Advocate staff file photo by Bill Feig -- Former Orleans Parish District Attorney Harry Connick is pictured on March 27, 2002.  

Louisiana law gives the district attorney sole authority to decide who will be prosecuted for crimes in his jurisdiction and only the district attorney decides the charge. The Orleans Parish DA alone is responsible for this and neither the mayor, the council nor the Metropolitan Crime Commission has standing to suggest otherwise. So those who want to suggest alternative policies for the DA should back off and let the DA do his job.

The only limit placed on the DA's authority in the charging process are those ethical requirements set forth in the rules of professional conduct for prosecutors. They are strict rules and are there to protect the rights of citizens. The DA cannot ethically ignore these charging standards; his decision cannot be influenced by anything but the facts and evidence.

The Louisiana Department of Corrections is another agency unhappy with the DA. It suggests that the DA stop sending so many felons to the penitentiary. Obviously, the population of the institution of incarceration cannot be a factor in the charging process. And remember, the judges, not the DA, determine the sentence.

I find remarkable the DA's 85 percent reported acceptance rate in felony arrests. This can only mean to me that the police have become exceedingly efficient in their jobs. This must also mean the DA's plea bargaining rate has been reduced considerably and that the guilty as charged rate has increased.

In closing, I would appreciate John Simerman's explanation and the source of his statement that DA Cannizzaro's pace of prosecution far exceeds that of former D.A. Harry Connick.

Harry Connick

former district attorney

New Orleans