New St. John DA Daley sworn in

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Staff Reporter

EDGARD – Newly inaugurated St. John Parish District Attorney Tom Daley said he looks forward to the challenge of modernizing his office with new technology and cooperation with other community leaders.

Daley is taking over for the retiring John Crum, who is leaving the District Attorney’s office after 24 years. He was sworn into office Monday along with 40th Judicial District Judges Madeline Jasmine, Mary Hotard Becnel and J. Sterling Snowdy and parish Assessor Whitney Joseph. All five begin their six-year term in office Jan. 12.

Following his inauguration into office, Daley spoke of a parish justice system that needs improvement and a District Attorney’s Office that is too large of a bureaucracy to function properly.

Daley said Louisiana incarcerates more people than anywhere else in the world, but he hopes to change that trend in St. John Parish through a plan of early intervention and rehabilitation of first time offenders. He said he hopes to work with St. John Superintendent Courtney Millet to try and curb the parish’s dropout rate and quell some of the behavior problems within the school system.

“This will be a long process,” Daley said. “I don’t have a magic wand that will fix everything. It only happens one person at a time and one issue at a time.”

Daley said he wants to institute some form of job training so that those residents who don’t wish to pursue higher education can still do something to live more productively instead of falling into a life of crime.

“People who do something with their lives are less likely to get involved in violent crime because often they just don’t have the time,” said Daley. “I want to see people succeed and not fall through the cracks.”

Daley also mentioned plans for expansion and improvements of the Edgard Courthouse, which is over four decades old.

“Forty years ago St. John population was about 23,000,” Daley said. “Today it stands at about 50,000. We are serving twice the community in the same physical space and we need to change that.”

The three parish judges were sworn into office simultaneously by State Supreme Court Justice John L. Weimer. Jasmine and Becnel returned to office after facing no opposition, while Snowdy was overwhelmingly voted back in after an election race in the fall. In a brief speech, he promised to continue to do what is right and fair according to the law.

After taking her oath of office, Jasmine swore in Whitney Joseph, who continues his service as St. John Parish Assessor. Joseph said he would continue his commitment to run an office that is fair, impartial and professional.

“I’m always in my office and my door is always open,” said Joseph. “You don’t even have to make an appointment. I work for you and the day that I forget that is the day that you can get rid of me.”