DA's Office Facing Multiple Lawsuits Related To Its Use Of Fake Subpoenas To Intimidate Witnesses

from the apparently-ethical-violations-are-just-part-of-the-office's-'traditions& dept

The Louisiana district attorney whose office issued bogus subpoenas to trick witnesses into "volunteering" their testimony is now facing multiple lawsuits. DA Leon Cannizzaro's office was sued on May 12th by the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Foundation for its refusal to turn over copies of every fake subpoena it has issued.

Three days later, it was sued again, this time by the ACLU.

The ACLU lawsuit, filed Monday in Orleans Parish Civil Court, differs from a related lawsuit brought last week against Cannizzaro's office by the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Foundation regarding the so-called Article 66 subpoenas.

The MacArthur suit seeks copies of every subpoena issued by the DA's office since 2013 -- those properly authorized by a judge, as well as the fraudulent "DA's subpoenas" intended to appear as if they carried legal weight.

The ACLU suit seeks the names and Louisiana Bar Association numbers of any attorney in Cannizzaro's office responsible for using one of the fake documents. An attorney who knowingly used a fraudulent document to compel witness testimony could be subject to penalties ranging from ethical misconduct sanctions by the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board to the unlikely extreme of criminal charges brought by the state Attorney General's office related to forgery.

So far, Cannizzaro's office has no comment on the lawsuits (other than to say it hasn't been served with either suit yet). The only comment Cannizzaro's office has made is that the practice predates his tenure, as if that somehow excuses the ethical and (possibly) legal boundaries his office crossed. As a deflection, it's horrible. It's like claiming you still approve general warrants because your British predecessors did.

I'm sure DA Cannizzaro has several reasons for not immediately handing over these documents, all of them related to mitigating the damage done by these revelations. There may be a day of judicial reckoning ahead for Cannizzaro and his underlings, and the longer he can keep these documents out of the public's hands, the longer it will be until he can be confronted with the evidence.

Cannizzaro's office now has multiple opportunities to see what it feels like to be a defendant, and most likely will be the recipient of genuine subpoenas demanding compliance under the pain of actual jailing. Process servers will now have to navigate groups of protesters calling for Cannizzaro's removal just to hand him copies of these lawsuits. And all of this could have been avoided by Cannizzaro, if he had just decided against carrying on the unethical "tradition" of intimidating possible witnesses with fake subpoenas and bogus legal threats.


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  • identicon
    Steve Myers, 17 May 2017 @ 11:04am

    Another lawsuit

    Not sure why it wasn't mentioned in the NOLA.com story, but The Lens filed suit on similar grounds on Monday as well. So there are three suits. Our story:
    http://thelensnola.org/2017/05/15/the-lens-is-suing-orleans-parish-da-leon-cannizzaro-to-force-him-t o-turn-over-fake-subpoenas/
    And here are all the stories in our continuing investigation: http://thelensnola.org/fakesubpoenas

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    discordian_eris (profile), 17 May 2017 @ 11:07am

    That entire parish is so corrupt and venal that it should be purged. From these DAs all the way to the coroner they all need to go.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 17 May 2017 @ 11:23am

    ...the unlikely extreme of criminal charges brought by the state Attorney General's office related to forgery.

    "Unlikely."

    Meanwhile, fake movie posters will get you six years in prison.

    That was over fraud, not IP. Selling fake vintage posters as the real thing. But as document fraud goes, you'd think that fake subpoenas would have consequences as serious as fake posters.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 17 May 2017 @ 11:36am

    "Cannizzaro's office now has multiple opportunities to see what it feels like to be a defendant, and most likely will be the recipient of genuine subpoenas demanding compliance under the pain of actual jailing."

    Color me skeptical. Sorry, couldn't help it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 17 May 2017 @ 1:18pm

    Process servers will now have to navigate groups of protesters calling for Cannizzaro's removal just to hand him copies of these lawsuits.

    I don't imagine that would be difficult at all actually. Simply make it known what they're there for and I imagine the protesters would happily open a path for them, likely cheering them on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), 17 May 2017 @ 5:50pm

    Sorry but Cannizzaro office knows full well those so called subpoena's are illegal and intentionally misleading as there were people having believed that the subpoena came from the court and was issued by the court and thus it instilled fear in people on the receiving end of these subpoena's that if they didn't comply with contacting Cannizzaro office that they faced arrest or jail time for ignoring the subpoena.

    Cannizzaro argument that it predates his tenure is just bullshit and a bad attempt at covering your ass. This is just another example of how blurred the lines are when it comes to the justice system and how police and prosecutors are routinely flouting the law to gain an advantage over those it wished to investigate or prosecute.

    The real tragedy here is that no one in Cannizzaro's office will be out of a job, they will pay a monetary penalty and settle the lawsuits and issue some bullshit statement about how this was a mistake and they have seen the error of using this method to get people to talk to them and then throw in the "but we didnt do nuffin worng" and go about looking for another way to get people to talk to them that will border the line of right and wrong.

    One would think that Cannizzaro and his office would try to maintain the image of being above board and playing by the rules of law and the court, but obviously Cannizzaro and hit team aren't very interested in making sure they aren't breaking the very laws they are supposed to uphold.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 17 May 2017 @ 8:12pm

    'could be subject to penalties ranging from ethical misconduct sanctions by the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board'

    Could. That is the most disgusting part of this.
    They violated the law, not once, not twice, but many times and are actively trying to keep from disclosing the criminal operation.

    The system is timid about punishing itself in a vain effort to protect the image of the system, despite the fact that allowing these sorts of things to go on for YEARS might undermine the image more.

    They should be fired for misconduct in office, there is no way this office could prosecute anyone because the defense just has to introduce the blatant history of ignoring the law, covering those crimes up, and terrorizing people into coming forward or else.

    The more frightening thought no one wants to consider right now is, how many other violations by this office or officers have they looked the other way about because it made things easier? How many people got screwed because a witness was scared into saying what the DA needed them to say? Some will poo-poo that but they knowingly violated 1 law & their duty to the office... you can't pretend its isolated.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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