by Lee Harville
Shreveport recently has been met with unspeakable tragedy. One of our brightest was murdered doing what police do every day: moving toward danger, toward a person bent on harming another. He followed his oath to serve and to protect. Though there may have been safer alternatives, he acted to protect us, an act of devotion to his oath that cost him his life.
This is the same unflinching devotion that we will show those left behind to mourn. It’s the same steadfast support we pledge to the entire Shreveport Police Department, the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office, all law enforcement and first responders. Let there be no doubt, however, that the District Attorney does these brave people no service by trying criminal cases in media nor the court of public opinion. The District Attorney serves and protects law enforcement by guaranteeing them and the community that killing a police officer is inexcusable, intolerable and the consequences severe.
The pitfalls of trying a case in the public arena, rather in the court room are myriad. Among them, the accused may move for a change of venue, denying the people of Caddo Parish their voice in the process that seeks to see justice done. Other consequences could be more dire; a lawful, correct conviction may be overturned, and a killer set free among us.
To protect police officers, the District Attorney must build an ironclad case based on the facts. In capital murder cases, there must be a transparent, thoughtful and consistently applied process to determine whether the death penalty will be sought. The District Attorney must have built the community’s confidence that the death penalty is appropriate in certain cases and that it will be applied evenly and fairly, and only after each step in the determination process is met.
To protect police officers, the District Attorney must have the available facts and be able to demonstrate to a jury that the death penalty is the correct decision in a particular case. The District Attorney must act openly with the jury so that they are able to return a clean verdict of guilt, so that verdict may withstand the appeals process. Likewise, the District Attorney must deal fairly with the defendant’s counsel to assure that the sentence of death will be upheld and ultimately carried out.
The District Attorney must be an active part of the prosecution team of some cases, most certainly in capital cases. As the leader of the prosecutorial portion of our criminal law system – the person who makes the decision to call for death – the District Attorney must publicly and personally protect our officers and seek death under the law when an officer is murdered.
Justice demands no less. Police officers and first responders deserve no less and will be given no less when I am your District Attorney.
Douglas Lee Harville
This is part of a continuing educational series of articles allowing all candidates space to explain their reasons for running for office as well as addressing questions voters should find valuable. This link will appear at the bottom of all articles in this series and allow easy access to previous articles. Limited to ONE (1) article per week per candidate.