Civil District Judge Kern Reese held New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu in contempt Friday (Sept. 4), but said he would give Landrieu one week to come up with a reasonable plan to pay an outstanding judgment due to the city's firefighters before imposing a house arrest sentence.
Reese said he understood Landrieu was constrained by a tight budget, but that did not mean he had the right to shirk a legal judgment.
"This is a legal issue," Reese said. "We all have responsibilities and those responsibilities have to be met."
If Landrieu didn't have a payment plan in place by Sept. 11, the mayor would be spending his weekends at home until that changed, Reese said. From 5 p.m. Fridays to 5 p.m. Sundays, the mayor would not be allowed to leave his house without the "express written consent of this court."
Landrieu, who appeared in court along with the City Council, had no reaction as Reese made his ruling and left the courthouse stone faced without answering questions. The contempt order stems from a decades-long legal battle centered on state-mandated raises that previous administrations did not pay in accordance with the law. The city agreed last year to pay $75 million to satisfy the firefighters' back pay claims but never actually came up with the money.