D.A. Jason Williams is more powerful following his acquittal, says political analysts
Williams ran to be the city’s top prosecutor while under federal indictment
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Before coming under federal indictment Jason Williams was a New Orleans City Councilman-at-large and a charismatic defense attorney at the criminal court.
But on Thursday (July 28) a federal jury gave him a big win. Williams was acquitted of all counts brought against in a 10-count indictment.
And now some political analysts think he emerged from the trial stronger and more powerfully politically.
Mike Sherman is FOX 8′s political analyst.
“Jason Williams emerges stronger than when he went in winning the election under indictment and clearing his name with a unanimous not guilty verdict,” said Sherman.
In public statements months before the trial, Williams never wavered, insisting he had done nothing wrong. He ran for D.A. while under indictment for alleged tax fraud.
“He stood in front of city hall after being indicted, prior to running for DA and declared his innocence. He got the chance to prove it by a jury of his peers today. The prosecutor being prosecuted comes out not guilty,” said Sherman.
Despite his pre-election legal troubles, he came out on top with voters.
“Jason Williams will be even more a force to be reckoned with after this trial,” said Sherman.
On crimefighting, Rafael Goyeneche of the Metropolitan Crime Commission thinks Williams will be more effective as D.A. now that the thick cloud of suspicion that he broke federal law is gone.
“Absolutely, I mean, you know, when he was running, he was under indictment so this is a burden that’s been lifted and it’s been a distraction, I don’t care how focused he is, so now a hundred percent of his attention and efforts can be directed running the district attorney’s office and working fulltime to improve the criminal justice system and public safety for all citizens,” said Goyeneche.
Williams ran on a progressive platform while seeking to become the city’s new district attorney. When he got in office, on certain cases he digressed from that a bit.
“He ran on a platform that he was never going to charge a juvenile as an adult, he’s changed that philosophy. He indicated that he was never going to seek material witness warrants, he changed that philosophy,” said Goyeneche.
Sherman agreed saying, “Jason Williams started to pivot away from just criminal justice reform to a partial law and order D.A. by prosecuting some juveniles as adults when he felt the situation warranted it. That deviated from a campaign promise but the situation compelled it. I think we’ll going to see a balanced D.A.”
FOX 8 asked Goyeneche what advice he would give Williams now that the trial is over.
“My advice to him is the same advice I’ve given to him from day one and that is to make decisions involving prosecutions on a case-by-case basis. You cannot have a philosophy or a policy that you follow blanket with no,” said Goyenenche. “When you deal in absolutes as a prosecutor you set yourself up for bad outcomes and I think that he’s seen that in the first year and a half in office.”
Mayor Latoya Cantrell issued the following statement after Williams was found not guilty on all counts:
“The City of New Orleans appreciates the thoughtfulness and consideration the women and men of the jury gave to this case,” said Mayor Cantrell. “We are grateful for their service to our city. With this verdict on a personal matter now rendered, the City looks forward to the District Attorney returning his focus to the residents of the City of New Orleans and their public safety.”
City Council President Helena Moreno who served with Williams on the city council’s statement said:
“Proper and fair treatment was delivered by this jury and justice was served today. I’m gratified that we can now all continue to move forward on the important work ahead and focus on the public safety of our city.”
And Council Vice President J.P. Morrell said in a tweet, “#Justice was served today. Now we can finally put this case behind us and have our District Attorney return to focusing on addressing the escalating violent crime in the City of New Orleans.”
Sherman thinks the acquittal benefits the entire city.
“Early indications from elected officials, they’re glad to move on and have this stained removed. Not just from Jason Williams but from the city of New Orleans creating this cloud over the last couple of years,” he said.
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