Did the NOPD have probable cause to arrest the alleged shooter of officer Jonathan Smith for another, earlier shooting? This nola.com article is a great primer on what “probable cause” really means, what the police need to show to meet the “PC” standard, and how Judges can hold the police accountable for meeting this standard.
Court Watch NOLA is always trying to make it easier for the public to learn more about our elected officials. Over the past seven years, CWN has collected data and published reports to hold our public servants in the criminal justice system accountable, but we recognize that these lengthy reports are not as user-friendly as they could be for voters and other citizens. CWN, with the assistance of Baptist Community Ministries, is therefore proud to launch new, easier-to-use “Elected Officials” pages on its website.
Now that qualifying is over, the stage is set for the fall’s election season at Criminal District Court. First, a big congratulations to Chief Judge Willard and Judges Flemings-Davillier, Landrum-Johnson, Pittman, Buras, Herman, Derbigny, Hunter and Zibilich, who have been re-elected without qualified opposition to additional six year terms. Judge Parker chose not to run for re-election, so Court Watch NOLA thanks and congratulates Judge Parker for his eighteen years of service on the bench.
The Fourth of July is not only a celebration of American history and our shared values, but also marks 2014’s halfway point. And this most recent Independence Day was a great reminder that there is nothing more American than regular citizens working to hold the government accountable.
Court Watch NOLA has been tracking a lot criminal justice stories in New Orleans this week, including a 30% drop in the murder rate for the first three months of 2014, though the NOPD acknowledged that other violent crimes were up. In bad news for the NOPD, however, a detective was caught writing words in the blood found at a murder scene. And one tourist decided not to wait for the NOPD, turning the tables on and beating up a would-be armed robber.
The New Orleans Police Department has dominated local criminal justice news these past few days. The Inspector General recently asked why the NOPD has so many of its officers in offices and so few on patrol, and also accused the NOPD of misclassifying rape incidents. NPR, on the other hand, published a story about how the NOPD’s new body cameras are working and FOX 8 showed how the NOPD is analyzing trends in who is being victimized by crime in New Orleans in order to better target its policing strategies.
Throughout this week, National Public Radio has broadcast stories about how America’s 21st century criminal justice system sometimes resembles an 18th century debtor’s prison. As Court Watch NOLA volunteers know, defendants pleading guilty in New Orleans are frequently assessed hundreds if not thousands of dollars in fines and fees that they may not ever be able to repay. When these defendants can’t make a scheduled payment, some choose (wrongly) to not show up for court at all, leading to their rearrest and incarceration, all on the taxpayer dime. On top of this, indigent defendants in Louisiana must also pay to get a public defender, creating a perverse incentive system, as Chief Orleans Public Defender Derwyn Bunton described in one of the NPR stories.