NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Former U.S. Attorney Eddie Jordan filed a motion to get off the case after he allegedly passed an envelope with marijuana to a client in court.
It is a case that has long-time Jordan associates baffled and puts contraband issues front and center,
"In this case, no. Just to be fair to the client and make sure the client gets a fair shake, to avoid any appearance of impropriety that could inure to the client," said attorney David Belfield.
Jordan on Friday filed a motion to withdraw as counsel for Nicolas McKnight, whom he represented at Thursday's arraignment on a possession of a firearm by a felon charge. In the motion, Jordan wrote that a possible "conflict of interest for future litigation has developed between undersigned counsel and defendant."
"I guess he might have been a little naive, but I don't think he would have done that knowingly," said veteran attorney Frank DeSalvo.
The discovery of possible marijuana was made by two deputies who opened the envelope behind closed doors. They then brought it to the attention of Judge Pittman, who called for Jordan to come back to the courtroom. A source says more than a dozen deputies searched the building, but Jordan was already gone.
As for the substance in the envelope, it was tested Friday morning by the NOPD and returned to the Orleans sheriff.
Attorneys we spoke with say they never pass anything directly to defendants.
"I always tell the sheriff, 'I want to give them these papers.' And the sheriff looks at them and gives it to them," said DeSalvo.
There are concerns about everything from drugs to staples.
"I would take out all the staples and paper clips and can only give them the paper," said Belfield.
Longtime Jordan associates say they don't believe he knew what was in the envelope.
"I've known him since he was an assistant U.S. attorney before he became U.S. attorney. This guy's all about integrity," said DeSalvo.
The Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office is taking the lead in the investigation.
"Shocked. Eddie Jordan has been one of the kinds of lawyers you look to and see nothing but straight and narrow, by-the-book ethics," said Belfield.
As for whether Jordan will be brought in for questioning, sheriff's spokesman Phil Stelly said, "Because this investigation is active and ongoing, we will not have any comment."
It remains to be seen if the Orleans D.A.'s office will take the case or recuse itself, since Jordan is a former D.A.
Orleans D.A. spokesman Ken Daley this afternoon said, "We are aware of allegations made Thursday against the former U.S. attorney and D.A. As this is an open case and investigators have not yet submitted their report, we have no comment at this time."