Judge takes school shooting case under advisement

Alejandro de los Rios Dec. 17, 2010, 12:00am

After hearing oral arguments in a liability case against the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB), Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Robin Giarusso has taken the case under advisement while she looks over depositions and other case material.

Orleans residents Valerie Barracks, Angela Robair, Johnnie Brown, Keva Jackson, Michelle Brown and Gloria Williams are suing the OPSB and the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) on behalf of their children who were victims and witnesses to a shooting at John McDonogh 28 high school, which resulted in one death and three injuries.

The plaintiffs claim that the defendants did not take the necessary precautions to protect the student body, including ignoring signs that the shooting victim was the target of a rival gang and failing to close a hole in a fence through which the shooters gained entrance to the school.

New Orleans attorneys Clifford Cardone, Patricia Dean, Peter Derbes and Metairie attorney Clement Donelon are representing the plaintiffs. Cardone filed Barracks' original petition for damages in April 2003. That case was consolidated with suits filed by Robair, Brown and Williams.

New Orleans attorneys Roy Rodney Jr., Norlisha Parker Burke and John Etter are representing the OPSB. The New Orleans City Attorney's office is representing the NOPD.

Plaintiff and defendant counsel have until Jan. 7 to submit memorandums in support of their cases.

A ruling in this case could have a major impact on school liability requirements in Orleans Parish. A central issue in this trial is that the student murdered, John Willliams, had a police record and was a target of local gang. The plaintiffs claim that the officials at the school did not do enough to recognize problem students and the threats they posed to their classmates.

During the trial, NOPD Detective Danny McMullen testified that there was no doubt Williams was the target of the shooting, as the result of his investigation concluded that the shooters stood over the victim's body before shooting him with an AK-47.

Orleans Parish Case 2003-06336

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