I n c o r p o r e a l s C h e a p S i n c e 2 0 0 2
N A K E D O W N E R S H I P
All Things Legal in Louisiana
January 29, 2009
Drama in New Orleans: the city council vs. the mayor [new orleans]
The New Orleans City Council will hold a special meeting and executive session Monday with the hope of reaching a consensus on how to move forward following Mayor C. Ray Nagin’s vow to discontinue funding the full contract of sanitation services in the French Quarter.In doing so, they are relying on an opinion letter written by Herman, Herman, Katz & Cotlar, which the Times-Picayune described as follows:
"The Home Rule Charter clearly provides that the (budget) ordinance is a law which the mayor is required to follow, like all other ordinances, " the opinion said. Further, it said, the council can seek a court order to "compel the mayor to distribute and spend funds as required" under the ordinance.The mayor, in turn, has called any potential suit a "waste of time", relying on an opinion by the City Attorney's Office.
Posted by MBC at 10:06 PM
January 25, 2009
New Orleans domestic partner registry is legal
The city of New Orleans acted legally in the 1990s when it created a registry for same-sex couples and used it as a basis to provide health insurance for the partners of its gay and lesbian employees, a state appellate court ruled last week.The opinion can be found here.
Posted by MBC at 05:13 PM
June 28, 2005
Top Nagin aide quits to join law firm
The Times Picayune reports: Charles Rice, the City's Chief Administrative Officer, is quitting to join the local law firm Barrasso, Usdin, Kupperman, Freeman & Sarver. Rice had been the City Attorney before he took the post of CAO.
Posted by EES at 06:45 PM
April 14, 2005
Single White Women Only Will Cost You
A $9,000 settlement has been reached between a Metairie landlord who was accused of refusing to rent his apartments to prospective black tenants and the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, according to a report by The Associated Press. According to witnesses, the landlord said that he only rented to single white women.
Posted by Capital Clerks at 08:54 AM
April 12, 2005
Panel Approves Pay Raise for Judges
A special panel has approved a proposed pay raise for state judges. The Times-Picayune reports that state judges are seeking a 9% raise over two years. Governor Blanco has said she is aware of the proposal, but her priority is getting a pay raise for Louisiana teachers. Blanco has also said that she might support a smaller 4% raise, but only after the teachers recieved their raise. The proposed raise would apply to judges at all levels, from district judges to the Supreme Court.
Posted by AJH at 08:25 AM
April 07, 2005
Judge Critques Wardrobe
The murder trial of Steven Williams has turned into a discussion of appropriate courtroom attire at times. The Times-Picayune reports that Judge Lynda Van Davis as criticized the defendant for wearing his pants too low. A controversy also erupted when a witness unexpectedly took the stand in street clothes instead of his orange prison jumpsuit.
Posted by Capital Clerks at 09:56 AM
April 05, 2005
Perfect name for a lawyer
March 29, 2005
Jury Continues to Deliberate in Discrimination Suit
The Times-Picayune reports that a Federal Jury is still deliberating in the discrimination case against New Orleans DA Eddie Jordan. Jordan is accused of being racially motivated in his hirings and firings after he took office in 2003. Jordan has stated that his actions were not motivated by race, but he simply wanted to clean house and bring in people who were loyal to him.
Posted by Capital Clerks at 10:02 AM
March 17, 2005
Jordan Discrimination Trial Continues
The trial over Orleans DA Eddie Jordan's hiring and firing decisions after his election continues according to the Times-Picayune. A member of his transition team testified that while the decisions were not based on experience or job performance, they were also not based on race. Jordan has defended his decisions as part of the so called spoils system of appointment.
Posted by Capital Clerks at 10:24 AM
March 14, 2005
NOLA Judge Blasted in Report
The Times-Picayune reports that the Metropolitan Crime Commission of New Orleans is going to release a report today indicating that Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Charles Elloie grants bail bond reductions at a significantly higher rate than other judges. After reading a draft copy of the report, Judge Elloie noted: "Yeah, it took me by surprise, I knew I was doing the lion's share, but I didn't think the lion was that greedy." The article notes that Judge Elloie has agreed to change some of his practices after reviewing the report.
March 09, 2005
Orleans DA in Federal Court
The Times-Picayune reports on yesterday's opening arguments in a case filed by former employees of the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office against District Attorney Eddie Jordan. The plaintiffs claim that DA Jordan was improperly motivated by race when he fired 44 workers when taking office in January 2003.
"While it may be OK for a new DA, or a new sheriff, to come in and clean house, you can't clean house with all of one race," said Clement Donelon, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, during opening arguments in the case. "You can't fire all the white people to hire your friends and all the black people."
The trial is before US Eastern District Judge Stanwood Duval and is expected to last four weeks.
Posted by AJR at 07:39 AM
Judge Wrongly Accepts Donations
The Times-Picayune reports that Judge Leon Cannizzaro Jr. improperly accepted donations during his successful run for a seat on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Cannizzaro apologized for the mistake in an appearance before the Louisiana Judiciary Commission, and the panel found "no indication whatsoever that [he] has been anything but a fair and unbiased judge." Accordingly, the commission has recommended that the judge be publicly censured by the Louisiana Supreme Court and ordered to pay $800 for the cost of the investigation.
Posted by AJR at 07:33 AM
March 08, 2005
Other School Boards to Pray, Despite Court Ruling
The Times-Picayune reports that the St. Bernard Parish school board will open its meeting tonight with prayer, despite a federal judge's ruling regarding school board prayer in Tangipahoa Parish. Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Loyola Law School, Rev. Lawrence Moore, states that the court ruling should be narrowly construed and only applies to Tangipahoa. Joe Cook of the Louisiana ACLU disagrees, saying that, particularly in the Eastern District, all school boards should abide by the ruling.
Posted by Capital Clerks at 09:42 AM
Louisiana Supreme Court Considers Trade Center Tax Issue
The Louisiana Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding dedicated tax dollars and the renovation of the World Trade Center hotel according to a report in The Advocate. The issue presented in the WTC case is very similar to one decided by the Court in February. In a case involving the proposed Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs, the Court ruled that dedicated tax dollars could not be diverted to help lure the sporting goods store to the area.
Posted by Capital Clerks at 09:34 AM
March 07, 2005
"I Can Learn" Trial Begins Today
The Times-Picayune reports that a suit filed by JRL Enterprises, Inc. against several of its former board members is set to go to trial today before Judge Yada Magee in Orleans Civil District Court. JRL Enterprises develops and markets "I Can Learn" educational software, which is used nationally. The multi-million dollar suit alleges that Richard Bachmann, a former member of the board, conspired to take control of the company from its founder in order to sell it quickly.
Posted by AJR at 08:08 AM
March 01, 2005
Convicted Man Allowed to Continue Claims of Wrongful Conviction
A man serving a life sentence for his role in a 1997 murder can continue his appeal on the basis that he was wrongly convicted, according to a State District Judge. The Times-Picayune reports that the man was convicted of being the getaway driver. The man who was convited of being his partner and the shooter was later cleared by DNA evidence. The defense argument is that because they were convicted under the theory that they worked together, evidence clearing one should clear the other.
Posted by AJH at 07:48 AM
Girl Sues Zulu for Coconut Injury
The Times-Picayune reports that a 14 year old girl was injured by a coconut thrown from a float during the 2004 Zulu parade. The krewe is protected by a state law that states that parade goers assume the risk of being hit by anything traditional thrown from Mardi Gras floats. The suit seeks damages for "physical pain and suffering", and future "emotional and mental anguish."
Posted by AJH at 07:42 AM
February 24, 2005
Gauthier Firm Sold
Biz New Orleans reports that Wendell Gauthier's firm has been purchased by John Houghtaling, James Williams and Deborah Sulzer. The article notes that Houghtaling started working at the firm eight years ago--as a runner. He is now the majority partner in the firm.
Posted by AJR at 10:15 PM
Discrimination Suit Against District Attorney Will Proceed
U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval has cleared the way for a jury to hear claims that Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan fired 53 white employees when he took office because of their race, according to a report by The Associated Press. Judge Duval rejected a motion from Jordan on Wednesday to dismiss the suit without a trial.
Posted by Capital Clerks at 09:11 AM
February 17, 2005
$56 Million or Not, You Still Need a Permit
The New Orleans Aviation Board has broken ground on a $56 million runway rebuilding project and Kenner Mayor Phil Capitano has recently informed the board that the airport needs a building permit and City Council approval for the project, according to a report in The Times-Picayune. Capitano stated that because the runway "footprint" had changed, council approval is required under zoning laws put in place in 1997 to keep airport expansion in check. Changes to the existing runway are needed to comply with new Federal Aviation Administration runway standards requiring the paved shoulders of the runway to be 35 feet wide instead of 25-feet.
Posted by Capital Clerks at 08:55 AM
February 11, 2005
Judge Not Allowed to Fund Defense With Campaign Funds
The Ethics Board ruled that State District Judge Alan Green cannot use his campaign fund to pay for his defense. The Times-Picayune reports that Green is accused of taking more than $20,000 in bribes from Louis Marcotte, III, a bail bondsman, so that Marcotte could maintain a near monopoly on bail bonds in the 24th JDC.
Posted by AJH at 08:35 AM
February 04, 2005
Imprisoned Ex Judge Accuses Copeland
Former state district judge Ronald Bodenheimer claims that he conspired with New Orleans restaurant owner Al Copeland to fix Copeland's child custody case. The Times-Picayune reports that Copeland allegedly threatened Bodenhiemer by stating that he would have opposition during the next election. Bodenheimer is serving a 46 month federal sentence for his role in the conspiracy among other crimes.
Posted by AJH at 08:56 AM
February 01, 2005
New Orleans City Council hiring local law firm
The Times-Picayune reports that the New Orleans City Council voted Monday to hire the firm of Herman, Herman, Katz and Cotlar to pursue litigation in a dispute with the Sewerage & Water Board. The dispute concerns who has the right to authorize the laying of conduits for underground fiber-optic cables.
Posted by Capital Clerks at 10:11 AM
Student Sues Jefferson Parish School Board
A Muslim student is suing her teacher and the Jefferson Parish School Board alleging that her teacher pulled off her head scarf and told her that he "hopes God punishes her." The Times-Picayune reports that the student was not satisfied with the administrative measures taken by the School Board.
Posted by Capital Clerks at 10:04 AM
January 26, 2005
K-Mart Drops Suit Against Alan Green
The Times-Picayune reports that Kmart Corporation has decided not to pursue the federal lawsuit it filed alleging that former 24th JDC Judge Alan Green and former bail bonds executive Norman Bowley rigged a 2001 slip-and-fall case against the company. Both Green and Bowley have been charged with federal racketeering charges, so Kmart has withdrawn its case reserving the right to re-file it after the criminal charges have been resolved.
Posted by AJR at 07:40 AM
The Times-Picayune reports that an ex-member of the Krewe of Muses, lawyer Christine M. Mora, has filed suit against her former Krewe and Blaine Kern Mardi Gras World, Inc. in an effort to recover damages for injuries she incurred during last year's parade. The lawsuit, filed in Orleans Civil District Court, alleges that the driver of the float was negligent, which caused her to lose balance and strike her eye on one of the unprotected metal hooks used to hang beads. "Muses' captain, lawyer Staci A. Rosenberg, declined to comment on Mora's claim that she wrote and telephoned the krewe [asking it to pay her medical bills before she filed suit]."
Posted by AJR at 07:34 AM
January 25, 2005
Ieyoub Vying to Become Lobbyist for Jefferson Parish Schools
Former Attorney General turned lobbyist Richard Ieyoub is in the running to become a lobbyist for the Jefferson Parish School Board. However, the Times-Picayune reports that his assistant is under indictment. This is reason for concern for some members of the board.
Posted by AJH at 06:44 AM
New Orleans DA Opposes Release of "Heroin Lifers"
DA Eddie Jordan opposes the release of so called "heroin lifers" according to the Times Picayune. Many of these inmates were convicted years ago and sentenced to life in prison under the state's strict laws concerning heroin. According to article, the sentencing laws concerning heroin were recently relaxed but many of these people who were convicted in the 1970s are still serving life sentences.
Posted by AJH at 06:38 AM
January 22, 2005
Train with the FBI?
The Times-Picayune reports that the FBI's New Orleans Division is offering a seven-week Citizen's Academy, only open to 20 people, which will include training on evidence collection and firearm use. The Academy involves three-hour sessions one night a week and one Saturday session. "People interested must call 504-816-3001 to apply and must be willing to undergo a criminal background check and a credit check."
Posted by AJR at 08:49 AM
Lammico President Steps Down
BizNewOrleans reports that the longtime president of the Louisiana Medical Mutual Insurance Co. (Lammico) has stepped down. Chief operating officer, Henry J. Jumonville, will be leaving effective January 26, 2004 and will not be replaced according to CEO Dr. John E. Lemoine.
Posted by AJR at 08:24 AM
January 19, 2005
Suit Seeks Class Action over Homestead Exemption
The Times-Picayune reports that several Orleans parish residents have filed lawsuit after they were denied their homestead exemption for this year by the Louisiana Tax Commission. Because Orleans Parish assesses taxes at the beginning of the year, a new law passed by the legislature has apparently resulted in larger tax bills for hundreds of people who purchased a home in New Orleans after August 1, 2004.
Posted by AJR at 08:04 AM
January 18, 2005
Liskow and Lewis Opens Houston Office
BizNewOrleans reports that Liskow and Lewis has opened a Houston office.
Posted by AJR at 07:39 PM
January 14, 2005
What Constitutes a Crack Pipe?
New Orleans Police arrested a clerk and shop owner for selling what were described as crack pipe kits. The Times-Picayune describes the difficulty in prosecuting certain drug paraphernalia cases.
Posted by AJH at 03:34 PM
January 02, 2005
Capital Punishment in Louisiana
The Times-Picayune reports that 88 await execution on Louisiana's death row. The story provides statistical comparisons on capital punishment from across the country and also notes that Orleans parish has "counted its seventh year without a single death sentence, despite ample opportunity and a high murder rate."
Posted by AJR at 09:02 PM
August 30, 2004
Green's Indictment is "Cloud Overhead"
The Times-Picayune reports on the atmosphere around the 24th JDC after news broke of Judge Alan Green's possible indictment related to Operation Wrinkled Robe.
August 27, 2004
Profile of NOLA Juvenile Court Candidates
The Times-Picayune profiles the five candidates vying for a seat in Section C of the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court: David Bell, Sandra Cabrina Jenkins, Yolanda King, Kim O'Dowd, and Robin Shulman.
LASC Eliminates Slidell Candidates
The Times-Picayune reports that the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed Judge William Burris of the 22nd JDC and the First Circuit Court of Appeals to hold that two candidates in a Slidell City Court race are not eligible for office because they will not have five years of experience on the day of the general election.
Posted by AJR at 07:17 AM
August 26, 2004
More Charges in Operation Wrinkled Robe?
The Times-Picayune reports that federal prosecutors have written a letter to 24th JDC Judge Alan Green indicating that they are planning to file a grand jury indictment against him on possible charges of racketeering, conspiracy and mail fraud.
Posted by AJR at 08:26 AM
August 17, 2004
Slidell Judicial Race Stakes Raised
The Times-Picayune reports that Chuck Branton, a Slidell lawyer, has filed suit challenging the qualifications of two candidates running for a seat on the Slidell City Court. Branton alleges that Bryan Haggerty and Vincent Lobello haven't been licensed to practice law for at least five years. Both candidates were licensed on October 15, 1999 and they are part of an eight-person field.
Because one of the eight candidates running for Slidell City Court judge could theoretically secure the seat without a runoff election, their fifth year must start before the Sept. 18 special election, [Branton] said
State Judge William Burris of the 22nd Judicial District in Covington will hear the case Wednesday.
3 Left in Orleans CDC Race
The Times-Picayune reports that Kelly McNeil Legier has withdrawn from a race for a seat on the Orleans Civil District Court bench. Her withdrawal leaves three candidates vying for the seat that was vacated when Hunter King was removed from the bench by the Louisiana Supreme Court. The remaining candidates are: Paulette Irons, Bernadette D'Souza, and Marie Williams
August 16, 2004
NASA Lawyer Heading Home
The Times-Picayune profiles Paul Pastorek, a New Orleans native, who recently resigned as NASA'a chief counsel. "Several people said Pastorek's return to New Orleans as a private lawyer with Adams and Reese could reap dividends for the Michoud Assembly Facility, which makes space shuttle external fuel tanks in eastern New Orleans."
Posted by AJR at 07:59 AM
August 13, 2004
NOLA Lawyer, Court Worker Indicted
The Times-Picayune reports that Glenda Spears, a new orleans lawyer, and Angela Kirkland, a former drug court counselor, were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of computer fraud. The charges are related to an alleged bribery scheme where the two women offered freedom to probationers in exchange for cash.
Posted by AJR at 08:25 AM
August 12, 2004
Subdivision Wetlands Permit Struck
The Times-Picayune reports that US District Court Judge Jay Zainey has voided a federal wetlands permit for the first phase of a proposed Covington neighborhood because the US Army Corps of Engineers failed to adequately address the environmental impact of the development.
Posted by AJR at 08:57 AM
Orleans has new Juvenile Judge
The Times-Picayune reports that Orleans Parish Juvenile Judge Anita Ganucheau announced she will retire after 25 years on the bench. Accordingly, her only challenger for the bench, Louis F. Douglas, will take her seat in Section E of the court. "When pressed, Ganucheau said that while Douglas' entrance into the race wasn't a factor in her retirement decision, 'the fact that he is a capable person just probably made it easier for me to come to my decision.'"
Posted by AJR at 08:53 AM
August 10, 2004
St. John the Baptist Judgment Reduced
The Times-Picayune reports that US District Court Judge Ivan Lemelle has ordered the fees assessed against St. John the Parish School Board reduced by almost $40,000. The order comes almost a year after the redistricting suit was "largely resolved."
Posted by AJR at 10:54 PM
Gay Marriage Ban Lawsuit
BizNewOrleans reports: "One challenge to a proposed amendment that would lock a same-sex marriage ban into Louisiana's constitution was quickly dismissed today. A second will be heard Friday."
Posted by EES at 04:42 PM
New Orleans Law Firm Merger
BizNewOrleans reports: "Law firm Shaw Norton Degan has joined the local office of fast-growing Memphis-based Baker Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz officials announced today." Shaw Norton Degan was founded in 2000. Four of the firm's attorneys will move to the Baker Donelson office in New Orleans, while five others will stay in Mandeville and create a Baker Donelson presence there.
Posted by EES at 04:39 PM
August 06, 2004
Will Kenner Become a Speed Trap?
The Times-Picayune reports that the Kenner City Council adopted a measure to more closely link police revenue with the number of traffic tickets written by the police force. The measure is an effort to force Police Chief Nick Congemi to begin writing municipal tickets again.
Posted by AJR at 09:59 AM
August 05, 2004
Kenner Feud Continues
The Times-Picayune reports on a new development in the feud between the Kenner City Council and Police Chief Nick Congeni. Kenner Mayor Phil Capitano has proposed an ordinance that will essentially require the Kenner Police Department to finance itself with traffic tickets. Apparently, Chief Congeni has ordered his force to only write tickets that can be heard in state court since he shut the city jail earlier this year. The order is costing the city up to $200,000 in lost revenue each month and may result in some layoffs at Kenner City Court.
Posted by AJR at 09:56 AM
Ex-Jefferson Parish Jailer Tries to Plead Guilty, Fails
The Times-Picayune reports that William Giangrosso, the highest-ranking jailer in the federal investigation of Jefferson Parish courthouse corruption, attempted to plead guilty before U.S. Magistrate Louis Moore after reaching a deal with prosecutors. Judge Moore required Giangrosso to change his plea, however, because magistrate judges are not permitted to accept felony guilty pleas.
Posted by AJR at 09:49 AM
"Abortion" Referral Center Ordered Closed
The Times-Picayune reports that U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval has ordered the Causeway Center for Women to cease operations. The center is allegedly operating as an abortion referral service, but several women who have filed suit against the operator claim that it is nothing but a front used to delay, and eventually prevent, attempted abortions.
Posted by AJR at 09:44 AM
August 04, 2004
City Attorney Seeks Bench in NOLA Juvenile Court
The Times-Picayune reports that Robin Shulman, an attorney in private practice in New Orleans for the past 20 years, has taken a leave of absence from the city attorney's office to run for the Section C bench on New Orleans Juvenile Court.
Posted by AJR at 10:00 AM
Fourth Circuit Judge to Run For Reelection
The Times-Picayune reports that Judge Terri Fleming Love will run for reelection on the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal. The election will be held on September 18.
Posted by AJR at 09:59 AM
August 03, 2004
NOLA Superintendent Cannot be Fired without Cause
The Times-Picayune reports that United States District Judge Thomas Porteous has ruled that Anthony Amato, the superintendent of New Orleans public schools, cannot be fired by the Orleans Parish School Board without cause. Accordingly, Judge Porteous granted a permanent injunction to enforce his ruling.
Posted by AJR at 01:13 PM
LA State Retirement Systems may get Millions
The Times-Picayune reports that the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana and the Louisiana State Employee Retirement System, or LASERS, could be among the largest beneficiaries of a $300 million class-action settlement with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. The settlement stems in part from the cancer drug scandal that also engulfed Martha Stewart. The company "announced Friday that it had reached an agreement in a case in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York against the company and its current and former officers, accused in the civil suit of artificially inflating profits and stock price to the detriment of shareholders."
Posted by AJR at 12:09 PM
July 31, 2004
New Orleans Attorneys Charged with Tax Evasion
BizNewOrleans reports: "Two Jefferson Parish lawyers have been indicted by a federal grand jury with failing to pay income taxes on more than $2 million in legal fees. Former Gretna law partners David C. Loeb and Harold E. Molaison were each charged with income tax evasion and conspiracy to defraud the government."
Posted by EES at 06:35 PM
July 16, 2004
Class-Action Filed Against Testing Firm
The Times-Picayune reports that a class-action lawsuit has been filed in federal court against Educational Testing Services after it improperly graded teacher certification tests. The grading error delayed the certification of 486 Louisiana teachers, some for more than a year, and affected over 4,100 teaching candidates in 19 states. This story provides more background on the situation.
Posted by AJR at 10:02 AM
Suit Alleges Ochsner Charged Uninsured More
The Times-Picayune reports that Ochsner Clinic Foundation is one of three large nonprofit hospital systems named in class-action lawsuits filed Thursday. The suits claim that the hospitals charge uninsured patients more than it charges patients with insurance and that the hospitals claim more charity work than they actually provide.
Dr. Patrick Quinlan, chief executive officer of Ochsner Clinic Foundation, called the allegations against his institution "flawed" and said it will vigorously fight the lawsuit.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs allege that Ochsner and the other hospitals "often use predatory and 'goon-like' collection methods against poor patients."
Posted by AJR at 09:55 AM
July 14, 2004
St. Tammany Clerk of Court Heads Online
The Times-Picayune reports that the St. Tammany Parish Clerk of Court will launch an online system next Monday. Land records and marriage licenses will be available Monday, free of charge, and civil and criminal records will follow in the future. The article notes that several other parishes also offer remote access to their records:
Jefferson Parish launched its JeffNet service in January to provide online access to land records, civil lawsuits, criminal records and marriage licenses. The site charges users a $100 setup fee and $50 a month.
Posted by AJR at 08:28 AM
July 13, 2004
Kenner Selects Firm
The Times-Picayune reports that the Kenner City Council chose the law firm of King, LeBlanc & Bland to represent it in its dispute with Police Chief Nick Congemi.
Posted by AJR at 10:27 AM
July 12, 2004
NOLA DA Jordan Criticizes Judge
The Times-Picayune reports that Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan spoke out against Orleans Criminal District Court Judge Arthur Hunter on Monday. The article notes that in 2003 Judge Hunter presided over more than a third of the acquittals granted in the 12-judge district.
"The district attorney's office does not have a personal vendetta against Judge Hunter," Jordan said. "The record speaks for itself and the citizens of Orleans Parish need to know why violent offenders are let out to commit other crimes."
Posted by AJR at 10:09 PM
July 09, 2004
Patient Records in Limbo
The Times-Picayune reports that patients have been unable to get their medical records from 15 recently shuttered Vision Plaza locations in New Orleans. Vision Plaza's parent company has declared bankruptcy, which has raised multiple legal issues, many related to patient records.
James Sandefur, a doctor who is secretary of the Louisiana State Board of Optometry Examiners, a regulatory and licensing agency, called for doctors to get the records as soon as possible.
Posted by AJR at 08:47 AM
Civil Sheriff Drops out of Criminal Sheriff Race
The Times-Picayune reports that Orleans Parish Civil Sheriff Paul Valteau has taken himself out of the running for the Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff race. Sheriff Valteau was the front-runner and, as such, there will likely be a flurry of new candidates announced in the next two weeks as the race qualification deadline approaches.
Posted by AJR at 08:34 AM
July 08, 2004
EEOC Finds Evidence of Racial Discrimination by NOLA DA
The Times-Picayune reports that the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has found evidence indicating that mass firings that took place in the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office after Eddie Jordan took office were discriminatory.
Posted by AJR at 03:34 PM
July 07, 2004
Trial Lawyer Image to be Presidential Campaign Issue
The Times-Picayune reports on John Kerry's selection of John Edwards as a running mate. Specifically, the article notes that the democratic ticket can expect a full-on assault on trial lawyers, but that Edwards populist image could have a positive impact here:
"In parts of the country where labor unions are weak, especially in the South, trial lawyers are seen as standing up for the little guy," said David Mark, editor of Campaigns & Elections Magazine. "It could make a difference in Louisiana."
Posted by AJR at 08:43 AM
July 01, 2004
School Corruption Probe Press Conference
Biz New Orleans reports that a press conference will be held on Friday at 10:00 AM to announce new developments in the ongoing corruption investigation of the Orleans Parish School System.
Posted by AJR at 04:56 PM
June 30, 2004
LADB Asks LASC to Disbar Yvonne Hughes
The Times-Picayune reports that the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board has requested the Louisiana Supreme Court to immediately suspend the law license of former Orleans Parish Juvenile Court Judge Yvonne Hughes. In the article, Hughes indicates that out-of-town prospective employers have called to say they are no longer interested in interviewing her after someone sends them information about her disciplinary problems.
Posted by AJR at 09:23 AM
Kenner Council Fails to Hire Counsel
The Times-Picayune reports that members of the Kenner City Council are likely to appear in court today without an attorney to defend a lawsuit filed by Police Chief Congemi. The Council met last night with the intent to hire counsel, but could not agree to hire a firm after hearing from several of them.
Posted by AJR at 09:07 AM
June 29, 2004
Kenner Council to Hire Counsel
The Times-Picayune reports that members of the Kenner City Council will hold a special session to discuss hiring outside counsel to defend a lawsuit filed by the Kenner Police Chief after city attorneys said their involvement in the case would pose a potential conflict of interest. The council and the police chief are in a power struggle after the council cut the police budget. The chief then decided to close the city jail, which prompted a resolution from the council requiring the chief to keep the jail open. The chief has filed suit seeking a declaration that the council cannot control his spending, outside of allocating his budget.
Posted by AJR at 07:48 AM
Life in Prison
The Times-Picayune provides a report of what Bodenheimer's life will be like for the next four years.
June 28, 2004
Bodenheimer to Begin 46-Month Sentence Today
The Times-Picayune reports that ex-24th JDC Judge Ronald Bodenheimer is scheduled to begin serving a 46-month sentence today.
Bodenheimer's attorney, Eddie Castaing, said the former judge will report to the minimum-security camp at Eglin Air Force Base near Fort Walton Beach, Fla., for a 46-month sentence, a month longer than his tenure at the state 24th District Court in Gretna.
The article provides a brief history of Bodenheimer's career and the "Wrinkled Robe" FBI Operation that led to the sentence.
Posted by AJR at 03:15 PM
June 19, 2004
No Comment From the Urban League
The Times-Picayune reports that the National Urban League issued a statement distancing itself from the ongoing federal investigation of former Mayor Marc Morial.
Posted by AJR at 11:14 PM
June 18, 2004
Posted by RPW at 12:42 PM
Tobacco Case Flap
The Times-Picayune reports that tobacco company lawyers were unsuccessful in excluding CDC Judge Ethel Sims Julien from presiding over hearings to determine whether defense jury consultants improperly questioned jurors who handed down a $599 million verdict. Interestingly, the recusal hearing was closed after defense attorneys successfully argued that attorney-client privilege would be violated by an open hearing.
June 15, 2004
Governor Says No to Oystermen
The Times-Picayune reports that Governor Blanco will not accept the settlement offer made by oyster man last week. "I want to make clear that I have not and will not consider using hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars to settle these lawsuits, especially when these oyster lawsuits threaten to derail the state's coastal restoration efforts," Blanco said. The case is currently pending before the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Posted by AJR at 11:37 PM
Shell Lists Stations Given Bad Fuel
Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti's office refused requests to release information it had concerning locations that might have sold the bad gasoline. Initially, a spokeswoman said the attorney general would not release the list because of "attorney client privilege." Later, in denying a request filed under the Louisiana Public Records Act for a list of stations "where . . . problem gasoline was sold," Isabel Wingerter, chief of Foti's consumer protection section, wrote, "We have no conclusive list that identifies those stations."
Posted by AJR at 08:04 AM
NOLA DA Audit
The Times-Picayune reports that New Orleans District Attorney notified the state legislative auditor after finding evidence that funds were misspent during the Connick Years. The auditor released a report [pdf] of the investigation last week.
Apparently, between January 2001 and March 2003, a division of the DA's office spent about $24,000 on holiday parties, birthday cakes, gifts for retirees and other items. In a written response to the state auditor, Harry Connick said the division employees deserved holiday parties because they work long hours and are on the "low end of the pay scale in the New Orleans legal world."
Posted by AJR at 07:54 AM
D'Souza Announces Candidacy
The Times-Picayune reports that Bernadette D'Souza, a lawyer and a longtime advocate for domestic violence victims, has also announced her candidacy for a judgeship vacancy on the Orleans Civil District Court. D'Souza is running for the seat left open by Hunter King's removal from the bench.
Posted by AJR at 07:42 AM
June 14, 2004
C-Murder Retrial Postponed until September
WGNO reports that C-Murder's retrial has been postponed until September 13. The retrial was granted after evidence surfaced indicating that prosecutors withheld criminal histories of witnesses in the murder case against the rapper.
Posted by AJR at 10:57 PM
A Case of Bad Gasoline?
The Times-Picayune reports that police are investigating whether the bad gas (i.e., high elemental sulfur content) that recently plagued the New Orleans area was a factor in a Memorial Day accident that left 35-year-old Gregory Alix dead after his stalled car was rear-ended on the High Rise and knocked into the Industrial Canal 100 feet below.
"That was a consideration the day of the accident, even before the vehicle was recovered," said New Orleans Police Lt. Henry Dean, who is heading the investigation. "It was mentioned by a couple of the investigators at the accident scene."
Posted by AJR at 08:21 AM
June 13, 2004
Oystermen Make Settlement Offer
The Times-Picayune reports that the oystermen who won a $1.3 billion judgment against the state for the destruction of their harvesting area have made a settlement offer of $243 million--about 81% less than the award handed down by the Plaquemines Parish jury that first heard the case. The case was recently argued before the Louisiana Supreme Court and the oysterman's offer stands until the court issues a decision or until July 10, whichever comes first.
Posted by AJR at 12:42 PM
June 12, 2004
The Times-Picayune reports that Sidney Cates, IV has announced his candidacy to fill the vacancy created in the New Orleans Civil District Court when Judge Roland Belsome was elected to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal. The election will be held on September 18.
Posted by AJR at 04:31 PM
May 21, 2004
Big Verdict Against Big Tobacco
NOLA.Com reports: "NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The tobacco industry must pay more than $500 million for programs to help Louisiana smokers kick the habit, a jury ruled in a class-action lawsuit Friday." Read the rest of the story here.
Posted by RPW at 01:39 PM
April 21, 2004
Sessions, Fishman Seeks Merger
The Times-Picayune reports that the insurance defense section of Sessions, Fishman & Nathan has left the firm and opened a firm under the name of Salley, Hite, Rivera & Mercer. Apparently the split is the result of Sessions, Fishman seeking to merge with another firm, possibly based out of state. "We're sorry to lose them," Jack Alltmont said of the lawyers, though he added that the shift "could be economically beneficial to both of us."
Posted by AJR at 11:57 AM
October 15, 2003
Local School's Trademark Application Sidetracked by AOL
The Times-Picayune reports that Grantham University, a Slidell-based university that has 5,000 students enrolled in Internet correspondece classes, has run into trouble trying to trademark a new slogan, "America's Online University." The school has operated for 50 years in relative obscurity, so the attention resulting from AOL's objection to the proposed trademark provides some welcome attention to the enterprise. "If all of this sheds a little light on what we're doing, then that's wonderful," said spokesman Jason Maloni. The school has withdrawn the application, rather than fight with AOL.
Posted by AJR at 09:16 AM
Bodenheimer Sentencing Delayed
The Times-Picayune reports that federal prosecutors have requested a continuance in the sentencing of former-judge Ronald Bodenheimer. "Don't read anything into it," said Acting US Attorney Jim Letten. "We might or might not do it again." The hearing has been postponed to January 21.
Posted by AJR at 08:56 AM
October 14, 2003
ACLU Sues Tangipahoa School System
The Advocate reports that the American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against the Tangipahoa Parish School Board for the third time in nine years. The suit alleges that the school system has endorsed public prayer at Loranger High School football games, thereby violating constitutional restrictions on government-backed religious activities.
Posted by AJR at 11:08 PM
October 13, 2003
The Times-Picayune provides an in-depth look at the issues associated with retroactive application of recently passed Constitutional Amendment No. 3, which limits the amount of damages that oyster farmers can recover as the result of losses from wetland restoration projects. Since many oyster farmers have already won judgments against the state, a retroactive limitation on those judgments poses due process concerns. Accordingly, the big question is whether the state courts will find other grounds to reduce the judgments.
Posted by AJR at 08:52 AM
September 11, 2003
Jefferson Parish Judge Sued by State
The Times-Picayune reports that 24th JDC Judge Alan J. Green has been sued by the state Ethics Board for accepting a campaign contribution in 2002 that was over twice the limit allowed by law. The donation was made by a Jefferson Parish bail bonds executive, who works for the company implicated in the Jefferson Parish courthouse corruption scandal. Frank DeSalvo, who is representing Judge Green says: "We're not very concerned about it, I can tell you that. It's just a civil case. Worst-case scenario is a civil fine."
Posted by AJR at 11:11 AM
Canal Bottoms Lawsuit Settled
The Times-Picayune reports that one of Jefferson Parish's longest-running political controversies has ended with a settlement. The dispute centered on a the land along East Jefferson's drainage canals that was sold to the parish by Roboco for $5 million without any proof of ownership. The article provides a fascinating account of the dispute's origin and provides details of the settlment.
Robco has delivered a $450,000 check to Jefferson and has transferred 10 properties totaling more than 1.1 million square feet along the banks of the Suburban, Veterans Memorial Boulevard, West Napoleon Avenue and West Metairie Avenue canals in Metairie, among other locations, parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson said. The properties are valued at $2.8 million, according to appraisals prepared for the parish
Posted by AJR at 11:05 AM
CDC Court Apologizes
The Times-Picayune reports that Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Hunter King apologized to the Louisiana Supreme Court yesterday for forcing his employees to work on his re-election campaign and then lie about it under oath. The Supreme Court gave no indication how it might punish Judge King, who remains on the bench at this time. "Possible punishments range from public censure to permanent removal from the bench."
Posted by AJR at 10:56 AM
September 09, 2003
Address Issue Headed to LA Supremes
The Times-Picayune reports that State Senator Lynn Dean will appeal the Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeal's decision that he cannot run for an at-large council seat in St. Bernard Parish because he is not a resident of the parish. At issue is Dean's 101 Dean Drive mailing address that is alleged to simultaneously refer to Deans' "spacious house 10 feet inside Plaquemines' boundary and the apartment connected to his boat manufacturing plant 40 feet inside St. Bernard, where he claims his domicile for voting purposes." Dean has always voted in St. Bernard parish.
Posted by AJR at 07:51 AM
August 21, 2003
Justice Scalia to Speak in NOLA
The New Orleans Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies will host a luncheon on Monday, October 13, 2003, at 12:15 p.m. with The Honorable Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, in the Versailles Room of the Plimsoll Club of the World Trade Center in New Orleans. The event cost is $55.00 and law student members of the Society may attend without charge. Please RSVP to Barbara Schmitt at (504) 582-8287 before October 8, 2003, and make your checks payable to the Federalist Society. Seating is limited.
Posted by AJR at 11:58 AM
August 19, 2003
Orleans Criminal Court Must Improve Record Keeping
The Times-Picayune reports that an independent auditor uncovered inadequacies in the New Orleans Criminal District Court's accounting records. The inadequacies made it impossible to confirm the accuracy of a reported $364,800 balance of unclaimed bonds, which is money posted by defendants who have never returned to collect it.
Posted by AJR at 10:46 AM
Jailed Woman's Abortion Denial Headed to US Fifth Circuit
The Advocate reports that the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal will consider the claim of a Terrebonne Parish woman who was denied an abortion while in jail. Victoria W.'s case was thrown out by US Eastern District Judge Jay Zainey in April 2003. The plaintiff appealed the dismissal, alleging that she was denied her constitutional right to an abortion because the jail required that she hire an attorney and obtain a court order to authorize the abortion procedure. The case is set for oral argument on September 3.
August 14, 2003
Suspended Judge's Suit Suspended
The Times-Picayune reports that a lawsuit filed by suspended Orleans Parish Juvenile Court Judge Yvonne Hughes has been stayed by US Eastern District Judge Ivan Lemelle pending final disciplinary action by the Louisiana Supreme Court. Hughes was suspended for serious misconduct, and subsequently filed a civil rights lawsuit over the seizure of documents from her court by a state Judiciary Commission prosecutor.
Posted by AJR at 08:39 AM
August 13, 2003
Snoop Dogg Goes Wild
NOLA's Bourbon Street Journal considers the court papers filed against rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg alleging that he used drugs to bribe two girls, one of which was underage at the time, to participate in his film "Girls Gone Wild Doggy Style." The post links to the acutal court papers, compliments of The Smoking Gun.
Posted by AJR at 10:11 AM
Loyola Creates Environmental Law Endowment
The Times-Picayune reports that Loyola Law School will create a $2 million chair in environmental law as the result of significant gifts from Michael X. St. Martin and the family of Wendell Gauthier. No one has been selected to fill the new faculty position yet.
Posted by AJR at 10:03 AM
August 07, 2003
Judge Delays Sentencing in Jefferson Corruption Case
The Times-Picayune reports that US District Judge Martin Feldman postponed the sentencing of Phil Demma, a Jefferson Parish Court employee convicted in the ongoing corruption scandal surrounding the parish.
Bruce Ashley, who represents Demma, said he suspected one of the issues involved a motion Ashley filed last week asking the judge to consider a reduced sentence based on his client's diminished psychiatric capacity at the time of his offenses.
Posted by AJR at 08:19 AM
August 06, 2003
NOLA Using Cameras to Monitor Crime
The Times-Picayune reports that New Orleans has been using covert cameras as a crime-fighting tool, but Mayor Nagin nor the city's chief technology office are willing to disclose the locations or numbers of cameras. It was revealed, however, that at least 100 security cameras will be in use throughout the city by October.
New Orleans' approach to implementing camera use is opposite of Shreveport, which notified then fought the public in order to install the cameras--even agreeing to post signs in the areas where cameras are in use.
Posted by AJR at 07:56 AM
August 01, 2003
NOLA DA Jordan Wants Witness Names Witheld
The Times-Picayune reports that Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan is asking the New Orleans media to adopt policies against identifying crime witnesses. The request is being made because two witnesses have been killed before they were able to testify within the last year.
Posted by AJR at 08:30 AM
July 30, 2003
Copeland Denied Request for Secrecy
The Times-Picayune reports that 24th JDC Judge Liljeberg rejected Al Copeland's secrecy petition and refused to seal the court record in the ongoing custody battle. Liljeberg will instead consider sealing documents on a case-by-case basis. The article details the custody dispute's relationship to the corruption scandal currently plaguing the 24th JDC.
Posted by AJR at 07:53 AM
Both Sides Claim Victory in Tobacco Case
Not surprisingly, The Times-Picayune reports that both sides in the New Orleans tobacco case are claiming victories after the jury returned a mixed verdict on Monday. The decision will be appealled by the tobacco companies.
Posted by AJR at 12:23 AM
State Grand Jury Charges Two NOLA Cops
The Times-Picayune reports that two New Orleans Police Officers were arrested on state payroll charges after they were indicted by a special grand jury in New Orleans. The officers were allegedly claiming departmental pay while working paid off-duty jobs. The charges "seem to be breaking a long-standing pattern of leaving it to federal prosecutors to handle corruption cases" says the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
Posted by AJR at 12:19 AM
July 29, 2003
Jurors Return Split Tobacco Verdict
The Times-Picayune reports that a New Orleans jury decided that tobacco companies should pay for programs to assist individuals in quitting smoking, but rejected the plaintiffs' request to finance medical tests and monitoring for smokers. The decision ends the first phase of the trial; the second will require the same jury to select the smoking-cessation programs and the third phase will require the judge to determine how much the companies must pay to fincance the programs.
July 25, 2003
Tobacco Case Goes to Jury
The Advocate reports that the class-action tobacco case was handed to the jury yesterday.
Posted by AJR at 08:27 AM
July 24, 2003
Jefferson Corruption Probe Results in Another Sentencing
The Times-Picayune reports that Metairie car dealer Joe Perez was sentenced to 20 months of prison by US District Judge Vance. Perez was convicted of possession with intent to distribute and the article indicates the ex-judge Bodenheimer had offered to assist Perez by helping him to conceal his drug smuggling. The article provides a summary of the convictions resulting from the Gretna courthouse investigation to date.
NOLA Tobacco Trial Begins Wrap-Up
The Times-Picayune reports that the parties in the tobacco class-action in New Orleans began presenting closing arguments yesterday. The jury is expected to begin deliberations this afternoon.
The lawsuit asks the jury to declare that the companies plotted to sell an unreasonably dangerous product. Instead of money, the suit asks that the companies be made to pay for smoking cessation aids for people who want to quit cigarettes and for annual medical tests to detect latent smoking-related illnesses.
Posted by AJR at 07:28 AM
July 23, 2003
St. Tammany to Dedicate New Courthouse Friday
The Times-Picayune reports that St. Tammany Parish officials will officially dedicate the new parish courthouse in a ceremony on Friday morning.
Posted by AJR at 08:26 AM
July 18, 2003
Times-Picayune Asks Court to Refuse Copeland Secrecy
The Times-Picayune reports that it went to court in the 24th JDC (Jefferson Parish) in opposition of Al Copeland's efforts to seal the public record and to close hearings in his domestic dispute that has been at the center of the corruption investigation.
July 17, 2003
Grand Jury Hears Testimony from 24th JDC Secretary
The Times-Picayune reports that a grand jury heard testimony related to the alleged misconduct of Judge Alan Green, a subject of the ongoing federal probe in the 24th JDC (Jefferson Parish). Judge Green's secretary and employees of Bail Bonds Unlimited testified Wednesday before the grand jury.
State Health Officials Seek Settlement Modification
The Times-Picayune reports that the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has asked a federal court for permission to modify a legal settlement requiring the state to provide home-care attendants for Medicaid patients. The request offers a waiver program as an alternative, a modification that DHH Secretary David Hood characterizes as "win-win" becuase it helps the Legislature control costs and allows for a broader range of people to qualify for in-home care.
Posted by AJR at 07:14 AM
July 16, 2003
NOLA Boys Found Guilty in School Shooting
The Times-Picayune reports that two boys, who were 13 at the time, were found guilty of a shooting that took place at New Orleans' Carter G. Woodson Middle School in 2000.
The 2.5-year-old case had stalled in part because it drew a constitutional legal fight, with the teens' attorneys demanding a jury trial, which doesn't exist in the juvenile system, where judges make all decisions
Posted by AJR at 07:28 AM
July 15, 2003
Nagin May Sue NOLA Tax Assessors
The Times-Picayune reports that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is considering lodging complaints with the state Tax Commission or even filing a lawsuit against the City's seven property assessors. Nagin alleges that the assessors undervaluation of property has resulted in a lost tax revenue of $10 to $20 million dollars.
Posted by AJR at 07:24 AM
July 07, 2003
Regulating Gambling in LA
The Times-Picayune provides a retrospective on Louisiana's regulation of gambling as the ten-year anniversary of riverboat casinos in the state approaches.
Posted by AJR at 07:16 AM
July 03, 2003
Federal Court Upholds Louisiana Ban on Foreign Lawyers
The Times-Picayune reports that Eastern District Judge Jay Zainey sided with the Louisiana Supreme Court in a case brought by foreign lawyers who sued to take the Louisiana Bar Exam. The article notes that the 63-page decision found the plaintiffs had standing but that Louisiana was within its rights to exclude foreign lawyers living in the United States on temporary visas from the examination.
July 01, 2003
Bryan White Begins to Serve Sentence
The Times-Picayune reports that Bryan White, Al Copeland's top corporate attorney, began serving a one-year sentence at a low security federal camp in Pensacola, Florida.
Posted by AJR at 09:53 PM
June 27, 2003
Crime Fighting Awards Given
Posted by AJR at 07:03 AM
June 26, 2003
Feds Open NOLA Schoolboard Payroll Investigation
The Times-Picayune reports that federal investigators have opened a formal investigation of fraud in the New Orleans school system's payroll and benefits operations. At a recent School Board meeting, auditor Stuart Piltch alleged that errors and and potential fraud, "along with overpayments to contractors and other irregularities, may have cost the system as much as $20 million in each of the past three years." Piltch also reported that more than 300 people failed to pick up their paychecks after auditors forced employees to show identification and sign for their checks.
Posted by AJR at 07:34 AM
Prosecutors' Misconduct Highlighted
The Times-Picayune reports on a study that highlights a pattern of misconduct by prosecutors around the country. The study, released by The Center for Public Integrity, provides prosecutor profiles and analyses of misconduct.
Choose Life License Plate Challenge Back in Court
The Times-Picayune reports that abortion rights supporters renewed their fight in federal court against Louisiana's "Choose Life" license plates.
Arguments Wednesday came after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in January gave new life to the suit, which it originally ordered Duval to throw out. The appeals court reversed itself and ruled that abortion-rights advocates could sue the state -- for issuing specialty plates in general, not for distributing "Choose Life" plates in particular.
The state argues that the plaintiffs still have no grounds to sue because they have not suffered injury by the law.
June 24, 2003
University of Michigan's Impact on Louisiana
The Times-Picayune reports that Louisiana educators lauded yesterday's US Supreme Court decisions in the University of Michigan affirmative action cases, while The Advocate reports ambivalence. There seems to be agreement that the decisions will not affect Louisiana much, but The Times reports that the jury is still out regarding Louisiana law and medical schools.
June 23, 2003
NOLA Refuses to Prosecute Dog Fighters
The Times-Picayune reports that the New Orleans' DA has refused all charges against suspects arrested at the "largest professional dogfighting operation" in New Orleans. The refusal frustrates police and animal-rights activists, but George Bourgeois, an assistant DA, says there was not enough evidence to successfully prosecute the cases.
Posted by AJR at 07:37 AM
June 19, 2003
US Attorney Widens Probes of Orleans Parish Schools
The Times reports that US Attorney Jim Letten intends to pursue the corruption reportedly plaguing the New Orleans Public School system. A recent consultant's report indicates that as much as $20 million per year was being paid to individuals who did not earn the money.
Posted by AJR at 07:44 AM
June 18, 2003
NOLA Loses Sidewalk Book Battle
The Times-Picayune reports that the couple from up north who moved to New Orleans with plans to sell books on the street finally got their permits from the Eastern District Court.
Posted by AJR at 07:44 AM
Copeland Refuses to Answer Questions
The Times-Picayune reports that Al Copeland refused to answer 102 of 105 questions in a deposition recently. The questioning concerned whether or not he was aware of the scheme involving former Judge Ronald Bodenheimer.
Under oath and with his criminal defense attorney present at a May 14 deposition, the multimillionaire restaurateur "refused to answer any questions concerning his knowledge of and participation in the conspiracy," according to the papers, filed in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeal on behalf of Luan Hunter.
Posted by AJR at 07:37 AM
June 13, 2003
St. Tammany Parish Courthouse Residents Completely Moved
The Times-Picayune reports that "more than 500 workers in local government agencies have completed their move to the new St. Tammany Parish Courthouse in Covington, parish officials said, and the 280,000-square-foot building became 'fully operational' this week with few glitches." The move began six weeks ago.
Posted by AJR at 07:46 AM
June 11, 2003
Bill Advances to Change Groundwater Lawsuits
The Times-Picayune reports on a bill that would provide for the automatic intervention of the LDEQ and DNR in any lawsuit where plaintiffs claim that groundwater is in danger or has been damaged.
June 05, 2003
NOLA City Code Now on the Web
June 03, 2003
NOLA Police Department Updates Web Site
The Times-Picayune reports that the New Orleans Police Department has unveiled a new Web site (see the old site here). The site provides weekly criminal reports overlaid on a city map, in addition to providing a form to file reports of minor vandalism and other items not confirmed stolen. Further, the NOPD has been maintaining a Web log on NOLA.com. Excellent. There is no reason that every police and sheriff department in the state should not provide crime maps such as this because the software is available for less than $1,000 and relatively simple to use.
Posted by AJR at 10:12 PM
May 29, 2003
NOLA Bootleg Violator Sentenced
The Times-Picayune reports that Guy Mouledoux was sentenced to eight months of confinement after pleading guilty to one count of "violating the 'bootlegging' law." Mouledoux earned over $205,000 by selling copied classic rock rarities.
Posted by AJR at 07:31 AM
May 28, 2003
Bodenheimer Forbidden to Use Part of Marina
NOLA Civil District Judge C. Hunter King has ordered former Judge Ronald Bodenheimer not to use a large portion of his Venetian Isles marina, reports The Times-Picayune.
The dispute, which has been ongoing for 2 years, centers on Bodenheimer's desire to use the marina as a commercial seafood dock. Neighbors and the city oppose his plans.
Posted by AJR at 07:15 AM
May 23, 2003
Plaqemines Parish Courthouse Moving to Port Sulphur
The Times-Picayune reports that the Plaquemines Parish Council ignored the guidance of the Plaquemines Parish Courthouse Commission by calling an October 4 election to move the parish seat to Port Sulphur. "The Courthouse Commission has asked you to honor our wishes -- whether you agree with it or not -- to call a referendum to put the courthouse in Cedar Grove," State District Judge william Roe said. "The only reason that request has been snubbed is because a proponent of an alternate site wishes it to be in his district. Parochial, limited self-interest is what the Courthouse Commission was created to avoid."
May 22, 2003
Copeland Attorney's Plea for Leniency Unsuccessful
The Times-Picayune reports that Bryan White's plea to be placed in a halfway house or sentenced to home incarceration was unsuccessful. White was sentenced to a year and one day in federal prison as a result of his guilty plea to a charge of misprision of a felony. "A lawyer too weak to resist a corrupt judge is as bad and as poisonous to the system of justice as is the corrupt judge," Eastern District Judge Feldman told White.
NOLA Federal Judge Rejects Plea-Deal Agreement
Eastern District Judge Lance Africk, a former prosecutor, rejected a plea-bargain agreement for a former insurance company owner as too lenient, reports The Times-Picayune. Accordingly, Bobby Shamburger will be going to trial for his role in an insurance scheme that scammed investors out of $200 million. "I didn't expect this to happen, but I'm not surprised," the attorney, George Chaney Jr., said. "It's the judge's discretion. It didn't pan out, so we're on for a trial."
More Judicial Misconduct from NOLA Area
The Times-Picayune reports that CDC Judge Hunter King faces suspension and possible criminal charges as a result of his conduct during the 2002 campaign. A report issued by the Louisiana Judiciary Commission indicates that King forced his staff into selling tickets to a campaign fund raiser and also lied under oath.
Posted by AJR at 07:16 AM
May 21, 2003
Copeland Lawyer Trying to Avoid Prison
Bryan White, Al Copeland's corporate attorney that pleaded guilty in the Bodenheimer corruption case, is asking the Federal court to place him in a halfway house or give him home incarceration, reports The Times-Picayune.
Posted by AJR at 07:42 AM
May 20, 2003
Copeland's Ex-Wife Granted Retrial
The Times-Picayune reports that the Louisiana 5th Circuit Court of Appeal decided that Al Copeland's ex-wife is entitled to a new trial as a result of former Judge Ronald Bodenheimer's "egregious" action in fixing the child custody and support case. There is some dispute as to whether the decision pertains only to the issue before the Court of Appeal or the entire case. District Judge Hans Liljeberg, Bodenheimer's successor, will be responsible for making that determination.
May 16, 2003
Supreme Court Places NOLA Lawyer on Probation
THe Louisiana Supreme Court placed Harry Cantrell, Jr., who also works part time as an Orleans Criminal District Court magistrate, on probation for 18 months as a result of misconduct in his private practice (neglecting cases and failing to communicate with clients), reports The Times-Picayune. The court imposed a deferred suspension.
NOLA Lawyer Pleads in Referral Payments Case
The Times-Picayune reports that New Orleans attorney Curtis Coney, Jr. compounded problems that arose from his practice of paying "runners" to solicit accident victims when he pressured his secretary to cover-up those payments before a federal grand jury. The secretary was wearing a wire when Coney pressured her, resulting in a plea agreement revealed Wednesday. Coney, 58, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of "structuring" referral payments to hide them from the government and one count of obstruction of justice. The plea is part of a four-year federal investigation of personal injury attorneys.
Posted by AJR at 07:31 AM
May 15, 2003
Jefferson Remap Might be Delayed
The Times-Picayune reports that plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against Jefferson Parish Council's five-district remap plan have asked District Judge Carl Barbier to postpone the trial until 2004. Most Jefferson Parish officials acknowledge that there is little or no chance of addressing the legal cloud before elections this fall.
Big Easy Corruption Focus of Federal Effort
The Times-Picayune reports on Acting U.S. Attorney Jim Letten's "stunning recent announcement that his office is pursuing 14 other government corruption probes suggests that the feds have declared war on the Big Easy's famously lax political system with a ferocity unmatched in the city's modern history." The article notes that Letten's remarks, in combination with arrests and subpoenas, indicated that focus is on New Orleans City Hall, Louis Armstrong International Airport and Jefferson Parish.
May 14, 2003
St. Bernard Code Now Online
The St. Bernard Parish Clerk of Court was getting so many telephone calls requesting that parish ordinance information be made available online that she asked the Parish Council in December to finance the effort, reports The Times-Picayune. As a result, the code is now available online and accessible through the St. Bernard Parish Naked Ownership page.
Posted by AJR at 07:24 AM
EPA Detectives to Discuss Duties in NOLA
The Times-Picayune reports that staff members from the EPA's criminal investigation division will explain their duties at a public meeting tonight sponsored by the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation.
Eight EPA special agents are moving from Baton Rouge to the New Orleans area.
Posted by AJR at 07:18 AM
Tangipahoa Remap Approval Uncertain
The Advocate reports that the Tangipahoa Parish Council learned that the United States Department of Justice has not yet approved four precinct consolidations that were proposed in the council's redistricting plan. The article notes that October council elections could be delayed if the plan does not win federal approval prior to the election.
Posted by AJR at 06:59 AM
May 13, 2003
Plaqumenines Parish Council May Ignore Recommendation
The Times-Picayune reports that the Plaquemines Parish Council may call an October 4 election to move the parish seat to Port Sulphur, which is contrary to a recommendation made by the courthouse committee. The committee, created by the Legislature and comprised of elected officials from throughout the parish, recommended building the new courthouse in Cedar Grove. The committee is not impressed by the council's consideration of Port Sulphur:
Posted by AJR at 07:23 AM
May 06, 2003
Tulane Student Can't Take Bar Exam
Emily Maw, the Tulane law student discussed here, will not be able to stay in Louisiana to continue her death penalty work because Louisiana prohibits visiting foreign lawyers from taking the State bar exam, as reported here. The story has been reported by the Associated Press. The article notes:
The article also notes that Louisiana is the only state with such a ban. Even if the prohibition can be justified in some manner, shouldn't there be an exemption for students that attend Louisiana law schools. [Link via Weird of the News via Ernie the Attorney]
Posted by AJR at 01:01 PM
May 04, 2003
The Oyster Lottery
The Times-Picayune provides in-depth coverage regarding the state's oyster leases. There are multiple stories, so each is linked with its introductory sentence:
Affixing Value to Beds a Slippery Affair
Bills Aim to Hold Oyster Suits in Check
Oil Industry Pumps up Oyster Farms
Oyster Farmers Initially Backed Project
Posted by AJR at 10:45 PM
May 02, 2003
Judge Upholds $10.5 Million Jury Award
The Times-Picayune reports that NOLA CDC Ad hoc Judge Joseph Tiemann upheld a jury's verdict awarding $10.5 million to a man whose property was expropriated for the expansion of the Morial Convention Center. The Convention Center board plans to appeal.
Posted by AJR at 11:24 AM
Fifth Graders "Convict" Classmate
The Advocate reports on the conclusion of the 12-week Project for Legal Enrichment and Decision making (LEAD), which resulted in 10-year-old Andrew Ancar being handcuffed and escorted from a Louisiana Supreme Court courtroom.
Justice Johnson, who presided over the mock trial, said the students learned "that the rule of law protects our freedoms in a democracy and that legal cases are decided by applying the law to the facts, not by the passions of the moment or by public opinion."
Posted by AJR at 11:08 AM
April 30, 2003
NOLA Brothel Saga Ending
The Times-Picayune reports that Federal Eastern District Judge Lemelle gave the mother and daughter who ran the Canal Street brothel lenient sentences to end the prostitution saga. In what the article denoted as a rare display of judicial candor, Judge Lemelle indicated that the case was far more appropriate for state court:
Posted by AJR at 11:42 AM
April 28, 2003
Actor Foxx Pleads Innocent in NOLA Court
Comedian and actor Jamie Foxx pleaded innocent to misdemeanor charges of trespassing, disturbing the peace, battery on police officers, and resisting arrest in New Orleans Criminal District Court today, reports The Times-Picayune. Foxx, who is in town filming a movie, was arrested Saturday when he entered Harrah's Casino and allegedly refused a request for identification, subsequently igniting a dispute among security guards and his entourage.
Posted by AJR at 02:15 PM
Critics of Audubon Park Clubhouse Lose Zoning Appeal
The Times-Picayune reports that critics of a 7,800-square-foot clubhouse in New Orleans Audubon Park suffered another defeat when a special referee in New Orleans CDC ruled that the clubhouse does not meet the special definition of a restaurant. "While all the legal wrangling has been going on, Gootee Construction completed work on the clubhouse, and Audubon officials held an open house for it last week."
Posted by AJR at 02:11 PM
April 25, 2003
Judge Benge Defends Award as Impartial
The Times-Picayune reports that 24th JDC Judge Joan Benge said she was not "improperly influenced" when she awarded Phil Demma, who is expected to plead guilty to two felony counts related to the Jefferson Parish corruption scandal, $3,400 in damages related to a 2001 suit. "Following an impartial consideration of all the evidence, Mr. Demma was awarded a nominal judgment, based solely on the facts and the law," Benge wrote in a statement released yesterday. "As in all cases, at no time was I improperly influenced in the Demma case."
United States Attorney General Ashcroft in NOLA
The Advocate reports that United States Attorney General John Ashcroft was in New Orleans yesterday, meeting with members of a local anti-terrorism task force. A news conference was held and Ashcroft responded to criticisms that the Justice Department is trampling civil rights in its war on terrorism: "We always seek to enforce the law by respecting the law," Ashcroft said, adding that Justice Department employees are encouraged to "think outside the box but never think outside the Constitution."
April 24, 2003
Haitians Visit NOLA for Tips on Improving Judicial System
The Times-Picayune reports that a group of Haitians is in New Orleans this week to describe problems within their country's judicial system and to find possible solutions.
Posted by AJR at 10:26 AM
Another Plea in Jefferson Court Scandal
The Times-Picayune reports that Phil Demma, a Jefferson Parish juvenile court officer and reserve deputy sheriff, will plead guilty to two felony charges in Federal Court on Friday. One of the charges is related to the Copeland case, but another is related to a case tried by Judge Joan Benge in the 24th JDC. Judge Benge has been named as a suspect in the corruption investigation. "They'll follow the trail where the evidence leads," former federal prosecutor Shaun Clarke said. "We don't know that other judges will be named in an indictment, but it's very clear that the conduct of other judges in the 24th District court is being investigated closely."
Posted by AJR at 10:20 AM
April 23, 2003
LA Supreme Court Parking Issue Debated
The Times-Picayune reports that Chief Justice Pascal Calogero, Jr. appeared before the State Legislature's Joint Committee on the Budget to request that the court be allowed to contribute $3.5 million in unspent budget money toward completing restorations of the Royal Street courthouse. The situation quickly focused on the parking woes of the courthouse, with legislators expressing "exasperation that the parking issue had not been solved and that the state might be hit with another expense related to the project." The article provides a brief summary of the expenses and obstacles the restoration project has faced to date.
Posted by AJR at 07:32 AM
April 22, 2003
New St. Tammany Parish Courthouse to Open Soon
The Times-Picayune reports that the massive new St. Tammany Courthouse located in downtown Covington will be open for limited business in two weeks. Only a few finishing touches remain on the three-story, 280,000 square foot structure. The article provides details about the scheduled six-week move and its expected impact on the services provided by the building's new tenants. All agencies plan to stay open during regular business hours.
Law Office Operates in Former Brothel
The New Orleans City Council unanimously voted to change the zoning of a building "that housted the city's most famous brothel" from RM-1 (multiple family residential) to RO-1 (general office district), reports The Times-Picayune. The request was made by David Bell, "who said his firm of four lawyers has been operating there since June, shortly after the $300-per-hour brothel shut down."
Posted by AJR at 07:15 AM
Fourth Judge Avoids Morial DWI Case
The Times-Picayune reports that Judge Robert E. Jones III was the fourth judge on the New Orleans Traffic Court bench to recuse himself from the drunken driving case against Jacques Morial, the brother of New Orleans' former mayor. Judge Jones said he will ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to appoint someone to preside over the case. "Other Traffic Court judges who have backed away from the current case include Judge Dennis Dannel, who relinquished it last fall because of his friendship with the Morial family; Judge Paul Bonin, who presided in Morial's earlier DWI case; and Judge Ronald Sholes, who is close with the BOLD political clan that backed Ray Nagin's run for mayor."
Posted by AJR at 07:10 AM
April 21, 2003
Lake Catherine Property Owners Sooner to Getting Titles
The Times-Picayune reports that owners of homes and camps in the eastern New Orleans community of Lake Catherine may soon gain legal title to the lots that they have historically occupied. See here for more background on the story. The New Orleans City Council has dropped the requirement that the residents install a community system, provided that the community can reach a solution acceptable to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.
Posted by AJR at 07:14 AM
April 17, 2003
NOLA Confederate Museum Loses Ownership Battle
The Times-Picayune reports that the Confederate Museum lost a dispute regarding the ownership of the building it has occupied for 111 years. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld a district court ruling that gives ownership to the University of New Orleans Foundation. "Of course, we're disappointed," said James Carriere, the Confederate Museum's lawyer. "We'll pursue any legal remedies that are available to us."
Posted by AJR at 08:41 AM
April 09, 2003
Karl Rove in NOLA
Interstate 10 in New Orleans was shut down for at least a half-hour around 5:00 last night to allow the motorcade of White House chief political strategist Karl Rove to make its way to the Central Business District of New Orleans. The Times-Picayune reports that Rove is in town to deliver a speech at the annual convention of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and to meet with a small group of local Republican campaign contributors and party activists.
LA Supreme Court to Rule on Causeway Fee
The Times-Picayune reports that the Louisiana Supreme Court will soon decide whether a $5 court fee tacked onto every ticket written by Causeway Police can be used to pay for police salaries and equipment maintenance. "Justices heard arguments Tuesday from both the Greater New Orleans Causeway Commission and the two judges from the 1st Parish Court in Jefferson who have refused to collect the fee."
Posted by AJR at 08:03 AM
April 07, 2003
Project Return Allowed to Keep Office
The Times-Picayune reports that Project Return, a widely hailed rehabilitation program for ex-convicts, recently won a decision in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal regarding zoning status that will allow it to maintain its office in Algiers. The group, however, is not overly excited about the verdict because it is looking for an office near or in the Central Business District, so that ex-inmates can easily get their by bus. "The bottom line is we'll get better results in a better location," Bob Roberts, the Project Return Director, said. "And better results means a reduction in crime and safer streets. But we're still on the wrong side of the river."
Posted by AJR at 08:30 AM
April 03, 2003
Bodenheimer's Plea Frees Co-Defendant
The Times-Picayune reports that Ronald Bodenheimer's plea in the courthouse corruption case "became the ticket to freedom for his co-defendant Curley Chewning." Chewning, a Slidell mechanic, was being held in a halfway house pending Bodenheimer's trial. In other developments, Phil Demma, a Jefferson Parish Juvenile Court officer, is also seeking to cut a deal in the case.
Posted by AJR at 09:19 AM
St. Bernard to Digitize Parish Documents
The Times-Picayune reports that St. Bernard parish government has approved a contract to place all of the minutes from Parish Council meetings, and those of its predecessor Police Jury, on CD-ROM dating all the way back to 1883. The council also voted to post the parish's code of ordinances on the Internet. Hopefully, this will lead the way for additional parishes and municipalities to join the Information Age.
Muni-code will be adding the code to its collection of free Louisiana online codes. At a cost of approximately $3,000, this is something that every city and parish in the state should be able to afford.
Posted by AJR at 09:14 AM
April 01, 2003
Lafayette NAACP to Oppose Schoolboard in Deseg Case
The Times-Picayune reports that Je'Nelle Chargois, president of the Lafayette chapter of the NAACP, has indicated the organization will fight a move by the Lafayette Parish school system to remove federal oversight in the system's 38-year-old desegregation lawsuit. The school district filed for unitary status yesterday and Chargois indicates that the Lafayette Chapter has hired an attorney and plans to file an appeal in the next 60 days.
Posted by AJR at 12:58 PM
Loyola Honors Execution Reformer
The Times-Picayune reports on the speech made by ex-Illinois governor George Ryan last night.
Posted by AJR at 10:29 AM
Follow-up On Bodenheimer Plea Bargain
The Times-Picayune provides another article with further details regarding Ronald Bodenheimer, who is described as a tenacious prosecutor-turned-judge. "Bodenheimer, whose term expired Dec. 31, will be the fourth judge in the state and the second in Jefferson Parish to serve time in the past two decades, according to officials with the state Supreme Court." Further, the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board will immediately being proceedings to have Bodenheimer suspended and permanently disbarred.
Posted by AJR at 10:23 AM
March 31, 2003
Bodenheimer Pleads Guilty, Agrees to Testify
The Times-Picayune reports that former 24th JDC District Judge Ronald Bodenheimer pleaded guilty to federal charges (drug conspiracy, mail fraud, and mail fraud conspiracy) and has agreed to become a government witness in an extensive investigation into corruption in the Jefferson Parish judiciary. "Under a plea agreement with prosecutors, Bodenheimer faces three years, six months in prison. U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan set July 9 for sentencing. Bodenheimer remains under house arrest." U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said Bodenheimer's plea "represents not the conclusion of our investigation, but the beginning."
Posted by AJR at 07:30 PM
March 28, 2003
Plaquemines Parish Courthouse Commission Postpones Decision
The Times-Picayune reports that the Plaquemines Parish Courthouse Commission postponed their decision regarding where it will ask voters to build a new parish courthouse to replace the one that burned down in January 2002. There appears to be support for all three options (Port Sulphur, Pointe a la Hache, and Cedar Grove, so the decision to postpone was made in order to develop more information about the proposed sites.
Posted by AJR at 07:22 AM
March 27, 2003
Wiretap Evidence Admitted in Jefferson Courthouse Corruption Case
The Times-Picayune reports that United States District Judge Ginger Berrigan refused to strike months of secret wiretap recordings that prosecutors are using against former state Judge Ronald Bodenheimer and others. "There are only two options left for Mr. Bodenheimer: Prepare for trial, or renew negotiations for a plea agreement with the government," said criminal defense attorney Vinny Mosca. "The ruling is likely to have a strong impact beyond Bodenheimer's drug case, experts said, safeguarding the government use of the wiretaps in other elements of the 3½-year-old federal investigation into corruption at the Gretna courthouse."
Posted by AJR at 10:23 AM
March 26, 2003
NOLA Court Halts Wal-Mart Project
The court-appointed curator for Arlene Meraux has succeeded in getting all work on a proposed Wal-Mart Super Center in Chalmette suspended until an April 8 hearing, reports The Times-Picayune. "The order is the latest development in the public struggle to control the Meraux estate. Meraux, 80, is in declining health and was ruled by a court in August to be unable to tend to her affairs because of chronic senile dementia." The Wal-Mart project is now involved in the dispute regarding the management of her health and wealth because it is unclear who owns the land where the store is to be built: J&A Meraux, Inc. or the Joseph and Arlene Meraux Charitable Foundation.
Posted by AJR at 07:53 AM
March 25, 2003
New Parish Seat to be Considered in Plaquemines
The Times-Picayune reports that the Plaquemines Parish Courthouse Commission will hold a public meeting on Wednesday to consider alternate sites for rebuilding the parish courthouse that burned in January 2002. Prior to the fire, parish voters narrowly rejected a proposal to move the government parish seat to the west bank of the Mississippi. Since the fire, three alternate sites have been promoted: (1) Port Sulphur; (2) Cedar Grove; and (3) Pointe a la Hache. "Roe said the public is encouraged to attend to hear the presentations, but the meeting is not intended to become a public debate about the proposed sites. "
Sheriff Harry Lee may Disband Traffic Unit
Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee has taken a bold step in admitting that his approach to improving traffic safety for the last few years is not working, reports The Times-Picayune. In mid-1998 Lee declared war on bad drivers and developed a motorcycle traffic division that has written nearly 100,000 tickets per year. Fatal accidents, however, have increased significantly since the implementation of the program. Although most large departments throughout the country have traffic units, the downside is that other officers begin to think that traffic work is not their responsibility. No doubt, the National Motorists Association will be glad to hear this news.
Posted by AJR at 08:31 AM
Copeland Implicated in Custody Conspiracy
The Times-Picayune reports that Phil Demma, a Jefferson Parish juvenile services officer, has implicated Al Copeland in the effort to rig Copeland's child custody case in court. Nonetheless, Demma "has grown to be a thorn in the side of both prosecutors and defense attorneys" as he has hired three separate attorneys in the past year and also engaged in questionable private conversations with co-defendants subsequent to his plea-bargain. Copeland's attorney, Jack Martzell, said "I don't believe he will be indicted, but that and 75 cents will get you a cup of coffee."
Posted by AJR at 08:21 AM
March 20, 2003
NOLA DA Visited by Brooklyn Prosecutor
The Times-Picayune reports that NOLA District Attorney Eddie Jordan's Brooklyn counterpart was in New Orleans Wednesday for an informal lecture and pep talk on how his office fights crime by trying to prevent it. Jordan hopes to model many of the successful programs implemented in New York, including the assignment of prosecutors to certain areas of New Orleans, so they can work closer with police as well as residents.
Posted by AJR at 10:36 AM
March 19, 2003
Meraux Estate Dispute Continues
The Times-Picayune reports on the on-going public battle to control the estate of New Orleans land baroness Arlene Meraux, who is 80-years-old and unable to care for her own affairs. The latest squabble concerns the designation of Meraux's niece as under-curator. Meraux's court-appointed curator is challenging the niece by claiming that she "forged a document making her and her husband members of the charitable foundation that will control Meraux's fortune after her death."
Posted by AJR at 06:48 AM
March 14, 2003
NOLA to Appeal $200 Million Ruling
The City of New Orleans was ordered by CDC Judge Ronald Belsome to pay over $200 million in backpay and pension to about 1,500 NOLA firefighters or their heirs. Mayor Nagin issued a written statement that "they city cannot afford to be saddled with" the judgment and that it will be appealed, reports The Times-Picayune.
Posted by AJR at 08:13 AM
Jefferson Courthouse Case Racks up Guilty Pleas
The Times-Picayune reports that Federal authorities have secured another guilty plea and another witness in their investigation of corruption at the Jefferson Parish Courthouse. In the most recent case, former Sheriff's Lt. Guy Crosby pleaded guilty to funneling information from a restricted computer to a bail bondsman. "Crosby joins Slidell mechanic Curley Chewning and Bryan White, restaurateur Al Copeland's top corporate attorney, in confessing to crimes and agreeing to cooperate in the investigation."
Former District Judge Ronald Bodenheimer still maintains his innocence and won a small victory yesterday when the State Board of Ethics reversed course and said that he could use campaign funds for his defense, reports The Times-Picayne.
March 12, 2003
Copeland Ordered to Reveal Finances Again
Al Copeland is fighting a second court order to reveal the exact details of his wealth in a continuing effort to keep the size of his fortune a secret, reports The Times-Picayune. "The latest ruling came Tuesday when state District Judge Hans Liljeberg gave the restaurateur 30 days to lay out his financial portfolio in its entirety, from tax returns to stocks to real estate holdings." Peter Cola, who recently joined Bennett Wolff as an attorney for Hunter, Copeland's ex-wife, said that: "Any other party would have had to produce these by now."
Posted by AJR at 08:29 AM
March 11, 2003
NOLA Posts First Victory in Brake Tag Corruption
The Times-Picayune reports that New Orleans prosecutors posted their first jury trial victory that resulted from City Hall's sweeping investigation of alleged corruption at the city's vehicle inspection stations. The conviction was only a partial win, however, because the former employee on trial was convicted of malfeasance in office, but acquitted of public bribery. "Of the remaining cases to grow out of the brake tag station investigation, two have resulted in guilty pleas. One defendant was acquitted, and three are awaiting trial. "
Posted by AJR at 10:54 AM
March 10, 2003
Witness Slain After Refusing Protection
The Times-Picayune reports that Ryan Smith was found dead from gunshot wounds to the head and body on Saturday night. Smith was to testify in a murder trial slated to start today, but had twice refused police protection and an offer to relocate his family from the Orleans Parish DA's office.
Posted by AJR at 08:25 AM
March 07, 2003
Lawyers Sue to Take LA Bar Exam
Three French citizens and attorneys that are working full-time under a visa have sued to challenge a decision by the Louisiana Supreme Court that prohibits visiting foreign lawyers from taking the State bar exam, reports The Times-Picayune. Louisiana is the only state to forbid nonresident foreigners from taking the bar exam, but "three other foreign lawyers tried without success last year to get the Louisiana justices to change their minds on the matter, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear their case."
Lawsuit Challenges All Specialty License Plates
The Times-Picayune reports that abortion-rights activists are taking a new approach in their attack against Louisiana's "Choose Life" license plates. In January the US 5th Circuit rejected an earlier lawsuit that specifically challenged the plates, so now the group is suing to throw out the entire specialty plate system or require Louisiana to sell a "Choose Choice" plate for balance.
March 06, 2003
Plans for Jefferson Parish Courthouse On Track
The Times-Picayune reports that construction of a new building for Jefferson Parish's 2nd Parish Court is on track to begin in May. Parish officials are preparing to sell $5 million in bonds and to accept a contractor's bid that was $600,000 below the estimated $7.5 million cost. The three-story building will be built at 100 Huey P. Long Avenue in Gretna.
Posted by AJR at 09:17 AM
March 05, 2003
NOLA District Attorney gets technology boost
The City of New Orleans is working with the District Attorney's office to provide computers and high speed Internet access within the office. The March 3, 2003 edition of City Business reports that "20 new Pentium IV computers" valued at "$300,000" were donated to the D.A's office by the City (obviously this is a mistake, or the 'computers' are actually 'servers.').
Posted by esvenson at 10:47 AM
March 03, 2003
NOLA Evidence Room Cleaned Too Thoroughly
The Times-Picayune reports that another case is now in jeopardy because of evidence that was mistakenly destroyed in an overzealous cleanup of the NOPD Central Evidence and Property Room. "It has been determined that evidence in at least nine more cases is missing or was destroyed." New procedures have been implemented to prevent mistakes from occurring again.
Posted by AJR at 08:12 AM
February 27, 2003
Albertson's Not Permitted to Break Lease
United States ED Judge Stanwood Duval, Jr. issued a summary judgment ruling that Albertson's cannot break a lease agreement in the New Orleans Garden District because of potential competition from a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter, reports The Times-Picayune.
Posted by AJR at 10:47 AM
Johnnie Cochran Wins NOLA Trial
The Times-Picayune reports that Johnnie Cochran won a five-day trial that he called a battle between David and Goliath. The case concerned the expropriation of a Tchoupitoulas Street warehouse by the Morial Convention Center. Dr. Steve Lesser, who owns the building, was awarded $10.5 million in comparison to the $1.2 million offered by the State. "Lesser asked for $12.2 million, claiming that a developer was ready to build a 400-room hotel on the property."
February 26, 2003
ED Judge Porteous Recuses Himself from Federal Government Cases
The Times-Picayune reports that United States Eastern District Court Judge Tom Porteous "has recused himself from hearing cases involving the federal government as a result of his name being linked to an ongoing federal investigation in Jefferson Parish."
Posted by AJR at 08:38 AM
February 25, 2003
NOLA DA Jordan Targets Case Backlog
The Times-Picayune reports that NOLA DA Eddie Jordan hopes to reduce his current load of 5,000 to 6,000 cases down to 1,500 by setting up a squad of volunteer lawyers to work as special prosecutors. The story also outlines Jordan's efforts to make other sweeping changes throughout the office, including implementation of technology and training and improving relations with the defense bar.
February 24, 2003
Pay New Orleans Traffic Tickets Online
Last week the City of New Orleans launched a new online service for paying traffic tickets. The court accepts Mastercard, Visa, American Express, and Discover cards.
Posted by esvenson at 10:12 AM
February 21, 2003
Fifth Circuit Asked to Repen Abortion Case
The Times-Picayune reports that a Terrebonne Parish woman has asked the Fifth Circuit to revive her lawsuit claiming her constitutional right to an abortion was obstructed by a requirement that she get a court order authorizing an abortion while she was in jail. "She allegedly also was told she would have to pay the salaries of deputies who would accompany her." The child was placed with adoptive parents.
Posted by AJR at 08:09 AM
February 19, 2003
Plaquemines Parish Courthouse Adds $100,000 to Reward Fund
The Plaquemines Parish Council has added $100,000 to a $16,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for burning down the 112-year-old Plaquemines Parish Courthouse last year, reports The Times-Picayune.
Posted by AJR at 08:24 AM
State Senator Planning Bail Bond Legislation
The Times-Picayune reports that State Senator Art Lentini is drafting a proposal that would allow Jefferson Parish to operate its own bail bonding system.
Vieux Carre Commission Meeting Explodes
"Controversy was the order of the day at the Vieux Carre Commission's meeting Tuesday, with the attorney for one applicant storming out of the room after denouncing the commission's actions as 'outrageous,' and members deciding they need advice from the city attorney's office before deciding other cases," reports The Times-Picayune.
Jefferson Deputy to Plead Innocent in Bodenheimer Case
The Times-Picayune reports that Phil Demma, a Jefferson Parish reserve deputy, will plead innocent on charges of conspiring with ex-judge Ronald Bodenheimer and Al Copeland's corporate attorney, Bryan White, to rig Copeland's child custody case. Demma was jailed Friday after showing up at his arraignment without an attorney. The article reports that he has since hired Steve London.
Posted by AJR at 08:12 AM
February 18, 2003
Legislative Auditor Critical of New Orleans School Deal
Posted by AJR at 02:05 PM
Bodenheimer Seeks to Quash Wiretap Evidence
The Times-Picayune reports that ex-judge Ronald Bodenheimer is seeking to quash wiretap evidence. Bodenheimer, who is facing federal drug charges, claims that the government distorted and omitted facts and used unrealiable information from key witnesses to obtain authorization to tap his phones and place video cameras in his private chambers. The motion is under a court-ordered seal, but the article provides a detailed account of the filing.
Posted by AJR at 02:00 PM
February 17, 2003
Superdome Lawyers Represents Tenant too
The Superdome Commission says that Jack Capella, the commission's longtime attorney who also represents the New Orleans Hornets, can represent both entities because Capella will not represent the Hornets on any issues involving the commission or other state agencies, reports WBRZ. "There is no conflict of interest. We have satisfied ourselves in that regard," Chairman David Conroy said. Conroy said Vicky Neumeyer, who represents the Saints at most commission meetings, was one of those who raised questions about Capella's dual roles.
Posted by AJR at 08:13 AM
DA Jordan Vows to Ensure Witness Safety
The Times-Picayune reports that New Orleans District Attorney Eddie Jordan has already initiated efforts to ensure the safety of witnesses testifying at trial. The story profiles the case of Steven Smith, who was released from jail after the only witness to his killing of David Brown disappeared.
February 14, 2003
Copeland Attorney Cuts Deal
Al Copeland's top corporate attorney pleaded guilty yesterday to concealing a plot to fix the restaurateur's child-custody case, reports The Times-Picayune. "Under the terms of the deal, (Bryan) White pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, misprision of a felony, for concealing from federal investigators his knowledge that (former Judge Ronald) Bodenheimer and (Jefferson Parish juvenile probation officer) Demma were scheming to issue custody rulings favorable to Copeland. "
On a related note, the paper also reports that the state Board of Ethics concluded that Bodenheimer cannot use campaign money to pay his legal bills regarding his defense of this dispute.
Posted by AJR at 08:43 AM
NO Juvenile Court Judge Suspended
The Times-Picayune reports that Juvenile Court Judge Yvonne Hughes was suspended by the Louisiana Supreme Court for meddling in cases beyond her jurisdiction and releasing more than 1,000 adults from jail during her two years in office. Unfortunately, other significant problems plagued Hughes time on the bench, including her practice of sometimes holding court by phone.
"The Supreme Court order temporarily removing Hughes with pay, issued Wednesday and made public Thursday, will remain in effect pending further disciplinary proceedings against her." The Louisiana Judiciary Commission, in its report to the court, said letting her continue as a judge while its investigation of her continues "creates a danger to the public and to the administration of justice."
February 13, 2003
Lack of Jurors Forces Trial Postponement
Only fifteen individuals appeared for jury duty in rape case in Chalmette, despite the fact that one-hundred jury notices were issued, reports The Times-Picayune. Greg Laffavillere, who was to be tried on charges of aggravated rape of a child younger than 12, had his trial postponed until March 10, 2003.
District Judge Robert Buckley, who was to preside over the trial, said he will discuss with the other judges in the 34th Judicial District whether people receiving a jury notice by mail should be required to send back an acknowledgment.
Comments or suggestions for solving this serious problem would be appreciated.
February 12, 2003
Jurors to Be Locked Up in Hotel Rooms
The American Press reports that District Judge Al Gray has determined that jurors for the second trial of Ricky Langley will be selected in New Orleans then sequestered in Lake Charles for the duration of the trial.
"Langley was sentenced to death in July of 1994 after being convicted in connection with the Feb. 7, 1992, slaying and alleged sodomizing of 6-year-old Jeremy Guillory of Iowa. However, on April 3, 2000, the state Supreme Court granted Langley a new trial — abiding by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in an Evangeline Parish case."
Posted by AJR at 07:09 AM
February 11, 2003
Branch Davidians Seek to Retry Wrongful Death Suit
The Times-Picayune reports on surviviors of the Branch Davidians appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeal seeking to reverse the dismissal of their wrongful death actions. The primary issue on appeal is the District Judge's refusal to recuse himself because of his participation in the criminal trials related to the 1993 incident.
A separate report profiles David Koresh's mother and others who still believe in the Branch Davidian movement.
Posted by AJR at 10:50 AM
February 10, 2003
Property Dispute Heating Up In New Orleans
A dispute headed straight for the Yiannopoulos Property textbook is taking place in the secluded community of Brazilier Island in the Lake Catherine area of eastern New Orleans. The Times Picayune reports that Ken Carter purchased Braziier Island from the Remington Oil Company, a company he represented, for $150,000. The purchase included about 2,400 acres, only 20 acres of which is not wetlands.
"About 40 families live on Brazilier, most of them year-round. While they own the structures they occupy, they rent the land beneath them. About 30 face eviction for refusing to sign six-month leases on their lots, from January to June, and for paying their rents under protest and depositing the money with the registry of the court, pending the outcome of their legal battle, Carter said Wednesday. Most of the homeowners are not wealthy and invested in their houses 'based on promises oral and in writing' that they would have the right to buy their lots, Stephen Conroy, who represents the residents, said. He said he will file an injunction to try to stop the evictions."
Posted by AJR at 08:18 AM
February 07, 2003
Doctor Testifies in Tobacco Trial
A researcher brouht to the stand Wednesday to testify against Philip Morris said the tobacco giant hired him in 1980 to find a substitute for nicotine in cigarettes that would keep people smoking but not affect their hearts as nicotine does reports The Times-Picayune.
Posted by AJR at 08:31 AM
February 06, 2003
Ex-Judge Bodenheimer Indicted
A federal grand jury charged ex-judge Ronald Bodenheimer and two other men with fixing Al Copeland's child custody case in hopes of gaining a lucrative contract with Copeland's restaurants, reports The Time-Picayune.
Posted by AJR at 07:39 AM
February 05, 2003
Multiple Lawsuits Make the News in New Orleans
Posted by AJR at 08:29 AM
February 04, 2003
4th Circuit Delays Hearings in Meraux Case
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal agreed to delay hearings on whether to remove Ms. Meraux's curator and whether the curator had authority to make changes to the board of the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation, reports The Times-Picayune.
"The ongoing and often-acrimonious court fight over Meraux's affairs began in August when Meraux, 80, was ruled incompetent to administer her own affairs due to chronic senile dementia. The fight has sweeping implications for St. Bernard Parish because it will determine who will control Meraux's estate after she dies. The estate is estimated in court documents to be worth nearly $250 million. "
Posted by AJR at 07:12 AM
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