Legal experts question why prosecutor isn't on leave following arrest in boating crash
BATON ROUGE - There's growing concern about fairness in the justice system after a prosecutor was arrested for causing a nasty boating crash that sent children to the hospital. The WBRZ Investigative Unit learned he's still handling cases.
It involves Chris Richard's arrest in Pointe Coupee Parish for a hit and run that injured kids. It took eight days for state wildlife agents to arrest Richard as calls grew louder about special treatment. His arrest happened only after relentless reporting by WBRZ.
Retired judge Freddie Pitcher is respected in the Baton Rouge area for everything he's accomplished in his career. He said what's happening in this case is alarming.
"I've been an assistant district attorney myself," Pitcher said. "I'm a former trial judge and appellate court judge. I've taught criminal law. I try to tell my students if you are going to try to pursue jobs like this, you need to have high ethics. Now the credibility of the DA's office is being called into question."
We followed up with Richard's boss, District Attorney Don Landry from Lafayette. Originally, he said he does not try cases in the media and would only answer questions through a public records request. So, we sent him one. His response indicates that Richard is still employed as a prosecutor and has not been placed on leave despite his arrest.
"The district attorney should not be having that person serving in that capacity," Pitcher said. "At minimum, he should be suspended. At the most he should be terminated."
Pitcher added that incidents like these cause people to lose confidence in the justice system.
"I really feel like the D.A. is getting himself into a real pickle here," Pitcher said. "To not exude confidence in the system and have his constituents believe the system is fair and we aren't giving special privileges to someone because the work in that office."
Richard's lawyer said his client is cooperating with investigators, but will not be giving any statements to the media. The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board confirmed to the Investigative Unit it is aware of this case, but has a standard practice of not confirming any investigation.
Sources tell WBRZ, Richard refused to submit to a DWI Test the night of the crash and told investigators he did not believe in the test.
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