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 242018
 

Top row: Lee Ann Dugas and Jim Francis (candidate Facebook photos). Bottom row: Tammy Savoie and Steve Scalise (Uptown Messenger file photos).

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise faced his three Democratic challengers on Monday night in the first and thus far only debate of the fall Congressional elections, defending President Trump’s controversial tariffs against their criticisms of lost Louisiana jobs and explaining his ongoing opposition to new gun laws even after being shot. Continue reading »

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Aug 162018
 

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Metairie) speaks Wednesday at the Rotary Club of New Orleans. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise touted the virtues of civility and bipartisanship in Washington and his strong relationship across the aisle with Democratic colleague Rep. Cedric Richmond on Wednesday in New Orleans, even while simultaneously defending a President whose public insults and attacks on perceived enemies is the foundation of his personal style.

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Aug 092018
 

New York City’s progressive mayor, Mayor Bill De Blasio, speaks at the Netroots Nation conference in New Orleans. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

“It could be a toss-up,” said former Congressman Bob Livingston when asked Monday if he thought the Republican Party would stay in power after the November 2018 mid-term elections. “I believe the GOP will remain in control, but I have been wrong on occasion. The Ohio congressional special election will be a good test of Republican strength.” Readers probably know that Republican Troy Balderson, 35, declared victory over Danny O’Connor, 31, after narrowly leading Election Day voting in Ohio earlier this week. The outcome could change — or not — after thousands of provisional ballots are counted. Continue reading »

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Jul 262018
 

Dr. Tammy Savoie, a psychologist and retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, listens as she is introduced to a crowd of Democratic fundraisers at the Calcasieu event space in the Warehouse District on Tuesday, July 24. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

The difficult odds of upsetting U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise cannot be understated: the nationally-known Republican has never garnered less than two-thirds of the vote in his Congressional district.

Nevertheless, Tammy Savoie is persisting. And, for the first time in what may be decades, Democrats in New Orleans believe they have found a candidate who can make the race for the seat competitive.

“I think this is the first viable candidate in the First Congressional District in a long time,” said Bill Hammack, who hosted a fundraiser for Savoie on Tuesday that filled in the banquet room at Calcasieu in the Warehouse District. Continue reading »

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Jul 192018
 

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond speaks during the groundbreaking of the new Odyssey House facility on South Broad Street in February 2018. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)


When the first day of filing for the fall Congressional elections closed Wednesday evening, both incumbent U.S. Reps. Steve Scalise and Cedric Richmond had drawn three challengers apiece — with more possibly yet to come with two days remaining to qualify. Continue reading »

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Jul 182018
 

Jared Brossett, left, and Chelsey Richard Napoleon both qualified to run for clerk of Civil District Court on Wednesday morning. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Jared Brossett and Chelsey Richard Napoleon both officially declared their candidacies for clerk of Civil District Court, and Timothy David Ray and Austin Badon filed to run for First City Court clerk on Wednesday morning as qualifying began for the Nov. 6 special and Congressional elections.

Timothy David Ray (left) and Austin Badon officially qualify to run for clerk of First City Court on Wednesday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)


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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 142018
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

As an elementary school student attending PS #38 in Jersey City, New Jersey, this author has vivid memories of her school’s annual June 14th Flag Day celebration, where students whose families hailed from many countries paraded with their flags in a show of patriotism, hope and freedom. Americans should see plenty of those same feelings exhibited today as President Donald Trump (as well as House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, former congressman Billy Tauzin, and Louisiana-born Facebook Exec Campbell Brown) celebrates his birthday and a re-invigorated House Whip Steve Scalise returns to the Nationals ballpark to take on the Democrats just one year after his near-fatal shooting. Continue reading »

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May 312018
 

Andi Saizan, Mimi Methvin and Tammy Savoie (submitted photo)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

As the anti-Trump #MeToo wave sweeps across America, three Democratic Louisiana women – Tammy Savoie, Andi Saizan, and Mimi Methvin — are mounting challenges to incumbent Republican members of Congress in this year’s Nov. 6 midterm elections. A resident of Lakeview, Savoie is taking on iconic House Whip Steve Scalise in the 1st Congressional District which includes portions of uptown New Orleans and the lakefront. Livingston Parish resident Andi Saizan is up against the popular 6th District Congressman Garrett Graves. Lafayette attorney and mediator Mildred “Mimi” Methvin has targeted shoot-from-the-hip Clay Higgins in the 3rd Congressional District. Continue reading »

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May 182018
 

U.S. Reps. Cedric Richmond (left) and Steve Scalise (right) pose for a photo during a prayer breakfast. (submitted image)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Whether the Democrats or the Republicans controls Congress after the 2018 midterm elections, Louisiana will be a big winner because of what Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) calls the “great bond” him and Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) enjoy. Scalise of course is the exceedingly popular Majority Whip who was shot June 14, 2017 during a practice session of the Republican Congressional baseball team. Richmond chairs the powerful Congressional Black Caucus, whose members represent the largest Democratic block. Continue reading »

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Feb 012018
 

LAGOP chair Roger Villere with former White House Chief Of Staff Reince Pribus, Jimmy Delery and Congressman Ralp Abraham, R-Louisiana, at the Elephant Stomp. (submitted photo)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Louisiana Republican Party chair Roger Villere believes Louisiana citizens are already living the “new American dream,” that President Trump described in his SOTU speech Tuesday night. In Washington this week for the annual winter meeting of the Republican National Committee where President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence also are speaking, Villere praised Trump’s remarks. Continue reading »

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Jun 232017
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

This week’s tropical storm Cindy is just the latest example that the New Orleans region and the entire Gulf Coast must become better at living with water rather than merely struggling to defeat it. From powerful waves breaking over the sea walls on Lakeshore Drive and in Covington to flooding caused by storm surge in Venetian Isles, Myrtle Grove and Grand Isle, we must employ what the Dutch call “inventive urbanism” to make our towns and cities more resilient. Continue reading »

Mar 232017
 

Brian Trascher (submitted photo)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Early next week New Orleans based Republican lobbyist Brian Trascher will be escorting CEO Ed Carlson of Odyssey House New Orleans to meet with former Georgia Congressman Tom Price, now Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Donald Trump. “It will be my first meeting with a cabinet member,” said Trascher proudly.

Trascher meet Trump and his attorney in 2011 in New Orleans and offered to help if Trump ever ran for president. When Trascher received the call, he jumped onboard to play an important role in Louisiana and around the country. Trascher says he knew Trump was going to win about a week before the election when he saw the change in direction of highly targeted phone banks he was supervising in other states. Continue reading »

Feb 072017
 

A panel of experts from Tulane Law School on Wednesday afternoon will discuss the executive order by President Trump that attempted to halt travel to the United States from seven Muslim countries before it was blocked by a federal judge. Continue reading »

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