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13 Cops Face Charges
Thirteen criminal cases alleging police misconduct -- including the "Danziger 7 case" -- reached various stages of the criminal justice system last week at New Orleans Criminal Court. Seven defendants who were indicted by a grand jury Dec. 28 on charges of murdering two citizens and the attempted murder of four others at the Danziger Bridge in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina were scheduled to appear Friday for a motions hearing before Judge Raymond Bigelow. Six of the seven are still on the NOPD and assigned to administrative duty, pending trial. In a separate case the same day, Judge Lynda van Davis was scheduled to sentence fired NOPD officer James B. Adams, who has been found guilty of criminal extortion and malfeasance charges. Van Davis also postponed the separate trial of fired Fifth District officer Keith Griffin, which was scheduled to begin early last week. Griffin was arrested on rape charges in July 2005, the month before Hurricane Katrina flooded the city. His trial is reset for April 10. Elsewhere, Judge Frank Marullo has rescheduled the trial of fired ex-cops Robert Evangelist and Lance Schilling for May 1. They were videotaped allegedly beating retired schoolteacher Robert Davis on a French Quarter sidewalk on Oct. 6, 2005. The defendants were scheduled to begin trial last week. Meanwhile, trial is pending in the unrelated case of former officer Tiji Sherman, who faces criminal charges of extortion and various sexual offenses, said Deputy Chief Marlon Defillo, commander of the Public Integrity Bureau. Sherman was caught in an NOPD "integrity check" and resigned while under investigation for allegedly picking up prostitutes and taking them to hotels on Chef Menteur Highway, Defillo says. The case has gone to a grand jury. In another "sting," fired cop Donald Batiste faces possible criminal battery charges after he allegedly struck a Spanish-speaking NOPD informant and took his money -- while under police surveillance. A pretrial hearing in the case is set for Tuesday (March 13) before Judge Terry Alarcon. "The federal government has an interest in this case, too," says Defillo. -- Johnson

 

Reed Pulls Out, For Now
Former Criminal Court Judge Morris Reed, a perennial judicial candidate who dropped out of the race for a Civil Court judgeship earlier this month, is considering a run for judge of Municipal Court in the fall, sources say. Reed, who could not be reached for comment, withdrew recently from the March 31 special election to fill the Civil District Court, Division A seat, vacated by the departure last year of Judge Carolyn-Gill Jefferson. However, Reed's name will still appear on the ballot. "Any votes cast for him [Reed] will simply not be counted," says Jacques Berry, press secretary for Secretary of State Jay Dardenne. Reed's retreat leaves a field of six candidates on the ballot: Suzette Peychaud Bagneris, Tiffany Gautier Chase, Philip Costa, Charlene Larche-Mason, Douglas D. McGinity and Kenneth M. Plaisance. Our sources say Reed dropped out to run for the Municipal Court seat vacated by the retirement of Judge Bruce J. McConduit, whose resignation took effect Feb. 1. Also eyeing the vacant seat is Clarence Roby Jr. , husband of Federal Magistrate Karen Wells Roby. -- Johnson

 

Cock of the Walk
Louisiana is accustomed to the national spotlight each year when lawmakers debate a proposed ban on cockfighting, that favorite of rural Acadian blood sports. But right now the New Mexico Legislature is grabbing headlines for its proposed prohibition, largely because the state's two-term Democratic governor, Bill Richardson, is vying for his party's presidential nomination. After dodging the issue for years, Richardson says he is ready to sign off on the ban, which already has passed the New Mexico House and Senate. Before that action, New Mexico and Louisiana were the only two states in the nation that still allowed cockfighting. Pinckney A. Wood, president of the Health, Education and Abuse Resolution Taskforce, says the Louisiana Legislature will debate the issue again soon: "Sen. Art Lentini, [a Republican from Metairie] says he is ready to continue his anti-cockfighting efforts of last year, and he intends to file an anti-cockfighting bill in the upcoming session that begins April 30." That means more crowing from the House floor as rural lawmakers hold forth on the values of raising and fighting gamecocks. -- Alford

Irish for a Day
The Irish Channel St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee celebrates its 60th annual Mass and parade Saturday (March 17). That means plenty of cabbages, cops -- and politics. "All six candidates running for judge of Civil District Court, Division A have been invited to join us in the parade," says parade organizer Ronnie Burke. Among the politicos scheduled to attend are U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu; her brother, Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu; State Sen. Walter Boasso, an announced candidate for governor; Jefferson Parish DA Paul Connick; Jefferson Parish at-large Council members John Young and Tom Capella; New Orleans City Council President Oliver Thomas; and New Orleans District B Council member Stacy Head. The parade will feature 1,200 marchers and at least 22 floats with a total of 1,200 riders. "We also have a contingent of 60 policemen from New York City and 45 policemen from New Jersey. They usually march on St. Patrick's Day, but this year they'll be in New Orleans," says Burke, an executive assistant to Connick and a former Orleans Parish assessor. The parade begins at 2 p.m. after Mass at St. Mary's Assumption Church (12:30 p.m), located at Constance and Josephine streets. -- Johnson

'Frosts' and 'Thaws'
For the most part, NOPD cops heading to the witness chair in high-profile civil service disciplinary hearings at City Hall have kept their cool when encountering their adversaries on the force. But there have been noticeable "frosts" and "thaws" during some encounters. For example, during a break in the case of Capt. Timothy Bayard, who is appealing a reprimand, the captain made small talk about post-Katrina hardships -- with the internal affairs agent who recommended that he be disciplined. The officers' only reference to the case was an exchange of reassuring comments such as -- "This is just business" or "This is nothing personal." Bayard, the gregarious former commander of the narcotics and vice division, respectfully addressed his fellow officer as "Brother." By contrast, Bayard and Police Chief Warren Riley, whose mutual antipathy is well known on the NOPD, looked past each other when the chief appeared to testify. Riley then crossed the room and enthusiastically shook hands with a handful of Public Integrity Bureau agents. Testimony in the Bayard case continues Tuesday (March 13). He is appealing a reprimand from Riley after an ill-timed raid on a French Quarter massage parlor last July. -- Johnson

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