Driving under the influence has been very topical of late here on Slabbed as we’ve ended up with a series of posts that began with Jim Brown’s January 12, 2010 column on Louisiana’s dysfunctional DWI laws, continuing with our examination of why DWI enforcement in Jefferson Parish Louisiana stink as we examined the case of Craig Codina, a serial drunk driver who ended up killing 30-year-old Sandra Stevens of New Orleans in August 2009. For those newer readers who want to catch up, the short version of the Jefferson Parish story is that the attorney position responsible for overseeing prosecution of such matters in Jefferson Parish is filled by a political hack in disgraced former Parish President Aaron Broussard’s daughter in law Norma. Of course incomps have to be put in such positions and Slabbed rightfully called out Norma’s boss DA Paul Connick and the Times Picayune for making excuses for him in straight news reporting. (I’ll be circling back to that Connick post in a bit.) Not one to be left out, we next profiled Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, a lawman who must be a big believer in second chances as he finally got rid of drunk deputy Dominick Imbornone after he was caught dead drunk behind the wheel of his police car for a second time! As the video embed followup I posted clearly indicates dead drunk was not too strong a phrase to describe Imbornone.
Now that everyone is caught up lets begin by catching up the coverage here at Slabbed as Codina finally received justice after killing Ms Stevens in his 5th DWI as Paul Purpura reported for the Times Picayune:
A Destrehan man with a history of drunk driving has been sentenced 18 years in prison in connection with his slamming into the rear of another vehicle in Metairie last year, causing the death of a New Orleans woman and injuring another man
Paul is the beat writer for the 24th Judicial District which is why he ended up with the final say on Codina. I had previously criticized reporter Michelle Hunter for her reporting on the accident, specifically her excuse making for the DA on how a 4 time loser was still on the streets. Paul tackles the sequence of events in a different manner and sticks with the facts as we continue:
His first arrest, in St. Charles Parish, happened when he was 17, and because of his age, the incident could not be counted toward subsequent arrests. His second was in Kenner in 2005, resulting in a guilty plea to DWI. He was arrested again in 2008 in Metairie, but had not been prosecuted by the time he killed Stevens.
Indeed the crux of our criticism of Norma Broussard and DA Paul Connick is that it should not take over 10 months to prosecute a DWI/DUI IMHO. Indeed in Mississippi justice tends to move far swifter in such matters as I again highlight the case of former Ocean Springs mayoral candidate Scott Walker as he was back in the news as the Sun Herald’s Margaret Baker adds additional color to his arrest Saturday for drunk driving:
Former Ocean Springs mayoral candidate and local businessman Scott Walker appeared to be asleep behind the wheel of his damaged GMC Tahoe when a police officer, who later charged him with driving under the influence, first approached him early Saturday morning, arrest reports show.
Walker’s vehicle was in a ditch at Halstead Road and Linda Circle, still running, when the officer knocked on a window of the vehicle in an attempt to wake up Walker, the report said.
“I knocked on the window multiple times very loudly, and he awoke after many attempts,” arresting officer Andy Lott wrote in his report. “I asked him to step out of the vehicle, which he complied. I had to help Scott walk to the back of the vehicle because he appeared to be very unbalanced.”
In small town Mississippi everyone pretty much knows everyone else and while Ocean Springs isn’t exactly small by Magnolia state standards in many ways it still retains that small town charm. But small doesn’t mean the Mississippians have proportionally less problems with drunk drivers though. The difference IMHO is how seriously Mississippians take the problems associated with drunk driving as we continue:
Walker’s attorney, Adam Miller, said Tuesday he faxed a not-guilty plea for his client to the Ocean Springs court clerk. He said he’s asked for a trial date, which likely will be some time in May.
One month to trial versus ten months plus. Any questions Norma? To the citizens of Louisiana I’ll add this topic is simply a question of where the priorities lie.