District Attorney Agrees to Turn Over Records on Bogus Subpoenas
Public records case is dropped while the ACLU’s constitutional challenge to the DA’s use of fake subpoenas continues
NEW ORLEANS – Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro has agreed to turn over public records to the New Orleans City Council regarding fake subpoenas issued by his office, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana said today. Now that the public records will be released, the organization’s public records case (Esman v Cannizzaro) is being dropped while its constitutional challenge to the District Attorney’s use of fake subpoenas (Singleton v. Cannizzaro) continues.
“After deceiving and intimidating innocent witnesses with bogus subpoenas, the DA added insult to injury by stonewalling the people he’s supposed to serve,” said Jane Johnson, interim executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana. “We’re pleased that the DA has agreed to lift this shroud of secrecy, while our case against his use of fake subpoenas continues in the courts.”
In May, the ACLU of Louisiana requested that Cannizzaro provide records identifying lawyers in his office who have issued or authorized fake subpoenas: documents that claim to be subpoenas but were not issued by the court. Cannizzaro denied the ACLU of Louisiana’s request, in violation of Louisiana’s public records law. In response, the ACLU of Louisiana filed a lawsuit, Esman v. Cannizzaro, seeking to compel the District Attorney to produce the requested documents. On July 11, the New Orleans Civil District Court ordered Cannizzaro to turn over the public records, but Cannizzaro appealed.
In October 2017, Civil Rights Corps, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the ACLU of Louisiana filed a separate lawsuit challenging the unconstitutional deception and jailing of crime victims and witnesses by the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office. The lawsuit detailed District Attorney Cannizzaro’s illegal scheme of fabricating subpoenas to coerce crime victims and witnesses of crimes into submitting to interrogations, and presenting fraudulent information in court to persuade judges to issue arrest warrants. For crime victims and witnesses who don’t appear as ordered, the District Attorney’s Office further abuses its power and authority to have these witnesses, who are victims of crimes, put in jail. This case is continuing.
Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.