New Orleans and "Martial Law"
Now I admit I haven't been watching TV, but I'm a little hesitant to fully believe the reports that New Orleans has been placed under "martial law" (or, as this local TV station says, "marshal law"). I've checked on both the Lousiana Governor's office website and the New Orleans city website and neither of them mention such an announcement. The New Orleans website has a blurb that says a "state of emergency" has been declared, but that's a long way from martial law, under which people are tried by military tribunals.
A lot of people are passing this information on, including Michelle Malkin. From what I'm reading, I'd say the state of emergency is empowering police and National Guard units to enforce a curfew, but I really don't expect we'll see looters being tried by courts martial. Until I see an official announcement, I'll say that these reports are coming from people who don't understand what "martial law" really means.
Staying at PD...
Update 1014 30 Aug: Immediately after I posted this, I found that Donald Sensing has much more, in much greater detail.
Update 1330 30 Aug: A commenter at One Hand Clapping dug up the applicable Louisiana statute dealing with a "state of emergency". In the meantime, the most recent UPI story still says "martial law" was declared. Many of this type of story claim to get their information from "state officials", but it's clear these unnamed officials don't know what they're talking about. Some of the websites that originally announced the "news" are now retracting the claims.
Update 2115 30 Aug: Via Michelle Malkin, we get what appears to be the definitive word on the question of whether or not martial law was declared in Louisiana (short answer -- No):
"The state Attorney General's office on Tuesday sought to clarify reports in some media that "martial law' has been declared in parts of storm-ravaged southeast Louisiana, saying no such term exists in Louisiana law.
"But even though no martial law exists, Gov. Kathleen Blanco's declaration of a state of emergency gives authorities widespread latitude to suspend civil liberties as they try to restore order and bring victims to safety. Under the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act of 1993, the governor and, in some cases, chief parish officials, have the right to commandeer or utilize any private property if necessary to cope with the emergency..."
Update 2301 31 Aug: It looks like the Mayor of New Orleans announced this evening that the city is under "martial law". I suppose he can call it whatever he wants, and I'll support him, but unless he's planning on having the military conduct the trials, it isn't the martial law I learned about in the various Military Justice courses I took. (Basically, the demarcation line is whether or not civilian courts remain open in the affected area.)
Update 2238 08 Sep: This article in Slate also explains why "martial law" isn't a good description of the current state of emergency in New Orleans.