Harry Connick Sr., longtime prosecutor and father of renowned singer, dies at age 97

 January 26, 2024

Fans everywhere are sending condolences and well-wishes to renowned musician and actor Harry Connick Jr. as he mourns the death of his father, former New Orleans District Attorney Harry Connick Sr., as ABC News reports.

According to the outlet, Connick Sr. died at home on Thursday, surrounded by his wife, son Harry, and daughter Suzanna, though no cause of death was specified.

Connick Sr. played a pivotal role in his son's eventual career, leveraging his connections in the Crescent City to arrange piano sessions with legendary jazz impresarios, including Buddy Rich and Eubie Blake, while the boy was still young.

Harry Connick Jr.'s success in the entertainment industry notwithstanding, Connick Sr. had a noteworthy career of his own, serving as New Orleans' top prosecutor for 30 years.

Born in Alabama, the elder Connick was a World War II veteran who served in the South Pacific and went on to work as a federal prosecutor before jumping into the rough-and-tumble world of local politics.

It was then that he decided to run against incumbent district attorney Jim Garrison, subsequently securing reelection on four separate occasions.

That is not to say that Connick's career was without controversy, however, and after his 2003 retirement, he faced questions about convictions obtained during his tenure and whether his office was involved in withholding evidence that would have helped defendants, with one related matter making its way to the U.S. Supreme Court and drawing a strong rebuke from then-Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The late liberal justice stated in a dissent that Connick “created a tinderbox in Orleans Parish in which [evidentiary] violations were nigh inevitable. And when they did occur, Connick insisted there was no need to change anything, and opposed efforts to hold prosecutors accountable on the ground that doing so would make his job more difficult.”

Though Connick Sr. never made specific comment on the cases for which he received such scrutiny, in 2012, he offered a more general assessment of his life's work in a Times-Picayune interview.

“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 records. I have more yards than anybody,” he said.

Connick Sr. went on, “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.”

Despite the headline-making bumps along the way, words of reminiscence and tribute for Connick Sr. have poured in since news broke of his passing, with Ralph Capitelli, a former deputy prosecutor in his office, stating, “He was driven by an incredible sense of justice.”

Another of Connick's former colleagues said, “He thought his job was to take people who victimize people off the street, not to rehabilitate them but to put them where they couldn't hurt anybody else.”

Current New Orleans District Attorney Jason Williams said, “Mr. Connick remains the longest tenured District Attorney, serving from 1973-2003. 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,” surely echoing the sentiments not just of those who personally knew and respected the notable leader, but also of the millions of fans who admire the tremendous talent of the famous son he helped raise.