also notes that the Alexandria Police have had success in receiving tips from its web site.

Posted by AJR at 07:37 AM

April 16, 2003

Pollster: Many in Alexandria believe Hypes is Guilty

The Town Talk reports that a pollster told 9th JDC Judge Harry Randow that the Alexandria community has "invested" in the idea that Amanda Gutweiler Hypes set the house fire that killed her three children. The pollster, Elliot Stonecipher, testified for Hypes' defense team, which is seeking a change of venue.

Ninety-three percent of the residents DataTech interviewed in March were aware of the Hypes' case, Stonecipher said. He characterized that number as "phenomenal."

Posted by AJR at 11:34 PM

April 09, 2003

Johnson Granted Clemency by Foster

The Town Talk reports that Governor Mike Foster granted clemency to Allie "Bo" Johnson, who shot his daughter's molester. "Foster agreed Tuesday to sign off on a Pardon Board recommendation to give Allie Johnson double credit for good behavior."

Posted by AJR at 08:10 AM

April 08, 2003

Alexandria City Councilman Challenges City Constitution

The Town Talk reports that Alexandra City Councilman Myron Lawson argued in the 9th JDC that a portion of the city's charter is unconstitutional. Myron alleges that the charter's prohibition that forbids him from serving on another state board should be superseded by Louisiana's dual-office holding law. "Lawson's lawyer, John Scott, told 9th Judicial District Judge Harry Randow that Louisiana's constitution and statutes supersede Alexandria's city charter, so Lawson can lawfully serve on the Alexandria City Council and on Southern University's Board of Supervisors."

Posted by AJR at 10:57 AM

April 01, 2003

Parents Cannot Compel School Board to Harvest Timber

The Times-Picayune reports that 12th JDC District Judge Mark Jeansonne threw out a lawsuit filed by a parent against the Avoyelles Parish School Board. The lawsuit was seeking to compel the school board to harvest timber on school trust lands and to use the proceeds for the school system. "Attorney Rodney Rabalais, who represented the parent, said state law requires that trust lands be administered on behalf of the 6,800 students in the system. "

Posted by AJR at 03:46 PM

March 31, 2003

Attorney Files Ethics Complaint Against Catahoula Sheriff

The Town Talk reports that Paul Lemke, who practices in Harrisburg, has filed an ethics complaint against Catahoula Parish Sheriff Ronnie Book. The complaint alleges that Book's relative, Pat Book, was a part owner of B&B Commissary, which officially supplied the jail from July 2001 until January 31 of this year. "Lemke became involved with the jail commissary when [an inmate] asked him to investigate the commissary after purchase prices soared in a short period of time."

Posted by AJR at 07:49 AM

March 27, 2003

High School Students Have Sex in Class, Parents Sue

"The parents of a high-school boy who say their son had oral sex with a 14-year-old girl in biology class while a teacher was present have filed suit, alleging teacher negligence," reports The Town Talk. The lawsuit alleges that the teacher was engrossed with her computer and was not watching the class and that her lack of supervision contributed to the event. The Beauregard Parish Schoolboard is a named defendant in the case.

Posted by AJR at 10:40 AM

Alexandria Lawyer Faces US Senate Confirmation Today

The Town Talk reports that Alexandria lawyer Dee Drell will go before the United States Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C. this afternoon for confirmation as a United States District Judge for the Western District of Louisiana. "If confirmed, Drell will fill the slot being vacated by Judge F.A. Little Jr., who took senior judge status last April." The United States Department of Justice Office of Legal Policy page on Mr. Drell can be accessed here.

Posted by AJR at 10:36 AM

March 10, 2003

Accusations Fly Over Boy's Death

The Town Talk reports on a verbal battle taking place between Concordia Parish Sheriff Randy Maxwell and Adams County, Mississippi Coroner James Lee over the death of
five-year-old Eric Hudson of Vidalia. Sheriff Maxwell contends the boy drowned accidentally, but the coroner claims the boy was abused and murdered and that the sheriff is "covering up for somebody."

"It's apparent that Mr. Lee has lost touch with reality, and The Town Talk is the only newspaper that will print it," Maxwell said.

A Concordia Parish grand jury is expected to convene to hear the facts in the case, but no date has been set according to the 7th Judicial District DA's Office.

Posted by AJR at 07:41 AM

March 07, 2003

Hypes Suppression Hearings Nearing an End

The Town Talk reports that Amanda Gutwiler Hypes', who is charged with three counts of first-degree murder for killing her children, attorney Mike Small rested his case in her evidence suppression hearing yesterday. Much of the hearings involved testimony that was developed when Hypes' best friend Renee Johnson wore a police wire and questioned Hypes regarding the fire that killed her children.

Posted by AJR at 08:09 AM

March 06, 2003

Hypes Offered to Take Polygraph

The Town Talk reports that Amanda Gutweiler Hypes offered four separate times to take a polygraph test while being interrogated by Rapides Parish Sheriff Detectives who were investigating her children's deaths. She was never tested. This is the latest information to surface in evidence suppression hearings that have been occurring since November.

Posted by AJR at 08:41 AM

February 21, 2003

Tragedy in Alexandria

The Town Talk reports on one of the"worst days" in Alexandria history. Yesterday, two police officers were killed in a three-hour exchange of gunfire with a man that was suspected of ambushing a police officer on Monday. The Town Talk also provides additional coverage of community reactions:

Sonia Quarters Residents Voice Anger at Alexandria Police
Emotions Run High
Retaliation Worries Officers

Posted by AJR at 07:41 AM

February 17, 2003

Man Who Shot Daughter's Molester Denied Parole

The Town Talk reports that Allie "Bo" Johnson, Jr. will serve another two years of his seven-year sentence. Johnson, who is in prison for shooting the man who molested his daughter, was granted parole eligibility immediately by Governor Foster and the pardon board unanimously approved his request for parole. The parole board, however, denied Johnson's request for freedom on Friday.

Posted by AJR at 07:57 AM
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