As Keva Landrum-Johnson takes over as district attorney in New Orleans, she faces many uncertainties: a multimillion-dollar legal debt that could drain her payroll, no date for moving back into the agency’s pre-Katrina headquarters and a relentless volume of criminal cases, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Her predecessor, Eddie Jordan, served as the U.S. attorney in New Orleans before winning election in 2002 to replace District Attorney Harry Connick.
Landrum-Johnson is well aware of the shortcomings at the DA’s office, from the cramped quarters in its temporary offices to the lack of support staff to help with menial tasks like photocopying and maintaining case files. She first must deal with the $3.4 million civil rights judgment against the office she inherited, while assembling a leadership team and managing the day-to-day intricacies of a nonstop criminal caseload. Landrum-Johnson joined Connick’s staff in 1998, a year after graduating from Tulane University Law School. She took over the screening division this summer, after the office was roundly criticized for the large number of defendant releases from jail because the district attorney’s office couldn’t make charging decisions within the 60-day state deadline. Landrum-Johnson has vowed not to run for the permanent district attorney’s job next year.