NOLA: The FCP Answer To The FSP

From NOLA.com:

“It is a pathetic and shameful state of affairs the criminal justice system finds itself,” Judge Arthur Hunter ruled from his bench at Criminal District Court on Friday after a hearing that Gov. Kathleen Blanco declined to attend, despite having been subpoenaed.

Governor Blameco Blanco refused to appear in court after being subpoenaed to testify about Judge Hunter’s release of defendants from Orleans Parish Jails. The issue at hand is some 6000 defendants in OPP; defendants denied the constitutional right to trial.

“After 11 months of waiting, 11 months of meetings, 11 months of idle talk, 11 months without a sensible recovery plan and 11 months of tolerating those who have the authority to solve, correct and fix the problem but either refuse, fail or are just inept, then necessary action must be taken to protect the constitutional rights of people,” Hunter said

Since Katrina, NOLA has lacked resources in the areas of jails and public defenders. But Judge Hunter has been involved with resources as well as constitution.

Hunter earlier this year ruled unconstitutional the way the state pays for public defense, a formula that relies heavily on court fees and traffic court fines. Nowhere else in the country does a criminal court system use such an inconsistent, unfair formula to pay for lawyers to represent the poor, said Ronald Sullivan, a Yale professor hired by the Indigent Defender Board to act as a consultant and all-purpose fixer for the system. Even pre-Katrina, OIDP did not provide the level of service that the Sixth Amendment commands,” Sullivan testified before Hunter. “OIDP today is at about half the capacity from its pre-Katrina days.” In another statement issued Friday, Hunter said that, with 6,000 cases looming, it is time for District Attorney Eddie Jordan to start “the process of determining which cases can be prosecuted.”

Hmmm, note to self: Tell Ash that her speed trap ticket fine will be used to fund a criminal’s public defender.

Sorry, back to biz…

Between ruined evidence, relocated cops and absent witnesses, there is little to hold some “criminals” in jail. Judge Hunter sees that. He called on state assistance. He got nothing, and he is doing the right thing. He is letting the “criminals” go.

Hunter made his emergency order and ruling during a four-hour morning session in his courtroom. His docket included the cases of six inmates — still the maximum number of jailed pretrial defendants allowed at one time in court due to security concerns since the courthouse reopened June 1.

When one inmate told Hunter he had been jailed for three months without arraignment, Hunter said, “I know. The criminal justice system is in question. You’re not the only one.”

In another case, prosecutors announced they were dropping a possession of crack cocaine charge against Lisa M. Monroe, 41, a woman with prior convictions for theft, forgery and cocaine possession. Monroe was arrested on the crack charge May 2 and has been in jail since.

Pipes dropped the charge and requested Monroe be released Friday.

“I wish you’d do that on about 5,999 cases,” Hunter replied.

New Orleans has a judge operating within constitutional boundaries. Half the city is gone. These things would make one think that a Free City Project might be more successful than a Free State Project– at least early on.

11 Comments
  1. Looks like a lot of them have effectively put in time served, probably far in excess of what they would normally be sentenced for in some cases.

  2. “These things would make one think that a Free City Project might be more successful than a Free State Project- at least early on.”

    Don’t I wish! Still we are seeing a bit of a liberterian upsurge here. The LP is now a “qualified party” in the state (along with the Green and Reform Party) and for the first time since 1912 folks will finally see a party name other then Republican or Democrat after someone’s name on the ballot with Rayburn Clipper’s entry for Secretary of State. We’ve also just gotten a local New Orleans Libertarians (http://www.neworleanslibertarians.org) group going with some interest. I’ve even heard rumors that the Louisian LP had just over 1000 registered Libertarians before Katria hit, so the expectation was that we might lose qualified status afterwards from an expeted drop in Libertarian registered voters, but I’ve heard we’re actually up to around 1,600 registered Libertarians.

    Maybe we can get something going here. FCP is probably too much to ask, though. :

  3. >a Free City Project might be more successful
    >than a Free State Project- at least early on.

    And the best state to try an FCP would be New Hampshire!

  4. Steve — all other things being equal, you’re absolutely right.

    But let’s not forget that NOLA itself is socially liberal to begin with, and is in reconstruction.

    There’s no certainty as to population or power-base there. It’s ripe for the pickings…

    ‘course, it’s not a desert so I won’t go there. I hate the wet and the cold.

    Ian — Arizona adopted native.

  5. City and/or state. Go for it. Liberty is at risk and if a city or state can make a difference…put it into action. I’m a member of the FSP…and have every intention of going to New Hampshire…but if people want a free city it doesn’t need to be competitive…it just needs to be done.

  6. The Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers (an anti-tax group) recently got its members into every single spot up for grabs in the town of Derry, New Hampshire — in effect, a total taxpayer’s revolt!

    Methinks this portends very well. While my personal focus is on the statewide aspect of freedom in NH, Derry seems to me like a perfect candidate for the notional FCP.

  7. Dennis — Congratulations to you on that; I’m presuming that you have contributed to it. :)

  8. IanC – as much as I wish I could claim credit, I cannot. There are enough of us that some can be scoring victories while others have their fingers in other, unrelated, pies :)

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