His sudden fall appeared to him all the more bewildering because, for years, he had been one of the city’s principal local power brokers. He was elected five times to six-year terms, mostly without difficulty, and his endorsement was eagerly sought by powerful politicians, Black and white, in New Orleans.
Yet his hands-off approach to the district attorney’s office had become proverbial. Even before he began a once-a-week stint at a French Quarter club, in imitation of his son’s blossoming international career, “Connick left the courtroom work to his assistants, an ill-paid, hard-driving group, mostly men, mostly white,” the journalist Jed Horne wrote in “Desire Street” (2005), a book about the case of Curtis Kyles, whose 1984 murder conviction was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1995 because Mr. Connick’s assistants withheld evidence.
“The office locked up mostly Black men, mostly poor people, in ways that required them to hide the evidence they were supposed to disclose,” Denise LeBoeuf, a New Orleans lawyer, said in an interview. “It was under his watch. That will always be on him.”
Joseph Harry Fowler Connick was born on March 27, 1926, in Mobile, Ala., to James Connick, who was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Jessie (Fowler) Connick, a nurse. He grew up in New Orleans, where he attended parochial school.
After serving with the U.S. Navy in the Pacific in World War II, he returned to New Orleans to attend Loyola University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree, and Tulane University, where he earned a law degree.