As a newly elected Louisiana Supreme Court Associate Justice, Piper Griffin takes the bench on Monday (Jan. 4), she said she is humbled by the overwhelming support from the community. “I want to thank the people of New Orleans for the opportunity to be of service and the trust they place in me for such an important position,” Griffin said.
Joined by her mother Betty Griffin, a retired Charity Hospital nurse; sisters Kaci and Lisa Griffin; nephew Keenan Fortenberry; and ministers Rev. Samuel Gibbs Jr. and Pastor Calvin Woods Jr., Griffin took the oath of office Monday (Dec. 28). Her formal investiture, a public event, is tentatively scheduled for Jan.
Although he has yet to formally signal whether he will seek re-election in the fall of 2020,
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro gave a rousing address about New Orleans’ many crime problems and potential solutions to a packed crowd of Second Amendment supporters at the Home Defense Foundation’s meeting earlier this week. Attendees included New Orleans independent police monitor Susan Hutson. “We have a crime problem in the city of New Orleans,” said Cannizzaro who has worked in criminal justice for more than 40 years. “Since I first became an assistant district attorney in 1978, I’ve never seen crowds as were gathered at Hynes School in January and at the Jewish Community Center. People are upset.”
Cannizzaro told attendees that a significant part of the problem can be blamed on former Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who set in motion the current police manpower shortage by failing to prioritize classes for new recruits during his first term.
Having your car broken into via smashed windows has become the new normal in New Orleans. On Tuesday, Jan. 14, a group of neighborhood associations hosted a community meeting at the Jewish Community Center to “discuss the recent uptick of crimes and ways to combat it,” stated a notice from the Faubourg Delachaise Neighborhood Association. The meeting, which was moved from a meeting room to the larger Donald Mintz Auditorium, attracted more than 100 fed-up and concerned citizens who wanted answers and solutions. What they came away with is that, particularly with juvenile crime, there is no single solution, and that any improvement is an evolving process including New Orleanians, the City Council, the NOPD, the Mayor’s Office, state legislature, and the local, state and federal judiciary.
Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Nakisha Ervin-Knott ruled that the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board is legally responsible for the substantial damages caused to more than 350 Uptown homes and businesses as a result of construction of the massive SELA drainage project. The court on Monday, Jan. 6, granted the plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment, finding the city agency the sole responsible party for claims of inverse condemnation, custodial liability and timber pile-driving claims.
According to plaintiffs’ attorney Michael Whitaker, all that is left now is for each claimant to prove the extent of the damage to their property. The ruling means claimants who provide evidence of damage will have their claims more swiftly decided and judgment entered in their favor. Trial on the next 20 claims is set for Tuesday, Jan.
Sister Helen Prejean, author of “Dead Man Walking,” commemorated 10 years without any executions in Louisiana — the longest such period in the state’s history — at a “Vigil for Life” ceremony in New Orleans on Jan. 7. Louisiana has executed 28 individuals since 1976. The 28th was Gerald Bordelon, 47, a Livingston Parish man sentenced to death for the murder of Courtney LeBlanc, his 12-year-old stepdaughter. He was pronounced dead from lethal injection at 6:32 p.m. on Jan.
From the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office
A New Orleans man and woman indicted last month on charges that they raped another woman inside a Leonidas neighborhood home in January 2019 surrendered to authorities in court this week and have been remanded into custody, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s Office announced Friday. Edward “Eddie” Budd, 39, and Echo Hurlburt, 26, appeared for arraignment before Criminal District Judge Laurie A. White. Each entered a plea of not guilty to a single count of first-degree rape, charges that were handed up Oct. 24 by an Orleans Parish grand jury. White ordered both defendants remanded into custody at the Orleans Justice Center jail.
The volunteers at Court Watch NOLA are a well-oiled data collection machine that have made a significant impact on the operations of the Orleans Parish criminal court system for more than a decade. “We are a basic exercise in democracy,” said director Simone Levine. Through the information skilled volunteers collect, the agency publishes reports “that spur dialogue and bring much needed transparency and accountability to the courts.”
Founded after Hurricane Katrina by the New Orleans Business Council and other forward-thinking organizations, Court Watch NOLA seeks to shorten the gulf between “insiders” and “outsiders,” Levine explained. Outsiders are the crime victims, witnesses, defendants and jurors. Insiders are the public officials who run the system, including the judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, police officers and Sheriff’s Office officials. “Court Watch NOLA teaches outsiders the language of court so that outsiders can bring accountability and help to solve some of the problems that insiders have so regularly lived with that they often no longer see as problematic,” Levine said.
A man was charged in the shooting death of his father inside his grandmother’s Leonidas home, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office announced Thursday. Carldell Paul, also known as Carldell Daniels, was charged with the second-degree murder of 50-year-old Carl Daniels and with obstructing justice in a homicide investigation in the two-count indictment handed up by an Orleans Parish grand jury. Paul, 31, faces a mandatory lifetime prison sentence if convicted of the murder, and up to 40 years if found guilty of the obstruction count. The victim’s mother called New Orleans police at 9:19 p.m. on July 10 to report the killing inside a bedroom of her home in the 1200 block of Eagle Street. She told investigators that her son and grandson had been arguing about money, and that she suddenly heard gunshots in the victim’s room.
Four alleged members of the Byrd Gang were charged under the Louisiana Racketeering Act and in other crimes related to a violent drug-trafficking enterprise based in Central City, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office announced on Monday. An Orleans Parish special grand jury on Oct. 23 handed up a 16-count indictment charging Tyrone “Six” Bovia, Chance “Doona” Skipper, James “Poo” Alexander and Randy “Tokey Hefner” Calvin with racketeering. In Louisiana, racketeering is punishable in Louisiana by a prison sentence of up to 50 years. The announcement of the indictment was delayed to give law enforcement officers a reduced-risk opportunity to arrest the suspects.
A New Orleans man has been indicted for murder in connection with an August killing inside a home in the city’s Dixon neighborhood, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office announced on Thursday. Aaron “Yao” Lawrence was charged with the second-degree murder of 41-year-old Travis Smith, obstruction of justice in a homicide investigation, and with being a felon in possession of a firearm, in the three-count indictment handed up by an Orleans Parish grand jury. Lawrence, 33, faces a mandatory lifetime prison term if convicted of murder. He also faces up to 40 years in state prison if found guilty of the obstruction count, and 10-15 years if convicted of the firearms offense. Those penalties ultimately could be enhanced, based upon Lawrence’s extensive record of felony narcotics possession and distribution convictions.
The NOPD arrested three suspects on Tuesday, Oct. 8, in multiple narcotics and firearms violations. The arrests occurred in the 8700 block of Green Street. Following up on a Crimestoppers tip, Second District Task Force officers initiated surveillance on the location in the Leonidas neighborhood. Following surveillance and a subsequent investigation, officers obtained a search warrant.