Former St. John Parish DA Tom Daley dies at 61 _lowres

Thomas Daley

Former St. John the Baptist Parish District Attorney Tom Daley, who ended his re-election bid last year after a recurrence of brain cancer, died Saturday evening, family members said. He was 61.

Daley grew up in New Jersey and attended college at Rutgers, then moved to New Orleans for law school at Loyola University, said his brother, Anthony Daley. After Loyola, Daley launched a 36-year legal career that included work as an assistant district attorney, district court judge and finally a seat on the state 5th Circuit Court of Appeal that he resigned in 2008 to run for district attorney.

In his first five years as DA, Daley’s office had a 98 percent conviction rate on its more than 1,000 DWI cases and was ranked first in the state for child-support enforcement, according to his office’s website. The office prosecuted 2,316 felonies, 7,862 misdemeanors and 97,816 traffic citations and collected $21 million in fines.

Seeking re-election to a second six-year term as the top prosecutor in St. John Parish, Daley garnered 47 percent of the vote in the Nov. 4 primary, well more than his two challengers but not enough to avoid a runoff with a former assistant prosecutor from his office, Bridget Dinvaut.

Three days later, however, Daley announced that his doctor had told him he was suffering a recurrence of cancer and that “if re-elected, it is unlikely that I would be able to complete another six-year term.”

As a result, “to be fair to the citizens of St. John, to my dedicated staff and to my opponent, I have chosen to withdraw from the DA’s race to spend time with my family and tending to my ongoing medical treatment,” Daley wrote in a Nov. 7 post on Facebook. “You need and deserve a DA who is not distracted from this important job by outside influences.”

Daley’s withdrawal placed Dinvaut in line to become the first black woman ever elected district attorney in Louisiana.

After his decision, Daley continued to serve out the remainder of his term and to work with Dinvaut, his brother said.

“He had a number of serious cases before he left, and he was concerned to ensure that the best possible outcome could happen,” Anthony Daley said. “He was committed to having a smooth transition.”

Anthony Daley described the former district attorney as his friend and mentor as well as a brother. He held such a leadership role in the family that Anthony and another brother eventually moved to Louisiana as well, following his lead.

While Tom Daley spent his final months focused on his family, his brother said, he remained committed to St. John Parish.

“He was just a genuine person who was concerned about everything going on. That continued right up to the day he died,” Anthony Daley said. “He cared more about what was going on around him than sometimes himself. It was rarely about him.”

Daley and his wife Margaret had two adult children. All are parishioners of St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church.

Funeral arrangements will be announced Monday.