It was a historic night in Louisiana’s Caddo Parish on Saturday as James E. Stewart Sr. became the first black district attorney, reports the Shreveport Times. Stewart beat prosecutor Dhu Thompson to succeed the late Charles Rex Scott as DA. Stewart, a Democrat, got 55 percent of votes cast. Stewart entered the race in August after retiring as a state appeals court judge.
Critics say the office aggressively pursues the death penalty and is racially biased in the jury selection process. They also question the quality of representation some on death row have received. “It is up to the next DA whether the media continues to highlight Caddo Parish as an outlier,” said Rob Smith of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute at Harvard Law School, now a visiting scholar at the University of Texas. “f the new DA takes control of the situation and brings the parish more in line with the rest of Louisiana and the nation, then the media would probably stop treating it as an outlier.”