St. Charles Herald-Guide

Parish D.A. being considered for U.S. Attorney

By Kyle Barnett - December 20, 2012

St. Charles Parish District Attorney Joel Chaisson II has reportedly made the list of candidates being considered to fill the spot of Jim Letten, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

A source close to the search to replace Letten verified that Chaisson’s name has been brought up in the early nomination process.

Earlier this year, Chaisson took over the local D.A.’s office for his first stint as a prosecutor after a long career as a defense attorney and politician. Before being elected as D.A., Chaisson served as the president of the state Senate.

Chaisson joins a handful of other potential candidates from the New Orleans area who are rumored to be under consideration for the position. Those include Orleans Parish Judicial District Criminal Court Judge Keva Landrum-Johnson, who served as Orleans Parish’s interim D.A., New Orleans Municipal Court Judge Desiree Charbonnet, state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson and attorneys Ken Boyle and Kenneth Polite.

All nominees will be reviewed by a committee who will compile a short list of candidates to be presented to Attorney General Eric Holder.

The eventual replacement will have to go through a process that would require an appointment by President Barack Obama and confirmation by the Senate.

Analysts have anticipated that only Democratic party affiliated nominees will be considered for the position.

Whoever eventually wins the job will have big shoes to fill.

During his 11 years in office, Letten successfully oversaw the prosecution of numerous political figures for corruption including Gov. Edwin Edwards, former St. John the Baptist Parish President Bill Hubbard, former New Orleans City Council member Oliver Smith, former city tax assessor Betty Jefferson and her brother Mose, and former Plaquemines Parish Sheriff Jiff Hingle. He also put into motion the upcoming prosecution of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.

Letten also garnered successful prosecutions against two judges and numerous others in "Operation Wrinkled Robe," a years long investigation that was meant to clean up corruption in the 24th Judicial District in Jefferson Parish.

Letten recently resigned from the post because of a scandal in his office involving two of his assistant U.S. Attorneys making comments on a local news website on cases they were working on, most notably the ongoing fraud prosecution of executives at River Birch landfill. River Birch is located on the border of St. Charles and Jefferson parishes on the West Bank.

Chaisson could not immediately be reached for comment.

Parish D.A. being considered for U.S. Attorney