Gwen Filosa, Times-Picayune, July 6, 2006
Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan’s administration must pay $3.58 million in damages and fees for violating the civil rights of workers by using skin color as a factor in firing them, a federal judge has ruled.
U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval signed the final judgment June 29 in the civil rights case, named for Judith DeCorte, who along with dozens of co-workers was fired to make room for Jordan’s choices in January 2003.
A jury found last year that Jordan illegally used race as a motivating factor in setting up his support staff. Duval ordered Jordan’s office to compensate the 43 plaintiffs with $2.8 million to cover lost wages, benefits and emotional damages.
Duval added $706,740 in attorneys’ fees to Jordan’s bill, plus $64,894 to cover what the plaintiffs paid their expert witnesses.
Jordan, the former U.S. attorney in New Orleans who counts the corruption conviction of Gov. Edwin Edwards among his accomplishments, ascended to the district attorney’s office in 2003 to become the city’s first black top prosecutor.
Jordan, who succeeded the retiring Harry Connick and defeated Clerk of Civil District Court Dale Atkins in an election in late 2002, has always denied that race played a role in his administration. At trial, Jordan’s attorneys said the office chose a new staff based on the recommendations of an aide for U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, D-New Orleans, who is Jordan’s political mentor and ally.
But at trial, the statistics alone helped persuade the federal jury to find Jordan liable for firing 43 white workers and replacing them with black employees.