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The Best and the Worst of the Week 

Nick Spitzer,
producer/host of Public Radio International's American Routes, was honored by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers last week. Spitzer's show, which airs locally on 89.9 WWNO FM, won ASCAP's Deems Taylor Award for Outstanding Radio Broadcast. Spitzer, a widely known folklorist, is also professor of folklore and cultural conservation at the University of New Orleans.

Attorney General Charles Foti
filed a friend-of-the-court brief last week supporting two California patients fighting to be able to legally use physician-prescribed medical marijuana. Foti's brief, opposing the federal government's prosecution of the women, argues that state legislatures have 'the right to determine what is in the best interests of the people.' Louisiana itself has a state medical-marijuana law on its books, but it has been overruled by federal law.

Tanzanika Ruffin
was fired recently as a New Orleans prosecutor after the District Attorney's office received information that she took part in an embezzlement scheme. Ruffin allegedly became involved in a dispute between a homeowner and a contractor, threatening to have the homeowner arrested if he didn't pay more than the agreed-upon amount. The DA's office says it sent her case to the state attorney general and to the state bar association's disciplinary branch.

Doug Moreau,
a Baton Rouge prosecutor, last week urged legislators not to provide state funding for public defense in Louisiana, saying the criminal justice system's presumption of 'innocent until proven guilty' is protection enough for indigent defenders. His stance ignores Louisiana's troubling record: just since 1999, six condemned men have been exonerated, 12 more have had their death sentences commuted, and five have been granted retrials.

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