NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— A long-awaited trial is underway. Orleans District Attorney Jason Williams and his former law partner, Nicole Burdett, appeared before a judge on Monday morning.
Williams finds himself on the opposite side of the courtroom this time, in court as the defendant rather than the prosecutor.
At this point, the attorneys are working on the jury selection for this trial, which could be crucial to the fate of this case.
Walking up with confidence to the courthouse, Williams said told WGNO he is “feeling good and is ready to prove that he is innocent.” Accused of defrauding hundreds of thousands of dollars, Jason Williams has maintained his innocence and is hoping to clear his name.
Before the potential jurors were brought in, there was a hearing to make sure that there were no plea agreements from Williams or Burdett. Both noted that they rejected the offer of a plea deal.
On Monday, 94 potential jurors were asked a series of questions that the attorneys used to narrow down the pool. Questions like where are you from, what do you do, are you married, views on law enforcement, and an important one: who does your taxes—- TurboTax, H&R Block, a private company, etc. Two jurors have already been dismissed in the trial.
Williams and Burdett are accused of defrauding the U.S. Treasury of more than $200,000 in owed taxes. According to the indictment, Williams and Burdett conspired to reduce his tax liability for five years, from 2013 to 2017 — by classifying personal expenses as business expenses. The pair are also charged with failing to report several large cash payments made by some of his firm’s clients.
If convicted, Williams could lose his license to practice law in Louisiana, forcing him out of office. We’re told jury selection could take a few days to complete before the hearing begins.
Judge Vance Africk is presiding over the case. Williams is represented by attorney Billy Gibbens.