Wednesday, March 12, 2008

City Attorney's Office

Karen and I are working at the New Orleans City Attorney's office for the week and so far it's been a challenging and engaging experience. The office lost half it's staff after Katrina and all the attorneys are struggling to manage their incredible case loads. I have been working on a 1st Amendment appellate brief, arguing to have the court affirm a district court ruling that a city ordinance did not breach the appellant's free speech rights. Karen is working on a large scale case involving real estate, tort and environment law which I'm sure she will talk more about when she posts her blog so I'll just leave it at that. Just in case she doesn't, it's complex and difficult litigation that I might be helping out with when I'm done with my brief. I've been impressed by the quality of the attorneys here who are experienced and capable of handling a wide range of complex litigation issues. The atmosphere is casual and there is a strong sense of camaraderie amongst all the workers which consist of secretaries and attorneys specializing in all kinds of law.

The other day we went to the housing agency across the street to listen to some hearings on the ongoing demolition and eminent domain takings of abandoned or blighted homes. Present in the small office where the hearings took place were a couple attorneys, one acting as a magistrate, and a housing agency supervisor. Several residents of property owners came in to save their homes from being considered "blighted" by the city, which gives the city the power to appropriate owners from their homes and take their titles. There are some due process issues involved here that are bothersome to me and many alike. Because owners took refuge in other cities and states when Katrina hit, there is no sure-shot way of notifying them that the interest in their homes are being threatened by the state other than written notices on the doors of their homes. The homeowners I saw at the hearings were amongst the lucky ones who were notified of the threat in time, only to come in and find out that they have a legal duty to either board their front doors and windows or keep their grass cut or else their homes will be taken from them. It's pretty ridiculous but the city apparently has an interest in maintaining a standard of aesthetic appeal and maximizing the utility of land; whatever that may entail...

1 comment:

Karen said...

Sadly I deal with the people who never find out..