It is unfortunate when any person who has been elected to the judiciary is accused of violating the trust bestowed upon him or her because it lowers the community’s faith in our criminal justice system. As such, it is sad that Judge Yolanda King was indicted for two felony counts of filing a forged election document and filing a false public record. Therefore, it is vitally important that the justice system diligently works to seek the truth so the community can have confidence in the outcome.
It is even more disappointing that King’s attorney has attempted to convert this process to a political circus by leveling downright dishonest attacks at the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office — an office that is not even prosecuting the defendant in this case.
In a filing this week in Criminal District Court, King’s attorney claims that an assistant district attorney in my office was present in the grand jury room when King was indicted. This is not true. He claims that an assistant attorney general made such an assertion in a response to a discovery request. He is being knowingly disingenuous with the court.
In his request, he asks, “Identify all local District Attorney’s [sic] that were present during any point during the grand jury process.” The assistant AG responded, “A separate case was presented to the Grand Jury by an Assistant District Attorney prior to my presentation; however, I do not know the name of that individual.” The assistant AG clearly states that the ADA presented a separate case prior to her presentation. Nowhere does it state that the ADA was present in the grand jury when the AG’s office presented its case against King. No ADA was present in the grand jury room when King was indicted, and King’s attorney has no evidence to support his baseless accusations.
What is most unfortunate is that The Advocate chose to print these meritless accusations without attempting to verify the true facts. My office recused itself from this investigation nearly a year before King was indicted to avoid this very sideshow.
While I understand that King’s attorney is responsible for presenting a favorable case for his client, his actions here are unprofessional. The Advocate’s decision to publish meritless accusations without checking the facts will only encourage others to do the same thing, which will unfairly deprive this community of faith in its criminal justice system.
Leon A. Cannizzaro Jr.
Orleans Parish district attorney
By Heidi R. Kinchen
Sam D’Aquilla doesn’t know who snatched up the website address he used in his re-election campaign six years ago, but he definitely does not approve of its current message.
The website at http://www.samdaquilla.com mimics a typical lawyer’s website, with a homepage that says: “Sharing My True Character with the Felicianas.”
A headline floating in an image of the scales of justice proclaims, “Bringing Stupidity to the People,” and it invites the website’s visitors to “Find Out How I Can Help My Special Friends.”
Among other things, the website mocks D’Aquilla with claims that he practices “targeted prosecution” and suggests that he’s a philanderer.
“It sounds like political B.S. to me,” he said.
But having the site removed is proving more difficult than D’Aquilla thought.
D’Aquilla had used the website for his campaign six years ago but let the registration expire after he was re-elected.
GoDaddy.com’s online records do not reveal who re-registered samdaquilla.com shortly after midnight on Aug. 4, and D’Aquilla said the company wouldn’t identify the website’s new owner.
D’Aquilla said he will have to get a subpoena to find out more, and he is working on that.
D’Aquilla said he has contacted the State Police about the website but, “it’s hard for me to say ‘Investigate this’ because I don’t want to get into a conflict using the police to do that.”
“Whoever did this probably saw it on one of our old signs and thought to create the website,” he said.
With qualifying for the Nov. 4 election still a couple weeks away, a complete list of candidates for district attorney in the 20th Judicial District is unknown. However, David R. Opperman, assistant district attorney for the 7th Judicial District, announced his intention to run for the post in July.
Opperman said Friday he had seen the website, which he described as “pretty awful,” but said he had nothing to do with creating it.
Opperman said he and D’Aquilla are friends and have known each other for a long time.