ACLU applauds lawsuit against Orleans Parish District Attorney's office for allegedly issuing fake subpoenas

By Carrie Bradon | Mar 18, 2019

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A judge is permitting a federal lawsuit alleging the use of fake subpoenas by the Orleans Parish District Attorney's office to go forward.

According to, the lawsuit filed by eight plaintiffs states that Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office issued fake subpoenas to them and arrested them on material witness warrants. The ACLU is one of the groups that has filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs.

“The judge soundly rejected Cannizzaro’s attempt to evade responsibility for his actions and sent a clear message that prosecutors are not above the law,” Bruce Hamilton, ACLU of Louisiana’s staff attorney, told Louisiana Record. 

The action of Cannizzaro has been decried by groups such as the ACLU and Silence is Violence, especially as it was used against crime victims and witnesses as a method of intimidating them. Hamilton believes that such intimidation is an abuse of power.

Bruce Hamilton   Courtesy of ACLU Louisiana

“Using bogus subpoenas to intimidate and jail witnesses and victims is an egregious abuse of power, and we're committed to holding the D.A. accountable for violating the rights of the people he's sworn to serve,” Hamilton said. 

Cannizzaro’s office had, prior to this latest lawsuit, claimed they were ceasing the circulation of notices that were labeled as subpoenas and would rename them as “notice to appear” to ensure that the documents were not misunderstood. Since early 2017, Cannizzaro’s office has not issued another material witness warrant.

Hamilton is pleased with the judge’s decision to permit the lawsuit to move forward and is hopeful it will result in decreased corruption in the state’s judicial system. 

“This ruling is positive news for the people of Orleans Parish and everyone impacted by the D.A.'s cruel and unlawful tactics,” Hamilton said.

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