NEW ORLEANS -- Eyewitness News has obtained a copy of a letter Clerk of Court Arthur Morrell sent to the city the day the controversy of funding between Morrell and Landrieu administration erupted.
At issue is whether in the midst of a funding dispute Morell threatened to shut down court.
A letter from Morrell was sent to New Orleans Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Kopplin on Tuesday.
In it, he accuses the city of interfering with his office by “blocking ... vacancies that need to be filled."
As a result, he charged, "you will have to bear the responsibility for Section A not holding court today. Any criminals that may go free because they did not have their day in court will be on your hands."
Later that evening, Morrell reiterated his position to Eyewitness News.
“It may cause some criminals to be back on the street because the city will not follow state law,” Morrell said.
But Wednesday, after Morrell found himself on the hot seat with City Council members, he said reports he'd threatened to shut down Section A were wrong and blamed his long time public relations firm, which he fired.
The press release we received Tuesday night clearly stated "Morrell said he had to shut Section A down."
But Thursday night, Morrell said he never shut any court down, never threatened to and doesn't have the authority.
He also brought us a paper, which he highlighted and claimed was his original, unedited press release. In it, he mentions court was closed, said the city had violated laws and predicted "Section A may not hold court tomorrow or the next day or who knows for how long.
Was it a threat he had no authority to make? Is it all semantics? Or is candor in question in criminal court?
You be the judge.
We contacted the judge in Section A for comment on tonight's story.
Judge Lori White said simply, "This is just another day at Criminal Court at the corner of Tulane and Broad dysfunction."