New Orleans Times Picayune: Louisiana death row inmates testify to ‘indescribable’ heat at Angola prison

By Lauren McGaughy, | The Times Picayune 

August 06, 2013

Two inmates from Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola testified to what they called “indescribable” heat levels on the death row tiers, during the first day of a federal trial in Baton Rouge on Monday. The suit was filed by three offenders who said preexisting medical conditions put them at a higher risk for heat-related illness and death.

But the most telling testimony Monday was arguably that of Deputy Warden Norwood, who took over the role in charge of the death row tiers since February 2011. Norwood said she denied the inmates’ initial requests to be provided with relief from the heat because none of them had previously exhibited heat-related illnesses.

“My understanding is they were hot and they wanted air-conditioning,” Norwood said, claiming requests filed in 2012 for relief did not mention health conditions or how they related to heat concerns.

Nilay Vora, counsel for the plaintiffs, then read Code and Ball’s requests, which both raised concerns about heat-related feelings of sickness. The documents also request air-conditioning or “any other cooling system” to bring the heat down to “reasonable levels.”

Upon questioning, Norwood added she did not place the inmates on a “heat precaution” inmate list after the requests because none were on psychotropic drugs.

However, James Magee, the suit’s third plaintiff who did not appear in court Monday, is currently taking anti-depressants. Magee was convicted in 2009 of the shooting deaths of his wife, Adrienne, and his 5-year-old son, Zach, near Mandeville, as well as the attempted murder of his two daughters.

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During her testimony, Norwood also said she had no prior knowledge of the intent to install the window awnings and said she was told but not consulted about the wall soaking exercise, which was ultimately unsuccessful because of low water-pressure.

These steps would not have been taken without the approval of Warden Cain, Norwood added. Cain, who was present in the courtroom, did not testify Monday.

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New Orleans Times Picayune: Angola prison inmate injunction deferred, judge asks for more information in extreme heat case

By Lauren McGaughy, | The Times Picayune 

 July 03, 2013 

A federal judge in Baton Rouge wants more information about the conditions at Angola prison‘s death row before deciding whether to grant a preliminary injunction in a suit brought by three inmates. The offenders filed the suit in June, claiming the high temperatures at Louisiana State Penitentiary death row facilities amount to cruel and unusual punishment.

Nilay Vora, a lawyer representing the three inmates, countered by saying the tubs of ice water are placed outside of the inmates’ cells and that shower temperatures are consistently between 106 and 117 degrees, a fact Wilson acknowledged.

Vora argued the high temperatures — consistently above 90 degrees with a heat index of up to 197 degrees — amount to cruel and unusual punishment.

He said the fans simply blow around hot air, which can exacerbate heat-related illnesses, and noted the inmates are required to stay in their cells for 23 hours per day, where they are out of reach of the ice chests.

Vora added that the conditions amount to discrimination against these three inmates in particular, all of who suffer from hypertension and who are on medication that increases their chance for heat-related illnesses and death. Additionally, Ball is diabetic and Magee is on depression medication.

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LA Times: San Gabriel votes to seat councilman-elect after residency hearings

San Gabriel votes to seat councilman-elect after residency hearings

May 07, 2013|By Frank Shyong | Los Angeles Times

The San Gabriel City Council voted to seat councilman-elect Chin Ho Liao on Monday, concluding a series of public hearings sparked by a resident’s election fraud complaint.

Liao was the second highest vote-getter in the city’s March elections, but the council voted not to seat him after Fred Paine accused Liao of living outside the city.

As part of the same action in March, the council began its own inquiry into the question of Liao’s residency. Two ousted incumbents provided two of the votes to launch the hearings, prompting raised eyebrows from election experts.

Attorney Nilay Vora, in partnership with a legal team from the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, argued that Liao’s moving patterns were partially caused by a rocky marriage and stressed that Liao always intended to move within the city’s borders.

Vora and the center’s attorneys represented Liao for free because they believed Asian voters were being disenfranchised. The city’s population is about 60% Asian, but the council has seen just two elected council members of Asian descent in its 100-year history.

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89.3 FM KPCC: San Gabriel City Council decides to seat councilman-elect

Attorneys Deanna Kitamura, center, and Nilay Vora, left, celebrate on hearing that Councilman-elect Chin-Ho Liao, right, will be permitted to take his seat on the San Gabriel City Council. SHARON MCNARY/KPCC


May 6, 2013

The San Gabriel City Council voted 3-1 Monday to set aside a challenge to the residency of councilman-elect Chin-Ho Liao and let him take the oath of office.

With Liao and Jason Pu, who also was elected in March, San Gabriel will have two Asian-American voices on the council for the first time in several years. Only two other Asian-Americans have won elective office in the city’s 100-year existence.

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LA Times: San Gabriel council deems itself judge over election results

Officials hold their own hearing — with sworn witnesses — to decide if the second-highest vote-getter should be seated because of a local-residency challenge.

April 27, 2013|By Frank Shyong, Los Angeles Times

San Gabriel Councilman-elect Chin Ho Liao was the second highest vote-getter in the city’s March elections, but his first time on the council dais last week was as a witness under cross-examination.

The City Council voted not to seat Liao after resident Fred Paine filed a complaint alleging that Liao’s true residence is outside of the city’s borders. Though Liao has filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court to contest the council’s vote, the city has also created its own hearing process to determine Liao’s residency.

Liao’s attorney Nilay Vora said that Liao has always intended to move permanently to San Gabriel and argued that Liao was not simply renting apartments within city borders, that he was living in them as well.

Vora subpoenaed three neighbors who testified that they had met Liao, regularly saw his car parked at the building and heard his movements in the apartment through shared walls. Liao also submitted a receipt from a moving company and described his possessions, among other evidence.

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