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New Orleans judge delays prisoner release reviews

[JURIST] New Orleans Parish criminal court [official website] Judge Arthur Hunter Thursday deferred a threatened [JURIST report] review of prisoner records in anticipation of release which he earlier said he would begin [JURIST report] on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive] Tuesday. Instead, Hunter said that New Orleans District Attorney Eddie Jordan [Wikipedia profile] must sort through the backlog of an estimated 6,000 pending cases and dismiss those for which there is not sufficient evidence. In response, Jordan said there are far fewer criminal cases waiting to be prosecuted than previously thought - 3,052 in total.

The New Orleans court system has been overburdened [JURIST report] since Hurricane Katrina, leading to the imprisonment of many suspects without access to attorneys, court dates, public defenders, and formal charges, all of which impose constitutional concerns. Many New Orleans courtrooms have not yet reopened, limiting court dates to every other week with a maximum of six cases heard by a judge per day. AP has more.

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