NEW ORLEANS – The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana today hailed the Louisiana Legislature’s passage of Senate Bill 146, which will limit the practice of jailing sexual assault and domestic violence victims by prosecutors.
“District Attorney Cannizzaro’s unconstitutional deception and jailing of crime victims shined a national spotlight on how prosecutors across the country too often violate the rights of those they’re sworn to serve,” said Alanah Odoms Hebert, ACLU of Louisiana executive director. “By reining in the jailing of domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, this bill is a long-overdue step in the right direction – but more must be done. This kind of prosecutorial misconduct traumatizes vulnerable communities, thwarts justice and undermines public safety. We will continue to fight – in court and at State Capitol – to hold prosecutors accountable for protecting their communities, not targeting them.”
In October 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Louisiana, and Civil Rights Corps filed a lawsuit against Orleans Parish District Attorney Cannizzaro and ten assistant district attorneys to end the unconstitutional deception, intimidation, and jailing of crime victims and witnesses.
The lawsuit detailed 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 often the victims of crimes, put in jail. In March, a U.S. district court judge ruled the case can proceed.