In 10 years in office, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s trials team has impacted New Orleans’ murder rate by taking more than 675 killers off the streets through successful homicide convictions.
The Trials Division features those Assistant District Attorneys assigned to present evidence and witness testimony before judges and juries at Criminal District Court, where criminal defendants stand trial for charged offenses. Prosecutors in the Trials Division generally are assigned to handle docketed cases in one of the 12 sections of criminal court. Prosecutors are expected to try criminal cases in accordance with state law, the Louisiana Bar Association’s Rules of Professional Conduct, and adhere to the highest ethical standards.
Criminal prosecutions of defendants charged with the most severe crimes — such as murders and rapes, where a lifetime prison sentence either is mandated or possible – are headed by the elite veteran prosecutors of the MOT unit (Major Offense Trials) or the SAKI unit (Sexual Assault Kit Initiative). The OPDA’s office also has prosecutors specially tasked to cases involving New Orleans’ criminal street gangs and to high-volume drug distribution networks. The cooperation and assistance of federal law enforcement partners including the FBI, ATF, DEA and U.S. Attorney’s Office provides additional support in our ongoing effort to stem violent crime in New Orleans by bringing its perpetrators to justice.
In 2017, OPDA prosecutors secured convictions in 75 percent of the criminal jury trials that produced a verdict, a percentage that exceeds the national average of 71 percent reported by the National Center for State Courts in 2003. The OPDA’s conviction rate was even higher – 77 percent – in 2017 jury trials involving crimes of violence.
“Presenting evidence to a jury in a clear, methodical and ethical manner is a critical skill that must be developed,” DA Leon Cannizzaro Jr. said. “The talent and dedication these young attorneys show under fire every day is a credit to the victims they represent and the community they serve.”
Under Cannizzaro’s leadership, New Orleans police and prosecutors have forged a collaborative working relationship. The partnership is exhibited in weekly “charge conferences,” in which NOPD supervisors, detectives and prosecutors consult on cases of homicide, sex crimes, armed robberies and other serious violent offenses. The charge conferences have laid the foundation for building and accepting better cases, and helping ensure the correct defendants are being tried and convicted.
After achieving an overall 92.3 percent felony case conviction rate in 2015, the OPDA’s office improved to 94.3 percent in 2016, 96.3 percent in 2017 and 92.8 percent in 2018.
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- 619 South White Street
- New Orleans LA 70119
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