Aug 212014
 
Joseph Bouie, who is running for the state House of Representatives seat vacated by City Councilman Jared Brossett. (Photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Joseph Bouie, who is running for the state House of Representatives seat vacated by City Councilman Jared Brossett, reviews his paperwork with attorney Jennifer Medley. (Photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

It’s always fun to hang around Criminal Court when candidates are qualifying for office, and yesterday was no exception. Although qualifying did not begin until 8 a.m., embattled judge Yolanda King entered the building at 7:15 to ensure first place in line.

Even though King arrived extra early, it took her three tries to get her domicile listed correctly on the sworn affidavit. Domicile is the ongoing problem that might yet land King in jail or at least unable to serve another term. Continue reading »

Aug 142014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

What trait did actor/comedian Robin Williams and many of New Orleans homeless share?  Mental illness.  Like a majority of the homeless in New Orleans, Williams battled periodic bouts of substance abuse and depression until he finally “silenced the demons that relentlessly targeted him” earlier this week, as the Associate Press put it.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the rate of mental illness increases as boomers age. According to the Center for Disease Control, the suicide rate for adults -  aged 45 to 64 – increased 40% from 1999 to 2011. An analysis by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention found that the suicide rate for middle- to late-middle-aged adults is higher than any other age group. Continue reading »

Jul 312014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

With fewer than 100 days until the mid-term Congressional and local elections, it’s no surprise that more than a few candidates and elected officials turned out Sunday for brunch and hobnobbing with Congressman Cedric Richmond.  While Richmond could face opposition again from Gary Landrieu, the mayor’s cousin who ran two years ago, Richmond is expected to be easily reelected.

In addition to Richmond, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu and Congressman Steve Scalise (who represents only a small portion of Orleans Parish but it unstoppable as the new House Majority Whip), there are 41 additional races that candidates could qualify for. Because of difficulty raising money, most incumbents will not draw opponents. On top of those races, we should add various millage items and other local initiatives that will appear on the November ballot. Continue reading »

Jun 172014
 
A police officer walks two grieving family members, leaning on one another for support, past the scattered shell casings to their Annunciation Street home after the slaying of Darnell Brown in April 2012. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

A police officer walks two grieving family members, leaning on one another for support, past the scattered shell casings to their Annunciation Street home after the slaying of Darnell Brown in April 2012. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

Ronald "Remo" Thompson (via opcso.org)

Ronald “Remo” Thompson (via opcso.org)

Ronald “Remo” Thompson, 22, was indicted last week on a charge of second-degree murder in the April 2012 killing of Darnell Brown in the 3800 block of Annunciation Street, and four other men — Ronald “Rozay” Brooks, 19, Demond “Lil-D” Sandifer, 18, Joshua “Josh” Pittman, 28, and Dejuan “Baby Ross” Williams, 19 — were charged with conspiracy to commit the murder, according to a report by Naomi Martin of The Times Picayune. Continue reading »

Jun 102014
 

James Johnson (via opcso.org)

Aggravated rape and other charges against a man accused of assaulting a woman in her Hickory Street house amid a rash of Carrollton-area home invasions were supported by the evidence collected at the time, a judge ruled Tuesday, allowing a case to proceed that could potentially jail the suspect for life.

In a hearing Tuesday, Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell found that detectives had probable cause to charge James Johnson, 21, with aggravated rape, armed robbery, aggravated burglary and false imprisonment in connection with the April 9 attack on a woman in her Hickory Street home. Cantrell also upheld a separate set of charges of aggravated aggravated assault, armed robbery, sexual battery and simple kidnapping against Johnson in a April 1 attack on a woman outside her home on Cleveland Avenue in Mid-City, but the outcome of a third case against him — an April 4 home-invasion on Panola Street — remains pending. Continue reading »

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Apr 302014
 
Robert D. Steward (via opcso.org)

Robert D. Steward (via opcso.org)

A convicted drug dealer received 15 years in prison this week for possession of a gun following an April 2013 foot chase in the B.W. Cooper area of Central City, and his co-defendant was sentenced to seven years after agreeing to testify in the same case, New Orleans prosecutors said. Continue reading »

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Apr 232014
 

Niguel Veal, the 17-year-old freshman Tulane football recruit arrested in last week’s sexual assault in a dorm room, made a brief court appearance Wednesday on his simple-rape charge, according to a report by our partners at WWL-TV. Veal is free on a $20,000 bond but suspended from the football team, and his attorney says the allegations are a misunderstanding.

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Apr 212014
 

Latoya Francois (via opcso.org)

Latoya Francois (via opcso.org)

Earl Russell (via opcso.org)

Earl Russell (via opcso.org)

A husband shot to death on Willow Street in west-Carrollton last summer was the victim of his estranged wife’s plot to have him killed, New Orleans police allege in court documents and recent testimony, but defense attorneys are already questioning whether investigators identified the correct triggerman in the case. Continue reading »

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Apr 152014
 
At least two sections of the Newcomb Boulevard fence have been removed as of Tuesday morning. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

At least two sections of the Newcomb Boulevard fence have been removed as of Tuesday morning. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

At least two sections of the controversial Newcomb Boulevard fence were removed Tuesday morning, and city officials say the intersection will re-open to two-way traffic in about a week. Continue reading »

Mar 262014
 
Former Louisiana Govs. Buddy Roemer, Kathleen Blanco and Edwin Edwards share a laugh during one of the lighter moments during Wednesday night's panel discussion at Loyola University. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Former Louisiana Govs. Buddy Roemer, Kathleen Blanco and Edwin Edwards share a laugh during one of the lighter moments during Wednesday night’s panel discussion at Loyola University. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Although former Louisiana governors Buddy Roemer, Kathleen Blanco and Edwin Edwards have a number of political differences, all three agreed Wednesday night that no state officials — neither the legislature nor the current governor — should interfere with the local levee board’s lawsuit against oil companies. Continue reading »

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Mar 262014
 
Pedestrians pass by the Newcomb Boulevard fence in early February. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

Pedestrians pass by the Newcomb Boulevard fence in early February. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

After years of court battles, the proposed sale of Newcomb Boulevard between St. Charles Avenue and Freret Street is headed to the City Planning Commission in less than two weeks, and those who have fought to have the street reopened are hoping to rally public opinion to their side with a quickly organized campaign. Continue reading »

Mar 252014
 

jewel bush

Less than three months passed between the arrest of George Junius Stinney Jr. and his execution. The whole Stinney trial took only one day – including jury selection.

The year was 1944 in Alcolu, a South Carolina town established by a lumber company in the late 19th century. All of the townsfolk worked for the mill; and in fact, were paid in metal coins emblazoned with the letter “A;” legal tender accepted at the company store to pay for everything from groceries to a doctor’s visit.

Stinney was 14 when he sat in the electric chair using the Bible he carried into the death chamber as a booster seat. From the looks of his mug shot, Stinney could have passed for as young as 12 when he was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder of two pre-teen white girls by an all-white jury in a town that was more than half black. Continue reading »

Mar 202014
 

The sentencing hearing for Former District B City Councilwoman Renee Gill Pratt’s federal racketeering conviction has been delayed until May so that she can seek a new trial on the basis that anonymous online commenting by members of the U.S. Attorney’s office may have unfairly influenced the jurors in her trial in 2011, according to a report by Laura Maggi of The Advocate. The same scandal previously led to the convictions against five NOPD officers in the Danziger Bridge shooting being overturned, Maggi notes.

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Mar 182014
 
Glenn Ford. (photo by jewel bush)

Former death-row prisoner Glenn Ford was released from prison last week, and is transitioning back to society at the Resurrection After Exoneration program in New Orleans. (photo by jewel bush)

jewel bush

What do you say to someone who has spent 10,950 days — 3 decades and his last 30 birthdays — wondering if today would be the day he would be put to death for a crime he did not commit?

“They give you a $20 debit card and say, ‘I’ll be waiting on you,’ ” said John Thompson, who spent 18 years in prison, 14 of them on death row, wrongfully convicted of murder.

On March 11, Thompson welcomed home fellow exoneree Glenn Ford, Louisiana’s longest-serving death row prisoner. Ford was released from death row and exonerated after an informant told police that the real killer — one of the original suspects — confessed to the 1983 murder. Continue reading »

Mar 172014
 

Owen Courreges

Should the powers of New Orleans Municipal Court be expanded?   It’s already happening.  You just probably didn’t realizing it was going on.

It began a couple of years ago, in late January 2012.  Mayor Mitch Landrieu dispatched letters to the judges of Criminal District Court and Municipal Court asking them to impose higher bonds for release in gun cases.  Landrieu specifically pointed to a program initiated by Judge John Garvey in St. Louis, who began automatically requiring a $30,000 cash-only bond for youths arrested for illegally possessing firearms. Continue reading »