Claire Byun

Oct 262018
 

From left: Will Snowden, Mithun Kamath, Norris Henderson, and Aaron Ahlquist discuss Louisiana’s non-unanimous jury law and the amendment that would change it.

Twelve men, one room, and a murder charge.

“It has to be twelve to nothing, either way. That’s the law.”

Sidney Lumet’s “12 Angry Men” is one of the most respected films centered around the criminal justice system. But the overall plot, where members of a 12-man jury must agree on a verdict that could send a teenager to the electric chair, could never occur in the state of Louisiana under state law.

Louisiana does not require unanimous jury verdicts in felony trials, instead allowing 10-2 verdicts to send the accused to prison for life. The abnormal verdict law stems from nearly 130 years ago, when delegates at an overtly racist convention ratified the state constitution to allow for non-unanimous juries. Norris Henderson, state director of the Unanimous Jury Coalition, explained the laws’ history during an intimate panel hosted by the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans.

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Sep 262018
 

Joe Giarrusso

Jason Williams

How does New Orleans City Council prioritize its budget?

Joe Giarrusso III, who represents District A, and Jason Williams, elected by the city at large, discussed the city’s budgeting process and priorities with residents of the Carrollton Area Network. Both councilmembers used the Tuesday evening meeting to present their ideas for improvements or new allocations, with opportunities for public input.

Roughly half of the city’s $646 million general funds are spent on public safety and government, according to the city’s 2018 adopted budget. Roughly five percent goes toward public works – around $33 million – and just over $37 million put toward sanitation. Police and fire combined are allotted just over $263 million.

Every 24 cents on the dollar is dedicated to public safety; the same amount is allocated to public education. Eight cents go toward sewerage and water, but not drainage, and seven cents go toward public transportation. Three cents for every dollar are dedicated to street and traffic signals, which translates to roughly $5 million, Giarrusso said. Continue reading »

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Jul 112018
 

A multi-vehicle crash has shut down the intersection of Laurel Street and Louisiana Avenue (photo by Zach Brien for Uptown Messenger).

A two-car crash at the intersection of Laurel Street and Louisiana Avenue has sent at least one person to the hospital.

The crash also caused minor damage to Atchafalaya Restaurant. The driver of the smaller vehicle was taken to the hospital while the driver of the Jeep, which was vaulted into the restaurant, is unharmed, according to witnesses. Continue reading »

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Jul 092018
 

Mario Zervigon, left, touches on how maintaining relationships in the state legislature helped pass the unanimous jury bill during a New Orleans Coalition meeting. From left: Representative Royce Duplessis; Sarah Omojola, director of the Welcoming Project; and Senator J.P. Morrell.

Members of the New Orleans Coalition gathered Uptown Sunday afternoon to discuss the fate of – and the impact of – criminal justice reform legislation in Louisiana. Senator J.P. Morrell and Representative Royce Duplessis were on hand to recap the most recent legislative session and how each bill was successfully passed, as well as what issues will be front and center next year. Sarah Omojola, former Policy Counsel for Southern Poverty Law Center and current Director of the Welcoming Project, touched on the legislative process from an advocacy level. Mario Zervigon, of the Zervigon Consulting Group, moderated the panel.

Both Morrell and Duplessis touched on how term limits will affect the new representatives’ learning curves, since the number of experiences legislators dwindle every year. Duplessis said leaning on longtime senators helped him learn the ins and outs of the legislative process. Losing older Republicans to newly elected ones who lack “flexibility and are drunk on their election” is going to be one of the most devastating impacts from term limits, Morrlel said. Continue reading »

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Jun 202018
 

Joanne Close and Jim Yonkus are hoping to open an intimate wine shop at 1226 South White Street, if the BZA approves a required parking variance.

Developers are hoping to turn a vacant South White Street lot into an intimate wine shop, but three required parking spaces need to be waived in order for the space to be functional, the owners said.

Joanne Close and her husband Jim Yonkus are aiming to open a small wine store in the New Zion neighborhood just off South Broad Street. The property, a vacant lot at 1226 South White St., is zoned for heavy commercial use which requires the couple to add three off-street parking spots. But adding those parking spots would swallow up much of the already-tiny lot.

“We don’t have to have a huge building – it just has to be functional,” Close told a group of neighbors at a neighborhood meeting Wednesday. “Without the parking waiver, those spots would take up the whole lot.” Continue reading »

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May 182018
 

District B City Councilman Jay H. Banks speaks at a neighborhood meeting in December 2017. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Several residents in the Faubourg Marengo neighborhood say they’ve had to deal with a tar-like odor around – and sometimes within – their homes for several years, and their new City Councilman says he will try to find the cause of the smell.

About 10 people from the small community between Magazine and Tchoupitoulas near Napoleon Avenue have banded together to examine the source of the reported foul odor. The group, unofficially led by Eric Eagan, met for the first time Wednesday evening. Continue reading »

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May 022018
 

A rendering of the Drive Shack golf facility under consideration at the former Times-Picayune site at Howard Avenue.

The Drive Shack golf facility under consideration for the former Times-Picayune site on Howard Avenue nabbed a recommendation for rezoning approval from City Planning staff, subject to a few building design changes suggested by the Design Advisory Committee. Continue reading »

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May 012018
 

McDonogh 35 Senior High School’s marching band performs during Battle of the Bands at the “Instruments A-Comin” benefit concert, silent auction and community arts fair in front of Tipitina’s Monday evening. The fundraiser also includes a benefit concert with all proceeds dedicated to placing instruments in New Orleans school music programs (Claire Byun/cbyun@nolamessenger.com).

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Apr 182018
 

“Thunder Road” tells the story of a flawed police officer, made worse by the passing of his mother (image courtesy the New Orleans Film Society).

Join the New Orleans Film Society as they present the homecoming of New Orleans native director Jim Cummings’s first feature film “Thunder Road,” which won the Grand Prize in SXSW 2018 and heading to Cannes Film Festival for its international premiere in May. Continue reading »

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Apr 182018
 

NOPD are searching for a tan 2006 Subaru Forester with a distinctive bumper sticker carjacked from Dante Street (via NOPD).

A 47-year-old woman’s car was stolen while she was dropping a friend off in the 1800 block of Dante Street late Thursday.

The victim parked her tan 2006 Subaru Forester to drop off a friend around 8:10 p.m. Thursday (April 17). Both women exited the vehicle and walked about 20 feet away, leaving the car running with the keys in the ignition. The victim looked back at her car five minutes later and saw an unknown man in a dark colored hoodie, with the hood up, sitting in the driver’s seat of her vehicle. Continue reading »

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Apr 182018
 

NOPD are investigating a double shooting that killed one man on South Roman Street early Wednesday, April 18.

One man is dead and another person injured after a double shooting on South Roman Street early Wednesday.

New Orleans Police Second District officers responded to shots fired in the 3600 block of South Roman Street around 4:53 a.m. Wednesday, April 18. When officers arrived they found an adult woman who told police she heard two gunshots discovered she had been shot in her finger.

Officers then found an adult man lying face down next to a bicycle in the middle of the street. Continue reading »

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Apr 092018
 

JPNSI has been tracking the growth of STRs throughout New Orleans since 2015.

One year after the New Orleans City Council instituted regulations for short-term rental properties, one affordable housing advocacy group has developed policy changes (and eventually a new ordinance) meant to tackle the city’s affordable housing crisis.

The Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative works to reduce the number of short term rentals around the city as part of a broader effort to increase the number of affordable housing units for New Orleanian. After compiling three years of data into one comprehensive report – title “Short Term Rentals, Long Term Impacts” – the group has established several policy change proposals for the city, as well as calls to action for its residents.

JPNSI’s leadership held a town hall Wednesday to present their findings and proposed policy changes. Continue reading »

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