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There was a program on ABC-TV last week that recognized the achievements of Black Americans. For the most part, it was a tribute to musicians like James Brown, Michael Jackson, et al.

President and First Lady Obama were in attendance at the event at the Lincoln Center in Washington and the show was quite entertaining, especially the part of the show featuring Brown.

But then actor Tom Hanks came onstage and recounted how, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, thousands of Black men, like their white counterparts, enlisted in the armed forces to help defend their homeland. For the most part, Hanks correctly pointed out, the Blacks were relegated to the role of cooks, truck drivers “and even grave diggers.”

But then, President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order prohibiting discrimination against Blacks in the military and later, a group of Blacks were assigned to a special flight school for Black aviators at Tuskeegee Institute in Tuskeegee, Alabama. Thus was born the Red Tail Squadron which distinguished itself as bomber escorts. Incredible as it sounds, the Red Tails, so-named for the distinguishing red circles painted on the rudders of their P-51 Mustangs, had only seven bombers shot down of the 179 bombing escort missions flown, a number well below average.

Then Hanks, almost overcome, announced that the seven surviving members were in attendance and the crowd, as one, rose to its feet in one of the more memorable displays of raw emotion as the seven, one in a wheelchair and another on a walker, were brought onstage. http://atlantablackstar.com/2017/01/13/tuskegee-airmen-tribute-takingthestage-everyone-tears/ to America the Beautiful performed by a military choir as applause thundered and tears flowed freely.

Appropriately, Obama snapped off a salute to the airman and Retired Gen. Colin Powell strode onstage to personally salute them as a group and to embrace each one individually.

Sadly, in November, between the time of the show’s taping in September and its airing last week, the oldest of the seven, Willie Rogers, 101, died.

The point of this is a story that was related to me in West Monroe last night after I recounted the Lincoln Center tribute.

My cousin was active in the promotion of the former Selman Field Historical Association in Monroe and she told me about a World War II Selman Field navigator who managed to get his bomber pilot lost on his very first flight after training.

Literally thrown into combat immediately after flight school, he told of how he simply froze up and soon realized he had no idea of his coordinates as the pilot, frantically requested information from the navigator as they flew over North Africa. Finally, unable to rely on his navigator, the pilot put out an SOS.

There was immediate radio response and the pilot was directed to look for certain landmarks so that his location could be pinpointed. The strategy worked and the plane was eventually guided to a safe landing.

The plane was immediately surrounded by ambulance personnel and airmen who greeted the bomber crew with questions like “what battle were you in,” “how many wounded,” and other relevant question as they passed out ice cold beer to the bomber’s crew, ice being a rare delicacy in North Africa during the war.

Adding to the embarrassed navigator’s humiliation over getting his pilot lost, was the sudden realization that they were looking into the anxious faces of members of the legendary Tuskeegee Red Tails.

One of the bomber crew members replied, “Oh no, no casualties. We were just lost.”

“Give us back our beer,” came the disgusted response. As they did so, the Red Tails laughingly said they were joking and everyone managed a good chuckle at the situation that, with timely help from the Red Tails, turned out well for the rookie navigator and his fellow crewmen.

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The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department has delivered a stunning blow to the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Ville Platte Police Department in a scathing REPORT that may leave the door open to a flood of lawsuits against and criminal prosecution of the two departments for civil rights infringements through unconstitutional incarceration, intimidation and extortion.

The report’s findings also cast a cloud of legal doubt that could potentially taint an undetermined number of past criminal convictions that resulted from such practices.

In a blockbuster report dated Dec. 19, says in something of an understatement that a “thorough investigation” the Justice Department has concluded “that there is reasonable cause to believe that both the Ville Platte, Louisiana Police Department (VPPD) and the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office (EPSO) have engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional conduct” that dates back “as far as anyone (at either department) can remember.”

The 17-page report went on to say, “Both VPPD and EPSO have arrested and held people in jail—without obtaining a warrant and without probable cause to believe that the detained individuals had committed a crime—in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.  We have additional concerns that these unconstitutional holds have led to coerced confessions and improper criminal convictions. These findings reflect the results of an investigation into both agencies, which have engaged in nearly identical practices within overlapping jurisdictional boundaries.”

The arrests, called “investigative holds,” were used routinely by both VPPD and EPSO as a part of their criminal investigations during which threats of continued wrongful incarceration were employed to induce arrestees to provide information. Authorities also threatened their family members and potential witnesses, the report said.

“The arrests include individuals suspected (without sufficient evidence) of committing crimes, as well as their family members and potential witnesses,” it said.

Other violations cited by the report included claims that individuals improperly arrested were:

  • Strip-searched;
  • Placed in holding cells without beds, toilets, or showers;
  • Denied communication with family members and loved ones;
  • Commonly detained for 72 hours or more without being provided an opportunity to contest their arrest and detention;
  • Held and questioned until they either provide information or the law enforcement agency determines that they do not have information related to a crime.

The report further said there were “concerns that some people may have confessed to crimes or provided information sought by EPSO and VPPD detectives, apparently to end this secret and indefinite confinement.

It said that the practice is “routine at EPSO and VPPD” and that both agencies acknowledged that they used holds to investigate criminal activity for as long as anyone at the agency can remember. The number of holds used in recent years is “staggering.”

“Between 2012 and 2014, for example,” it said, “EPSO initiated over 200 arrests where the only documented reason for arrest was an investigative hold.  In that same period, VPPD used the practice more than 700 times.  The number of holds by EPSO and VPPD is likely even higher; both agencies use such rudimentary arrest documentation systems that the total number of arrests for investigative hold purposes is likely underreported.”

Following the onset of its investigation in April 2015, “leadership of VPPD, EPSO and the City of Ville Platte admitted that the holds are unconstitutional” and have taken steps to begin eliminating their use, the report says, adding that still more work “remains to be done.” The agencies’ policies, procedures, training, and data collection and accountability systems “must ensure that investigative holds are eliminated permanently,” it said, adding that local officials “must work to repair community trust, because many people may still be justifiably reluctant to provide information to law enforcement for fear that doing so could subject them to an unconstitutional detention.”

The report is the culmination of an investigation in which a cross-section of community residents, some of whom were subjected to the investigative holds.

“To gain additional information, we spoke with former FBI investigators and officials at the Louisiana State Office of the Inspector General who have interacted with Ville Platte and Evangeline Parish residents during their own investigations,” the report said. “Finally, we reviewed thousands of pages of documents, including City Jail booking logs, Parish Jail booking cards, and other records; probable cause affidavits; policy and procedure manuals; and more. This review highlighted that both EPSO and VPPD lack a consistent and detailed process for recording and tracking information about arrests, detentions, and interrogations.”

The Justice Department concluded that it found “reasonable cause to believe that both EPSO and VPPD engage in a pattern or practice of violating the Fourth Amendment by arresting and detaining individuals without probable cause.  Moreover, we have serious concerns that these agencies use holds to obtain coerced statements that taint the criminal convictions of the unlawfully detained individuals.

“This pattern or practice is widespread and longstanding throughout both agencies. Between January 2012 and December 2014, EPSO—an agency with four detectives that polices a jurisdiction populated by only 33,000 residents—listed “investigative hold” as the sole basis for over 200 arrests. During the same time period, VPPD arrested individuals on investigative holds more than 700 times while policing a jurisdiction of only 7,300 residents (10 percent of the city’s entire population). At least 30 of VPPD’s investigative hold arrests were of juveniles. The investigative hold practice violates the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, including arrests.  The United States is authorized to address a pattern or practice of Fourth Amendment violations under 42 U.S.C. § 14141, which grants the Department of Justice authority to bring suit for equitable and declaratory relief when a “governmental authority . . . engage[s] in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers . . . that deprives persons of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.”  42 U.S.C. § 14141. A pattern or practice exists where violations are repeated rather than isolated.”

Detectives from both agencies violated individuals’ Fourth Amendment when, “lacking probable cause, they instructed officers to ‘pick up’ an individual and ‘bring him in’ for questioning rather than making an ‘arrest,’” the report’s narrative said. “Indeed, there can be little doubt that the Fourth Amendment’s probable cause requirement applies where suspects are involuntarily taken to the police station. This practice subjects individuals to arrest and detention without cause and erodes the community trust that is critical to effective law enforcement in Evangeline Parish and Ville Platte.”

The investigative holds are made “without a warrant, without any showing that the testimony is essential and that obtaining it via subpoena is impracticable, and without any attempt to obtain prior judicial approval,” the report says.

“EPSO and VPPD officers have used unlawful investigative holds as a regular part of criminal investigations for more than two decades. Most holds operate as follows:

  • When a detective at either agency wants to question someone in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation, the detective instructs a patrol officer to find that individual in the community and bring him or her in for questioning.
  • The patrol officer commands the individual to ride in a patrol vehicle to either the City or Parish jail, where pursuant to the jail’s standard procedures, jail personnel strip-search the individual and place him or her in a holding cell (sometimes referred to as “the bullpen” at the Parish Jail) until a detective is available to conduct questioning.
  • At the City Jail, there are two holding cells; both are equipped with a hard metal bench, and nothing else. Neither holding cell at the City Jail has a mattress, running water, shower, or toilet in the cell.
  • The Parish Jail is similar; the “bullpen” is equipped with only a long metal bench, and the walls are made of metal grating. EPSO detectives and deputies refer to the process of detaining a person in the “bullpen” for questioning as “putting them on ice.”
  • Investigative holds initiated by VPPD often last for 72 hours—and sometimes significantly longer—forcing detainees to spend multiple nights sleeping on a concrete floor or metal bench. Indeed, VPPD’s booking logs indicate that, from 2012-2014, several dozen investigative holds extended for at least a full week. During this time, VPPD exerts control over the detainees’ liberty: The detained person is not permitted to make phone calls to let family or employers know where they are, and have access to bathrooms and showers only when taken into the jail’s general population area.
  • Similarly, EPSO’s investigative holds often last for three full days. During that time, detainees are forced to sleep on the Parish Jail’s concrete floor. One EPSO deputy reported that he saw someone held without a warrant or a probable cause determination for more than six days.
  • As with VPPD, EPSO also controls the detainee’s liberty. EPSO does not permit detainees who are “on hold” to make phone calls to let family or employers know their whereabouts. Indeed, we were told that certain detectives have threatened EPSO jail officers (referred to as “jailers” in the Parish Jail) with retaliation if the officers allowed detainees to make phone calls. One EPSO jail officer described an incident in which an EPSO detective reprimanded him after the jail officer provided toothpaste and other personal supplies to a person locked in the holding cell.

These investigative holds are not even ostensibly supported by probable cause. Both EPSO and VPPD detectives acknowledged that they use investigative holds where they lack sufficient evidence to make an arrest, but instead have a “hunch” or “feeling” that a person may be involved in criminal activity. One VPPD officer noted that they use investigative holds specifically where the officer needs more time to develop evidence to support a lawful arrest.  Similarly, an EPSO detective described using investigative holds when he had “a pretty good feeling” or a “gut instinct” that a certain individual was connected to a crime.

The report indicated that officers at both agencies admitted that they use the time that a person is “on hold” to develop their case, either by gathering evidence or by convincing the detainee to confess. One EPSO detective told investigators that he experimented with investigative holds by testing whether a crime wave subsides while a particular person is in jail. He explained that if the crimes continue during the hold, the presumably innocent person is released but if the crimes cease during the detention, the detective investigates the person further.

VPPD officers explained that holds assist their investigations by inducing people to talk to investigators and by allowing detectives to gather evidence while the individual they suspect is in custody and cannot communicate with people on the outside. Moreover, both agencies confirmed that they used holds to detain individuals whom they did not suspect of involvement in criminal activity, but who instead had the misfortune of being related to suspects, may have witnessed crimes, or otherwise might have knowledge of criminal activity.

In an ominous warning on the perils of investigative holds, the report said, “The willingness of officers in both agencies to arrest and detain individuals who are merely possible witnesses in criminal investigations means that literally anyone in Evangeline Parish or Ville Platte could be arrested and placed ‘on hold’ at any time.”

That, folks, would be the very definition of a true police state.

One might legitimately ask: Where were the local district attorneys and judges while this practice was being carried out over at least two decades?

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Louisiana Voice is seeking your help so that we may, in some small way, try to help you.

Like my veterinarian Michael Whitlock and others of whom I am aware, there are many other victims of the August floods who have been victimized again by FEMA and insurance companies.

Whitlock’s home, his vet clinic, two vehicles and most of his equipment were lost in the flood. Some of the equipment he managed to save was subsequently stolen by looters. Despite all this, he was stiffed by his flood insurance company which refused to pay the full policy limits despite six feet of water in his home, leaving him to fend for himself. FEMA was worse than useless; he got nothing.

Yet, because his home and clinic each were more than 50 percent losses each (yet, less than total losses by his flood insurance carrier), he has been ordered by the City of Denham Springs to elevate each structure. “The cost of elevating the clinic would cost more than the entire structure is worth,” he said.

Another Denham Springs business had $500,000 flood insurance coverage but received only about half that in settlement despite not being able to re-open for four months.

LouisianaVoice had a post a couple of years back about the 3-D strategy of insurance companies: “Delay, Deny, Defend.” The strategy works this way:

Delay paying claims as long as possible;

Deny in the hope the claimant will give up out of sheer frustration and go away;

Defend vigorously if the claimant sues. Even if the insurance company loses the individual lawsuit, it’s worth it when you consider the number of claimants who cannot afford the money and time necessary to pursue what is rightfully theirs.

If, for instance, after a catastrophe like Katrina or the August flood, a thousand homeowners file claims and each is denied by the carrier and only one of that 1,000 sues and wins and 999 simply throw up their hands and walk away, who do you think is the winner in the long term?

In the case of Katrina, for instance, the two companies who wrote the book on the 3-D tactic, who were the absolute worst companies with whom to deal, were Allstate and State Farm.

And as for FEMA, who could ever forget the debacle of Katrina? Does anyone not remember President George W. Bush telling FEMA Director Michael Brown “YOU’RE DOING A HECKUVA JOB”?

And just so you know, the FEMA response to the flood hasn’t been much better. With an whole new round of FEMA trailers (950 square feet) costing anywhere from $126,000 to $170,000, depending on where the trailer is set up, you have to wonder why FEMA doesn’t just build small but reasonably price permanent housing for victims?

This is not to suggest that everyone is entitled to free stuff, but it makes no more sense to spend that kind of money on flimsy trailers.

With this in mind, LouisianaVoice would like to have your experiences with both FEMA and insurance companies for a future story.

And while you have more important matters that demand your attention (like getting back into your home or business), if you have encountered difficulties getting either FEMA or your insurance company to respond or if you’ve been ordered to elevate your home or business at unaffordable costs to you, we’d love to hear from you.

Send us a narrative of your experience to:

louisianavoice@yahoo.com

Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation or spelling. We do all needed editing.

 

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Nearly 60 years ago, back in 1958 when the LSU Chinese Bandits, the Go Team and the White Team won their first national championship and the Baltimore Colts won the NFL championship in the league’s first sudden death overtime, the game was a little different. There were only 12 NFL teams back then and it was common for players to play both on offense and defense. All-pro quarterback Sammy Baugh also played defensive back and punted.

George Blanda was a quarterback who played an astounding 27 years and who completed 1,911 passes for 236 touchdowns before the NFL evolved into the current pass-oriented game. He also made 335 of 639 field goal attempts and 943 extra points—again before soccer-style kickers revolutionized the kicking game.

Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Lou Groza was the league’s first preeminent place kicker. A Baltimore kicker, Bert Rechicar, also played on the offensive line and for years held the NFL record for the longest field goal of 54 years until it was broken by New Orleans Saints kicker Tom Dempsey’s 63-yarder against Detroit in old Tulane Stadium.

There were no multi-million contracts for mediocre players or for the stars, for that matter. John Unitas laid floor tile in the off-season and Colts punter David Lee worked in a Ruston bank. Times were tough and the players tougher and playoff money was a motivation for players who needed the money.

The old-school players had nothing but contempt for the kicking specialist. Detroit Lion Alex Karras once described how players beat each other’s brains out until finally, on fourth down, “they send in some little guy about five-foot-six who can’t speak English (he was referring to Garo Yepremian) and he comes into the huddle in his clean uniform and says, ‘I’m going to keek a touchdown.’”

Football in those days was played on grass and some of the fields, like Yankee Stadium doubled as baseball fields. Sometimes during games, plays were run on the dirt infield. There was no artificial turf and no instant replay to slow the game down. There was no such thing as face mask penalties because… well, helmets had no face masks to protect teeth, eyes and noses. Remember that classic photo of Y.A. Tittle on his knees in Yankee Stadium with blood running down his face?

y-a-tittle

Later, players like Dion Sanders would take themselves out of the game because of something called turf toe.

All of which brings me to my point. Back then, there were only five football bowl games—the Rose, Cotton, Orange, Sugar and to a lesser extent, the Tangerine (if memory serves, the Liberty Bowl in Memphis was one of the first of the new wave of games). When teams were chosen for one of those bowls, it meant something. It actually mattered. They had stellar seasons.

Besides, there were only three networks back then and the third, ABC was generally left out as CBS and NBC grabbed the bowls.

In 1969, LSU, coached by Charles McClendon, put together an outstanding 9-1 record, losing by only three points to Archie Manning and Ole Miss. McClendon jockeyed for a trip to Dallas and the Cotton Bowl to play number-one Texas. But when Notre Dame (8-1-1) decided to end a 45-year moratorium on playing in bowls, it was the Fighting Irish who went to Dallas and LSU spent New Year’s at home, smarting from an idiotic snub.

That would never happen today. Not with the proliferation of meaningless bowl games now scattered across the horizon.

At last count there were no fewer than 40 bowl games. If a team wins six games, it is considered “bowl eligible.” And sometimes a team doesn’t even have to break even to go bowling.

As Mike Tyson would say, it’s ludicrous. Bowl games have become the equivalent of the participation trophy. Show up, stay off probation, beat up on six hapless opponents and you get to play in some half-empty stadium in a televised game called by a couple of second rate announcers who know nothing—and care less—about the teams other than what they read a few days before the game and who, when the game gets out of control, resort to meaningless blather that has nothing to do with the game.

Finally, announcers, out of sheer boredom, begin to talk of how such and such player will be “playing on Sundays next year,” or “will shine at the next level.”

A cursory check of the bowl lineup reveals that there will be 20 teams in those 40 bowls who failed to achieve a winning record. That’s half the teams playing, folks and some of ‘em are paired against each other. Even worse, only 17 of those 20 teams won the requisite six game. The other three, two with 5-7 records and one with a 6-7 record, must’ve won a conference championship game or were selected when the selection committee just flat ran out of eligible teams.

I mean, do you really want to spend three hours watching Miami of Ohio (6-6) play Mississippi State (5-7) in something called the St. Petersburg Bowl?

How about Army (6-5) vs. North Texas State (5-7) in the Heart of Dallas Bowl? Death by Boredom Bowl would be more like it.

Here’s a real thriller match-up that’s certain to leave you breathless: North Carolina State (6-6) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6) in Shreveport’s Independence Bowl.

At least, Middle Tennessee State (8-4) will take a winning record when it goes up against Hawaii (5-7) in the prestigious Hawaii Bowl.

And be sure to check all those games out for all the people in the stands disguised as empty seats. Of course, the networks make every effort to keep the cameras off the stands in those games.

Crowd cheering? More likely if you listen closely, you may actually pick up snippets of individual conversations in the stands.

I’m sorry, folks, but a team without a winning record does not deserve to be in a bowl game. Bowl games are supposed to be a reward for an outstanding season—for actually accomplishing something. Sadly, though, they’ve become TV filler (like the cream in a Twinkie) for the glut of networks or simply a vehicle for corporate sponsorship.

And don’t even get me started on all those corporate-sponsored bowl games. Some of those are difficult to say with a straight face.

There’s the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise with Idaho (8-4) pitted against Colorado State (7-5). (You want your potato fully loaded?)

And there is the Dollar General Bowl in Mobile between Ohio (8-5) and Troy (9-3). (I wonder if tickets to that heart-stopper really are just a dollar.)

The Independence Bowl was once the Poulan Weed Eater Bowl, if you can believe that. That lasted for six years until the sponsors got weary of its being called the “Weedwhacker Bowl.”

This bowl season, we will be treated to (or have been in the past) the Nokia Sugar Bowl (now the Allstate Sugar Bowl), the Belk Bowl, the Foster Farms Bowl, the Russell Athletic Bowl, the Taxslayer Bowl, the Outback Bowl, the Quick Lane Bowl, the GoDaddy.com Bowl, the Bacardi Bowl, the Meineke Car Care Bowl, the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl, the Salad Bowl (seriously), the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl (officials wore all white uniforms under Little Caesar orange and white vests—no striped zebra uniforms for these guys), the Chick-Fil-A Bowl (at least no one was required to dress like those black and white cows in Chick-Fil-A’s TV ads), and the Olive Garden Bowl.

With only 80 of the 128 Division I NCAA football teams playing in those 40 games this year (not counting, of course the three national championship playoff games involving Alabama, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Clemson), there’s bound to be an opening for at least one more corporate-sponsored bowl game.

And I’ve got just the name and sponsor:

The Kohler Toilet Bowl to be played in Flushing New York.

Image result for football toilet bowl

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It will be exactly six years tomorrow that a federal judged was ousted from office by impeachment. It so happens that it was a Louisiana judge, Thomas Porteous of New Orleans, a Bill Clinton appointee, was removed by vote of the U.S. Senate on Dec. 8, 2010, for taking bribes and making false statements under oath.

Porteous is the only federal judge among the 15 who have been removed by impeachment who was from Louisiana.

Could it now be that a second Louisiana judge, an appointee of Clinton’s successor, may face a similar fate? Well, no one has gone so far as to suggest that just yet, but the rumor mill about U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi’s reported drinking problems is at full throttle in the Lake Charles area.

One of the grounds for impeachment of federal judges, who are appointed for life, is intoxication on the bench and two have been removed for that reason, the most recent almost 150 years ago.

The first was John Pickering, an appointee of George Washington, who was impeached and removed in 1803 for mental instability and intoxication on the bench. The other was and Abraham Lincoln appointee, Mark Delahay, likewise removed in 1873 for intoxication on the bench.

It is important to explain the difference between an official’s being impeached and removed. Impeachment is simply the bringing of formal charges against an officeholder. He is then tried by the U.S. Senate and that body’s vote of guilty or not guilty determines if the accused is removed from office.

In the case of the charges against Porteous, senators voted guilty unanimously—96-0—for his failure to recuse himself in a case involving a former law partner with whom he was accused of trading favors for cash. On the charge of accepting meals, trips and car repair from a bail bondsman, the vote was 69-27 in favor of conviction. The Senate then voted 94-2 that he should be disqualified from ever again holding federal office.

LouisianaVoice has received reports that Minaldi, a federal judge for the Western District of Louisiana in Lake Charles had a criminal case over which she was the presiding judge REMOVED following a series of procedural errors, including assigning some of her duties to a prosecuting attorney.

A native of Somerset, Massachusetts, she is a 1980 graduate of Wesleyan University and a 1983 graduate of Tulane University Law School.

From 1983 to 1986, she served as an assistant district attorney of New Orleans before accepting a similar post at the 14th Judicial District in Lake Charles until 1996, when she became a state district judge in the same district.

She was nominated for a federal judgeship by President George W. Bush on January 15, 2003. She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on May 6 and assumed office three days later, succeeding Judge James Trimble when Trimble reached senior status.

As federal judge, she dismissed a case in 2009 against a man who mailed anthrax and bomb threats following 9/11. The man had been convicted by a federal jury in 2004 on charges of threatening to use weapons of mass destructions but the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his conviction and his 30-year prison sentence in April 2009.

She was arrested on January 23, 2014, for having an open alcoholic beverage inside her vehicle and less than a month later, on February 14, she was charged with DWI. She refused a field sobriety test but ultimately pleaded guilty to DWI.

One source, an attorney, said Minaldi has been appearing on the bench intoxicated and unable to perform her duties. On at least one such occasion, the attorney said, the case was removed from her court and transferred to the federal court in Alexandria.

“I’ve heard the stories,” said another. “We all have. In our professional circle, it would impossible not to hear them. There were a lot of questions about a criminal case that was removed from her courtroom.

In fact, Judge Minaldi has been pulled off several cases this year, the latest of which occurred just yesterday.

ASSOCIATED PRESS reported that the trial of a man accused of producing kiddie porn and of crossing state lines to have sex with a minor was cut short less than an hour after court convened with no reason provided for the mistrial.

The only clue, and a sketchy one at that, was in the form of a single-page order from Chief Judge Dee Drell that he was “exercising (his) prerogative” in terminating proceedings. That trial is scheduled to resume on Jan. 3 in Alexandria.

In that case, Frankie Maldonado is the defendant. His attorney, Randal McCann, as well as the prosecuting attorney, have not commented on the sudden unexpected termination of Maldonado’s trial.

Nor has Judge Minaldi commented on the chief judge’s actions or of reports about her alleged problem with alcohol. LouisianaVoice attempted to contact her by telephone but was told she was not in her office. So far, she has not responded to our request that she return our call.

The biggest case pulled from Judge Minaldi—again, after trial proceedings were underway—was that of Iberia Parish Sheriff LOUIS ACKEL, accused of beating prisoners in his jail. His trial was moved to Shreveport and he was subsequently acquitted.

A third attorney contacted by LouisianaVoice was more circumspect than the others. “Let me say this,” the attorney said. “I personally like Judge Minaldi and when she’s okay, she’s a good judge. She’s very personable and a likable person. I knew she had a problem at one time but did not know she’d started drinking again. That’s very unfortunate.”

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