August 13, 2007

D.A. Jordan's Crime Update

At the Crime Prevention Roundtable II Saturday, New Orleans District Attorney Eddie Jordan gave the small audience a D.A.’s office update.

Here are the highlights of his highlights, with a few quotes. I took these from an audio recording I made, so you may cite the figures and quotes safely. I worked seven years at a TV news station, so I know a thing or two about accurate reporting. I also assume the Roundtable has been or will be broadcast on public access television, so you can check me.

The sound quality of my recordings is not broadcast quality. Otherwise, I would post the audio. But, if you really want to hear it, you can email me (email address is in the sidebar) and I will send it to you.
New Orleans District Attorney Eddie Jordan’s Update at the Crime Prevention Roundtable II, August 11, 2007

Screening Division – Keva (Kee’-vuh) Landrum appointed chief of Screening Division; screening division is where case begins: initial appearance of offender, bond set, D.A. receives police report, then screening process begins; specialized screening assistants (narcotics, sex offenders)

6,304 arrests for state charges, Jan 1-Jun 30 – “While I fully respect the assistance provided by the federal government, you can see that our numbers are much, much, larger.”; screening division has screened 6,660 cases, Jan 1-Jun 30; charges accepted in 56% of those cases; “…the national norm with regard to local prosecutors is roughly around 50% or so. So, we’re certainly within that range…”; “before the storm we were up to 70% in our acceptance rate”; 3,750 cases accepted, 2,910 refused

Witness participation still problem in victim crimes – trying to provide more than temporary housing; “We have relocated individuals to other parts of state and as well as to a safe house in another state that we maintain as a safe place for, a safe haven for our crime victims and witnesses. And we don’t relocate individuals. We relocate families many times. And many times we’re talking about single parents with several children. And it is a tremendous challenge because my office has never been allocated any funding for this kind of service.”; the most recent federal appropriation has money for victim/witness assistance

701 releases – “The 701 release problem… which had pretty much come to an end before the storm. We had very few cases resulting in 701 releases.”; “The 701 release period is the 60 day time period after an arrest occurs during which the police and prosecutors have an opportunity to get the information into the D.A.’s office so that the prosecutor can make an informed decision about the merits of the charge. And, if insufficient information I available, then of course the case cannot be accepted. The problem since the storm has had to do with drug cases and the unavailability of our drug lab. And, that problem continues to exist but it is not as great a problem as it once was.”; Jan: 580 releases; Jun: 118; Jul: 150; 74% decrease from January; “The overwhelming majority of these 701 releases are still drug related, even with our acceptance of the field tests that’s been talked about. The field tests were never the issue. It’s always been a problem of the crime lab. But, the crime lab is more functional now. And so, the 701 release problem is going away. That’s a good thing.”

Economic crime – D.A. has received 2,000 complaints of contractor fraud; 88 active investigations; 20 outstanding arrest warrants; 45 cases pending trial; $222,000 obtained by D.A. office in restitution

Trial Division – at least 2 prosecutors assigned to every section (12 sections) of court; “It is our goal always to closely supervise our young prosecutors, many of which have less than two years experience as trial attorneys.”; salaries higher; 177 cases tried since Jan 07; 67% conviction rate for judge trials; 63% conviction rate for jury trials; 1490 convictions; 1384 convictions in pleas; 106 convictions in trials

Violent Defender Unit – “Violent crime is, I believe, the number one concern of the citizens of New Orleans. And, certainly, homicides are part of that. And, I have always believed that every life – every life – is valuable. Every life is important. And, it’s not that a person has a particular title or a particular status in the community.

I did not know Dinneral Shavers. I didn’t have the privilege of knowing him. But I know that he was, based on all accounts, he was a man of tremendous importance to this community.

But we have many people who have criminal histories. Maybe homicide victims who have criminal histories. We treat their cases with the same respect and professionalism that we treat Mr. Shavers’ case.

It’s important in every case that we have witnesses come forward. And, when we do have sufficient evidence, we will accept that case for prosecution and we will do everything in our power to make sure that that person is brought to justice and justice is served.”

Violent Defender Unit (con’t) – assign homicide cases to violent defender unit; 9 violent defender prosecutors; most experienced prosecutors; average experience is 10 years in violent defender unit; 92% conviction rate

Child Support Division – $27 million collected in child support in 2006

Public Corruption Unit – majority of cases resulted in successful prosecutions
Commentary to come later.

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