Nov. 17, 2014
By Rory Green, Senior Associate
The Louisiana attorney general is vested with the power to control legal actions by, or against, the state, subject only to the obligation to uphold the laws of the state. But the extent of the attorney general’s control over state litigation is undefined. The lack of clarity in the attorney general’s authority has been the subject of repeated debate due to political controversy that is typically associated with major lawsuits by or against the state. Importantly, it is unclear whether state agencies pursuing litigation constitute the attorney general’s “clients,” with whom control of the objectives of litigation resides, or instead, whether the attorney general may dismiss suits and force settlements individually. Louisiana laws, in addition to relevant out-of-state and historical guidance, imply that it is the attorney general alone who may intervene in an independent agency’s legal actions. Nevertheless, an independent agency’s decision to pursue litigation may contradict the political standpoint of other government actors and instigate political response.
Oct. 21, 2014
By Lauren Rivera, Senior Associate
In April 2013, East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore held a meeting with suspected members of various local violent groups in an effort to dismantle criminal organizations in Louisiana. Among those summoned by Moore were members and associates of the “Big Money Block Boyz,” one of about 30 active street gangs in Baton Rouge, an organization based out of the criminally concentrated Gardere area. The group is believed to be responsible for years of heavy narcotics trafficking, several shootings, and other acts of violence throughout the parish. At the meeting, community leaders and local law enforcement agencies warned members of the Block Boyz that if the group failed to heed their warning and another homicide occurred, the entire group would become the subject of an investigation.
Oct. 20, 2014
By Stephen G. Collura, Jr., Senior Editor
We do almost everything on the Internet today. People use the Internet to make purchases, play games, watch movies, and even conduct research for pieces of scholarship. In fact, you are using the Internet to read this article right now. However, if you are in Louisiana, or any state besides Nevada, your other open Internet pages cannot be displaying your winning hand in an online poker game.
In reaction to the wave of Internet gambling that came about during the late 1990s, Congress and several state legislatures, including Louisiana, passed statutes criminalizing online gambling. Although other countries around the world initially took this approach, the United States remains one of the last developed countries to continue to hold steadfast against online gambling—the exceptions being Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. Many parts of the world have proven that a system of regulation, as opposed to a complete ban, can be successful while still providing protection to participants.
Last year, the Louisiana Supreme Court found the state school voucher program unconstitutional, and recently the troubled program has made news again.1 In August, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to enjoin implementation of the program in parishes that are under federal school desegregation orders.2
Despite these significant legal challenges, however, Governor Bobby Jindal and some state lawmakers continue to vehemently defend the program. In the wake of the recent rulings, these officials are attempting to redesign the program to avoid running afoul of state and federal law. As the Legislature is reconsidering how to implement the program, there is another significant legal hurdle that program advocates will likely need to address if the program is to survive. Specifically, legislators will need to reconsider the participation of students with disabilities, or special education students.
Currently, there are two separate programs through which special education students may obtain a private school voucher: the general voucher program that accepts both disabled and non-disabled students, or the special education voucher program specifically designed for students with disabilities. Unfortunately, neither of these programs does a satisfactory job of ensuring equal access to educational opportunities for special education students.