The local legal community was abuzz after news broke that former U.S. Attorney Eddie Jordan and ex-New Orleans District Attorney Eddie Jordan is a suspect in a sheriff's office probe involving contraband and an inmate Jordan represents.
According to a news release issued by Sheriff Marlin Gusman's office, a courtroom deputy spotted Jordan handing an envelope to an inmate whom Jordan represents. The deputy searched the envelope, and subsequently other investigators arrived and recovered illegal narcotics, according to the sheriff's office.
The Sheriff's Office has turned over the evidence to the New Orleans Police Department for testing and released the following statement:
When he was top federal prosecutor for the New Orleans area, Jordan was at the helm when former Gov. Edwin Edwards was successfully prosecuted on federal corruption charges.
Jordan went on to be elected New Orleans' first African-American district attorney.
Now he is in the headlines for alleged wrongdoing inside the criminal courthouse.
"Mind blowing, this is mind blowing," said FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti.
"Literally, in any institution in this country of any size there are cell phones and drugs that are smuggled in, so the deputy that was assigned to security in that courtroom is to be commended for doing his job, for recognizing an inappropriate passing of an envelope from an attorney to an inmate," said Rafael Goyeneche, of the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
He added that as the investigation continues there may be a lot that is not yet public.
"Anybody who practices law, especially criminal law, but anybody with a law license knows that if you hand something to an inmate in a sealed package, or unsealed, it's going to be examined," said Raspanti.
Raspanti said Jordan is suspected of felony acts.
"At least, distribution of controlled, dangerous substance and introduction of a controlled dangerous substance to a correctional facility, both of which are felonies," he said.
And he thinks the former prosecutor's law license could be in peril.
"Drug distribution to an inmate in a courtroom, that's about as good as it gets as far as getting yourself in trouble with the bar association," said Raspanti.
He also pondered what the current the district attorney might do related to the matter.
"Leon Cannizzaro and the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office certainly has the right to prosecute this case, but I'm going to guess that it's going to be referred to the State Attorney General's Office and possible federally," said Raspanti.
Meanwhile, Goyeneche expects the scandal will resonate beyond the criminal justice system.
"Was a respected prosecutor, was elected to the chief law enforcement position for the Parish of Orleans, and for him to be under investigation for this matter is I think is disturbing and will undermine public confidence in the legal profession and in the criminal justice system in general," he said.
"This is just an amazing turn of events here, anybody who does this, or doesn't do this for a living, you can't get your head around this," said Raspanti.