Uphill battle for new U.S. Attorney to clean up office - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Uphill battle for new U.S. Attorney to clean up office

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U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite

New Orleans -- A new man is now at the helm of the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Orleans. Political analysts say Kenneth Polite may have a tough job ahead of him, cleaning up the mess created by some online commenters.

A native New Orleanian, Kenneth Polite, who was sworn into office Friday, has a lot of experience working in the criminal justice system. But all the experience in the world may not prepare him for the office he's entering Monday. UNO political scientist, Ed Chervenak, Ph.D. explains, "He's coming in at a time when the trust and the confidence in the office needs to be rebuilt so that's the big challenge right now."

Just this week, a federal judge threw out the convictions of five former NOPD officers involved in the Danziger Bridge shooting because of prosecutorial misconduct. Two former members of the U.S. Attorney's office admitted making comments about cases, online. Their admissions led to a sweeping investigation of the office, known so well for putting a dent into political corruption and Jim Letten ended up resigning from his position as U.S. Attorney.

On Friday Polite told FOX 8, "For too long the cloud of this investigation has been over that office, distracting many people from engaging in that work and so from day one, that is going to be priority number one, to start re-engaging them on their work."

In the court document Judge Kurt Engelhardt released this week, former assistant U.S. Attorney Jan Mann, one of the online commenters, claimed Letten never asked his staff directly if anyone was commenting on line about cases. Ed Chervenak says this is something he thinks Polite will try to get to the bottom of. "I assume he wants to come in and put his imprint on the office and that there will be a thorough vetting process of the individuals who are employed there and he'll take the findings from this report, into the online bloggings, into account as well, to determine who he wants to keep," Chervenak said.

In addition to moving the office forward, Chervenak says Polite will have to deal with a lot of old cases too. Chervenank believes some defense attorneys will file motions in the coming weeks, trying to overturn their client's convictions, because of the actions of prosecutors.

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