Jury trials resume in New Orleans but case backlog and staffing shortages remain
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Three jury trials unfolded at Criminal District Court this week, and prosecutors secured guilty verdicts in all three cases.
“All of these men received fair trials. After the work of these lawyers behind me, their peers found them guilty on all counts,” says D.A. Jason Williams. Williams thanked his prosecutors for their efforts.
Williams, himself, prosecuted one of the murder cases in court. With a surge of violent crime across the city right now, Williams says the jury trials resuming should serve as an example that there’s movement in the right direction to stop the most violent offenders.
“You’ve heard the chief say it and you’ve heard me say it. We need every tool available to deal with this crime surge, so that we can surge back, and this week we were able to add in the old traditional tool of jury trials,” says Williams.
There are challenges, though, moving forward. Williams points to the number of backlogged cases. He says 150 cases are scheduled for trial in March, compared to only 48 jury trials that happened in all of 2019.
“So, we are trying to funnel those cases right now, but it’s far more cases than there is a system can handle. What I can commit to you is the lawyers in the D.A.’s office will be ready to move forward on these cases,” says Williams.
His office is still dealing with a serious manpower issue. Williams is once again pleading with the City Council and the mayor for additional funding to hire more lawyers for his office to deal with the backlog.
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