Prosecutor will appeal order to ID 'false subpoena' lawyers
Jul. 18, 2017
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans' criminal prosecutor says he'll appeal an order to turn over names of lawyers who used what the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana calls "false subpoenas."
A judge has given Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro 80 days to turn over names of all lawyers who have sent out documents labeled as subpoenas without a judge's approval over the past five years.
That might require reviewing more than 100,000 files and "would force the office to shut down for weeks to perform the review and could cost many thousands of dollars," Cannizzaro said in an emailed statement.
He asked the state Civil District Court to hold off enforcement while he appeals the order handed down last week by Judge Nakisha Ervin-Knott.
"District Attorney Cannizzaro is wasting time and taxpayer money trying to hide the truth from the people he's sworn to serve," ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Marjorie Esman said in a news release Tuesday. "Using bogus subpoenas to intimidate and bully witnesses is an inexcusable injustice, and the people of Orleans Parish deserve answers and accountability from his office now."
The ACLU sued after news agencies reported about the documents.
Cannizzaro said his office responds quickly to public records requests that include a case number, defendant's name, New Orleans Police Department item number or charged offense.
"However, the office has no ability to segregate its files based on the types of legal pleadings contained therein," he wrote. "We cannot produce the files containing a DA's Notice without a manual review of every file anymore than we could produce all the files that contain a written motion for a continuance."
Moreover, because the files can include private information such as victims' addresses, Social Security numbers, or even their medical or financial records, he cannot open the files for checks by the ACLU.