Letter: Publishing baseless story hurts public’s faith in justice system

It is unfortunate when any person who has been elected to the judiciary is accused of violating the trust bestowed upon him or her because it lowers the community’s faith in our criminal justice system. As such, it is sad that Judge Yolanda King was indicted for two felony counts of filing a forged election document and filing a false public record. Therefore, it is vitally important that the justice system diligently works to seek the truth so the community can have confidence in the outcome.

It is even more disappointing that King’s attorney has attempted to convert this process to a political circus by leveling downright dishonest attacks at the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office — an office that is not even prosecuting the defendant in this case.

In a filing this week in Criminal District Court, King’s attorney claims that an assistant district attorney in my office was present in the grand jury room when King was indicted. This is not true. He claims that an assistant attorney general made such an assertion in a response to a discovery request. He is being knowingly disingenuous with the court.

In his request, he asks, “Identify all local District Attorney’s [sic] that were present during any point during the grand jury process.” The assistant AG responded, “A separate case was presented to the Grand Jury by an Assistant District Attorney prior to my presentation; however, I do not know the name of that individual.” The assistant AG clearly states that the ADA presented a separate case prior to her presentation. Nowhere does it state that the ADA was present in the grand jury when the AG’s office presented its case against King. No ADA was present in the grand jury room when King was indicted, and King’s attorney has no evidence to support his baseless accusations.

What is most unfortunate is that The Advocate chose to print these meritless accusations without attempting to verify the true facts. My office recused itself from this investigation nearly a year before King was indicted to avoid this very sideshow.

While I understand that King’s attorney is responsible for presenting a favorable case for his client, his actions here are unprofessional. The Advocate’s decision to publish meritless accusations without checking the facts will only encourage others to do the same thing, which will unfairly deprive this community of faith in its criminal justice system.

Leon A. Cannizzaro Jr.

Orleans Parish district attorney

New Orleans

Editor’s note: The Advocate contacted the District Attorney’s Office Wednesday evening before publishing the story.