Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams’ plan to have a former judge help him screen prosecution cases may have hit a speed bump.
Julian Parker, who retired from criminal district court in late 2014, has been ineligible to practice law in Louisiana since 2016, due to both non-payment of bar dues and continuing legal education, according to state records.
Without a valid legal license, Parker would be limited in helping Williams’ office try to expedite how quickly it takes or rejects cases, said Loyola University law professor Dane Ciolino.
“If he reviews the cases and prepares reports for the lawyer who is going to make the decision whether to prosecute or not, I don’t think you need to be a lawyer,” Ciolino said. “But if he’s actually going to make the prosecutorial decisions and give a legal assessment of the case to someone in the prosecutor’s office, then yes.”
Williams has been under fire for a week for failing to meet legal deadlines to decide whether to charge those arrested by police. Last year, this resulted in the release from prison of dozens of people accused of violent crimes.
In response, the district attorney promised to beef up his screening division. Parker was one of two judges mentioned by Williams during a Thursday press conference. Parker’s resume prior to his election to an 18-year term on the bench in 1996 included four years as an assistant district attorney in Orleans Parish.
But in a Friday press release from Williams’ office, only former criminal district court judge Morris Reed was mentioned as part of the testing campaign. Administrative director Tyronne Walker said there were only initial discussions with Parker.
The easy solution
“Former Judge Parker is not currently employed by the DA’s office,” Walker said. “We’ve only had preliminary conversations about his desire to come into the office to help with case screening, but like all hires, this would go through our standard human resources protocols, which include background checks and certifications. .”
Parker did not respond to a voicemail request for comment on Friday.
Ciolino said there is a relatively simple way to ensure Parker can play a full role in scouting cases.
“He should just get his eligibility [to practice law]. It’s easy to do,” Ciolino said. “As long as he is not practicing as a lawyer, he has not committed any serious violation of the rules of professional conduct.”