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Fake subpoena issue continues to haunt New Orleans District Attorney

Orleans Criminal District Court

Fake subpoena issue continues to haunt New Orleans District Attorney

Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro announced in April that his office would no longer send out fake subpoenas to witnesses after he was roundly denounced for the practice.

But the issue hasn’t gone away, and now one of those fake subpoenas could put a high-profile conviction in danger. According to the New Orleans Times Picayune and The Lens,Cardell Hayes, convicted of manslaughter in the death of New Orleans Saints football player Will Smith, is citing the fake subpoenas in an effort to get a new trial.

Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro

The mother of Hayes’ son, Tiffany LaCroix, got one of the fake subpoenas before Hayes went on trial in 2016, court documents said. The documents had the word “subpoena” on them but were not signed by a judge, meaning that the law didn’t require the person to comply with the document

A lawyer for LaCroix later showed up in court to quash the subpoena. Cannizzaro’s office then sought to issue a real subpoena that had been signed by a judge. But LaCroix never testified at the trial.

The fake subpoena is one of 13 issues that defense lawyers are raising in appealing Hayes’s conviction.

A judge has ordered Cannizzaro to reveal the names of all prosecutors in his office who issued fake subpoenas. But Cannizzaro is appealing that ruling, saying it would be too time consuming.

Cannizzaro’s office stopped using the fake subpoenas after the issue was publicized while insisting there was nothing wrong with the practice. Protesters called for Cannizzaro to be removed from office.

The issue got attention after Cannizzaro’s office threatened to jail a domestic violence victim after she didn’t respond to a fake subpoena.

Thanks to Josie Duffy Rice.