New Orleans Holds Public Defender's Office Hostage to Red Light Camera Revenue

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer reports that New Orleans’ public defenders office has yet to see any revenue from red light cameras, and will have to shut down by March. Chief Public Defender Derwyn Bunton made the announcement, saying the city’s ability to provide 6th amendment-mandated public defense options would be shut down between March and July of 2010. Moving the public defender’s office to a red light camera revenue-based funding model was a relatively recent decision by Mayor Ray Nagin. The public defender’s office represents over 88 percent of New Orleans’ 220,000 criminal and traffic court defendants each year.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • John Horner John Horner on Aug 28, 2009

    Ray Nagin is a complete failure as Mayor of New Orleans. But hey, what do you expect from a guy who got his start at GM and them moved on to become a manager for the local Cox Cable company in New Orleans. Do you really want the cable guy running your local government?

  • CarPerson CarPerson on Aug 28, 2009

    It’s totally nuts they have to shut down the public defender’s office because the Red Light camera revenue is falling short. As any regular TTAC reader knows, you take an already dangerous intersection and, by design, make it worse by shortening the green and yellow light times. Doing so dramatically increases the cost, pain, and suffering of the traveling public but the golden revenue flows, flows, and flows.

  • Wsn Wsn on Aug 28, 2009

    So, they will print or borrow money to go to wars, or to give bailouts. And they don't have money to uphold constitutional rights?

  • Justin Berkowitz Justin Berkowitz on Aug 28, 2009

    Just another example of traffic cameras having nothing to do with safety, and everything to do with revenue for other purposes (or withholding). I know a few people who have passed through the NO public defender's office. The backstory, a bit... The City has a horrible relationship with the public defender's office there. Pre-Katrina, there was just an indigent defense office. It was not organized or run or funded like a public defenders office in other cities. In fact, they didn't even have a computer-based system to keep track of cases. It was considered the worst PD office in a major city in the U.S. After Katrina, they've revamped the office, with a lot of new blood, a bit of money, and major reorganization. Much of the city government is pissed about this. The district attorney's office and the judges have been unusually nasty and adversarial with the PDs, far more than is common in other cities. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that there are yet more roadblocks trying to starve the PDs there out of existence. I'm 100% for vigorous criminal prosecutions. But I'm also 100% for making sure people have a fair day in court, and a competent defense as guaranteed by the Supreme Court.