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In Agreement With DA, State AG To Prosecute Some Cases In New Orleans

An agreement between New Orleans District Attorney Jason Williams and newly elected Gov. Jeff Landry will allow the state Attorney General’s Office to prosecute cases in the city stemming from arrests and investigations made by the state police, despite the fact that Williams and Landry ran for office on nearly opposite criminal justice platforms. The announcement comes at a time when conservatives across the country are targeting other local progressive prosecutors, hoping to strip them of power.  Republican lawmakers in other states have passed bills allowing state attorneys general to step in to prosecute certain crimes refused by local DA’s. When viewed against national dynamics, the new New Orleans partnership seems to provide a unique counterpoint. Though the state would not usually have the authority to enter the Orleans courthouse and try cases, Williams has invited prosecutors from within an office run by Donald Trump-backed Liz Murrill, to handle cases instigated by the state police, an agency under federal investigation for racial profiling and excessive force by troopers.

Some who supported Williams’ bid for DA saw the agreement as another move away from his campaign promises. Majeeda Snead, a clinical law professor at Loyola University New Orleans, who has been a criminal-defense attorney in the city for decades, said that she had been hopeful about Williams’ election and the possibility of a new approach to prosecution in the city. “It is definitely in contradiction to this reform platform that he ran on,” said Snead, of the agreement with the AG’s office  “Everybody wants to feel safe in their own communities. The question becomes, what is the best approach? We have had a history of ‘lock them up, throw away the key.’ I don’t care how long we’ve done it, it has not worked.”


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