LIVE: The constitutional issues of Special Counsel investigation of Russia, Trump and campaign

Friday, 10 June 2016 11:24
The game of prosecutor misconduct in Louisiana
Written by 
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Has prosecutorial misconduct become an epidemic in Louisiana?  A number of national publications seem to think so. Nary a week goes by when there is not a story of some Louisiana prosecutor supposedly pursuing justice by breaking the law.

Just this week, the New York Times ran a lead editorial calling out Louisiana by alleging that prosecutors “are almost never held accountable for misconduct, even when it results in wrongful convictions. Among the most serious prosecutorial violations is the withholding of evidence that could help the defendant prove his or her innocence– a practice so widespread that one federal judge called it an epidemic. Nowhere is this situation worst then in Louisiana where prosecutors seem to believe they are unconstrained by the Constitution.”

OK. Maybe that’s an aberration.  One national publication taking a pot shot at the Bayou State?  I mean, can it really get all that bad?  Unfortunately, the answer is yes.  Just Google “prosecutorial conduct in Louisiana” and seem how many different stories pop up.

How about this expose’ just two weeks ago in the Huffington Post:  “It seems incontestable that Louisiana’s criminal justice system is in a state of collapse. The state judiciary appears to be oblivious to violations of the constitutional rights of criminal defendants; prosecutors continue to violate the rights of accused with impunity, especially by suppressing exculpatory evidence.”

Or how about this headline from the Washington Post:  “In Louisiana prosecutor offices, a toxic culture of death and invincibility. The article outlines the ongoing problem of prosecutor misconduct, using Louisiana as the poster state to explain why even egregious misconduct not only isn’t punished but also is often incentivized.”

Perhaps the most blatant example of prosecutors abusing the public trust was the New Orleans conviction of Dan Bright for first-degree murder.  Both the FBI and the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office suppressed a statement from a confidential FBI informant identifying somebody completely different as the triggerman.  Bright received the death penalty and stayed on death row for nine years in a coffin size cell for 23 hours a day.

The foreman on Bright’s jury that unanimously voted for the death penalty was a lady named Kathleen Norman.  She was a guest on my radio program a few years back, and told my listeners:  “I came to know that the FBI had suppressed key evidence. The decision to keep information from the jury that Bright was innocent makes a mockery of our system and turns citizen-jurors into patsies of the state.”

Louisiana is not an aberration when it comes to prosecutorial misconduct. A recent Pew Research poll found that only 46% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the Department of Justice. There certainly are a number of parishes were prosecutors insist on fair play and try to seek out a just result.  But it is obvious that criminal justice system in the Bayou State has some serious problems when it comes to adhering to the law. Thankfully, there are responsible officials looking for stronger checks and balances.

New Orleans District Attorney Leo Cannizzaro has put in place a new conviction integrity unit working with the Innocence Project to investigate wrongful prosecutions.  And New Orleans Congressman Cedric Richmond has introduced federal legislation to undertake independent review when allegations are made of misconduct by Justice Department attorneys.  If there was not such a pervasive problem in Louisiana of prosecutors violating the law, no such oversight would or should be necessary.  Such independent review is both needed and long overdue.

Citizens in Louisiana and throughout America deserve better. As Bob Dylan says in his song Hurricane, justice is not a game.

“How can the life of such a man
Be in the palm of some fools hand?
To see him obviously framed
Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
Where justice is a game.”

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at 

Jim Brown

Jim Brown is a Louisiana legislator, Secretary of State and Insurance Commissioner.  

Login to post comments
  • Cat Fights on the Hot Cement Confederate New Orleans statues
  • Ex-Saints, Bears, Bills, NFL Exec, Jim W. Miller discusses NFL Draft tomorrow
  • Trump's new plan; Curtains on tax returns release; 40% say Trump-Russia; Probing Obama admin
  • Watch Louisiana Governor Edwards talk about CAT Tax failure

catRarely, have I seen few issues that have generated as much raw heat, tension, and passion than the Confederate monuments controversy. 

Just as existed during the real civil war, where brothers battled brothers, social media is the battleground, particularly Facebook, pitting friend against friend.

On one side of the tense divide, there are those who are protecting the New Orleans civil war era monuments.  Burnt in effigy, forever, is the symbol of Mayor Mitch Landrieu for up-ending what the monument protectors consider to be the loving civil society of New Orleans.

Lately, events have turned somewhat militaristic.

Some protectors of the Confederate monuments have been staying vigilant, in person and online, even surveilling during the wee hours of the morning, waiting for the next Mayor Landrieu attack. On Sunday morning, with protections of snipers, masked workers and a dumbstruck audience, the worst of all of the monuments was cut and carried., the Liberty Monument. 

Read More

miller nfl live2 5It’s D-Day or Draft Day tomorrow in the NFL.

More specifically, Thursday represents the first day of the NFL draft 2017.

Read More


trump curtainsThe major President Trump news of the day focuses upon taxes, not only the tax cuts he is proposing but his own taxes, which he obviously, refuses to unveil.


Read More

edwards play money 1

At a press conference today, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said the CAT Tax did not pass the House Ways and Means Committee.  The Governor, in addressing the media said that "the fate of that bill was decided long before we unveiled it".

Read More

BB Menu


Sen. Appel talks budget, economy


Dead Pelican

Optimized-DeadPelican2 1 1