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Brendan McCarthy / Eyewitness News
Email: bmccarthy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @bmccarthyWWL

NEWORLEANS- A retired Criminal District Court judge is likely to play a key role in establishing a federal consent decree over Sheriff Marlin Gusman and his prison complex.

Attorneys for the groups negotiating the consent decree have discussed the appointment of Terry Alarcon to the position of 'special master,' according to court records. The special master would examine the funding issues between the jail and the city, and report back to a federal judge overseeing the negotiations.

After months of back-and-forth, attorneys for Gusman, the City of New Orleans, the U.S. Justice Department and the Southern Poverty Law Center, have reached a deal on the consent decree, at least in principle, court records show. But one hold-up remains: just how much will the jail reforms cost?

That's where the special master comes in.

According to a court order filed Tuesday, attorneys involved in the negotiations have until Wednesday afternoon to object to Alarcon's appointment, or suggest other candidates for the job. The attorneys are scheduled to meet again Thursday with U.S. District Court Judge Lance Africk.

Gusman and the state of the jail have been under scrutiny for years. The SPLC filed its federal civil rights lawsuit in April and the Justice Department recently joined the case against Gusman. The case is to serve as a vehicle for an eventual consent decree.

Alarcon retired in January after 15 years on the bench at Tulane and Broad. He joined the New Orleans office of law firm Chaffe McCall in September. He has been practicing law since 1979, and previously worked as a state prosecutor, Municipal Court Judge, and later Chief Judge of Criminal Court.

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