Tag Archives: New Orleans City Council

Government Terror Alert: City-Authorized Secret Prosecutions coming in New Orleans? A dangerous new ordinance….the Potential to Cover up Illegal Surveillance?

Charles Edward Lincoln III 1215 Prytania Street, #333 New Orleans, Louisiana 70130

June 22, 2017

Re:     Calendar Number 31,899
            Proposed Ordinance to amend City Code

“to clarify that certain records of the New Orleans Police Department are exempt from disclosure to the public if being utilized in an ongoing criminal investigation or prosecution”

To the Honorable Members of the New Orleans City Council:

            I strenuously object to the proposed ordinance on the grounds both that it appears to allow a discretionary exemption from the requirements of Article 12, Section 3, of the Louisiana Constitution far broader than currently allowed under La. R.S. 44:1 et seq..  

3 Page Excerpt from In Re Matter Under Investigation 15 So.3d 972 (Supreme Court of Louisiana 1 July 2009)

I submit that even the exemption allowed under current Louisiana Law is too broad, and note that it exceeds the breadth of the Federal Exemption to Disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, Title 5 U.S.C. §552(b)(7), a copy of which I am attaching for the Council’s convenience.

Exemptions to FOIA—5 USC Section 552(b)(7) FOIA–Public information agency rules opinions orders records and proceedings

At best, the proposed ordinance is vague and imprecise and allows malicious and improper investigations to be hidden forever. At worst, we are creating an atmosphere favorable to secret prosecutions and secret systems of injustice for political gain and private aggression.  

It is a sham to say that secret investigations protect the innocent. Secret investigations only permit the Police to maximize their power to engage in improper surveillance and illegally terrorize the people who can never know where they stand.   In America, people SHOULD have a right to know immediately when they are suspected or accused of any crime.   We don’t need to perpetuate the heritage of “secret dossiers” inherited from J. Edgar Hoover or the KGB/NKVD.

            The United States of America suffers today from too much governmental secrecy, too many privileges and too much immunity for government officials. I was a teenager during the Watergate Era and its aftermath, and I learned to abhor all aspects of government secrecy, at home and abroad. When I was turning thirty, I spent the year of 1989-1990 in the Federal Republic of Germany and not only watched the Berlin wall come down but helped tear it down with my own hands.   I ask the members of this City Council to remember the secret investigations of the East German STASI and whether we really need secret police investigations in the United States at all.

            If criminal conduct is suspected, both the public and the people who might be accused have a right to know. Maybe the best way to prevent crime is to expose it during the planning stage, did you ever think of that? Don’t let the prosecutor who knows of a possible murder for hire allow the crime to get organized and take place before he makes it public and makes headlines with a big arrest.

Either scare or shame potential defendants who’re out “casing joints” for potential burglaries by letting them know they’re being watched or maybe LET THEM EXPLAIN that they had some innocent purpose in mind.   Why should we ever have to wait until crimes are complete to expose the possibility that crimes will be committed to the public?

            I submit that secret investigations are anathema to the genuine pursuit of truth, justice and the American Way of Life. Public investigations offer the potential to stop inchoate crimes from being completed, for potential “criminals” to mend their ways and walk the straight-and-narrow.   Or again, if people are wrongfully accused or suspected of an inchoate or incomplete crime, the cost of correcting an inaccurate suspicion is much less devastating to the individual than trying to defend against a false and malicious prosecution. And don’t tell me we don’t have any of those in our system, because we do.

            Furthermore, the proposed Ordinance is too broad and too easily misapplied to protect the guilty INSIDE the system who use surveillance for completely illegal and illegitimate purposes. I submit that the proposed ordinance is illegal, unconstitutional, and I for one plan on filing a complaint for declaratory judgment against it if it is enacted. New Orleans deserves better than this. The visitors whose tourism dollars are this cities’ lifeblood do not need to feel like they’re entering a police state where they are constantly under secret police surveillance.   The residents of this city need to know exactly where they stand with their government, and if the Police legitimately think something is wrong, the potential suspects have a right to know.

            It is simply reprehensible that this City Council would even consider an ordinance that would allow records to remain sealed, effectively, FOREVER, on thze grounds that a completely groundless and frivolous murder investigation was opened…. And never brought to trial…. But it might be since there’s no statute of limitations on murder… when the REAL purpose of such an investigation was to compile politically useful blackmail material on one or more targets.

            Are we so naïve to think that such abuses do not happen? I certainly hope not…

            The proposed ordinance’s phrase “until after such original records have been used in open court or the criminal charge or investigation has been finally disposed of” is simply TOO vague and indefinite and clearly invites abuse.

            I propose and submit that there should be NO special New Orleans Ordinance for secrecy from public information disclosure requests in any police work—NONE WHATSOEVER, but if there must be secrecy, it should be no broader than that authorized by Federal FOIA, Title 5 U.S.C. §552(b)(7).

NEPA for NEW ORLEANS—Monuments & the Cultural Environment of New Orleans—invitation to join me in a new lawsuit to Save New Orleans’ Confederate Heritage

The Fight must go on to save our Southern and Confederate heritage in this beautiful city:
Last week, on March 6, 2017, Judges Higginbothom, Elrod, and Higginson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit summarily upheld Judge Barbier’s ruling Monumental Task Committee v Foxx et al, (Confederate Era Monuments) 157 F.Supp.3d 573 (USDC EDLa, 26 January 2016) without further comment or opinion.  
Back in the Fall of 2015, I suggested at one or more of the New Orleans City Council “Hearings” prior to the removal ordinance that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) provided an alternative litigation strategy. Now that the first round attempts have failed, I wonder whether any of you would be willing to join with me, as pro-se plaintiffs if necessary, asserting that the monuments should not be taken down without an Environmental Impact Statement under NEPA. I know one lawyer who might take this case, but we would have to pay him. I could draft and prepare research (using the Westlaw access at Tulane Law Library if necessary).
If any of you would be willing to contribute your names, time, or money to this cause… or have a group, please write to me at charles.e.lincoln@gmail.com. I will write back or call anyone who would be seriously interested in talking about this.  Even the Monumental Task Committee itself could amend its complaint to include NEPA and abandon some of its counts which didn’t work.  I looked at Judge Barbier’s opinion from last January again and it’s just a denial of a Preliminary Injunction, not a final judgment, so there won’t be any problem with res judicata…even though they lost the first round, they could apply again for a new injunction.  In short, NOTHING IS OVER AND DONE WITH YET.  THIS STORY COULD JUST BE BEGINNING if we have the will to fight…
We could certainly discuss this proposal here on Facebook, also. I know that the preservation of the monuments is at least in part a political question, but so is the preservation of the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite. NEPA permits us to argue that these monuments are part of the social and cultural fabric of the city, that New Orleans is heavily subsidized by the Federal Government, and that no Federal Funds, or subsidized city funds, should be spent on this project without a full Environmental Impact Statement.
I would suggest that we could lend more weight to this argument if we were to propose that the monuments are embedded in the Victorian Matrix of the City, and that, in fact, New Orleans’ Victorian Architecture and Heritage, including these monuments, should be preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site…. Again, I made this proposal on the floor of the City Council meetings about 18-15 months ago. Some of you may have heard me, but nobody was willing to join me at that point.
The Monumental Task Committee did a heroic job, but it was not legally imaginative or creative. 17 December 2015 Monumental Task Force Verified Complaint for Declaratory & Injunctive Relief, USDC EDLA, 2015_WL_9302986  17 December 2015 Monumental Task Force Verified Complaint for Declaratory & Injunctive Relief, USDC EDLA, 2015_WL_9302986.

 I suggest that there are other avenues we could explore, but I sure don’t want to try it alone…