When Eddie Jordan took over from longtime District Attorney Harry Connick Sr. in 2003, he fired 53 of 77 employees.
Defense attorney Donna Andrew argued Jordan filled key positions with political supporters and did not discriminate based on race. She said jurors did not have enough evidence to have issued the verdict against him.
Clement Donelon, an attorney for plaintiffs in the case, said that of the 10 highest paid blacks under Connick, nine were kept by Jordan, while only two of the highest paid whites stayed on.
“If he had fired everyone across the board and then hired his patronage buddies, we wouldn’t be here today. But you can’t just fire the white people and get away with it,” Donelon said.
The jury determined he discriminated against 43 workers and awarded them millions in damages and attorneys fees in March 2005.
One of Louisiana’s most prominent black politicians, Jordan was U.S. attorney during the Clinton administration. As the chief federal prosecutor in New Orleans, he won a corruption conviction against former Gov. Edwin Edwards in 2000 for taking payoffs in return for riverboat licenses.