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Sunday, June 16, 2019

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Lafourche DA leaves office ‘feeling good’

Lafourche DA leaves office ‘feeling good’

After nearly 15 years of being known by his title, Cam Morvant said he’s looking forward to just being himself again.

Morvant announced Sept. 27 that he would be stepping down as Lafourche Parish District Attorney. Friday was his last day.

“I’m looking forward to going to a fair, bringing a folding chair with me, putting it by the band and opening up a beer,” he said. “If somebody wants to talk to me, they’re more than welcome. If they don’t, I’m fine with that.”

It’s not that he won’t miss leading the office he has worked in for more than 30 years. As he packed his belongings into boxes, he said he had mixed emotions. However, he said, stress and overwork have taken a toll.

“Obviously it was a very difficult decision,” he said. “I think I made the right decision for me and my family. I don’t have any serious health issues, but I have had some health issues the past couple of years. I’m 68 years old, and as the saying goes, I ain’t getting no younger.”

Kristine Russell, formerly Morvant’s first assistant, takes over as interim district attorney.

A special election will be held March 24, and whoever wins will complete Morvant’s term, which expires in 2020.

Morvant is remaining in the office as an assistant district attorney.

He will also become executive director of the Lorio Foundation in January. He founded the organization and currently serves as board chairman.

Morvant said he considered not running for a third term in 2014, but he wanted to follow through on his promise to prosecute David Brown.

Last year, a jury unanimously convicted Brown of the Nov. 4, 2012, murders of 29-year-old Jacquelin Nieves and her daughters, 7-year-old Gabriela and 1-year-old Izabela, in Lockport. The jury also decided Brown should get the death penalty.

The trial lasted two months, including six weeks of jury selection

“It took a lot out of me,” Morvant said. “I realized after it was over that I had to make some decisions. It really had a big impact on me, emotionally and physically.”

Still, Morvant said he enjoys the action of the courtroom and wants to continue prosecuting cases and helping the younger assistant district attorneys.

The District Attorney’s Office has a large pre-trial diversion program to give first-time, nonviolent offenders options such as probation.

“It makes me feel good if somebody comes here and tells me, ‘You helped me out 10 years ago. I’m married today, and I’ve got two kids and a good job. If you hadn’t done that, I don’t know where I’d be,’” he said. “Those have been the good parts of the job: being able to help people, being able to solve problems, being able to make some sanity out of chaos sometimes.”

Morvant said he’s especially proud of his Domino Effect program, which teaches high school students about the consequences of impaired and distracted driving.

In addition to criminal cases, the District Attorney’s Office handles child support, tickets and juvenile cases. The office also represents public entities throughout the parish, including the School Board; water, recreation and fire districts; and the Parish Council.

Over the years, Morvant has fought many battles with the council and administration. He said his office has issued more than 600 written opinions.

“It’s just dealing with those different personalities,” he said. “You’ve got nine on the council and the parish president. I’ve not always seen eye-to-eye with all of them, but it’s not my job to get along with them. My job’s to advise them.”

Not all of Morvant’s decisions have sat well with people, he admits, but most important to him is doing the right thing.

He said he has no regrets.

“I leave here feeling good,” he said. “I leave here with my head up. I leave here feeling like I have done a good job, and that’s what’s important.”

-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Bridget Mire can be reached at 448-7639 or Follow her on Twitter @bridget_mire.