Archive for the ‘State Supreme Court’ Category

LA Atty Gen: Bel Edwards’ Mask Mandate Unconstitutional

07/15/2020

In summary, the three provisions of the executive order – the mask mandate, the 50-person indoor/outdoor gathering limit, and the bar closure – are likely unconstitutional and unenforceable. Although the mask mandate and the 50-person limit may be good recommendations for personal safety, they may not be enforced with financial or criminal penalties. Both businesses acting under color of law as mask police and actual police acting as mask police could face liability if individual civil rights are violated due to the Proclamation.

Jeff Landry
Attorney General

See here the complete opinion.

US Fifth Circuit on Protests & Worship

06/19/2020

Yesterday, the U. S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit ruled that a lawsuit by Rev. Tony Spell against Louisiana Governor Bel Edwards was no longer relevant, because Edwards’ order prohibiting in-person worship services had expired.

Spell, Pastor of Life Tabernacle Church in Central, LA, refused to abide by the order from the very start of the Covid-19 hysteria, and held in person worship services from then to this day.

Spell has been arrested, briefly jailed, and issued numerous summons. He sued in federal court in early May.

What is noteworthy in the unanimous ruling by the 3-judge panel is the concurring opinion written by James Ho.

He addresses the issue of how protests and worship services have been treated differently by authorities.

At the outset of the pandemic, public officials declared that the only way to prevent the spread of the virus was for everyone to stay home and away from each other. They ordered citizens to cease all public activities to the maximum possible extent—even the right to assemble to worship or to protest.

But circumstances have changed. In recent weeks, officials have not only tolerated protests—they have encouraged them as necessary and important expressions of outrage over abuses of government power.

It is common knowledge, and easily proved, that protestors do not comply with social distancing requirements. But instead of enforcing the Governor’s orders, officials are encouraging the protests — out of an admirable, if belated, respect for First Amendment rights. The Governor himself commended citizens for “appropriately expressing their concerns and exercising their First Amendment Rights.” If protests are exempt from social distancing requirements, then worship must be too.

None of this is to say that Pastor Spell and his parishioners should ignore the advice of health experts. But the same is true for the protestors. No doubt many other Louisianans would have protested too, but for the advice of health experts. The point here is that state and local officials gave them the choice. Those officials took no action when protestors chose to ignore health experts and violate social distancing rules. And that forbearance has consequences.

The First Amendment does not allow our leaders to decide which rights to honor and which to ignore. In these troubled times, nothing should unify the American people more than the principle that freedom for me, but not for thee, has no place under our Constitution.

See here the complete ruling.

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Supreme Court Race Gets Active

06/07/2020

A candidate for the Louisiana Supreme Court, Fourth District has begun extensive television advertising for the November 3 election.

Shannon Gremillion, a judge on the Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, based in Lake Charles, has also raised over $300 thousand to fund his campaign.

See here his campaign finance report.

The contributions, many from law firms, are mostly from the Alexandria and Lake Charles areas.

The Supreme Court’s Fourth District consists of the following parishes: Bienville, Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, Claiborne, East Carroll, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, Lincoln, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Rapides, Richland, Tensas, Union, West Carroll and Winn.

Jay McCallum, a judge on Shreveport-based Court of Appeals, Second Circuit is the other announced candidate for the supreme court seat.

McCallum, prior to his election in 2018 to the circuit court, was a judge on the Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court. Prior to that, he was a state representative.

McCallum has raised little money for his campaign, according to his campaign finance report. He shows as of 5/26/20 having raised about $3.6 thousand.

McCallum is listed on Ballotpedia as independent, while Gremillion’s Ballotpedia page shows that he switched parties from Democrat to Republican earlier this year.

More “Essential Activity” in NOLA, Baton Rouge

06/04/2020

LSU president meets with protesters gathered on campus, offers support

Chick-fil-A on Siegen Lane closes as protesters gather nearby

Protesters make it onto highway in New Orleans for the second straight night

Blocking Interstate 10 Traffic in NOLA Deemed “Essential”

06/03/2020

New Orleans protesters take over I-10, stopping traffic for two hours

New Orleans, La. (WGNO) –

On Tuesday (June 2), a group of hundreds marched from Duncan Plaza to the Tulane Avenue on- ramp to I-10, and proceeded to walk on the interstate as far as the Esplanade Avenue exit to the east.

At about 8:30 pm, the NOPD tweeted that drivers should avoid the area, but allowed the protesters to march. Some stayed on one side of the interstate, while others crossed over the concrete median, blocking traffic in both directions.

At about 9 pm, the protesters were met by a line of law enforcement, including state troopers in regular uniforms, and NOPD officers, some carrying shields and some in tactical gear.

The protesters shouted slogans at the officers for about an hour, before walking down the interstate off-ramps. There were no reports of any violence or destruction of property, and NOPD Superintendent Sheaun Ferguson wants to keep it that way.

Does This Mean It’s Now OK to Attend Church, Eat in Restaurants, Etc?

06/02/2020

Louisiana U.S. Attorneys Working with Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement Partners to Ensure Peaceful Protests

SHREVEPORT/LAFAYETTE/ALEXANDRIA/LAKE CHARLES/MONROE, La.

United States Attorneys David C. Joseph, Western District of Louisiana, Brandon J. Fremin, Middle District of Louisiana, and Peter G. Strasser, Eastern District of Louisiana, jointly announced today that the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Louisiana are joining federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in their efforts to preserve Louisiana citizens’ rights to free speech and assembly while protecting our communities from violence and destruction.

“The demonstrations in Louisiana have been peaceful and I applaud Louisianians for exercising their First Amendment rights in a non-violent manner,” said U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph.

“Our Constitutional right to peacefully protest is a time-honored bedrock principle upon which our great nation was founded, and it should be protected,” said U.S. Attorney Fremin.

“Our office remains dedicated to protecting our citizens and upholding their Constitutional rights,” said U.S. Attorney Strasser. “The First Amendment gives every citizen the right to assemble and protest peacefully. Through the collaborative efforts of our local, state, federal and community partners, we will continue both to ensure our citizen’s lawful right of self-expression and work with our first responders to maintain civility.”

Judge’s Pay Nipped by Economic Lockdown

05/21/2020

Gov Bel Edwards economic lockdown of Louisiana has resulted in a pay cut, if ever so slight, for Louisiana’s judges.

The Ouachita Citizen’s Zach Parker wrote yesterday that a month ago judges were sent a letter from Supreme Court Justice James Genovese saying that their $900 monthly supplemental pay would be cut to $400/month.

That supplemental pay is funded through filing fees collected by clerks of court.

The base pay of judges is about $152 thousand/year, so the $500/month cut is only about 4%.

Last month we reported on the state’s indigent defenders having to furlough attorneys because of funding shortfalls.

See here Parker’s news story (subscription required).

Louisiana Judge’s Finances Disclosed

05/18/2020

Last week the Louisiana Supreme Court made public for the first time the financial disclosure documents of all of Louisiana’s judges. The reports are for the 2018 calendar year.

Here are the judges that Lincoln Parish voters have had a say in electing.

2nd Circuit Court of Appeal – Jay B. McCallum
2nd Circuit Court of Appeal – Jeffrey S. Cox

Third Judicial District Court – Bruce E. Hampton
Third Judicial District Court – Jeffrey L. Robinson
Third Judicial District Court – Thomas W. Rogers

Ruston City Court – Danny W. Tatum

See here the complete list of all Louisiana judges.

More Judicial Layoffs

04/21/2020

New Orleans public defenders announce furloughs as officials project $800,000 shortfall

By Matt Sledge – NOLA.com

The Orleans Public Defenders on Monday said they will furlough staffers because the coronavirus shutdowns have drained their revenues, an early sign of how the pandemic could disrupt Louisiana’s criminal justice budgets.

The public defense agency, which relies heavily on revenue sources like traffic camera tickets and costs that defendants pay upon conviction, projects an $800,000 shortfall in the coming months.

In response, the agency plans hour and pay cuts that range from 10 to 30%, with more senior, higher-paid employees taking a bigger hit. Entry-level employees will be furloughed one out of 10 working days.

Chief District Defender Derwyn Bunton said the furloughs could last until at least the end of the fiscal year on June 30, when the Louisiana Legislature is set to unveil a new state budget. The agency will re-evaluate after it has a clearer sense of next year’s state funding.

When do the Politicians Take a Pay Cut?

04/15/2020

Over the last six weeks, millions of Americans have lost their jobs, and hundreds of thousands of those have been our fellow Louisiana citizens.

As we had predicted, local governments have begun to trim their payrolls, because their tax revenues have been vaporized by shutdowns. School districts, police juries, and cities have furloughed employees.

Have any local politicians volunteered to cut his/her pay? Very few, if any.

In any of the last month’s public meetings we’ve been to, or watched online, never has that subject come up.

City councils? Police jurors? School board members? Judges? District attorneys? Senators? Representatives? Sheriffs?

So when will our “public servants” show they are really willing to share the pain that the people who pay their salaries are now enduring?