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Letters to the Editor


The Strain of Justice
Nothing defines Americans better than the words "liberty" and "justice." Nothing protects those rights better than the United States Constitution. Nothing threatens our Constitution more than tolerance of those in power inside our own country who openly deny the Constitution's protections to American citizens.

Sheriff Jack Strain of St. Tammany Parish recently claimed that he intends to have his armed deputies "visit" anyone found in his parish with two hairstyles associated with black Americans. But the "first" people he believes "we should put on a rail and get out of here" are "defense lawyers." His comments suggest he is opposed to the Constitution, which not only prohibits the racial profiling his comments imply he promotes, but guarantees a right to be defended by the very lawyers he wishes to "put on a rail" and run out of town.

Among other things, the Sixth Amendment to our Constitution guarantees that people accused of criminal acts have a right to assistance of counsel for their defense.

We are certain that Americans of all colors who have shed their blood to defend this wonderful Constitution of ours deserve every right for which they fought and today are fighting. Sheriff Strain's ill-advised words threaten them and all Americans who would pass his way.

Our system is not perfect, but it works. It works better than any other system in the history of man. The right to counsel separates our democracy from many "police states" like the former Iraq, Cuba, U.S.S.R. and China before Deng Xiaoping's Open Policy. The Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is proud of the men and women who protect the Sixth Amendment rights of Americans everywhere, including St. Tammany Parish, and including Sheriff Strain himself.

John Calmes
President  La. Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Good Cop, Bad Cop
In response to your story "NOPD Blues" (Aug. 1), the NOPD has a public relations problem that it should face. One way to reduce the stress of the rank-and-file NOPD officer and benefit the public is to formally publish in detail what disciplinary action was taken against all of the NOPD officers who were derelict in their duty relative to Katrina.

I know that sometimes the best policy for an organization is to handle its dirty laundry in private out of public scrutiny. But the public is already well aware of the various breakdowns of the NOPD, from commandeered Cadillacs to NOPD squad cars spotted in Texas.

In order to restore public confidence in the officers who did properly perform their duties, a distinction must be made between those officers who did and those who did not. As a citizen, I do not know if this or that NOPD officer was part of the solution or part of the problem.

Bring in some much-needed sunlight. Let us, the public, know precisely what the NOPD did to discipline its errant officers and thereby restore some public trust in the organization. Until such a distinction is made, NOPD officers will continue to experience the stress of a public which perceives "... New Orleans cops as corrupt and incompetent particularly at the height of Katrina-related looting."

Let's air it, separate the good from the bad in the public eye, and move on.

Joseph C. Meynier III

Metairie Party Hearty
Aug. 29? A city in need of a party need look no further than midnight Nov. 30, the end of the 2006 hurricane season, when all New Orleanians will give a unified sigh of relief and be ready to party, and when tourists will no longer fear a visit to the city.

Consider the opportunities for a Katrina-related parade with floats skewering FEMA, the Corps of Engineers, HUD, Brownie, Nagin, William Jefferson, Kimberly (Williamson Butler) -- she could have her own parade -- Judges in the Caribbean, Allstate (the "good hands" people) -- the list goes on. Imagine the throws: FEMA trailer keys, insurance-settlement checks, get-out-of-jail-free doubloons.

The city government might not sponsor or support such a politically charged celebration, but even if they did, it is unlikely that it could pull it off, since a "Night of Comedy" was beyond its organizational capabilities.

This is a job for local businesses, vendors, the citizens and an innovative Mardi Gras krewe that could make it an annual celebration with fireworks at midnight. This date doesn't conflict with any other established holiday. So forget Aug. 29th, and Le Bon Temps Roule Nov. 30!

Hank Glindmeyer

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