June 22, 2024


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Harry Connick Sr., New Orleans Democratic lawmaker criticized for overreach, dies at 97

Harry Connick Sr., New Orleans Democratic lawmaker criticized for overreach, dies at 97

His sudden downfall seemed all the more puzzling to him because for years he had been one of the city's main local power holders. He was elected five times to six-year terms, mostly without difficulty, and powerful politicians, black and white, in New Orleans eagerly sought his endorsement.

However, his hands-off approach to the District Attorney's Office became proverbial. Even before he began his once-a-week stint at a French Quarter club, in imitation of his son's burgeoning international career, Connick “left the courtroom work to his assistants, an underpaid, hard-driving bunch, mostly men, mostly men.” Journalist Jed Horne wrote in Desire Street (2005), a book about the case of Curtis Kyles, whose 1984 murder conviction was overturned by the US Supreme Court in 1995 because Mr. Connick's aides withheld evidence.

“The bureau locked up most of the black men, most of them poor, in ways that required them to hide evidence they were supposed to reveal,” Denise LeBoeuf, a New Orleans attorney, said in an interview. “He was on his watch. It will always be on him.”

Joseph Harry Fowler Connick was born on March 27, 1926, in Mobile, Alabama, to James Connick, who was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Jessie (Fowler) Connick, a nurse. He grew up in New Orleans, where he attended parochial school.

After serving with the U.S. Navy in the Pacific in World War II, he returned to New Orleans to attend Loyola University, where he earned a bachelor's degree, and Tulane University, where he earned a law degree.

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