DISTRICT ATTORNEY ORDERED
TO TURN OVER NAMES
BY MARTY CARLSON
Civil district court judge Nakisha Ervin-Knott has ordered Orleans County district attorney Leon Cannizzaro to disclose the names of all prosecutors in his office who used “fake subpoenas” to compel witnesses to talk to them. Cannizzaro has been given 20 days to produce those names. And those are just the ones that are from 2017, they must also provide the same information going back to 2013.
It was previously reported, Cannizzaro had sought to jail a domestic violence victim after she refused to respond to a fake subpoena’s office had sent her. The document had the word “subpoena” at the top of the page even though they had not been signed by a judge, which meant disobeying them would not be a criminal offense.
Cannizzaro has received substantial backlash about these fake subpoenas, with some people calling for him to be removed from office. In the District Attorney’s Office is said to fake subpoenas would no longer go out and be replaced with document that said, “notice to appear.”
The ACLU of Louisiana had asked the District Attorney’s Office to provide information identifying the lawyers in his office who issued or authorized the fake subpoenas. When he refused, the organization sued under Louisiana’s open records laws.
Judge Ervin-Knott agreed the information was public record and ordered the DA to comply.
Cannizzaro has had other issues in the past, recently it was revealed a shooting victim was taken into custody and jailed after their office feared he would not testify against the man accused of the shooting.
In addition, Cannizzaro has also jailed rate victims who refused to testify against their attacker. A New Orleans newspaper reported that in 2016 one woman was jailed for eight days after refusing to testify against the man who raped her.
Attorneys representing Cannizzaro’s office did not argue to the court that the information sought was any way privilege, but contended the request should be denied because producing the records we require manual examination of nearly 20,000 cases for each year. He argued that staff time was overly burdensome on an agency already spread too thin in the wake of $600,000 budget cut levied this year.
The attorney also argued a public records request cannot interfere with the offices constitutional and legal duties.
Once again it appears that a top law enforcement agency has forgotten what their constitutional and legal duties are, Putting money over dispensing justice. And it sounds strangely familiar that victims are turned into criminals, while the criminals are still walking the streets.