courts

Derek Bridges / Flickr

Former New Orleans City Councilwoman Renee Gill Pratt has lost a bid for a new trial.

The New Orleans Advocate is reporting that federal judge Ivan Lemelle ruled Wednesday that jurors were not "tainted in any way" by a former federal prosecutor who posted online inflammatory comments about the proceedings.

She was convicted in 2011 of racketeering.

Gill Pratt's attorney says he will appeal the decision.

The ruling paves the way for Gill Pratt to begin serving a federal prison sentence she has managed to put off for several years.

Orleans Parish recently created a permanent family court judge position. Legal aid attorney Bernadette D’Souza is the first to hold the post.

On this week’s Notes from New Orleans, Sharon Litwin talks to Judge D’Souza about how she got from a convent in India to a courtroom in Louisiana.

To read more about Bernadette D'Souza, visit NolaVie.com.

Updated at 11:20 a.m. ET

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison for bribery, money laundering and other crimes.

He was convicted Feb. 12 of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. The indictment included 21 counts.

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is set to be sentenced Wednesday morning for corruption. the man who gained national attention after Hurricane Katrina nine years ago is now looking at a possible 20-year sentence. Prosecutors want the maximum allowed under federal guidelines.

Some red states like Louisiana and Texas have emerged as leaders in a new movement: to divert offenders from prisons and into drug treatment, work release and other incarceration alternatives.

By most counts, Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the country. In recent years, sentencing reformers in the capital, Baton Rouge, have loosened some mandatory minimum sentences and have made parole slightly easier for offenders to get.

But as reformers in Louisiana push for change, they're also running into stiffening resistance — especially from local prosecutors.

BP is stepping up efforts repayment of claims it finds unjustified.

The company is battling the system established to cover damage caused by BP’s oil spill four years ago in the Gulf of Mexico.

Derek Bridges / Flickr

Former New Orleans City Councilwoman Renee Gill Pratt has gotten a reprieve — at least for now — on reporting to prison for a racketeering conviction.

A federal judge has agreed to look into whether jurors in her 2011 trial were affected by a prosecutor's anonymous online remarks.

Pratt was convicted in a plot to steal more than $1 million from taxpayer-funded charities.

She is among the federal defendants claiming their cases were tainted by the online comments of former Assistant U.S. Attorney Sal Perricone.

A federal judge is set to hear arguments on whether Louisiana must recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states.

This morning's hearing before U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman deals with lawsuits filed earlier this year by gay married couples. Those couples say Louisiana violates their rights to equal protection and due process by refusing to give them the rights of opposite-sex married couples.

The state and opponents of gay marriage want Feldman to reject the suits. They argue that each state has the right to define marriage in its own way.

Franklin Reyes / AP

There’s been another delay in the sentencing of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. The federal court is now scheduled to decide the case  July 9.

Former Mayor Nagin could be facing at least 20 years for the 20 guilty verdicts he received on corruption charges.

They include bribery, fraud and money laundering that occurred during his two terms in office. It’s the second delay in the sentencing.

U.S. General Services Administration

A federal judge in New Orleans is ordering a new trial for a former BP engineer convicted of deleting text messages related to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

It stems from comments the jury forewoman overheard in a courthouse elevator.

BP engineer Kurt Mix was convicted in December of deleting messages he exchanged with his supervisor. Prosecutors allege he was trying to obstruct a grand jury investigation. Defense attorneys interviewed jurors after the verdict.

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