Friday, June 29, 2007

A statement from Nakita Shavers

The following is a statement from Dinerral's sister, Nakita Shavers:
"My family and I are not satisfied with the investigation and prosecution that have taken place so far. I understand the DA's decision to dismiss today, in that this decision leaves open the possibility of reindictment. I also understand the reluctance of the young witnesses to testify. It can be very intimidating, especially for someone so young. My family and I have every hope and expectation that the investigation of my brother's case will continue and will include all possible angles, witnesses and evidence, including the firearm ballistics for which we are still waiting."

Case dismissed

The case against David Bonds, the accused killer of Dinerral Shavers, was dismissed today in the New Orleans criminal court system. Why? Because the DA was unable to locate the witnesses, or in some cases, unable to compell them to testify after they had given their statements. The public defenders were able to throw out all testimony outside of the courtroom. The gun was retrieved, but in six months, no ballistics were run. There's no telling how many other crimes it may have been used in. And since no one wants to go to the trouble of testing, I guess we may never find out.

Back in January, I met with the ADA handling the case and were told that they NEVER get cases in which there is this much from the start: multiple witnesses, a weapon, motive, etc. Yet the case fell apart before our eyes, and talking to the key players along the way, it would seem the reason is this: no one felt it was their responsibility to get a conviction. The DA's office would only do the minimum with what the detective gave them. The detective would only do the minimum as far as getting statements and investigating leads. And so, here we are, and the great tragedy is that none of it is that surprising.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

BSL comes to Baton Rouge

Because there so few problems for them to work on, the Baton Rouge city council is now working on some breed specific legislation which will do nothing to keep people safe, and everything to mislead the public about "dangerous" dogs. I'm all for enforcing existing laws pertaining to all dogs. This rarely happens. But with elections coming up, its always nice to be able to claim you have saved lives with a new piece of legislation. Here's the story:

By SCOTT DYER
Advocate staff writer
Published: Jun 28, 2007 - Page: 1B

Despite concerns from the parish attorney, Metro Councilman Mike Walker is moving ahead with tough new regulations aimed exclusively at pit bulls. Parish Attorney Wade Shows repeatedly has warned against regulations that treat pit bull owners differently from other dog owners, claiming there's a good chance the rules could be found unconstitutional.

"Last time I checked, the parish attorney works for the council, and he has to be prepared to defend whatever we pass in court," Walker said. "He needs to be ready to go to court if somebody wants to sue us over this, and he needs to defend it strongly," Walker added. Shows said Wednesday he still has concerns about the breed-specific regulations Walker is pushing.

"My legal opinion is that it is problematic, but the person who makes the final decision about whether it is problematic is a judge," Shows said. As parish attorney, Shows said his job is to give advice and make recommendations so the regulations would withstand constitutional scrutiny.

Shows said a draft ordinance released Wednesday is his office's best effort to recommend breed-specific regulations that might stand up in court. His office is warning against an outright ban of pit bulls. The proposed ordinance, drafted by Assistant Parish Attorney Nikki Essix, would require owners of pit bulls to get special licenses and abide by regulations that would not apply to other dog owners.

Pit bulls would have to be registered within 180 days after the ordinance were passed, and owners would be required to have microchips installed in the dogs to identify them. Breeding of pit bulls would be prohibited in residential neighborhoods. If kept outside, pit bulls would have to be confined in a crate or in a pen or kennel within a locked, fenced yard. A home or business with a pit bull would have to post a sign saying "Pit Bull on Premises."

Pit bulls would be prohibited from entering schools, day-care centers or nursing homes. Essix drafted the regulations at the suggestion of a committee consisting of Walker, his legislative assistant Zona Pickens, city-parish Animal Control Director Hilton Cole, Sherwood Citizens Association President Jackie Gray and civic activist Gary Patureau, who witnessed a pit bull attack on a young boy this spring.

Walker said the tough regulations likely would prompt fierce opposition from pit bull owners. "I don't know what we're realistically going to be able to pass, but I am going for what's in writing (in the draft), and the council can make any changes that it deems necessary," Walker said. Walker introduced the proposed regulations Wednesday, which are set to go before the council's Executive and Finance Committee on July 18.

WHO TO CONTACT:
Hilton Cole, animal control: hcole@brgov.com
Mike Walker: council-dist8@brgov.com
Joe Greco, Mayor Pro-Tempore, council-dist4@brgov.com
The rest of the council has addresses running for council-dist1 through council-dist12.

Nikki Essix, the ill informed lawyer who drafted the plan, can be reached at nikki@scbllp.com.

Wade Shows, the only person who seems to know what he's talking about, can use some support at pa@brgov.com

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Susan Minot's "Evening"

One of my favorite books of the past ten years is Susan Minot's Evening, which is now a "major motion picture." I'm not sure how, or when, or why I first read her work, but I'm pretty sure it started with her second book, "Lust" and then moved back to "Monkeys" and then onto "Evening" which I read in galleys after sharing a cab ride with the author on the way back from JFK to Manhattan. We had just met at a regional booksellers event in Boston and ended up on the same plane back to New York. She was on an expense account. I was not. She offered to pay; it was our one and only conversation.

Susan had attended Columbia's MFA program ten years before I had, and I was surprised to find her firing questions at me about my experience there. She was famous, I was not. The questions were supposed to go the other way around. Did I feel like it was worth it? Did I feel like I fit in? Who were my favorite teachers?

I was working in publishing at the time. "You need to see the world," she said as our cab weaved its way in and out of traffic. She meant it sincerely. And literally. But she said it with such urgency that I was caught of guard and probably a little insulted. And yet she was right.

Like all of her work, Evening is melancholy, almost musical. It plays with memory and repetition and chance. And it has an amazing moment toward the end in which Ann Lord, dying from cancer for the length of the book, has an amazingly unromantic yet inspiring epiphany about the relationship that formed her life. In other words, its unfilmmable.

Still, I was a bit shocked when the ads for the film came out announcing "from the author of THE HOURS." And the clips introduce a plot conflict that seems lifted more from Michael Cunningham's work that from Susan Minot's. I know he's writing a lot of screenplays these days, but there's something mangled about giving credit to "the author" who is the screenwriter, but naming his famous book which he didn't adapt for the screen himself. And I like Michael Cunningham. He's an amazingly nice guy. I'm sure he didn't write the ads.

All of this has made me a bit skeptical about seeing the movie, although it is hot out, and the theater is nearby. Maybe I'll just reread the book. Meanwhile, the New York Times has an interesting story on their awkward collaboration.

In today's New York Times...

Has anyone else noticed that the Arts Briefing has turned into a gossip column? Today's lead story is the news that Paris Hilton has been released from jail. The next story is about Lindsay Lohan extending her stay in rehab. This is art.

In the Dining section, the front page provides readers with an innovative recipe for iced coffee: soaking coarsely ground coffee beans in cold water, straining it with cheese cloth and then adding ice and milk! This generated several giggles at Coffea, where we were all drinking our cold-brewed iced coffee with milk.

It is so hot and humid here in New Orleans that this is the most I can manage to post. Perhaps I'll find the strength to add something more interesting later in the day, when delirium has taken full hold of my senses.