News for Wednesday 090314
By Dave Graichen
The Alexandria City Council agreed Tuesday to pay a Baton Rouge attorney $1.32 million for legal work he did on the city’s lawsuit against Cleco. The agreement to pay H. Craig Davidson Jr. came four years after the city settled its lawsuit with Cleco by signing a new power-supply agreement that had a “settlement value” estimated at about $50 million. The payout though wasn’t entirely voluntary. U.S. District Judge Dee Drell, who ordered the city to pay Davidson or else the U.S. Marshal’s Office would seize the funds from the city’s Utility System Enterprise Fund.
Halliburton announcing yesterday that they had reached a $1.1 billion agreement aimed at settling most claims filed against the company related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. The settlement comes just over a year after Houston-based Halliburton admitted destroying evidence and agreed to plead guilty to a criminal charge for its role in the oil spill disaster that occurred at a BP offshore well. The settlement, which is subject to approval of a federal court in Louisiana, will be paid into a trust in three installments over the next two years until all appeals have been resolved.
The trial of a man charged with kidnapping and killing a 12-year-old girl is set to begin in U.S. District Court in Alexandria today. Thomas Steven Sanders is accused of kidnapping Lexis Roberts, killing her and dumping her body in the woods of Catahoula Parish. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in a trial that will begin this morning in front of Judge Dee D. Drell and could last several weeks.
The Justice Department on Tuesday said federal investigators are looking into the death of Victor White III, the 23-year-old New Iberia man died of a fatal gunshot wound while he was handcuffed and in police custody. Dr. Carl Ditch, the Iberia Parish coroner, ruled that White’s death was suicide from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his chest, while his hands were cuffed behind him on March 2.
White’s family, who have disputed the coroner’s findings, has received assurances from federal officials that the matter will be investigated fully.
Republican Senatorial candidate Rob Maness will visit central Louisiana later this week. Maness, a retired Air Force colonel who lives in Madisonville, will attend the CenLa Patriots' monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Westside Regional Library in Alexandria. He also plans attend a church service at Philadelphia Baptist Church in Deville Sunday.
A new review of judicial candidates qualifying for elections in Louisiana shows nearly two-thirds of the district judgeships in the state will be filled by candidates who face no opposition this fall. Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch, a non-partisan legal watchdog organization, analyzed candidate qualifying data from the Secretary of State’s office. Executive Director Melissa Landry says this is detrimental to the overall health of the legal climate because it doesn’t lead to the most experienced or most qualified judge on the bench.
A couple faces several years in prison after being sentenced for leaving their 6-month-old daughter in their locked, unventilated vehicle for nearly an hour in the parking lot of the Walker Walmart in June. Walker Police Captain John Sharp says officers found the couple was under the influence of OxyContin at the time of the incident. Sharp says the couple entered a guilty plea in court yesterday. The child’s father, 35-year-old Billy Arthur Henry, was sentenced to four years at hard labor. Lana Henry, the child’s mother, was sentenced to seven years at hard labor.
State Police has been asked by the Department of Health and Hospitals to investigate inconsistencies in water quality reporting in St. John the Baptist Parish. Parish officials announced last week the discovery of a potentially dangerous amoeba in their water supply. Sgt. Nick Manale says DHH did their own independent testing of the water supply. He says there were large inconsistencies between the DHH testing results and those results reported by the parish. He says their investigation will determine if the conflicting reports had anything to do with criminal activity. Manale says everyone is being cooperative with the investigation which is in its early stages.
Goods exported from Louisiana supported 282,540 jobs in 2013, and the New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lake Charles metropolitan areas ranked among the country’s top 50 exporters. All three of the state’s major port cities reported record exports in 2013 and are among 26 metro area, according to the U.S. Commerce Department reaching record export levels. China, Mexico, Canada, Japan and Singapore were the leading destinations for Louisiana exports.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says residents and visitors of False River are happy about the planned man-induced draw-down of the lake which begins today. LDWF Director of Inland Fisheries Mike Wood says this first draw-down won’t do a lot on its own, but it’s happening in conjunction with lots of other work. They say this is the first step in the long awaited False River Restoration project.
According to new research out of Vanderbilt University, college football coaches are worth every penny of their high paid salaries because of the value they bring to the university. Study Co-Author Randall Thomas, a Vandy business and law professor, says they undertook a study of college football coach contracts and compared them to CEO employment agreements and found no evidence that the coaches are overpaid the way some fans might clamor. The study examined 947 college football coach contracts from the NCAA’s top programs. LSU coach Les Miles gets $4.3 million a year and is the 7th highest paid coach.