Content tagged “Judge”

Legislature won't appeal 'fund sweep' ruling

The Louisiana Legislature will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget. As The Associated Press reports, a Baton Rouge judge ruled in November that the maneuver by lawmakers and Gov. Bobby Jindal was unconstitutional. At the time of the ruling, the Jindal administration said the state would appeal and expected the decision to be overturned. But legislative leaders chose not to take the issue to the Louisiana Supreme Court. "I talked to several of my legislative leaders, and we just came to the conclusion that the judge had ruled and we didn't want to waste any more taxpayer dollars on an appeal," says House Speaker Chuck Kleckley. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols' office issued a statement saying the Jindal administration is abiding by the decision of lawmakers. To cope with repeated budget shortfalls in recent years, Jindal and lawmakers have...

February deadline looming for report on La. judges

More than two years ago, lawmakers asked the Louisiana Supreme Court to determine if the state has too many district and city court judges. It's unclear if the Supreme Court will meet the February deadline that was set with detailed suggestions on where to cut—or will instead ask for further study. Judge Robert Morrison, the district judge who is the Supreme Court's chief adviser on such issues, says that the state doesn't have enough data to make sound recommendations. Morrison's comments were made today to a committee overseeing the judgeship study, The Associated Press reports. The Bureau of Governmental Research, a government watchdog organization, says if the court recommends further study, it will delay the elimination of unneeded judgeships for years. The state can't cut a judge's term short, and the next judicial election is in November.

New attack ad targets Landrieu on judge votes

A conservative group is criticizing Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu in a new television ad for supporting the president's judicial picks. The Associated Press reports The Judicial Crisis Network will begin running a 30-second commercial today, which will air statewide for two weeks. The spot slams Landrieu for backing President Barack Obama's judicial nominees and for supporting a Senate rule change curbing the use of the stalling tactic called the filibuster, a move that will help Obama fill vacant judgeships. The organization ran a similar ad against U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat from Arkansas. It's the latest of several attack ads launched by conservative groups against Landrieu, who is seeking a fourth term in next year's election. She faces two Republican challengers: U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge and retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness of Madisonville.

Jindal: DOJ giving up on school vouchers, but trying to bog down program in red tape

Gov. Bobby Jindal says Louisiana has won its fight against a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice attempting to block the state's school voucher program, but claims the department is now trying to “red tape and regulate the program to death.” In a statement issued late Monday, Jindal announced that U.S. District Court Judge Ivan Lemelle “stated the Department of Justice has abandoned its previous request that the Court permanently stop the scholarship program.” “We are pleased that the Obama administration has given up its attempt to end the Louisiana Scholarship Program with this absurd lawsuit. It is great the Department of Justice has realized, at least for the time being, it has no authority to end equal opportunity of education for Louisiana children,” reads Jindal's statement. “However, we will continue to fight, at every...

BP accuses Louisiana leaders of 'political grandstanding' and 'false accusations'

BP and Louisiana's political leaders have become embroiled in an acrimonious war of words over the oil giant's cleanup record as legal wrangling over the 2010 Gulf oil spill continues. As British newspaper The Guardian reports today, a senior BP executive has accused Louisiana's leaders of "political grandstanding" and making "patently false assertions" about the environmental record of the company. The move comes after BP failed again to convince a federal judge it could limit compensation payments on the grounds of fraud, and remains mired in a criminal case with the U.S. Department of Justice. Geoff Morrell, BP's vice-president of U.S. communications—specifically responding to comments made earlier by Gov. Bobby Jindal and his top coastal official, Garret Graves—at a meeting of the Gulf Coast restoration council, said: "Their political grandstanding contains patently false assertions, defies the demonstrated record of environmental recovery that has occurred...

BP cites new fraud allegations in spill settlement

BP says it has uncovered new allegations of fraud and conflicts of interest inside the settlement program that has awarded billions of dollars to Gulf Coast businesses and residents for damage from the company's 2010 oil spill. BP attorneys outlined the allegations Monday in a court filing, which asks a federal judge to temporarily suspend settlement payments while former FBI Director Louis Freeh leads an independent investigation of the court-supervised settlement program. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier rejected the same request last month, but BP said it only recently learned of new evidence of "more widespread and potentially systemic improprieties" in the program. Specifically, BP says at least two lawyers who have ruled on appeals of disputed settlement awards were partners at law firms that have represented claimants and filed claims of their own for the firms to be compensated. The settlement program, administered by Lafayette-based attorney Patrick Juneau, suspended that...

Judge defends Panama excursion at taxpayer expense

A Baton Rouge state judge who attended a weeklong continuing legal education event in the Republic of Panama at taxpayer expense is defending her actions, saying the experience was intellectually stimulating and invaluable. Daily Report last week reported that state District Judge Trudy White's excursion cost at least $2,300, including a stay at an oceanfront hotel and airfare. That price does not include the registration fee for the seminar, which ranged from $750 to $1,000, depending on the time of registration. "The seminars at the CLE of Louisiana are on the cutting edge of substantive discussion of issues that I face as a judge of the 19th Judicial District Court," White writes in a statement to Daily Report. "While my primary assignment is criminal, I do have a civil docket. The panelists are very accomplished in their fields. The sessions are the most...

The Panama junket

A hotel nestled alongside the stunning Pacific Ocean just 20 minutes from Panama City, Panama. A Panama Canal cruise tour and nighttime tour of Old Panama. A golf tournament. A cocktail party on the MiraFlores Lock, a Black and White Gala and Karaoke Night.

Judge's junket to Panama costs taxpayers thousands

Taxpayers are footing the $2,300-plus bill for a Baton Rouge judge to spend a week in Panama City, Panama, last month to attend a continuing legal education seminar with a schedule that included a Panama Canal cruise, golf tournament and karaoke night. Public records obtained by Business Report indicate state District Judge Trudy White spent a week in Panama City during the period the seminar was scheduled. Receipts show the Judicial Expense Fund paid $1,509.74 for her to stay at The Westin Playa Bonita in Panama, nestled on a mile-long stretch of beach along the Pacific Ocean and surrounded by tropical rainforests. Her king-sized accommodations for two included a "heavenly bed and bath" and a rainforest view. Airfare on United Airlines ran another $705.40, and seven days of economy parking at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, another $56. Transportation to and from the airport in Panama to the hotel was $42. In an email to Daily Report before the records were...