Viewpoint: Sheriff Susan Hutson faces rocky road ahead

With two unexpected deaths in less than a week and an ongoing staffing crisis that — in her own words — has “destabilized” the Orleans Justice Center, Sheriff Susan Hutson must have quickly realized that her honeymoon was ending sooner than expected. All new sheriffs get tested by their deputies and inmates (let’s not be so naïve to refer to them as “residents”) to gauge the rules. Hutson was no different. The inmates searched for a weak spot — in this instance not enough staff on the tiers — and exploited it. During the campaign, Hutson pounded on the concepts of care, custody and control.

Viewpoint: What kind of deal is attorney Billy Gibbens cutting for DA Jason Williams?

With District Attorney Jason Williams’ tax fraud trial scheduled to start in six weeks, now is the time that a seasoned defense attorney like Billy Gibbens would be putting the final touches on the best deal he could strike for his client, in this case Williams. Williams and his former law partner Nicole Burdett are charged with trying to inflate $700,000 in tax write-offs between 2013 and 2017. Though the attorneys at Tuesday’s pretrial hearing said they were “ready for trial,” they could have meant that federal prosecutors are not yet ready to announce the terms of any agreement. The best deal Gibbens could hope for would probably involve Williams pleading guilty to one or two counts and receiving a suspended sentence with house arrest and a big fat fine. In that scenario, Williams would also forfeit his law license and be removed from office. After three years, Williams could ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to reinstate his law license and, if successful, practice civil law.

Viewpoint: It’s time for action from all criminal justice partners

Every partner in New Orleans criminal justice system is partially responsible for the city’s spiraling crime rate and every partner must do their job to help alleviate it, Councilman at-large JP Morrell said on WWL-TV earlier today (Jan. 20). “People are afraid to leave their homes,” Morrell said. “No one is walking in their neighborhoods.”

The City Council has begun two days of criminal justice hearings, which are already exposing the deep rifts between cops, prosecutors and judges. District Attorney Jason Williams said yesterday that New Orleanians want and deserve to be safe.

Viewpoint: City leaders must work together to get a grip on crime

As with most mayors entering a new term, LaToya Cantrell delivered an upbeat message at Monday’s Covid-restricted inauguration on the steps of Gallier Hall: Though New Orleans has endured a tough four years, citizens are resilient and many opportunities lie ahead. “Our time is now, and the best is yet to come,” Cantrell proclaimed. Like many New Orleanians, I soaked up her words, wanting to believe the city will change. It wasn’t long before the latest crime statistics brought me back to reality. Just 13 days into the New Year, seven innocent people have died.