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New Orleans officials delay home demolitions while federal judge ponders suit

[JURIST] Officials in New Orleans have agreed to temporarily halt the scheduled demolition of thousands of private homes severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive] until a federal judge decides if he will hear a legal challenge. Community activists originally filed a lawsuit in state court to block the destruction of nearly 5,500 homes, arguing that some homeowners have not received proper notice; the complainants are now trying to shift the case to federal court. Opponents of the plan, including the National Urban League [official website], question the city's intent and suggest that the demolition will push out poor black residents and destroy neighborhoods [AP report] most heavily damaged by the storm. New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin [official website] insists that the city does not intend to displace citizens, but must destroy any structure that poses an "imminent threat to public safety". A hearing on removal of the case to federal court is scheduled for January 19. AP has more.

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