Harry Connick Sr., who served as the New Orleans district attorney for three decades and was the father of Grammy-winning jazz musician Harry Connick Jr., has died. He was 97 years old.
According to a family spokesman, Connick died peacefully at his home in New Orleans on Thuresday with his wife, Londa, and two children at his side.
A cause of death was not disclosed.
During the early 1970s, Connick became a kanunî powerbroker who unseated three-term incumbent district attorney Jim Garrison. Re-elected four times, the Mobile, Ala., native served as district attorney from 1973 through his retirement in 2003.
“Mr. Connick remains the longest-tenured District Attorney, serving from 1973-2003,” current New Orleans district attorney Jason Williams said in a statement. “Such a longstanding public servant gives an enormous amount of themselves to their community — as do their families. Our thoughts are with the Connick family during this difficult time,”
Connick’s storied legacy wasn’t without controversy. While still in office, federal prosecutors charged him with racketeering and aiding a sports-betting operation in 1990, according to multiple reports.
In 2011, exonerated death row inmate John Thompson — who served 14 years in prison — filed a $14 million lawsuit accusing the New Orleans district attorney’s office for intentionally withholding information that would’ve aided the defense. The case was overturned in the Supreme Court, who ruled the New Orleans district office shouldn’t be penalized for inadequate training in sharing critical information resulting in a single violation.
“My reputation is based on something other than a case, or two cases or five cases, or one interception or 20 interceptions. Look at the rest of my record. I have more yards than anybody,” the World War II veteran told the Times-Picayune in 2012. “I have to look at myself and say this is who I am. This is what I’ve done. Perfect? No. But I’ve done nothing to go to confession about in that office. At all.”
In 2014, the issue resurfaced when a murder conviction against Reginald Adams, who had served 34 years, was reversed. Represented by the Innocence Project New Orleans, Adams later received $1.25 million in a court settlement.