March 25, 2009
Tulane Law School’s Domestic Violence Clinic hosted an all-day training for the New Orleans District Attorney’s Office on prosecuting domestic violence cases. The training signals a new commitment to domestic violence prosecution in New Orleans. Leon Cannizzaro, the recently elected District Attorney, has announced plans to prosecute most domestic violence cases in state court for the first time.
"Currently in New Orleans, 93% of domestic violence cases are sent to Municipal Court, the court that handles petty misdemeanors like public drunkenness," said Tania Tetlow, Tulane Domestic Violence Clinic Director. In describing the consequences, Tetlow said, “None of our clients’ batterers has ever been sentenced to a day in jail, despite remarkable levels of violence. Some of them have multiple pending charges in Municipal Court and still receive probation.” Cannizzaro and Police Chief Warren Riley have announced they now will charge domestic violence crimes in state court.
The entire District Attorney’s Office spent Saturday, March 21, listening to training on the dynamics of domestic violence, how to prosecute cases in the face of witness intimidation, the use of expert witnesses, and sentencing issues. In the last few years, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on hearsay, confrontation clause and forfeiture issues presented by domestic violence cases. The training was sponsored by the Family Justice Center and the D.A.’s office, and was conducted by Tim Camper, a prosecutor in San Diego’s flagship domestic violence program, and Retired New Orleans Criminal Magistrate Judge Joe Giarrusso, Jr.