courts

Louisiana Supreme Court
2:24 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

La. justice's lawyers seek $380K in fees, expenses

Lawyers for Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Bernette Johnson are seeking more than $380,000 in attorneys' fees and expenses for work on her lawsuit over her bid to become the court's first black chief justice.

In a court filing Wednesday, Johnson's attorneys argue the amount they are seeking from the state of Louisiana is reasonable. U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan didn't immediately rule on the request.

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Aaron Broussard Trial
10:51 am
Thu September 20, 2012

Ex-Jefferson Parish attorney faces reduced charge

Federal prosecutors have filed a reduced charge against former Jefferson Parish attorney Thomas Wilkinson in a corruption case that also has resulted in charges against former parish president Aaron Broussard.

Wilkinson faced more serious charges, including conspiracy to commit bribery, before a court filing Wednesday replaced them with a new charge of conspiracy to commit misprision of a felony.

The new charge is contained in a bill of information, which typically signals a plea deal has been reached. Wilkinson's attorney didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

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Vermilion Parish
10:50 am
Thu September 20, 2012

Vermilion Parish sheriff sued over detention of immigrants

To see if detained immigrants are being locked up unlawfully for long periods of time, a civil rights group is seeking to get the Vermilion Parish sheriff to turn over documents on immigrants who've been jailed since 2009.

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Mike Couvillon Wednesday. The group says the sheriff has refused to hand over the documents, citing privacy concerns.

The group charges sheriff's offices may be holding immigrants longer than federal law permits.

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Latest News
10:46 am
Thu September 20, 2012

Nov. sanity hearing; man accused of beheading son

A man accused of beheading and dismembering his disabled 7-year-old son will have a sanity hearing in November rather than Friday.

Defense attorney Kerry Cuccia says 31-year-old Jeremiah Wright's hearing is now scheduled Nov. 26 and 27.

Mental health experts will testify about whether he has the mental capacity to proceed with his trial. That could include whether he can understand the charge against him and help with his defense.

Aaron Broussard Trial
10:43 am
Thu September 20, 2012

Sentencing delay sought for Broussard's ex-wife

With Aaron Broussard's corruption trial postponed to Nov. 5, federal prosecutors have moved to delay the sentencing of the former Jefferson Parish president's ex-wife and co-defendant, Karen Parker. They are seeking an unspecified date in January.

Parker is listed as a prosecution witness against Broussard and co-defendant Tom Wilkinson. Having cooperating witnesses testify against a co-defendant before the witness' own sentencing is a standard practice with plea agreements such as Parker's, to help ensure they live up to the terms of their agreements.

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Health Care
1:09 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Health groups sue Donelon over Isaac action

Two health care groups have filed a lawsuit against Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, over an insurance coverage change he made after Hurricane Isaac.

The lawsuit by the Louisiana State Medical Society and the Louisiana Hospital Association was filed in Baton Rouge district court late Monday, challenging an emergency rule Donelon issued on Sept. 4.

The emergency rule affected health insurance policies in 23 parishes.

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Hurricane Katrina
12:29 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Engineer: Excavation caused Katrina collapse

An engineering expert has testified he believes excavation work performed by an Army Corps of Engineers contractor caused New Orleans' floodwalls to breach in two places during Hurricane Katrina.

Robert Bea, a retired University of California engineering professor, explained his position Monday during a trial of homeowners' claims against the corps and contractor Washington Group International Inc.

Bea is an expert witness for the plaintiffs.

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Business
2:34 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

Judge asked to toss claims spill hurt BP brand

BP PLC has asked a federal judge to dismiss claims by its fuel dealers that the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico diminished the value of the BP brand and cost them business.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier didn't immediately rule Friday after hearing arguments on the company's request.

BP attorney Christopher Landau says claims that BP dealers lost money due to "consumer animosity" after the spill aren't covered by either the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 or general maritime law.

A lawyer for BP dealers argues other federal and state laws apply to their claims.

Crime
1:43 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

Jury convicts man of firing shots at National Guard helicopter

A federal jury has convicted a 61-year-old man accused of shooting at a Louisiana Army National Guard helicopter pilot who was providing aerial surveillance as part of a marijuana eradication detail in Winn Parish.

U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley says James L. Kelly, of Sikes, was found guilty Wednesday of endangering the safety of a pilot, committing an act of violence against a pilot and using a deadly and dangerous weapon to forcibly assault, resist, oppose, impede, intimidate and interfere with a pilot.

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Fraud
3:48 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Metairie man gets prison for $3.4M real-estate scam

A Metairie man has been sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for defrauding hundreds of investors in a Texas real-estate deal out of millions of dollars.

U.S. District Judge Lance Africk also on Thursday ordered Michael B. Smuck to pay more than $789,000 in restitution that he still owes investors. Prosecutors say Smuck already has paid nearly $3 million to one group of investors he bilked.

Smuck, who pleaded guilty in May 2010 to one count of mail fraud, solicited investments in acquiring a Houston apartment complex called Briar Meadows.

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