The U.S. Justice Department is conducting a wide-ranging probe into potential ticket-fixing at Orleans Parish, La., Traffic Court, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Federal authorities have reportedly btained video and audiotape evidence showing bribes being paid. Acting U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s office recently directed court officials to turn over the case files for 215 tickets.
Sources said authorities have evidence that implicates numerous clerical employees and at least one assistant city attorney. The operation has involved the use of at least one undercover agent and has been under way for more than a year. City attorneys have wide discretion in handling cases. Without giving a reason, a city attorney can choose to drop a case. Judges also have fairly broad latitude, but they typically must give a reason for dropping a case, and they may not do so until it reaches their courtroom.