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Legal affairs reporting portfolio


Methods of 'war on terror' under scrutiny

"Torture memo" author John Yoo defends his legal reasoning, while two of his his colleagues assail him, during a forum at Chapman University, April 21, 2009. See Web Sage section on torture.


Cold-blooded crime of passion

Lafayette, La. physician Richard Schmidt was convicted of attempted second-degree murder for injecting his spurned mistress with the AIDS virus.
Excerpt of trial coverage by Bruce Murray
Conclusion of the trial, reported by Bill Decker

The death penalty

Killing twice 'wouldn't bother' him

More than 20 years ago, Kenneth Lee Kenley went on a murderous rampage in southeastern Missouri, killing one man and causing grave danger to many more. During his first trial, Kenley was convicted and sentenced to death. Kenley was tried a second time for sentencing. Complete coverage of the second trial is archived here:

Day 1: 'Aggravating circumstances' — Prosecution and defense make opening statements.
Day 2: Eyewitness testimony — Two witnesses recount the day Kenley killed, robbed and kidnapped.
Day 3: Highway to death — After shooting Ronnie Felts in the Blue Moon tavern, Kenley heads down the highway, threatening others with death.
Day 4: Jury recommends death penalty.
Sentencing: Judge Douglas E. Long concurs with jury and sentences Kenley to death by lethal injection.

Civil rights

'A Ripple of Hope'

Louisiana couple sacrifice friends and social standing for inviting dialogue with their black neighbors during the 1960s. Rose Mae and Bernard Broussard persevered, and now they are honored in their community for their courage.

Martin Luther King Day, 1993

Column recounting the celebration in Danville, Ill.

Crying Game

Commentary on the Northern Ireland conundrum

Free speech, obscenity and community standards

Faux 'family values' shock Lafayette

Community members and leaders voice protest over the "Family Values" concert tour, headed by nouveau shock-rockers Korn, Rammstein and Limp Bizkit. But Cajundome Director Greg Davis said the show would go on. Follow-up story includes discussion of Miller v. California and other legal and constitutional issues.


Pre-conception torts

The Missouri Supreme Court rules that a child — injured by the negligent medical treatment of his mother more than two years before he was born — can sue for damages.

Environmental law

EPA shuts down chemical company

The Criminal Investigation Division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shuts down Antifreeze Inc., of Abbeville, La., following the uncovering of numerous illegal toxic dumping sites operated by John W. Broussard. Series of stories archived here include the following:

May 9, 1996: Feds raid Antifreeze Inc.
May 10, 1996: Raid of Broussard sites expands.
July 23, 1996: Broussard case lounges in court system. Legal analysis of case details costly delays in court process, while situation at toxic sites deteriorated.
Oct. 11, 1996: John W. Broussard indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with the illegal dumping of toxic waste. See additional details of the indictment in this sidebar.

World's stupidest criminals

Couple shocked to find naked stranger in home

NEW IBERIA — A couple arrived home from work one afternoon to find a naked woman they had never seen before in their bathroom.

Injured burglar leaves blood prints at scene

NEW IBERIA — A burglar who cut himself breaking into Verna's Hallmark Shop splattered blood all over the store and left several bloody hand prints at the scene.


Court may be in step, but is it in tune?

A critique of the Supreme Court's then-newest appointment, Clarence Thomas. Published Oct. 24, 1991, this is the author's first attempt at a personal column/editorial.