district 42



Lubaantun (pronounced /lubaːnˈtun/; also Lubaantúnin Spanish orthography) is apre-Columbian ruined city of the Maya civilization in southern Belize, Central America. Lubaantun is in Belize’s Toledo District, about 42 kilometres (26 mi) northwest of Punta Gorda, and approximately 3.2 kilometres (2 mi) from the village of San Pedro Columbia, at an elevation of 61 metres (200 ft) feet above mean sea level. One of the most distinguishing features of Lubaantun is the large collection of miniatureceramic objects found on site; these detailed constructs are thought to have been charmstones or ritual-accompanying accoutrements.

The city dates from the Maya Classic era, flourishing from the AD 730s to the 890s, and seems to have been completely abandoned soon after. The architecture is somewhat unusual from typical Classical central lowlands Maya sites. Lubaantun’s structures are mostly built of large stone blocks laid with no mortar, primarily black slate rather than the limestone typical of the region. Several structures have distinctive “in-and-out masonry”; each tier is built with a batter, every second course projecting slightly beyond the course below it. Corners of the step-pyramids are usually rounded, and lack stone structures atop the pyramids; presumably some had structures of perishable materials in ancient times.

The centre of the site is on a large artificially raised platform between two small rivers; it has often been noted that the situation is well-suited to military defence. The ancient name of the site is currently unknown; “Lubaantun” is a modern Maya name meaning “place of fallen stones”

In Louisiana, the Poor Lack Legal Defense
The constitutional obligation to provide criminal defense for the poor has been endangered by funding problems across the country, but nowhere more so than in Louisiana.
By Campbell Robertson

Josh Chevalier, 18, has been in the Lafayette Parish jail for three weeks on burglary charges, with no lawyer and no court date in sight. […] In a hearing that lasted a “minute or two at the most,” the judge set a $52,000 bond and that was that. Since then a detective has interviewed him twice, he said, and the public defender’s office sent him a letter explaining that no lawyers were available. His mother is suffering from dementia, his father will not take his calls and his savings from a job at Dairy Queen are not nearly enough to make bail, not to speak of hiring a lawyer, he said.

Without a lawyer, he cannot make the case for a bail reduction. Without getting out of jail, he cannot go back to work. And so he waits.

No public money = no public lawyers

Natasha George, who until recently was one of 10 lawyers defending the poor of the parish, stood before the full gallery of defendants. “I’m the public defender in Vermilion Parish, right now the only public defender,” she said. “Due to a lack of funding for our district and our office, today we will be taking applications for our service but you will be put on a wait list.” […]

The constitutional obligation to provide criminal defense for the poor has been endangered by funding problems across the country, but nowhere else is a system in statewide free fall like Louisiana’s, where public defenders represent more than eight out of 10 criminal defendants. Offices throughout the state have been forced to lay off lawyers, leaving those who remain with caseloads well into the hundreds. In seven of the state’s 42 judicial districts, poor defendants are already being put on wait lists; here in the 15th, the list is over 2,300 names long and growing. […]

Judges throughout the state have ordered private lawyers to represent people for free, prompting objections from members of the private bar. Some lawyers being conscripted are tax and real estate lawyers without any background in courtrooms or criminal law […] With felony caseloads already far above the professional standard, the public defender concluded that turning down cases was the only ethical option. In January, the American Civil Liberties Union sued over this in federal court. […]

No public money << the funding system is corrupt

While the board distributes a central fund to the various districts, that state money is simply meant to supplement what for nearly all the districts is the main source of revenue: traffic tickets and local court fees. Louisiana is the only state where local ticket revenues account for a significant source of public defender revenue […] The funding for a given public defender’s office can depend on whether there is a highway or a casino in the parish, whether there is a road construction project or a bad flood or even, Mr. Dixon said, a hotly contested sheriff’s election that is accompanied by a dip in traffic tickets. […]

All of this highlights the contradiction at the heart of Louisiana’s public defense system. For those with little money, trends away from tickets and jail time may be a welcome development. But those same trends jeopardize a poor person’s ability to get a lawyer if he or she needs one. […]

“All of those are policies we’ve supported,” Derwyn Bunton, the Orleans Parish chief public defender, said of measures to reduce incarceration and punitive fees. “But because of the perverse incentives and the absurdity of our system, it’s hurt us here in the public defender’s office.” Pointing out that court fees are paid only on conviction, Mr. Dixon added: “It’s even worse than that. Our revenue is partially dependent on our losing.”