New Orleans District Attorney Eddie Jordan says that only the city can pay off his $3.7 million debt to the employees he wrongly fired in 2003, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Jordan says his budget can’t handle the verdict and that his only option is to persuade Mayor Ray Nagin to ask the City Council for the money owed to 36 workers who sued him for employment discrimination. Interest on the award grows by $20,000 a month. Plaintiffs warned that they will seek to seize assets of the district attorney’s office — from payroll accounts to cars — if Jordan does not pay up.
New Orleans, which since Hurricane Katrina has balanced its budget by securing federal loans, will have to decide to pay Jordan’s legal tab or risk watching the prosecutors’ office shut down for financial reasons. Jordan, the city’s first African-American district attorney, violated employment discrimination laws when he ordered the wholesale firing of white employees and replaced most with black workers, a jury found more than two years ago. A Jordan aide warned that if the plaintiffs move to freeze payroll accounts, the office will lose its most experienced prosecutors.