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By Jack King,Phyllis E. Mann
NACDL News columns.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita — A Year Later in Louisiana
By Phyllis E. Mann
“. . . and what have we done? Another year over, and a new one just begun.”
— John Lennon, Happy Christmas
It has been well over a year since Hurricane Katrina, and then her sister Hurricane Rita, ravaged the southern coastal parishes of Louisiana and brought our criminal justice system not merely to its knees, but face down in the Louisiana swamps. In the fall of 2005, we had no operational state Supreme Court, three of five courts of appeal were closed, and every district and municipal court in more than six parishes1 was closed for business. The federal Fifth Circuit temporarily operated out of Houston, Texas, and all divisions of the Eastern District of Louisiana were occasionally borrowing courtrooms in Baton Rouge.
Approximately 8,500 incarcerated prisoners and pre-trial detainees were being held in prisons and jails throughout Louisiana. They were cut off from all contact with their lawyers, and frankly al
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