The following was submitted by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board should investigate the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office for issuing fake subpoenas that threatened witnesses with fines and jail time to coerce them into answering prosecutors’ questions – actions that violate rules of professional conduct, according to a complaint the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed with the board today.
An investigation is needed to determine the scope of the practice and to hold the lawyers involved accountable for violations of the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct, which forbid lawyers from engaging in deception, according to the complaint. The filing notes that District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro has admitted that his office had engaged in the practice since 2009, but has refused to divulge which assistant district attorneys were also involved.
If the board finds that violations occurred, it could recommend probation, admonition or the filing of formal charges against Cannizzaro or the attorneys under his leadership who used the fake subpoenas.
“District attorneys have almost unchecked discretion in our criminal justice system,” said Lisa Graybill, SPLC deputy legal director. “As Louisianans work to reform the state’s criminal justice system and shed the title of incarceration capital of the world, district attorneys must be held accountable when they abuse the public’s trust.
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