Judge Criticizes Pou Investigation

Criminal cases in New Orleans remain backlogged, yet the District Attorney’s office insists on pursuing possible charges against Dr. Anna Pou and two nurses who are suspected of engaging in mercy killings at Memorial Medical Center during the flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina. Dr. Pou denies the accusation. The evidence against her is flimsy, and the judge assigned to the case thinks it’s time to file charges or move along to other cases.

"With all due respect, I'm tired of this case," District Judge Calvin Johnson said during a hearing on whether documents in the matter should be made public. "This case needs to either go forward or end." He said he was frustrated by the length of time he has spent dealing with the case, since neither Dr. Anna Pou nor nurses Cheri Landry and Lori Budo have been indicted. ...

Johnson's frustration comes at a time when criminal cases in New Orleans remain backlogged because of a shortage of public defenders and other problems created when Katrina's floodwaters destroyed evidence and shutdown the court system.

Prosecutors say they might convene a grand jury next year. Or not.

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    We were just talking about this! (none / 0) (#1)
    by Kitt on Mon Nov 20, 2006 at 07:24:20 PM EST
    I'm at work and no kidding this just came up. A deputy sheriff brought in someone to our ER who had collasped in a supermarket, (he just happened to be there getting something to eat)and the person was one of those flown up here from New Orleans during Katrina. Might have to check out the Times-Picyune(sp)later.

    i'm curious........ (none / 0) (#2)
    by cpinva on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 08:48:06 AM EST
    as to what pressure there is, on a prosecutor, to make an actual decision? does the statute of limitations impact it (it does with me), or is that on hold? does the fact that it's a case involving alleged murder eliminate any statute issues?

    aside from either public pressure, or an irritated judge, or both, what leverage does anyone have on a district/commonwealth's attorney?

    I don't know the answer to that (none / 0) (#3)
    by Kitt on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 11:58:08 AM EST
    But there is this within the story:
    "He said he was frustrated by the length of time he has spent dealing with the case, since neither Dr. Anna Pou nor nurses Cheri Landry and Lori Budo have been indicted."

    He - being the judge as referenced in the preceding paragraph, from the story referenced. As far as I know the grand jury has not reached a conclusion. I haven't seen anything in the news or elsewhere.

    Did find an interesting sidenote to this story. (none / 0) (#4)
    by Kitt on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 12:11:13 PM EST
    This from the Times-Picayune:
    "None of the women has been indicted, and the decision on how to proceed rests with Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan. Jordan spokesman Dalton Savwoir said Monday that a grand jury will probably be convened to hear the matter in early 2007."

    The story itself centers around this:

    Privacy of doctor's calls is upheld
    Supreme Court rules in Memorial case
    Tuesday, November 21, 2006
    By Gordon Russell

    The state Supreme Court has refused to hear prosecutors' arguments that they should have access to conversations between a doctor accused of murdering four patients at Memorial Medical Center right after Hurricane Katrina and a lawyer representing the hospital's owner.

    The surprise for the prosecutor, which... (none / 0) (#5)
    by Bill Arnett on Sun Nov 26, 2006 at 02:25:52 PM EST
    ...I don't see mentioned anywhere here, in the article or comments, is the constitutional right TO A SPEEDY TRIAL.

    Records destroyed, population (read: witnesses) now scattered about the country, and unconscionable delays in filing charges in some cases, or failing to prosecute in a timely manner that causes witness memories to fade and allows evidence to be lost or forgotten, which is clearly prejudicial to a criminal defendant.

    It seems VERY likely, therefore, that savvy defense counsels will get cases dismissed on the failure to provide a speedy trial and/or will get convictions overturned on appeal on that basis.

    The greater the delay getting these people to court, the more cases there will be dismissed on those grounds.