Current and former Orleans Parish Assistant District Attorneys Chris Bowman and John Alford have been in the news; one for being ordered to jail, the other for being celebrated as a top prosecutor in his new digs.
John Alford, the former Orleans Parish Assistant District Attorney who was named in a series of bar complaints filed by long-time New Orleans defense attorney Sam Dalton for his role in the Michael Anderson case, has just won an award for being the top prosecutor in adjacent St. Tammany Parish under District Attorney Walter Reed.
A bar complaint filed against Alford alleges that when trying capital murder defendant Michael Anderson, Alford and his co-counsel Kevin Guillory violated Louisiana’s Rules of Professional Conduct by concealing a deal the State had made with a jailhouse informant who testified against Anderson. Alford then elicited false information from that witness, who told Anderson’s jury that he had received nothing in exchange for his testimony.
Michael Anderson’s death sentence was thrown out by the judge who presided over his trial when she granted the defense’s Motion for New Trial after the deal was uncovered. No internal disciplinary action was taken against Alford by his office.
The Orleans Parish District Attorney did suspend Alford in January 2011 after he was arrested in Jackson, Wyoming for drunkenly stealing a taxi cab that was unattended out the front of a bar and driving it to his hotel a mile away. Alford was charged with the unauthorized use of a vehicle and plead no contest, agreeing to pay $390 in court fees and $100 in restitution to Superior Taxi, to serve six months unsupervised probation and to complete 20 hours of community service. Once he completed his probation, the charges against him were dismissed and he was rehired by the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office as a trial prosecutor.
It seems Alford’s own run-in with the law has not stifled his enthusiasm to pursue alleged big-time offenders. Reed bestowed the “St. Slammany Award” (a reference to the nickname St. Tammany has earned for its penchant for sending people to prison for decades for nonviolent offenses) on Alford for his eagerness “to try felony criminal cases before a jury, especially to prosecute career criminals and habitual offenders.” As Claire Garofalo pointed out in her recent article for The Advocate, it’s lucky Alford wasn’t prosecuted for the taxi cab fiasco in St. Slammany.
The bar complaint against Alford is still pending at the Louisiana Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office spokesperson Chris Bowman has also made headlines in recent days after being sentenced to a $100 fine and jail for 24 hours by Orleans Parish Criminal Court Judge Frank Marullo. Marullo found Bowman to be in contempt of court after he allegedly violated a gag order in a murder case by speaking to the press.
Bowman is the ADA who tried to clean up Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s blunder when he mischaracterized the State’s obligations to turn over exculpatory evidence under Brady v. Maryland while speaking to the Times-Picayune about one of our featured New Orleans cases, State v. Henry Bruer. Bowman later told the New Orleans media that Cannizzaro had misunderstood the Times-Picayune reporter’s question.
Sheriff Marlin Gusman came to Bowman’s rescue, ordering Bowman to complete community service hours – at the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office – in lieu of jail time. Marullo, though furious about the side-step, couldn’t do much more than haul Gusman into his court and express his dissatisfaction.
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