NEW ORLEANS – Ninety percent of the nearly 3,000 domestic violence cases brought before Municipal Court in Orleans Parish since 2016 have been dismissed, according to new data by the New Orleans City Council.
Councilmembers revealed the data, which was collected by Public Safety Analyst Jeff Asher, at a December 3 meeting.
Just 6.6 percent of domestic violence cases tried in Municipal Court since 2016 have resulted in convictions, while between 20 percent and 25 percent of cases tried in Criminal District Court during the same time have resulted in convictions.
“I am absolutely shocked and concerned by this data, particularly since the District Attorney and his staff just sat before the Council in budget hearings and vehemently assured the Council that cases in Municipal Court were receiving positive outcomes,” Council President Helena Moreno said. “It was during this hearing that I expressed concern about domestic violence cases in Municipal Court directly to the District Attorney after learning from advocates and law enforcement that there could be issues. The District Attorney and his staff praised their work in Municipal Court, claiming a positive impact on victims and speediness of cases. Subsequently, I requested Mr. Asher to do a full analysis of domestic violence cases in both courts. So yes, the data shows that cases are moving much faster in Municipal Court, but that’s because cases are simply being dropped. How is this good for victims? Seems like this is only good for the offenders. Lastly, domestic violence cases take a great deal of time for our NOPD officers to investigate. They go through great lengths to fill out onsite risk assessment forms and collect evidence to build strong cases. What a waste of their efforts and overall NOPD manpower if these cases are not prioritized. Domestic violence is an offense with high recidivism. Louisiana remains at the top of the list for domestic violence homicides in the country. We cannot afford this type of dismissiveness. This sends a terrible message to victims seeking help.”
The cases were split between the two courts at the request of the District Attorney’s office in 2016, according to the City Council.