JAMES STEWART—THE GREAT PRETENDER FOR CADDO DA

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John Settle-Opinion-May 2015To those who have closely followed the campaign of James Stewart for Caddo DA, nothing is a surprise that comes out of his mouth—or what does not come out. Stewart’s entire race has been a series of “I do not know” or “I will not comment”. Although Caddo voters deserve more from someone seeking to become District Attorney, it is unlikely that Stewart will change his pattern from being a tightly-scripted candidate controlled by his white political handlers.

Stewart was trained by former Caddo DA Paul Carmouche who also trained Dale Cox. Stewart_Forum-DealThe death penalty cases that have been subject to national media scrutiny were prosecuted during Carmouche’s tenure as D.A. Stewart may “pretend” that he is the answer to correcting the death penalty brouhaha, but he has not explained his DA background, why he was very hard on black criminal defendants – – or his record as a Caddo District Judge and Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge when he was known to be very “law and order” when deciding cases with black criminal defendants. Evidently Stewart is “pretending” the families of black defendants have forgotten his actions.

Caddo District AttorneyTastes Like ChickenStewart has failed to explain why he spent more than 4 times the average of his fellow judges for travel/education expenses while a judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Or why he needed to go to Los Angeles on the taxpayer’s dime for a week in late July of this year– just a few weeks before he declared his candidacy. Evidently he expects voters to “pretend” his travels were Ok. And that he was not working on his announcement speech while in the City of Angels.

Bilboard_Run_James_RunAnother unanswered question concerns the “Run James Run” campaign that was launched in July by some of his most ardent supporters. Stewart denied any knowledge of the campaign which featured billboards, newspaper ads, and flyers. His involvement in this effort would have been a violation of the Judicial Canons of Ethics—which seemingly was not a concern of Stewart while a judge. Again, voters are expected to “pretend” that Stewart was completely in the dark on this highly publicized PR effort.

Stewart formally announced for the DA race on August 13 of this year; he retired on September 8. The Judicial Canons require a judge to retire the day he announces for a non-judicial race like DA. Stewart has never advised if he had the permission of the Louisiana Supreme Court to stay on the state payroll to the tune of over $10,000 after announcing and before the retirement. Presumably Stewart expects voters to “pretend” that this was all Ok.Stewart_Pretender_Candidate

Stewart’s most ardent supporters are criminal defense lawyers—many of which ponied up the maximum contribution of $5,000. Some of this group tried to “buy off” Laleisha Walker Alford by promising her a big job with Stewart if she would not get in the DA race; after she qualified this group put out the word that she would be buried. (Similar heavy-handed pressure was put on local merchants who had signs promoting other DA candidates to take down the signs.) Presumably Stewart will “pretend” that job offer was not made with his authority.

Perhaps the biggest “pretend” by Stewart has been his comments about the $406,000 political action committee (PAC) formed by New York billionaire George Soros—all of these funds were dedicated to promote Stewart’s campaign. Countless slick TV ads on numerous channels were aired in the last few weeks of the primary campaign—all featuring Stewart and pushing his election bid. Stewart “pretended” that he had no knowledge of the PAC and the $406,000—or even the production of the ads.

Stewart continued his “pretend” campaign in his comments on election night—saying that although he started his race “last”, he was “just overwhelmed” to finish “first”. Maybe he forgot about the “Run James Run” effort, – – or that the expenditure of $406,000 that should have won him the election outright Saturday night After 10 weeks of “pretending” on the campaign trail, it is doubtful that Stewart will change his ways in the 4 weeks of the run-off election; he may just have to “pretend” he is the next Caddo DA on November 25.

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