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The Lens:"Lawyer says Orleans Parish DA used a fake subpoena to pressure teenage molestation victim"

09/22/2017 News Release Image

The Lens:"Lawyer says Orleans Parish DA used a fake subpoena to pressure teenage molestation victim"

The Lens has uncovered two more cases in which the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office appears to have given witnesses fake subpoenas — legally worthless documents apparently used for years to pressure people into talking to prosecutors.

In one case, a prosecutor delivered a fake subpoena to a teenage girl, the victim in an ongoing child molestation case, according to her lawyer.

After the lawyer told the DA’s office not to contact the girl directly, the prosecutor got a real subpoena and had it delivered to her at school. When the girl didn’t show for an interview, the prosecutor threatened to put her in jail.

The prosecutor in the case has said was he merely doing his job despite the victim’s refusal to cooperate. Her lawyer said his actions ended up victimizing the girl again.

“I think the prosecutor is engaging in unprofessional conduct,” said Bennett Gershman, a Pace University law professor and an expert in prosecutorial misconduct, “by using tactics that smack of heavy-handedness and harassment.”

The fake subpoenas ordered witnesses to meet privately with prosecutors. State law allows such meetings, but prosecutors must file a formal written motion saying why they need to talk to the witness, and a judge must approve it.

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