Chief Juvenile Court Judge David Bell, instead of locking up the state officials taking their sweet time to send money down here to hire the public defenders we need, jails one of the few people (a volunteer, no less) trying to keep the system going.
The state's ethics board forces a lowly St. Helena Parish employee to end her "contractual relationship" with Wal-Mart due to the conflict of interest. This single mother's problematic conflict of interest: she worked a part-time job at Wal-Mart. This was of course in light of the countless conflicts of interest the powerful throughout the state have:
- "If Cutrer had possessed the political connections to get involved in a conflict of interest in the first place, it is unlikely that she would ever have been punished by the board. Insiders can always get the Legislature to grant them an exemption to the ethics laws. It has happened more than 100 times."
And in keeping with the theme of this week's march, my favorite example of the stupidity of our leaders: Nagin and Riley want the cops to do checkpoints and they want us to -- well, to do everyfuckingthing else it seems, including stand in as substitutes for evidence. Seriously, if it's too hard for them to make sure evidence is being collected, they need to have easier jobs
- A reporter who once covered criminal court for this newspaper told me she had sat through 11 murder trials in New Orleans before she observed the first one where prosecutors produced actual evidence. The first 11 cases, she explained, were based solely on eyewitness accounts.
- a judge in Criminal District Court told me that in all his years on the bench, he'd only presided over one case where the investigating police officers had dusted the crime scene for fingerprints and presented such evidence in court
- A colleague who served on a jury in a New Orleans murder trial remembers prosecutors trying to dampen potential jurors' expectations...If they required such evidence to convict the defendant, they needed to say so up front and they would be dismissed in favor of those who would demand less of the state.
I hope we don't forget the importance of holding our leaders accountable, a sentiment angrily expressed at the crime march last week. That means more than calling them out. It means kicking them out too, when necessary.
I am also, however, pissed at my neighbors who knew this shit was going on all along and never stepped up to the plate to call it to attention. That's the biggest problem with New Orleans. Barely anyone does shit about anything except bitch about it, and then has the nerve to point the finger at everyone else when the problem comes back around and bites them on the ass.
I'm afraid that the personal responsibility part of the message in Thursday's rally, as much as we like to invoke that phrase when discussing what OTHERS should do about social problems, probably wasn't even grasped by most citizens. It doesn't take much to do one's part. Can you imagine what a difference it would make if just 1/10 of us just called our elected officials each day to tell them to get off their asses? I imagine alot more folks would have their Road Home money.