Marijuana Joint Falls Out Of Dumbass New Orleans Assistant City Attorney Jason Cantrell’s Pocket In Court, In Front Of A Bunch Of Police Officers

October 3, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – It was business as usual Monday afternoon in the Orleans Parish magistrate court when an assistant city attorney reportedly made a mistake that could haunt him the rest of his career.

Jason Cantrell, the 43-year-old son of a magistrate commissioner, allegedly dropped a joint out of his pocket right in front of New Orleans Police Department officers, The Times-Picayune reported Monday.

Officers reportedly laughed as they escorted Cantrell out of the courtroom and wrote him a summons for simple possession of marijuana.

Marijuana possession in New Orleans is a municipal offense, so police can issue summonses rather than arrest wrongdoers.

A tipster who reported the incident to Above The Law says he has “suspected that more than 50% of the city — and its employees, specifically — are, at any given time, either stoned, drunk, or on a three hour lunch.”

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Innocence Project: Innocent Man Set Free After 15 Years On Louisiana Death Row – DNA Tests Totally Cleared Him From Rape And Murder Charges – 300th Person Exonerated Through DNA Testing

September 29, 2012

LOUISIANA – A Louisiana man who spent 15 years on death row for a murder he did not commit was released Friday from prison in an exoneration brought about by the Innocence Project.

“It’s been a long journey,” Damon A. Thibodeaux, 38, said during a news conference with his lawyers. “It’s people like y’all who give people like us a chance.”

Thibodeaux, who was convicted after falsely confessing to having raped and murdered his 14-year-old step-cousin, said he hopes law enforcement will learn from his case.

“Make sure you have the right person before you start a process of executing someone,” he said. “Because it costs a lot of money to go back and look at all of these cases again. If it’s done right the first time, you shouldn’t have to do that.”

Thibodeaux described as “surreal” his walk earlier in the day out of Louisiana State Penitentiary. “It’s not something you can prepare yourself for, because you’ve been living in those conditions for so long.”

Asked how he felt, Thibodeaux did not hesitate. “Free,” he said. “I feel free. I feel free.”

Initially, he said, he felt like giving up, but resisted the temptation. “The minute you give up completely is the minute you die,” he said. “Period.”

Thibodeaux said that he was looking forward to “peace and quiet … just concentrating on putting my life back together and moving forward.”

His court-ordered release came after DNA and other evidence exonerated him. Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick Jr. agreed with Thibodeaux’s lawyers that he had confessed to something he did not do.

Connick “joined the Innocence Project and Thibodeaux’s other counsel in agreeing to overturn Thibodeaux’s conviction and death sentence after his confession to police was determined to be false,” the district attorney said in a statement.

“This is a damn good day at the office,” said Denise LeBoeuf, director of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project, who has represented Thibodeaux since 1998.

The case points to the need to abolish the death penalty, she said. “It doesn’t make us safer; it makes the pain of murder worse; and if we can’t figure out how to have a death penalty that doesn’t put innocent men on death row and innocent women on death row across the country, then we don’t deserve to have it. It is a human rights violation. We need to end it now.”

Thibodeaux was convicted of killing his relative, Crystal Champagne, whose body was found on July 20, 1996, a day after she left her apartment to go to a nearby supermarket.

More than 2,000 wrongfully convicted people exonerated in 23 years, researchers say

He was among a number of people who were interviewed by police. After some nine hours of interrogation, “he provided an apparent confession to raping and murdering the victim,” the ACLU said in a news release. Primarily on that basis, Thibodeaux was convicted and sentenced to death in October 1997, it said.

A decade later, his legal team gave evidence to the district attorney of Thibodeaux’s innocence and an investigation — which wound up involving hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of DNA testing, forensic evidence and interviews — got under way.

“The probe confirmed that Thibodeaux’s confession was false in every significant aspect,” the ACLU said.

Since 2000, six people have been released from Louisiana’s death row after being exonerated; in that time, three people have been executed, it said.

“What we were doing was searching for the truth,” said Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with New York’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. “We hope that justice is done and we find the person who really committed the crime.”

He said Thibodeaux was the 300th person exonerated through DNA testing.

Asked what might have led Thibodeaux to confess, Scheck said, “That is something that we’re studying and is part of the lessons to be learned here. That’s not one of the things that I think is probably appropriate for us to discuss at the moment.”

The case points to the need for police to videotape interrogations, according to Scheck. Had that been done in this case, “we wouldn’t be sitting here today,” Scheck said. “It’s a simple thing to do and it’s sweeping the country.”

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Baton Rouge Louisiana Police Officer Derek Jason Burns Arrested, Charged With Creating Fake Summonses Targeting People He’d Never Met

September 9, 2012

BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA — A Baton Rouge police officer is accused of falsifying misdemeanor summonses.

Police Chief Dewayne White said Thursday that his department’s internal affairs division began investigating Derek Jason Burns, 29, on July 3 after his supervisor noticed a summons that “just didn’t look right.”

Investigators checked it and four more chosen at random and found that at least four appeared phony, White said. The fifth summons is still being examined.

Burns issued the four false summonses between June 6 and July 26 to three people without their knowledge, according to the arrest warrant. It said the victims told investigators they had never come into contact with Burns or signed the summonses, and a certified forensic document examiner concluded that Burns wrote all four signatures.

“The possibility is great” that Burns falsified additional summonses, White said.

“This investigation is in its infancy,” he said. “There’s a lot more work to do.”

White said he would ask U.S. Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux Jr. to investigate whether anyone’s civil rights were violated if investigators determine that Burns wrote additional phony summonses and the majority of the victims are black.

“We will continue to police our own,” White said. “When a police officer commits a crime we will take action and we will take it swiftly.”

The Advocate reported that (http://bit.ly/Snns9x) administrators wouldn’t speculate on why Burns allegedly wrote bogus summonses. However, officers often are paid overtime to appear in court for the summonses that they write.

Burns was booked into the parish prison Thursday on four counts each of injuring public records, forgery and malfeasance in office, and was released on $24,000 bond.

Burns, who joined the force in 2006 and is assigned to the prison transport division, is on paid administrative leave.

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Louisiana Federal Prosecutor Sal Perricone Loses Job, Faces Lawsuit Over Years Of Obnoxious Online Comments

September 6, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – Not content to go after suspected wrongdoers in court, a Louisiana federal prosecutor apparently spent years attacking them in the comments section of the local newspaper’s website as well. His online barbs, posted under pseudonyms such as “Henry L. Mencken1951,” “legacyusa,” and “dramatis personae,” were meant to be anonymous. Instead, they have cost him his job and made him the target of at least one defamation lawsuit.

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the owner of a landfill that is the target of a federal probe got so fed up with Mencken1951’s comments on NOLA.com articles about him that he hired the famous forensic linguist James Fitzgerald to unmask the troll. Fitzgerald compared the comments to a legal brief by then-Assistant U.S. Attorney Sal Perricone, and found striking similarities, including the use of obscure words such as “dubiety” and “redoubt.” Perricone eventually fessed up and stepped down from his position, and he now faces a defamation lawsuit from the landfill owner, Fred Heebe.

A sample comment about Heebe from Mencken1951: “If Heebe had one firing synapse, he would go speak to Letten’s posse and purge himself of this sordid episode and let them go after the council and public officials. Why prolong this pain… .” Letten refers to Perricone’s boss, U.S. Attorney James Letten.

Now the saga has apparently inspired another embattled local figure to lash out against his online tormentors. Yesterday the Times-Picayune reported that an indicted parish president has filed a defamation lawsuit against a NOLA.com commenter who goes by the name “campstblue.” The suspected culprit? None other than Perricone, who, if the allegations are correct, also took potshots at a deputy U.S. attorney general who might end up having a say in deciding whether Perricone gets censured for his conduct.

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New Orleans Louisiana Police Officer Jason Giroir, Involved In Recent Shooting, Suspended Indefinitely For Online Comment About Thug Killed In Florida By Zimmerman – “Act Like A Thug Die Like One”

September 1, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – A New Orleans police officer under investigation in a recent police-involved fatal shooting has been suspended indefinitely without pay for posting intemperate remarks on an online news story, suggesting that a young man wearing a hooded sweatshirt deserved to die because he “acted like a thug.” Officer Jason Giroir posted “Act like a Thug Die like one!” on an online WWL-TV article posted Sunday about local citizens rallying to protest the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old Florida boy who was killed Feb. 26 while wearing a hooded sweatshirt and walking through a gated community.

Martin’s encounter with a gun-wielding citizen in his Florida neighborhood has become a flashpoint of national debate, hitting on contemporary issues of race and profiling, and a citizen’s right to bear arms.

After an online commenter named Eddie Johnson criticized Giroir’s comments as racist and questioned whether a hooded sweatshirt makes someone a thug, Giroir responded: “Eddie come on down to our town with a ‘Hoodie’ and you can join Martin in HELL and talk about your racist stories!:-P”

Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas announced the discipline Monday at a 3 p.m. news conference.

Serpas said Giroir’s postings caused him great concern and prompted an immediate suspension.

“To say I’m angry is an understatement. I’m furious,” Serpas said.

Serpas repeatedly stated that Giroir’s views do not reflect those of the NOPD.

Giroir’s wife also posted a similar comment about Martin — “He acted like a thug and died like one” — under the news story on the WWL-TV site.

Giroir’s attorney, Eric Hessler, said Monday that Giroir spoke to NOPD internal affairs investigators Monday and admitted to making the postings.

“His statement is, ‘Yes, I did it,'” Hessler said. “He certainly didn’t mean it as a racial comment, as an offensive comment, although it came out that way. He acknowledges he should have chosen better words. I couldn’t agree with him more.”

Hessler said everyone, especially police officers, need to “think before they type.”

The attorney said Giroir is not a racist.

“It was a boneheaded comment,” Hessler said. “He admits so.”

Giroir is currently under investigation for his role in a fatal shootout earlier this month in Mid-City. Two officers — Anthony Mayfield Jr. and Michael Asevedo — were severely wounded. Civilian Justin Sipp, who police say opened fire first, was fatally shot by police, and his brother was wounded.

The incident followed a traffic stop Giroir made early thatmorning on a vehicle that allegedly had a broken license plate light. Inside the car were the Sipp brothers, Justin and Earl.

After Justin Sipp began firing, Giroir and Mayfield returned fire, police have said. Giroir was not wounded.

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President Obama Ignored Storm Damaged Gulf Coast To Campaign In Ohio – Until Until Romney Showed Up In Louisiana

August 31, 2012

LOUISIANA – President Barack Obama was today forced to announce he will fly to storm-hit Louisiana on Monday – hours after Mitt Romney beat him to the punch by deciding to head there this afternoon.

After it emerged that Obama was still taking time to fit in a campaign stop in Cleveland, Ohio before checking out how clean-up operations are proceeding in the Bayou state, the Obama campaign abruptly cancelled that event.

‘In light of the President’s travel to Louisiana to meet with local officials and view ongoing response and recovery efforts to Hurricane Isaac, President Obama will no longer travel to Cleveland, Ohio on Monday, September 3,’ the campaign said in a terse statement.

Romney had changed his schedule to head to an affected town outside New Orleans while Obama, who has yet to visit the Tropical Storm Isaac zone, headed off to Texas to campaign.

Seven years ago, President George W. Bush was lambasted for inaction and incompetence in dealing with Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and much of the Mississippi and Louisiana gulf coast.

Romney’s last-minute trip to New Orleans came as his wife Ann told CNN that swing women voters in particular had told her that ‘it’s time for the grown-up to come, the man that’s going to take this very seriously and the future of our children very, very seriously’.

He opted out of a joint campaign appearance in Richmond, Virginia with Paul Ryan, his vice-presidential running mate, to head to Louisiana.

The first day of the Republican convention in Tampa was cancelled as Isaac bore down on Florida and the Gulf of Mexico area.

‘Obama’s not a bad guy – he’s a bad President!’ Marco Rubio wows GOP convention as he introduces Romney

Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, who was on Romney’s vice-presidential shortlist, abandoned his convention speech to oversee storm relief.

A Romney aide told ABC News that Romney would ‘join Governor Jindal and will meet with first responders, thank them for their work and see areas impacted by the storm’ in LaFitte, Louisiana, some 20 miles south of New Orleans.

The trip to Louisiana was sandwiched between previously announced campaign stops in Lakeland, Florida, where he will be joined by Paul Ryan, and Cincinnati.

On a visit to Indianapolis on Wednesday to speak at the American Legion convention, Romney joked about the storm before expressing his concern.

‘I appreciate this invitation to join you on dry land this afternoon,’ he said to laughter. ‘Our thoughts are, of course, with the people of the Gulf Coast states.

‘We’re grateful that it appears Isaac will spare them from the kind of damage we saw during Katrina, but for many in the Gulf Coast who just finished repairing their homes and are getting a life back to normal, this must be a heavy burden.

‘So today our thoughts are with them, our prayers go out to them, and our country must do all we can to help them recover.’

In Lafitte, emergency crews were assisting victims of Hurricane Isaac, which hit the coast with wind speeds of 80mph on Tuesday and brought flooding to the area before it was downgraded to a tropical storm.

The storm, which is lumbering north at a pace of just 5mph, has claimed four lives in Mississippi and Louisiana, ravaged homes with as many as 18 inches of flood water, and left more than 900,000 people without power.

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Top 2 Henderson Louisiana Police Officers Arrested After Investigation Into Illegal Traffic Ticket Quota Scheme Paid For With State Grant Money

August 31, 2012

HENDERSON, LOUISIANA — The Louisiana Inspector General’s Office has arrested the top two officers of the Henderson Police Department following a yearlong investigation into an illegal traffic citation quota system paid for through state grant dollars.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/NTDVjO ) Henderson Police Chief Leroy Guidry and Deputy Chief Oliver Mack Lloyd were arrested Friday on nine counts of filing or maintaining false public records, nine counts of public payroll fraud, and one count each of malfeasance and criminal conspiracy.

According to the arrest affidavits, the investigation began in August 2011 after the Office of Inspector General received a complaint alleging officers were receiving illegal payments from the city for traffic citations issued on Interstate 10.

The complainant stated that officers who participated in the traffic enforcement program were being paid $15 for each citation written, and were expected to write two tickets per hour, amounting to a quota system. The payments were made through a state grant from the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission between the years of 2009 and 2011.

The affidavit says more than $16,000 in fraudulent payments went to officers involved in the program from the $189,000 state grant received by the city.

The town of Henderson received about $2.4 million dollars in fines and forfeitures, primarily from citations issued by officers, which accounts for more than 80 percent of the town’s overall revenue, the affidavit says.

State law prohibits a state agency, political subdivision or law enforcement agency to offer a financial reward or other benefit to a law enforcement officer based on the number of citations the officer issues.

The increased revenue from the citations also allowed town officials to authorize 100 percent payment of health insurance coverage for the police chief, the mayor and their spouses, the affidavit says.

Records indicate the town paid more than $15,000 in health insurance coverage for Guidry and his spouse from August 2010 and February 2012, the affidavit says, adding that this benefit is not offered to other town employees’ spouses.

In a February interview with Guidry, investigators asked him if the officers’ time sheets reflected hours they worked on the program.

Inspector General Stephen Street Street declined to say whether additional charges could be filed against other people as a result of the ongoing investigation.

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