For decades, the Orleans Parish District Attorney position was one held by White lawyers. That changed in October 2003 when Eddie Jordan Jr. took the role. Prior to entering the law practice, Jordan grew up the Ninth Ward’s Pontchartrain Park. He is a 1974 graduate of Wesleyan University and a 1977 graduate of Rutgers University School of Law.
After honing his legal skills in Pennsylvania for four years, he returned home to Louisiana and taught law at Southern University. Eddie Jordan Jr. would begin practicing law in Louisiana in 1982, at the age of 30. Young Jordan proved extremely effective at his job as he was appointed assistant U.S. attorney two years later.
President Clinton’s time in office saw Jordan, a Democrat, appointed as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District in 1994. His biggest career moment of this period came with the 1998 indictment of Governor Edwin Washington Edwards on extortion, mail and wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering. While this case was one that would make him, there was also the issue of being perceived as light-handed in dealing with others involved with Edwards–even with video evidence.
By 2001, he left the U.S. attorney post to go into private practice. This wouldn’t last long as he was elected to the district attorney position for the Orleans Parish in 2002. This post would previously be held by Harry Connick Sr. He would begin his work as DA in 2003.
One of Eddie Jordan Jr.’s first tasks as district attorney was to clean house in his office by firing 43 White workers. He would hire Black workers in the majority of the positions. As a result, he faced a racial discrimination suit in early 2005 where the DA office had to pay $2.4 million.
Between 2006 and 2007, he gained a reputation among opponents for being very light-handed on crime. During his term as district attorney, the conviction rate was extremely low at 12-percent. While a low conviction rate would be ideal in a time of low or moderate crime, this was a low conviction rate when it came to murder and attempted murder cases. Also, suspects in murder cases had a tendency to be released.
All of this drew complaints from members of both parties on the New Orleans City Council. Things escalated for Jordan when the resignation was put on the table. State Senator Steve Scalise and 2007 attorney general candidate Royal Alexander–both Republican–called for Jordan’s impeachment. Eddie Jordan would step down as DA because as a result of political pressure.