Wednesday marked the end of an era for the Lafourche Parish court system when District Attorney Cam Morvant II announced he will step down in November after 14 years in office.
In a letter addressed to the residents of Lafourche Parish, Morvant said he plans to step down as district attorney on Nov. 3 but will remain in the office as an assistant district attorney. In the meantime, First Assistant District Attorney Kristine Russell will take over as district attorney, Morvant said.
“This has not been an easy decision to make,” Morvant said in his letter. “I have been helped tremendously by my wife, Dana, as well as my family and friends. Their advice has helped me realize that this is the right decision.”
While he said his passion for the office hasn’t diminished, Morvant said there were other factors that contributed to his decision.
“When I sought a third term as district attorney in 2014, it was because I felt I still had so much to give to the office and this parish,” Morvant said. “My passion for the job has not changed, but life has a way of forcing you to take a hard look at what you can realistically accomplish when health and age become increasingly important factors in your life.”
“It is no secret that the office of district attorney is a demanding one,” Morvant added. “There are no office hours, and our job extends far beyond the courtroom. There are few aspects of public government with which we are not involved. The people of this parish deserve a district attorney who can give all of oneself, all of the time.”
As an assistant district attorney, Morvant said he would have the time to take a more active role in philanthropic organizations like the Lorio Foundation.
Russell will be sworn in as Lafourche Parish district attorney on Nov. 3.
“From now until Nov. 3 I’m still the first assistant and will continue my duties as first assistant until the day I get sworn in,” Russell said.
For many of Morvant’s colleagues, Wednesday’s announcement came as bittersweet news.
“It’s a sad day for the criminal justice system, but I’m happy for him that he will be able to enjoy his well-earned retirement,” said Terrebonne Parish District Attorney Joe Waitz Jr. “I’ve known Cam Morvant all my life. He was my high school teacher at Vandebilt Catholic back in the mid-1970s. He’s a first-class individual and is very instrumental in Lafourche Parish’s criminal justice system. He’s certainly put his heart and soul into his job and will be sorely missed.”
Russell credited Morvant with teaching her everything she knows about being a prosecutor.
“My legal career has been very blessed because I’ve worked with Cam since 1996 when I got out of law school,” she said. “And then in 2003 I was able to come into the District Attorney’s Office and work with him again. Not only is he the best in the courtroom, he is the best mentor anybody could have.”
Russell lauded Morvant for his integrity and values, which she said are instrumental qualities for an effective prosecutor.
“He not only teaches all of us how to be good prosecutors but most all how to be good people,” Russell said. “In this office it’s always about doing the right thing. It’s not about the convictions or the numbers. So how amazing is it for us to have a boss like that?”
Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre credited Morvant for being one of the best prosecutors in the country. Most elected district attorneys assume administrative positions after taking office, but Morvant was an exception, the sheriff said.
“You would be hard-pressed to find any elected DAs to take on prosecutions of first-degree murder cases and achieve the success he’s had,” Webre said. “They seldom if ever get involved in direct courtroom prosecution. To Cam’s credit, he’s not shied away from those responsibilities. Aside from being an effective prosecutor, he’s very approachable and very open-minded. He recognizes the benefit of partnering with law enforcement to achieve just results.”
Morvant was first elected district attorney in 2002 and was re-elected in 2008 without opposition. He was re-elected with no opposition again in 2014. He first joined the District Attorney’s Office in 1983 and worked as the chief prosecutor.
Morvant is a 1982 graduate of the LSU Law School and is a Nicholls State University alumnus.
Lafourche Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle declined to comment about Morvant’s departure.
--Staff Writer Dan Copp can be reached at 857-2202 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@DanVCopp.
Posted on Fri, September 29, 2017
by By Dan Copp, Daily Comet