Mediocrity- is that something to strive for in the criminal justice system?

Newell Normand
Thursday, September 21st

A big falling out at the New Orleans City council meeting – we’re gonna talk about it.

This segments guest:
Dave Cohen - WWL's News Director


Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Welcome back Ginn in this hour we have Dave Cohen. I news director at WWL here in new re going to be talking about the bombastic meeting that occurred yesterday budget hearing before the council. And it just kind of seem to me that. In many respects we were striving for mediocrity. In the criminal justice system as a relates to national averages and things of that nature as as. More specifically as it relates to. The acceptance rate of cases being brought to the district attorney and his willingness to prosecute saying. Little disingenuous to me but Dave watching give us the backdrop of what went on at the council meeting yesterday. Well the district attorney for the city of new war on Leann Canas there was called in for a budget hearing it's the time of year when the council calls all of the heads of all the departments and to hear what they feel about the mayor's budget proposal on how much money they should get. This comes on the heels of last year the district attorney's budget being cut by several 100000 dollars and some really heated debate over why that is banned. And in this meeting yesterday after his presentations. Several council members kind of took turns. Really going after the district attorney on several issues leading the charge in some respects was councilwoman Susan gauger. Who explained why she feels that the district attorney prosecutes too many cases the DN OPD brings to his office. Tried and tried and tried. To give the message. That. We need. The DA's practices. To come into the 21 century. Give three talks specifically about the acceptance rate being too high and told the district attorney that. He is out of line for accepting too many cases. The highest percentage of accepted cases that were closed in 2016. I went to the category of drug distribution possession with intent to distribute. And minor offenses not the violent crimes as the DA continues to state. So not only did she feel that the DA is accepting the wrong cases in prosecuting go wrong crimes but overall she said she feels like. There are just too many cases that he's accepting. The DA is exceptionally high acceptance rate. Which you know folks would we want criminals to be prosecuted. But when your rate is. Outdoor roof ninety plus percent say in ninety plus percent at the police reports that charges that are made by the police are worth. Prosecuting. And that just is not too. Is it it it it stretches credibility there. And the DA. Was not asked any questions during give tree's presentation so he didn't get to respond then a little later we'll hear what he said when councilman Jason Williams asked him about the same issue. So it seems to me that less comment is that she is really attacking the credibility. Of the police. In the cases that they are making. At the present time whether it be the violent crime cases of the drug cases are otherwise. I find that absolutely. Incredulous and offers no you know data in order to support it up I was the police chief. I would be freaking angry but those comments. You know this comes in for a little bit of history look here you recall that under district attorney Eddie Jordan and when Leon Canas aero was first elected. That there was vast outcry. That the police were not writing good enough cases we're not presenting good enough cases to the district attorney and the district attorney was not accepting. A high enough percentage of the cases. That police brought to the district attorney's office. Well now Canon zero years later after a couple of terms in office we see he's taking flak from the City Council because they feel like. He is accepting far too many cases. And based on what the council members told him at this meeting they're really sound like they felt that he should. Not except. Good cases brought to his office to that there should somehow be. Beyond the screening process which get three actually said was a good screening process to determine which cases should be accepted. Decisions are made beyond that I'm which cases to accept and which ones to reject and I find it interest staying. To have this debate when looking at OK well then what factors should be used when deciding what cases to accept and reject if it's not. The strength of the case presented by the arresting officers. In a day of my my predecessor. Sheriff Harry Lee as well as myself always. Stock to the mod for a then our rest. Are only as good as the DA's prosecution. And the fact of the matter is when you think about. The NO PD the officers that risked their lives every day. Doing these drug interdiction cases going after these robber is gone after these burglars and everything else. That we would have to have an accepted. Follow ray. That as. Councilwoman get jury. Quotes. Of being average you're you're you're you're above the national average but that's not. All we talk about is how in Louisiana and in the city were below national averages on everything and that now we were actually wanna strive to be mediocre. It did did sound like that based on what I heard is why it did three seems to want from Canon's aero is. For him to accept fewer cases because he's accepting more than most prosecutors in the country. And that she says that that diminishes his credibility. Because he is prosecuting. A higher percentage of cases brought to him. Coming up we'll hear more on what basis he says he is accepting those cases and that screaming match seek out into with councilman Jason Williams. Okay where you gonna be right back we really wanna hear from you we're talking about the council meeting yesterday in art striving to be mediocre. So college set final four to 601870. Or tech's 87870. Will be right back this is Noual armament OWL. We're back with debit every Els news director Dave Conan Dave on attacks line. That's an asinine statement that the DA is accepting too many cases what will that do to the morale of the police officers if the DA is. Not gonna prosecute the cases because he accepts too many. So what else happened at the council meeting yesterday. Well he really the district attorney Leon Canas Arum got into with councilman Jason Williams they had a heated exchange on this same exact issue. On the allegation from the entry from Williamson the DA accepts too many cases. William specifically. Was upset about a grant application that the DA filed. In which is office estimated they would prosecute 90% of the cases that the police bring him. Zoostorm does not sit anywhere estimating acceptance of what appeared to case after an individualized screening process. Is said we're setting an artificial goal. A quota of accepting more than a fifty cases which is improper and it at an unethical. Or any prosecuted you know. And you know what that's why you backing away from again not cut unapologetic Gary's you can agree or not part of. New York's mayor do you think there's a case that we just accepted as a quota where there's no basis Bart. Bring it to my attention that's what I ask you to do. And things got even more heated from there as the two continued to discussed it. Show me a case we accepted where there was no probable cause for that. Funny acceptance of that particular judge which is the ethical standards that I must abide by so you show me that one case and I will apologize to mr. Williams. But until you do that autos and auto and not even I don't find we're out of line. Don't need or want your apology. What I need you to do is stand by the words that you write when you apply for federal grant and the rosy in the words that you wrote. Why are an artificial quota. A 450 cases. It's improper it's an ethical and it's now would you promise to people of the city. Analytic confused by that so he's taken some language out of a grant application. That's probably based on historical experience. Of the 450. Cases in trying to say that he's applying an arbitrary number and therefore. You know it is a quote. Corrected when the DA's office filed the application that is grant. In the writings of according to Williams they said that out of 500 cases they would accept 450. Williams sees that as a quota as the fact that the DA is saying that's what we're going to do regardless of the strength of the case is presented by the police officers and regardless of the facts of each case he was insisting that each case should be. Evaluated independently and you should not have a preset idea of which cases you'll accept the DA responded by saying that's not what I was saying. I had to give them an idea in this grant application of how many cases out of 500 we would prosecute. He said that they cannot and challenged as you heard the councilman to show one case where they accepted a case that did not have probable probable cause for prosecute. And it it never. Meant to deviate from his constitutional authority in standard that he has to live up to an acceptance of these cases. And mr. Williams should know as a lawyer. That statement is purely political posturing. And misleading. And very weak to say at least. You know really got uncomfortable watching these two square off in the council chambers they clearly. Don't have a whole lot of respect for each other and they clearly don't like each other very much. And it became abundantly obvious that. These council members in particular. Really don't care for the way the DA operates his office they brought up several other issues as well. They feel that the DA not only prosecutes too many of the cases the police spring damp but they feel like he transfers too many. Juveniles into the adult court system and they complained. That he is using the multiple. Offender bill. Two more too often the habitual offender bill to go after criminals wins. Past offenses and they got uncomfortable it got to a point where. They really were just hollering and screaming at one another. And it's not real clear what's gonna end up happening once the council doesn't just the budget that the man presented and how they vote. The district attorney is anticipating deeper cuts they couldn't even agree on how much was cut from his budget last year. Today district attorney says that the council took 600000 dollars away from him councilman Williams kept insisting it was 300000 dollars but. It all kept coming back to. The council seemed to believe that the district attorney he is too aggressive. In his efforts to prosecute cases police spring damn to put people behind bars in cases police bring to him. And that he's bringing he has prosecuting what do you agree thought was the wrong cases she said he shouldn't be going it started after. Drug users drug dealers and other nonviolent offenders and should be concentrating more efforts on the violent. France's deficit let's go to his talk line we have on line one John in late Q. John welcome to show what he's thinking about. An injury this. And I out in the first tea boat war but. That your question in the district attorney. Antilles busting too many cases based on the order. Seriously as despicable. You know I get to me it comes down and it didn't want. And that goes for you to do what they were community if we do Fonda. The police and armed register victory if we don't continue our current path. It's kind of here the situation is Jeddah where our you know I mean I'm I'm a loyal Ayers. Guy we were here before Katrina we bought another house here in only hours after Katrina. But I gotta say this current administration is pushing the patience of myself. And a lot of other people that I talked. Almost to the breaking point that we're considering moving. No matter your movements some more I'll just because of the fact that it just. So does Bob. John I'm a little mystified as to. What interest. Miscue entries actually representing because of people that I talked to in the city in New Orleans. And every poll you see crime is the number one issue how do you combat crime well funded police department well funded DA. Judges courts and jails. Tiger and understand I really don't. She's just. Me. She's kind of outside line in district court. He's in the email response as you may call your responses to about another station. Absolutely John thanks for colony we appreciate the comments you know one thing that did and a kind of confusing me as we aren't a situation where every city. That has amongst the highest crime rates anywhere in the nation we have a city. Where crime is always as you pointed out the number one concern in every single poll that anyone's ever asked about what is concerning new. For the city. And then we have a City Council and these two members specifically did jury. And Williams who are accusing the district attorney of being too aggressive in the way he prosecutes crimes. And in prosecuting too many of those crimes. And it starts to meet him make me question how does this check and balance system work between our three arms of government. And it isn't that the judicial branches job. Q really determine if the district attorney is out of line or in any way violating the law. Absolutely because they can make dispositive rulings from the bench as it relates to the admissibility of evidence. Or otherwise and those cases can be disposed of in in many ways shapes and forms through the crow prosecution process. Yep he was accepting too many cases wouldn't the judges then be the ones who were throwing their arms up and saying wait a minute. You're bringing this case is you can't win your bringing us cases that don't meet the minimum standards. To for a prosecution. And if they were acquitting. Defendant after defendant after defendant. It would seem to me that that would indicate they were accepting too many cases on the flip side though the council members did argue that his tactics. Using. The DA's subpoenas which he is now said he stopped using his tactics and charging so many people as habitual offenders and threatening them with extremely long time in jail. And other tactics they say are strong arming people into more plea bargains. Because of the threats that his office Brington they feel that he is unfairly coercing. Suspects in the pleading guilty because of his tactics in many cases don't ever go to trial. Well at the end of the day it all comes back to the evidence right in and either have it or you don't into viability is the case either exist or it doesn't. And the fact of the matter is is that. That's not something new and it's not gonna go away. And certainly. From them their approach of kind of economic credentialing and we'll talk more about that. By trying to punish him economically in order to accomplish what they want philosophically.