Assigned to represent Louisiana at hearings in three separate high-profile murder cases — all set for the same morning — Francis X. deBlanc III braved a thicket of criminal justice dysfunction all by himself last Friday, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The three cases have been beset by delays and witness problems, all of which cast New Orleans under a national microscope because of the merciless nature of the crimes. DeBlanc, 35, had to face another kind of pressure that has increasingly weighed on New Orleans prosecutors: judges fed up that the overworked, understaffed lawyers of District Attorney Eddie Jordan’s office are holding up the courts’ dockets. DeBlanc found himself the target of an arrest warrant issued by one judge, who was exasperated by deBlanc’s absence from his courtroom while the prosecutor scurried around the courthouse, attending to the other cases.
Five lawyers have quit the district attorney’s violent offender unit in recent weeks, most recently Cate Bartholomew, one of the most experienced prosecutors, who joined the office about three months ago to work on the elite unit dedicated to cases involving homicides, rapes and shootings. In a letter to the Times-Picayune, Bartholomew said, “I have had enough. My physical health and emotional well-being are not worth $80,000. Neither is my professional reputation.”