Archive for March 2012
Criminal Defense Attorney New Orleans
Louisiana sex law violates offenders’ rights, federal judge rules
By: Associated Press
A Louisiana law violates the constitutional rights of people who were required to register as sex offenders after they were convicted of soliciting oral or anal sex for money, a federal judge ruled Thursday. U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman said state lawmakers had no “rational basis” for requiring people to register as sex offenders if they were convicted of a “crime against nature by solicitation.”
Feldman sided with nine anonymous plaintiffs who sued last year, saying they wouldn’t have had to register as sex offenders if instead they had been convicted of soliciting sex for money under the state prostitution law.
Civil rights attorneys who filed the suit against Louisiana Attorney General James “Buddy” Caldwell and other state officials claim the law is unconstitutional and discriminatory, unfairly condemning sex acts traditionally associated with homosexuality.
Feldman said the plaintiffs proved they have been deprived of their equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.
“The defendants fail to credibly serve up even one unique legitimating governmental interest that can rationally explain the registration requirement imposed on those convicted of Crime Against Nature by Solicitation,” Feldman wrote. “The Court is left with no other conclusion but that the relationship between the classification is so shallow as to render the distinction wholly arbitrary.”
Feldman gave the plaintiffs five days to submit a proposed judgment consistent with his decision. Plaintiffs’ attorney Alexis Agathocleous said he and his colleagues were still reviewing the ruling and weighing their options but would, at a minimum, ask for the names of the nine anonymous plaintiffs to be removed from the sex offender registry.
“We will work with the court to sort out the precise details of the judgment in this case,” said Agathocleous, an attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York.
Agathocleous said the ruling represents “powerful vindication” for the plaintiffs and a rebuke of a statute “borne of age-old animus.”
Feldman said the issue before him “is not about approval or disapproval of sexual beliefs or mores.”
“It is about the mandate of equality that is enshrined in the Constitution,” he wrote.
A spokeswoman for Caldwell’s office said she couldn’t immediately comment on the ruling.
The state Legislature amended the 200-year-old law last year so that anyone convicted of a “crime against nature by solicitation” no longer will be required to register as a sex offender. But the change didn’t apply to roughly 400 people who already had been convicted of the crime and were registered sex offenders.
The state argued the plaintiffs didn’t have a constitutionally protected right to privacy after being convicted of engaging in sex acts for money.
Gov. Bobby Jindal originally was named as a defendant in the suit, but the claims against him were dismissed last year.
Criminal Defense Attorney New Orleans
Elizabeth B. Carpenter, Esq. – Serving clients in Orleans, Jefferson, Terrebonne, Tangipahoa, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Tammany, St. John, Assumption and Plaquemines Parishes.
Sale, exhibition, or Distribution Harmful Material to Minors — La RS 14:91.11
The unlawful sale, exhibition, rental, leasing, or distribution of material harmful to minors is the intentional sale, allocation, distribution, advertisement, dissemination, exhibition, or display of material harmful to minors, by a person who is not the spouse, parent, or legal guardian of the minor to any unmarried person under the age of 18 years, or the possession of material harmful to minors with the intent to sell, allocate, advertise, disseminate, exhibit, or display such material to any unmarried person under the age of 18 years, by a person who is not the spouse, parent, or legal guardian of the minor at a newsstand or any other commercial establishment which is open to persons under the age of 18 years.
“Material harmful to minors” is defined as any paper, magazine, book, newspaper, periodical, pamphlet, composition, publication, photograph, drawing, picture, poster, motion picture film, video tape, video game, figure, phonograph record, album, cassette, compact disc, wire or tape recording, or other similar tangible work or thing which exploits, is devoted to or principally consists of, descriptions or depictions of illicit sex or sexual immorality for commercial gain, and when the trier of fact determines that each of the following applies:
(a) The material incites or appeals to or is designed to incite or appeal to the prurient, shameful, or morbid interest of minors.
(b) The material is offensive to the average adult applying contemporary community standards with respect to what is suitable for minors.
(c) The material taken as a whole lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.
(1) It shall be unlawful for a person who is not the spouse, parent, or legal guardian of the minor to invite or permit any unmarried person under the age of 18 years of age to be in any commercial establishment that exhibits or displays any item, material, work or thing of any kind that is described above.
(2) Lack of knowledge of age shall not constitute a defense, unless the defendant shows that he had reasonable cause to believe that the minor involved was 18 years of age or more and that the minor exhibited to the defendant a selective service card, driver’s license, military identification card, birth certificate or other official or apparently official document purporting to establish that such a minor was 18 years of age or more.
(3) A commercial establishment shall not be in violation of this Section if the commercial establishment provides for a separate area for the exhibition or display of material harmful to minors and designates said area “NOT FOR MINORS” or similar words and the commercial establishment prohibits persons under the age of eighteen years from seeing or examining the contents of material harmful to minors.
(4) This section does not preempt, nor shall anything in this section be construed to preempt, the regulation of obscenity by municipalities, parishes and consolidated city-parish governments; however, in order to promote uniform obscenity legislation throughout the state, the regulation of obscenity by municipalities, parishes and consolidated city-parish governments shall not exceed the scope of the regulatory prohibitions contained in the provisions of this section.
(5) Prior to selling material harmful to minors as provided for by this Section, a commercial establishment shall require the individual purchasing the material harmful to minors to provide a driver’s license, selective service card, military identification card, birth certificate, or other official form of identification which on its face establishes the age of the person as 18 years or older.
Whoever is found guilty of violating the provisions of this Section shall be fined not less than $100.00 dollars nor more than $2,000 dollars or imprisoned for not more than 1 year, or both.
Criminal Defense Attorney New Orleans
NOLA lawmaker wants harsher punishment for heroin possession, distribution
By Paul Purpura, The Times-Picayune
A New Orleans lawmaker proposes stiffening the penalities for possessing and distributing heroin. Democractic Sen. J.P. Morrell’s Senate Bill 66 and Senate Bill 67 would increase the mandatory minimum sentences and the sentencing ranges in laws relating to the narcotic.
Morrell, who also hopes to change the second-degree murder statute to include narcotics-related deaths, did not respond to an e-mail request for comment this week. The bills are among several narcotics-relatedproposals he has sponsored in the 2012 legislative session.
His SB 66 would increase the punishment for possession with intent to distribute heroin to 10 years minimum to a cap of 50 years.
The present law sets the range at five to 50 years in prison. His proposal would also double the maximum fine, up to $100,000 upon conviction.
Morrell also filed SB 67, which if becomes law would increase the penalties for possessing heroin:
- Possessing 28 grams to 200 grams would carry a punishment of eight to 45 years in prison. The present law is five to 30 years.
- Possessing 200 grams to 400 grams would carry a punishment of 15 years to 45 years. The present law sets the range at 10 to 30 years.
- Possessing 400 or more grams would carry a sentence of 24 years to 45 years of imprisonment. The present range is 15 years to 30 years.
Morrell also proposes widening the felony-murder doctrine under the state’s second-degree murder law. The punishment for second-degree murder would remain unchanged: Mandatory life in prison with no probation, parole or suspended sentence.
“The prospect of life in prison is a scary prospect,” Morrell told The Times-Picayune in January.
Second-degree murder in Louisiana is defined as the “specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm.”
The law also defines second-degree murder as a death occurring during the commission of any of 15 underlying felonies. For instance, if someone dies during an armed robbery, even if the perpetrator has no intent to kill, then that person is guilty of second-degree murder.
Morrell proposes adding another underlying felony to the list: “the unlawful sale, distribution, or dispensation of heroin, methamphetamine or ‘crack’ cocaine.”
The existing underlying felonies, including attempted perpetration, are aggravated rape, forcible rape, aggravated arson, aggravated burglary, aggravated kidnapping, seond-degree kidnapping, aggravated escape, assault by drive-by shooting, armed robbery, first-degree robbery, second-degree robbery, simple robbery, cruelty to juveniles, second-degree cruelty to juveniles and terrorism.
The three bills are in judiciary committee, according to the Legislature’s web site.
NEW ORLEANS SEX CRIMES DEFENSE ATTORNEY
If you or a loved one is facing an Obscenity charge, you must contact a criminal defense attorney for a consultation. Early intervention by an experienced Sex Offender Defense Attorney can make a tremendous difference in your case. The Elizabeth B. Carpenter, Esq. is dedicated to the defense of those accused of Sex Crimes in Louisiana. We are here to defend you, not judge you.
Whoever is convicted of Obscenity Through Solicitation of a Minor will have to Register as a Sex Offender for 15 years — To be conducted annually…
Obscenity — La RS 14:106
The crime of obscenity is the intentional:
(1) Exposure of the genitals, pubic hair, anus, vulva, or female breast nipples in any public place or place open to the public view, or in any prison or jail, with the intent of arousing sexual desire or which appeals to prurient interest or is patently offensive.
(2) Participation or engagement in, or management, operation, production, presentation, performance, promotion, exhibition, advertisement, sponsorship, electronic communication, or display of, hard core sexual conduct when the trier of fact determines that the average person applying contemporary community standards would find that the conduct, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; and the hard core sexual conduct, as specifically defined herein, is presented in a patently offensive way; and the conduct taken as a whole lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
Hard core sexual conduct is the public portrayal, for its own sake, and for ensuing commercial gain of:
(i) Ultimate sexual acts, normal or perverted, actual, simulated, or animated, whether between human beings, animals, or an animal and a human being; or
(ii) Masturbation, excretory functions or lewd exhibition, actual, simulated, or animated, of the genitals, pubic hair, anus, vulva, or female breast nipples; or
(iii) Sadomasochistic abuse, meaning actual, simulated or animated, flagellation, or torture by or upon a person who is nude or clad in undergarments or in a costume that reveals the pubic hair, anus, vulva, genitals, or female breast nipples, or in the condition of being fettered, bound, or otherwise physically restrained, on the part of one so clothed; or
(iv) Actual, simulated, or animated touching, caressing, or fondling of, or other similar physical contact with a pubic area, anus, female breast nipple, covered or exposed, whether alone or between humans, animals, or a human and an animal, of the same or opposite sex, in an act of apparent sexual stimulation or gratification; or
(v) Actual, simulated, or animated stimulation of a human genital organ by any device whether or not the device is designed, manufactured, or marketed for such purpose.
(3) Sale, allocation, consignment, distribution, dissemination, advertisement, exhibition, electronic communication, or display of obscene material, or the preparation, manufacture, publication, electronic communication, or printing of obscene material for sale, allocation, consignment, distribution, advertisement, exhibition, electronic communication, or display.
Obscene material is any tangible work or thing which the trier of fact determines that the average person applying contemporary community standards would find, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, and which depicts or describes in a patently offensive way, hard core sexual conduct specifically defined in Paragraph (2) of this Subsection, and the work or thing taken as a whole lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
Requiring as a condition to a sale, allocation, consignment, or delivery for resale of any paper, magazine, book, periodical, or publication to a purchaser or consignee that such purchaser or consignee also receive or accept any obscene material for resale, distribution, display, advertisement, electronic communication, or exhibition purposes; or, denying or threatening to deny a franchise to, or imposing a penalty, on or against, a person by reason of his refusal to accept, or his return of, such obscene material.
Solicitation or enticement of an unmarried person under the age of 17 years (a minor) to commit any act prohibited above. – Requires Sex Offender Registration.
Advertisement, exhibition, electronic communication, or display of sexually violent material. ”Violent material” is any tangible work or thing which the trier of facts determines depicts actual or simulated patently offensive acts of violence, including but not limited to, acts depicting sadistic conduct, whippings, beatings, torture, and mutilation of the human body.
No person, knowing the content of an advertisement to be sexually explicit as defined in this Paragraph shall transmit or cause to be transmitted an unsolicited advertisement in an electronic communication to one or more persons within this state that contains sexually explicit materials without including in the advertisement the term “ADV-ADULT” at the beginning of the subject line of the advertisement. A “subject line” is the area of an electronic communication that contains a summary description of the content of the message.
Lack of knowledge of age or marital status shall not constitute a defense for OBSCENITY BY SOLICITATION OF A MINOR.
*** If any employee of a theatre or bookstore acting in the course or scope of his employment, is arrested for an offense designated in this Section, the employer shall reimburse the employee for all attorney’s fees and other costs of defense of such employee. Such fees and expenses may be fixed by the court exercising criminal jurisdiction after contradictory hearing or by ordinary civil process.
*** The provisions of this Section do not apply to recognized and established schools, churches, museums, medical clinics, hospitals, physicians, public libraries, governmental agencies, quasi-governmental sponsored organizations and persons acting in their capacity as employees or agents of such organizations, or a person solely employed to operate a movie projector in a duly licensed theatre.
Except for those motion pictures, printed materials, electronic communication and photographic materials showing actual ultimate sexual acts or simulated or animated ultimate sexual acts when there is an explicit, close-up depiction of human genital organs so as to give the appearance of the consummation of ultimate sexual acts, no person, firm, or corporation shall be arrested, charged, or indicted for any violations of a provision of this Section until such time as the material involved has first been the subject of an adversarial hearing under the provisions of this Section, wherein such person, firm, or corporation is made a defendant and, after such material is declared by the court to be obscene, such person, firm, or corporation continues to engage in the conduct prohibited by this Section. The sole issue at the hearing shall be whether the material is obscene.
The hearing shall be held before the district court having jurisdiction over the proceedings within 72 hours after receipt of notice by the person, firm, or corporation. The person, firm, or corporation shall be given notice of the hearing by registered mail or by personal service on the owner, manager, or other person having a financial interest in the material; provided, if there is no such person on the premises, then notice may be given by personal service on any employee of the person, firm, or corporation on such premises. The notice shall state the nature of the violation, the date, place, and time of the hearing, and the right to present and cross-examine witnesses.
The state or any defendant may appeal from a judgment. Such appeal shall not stay the judgment. Any defendant engaging in conduct prohibited by this Section subsequent to notice of the judgment, finding the material to be obscene, shall be subject to criminal prosecution notwithstanding the appeal from the judgment.
No determination by the district court pursuant to this Section shall be of any force and effect outside the judicial district in which made and no such determination shall be res judicata in any proceeding in any other judicial district. In addition, evidence of any hearing held pursuant to this Section shall not be competent or admissible in any criminal action for the violation of any other Section of this Title; provided, however, that in any criminal action, charging the violation of any other Section of this Title, against any person, firm, or corporation that was a defendant in such hearing, involving the same material declared to be obscene under the provisions of this Section, then evidence of such hearing shall be competent and admissible as bearing on the issue of scienter only.
On a first conviction, whoever commits the crime of obscenity shall be fined not less than $1,000 dollars nor more than $2,500 dollars, or imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not less than 6 months nor more than 3 years, or both.
On a second conviction, the offender shall be imprisoned, with or without hard labor for not less than 6 months nor more than 3 years, and in addition may be fined not less than $2,500 dollars nor more than $5,000 dollars.
On a third or subsequent conviction, the offender shall be imprisoned with or without hard labor for not less than 2 years nor more than 5 years, and in addition may be fined not less than $5,000 dollars nor more than $10,000 dollars.
When a violation is with or in the presence of an unmarried person under the age of 17 years, the offender shall be fined not more than $10,000 dollars and shall be imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not less than 2 years nor more than 5 years, without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.
When a corporation is charged with violating this Section, the corporation, the president, the vice president, the secretary, and the treasurer may all be named as defendants. Upon conviction for a violation of this Section, a corporation shall be sentenced. All corporate officers who are named as defendants shall be subject to the penalty provisions.
Louisiana Sex Crime Defense Attorney
If you are being accused of a Sex Crime, it is imperative that you have a skilled, aggressive attorney by your side. Contact Elizabeth B. Carpenter Law for a consultation.
Sexual Battery of the Infirm — La RS 14:93.1
Sexual battery of the infirm is the intentional engaging in any of the sexual acts listed below with another person, who is not the spouse of the offender, when:
(1) The offender compels the victim, who is physically incapable of preventing the act because of advanced age or physical infirmity, to submit by placing the victim in fear of receiving bodily harm.
(2) The victim is incapable of resisting or of understanding the nature of the act by reason of stupor or abnormal condition of the mind produced by an intoxicating, narcotic, or anesthetic agent administered by or with the privity of the offender.
(3) The victim has such incapacity, by reason of a stupor or abnormal condition of mind from any cause, and the offender knew or should have known of the victim’s incapacity.
(4) The victim is incapable, through unsoundness of mind, whether temporary or permanent, of understanding the nature of the act, and the offender knew or should have known of the victim’s incapacity.
“Sexual acts” mean the following:
(1) The touching of the anus or genitals of the victim by the offender using any instrumentality or any part of the body of the offender; or
(2) The touching of the anus or genitals of the offender by the victim using any instrumentality or any part of the body of the victim.
*** Normal medical treatment and normal sanitary care shall not be construed as an offense under the provisions of this Section.
*** Whoever commits the crime of sexual battery of the infirm shall be punished by imprisonment, with or without hard labor, for not more than 10 years.
Criminal Defense Attorney New Orleans
Bill would require barroom bouncers to take training
By: Ed Anderson — Times Picayune
Baton Rouge – A Senate committee unanimously approved a bill Tuesday that would require training of bouncers and “security personnel” at bars and lounges. The Senate Judiciary B Committee sent to the Senate floor Senate Bill 234 by Sen. Gary Smith, D-Norco, that would require the bouncers to be trained under the state’s Responsible Vendor Program, which has been in place for more than a decade and requires the training of servers, bartenders and other bar personnel.
Smith said the bill applies to liquor outlets “where alcoholic beverages are the principal commodity sold for consumption on the premises.” Smith said he filed the bill after a handful of headline-grabbing cases in the New Orleans area in which security personnel at bars were involved in violent confrontations with customers.
The bill does not spell out how many hours the security workers have to take or what the subject matter of the courses would be.
Those decisions would be made by the commissioner of the Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, but the course work must include “handling disruptive customers and customer altercations,” Smith said.
The bill defines security personnel as employees who “monitor the entrance and other areas of an establishment for the purposes of identifying underage and intoxicated persons, enforcing establishment rules and regulations” and providing overall security for the outlet and its customers.
“There is nothing in law to train security personnel” at bars now, Smith said. “We are seeing more and more of an increase in security personnel using excessive force” at lounges.
The bouncer or security personnel will not only have to take the regular server training course and be able to recognize when a patron is too drunk to be served, but will also be trained to handle tense situations.
“He will try to diplomatically remove someone,” said Chris Young, a lobbyist for alcoholic beverage outlets. He said the courses should include “how to prevent altercations instead of putting someone in a chokehold and dragging them out of the establishment.”
The cost of the training course cannot exceed $50, according to the bill.
Criminal Defense Attorney New Orleans
New Orleans officer quits after ‘thug’ comment about Trayvon Martin killing
By Brendan McCarthy, Times Picayune
The white New Orleans police officer who posted insensitive remarks on an online news story about the killing of a black Florida teen resigned Tuesday afternoon, one day after he was indefinitely suspended from the force without pay. Officer Jason Giroir, who is under investigation for his role in the recent shooting of a young black man in Mid-City, resigned in light of the scrutiny over comments he posted Sunday on a wwltv.com story about an unrelated fatal shooting in Florida last month.
Giroir, 35, of Covington, wrote “Act like a Thug Die like one!” on an article about citizens rallying to protest the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old who was killed while wearing a hooded sweatshirt and walking through a gated community.
Martin’s encounter with a gun-wielding neighborhood watch volunteer has sparked a national debate about racial profiling and the morality of “stand your ground” laws, which allow people being attacked to defend themselves with force if necessary.
Giroir, who joined the NOPD in 1999, resigned Tuesday after learning that NOPD investigators had sustained misconduct charges against him and that a disciplinary hearing was being scheduled, according to the NOPD. The department determined he violated internal regulations regarding professionalism, professional conduct, and performance of duty.
“My responsibility to the people of New Orleans, as well as to the professional officers on this police force, demanded I take swift action in this matter,” Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said.
After a commenter named Eddie Johnson criticized Giroir’s initial comments on wwltv.com as racist, Giroir responded: “Eddie come on down to our town with a “Hoodie” and you can join Martin in HELL and talk about your racist stories!:-P”
Giroir’s wife also posted a similar comment under the story: “He acted like a thug and died like one.”
Giroir’s attorney, Eric Hessler, said his client apologized to the NOPD in his resignation letter. “He chose to resign as a personal decision because of the unintended turmoil his comments caused. Of course he regrets making those comments.”
Hessler said he didn’t believe that the violations against Giroir warranted termination and pointed out that other officers had violated the same rules and faced light discipline.
The resignation came hours after Danatus King, head of the local branch of the NAACP, and others held a news conference to denounce the comments and demand Giroir’s termination. King said the city is on the verge of civil unrest and that Giroir’s statement about “another black youth killed under questionable circumstances” only inflames the “incendiary atmosphere.”
“This has touched a nerve in our community,” King said.
King went through a long list of cases involving the NOPD’s mistreatment of young black men, ranging from police killings and cover-ups in the Danziger Bridge, Henry Glover and Raymond Robair cases in recent years, to the Adolph Archie and Algiers 7 cases of decades earlier. King and other community and civil rights activists have long painted the NOPD as a racist organization.
He also noted that thousands of tourists will be visiting the city this weekend for the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament. “How many of them are black?” King asked rhetorically. “How many are wearing apparel where they would look like a thug?”
Mid-City patrols scrutinized
Last summer, a flap erupted after a high-ranking NOPD commander reportedly told dozens of officers during a roll call meeting to target young black men in and around the French Quarter on the weekend of Essence Festival. Some officers who heard the instruction viewed it as racial profiling. City and police leaders decried the remarks and the supervisor, Commander Eddie Selby, retired shortly after the NOPD initiated an investigation.
Around that time, King and associates called for a federal probe into the Mid-City Security District, a neighborhood police patrol that utilizes off-duty NOPD officers. An email from a patrol supervisor surfaced in which he threatened to take officers off the overtime patrol if the numbers of traffic stops didn’t increase.
The NAACP and others said the order encouraged racial profiling and illegal stops.
It was during one of those patrols — an overtime shift — that Giroir stopped the Sipp brothers earlier this month. A shootout ensued shortly later. Police allege Justin Sipp opened fire on three police officers, prompting them to shoot back.
Two officers, Anthony Mayfield Jr. and Michael Asevedo, were severely wounded. Giroir, who was uninjured, fired his gun once. Mayfield fired several times. Police said Sipp fired 14 bullets at police. Police officials have not suggested that the shooting was unjustified, though an investigation is ongoing.
Giroir was assigned to desk duty in the wake of the shooting, but he returned to active duty in mid-March after passing a psychological evaluation and answering investigators’ questions, police spokeswoman Remi Braden said. Despite Giroir’s resignation, the investigation continues, and the NOPD will turn over the results to the district attorney’s office, Braden said.
Sex Crime Defense Attorney New Orleans
If you are being accused of a Sex Crime, it is imperative that you have a skilled, aggressive attorney by your side. Contact Elizabeth B. Carpenter Law for a consultation. Your freedom is important to us!
Unlawful Participation in a Child-Related Business — La RS 91.3
No person convicted of a sex offense as defined in R.S. 15:541, whose offense involved a person under the age of 13 years, shall own, operate, or in any way participate in the governance of those child care facilities or in family child day care homes.
Whoever violates the provisions of this Section shall be fined not more than 1,000 dollars, imprisoned with or without hard labor for not more than 1 year, or both.
Criminal Defense Attorney New Orleans
New Orleans cop suspended indefinitely after online rant about Trayvon Martin killing
By Brendan McCarthy, The Times-Picayune
A white New Orleans police officer involved in the recent fatal police shooting of a young black man has been suspended after posting comments below an online news story in which he said that a black youth in Florida who was killed by a civilian deserved to die because he acted like “a thug.” Officer Jason Giroir wrote, “Act like a Thug Die like one!” below an article posted Sunday on wwltv.com about local citizens rallying to protest the fatal shooting last month of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old who was fatally shot while wearing a hooded sweatshirt and walking through a gated community.
Martin’s encounter with a gun-wielding neighborhood watch volunteer has touched off a national debate about racial profiling and the morality of “stand your ground” laws, which allow people being attacked to defend themselves with force if necessary.
On WWL-TV’s website, after a commenter named Eddie Johnson criticized Giroir’s initial comments as racist and questioned whether a hooded sweatshirt makes someone a thug, Giroir responded: “Eddie come on down to our town with a ‘Hoodie’ and you can join Martin in HELL and talk about your racist stories!” He ended the sentence with an emoticon that depicts a tongue wagging.
In a news conference Monday, Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said Giroir’s postings caused him great concern. The office is indefinitely suspended without pay, Serpas said.
“To say I’m angry is an understatement. I’m furious,” Serpas said.
Serpas repeatedly said Giroir’s views do not reflect those of the NOPD.
Giroir’s attorney, Eric Hessler, said Monday that Giroir spoke to NOPD internal affairs investigators Monday and admitted authoring the postings.
“His statement is ‘Yes, I did it,’” Hessler said. “He certainly didn’t mean it as a racial comment, as an offensive comment, although it came out that way. He acknowledges he should have chosen better words. I couldn’t agree with him more.”
Hessler said his client is not a racist.
“It was a boneheaded comment. He admits so.”
Giroir’s wife also posted a similar comment about Martin — “He acted like a thug and died like one” — under the WWL-TV story.
Giroir, 35, of Covington, was recently under investigation for his role in a fatal shootout earlier this month in Mid-City.
The incident occurred after Giroir early one morning pulled over a vehicle that allegedly had a broken license plate light. Inside the car were two brothers, Justin and Earl Sipp. Both are black.
Giroir had called for backup during the stop. Two officers, Anthony Mayfield Jr. and Michael Asevedo, responded. All three officers are white.
Police officials have said that Justin Sipp suddenly opened fire on police, prompting Giroir and Mayfield to return fire. Mayfield and Asevedo were severely wounded, but Giroir was unscathed. The NOPD has not suggested that the shooting was unjustified.
Hessler said Giroir has been cleared in the shooting and returned from reassignment to regular duty in the 8th District.
The NOPD did not respond to a request for comment Monday evening about Giroir’s reassignment.
At the time of the shooting, Giroir’s Myspace profile featured comments that suggested he sometimes bends rules in his job. The profile read:
“Hello, my name is Jason C. Giroir. I have been a New Orleans police officer for almost 10 years. I enjoy my job because I like to make a positive impact in life. Sometimes that means not doing everything by the book. Everyone who knows me understands what I mean.”
He calls his family his strength and motivation. Under the category for occupation, Giroir wrote: “Punisher.”
On his Facebook page, Giroir also wrote: “I have been in Law Enforcement for about as long as I could vote. I do it because I like it and have the chance to make a lot of money.”
Giroir was involved in an incident in April 2006 in which a black motorist — the wife of an NOPD cop and the sister of another officer — alleged she was beaten outside her Gentilly home.
Police said Jonie Pratt, the wife of NOPD Detective Desmond Pratt, was speeding and ran a red light. Three officers followed her to her house in the 4200 block of Touro Street.
Pratt said when she questioned the officers — Giroir, Joseph Haines and Ryan Vaught — about the stop, they responded by pulling her out of the car, cursing her, and punching her, fracturing her wrist and causing lesser injuries. Two of the officers were white and one was black.
A misconduct allegation against Giroir was not sustained by the NOPD’s Public Integrity Bureau. The District Attorney’s office refused charges against Giroir, citing insufficient evidence, according to NOPD spokeswoman Remi Braden.
The city later settled a federal civil lawsuit filed by Pratt, but city officials did not respond Monday to questions about the size of the settlement.
Vaught was part of a group of officers that served a search warrant on a Gentilly home a week after Sipp was killed. During that raid, in which police were searching for marijuana, NOPD Officer Joshua Colclough fired a single shot that killed unarmed Wendell Allen, 20. That case is under investigation.
The two recent shootings by New Orleans police of young black men sparked a wave of protests in recent weeks, with the Allen case in particular prompting outrage from relatives and civil-rights leaders. Giroir’s comments will doubtless inflame those tensions; leaders of the local NAACP branch have scheduled a news conference for this morning.
“Our city has been sitting on a precipice of civil unrest, particularly following the murders of Justin Sipp and Wendell Allen by NOPD officers,” the group said in a statement Monday. The group also panned “the existing culture of the NOPD” and questioned how Giroir could feel comfortable making such statements.
City leaders have been trying to cast the NOPD as a department on the mend after a series of scandals involving use of force, most involving black victims shot or beaten in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The city, the NOPD, and federal officials are negotiating a wide-reaching consent decree that will mandate numerous reforms and establish benchmarks that the department must meet.
A scathing report by the U.S. Department of Justice last year found disproportionate use of force by NOPD officers against black people. The report also found that New Orleans police are far more likely to arrest black youths than white ones, both for serious crimes and offenses like disorderly conduct.
The report called on the NOPD and city leadership to “acknowledge community concerns regarding discriminatory policing.”
Serpas nodded to the palpable tension Monday, saying he understood that Giroir’s statements may “cast a new doubt” on the department, “and that is regrettable.”
He added that the NOPD is comprised of hundreds of officers of disparate race, gender, and ethnicity who strive to make the city better. Comments like Giroir’s “certainly get in the way,” he said.
Landrieu released a statement echoing those sentiments. “The people of New Orleans and my Administration will not tolerate this reckless and offensive behavior,” he said. “I condemn his statements in the strongest of terms.”
Giroir is just the latest local public servant to get punished for his online postings. Last week, a high-ranking prosecutor in the local U.S. Attorney’s office resigned after it was revealed he posted hundreds, if not thousands, of intemperate comments about colleagues, foes, judges, and targets of federal probes on NOLA.com.
The NOPD has had to deal with the perils of “oversharing” as well. Earlier this month, the city’s Civil Service Commission upheld the four-day suspensions of NOPD officers Damond Harris and William Torres, both of whom posted inflammatory remarks about a colleague.
Harris used Facebook to post about Torres’ alleged ability to seduce lesbians. Torres, a friend of Harris’, responded by using the initials of a fellow NOPD officer, who is a lesbian, and calling her a “douche.” That officer complained and an internal investigation commenced.
Giroir’s attorney, Hessler, said Monday that it’s clear everyone needs to “think before they type.”
The NOPD in February revised its rules and regulations regarding social networking sites. Serpas said that officers, on or off-duty, must not besmirch or embarrass the department and city they serve. He noted that once an officer does so, he or she has “bought the farm.”