Category: Caddo Parish District Attorney

Media Guilty – Suicide Confirmed

advertising-the-backbone-of-journalismby Marion Marks

Reading the Shreveport Times, it’s all too often interesting to evaluate just how much backbone and investigative journalism exists regarding the examination and reporting of local or national issues, particularly noting the long-term annual loss of subscribers and the shrinking small business base. However on Sunday an editorial on the water billing error appeared that gives me hope that the spine and backbone may be returning to the once-proud local paper.

There have been may questions concerning the choice of stories that make the front section and those that never makes it to press. These choices cause long-time subscribers, concerned citizens and news junkies to question the integrity of the Gannett staff, or has it only been the lazy path of least resistance, “not rocking the boat.” Locally Read more

Caddo Commission – Aim Fire!

SWAG-Caddo_Oarish_prisoner-barsby Marion Marks

Sometimes I allow my impulsive nature to get the better of me, I can be my own worst enemy. But this morning, I counted to one hundred several times, called and touched base with two attorneys I feel have conservative-response tendencies before penned an email to the Shreveport Times, again, regarding an article I wrote last Friday.

As I read the transcript of the Michael Williams case, I recited the mantra of patience and inner peace so many times that I was forced at the end to go for a walk to keep from blowing a gasket. The acronym YCMTSU [You Can’t Make This “Stuff” Up] was boiling over in my conscience effort to remain calm. The steady and even demeanor of the Caddo Parish representatives in the courtroom through the interrogation during the sentencing phase must have been medically induced or simply those present were under strict muzzled orders.

Caddo Parish-hope-in-our-handsThere can be no valid excuse I would rationalize for a steward of the parish, particularly a highly-paid professional, to sit through this barrage of questions and jabs without showing some defense for citizens and particularly Read more

Pruning Dead Wood & Public Corruption

Pecan Tree Shaker-01
Shaking for nuts!

by Marion Marks

Understanding how “the system works” in terms of investigating, prosecuting and convicting public officials who abuse the public’s trust is often like tending a pecan orchard. With every good intention of electing citizens who will be true to their oath of service, we seasonally listen to candidates who chose to run for office, work in some campaigns and finally vote in hopes of electing the best qualified candidate to serve in making the community a little better at accomplishing the tasks required.

Too many citizens focus all their energy on electing a candidate, when in reality, although little can be accomplished by the unelected, the real work begins after the election. Just as planting a pecan tree does not guarantee you will have pecans, we all to often have found that elected officials all too often fail to accomplish most of the items they plan and also fail to live up to the oaths they swear.

Lots of nuts to be had
Lots of nuts to be had

Shreveport and Caddo Parish have too long been step children to south Louisiana, and the expectation that solutions will grow for the state from seed planted here is practically non-existent. South Louisiana easily forgets that Huey Long, for all his faults, began his political career in Shreveport. And many other pivotal Read more

BNA Forum – Corruption Questions

Thew forum representative speakers
The forum representative speakers

I was fortunate enough last night to observe the interaction of law enforcement, prosecutors, elected officials and average citizens during a public forum concerning the general topic of “Public Corruption.” Sadly, not a single member of what we normally refer to as “the mainstream media” was there to observe and report, much less record the event for general public review.

The interchange of ideas and thought was often heated and, at times, anger and frustration was evident in some of the words of citizens who posed questions. However, the demonstration of patience and respect for law and the rights of citizens who chose to step up for public office was commendable. The temperament of the country in frustration with the presidential election was evident behind some comments and aspersions.

But what came out of the forum can best be described as “some steam was released from the local pressure cooker” for some officials, while others appear to have added new fuel to the public clamor for justice. Locally, claims by many

Prosecutions Halted by Judge, Defendants Released!

Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Arthur HunterBy Marion Marks

The defendants’ constitutional rights are not contingent upon budget demands, waiting lists and the failure of the legislature to adequately fund indigent defense,” Orleans Parish District Judge Arthur Hunter said in his 11-page ruling. “In this country, a person who cannot afford an attorney and who has not been convicted, should not remain in jail without a date certain when proceedings will begin and when funding will be made available by the legislature to exercise his constitutional rights to an attorney and effective assistance of counsel.” [NOLA ARTICLE]

Judge Hunter ordered a halt to prosecutions and an end to pretrial incarceration for seven felony defendants for whom the state has been unable to find funding for lawyers and defense preparations. It was that simple and that complex for citizens who were victim Read more

NEW DISTRICT ATTORNEY STEWART MAKES MANY POSITIVE CHANGES IN DA OFFICE

John Settle-Opinion-May 2015Former Second Circuit Court of Appeals judge James E. Stewart ran his 2015 campaign for Caddo District Attorney on a platform of change—both for the victims of crimes and those accused of crimes. Since taking office in November of last year, Stewart has made many personnel changes. And just as important, he has set into place significant changes that have begun to dramatically improve the Caddo criminal justice system.

Some of the new policies may sound like a “well why not” to the uninformed observer—but they were needed in an office of over 70 people that had been very loosely supervised by former Caddo DA Charles Scott who unexpectedly died last spring. why-not-fenceAfter his death, the DA’s office was a loose ship with little direction under interim DA Dale Cox during the period until the November election.

For starters, the assistant district attorneys (ADAs) have a dress code—5 days a week. No more dress down Fridays and Read more

NEW CADDO DA STEWART HANDS OUT CHRISTMAS PINK SLIPS

John Settle-Opinion-May 2015

 New Caddo District Attorney James Stewart was sworn into office on December 1. Since then the roster of Caddo assistant district attorneys has changed dramatically—and continues to do so. How the transition finally shakes out will probably not be known for a few more weeks—and during the interim Stewart aka The Grim Reaper continues to send shock waves through the district attorney offices and the Caddo criminal courts. Stewart’s ardent criminal defense attorneys wanted some change in the line up of assistant district attorneys (ADAs),- but none expected the wide spread fall out from Santa Stewart that is hitting all the criminal sections.

DA-Pink Slips for Xmas(11)Dhu Thompson, the outsider who had a good chance of becoming DA before the Soros money flooded into the Stewart camp, resigned immediately after the run off election on November 24. The tumultuous tenure of acting DA Dale Cox ended when Stewart became the District Attorney. Cox resigned with an effective date of December 31; additional retirements include Elizabeth Eisenhart (effective December 17), Ford McWilliams (effective year end) and Lisa Rogers (effective January 17).

Stewart’s first firing was Jason Brown—the son of Second Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jason Brown. Jason had been on the criminal defense bar hit list from the beginning of the campaign and his termination was expected—and cheered by many. Thereafter Read more