Backlogs in New Orleans' Criminal Courts
The White House wants voters to believe that the president has played a significant role over the past year to help New Orleans rebuild. Despite all the president's speeches, disapproval of his response to Katrina remains high. As it should.
A year after Katrina, "only half of the New Orleans courthouse's 12 courtrooms have come back into service since judges returned to the flood-damaged building in June." Jail inmates are waiting for trials; many are waiting to meet their public defenders. And they've been waiting for a year. Judge Arthur Hunter is right to think that they shouldn't be kept waiting any longer.
Hunter says that especially given a shortage of public defenders, many indigent prisoners locked up even before the hurricane haven't talked to lawyers or been charged with crimes; he believes their rights have been being violated for too long and that therefore their releases warrant consideration on a case-by-case basis.
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