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The executive director of Silence is Violence has applauded a federal judge for allowing a lawsuit to move forward against the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office, which allegedly used fake subpoenas to intimidate victims and witnesses into meeting with investigators and other officials.
According to Nola.com, the lawsuit was filed in 2017 and is being pursued by eight plaintiffs, including individuals and advocacy groups, including Silence is Violence and the ACLU. Prior to the lawsuit being filed, Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office claimed it would stop using the label subpoena to refer to the notices being sent to witnesses and would use the term “notice to appear” in its place.
“Essentially, the judge’s decision not to dismiss the case speaks volumes to making sure that injustices are not permitted and that victims and witness’ rights are protected and then given voices to empower the people,” Silence is Violence Executive Director Tamara Jackson told Louisiana Record.
In addition to being given subpoenas that allegedly scared crime victims and witnesses into providing testimony, the parish also allegedly arrested people on material witness warrants. The ACLU has labeled that an abuse of power and violation of people’s rights.
Silence is Violence operates throughout New Orleans where they seek to promote peace, safety and equity in the city.
“Our organization is offering supportive services to victims and their families to ensure their rights are protected and that they are not victimized again systemically,” Jackson said.
According to Nola.com, the New Orleans City Council recently passed a resolution that ordered Cannizzaro to cease the jailing of victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault using material witness warrants, despite being allowed to do so by state law.