Newell Normand: NOT HER BUSINESS

Newell Normand
September 23, 2017 - 10:52 am

The New Orleans City Council and District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro are in a dispute over whether or not Cannizzaro's office is prosecuting too many cases. I sat down with the DA to discuss this mess.

Newell Normand's HOT TAKES -

I was incredulous over the dialogue that went back-and-forth between the City Council and District Attorney?  Are we aspiring to be mediocre?  We're complaining about accepting too many cases for prosecution.  The DA isn't responsible for making the case; he has no control over NOPD. For years, everybody has been talking about how they want aggressive policing and want to feel safe. Now all of a sudden, we don't want the DA to accept so many cases.

If we have an arrest rate that's very high but it leads to unsuccessful prosecutions, what have we accomplished?  There is a strong nexus between what the police do and what the district attorney does.  We want there to be a strong symbiosis between parts of the criminal justice system.

Councilmember Susan Guidry has said that City Hall officials haven't had any luck working behind the scenes about coordinating with the DA on prosecutorial decisions. I don't know what she's talking about because she has nothing, zippo, to do with the Louisiana Revised Statues. Those are passed by the State Legislature. NOT.  HER.  BUSINESS.  If she doesn't like it, go fight with the Legislature.

New Orleans D.A. Leon Cannizzaro answers questions about his budget.

All we've heard for years is that we need to hire 500 more police officers. Let's say we could wave a magic wand and get those additional officers. Well, if we do, the district attorney's caseload will go up; and he will need funding. You can't, on the one hand, desire more police, and on the other, tell the DA to reduce acceptance rates.

New Orleans D.A. Leon Cannizzaro answers questions about his budget.pt 2

It's mind-boggling that we don't think about the morale of the police department when we're having this conversation in public. We're hearing about police officers giving a damn, trying to do the right thing, trying to make their cases as strong as possible; and that should always be the goal. What would happen to the morale of the department if we just cut acceptance rates? It would heap even more on them, and it would make it more difficult to create healthy relationship and move these cases forward.

The national average is a combination of the lowest performing and the highest performing officers in the country. So average is not the bar the community wants to set for fighting crime. We want to set the bar high and not accept anything less.

New Orleans D.A. Leon Cannizzaro answers questions about his budget. Pt1 Hour 2

While I was doing my research, I came across this statement; and I find it compelling. “Equally important as protecting the rights of the individual is the necessity to protect the interests of society.” You just can't avoid certain types of cases and let it run amok. We have to protect the interests of society.

When I look at it, it's interesting that the district attorney gets funded at a lower rate than other offices around the state. If you want a robust criminal justice system, you have to finance it. It's not cheap. There are five spokes to the system: the police, the prosecutor, the indigent defender board, the judges, and the jail. They all have to be funded, and they all have to work effectively if you're going to reduce crime.

New Orleans D.A. Leon Cannizzaro answers questions about his budget. pt4 Hour2

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