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New Orleans court system still mired in Katrina aftermath

[JURIST] The criminal court system in New Orleans still faces an uphill battle as judges and attorneys try to piece together what is left of the 3,000 trials [JURIST report] pending before Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive] swept through the city over two months ago. The courthouse basement of the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court [official website] held guns, drugs and other items that soaked in the floodwaters for weeks and could be ruined as evidence, which may leave attorneys and judges with no alternative but to set arrested criminals free. Motions have been postponed as lawyers are not certain which jails currently hold their clients and evacuations of citizens have not allowed attorneys to fill the necessary jury pools. Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan said the city has been unable to pay his office, which has forced him to layoff 57 staff employees, and if the situation does not improve Jordan may be forced to fire attorneys next. Additionally, the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals [official website] has moved temporarily to Houston [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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