For New Orleans’ new prosecutor, high hopes, a legal cloud

Louisiana News

FILE – In this Wednesday, July 22, 2020 file photo, New Orleans City Councilperson Jason Williams arrives at the Clerk of Criminal District Courts to qualify for the Orleans Parish DA race in New Orleans, La. Jason Williams takes the oath of office as the city’s new district attorney on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021 facing budget challenges, a pandemic-related backlog of cases and high expectations from criminal justice reform advocates who rallied around his campaign — despite his indictment on federal tax charges. (Max Becherer/The Advocate via AP, File)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The new district attorney in New Orleans is promising to find alternatives to jail for people whose crimes arise from poverty, mental illness or drug addiction.

Longtime City Council member and defense attorney Jason Williams took the oath of office Monday.

He faces challenges including a pandemic-related backlog of cases and high expectations from criminal justice reform advocates.

Those advocates rallied around his campaign despite his indictment on federal tax charges that Williams says were politically motivated.

A trial date is pending. Williams takes over an office he sought after fiercely criticizing the hardball tactics of the outgoing incumbent, Leon Cannizzaro. Cannizzaro didn’t seek re-election.

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