"A Tough Judge for Tough Times." That's how Jason Cantrell described himself when he ran for a judge's seat on New Orleans' Juvenile Court in 2009. On Monday, Cantrell, who has served as a New Orleans prosecutor since losing the judge's race, was arrested when a marijuana cigarette fell out of his pocket in court.
"Cantrell was talking to an officer when the joint flew," The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. "Sources painted a comical picture of the incident, saying a pair of cops glanced at the joint on the ground, then at each other before making arguably the easiest collar in the annals of policework."
Thanks to legislation passed in 2010, New Orleans no longer tries low-level marijuana offenders in criminal court. Instead, it cites them and summons them to municipal court, where city attorneys like Cantrell–instead of district attorneys–serve as prosecutors:
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said the point of the new law is to free up local judges to handle more important cases.
"This is ultimately the goal: to bring the city attorney's in as the prosecutors of those cases, so I can bring my assistant D.A.'s who had to handle the municipal court cases—the misdemeanor cases in municipal court—back to criminal court," Cannizzaro said.
Cannizarro said the change provides a more efficient criminal justice system; not just for his office, but for police as well.
When Cantrell was running for judge in 2009, he promised to implement mandatory drug court for all first-time juvenile drug offenders. And we all know how wonderful drug courts are. I wonder if Cantrell will volunteer himself for one-to-two years of weekly rehab meetings and piss tests, as he proscribed for first-time juvenile offenders, or if he'll just opt for the $500 fine?