Aug 152015
 
Graphic: Ensuring equal justice under law versa the interlocking of different interests.

Graphic: Ensuring equal justice under law versa the interlocking of different interests.

There are only two states in the USA that have mayor’s courts. Those states are Ohio and Louisiana. Since 1898, mayor’s courts in Louisiana have had limited criminal jurisdiction “over all violations of municipal ordinances” reads Chapter 33 of Title 441 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes – as traffic violations, for instance.

Mayors in wards with less than 5,000 inhabitants function as judges in misdemeanor cases, whether or not they have a law degree. Nonlawyer judges “try all breaches of the ordinances and impose fines or imprisonment, or both.”

Like state judges, mayors are elected, and therefore, they cannot always be impartial. But the fact that those mayors also control law enforcement and the local budget constitutes an additional conflict of interests. They are three parties in one and the same person so to speak.

Woodforth in Rapides Parish, a few miles south of Alexandria (central Louisiana) beyond Interstate 49, is known as the state’s speed trap number one. Cases of traffic stops in the USA demonstrate daily how quickly one can land in jail (if not even worse). A woman’s case is reported in the article “The Woman Who Spent Six Years Fighting a Traffic Stop” by Ken Armstrong.

The Louisiana Municipal Association provides the Mayor’s Court Handbook. The author calls mayor’s courts a “somewhat enigmatic tool of justice.”

Related:
http://vincentsimmons.iippi.org/2014/10/24/judge-mark-jeansonne-and-his-successor/
Judge Mark Jeansonne and his successor

http://www.iippi.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=12895
Know Your Rights: What To Do If You’re Stopped By Police

http://www.iippi.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=167&t=16275
A Black Man’s Guide to Survival

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Sep 092013
 

PRESS RELEASE

August 29th, 2013
Posted by The Department Of Justice

This post is courtesy of Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Jocelyn Samuels

The Civil Rights Division is acutely aware of the impact that the criminal justice system has on communities of color. As we reflect on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, it remains an inescapable fact that disparities at nearly every stage of the criminal process keep too many African Americans, Latinos and other minorities in poverty and deny them the opportunities that so many in the civil rights movement fought to achieve.

The consequences of these inequities are perhaps greatest for America’s youth. The adverse effects of early interaction with the juvenile or criminal justice systems can be permanent—often, they deprive those caught up in the system of opportunities for educational advancement, employment, access to housing and even the right to vote.

Under the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder, the Justice Department’s commitment to ensuring equal justice and equal opportunity for America’s youngest generation—by, among other things, dismantling the school to prison pipeline and defending the constitutional rights of those in the juvenile justice system—has never been stronger.

To read more, click here: http://blogs.justice.gov/main/archives/3277

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