Thursday, November 16, 2017

Landrieu meets with Jeff Sessions, Sen. Kennedy to discuss 'sanctuary' policies

Posted By on Thu, Nov 16, 2017 at 5:56 PM

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. - PHOTOS BY GAGE SKIDMORE/NICK PRETE / CREATIVE COMMONS
  • U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

The dispute between Mayor Mitch Landrieu and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions over New Orleans' compliance with federal immigration authorities has seemingly hit another wall.

It's been a caustic back and forth, following hardline immigration policies and rhetoric from President Donald Trump, lawsuits over cities and "sanctuary" policies, and aggressive Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) action.

Landrieu says the city and New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) do communicate with ICE, and nothing in NOPD policy prohibits the department from sharing information with the feds. Sessions says the city harbors people living in the country illegally through NOPD policy that effectively gives them "sanctuary." Landrieu says NOPD arrests people regardless of status and that "New Orleans is not a sanctuary city." Sessions says NOPD policy doesn't go far enough to open communication between the city and the feds when an undocumented person is in custody.

On Nov. 16, Landrieu, City Attorney Rebecca Dietz and NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison met with Sessions and U.S. Sen. John Neely Kennedy. Landrieu said the meeting went well — once again assuring that the feds agree with Landrieu that the city does not have "sanctuary" policies.

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Saturday, November 4, 2017

Juvenile life without parole still administered too heavily, children's rights advocates say

Posted By on Sat, Nov 4, 2017 at 12:00 PM


Earlier this year, the Louisiana Legislature was tasked with enforcing U.S. Supreme Court rulings mandating that children be sentenced to life in prison in only "rare" and "uncommon" instances.

Now, children’s rights advocates say the state is failing to comply, as prosecutors are still asking for juvenile life without parole in more than 30 percent of all cases that have in recent years been made eligible for reconsideration.

"The District Attorneys are not using their discretion as the Supreme Court mandated nor are they heeding the explicit will of the legislature,” said Jill Pasquarella, attorney at Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights. “The legislation means nothing if the state does not comply with the Constitution in practice.”

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Facing ACLU lawsuit and court ruling, Cannizzaro pressured to turn over info on subpoenas

Posted By on Tue, Oct 24, 2017 at 4:45 PM

DA Leon Cannizzaro at Holy Angels Convent in 2014. - PHOTO BY JEANIE RIESS
  • DA Leon Cannizzaro at Holy Angels Convent in 2014.

New Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro is facing pressure from the New Orleans City Council and a Civil District Court judge to hand over details about the office's case work as well as copies of so-called "fake subpoenas" at the center of a news investigation and lawsuit.

Following a contentious budget hearing in September, members of the New Orleans City Council issued a formal call to Cannizzaro's office for specific data sets on the number of cases accepted by the office, as well as conviction rates, juvenile offenders transferred into the city's Criminal Court, and details about material witness warrants and subpoenas.

City Council President Jason Williams and District A Councilmember Susan Guidry — who chairs the Council's Criminal Justice Committee — sent a letter Oct. 23 telling Cannizzaro "increased data collection and sharing will represent a good faith effort toward more efficient and effective administration of the law as well as fiscally sound budget allocations."

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Editorial: Getting smart — and honest — about crime in Louisiana

Posted By on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 11:27 AM

The Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola in 2009. - CREATIVE COMMONS/MSPPMOORE
  • CREATIVE COMMONS/msppmoore
  • The Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola in 2009.

By any metric, there are too many nonviolent people in Louisiana jails — and putting them there has not reduced our state’s violent crime rate in any measurable way. We have roughly the same rate of violence as our neighboring states; we just incarcerate more nonviolent offenders. If anything, putting too many nonviolent offenders in jail often turns them into potentially violent offenders after they are released. Think about that as you ponder one more statistic: 95 percent of the people in jail in Louisiana will be released at some point.

Study after study shows America imprisons more of its citizens per capita than any other industrialized country, and Louisiana imprisons more of its citizens than any other state. What we’ve been doing clearly hasn’t worked.

One of the few unqualified successes of the 2017 legislative session was a serious, bipartisan effort to enact a package of criminal justice reform bills. The goal — and it’s a comparatively modest one — is to shrink Louisiana’s nonviolent prison population by 10 percent over the next decade. 

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

New Orleans warrant clinic set for Sept. 30

Posted By on Thu, Sep 28, 2017 at 9:30 AM


New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice's Stand With Dignity hosts a warrant clinic Saturday, Sept. 30, the group's second event with Orleans Parish municipal and traffic court officials to help reduce or waive fines and fees for people with outstanding warrants.

More than 1,200 people attended the group's warrant clinic held earlier this year, with each person owing an average of $8,000 in court fines, according to | The Times-Picayune. Fines owed were reduced or exchanged for community service, and warrants for misdemeanor offenses were cleared. The clinic also helps people reinstate suspended drivers' licenses.

According to Stand With Dignity, the clinic aims to help reduce fees and fines that burden disproportionately lower-income residents, unable to pay for hefty fees that later snowball into potentially devastating costs, threats of arrest or suspended licenses, which create barriers to jobs and other opportunities.

The clinics "combat criminalization and expand opportunity while saving the city millions of dollars in court and incarceration costs — far more than the value of the fines and fees that are waived," according to Stand With Dignity.

Thousands of people in New Orleans have outstanding warrants for minor offenses, or are facing thousands of dollars in traffic fees. More than 500 people are expected to participate in this Saturday's clinic. New Orleans Municipal Judge Paul Sens will facilitate.

The clinic runs from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at St. Peter Claver School (1019 N. Prieur St.).

Deadline to pre-register is Thursday, September 28, 2017 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in person at 217 N. Prieur St. Visit the Stand With Dignity's website for more information.

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Saturday, September 9, 2017

New Orleans bail bond companies overcharging defendants, according to SPLC complaint

Posted By on Sat, Sep 9, 2017 at 10:00 AM


New Orleans bail bond companies have charged defendants illegally high bond rates to get out of jail, according to an investigation by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which revealed roughly $5 million in excessive fees was collected from nearly 50,000 people over 12 years.

The SPLC's announcement was released the same day Orleans Parish Criminal Clerk of Court Arthur Morrell said he plans to cut the hours that his office will process bail bonds, meaning people locked up after office hours will likely remain in jail despite having met the bond set by a judge.

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

New Orleans youth who commit minor crimes will face warnings or summonses instead of arrests

Posted By on Thu, Aug 24, 2017 at 1:40 PM


New Orleans youth who commit minor offenses could receive a summons or warning instead of an arrest under an ordiannce unanimously passed by the New Orleans City Council Aug. 24.

District A City Councilmember Susan Guidry said the Policing Alternatives for Youth (PAY) ordinance adds "more tools in the tool chests for officers in dealing with our youth" and aids in "preventing unnecessary arrests and their consequences." She called its passage "one of the more exciting moments" in her career on the Council.

The ordinance covers 11 types of misdemeanors eligible for juvenile warning notices. Offenses eligible for a court summons include any of those 11 offenses after a juvenile already has been issued a warning, outstanding warrants, and traffic violations with the officer's discretion whether the violation rises above a warning.

The laws go into effect Jan. 1 (for warnings) and March 1 (for summonses).

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Bud’s Broiler employee forced into cooler at gunpoint during armed robbery, NOPD says

Posted By on Tue, Aug 1, 2017 at 11:00 AM

An employee at Bud's Broiler on City Park Avenue was held up at gunpoint and forced into a cooler during an armed robbery early Tuesday. - PHOTO COURTESY BUD'S BROILER/FACEBOOK
  • An employee at Bud's Broiler on City Park Avenue was held up at gunpoint and forced into a cooler during an armed robbery early Tuesday.

An employee at Bud’s Broiler (500 City Park Ave., (504) 486-2559) was robbed at gunpoint and forced into a cooler early Tuesday morning, police said.

A preliminary report from the NOPD said an armed woman entered the City Park Avenue burger joint shortly after 2 a.m. and forced an employee “into the cooler area,” at gunpoint. The suspect then went into the restaurant’s office, took several bags of cash and locked the employee inside the cooler before fleeing the scene.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

In Jefferson, a peaceful changing of the guard — but war is imminent

Posted By on Wed, Jul 26, 2017 at 6:44 PM

Former state Rep. Joe Lopinto (left) will become interim sheriff of Jefferson Parish after the resignation of Sheriff Newell Normand.
  • Former state Rep. Joe Lopinto (left) will become interim sheriff of Jefferson Parish after the resignation of Sheriff Newell Normand.

Things are rarely dull in Jefferson Parish politics. I still recall the factional wars of the 1980s and early ’90s between then-DA John Mamoulides and then-Assessor Lawrence Chehardy. No election was insignificant.

Some see the resignation of Sheriff Newell Normand and the rise of interim Sheriff Joe Lopinto as triggering another era of political warfare in Jefferson. Truth be told, war has been coming to Jefferson for some time. The factional leaders are Normand and Parish President Mike Yenni. Everyone else has to choose sides. Normand’s decision to turn in his badge for a talk-radio mic at WWL-AM is merely the latest run-up to open hostilities.

As sheriff, Normand often took sides at election time, but between elections he stayed in his lane. Now, as a radio talk show host, he can talk about any issue that concerns him. He will be a very interesting talk show host, to say the least.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Normand steps down as Jefferson Parish sheriff; will join WWL-AM as radio host

Posted By on Tue, Jul 25, 2017 at 3:03 PM

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand.
  • Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand announced today he'll be stepping down as sheriff Aug. 31 and soon after will start a new career: as midday talk show host on WWL-AM, taking the slot held by Garland Robinette, who retired earlier this month.

In a statement provided by Entercom, the company that owns WWL-AM, Normand said, "I always listened to Garland and admired his voice in our community. He played a pivotal role in New Orleans' recovery & rebirth from Katrina. Plus, good leaders know when it's time to move on. I'm satisfied that Jefferson Parish is in great shape. The crime rate hasn't been this low since 1974. And strong leadership is ready to step in and take over a great team — one I care about deeply and will miss dearly,"

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