Free Speech

A defamation case against the state of Louisiana, its legislative auditor and its state inspector general can continue, an appeals court in the state ruled, finding the defendants are “juridical persons rather than natural persons,” and don’t have a constitutional right to free speech. David LaCerte, the former secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, claims the defendants wrongfully accused him of criminal conduct in a report and press release.

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Covid-19 Restrictions

A district court prematurely determined the petition process used by House Republicans in their attempt to lift Covid-19 related restrictions was unconstitutional, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled. The case is remanded and the lower court instructed to rule on all non-constitutional arguments and reach the constitutional challenge “only if such a challenge is essential to resolution of the case.”

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Police Beating

Two Gretna, Louisiana, police officers who beat and tased an unarmed man with paranoid schizophrenia — who became unresponsive and died two days later — are not entitled to qualified immunity on excessive force claims, the Fifth Circuit ruled. The man, who was not suspected of any crime, was curled in a fetal position and did not struggle against the officers, called for his mother and pleaded for someone to “call the real police” as he sustained 26 blunt-force injuries.

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Mayoral Power

A state appeals court reversed an abuse of power conviction against the former mayor of Cotton Valley, Louisiana, finding there was no proof he used his position to get a neighboring town to dismiss marijauna charges against him. However, the court found the former mayor was properly convicted of abusing his office for asking for a $500 check from the town clerk.

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