Jan 092017
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Victoria Coy, the executive director of the Louisiana Violence Reduction Coalition, went on a bit of a tear this past week over Louisiana’s so-called “Stand Your Ground” (SYG) law. In an opinion piece written for The Lens, Coy made claims that, if true, would indeed be quite disturbing:

  • Stand Your Ground was tacked on to Louisiana’s Justifiable Homicide rules in 2006, upending centuries of common-sense definitions of self-defense.”
  • Under the revamped rules, you no longer have the duty to retreat from a threat before using lethal force. You need only ‘perceive’ a threat in order to justify meeting force with force — even if you could easily escape that threat.”
  • Stand Your Ground has codified prejudice. . . . If black men are the scary ones, then why should they be afraid? It’s this exact logic that is not only encouraged, but required under the disastrous Stand Your Ground law.”

Continue reading »

Dec 192016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

The cutest Internet video of the week from New Orleans was, inarguably, that of “disco cop.” NOPD Sgt. L.J. Smith was providing security at the Luna Fete light/art festival as electronic dance music brayed from a nearby DJ when he began enthusiastically dancing along with the crowd.

In a city beset by violent crime that has been braced with recurring police scandals, the sight of a cop stepping side-to-side and blowing his whistle in time with the music was a welcome diversion. Continue reading »

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Dec 052016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Personally, I’ve never been one to armchair quarterback murder investigations or second-guess police when their actions could be described as “restrained.” I’m not a cop and I have no law enforcement training. My relevant expertise as an attorney is limited to simply whether police are operating within the law, and that’s a limited scope.

However, it is difficult not to look a little cock-eyed at the investigation into the killing of Joe McKnight down in Terrytown. Publicly-released information makes one wonder: Why hasn’t the perp been charged yet? Continue reading »

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Oct 252016
 
Peter Gold tries to talk to a man now identified as 21-year-old Euric Cain on Friday, Nov. 20, moments before Cain shot Gold. (still image from surveillance video released by NOPD)

Peter Gold tries to talk to a man now identified as 21-year-old Euric Cain on Friday, Nov. 20, moments before Cain shot Gold. (still image from surveillance video released by NOPD)

Euric Cain (via NOPD)

Euric Cain (via NOPD)

The man charged with shooting a Tulane medical student who tried to stop him from dragging a woman off of Magazine Street pleaded guilty Monday to attempted murder and multiple rapes in what prosecutors are calling “one of the most horrific crime sprees in recent memory in this city.” Continue reading »

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Oct 212016
 
Verret's Lounge at 1738 Washington Avenue, photographed in April 2016 (via Google)

Verret’s Lounge at 1738 Washington Avenue, photographed in April 2016 (via Google)

Powell Miller, an attorney for Verret's Lounge, questions the need for armed security guards before the city Alcohol Beverage Control board on Tuesday, Oct. 18. (via City of New Orleans)

Powell Miller, an attorney for Verret’s Lounge, questions the need for armed security guards before the city Alcohol Beverage Control board on Tuesday, Oct. 18. (via City of New Orleans)

An attorney for Verret’s Lounge — the Central City bar where a man was fatally shot in January — asked the city’s alcohol board this week how long they would be required to maintain an armed security guard on the weekends. Continue reading »

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Sep 152016
 
McKinley "Mac" Phipps, Jr. and son (via YouTube)

McKinley “Mac” Phipps, Jr. and son (via YouTube)

Former No Limit Records recording artist McKinley “Mac” Phipps, Jr., who is currently serving a 30-year sentence for 2nd Degree Manslaughter, has filed an application for clemency, according to an article published by Huffington Post. Phipps, an Uptown native, has served 16 years of the 30-year sentence for the crime, for which he maintains his innocence. Continue reading »

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Aug 292016
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

It’s almost as though Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter were spat out of central casting.  The portly, arrogant, hot-headed lawman is the archetype of the corrupt Southern sheriff.  “You ain’t from ‘round here, boy,” might as well be tattooed on his forehead.

Playing to form, Larpenter doesn’t appreciate being criticized.  His thin skin was certainly on display when a local muckraking blog called “Exposedat” suggested that Larpenter had misused public funds due to a conflict of interest. Continue reading »

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Jul 262016
 
Attorney Michael Whitaker describes the beginning of mediation in 215 claims against the Sewerage & Water Board over damages allegedly caused by the SELA drainage projects. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Attorney Michael Whitaker describes the beginning of mediation in 215 claims against the Sewerage & Water Board over damages allegedly caused by the SELA drainage projects. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

A retired federal judge has been appointed to mediate $86 million in damage claims from property damage from the ongoing SELA drainage projects along four major Uptown corridors, attorneys announced Monday. Continue reading »

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Jun 092016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

The race to replace retiring 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Max Tobias is already heating up with three lower court judges – Criminal Court Judge Laurie White and Civil District Court Judges Tiffany Chase and Regina Bartholomew Woods – tossing their hats in the ring. Attorney Kevin Guillory who previously ran for a Criminal Court judgeship is also campaigning. Continue reading »

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Mar 012016
 
Dead Man Walking: The Opera symposium

(via Loyola University College of Law)

The Loyola University College of Law will be hosting a free symposium this Thursday, March 3, about the Dead Man Walking opera that is premiering in Louisiana on Friday, March 4, at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts. The symposium’s panelists will feature Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty author Sister Helen Prejean and New Orleans Opera General & Artistic Director Robert Lyall. Continue reading »

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Feb 262016
 
The "SC" icons refer to simple rapes; the gray mask icons represent burglaries. (map via NOPD)

The “SC” icons refer to simple rapes; the gray mask icons represent burglaries. (map via NOPD)

Oliver Jerde (via opcso.org)

Oliver Jerde (via opcso.org)

The man charged in a series of home-invasions last month in the university area — and a suspect in two sexual assaults — has been removed from electronic monitoring and allowed to leave the state, according to court records. Continue reading »

Dec 072015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Whenever anybody engages me on the issue of self-defense, my mind always wanders to the case of Warren v. District of Columbia.

That case began on the morning of March 16, 1975, when two men broke down the back door of a rooming house on Lamont Street in Washington, D.C. The intruders soon encountered Miriam Douglas, a woman who lived on the second floor with her four-year-old daughter. Continue reading »

Oct 152015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

When President Obama issued his controversial executive order which would give work permits and protection from deportation to almost four million unauthorized immigrants — including an estimated 100,000 living in Louisiana — he never expected his dream to get derailed by Republican-appointed federal judges at the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeal in New Orleans. Continue reading »

Aug 242015
 
Black Lives Matter Katrina memorial

(via Ashé Cultural Center)

 

The Ashé Cultural Arts Center will be hosting “Forum: 10 Years Later: We’re Still Recovering- Black Lives Matter” this Thursday, August 27, in order to commemorate ten years since Hurricane Katrina. The event is free to the public and will feature Alicia Garza, a coufounder of #BlackLivesMatter. The event will focus on the reform to ultimately end the school-to-prison pipeline. Continue reading »

Aug 202015
 
A section of the construction site on Prytania Street, photographed in February 25. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

A section of the construction site on Prytania Street, photographed in February 25. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Nearly 150 property owners have now joined the lawsuit seeking damages from the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans related to the construction of major drainage canals through the Uptown area, while the agency is now casting blame for the problems on two of the contractors on the projects, legal documents show.

“Ten years after Katrina, the Plaintiffs are horrified to now find their homes and businesses, often newly renovated or refurbished, in the midst of another disaster,” the property owners’ attorney wrote in a recent court document. “…Delayed years beyond original dates of completion, their homes and neighborhoods are being wrecked by the project. They are being forced to live in damaged homes and pay for their own repairs, for years and years with no end in sight.” Continue reading »

Jul 312015
 
McKinley "Mac" Phipps, Jr. at Elayn Hunt Correctional Facility, 2015. Mac is currently serving a 30-year sentence for manslaughter, a crime for which

McKinley “Mac” Phipps, Jr. at Elayn Hunt Correctional Facility, 2015. Mac is currently serving a 30-year sentence for manslaughter, a crime for which he maintains his innocence. (photo courtesy of Angelique Christina)

Tyree Worthy

Tyree C. Worthy

When I graduated from Loyola three years ago, I had plenty of people to thank: professors, advisors, friends and close family — the usual. There was one unlikely person who actually wasn’t there during my school days at all but deserved as much thanks as anyone: my cousin, McKinley “Mac” Phipps Jr., a well-known New Orleans rapper who has been incarcerated since I was 10, and I realized I needed to write him and tell him how much of a motivational force he had become in my life.

Mac is currently serving a 30-year sentence for manslaughter, a crime for which he maintains his innocence. But now, amid serious questions about the testimony that convicted him under former St. Tammany Parish District Attorney Walter Reed, Mac’s legal team is actively working to have him released much sooner than that, according to a recent report from The Advocate’s Sara Pagones. Continue reading »

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Jun 152015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

One of the chief headaches one gets from monitoring the news cycle relates to the fact that it isn’t self-correcting.  A tiny seed of disinformation grows to become a sturdy tree of conventional wisdom.

This is what happened with the so-called “Stand Your Ground” (SYG) laws following the shooting of Treyvon Martin in Florida by George Zimmerman.  Most recently, it was criticized in a recent column by Jarvis DeBerry after being invoked by Algiers Pastor W.L.T. Littleton, who is accused of shooting a fleeing copper thief in the back of the head. Continue reading »

Jun 102015
 
A crack is visible in a foundation that attorney Michael Whitaker says is only 9 years old in the 2500 block of Napoleon Avenue. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

A crack is visible in a foundation that attorney Michael Whitaker says is only 9 years old in the 2500 block of Napoleon Avenue. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Attorney Michael Whitaker (left) listens as the Rev. Tom Watson describes damage to Watson Memorial Teaching Ministries on Napoleon Avenue during a news conference Wednesday morning. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Attorney Michael Whitaker (left) listens as the Rev. Tom Watson describes damage to Watson Memorial Teaching Ministries on Napoleon Avenue during a news conference Wednesday morning. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

A total of 74 plaintiffs have now joined the lawsuit alleging that their homes have been damaged by construction of new drainage canals under major thoroughfares through Uptown New Orleans, but their attorney says the costs of repairing these houses is already built into the project and won’t increase the costs for the Sewerage & Water Board. Continue reading »

Jun 012015
 
Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

Plea bargaining is one of the hallmarks of an efficient criminal justice system. The prosecutor saves time and effort. The city collects a fine and court costs. The defendant receives a break on the offense charged. In theory, everybody is happy.

Alas, Mayor Landrieu is apparently not happy. His administration has decided to end the process in traffic court. Continue reading »