courts

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.

A court-appointed investigator says a fisherman should return more than $50,000 in BP oil spill claim money.

Louis Freeh, the former FBI director appointed to investigate claims arising from the 2010 disaster, filed a federal court motion Tuesday to force the return of the money.

Anadarko Petroleum Corp.

A federal appeals court says BP PLC and a minority partner in the blown-out Macondo well cannot avoid Clean Water Act fines for the 2010 oil spill by blaming another company's failed equipment.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday in an appeal by BP and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. from a 2012 ruling by federal Judge Carl Barbier.

A three-judge panel says the oil came from their well, so they are liable. It said it cannot just blame Transocean's failed blowout preventer.

Anne Power / Shutterstock.com

Governor Bobby Jindal has not yet signed legislation he supports that blocks a lawsuit filed against the oil and gas industry.

He’s waiting for a review by the state Attorney General, who wanted some time to review the bill.

At issue is whether it could affect lawsuits filed over the BP oil spill four years ago.

The bill blocks a lawsuit filed by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East. The board wanted to force the industry to repair wetlands damaged by production.

Derek Bridges

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has been granted a delay in sentencing on federal corruption charges.

U.S. District Judge Helen Berrigan on Thursday set Nagin's sentencing hearing for July 2.

The hearing had been set for June 11.

Nagin's lawyer said he needed more time to respond to a lengthy pre-sentence investigation report filed earlier this month.

Prosecutors had opposed a delay, saying there has been plenty of time to prepare for the hearing.

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