NEW ORLEANS – New Orleans attorney and former Orleans Parish Assistant District Attorney Eusi Hekima Phillips will face no charges in a testimony deal he allegedly cut with a jailhouse informant in a murder case more than a decade ago.
In its single-page attorney disciplinary proceeding issued Feb. 20, a split Louisiana Supreme Court dismissed formal charges against Phillips, saying that "neither party" filed an objection to a hearing committee's recommendation issued in October.
Notwithstanding the dissenting chief justice, the high court found the hearing committee "reached the correct result in dismissing the formal charges."
"Accordingly, it is the judgment of this court that the formal charges against respondent be dismissed," the disciplinary proceeding concluded.
Phillips was admitted to the bar in Louisiana on Oct. 8, 2005, according to his profile at the Louisiana State Bar Association's website.
Allegations against Phillips stem from a February 2012 complaint over an alleged agreement with then-inmate Morris Greene, serving a mandatory 15-year sentence for armed robbery, in Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro's prosecution of Jamaal Tucker.
Tucker was alleged to have shot 25-year-old David Sisolack Jr. at the Fischer public housing complex in January 2008 after mistaking Sisolak for an undercover narcotics detective.
Greene repeatedly testified during Tucker's prosecution that he had not been offered anything in exchange for his testimony. Tucker pleaded guilty in October 2012 to manslaughter and other charges.
Phillips, who left the DA's office in May 2011 and now is a private attorney, has consistently denied making any agreement with Greene in exchange for his testimony
In her dissent, Chief Justice Bernette J. Johnson said she would have remanded the matter back to the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board.
"The suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution," Johnson's dissent said. "The record of this matter demonstrates that [Phillps] withheld from the defense evidence that a crucial witness expected to obtain benefits from testifying, and then elicited trial testimony that the witness was testifying 'out of the goodness of my heart' and 'can't get nothing out of it.'"
Phillps was aware of multiple letters in which Greene "addressed issues of leniency, transfer to another jail facility, and his receipt of Crimestoppers reward money," Johnson said in her dissent.
"Nevertheless, [Phillips] did not turn over this evidence to the defense counsel before a trial for second degree murder, where the defendant faced life in prison without parole, and then misled the jury by presenting the witness as disinterested," Johnson’s dissent said.