**all parties in the case in the Western District are required to reply by Nov. 4** LeSieur
Former officer clears last criminal chargeOct. 22, 2011, 1:15 p.m. CDTAP
WINNFIELD, La. (AP) — Winn Parish prosecutors have dropped a malfeasance charge against a former Winnfield policeman in the death of a man who was shocked with a stun gun, and former officer Scott Nugent has agreed not to seek reinstatement or back pay.
Nugent's attorney, George Higgins, told The Town Talk (http://townta.lk/pQrixs) about the agreement Friday.
A jury acquitted Nugent last year of manslaughter in the death of Baron "Scooter" Pikes, who died in 2008 after being shocked eight times.
Higgins says the case is finally over.
However, there's still a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court against Nugent and city officials. They asked Judge Dee D. Drell in September to dismiss it.
Latrina D. Thomas, the mother of Pikes' young son, has until Nov. 4 to file her response.
Landrieu chastises Jindal for grant rejection
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said Wednesday she is "disappointed and concerned" that Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration refused to apply for a federal grant that could have brought $60 million in early childhood education funding to Louisiana.
Landrieu, a Democrat, said education experts across the state spent months working on a grant application to the Obama administration for the money earmarked to help low-income and disadvantaged children. She noted that one-third of children in Louisiana under the age of 5 live in poverty.
"Your decision not to even compete for these funds is one that will have a negative impact on thousands of children in our state," Landrieu wrote to Jindal, a Republican. "I hope your reasons for failing to apply for these funds are strong enough to justify these consequences."
The Jindal administration announced Tuesday that it would not seek the grant money, saying that the state's system for early childhood education is inefficient and mired in bureaucracy and that the grant wouldn't help address children's needs because it is one-time money for ongoing programs.
In response to Landrieu's letter, Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin said three state departments "completed a thorough analysis of this grant and determined that it is the exact opposite approach our state should take to help our kids."
"We need to streamline the governance structure, funding streams and quality standards in our early childhood system — and the grant would only make things worse by reducing flexibility and adding more micromanagement and regulatory obstacles," Plotkin said in a statement.
Landrieu said the decision is puzzling, and she asked Jindal to give her more details about how it was reached.
"I hope you will respond in some detail given the broad parameters and flexibility of this grant and the fact that nearly all the states have applied for the grant, making Louisiana the minority," the senator wrote.
Jones: Tough times ahead in the capitol
Outgoing District 17 Representative reflects on her tenure, offers advice for her successor
Robert K. Wright
Jones, who is a practicing attorney, said that she spent a lot of time away from her Monroe practice while in Baton Rouge during legislative sessions. Although legislators are compensated for their duties, she said that she lost money every year.
“You lose money every year. Because I wanted to stay close to the capitol, my entire per diem was used for room and board, not to mention gas and upkeep on my car,” she said.
Jones said that she was initially not prepared for the amount of time she would be away.
“It’s a full time job. I had misconceptions about the post. Even with dad (Charles Jones), I knew he had both roles as a lawyer and a legislator. But I was overwhelmed a little at the time I spent away from home,” she said.
So if being a public official costs so much, why did she do it?
“It was a wonderful opportunity to make a difference. I wouldn’t trade my experience for nothing in the world,” she said.
Jones said that the candidate who win’s Saturday’s election needs to be ready to hit the ground running. The ‘hitting the ground running’ idea’ has been a major focus of Hunter and Shelling. Hunter has lawyer experience and Shelling has many years of experience as an elected official.
But what is necessary to be successful in Baton Rouge? Jones said that being a lawyer, contrary to popular disbelief, matters in the legislature.
“Practicing lawyers understand implications of the law in real life settings. People who aren’t lawyers don’t share the same perspective. It’s not as easy as calling in a staff to get briefed on what’s going on. Your legislative staff is great, but they are not practitioners. Because I was a practicing lawyer, I felt more comfortable knowing how to read the bills that came before me,” she said.
This week, Jones sent out an official endorsement letter for Marcus Hunter to succeed her seat in the house. She is aware of the recent lawsuit filed against Hunter by Fourth Judicial District Attorney Jerry Jones. Hunter landed in court testifying that he did not live in the district he qualified for.
“I gave Marcus my word long before his residency came under question that I would support his bid for election. I am a woman of my word. Your word means a lot in this world. However, he needs to fix what needs to be fixed before he is sworn in as a House member, for any member of the House can challenge his residency,” Jones advised.
She said despite his residency dilemma, she believes he is the most qualified person to hold the seat in District 17 on the ‘sure base of ability.’
Tough times ahead
Jones said that whomever wins the election, they should be prepared to face a different House of Representatives unlike that of hers, her father, or that of former representative Willie Hunter.
“This new House will be very different from what my dad and Willie Hunter experienced. We’re entering a new phase in Louisiana politics,” she said.
Jones said that the legislature is nearing a majority republican presence (60/40) and that it is important for any democrat to be ready to fight for what they were sent there to accomplish.
“They (majority republican legislature) don’t really need one democratic vote to get done what they set out to do. New members of the House will find it tough as a democrat. That’s why its extremely important that we have someone in the seat that knows the rules, how to read a bill, amend it, or kill it if necessary. That person needs to be able to get in there and fight for District 17,” Jones advised.
Refusing to sell her soul
Jones said that she did not get to accomplish everything she set out to do. She said that there remains a lot of work in District 17.
“I could have brought back home more money and more opportunities for my district, but I refused to sacrifice my independence for a perceived benefit. Whomever wins the election, I would encourage them to not sell their soul to the governor for a cookie. Be independent. I could vote my conscious and explain to the body (House) why some policies were wrong, even if that meant my home base would not get the pennies the governor was handing out,” she said.
Jones said that she thinks that novice politicans can still serve, if they are willing to learn the rules and play by the rules.
“I think everyone should have the opportunity to serve and once they get there they will find that there is a political process they must learn quickly,” she said.
Although Hunter is her choice for District 17, of the four, only Shelling has served in an elected capacity. For the novice candidates, Jones said that all who consider the post should be willing to learn the rules and procedures and operate within those rules.
“If you don’t know how to amend or kill a bill, you’re useless. There are a lot of rules and customs you have to operate within. What most novice politicians perceive is that they will go down there and make changes, but they have to come in and operate within the established rules,” she said.
Jones said that she has enjoyed her experience in the state legislature and will continue to serve her district in other capacities as they present themselves. “With the support of my colleagues, friends, and constitutents, I rose from a freshman legislator to the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee in only three years. During this term, we have addressed education issues, criminal justice reform, and economic development within the district. Most importantly, we have created a second majority minority representative district in Northeast Louisiana to give a voice to those citizens who have been silenced in years past. Alas, there is more work to be done,” she wrote in a letter this week.**A Run-off in the 17th is imminent. Burns-Hunter**
The State of Louisiana Justice in HealthCare, Criminal & Civil Actions, Education is dismal. The Conservative legislature doesn't have any thing to do with it. It is again, the racism. If the present activity continues, gross miscarriages of Human Rights will prevail, the public-at-large will outcry, as they are presently. The courts are arrogant in its deficiency to expend "justice". Poor, indigent defendants are at the mercy of an in fact disparaged system.
Louisiana Public Defender Board is allowing defendants to be summarily defended with only the "constitutional guarantee" being afforded. A defendant in the 4th JDC, represented by a public defender, was told to "just plea"; whether his former lawyer had secured a lesser sentencing "deal" with the DA's office didn't matter. This is not defense. This is perfunctory.