Williams Can Thank Trump, Letten, and Cannizzaro for his victory.
4 Keys to victory
Jason Williams’ election as the new District Attorney in New Orleans surprised many . After all, the current councilman at large is under federal indictment for inflating his business expenses. And his opponent was a respected retired judge without a hint of scandal. There are four keys to Williams resounding victory. Our lame duck President Donald Trump is one of the primary factors in Williams victory.
National Change in Prosecution Approaches
Many major cities around the country have elected reform District Attorneys. Despite decades of lock ‘em up and throw away the key policies, cities struggle to permanently curb crime. New studies are beginning to provide information that show that cities with the highest incarceration actually had the highest crime rates. And the city most frequently pointed to was New Orleans. And for decades, New Orleans has been both the incarceration capital of the world and one of the world’s most violent cities. With the election of Williams, NOLA can now chart a new course. Williams office can be one of the leaders in prosecutorial reform. Big cities, like Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and Houston are seeing reductions in overall crime. Just because their prosecutors have not prosecuted petty nonviolent crimes.
Williams’ campaign received major financial support from national advocates promoting reform.
The very notion that a black man in America could be under federal indictment with an open and active case and still win by a landslide is remarkable. Yet the railings of Donald Trump have opened the eyes of many. His constant criticism of the entire criminal justice system allowed others to question the system. From Comey and the FBI to replacing US Attorney General Jeff Sessions or questioning the qualifications of federal judges, Trump upset the paradigm.
The US Attorney’s office is no longer a paragon of justice and integrity. Now the office is viewed as a bunch of legal bureaucrats with personal axes to grind. So Williams claims that the local US Attorney’s office is targeting him is not out of the realm of possibility.
Previous African American politicians making these claims were scolded for trying their cases in the media. Trump and his allies fervently propagated in the notion of rogue prosecutors. Using this, Williams’ campaign was successfully able to refute the Landrum campaign’s attacks against his character.
Disgraced former US Attorney Jim Letten
The New Orleans based US Attorney’s Office has a very recent history of highly publicized misconduct. Over the years, several high profile African American businesspeople and politicians claimed that former US Attorney Jim Letten’s office was full of racist and vile attorneys. “They practiced personal vendettas not the law,” says a former New Orleans politician. But Letten indicted a wealthy white businessman. Then the facts about crooked prosecutors came out. Forensic investigators found malfeasance. Letten fired his top two lieutenants. Then Letten, who had been the longest serving US Attorney in America, resigned. Their conduct sullied the office. This mistrust of the local office lends credence to Williams claims that his prosecution is simply a take down of another black politician.
Ms. Landrum could not untangle her identity from the previous DA. Leon Cannizzaro is the poster child of the old school tough on crime approaches. He was especially tough on African American males. His illegal use of fake subpoenas, habitual offender policies and his bullying of witnesses are no longer acceptable practices in New Orleans. The tenure of Cannizzaro created the space for a campaign like Williams’. Yet despite her strong claims to the contrary, voters directly tied Landrum to Cannizzaro’s failed approach. Further, that election day Republican robo call about law and order did not help. Social media exploded with the call across the metro.
With a progressive mayor and city council, New Orleans is a real sanctuary city. Progressive and moderate people can rejoice in Williams victory.