Hope I. Pass Fails Louisiana Bar Exam Wednesday, Mar 29 2006 

In order to have the Louisiana bar examination graded anonymously, applicants have long been required to sign their examinations with fictitious names, with only the administrator knowing the real names. Names can derive from history (Napoleon Bonaparte), pop culture (Ally McBeal) or inspiration (Ike N. Dewitt).  Some names are novel, while others are used ad nauseum.  (Bar examiners got so sick of grading papers by "Atticus Finch," that the name has been permanently barred from future use.)

To spare any public embarrassment, the Louisiana Bar Association posts only the fictitious names of those who condition or fail the bar exam. Here are some of our favorite names from the February 2006 bar:

crossed fingers.jpeg    Hope I. Pass , YR-777, Failed

    Pray Today , BS-211, Failed

    Maybe Nexttime , TS-216, Failed

Also, congrats to LSU Law School, which had the highest passage rate of all Louisiana schools, with 69.7%.

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Exclusive: Sheriff Honeymooned Near Houma During Post-Katrina Chaos Saturday, Mar 25 2006 

gusman hotel.jpg

The Weathers Report Exclusive:

During the height of the chaos in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman apparently evacuated the city and checked into the honeymoon suite of the Best Western Houma in Gray, Louisiana, The Weathers Report has learned.

After the hurricane, according to eyewitness reports in the Times-Picayune, inmates at the Orleans Parish Prison set fires, breached walls and jumped from smashed windows into more than six feet of water. At least 14 prisoners evidently escaped, including a murder suspect who was subsequently captured and booked on new murder charges. According to the ACLU’s website, deputies deserted the prison en masse, leaving behind prisoners in locked cells. Prisoners then reportedly broke windows and either leapt out or set fire to pieces of clothing and held them outside the windows to signal to rescuers. They apparently spent days without power, food or water, some standing in sewage-tainted water up to their chests or necks.

On Gusman’s campaign website – he faces re-election next month – attorney general and former criminal sheriff Charles Foti gushes on Gusman: “He stayed his post, in command, with no regard for his safety, and displayed great strength and calm during a crisis.” Yet a hotel statement obtained by The Weathers Report shows Gusman, or at least someone using his identity, checked into the hotel on September 2, only four days after the storm, and remained a hotel guest with three others for four nights.

Gusman’s sole opponent in his re-election bid, lawyer Gerald DeSalvo, is making the problems at the jail during the aftermath of the hurricane a key issue in the upcoming election. The election is April 22.

Ethics Bill Would Force Recusals on Assessor Vote Sunday, Mar 19 2006 

Cap1.jpg Several bills to consolidate Orleans Parish’s embattled seven-member assessor board into one elected assessor are set to be considered in the Louisiana Legislature’s upcoming regular session, which begins on March 27. Although similar bills were introduced in the Legislature’s recent special session, a House committee that includes two board members’ immediate family members, Rep. Jeff Arnold (R-Algiers) and Rep. Alex Heaton (D-New Orleans), killed the bills before they could reach the full House.

In response, Rep. John LaBruzzo (R-Metairie) has pre-filed House Bill 990, which would amend the state ethics rules to force any legislator who is an immediate family member of an assessor to recuse himself on any assessor-related vote. Unlike the consolidation bills, which have been assigned to the same Ways and Means Committee that rejected the consolidation effort last session, LaBruzzo’s ethics bill will go before the House and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Although Rep. Arnold sits on both committees, Rep. Heaton does not. Opponents of reform will be relieved to know, however, that Rep. Jalila Jefferson-Bullock (D-New Orleans), does sit on House and Governmental Affairs, and she happens to be the niece of board member Betty Jefferson. (Editor’s Note: Not everyone in Louisiana is related to one another – just its politicians.)

It is unclear whether Arnold and Jefferson-Bullock will be forced to recuse themselves on the vote that would require them to recuse themselves on the assessor votes. Yet, recusal will probably not be required, as the House rule on ethics merely states that a legislator may recuse himself from any committee proceeding related to a question on which he believes he has a conflict of interest. Perhaps a bill to force recusals on bills affecting recusals is in order.

Developing . . .

Escape to Disney World Tuesday, Mar 14 2006 

Since I returned home to New Orleans after the storm, it’s been rather disconcerting to travel somewhere else. Aside from an only partially irrational fear that the city won’t be there when I get back – that actuallyDisney World 3-11-06 008.jpg started before Katrina, after Ivan – I get the impression these other cities are sneering at us back home. Their skyscapers are beautiful and filled with Fortune 500 companies, while ours don’t even have all the windows. Their houses don’t have blue roofs and they even get their trash picked up and magazines delivered.

Magnify that feeling by a million times at Disney World, where I am now. The lawns are amazing. They must have more landscape workers in Epcot than we do in all of Louisiana. The buses run on time, it’s super clean, and eveyone here is nice to you. The biggest concern is getting Fast Passes to the top of Splash Mountain, not with preventing your neighborhood from becoming the bottom of Splash Mountain.

Sure, this is a fantasy world, and it’s all contrived, and this isn’t real life anywhere. And of course I check nola.com to see if I missed anything back home. (I did – it looks like I was right about the assessor board incumbents filing (through obvious proxies) desperate lawsuits to scrach the IQ nicknames.)

So rather than dwell on what we don’t have in New Orleans right now, I’ll just concentrate on the fun we’re having down here for a few days. And it is lots of fun. Mickey says hello.

IQians Qualify – With Nicknames – for Assessor Board Race Sunday, Mar 5 2006 

ballot box.jpegAs promised, seven members of the newly formed “IQ Ticket” qualified last Friday to run for the each of the seats on the Orleans Parish Board of Assessors. The IQians are so named for their “I Quit” pledge, which obligates them to push for the constitutional consolidation of the seven-member board into a single elected assessor. (Unlike virtually every other political subdivision in the free world, Orleans Parish does not have one assessor but rather seven board members who purport to perform the assessment functions of the parish.) The qualifying IQians include Maria “I.Q.” Elliott (D), Jackie “I.Q.” Shreves, (I), Errol “I.Q.” George (D), Chase “I.Q.” Jones (D), Ron “I.Q.” Mazier (N), Nancy “I.Q.” Marshall (D), and Charlie “I.Q.” Bosworth (N).

In an apparent effort to circumvent the Louisiana prohibition against the listing of any political party on a ballot other than those officially “recognized political parties,” see La. R.S. §§ 18:441, 551, each of the IQians applied to have “I.Q.” designated on the ballot as their actual nickname.

In the meantime, the incumbents, desperately clinging to their fiefdoms of power in this post-Katrina era of reform, are likely to consider litigation to force the nicknames to be stricken from the ballots. In fact, they may have a strong case: Louisiana Revised Statute 18:463 expressly prohibits a candidate from designating on the ballot a “title, designation, or deceptive name” or an “occupational or professional description or abbreviation.”

There is precedent for Louisiana courts striking down “deceptive” nicknames. In None of the Above v. Hardy, 377 So.2d 385 (La.App. 1 Cir. 1979), a candidate who originally qualified for the governor’s race as Luther Devine “L.D.” Knox legally changed his name and asked to be listed on the ballot as “None-of-the-Above.” In rejecting Mr. None-of-the-Above’s request, the court recognized a state has a constitutional right to regulate how and in what circumstances candidates’ names should be placed on ballots, to protect voters from confusion or fraudulent or frivolous candidates.

And who could forget Albert “Super N***** Jones?” He no doubt believes he would be serving his second term as governor today but for the Man’s refusal to allow him to use his provocative nickname in the 1999 gubernatorial election. Unfortunately for Mr. Jones, the administrator of elections sought permission to strike the “Super N*****” nickname as “inflammatory and deceptive.”  In language that could spell trouble for the IQians, the Attorney General noted that “[t]he ballot is not a public forum for advancement of political ideas, issues or objectives; that is left for the candidate’s campaign.” In rejecting any First Amendment concerns, the opinion concludes that the voters of Louisiana can and should be protected from the “confusion and frivolity” of “the myriad appellations and items of descriptive matter that might logically follow [the insertion of titles or degrees with candidates’ names] which election fever and ingenuity would undoubtedly generate.” See id.

Do the voters of Orleans Parish need such protection here? The incumbents certainly might. Whether they seek it through litigation remains to be seen. Developing . . .