NEW ORLEANS (CN) – Two black public defenders claim the Orleans Public Defenders office fired them without notice after Hurricane Katrina, and fired all the other black public defenders in the office, and replaced them with “young, inexperience(d), unlicensed Caucasians.”
“All African-American Public Defenders were terminated without notice,” the two plaintiffs claim in Federal Court.
“The plaintiffs were Public Defenders with the Orleans Indigent Defenders Program – now the Orleans Public Defenders – for several years, until laid off due to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and dire financial loss to the now Orleans Public Defenders office,” the complaint states.
“By letter from Tildon Greenbum, the then director of the program, effective Oct. 1, 2005, the reduction of the staff would continue until restoration of adequate funding. It was further stated that the Board intends to return to its previous staffing level upon improvement of its financial situation.
“The Caucasian attorneys that were previously employed, prior to Hurricane Katrina, retained their employment as they were part of the skeletal crew, due to the Public Defenders financial situation … . The plaintiffs, however, were terminated without notice and replace (sic) by young inexperience (sic) unlicensed Caucasians. All African-American Public Defenders were terminated without notice.”
Willard Brown Sr. filed the case on behalf of himself and Irona Renfro.