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Russ Hebert has been an investigator with the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office for 48 years.

It was April 1973 when recent LSU graduate Russ Hebert was called for jury duty in the trial of 13 Black Muslims accused of inciting a deadly riot a year earlier in downtown Baton Rouge.

Then-East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Ossie Brown used a peremptory challenge to remove Hebert from the prospective jury pool, but two days later he hired the unemployed Hebert as an investigator in his office.

Hebert, now 71, recalled his chance meeting with Brown earlier this week as he marked his 48th anniversary as an investigator in the District Attorney's Office.

After Brown rejected him as a juror, Hebert said he told the district attorney that he would have made a good juror. The next day, Hebert was cutting grass when Brown called and invited him to a job interview. A day later, he reported to work for his first day as an investigator.

"It's just weird how that happened. The good Lord was looking out for me," Hebert said as his current boss, East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III, listened to the story.

Hebert has served under five district attorneys: Brown, Bryan Bush, Cheney Joseph, Doug Moreau and Moore. Brown, Bush and Joseph are deceased.

During that time, he's seen the amount of crime and the nature of violence change dramatically in the parish.

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"It's gotten much worse than when I started," Hebert said. "Just when you think you've seen everything ..., how in the world did they think of that?" he said.

Moore, a former investigator in the office he now runs, said he was fortunate to have met Hebert as a young DA investigator.

"Russ was probably the youngest investigator next to me when I arrived as a student intern," he said. "He was always very professional, hard-working and always well dressed. Russ taught me a lot and helped me shape my career as an investigator and now as District Attorney. Our parish is fortunate to have Russ serve the people of our parish for 48 years."

Hebert is currently the chief legal investigator in the DA's Office, a position he has held since Moreau was in office.

Hebert actually retired under Moreau in 2003 after 30 years, but took a weekend off and rejoined the office.

"It's been great. I wouldn't trade it for anything," he said of a career that has spanned nearly five decades and has involved going to crime scenes, interviewing witnesses, and assisting prosecutors and various law enforcement agencies.


Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.