Battle over funding heads to Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals

A battle over money heads to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday.

The Orleans Clerk of Criminal Court says he needs more to run his office. However, the Landrieu administration says Arthur Morrell has overspent for years.

Morrell believes budget constraints are keeping him from hiring more employees. Beginning next week, bond services won't be available overnight.

Morrell says he has lost 23 employees over the last two years. With another retiring at the end of the week, he doesn't have the staff to continue 24-hour bond services.

The city's chief administrative officer says this is just posturing ahead of a hearing in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

A lower court judge in December ruled in Morrell's favor, saying the city had to give his office enough money to fund 90 positions.

One local bail bondsman says not having bond services overnight will end up costing the city because they have to pay for every prisoner housed in the jail.

"If they can get in the door quick enough, they might be able to get their paperwork processed by the bond clerk and get out that night," said Matt Dennis of Steve's Bail Bonds. "But there's a change that the person being arrested, because we arrest 24-hours a day. New Orleans now only doesn't release for what, 12 hours a day, so we're going to be arresting 24 and releasing for 12. I'm not sure how that works."

Wednesday, the fight over budgeting for the clerk of criminal court's office goes before an appellate judge.

Morrell said according to state law, the city is 100 percent responsible for funding his office.

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