New Orleans criminal court reopens nine months after Katrina

[JURIST] The Orleans Parish Criminal District Court [official website] building in New Orleans officially reopens Thursday morning, and the first criminal trials since Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive] struck at the end of August are scheduled to start on Monday. According to Chief Judge Calvin Johnson, the court will be able to hear 12 or fewer cases a day in the seven courtrooms of the twelve courtrooms that are currently serviceable. The court already has a backlog of about 5,000 cases and will not be caught up and running normally for about a year. The New Orleans Times-Picayune has more.

Hurricane Katrina has had a devastating impact on New Orleans' criminal justice system [PBS report], forcing Johnson to order the release [Times-Picayune report] of all inmates held on nonviolent misdemeanor and traffic violations to make room for those charged with more serious offenses. In February, Judge Arthur Hunter suspended prosecutions [JURIST report] in most cases involving public defenders because the office could not provide adequate representation, staff numbers having dropped from 48 attorneys and investigators to only seven. AP has more. The Times-Picayune has photos.

 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.