NEWS

District Attorney Tony Clayton, Lisa Jarreau receive top honors at Crimefighters Gala

Staff Report

Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney Tony Clayton and Victim Support Coordinator Lisa Jarreau received top awards in their respective fields during a recent statewide convention in Kenner.

Clayton was named “District Attorney of the Year” and Jarreau was “Crime Prevention Advocate of the Year” at the Crimefighters Annual Awards Gala at the grand ballroom of Chateau Country Club.

District Attorney Tony Clayton and Victim Support Coordinator Lisa Jarreau receive honors at the Crimefighters Annual Awards Gala.

“I’m doing my job, and there’s not much more I can say about it,” Clayton said. “I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do … I’m doing what people pay me to do, so I don’t need accolades.

“As for Lisa, I’m proud that she works with us, and I’m proud to have her associated with us,” he said. “I’m proud to call her my friend.”

Jarreau has given an inordinate amount of time to crime victims in the 18th Judicial District, Clayton said.

“Under her watch, it has made my job so much easier because victims are given the due attention that they deserve,” he said. “Their questions are answered, they are accommodated and, most importantly, they are given someone they can contact at any given time.”

Jarreau builds a relationship with victims during a very difficult time in life.

Clayton said it makes his job much easier.

“She takes them to lunch at times and she gives the much-needed attention to juveniles – and that includes kids who are victims of sexual abuse,” he said. “So, the things that are hard for a prosecutor to do, in terms of prosecuting the case – or, for a lack of a better way of putting it, holding the hands of his or her victims – are done by an unsung hero, but it’s probably the most important job in the District Attorney’s Office.

“I tip my hat off to Ms. Jarreau for doing this job almost 30 years, and very seldom is she recognized for it,” Clayton said.

“For her to be recognized as Victim Coordinator of the entire state, I hope residents of Pointe Coupee, Iberville and West Baton Rouge parishes join me in applauding her for her 30-plus years of service.

“I’m proud that she works with us, and I’m proud to have her associated with us. I’m proud to call her my friend.”

Jarreau began her work under then-District Attorney Ricky Ward, who retired at the end of 2020.

When Clayton succeeded Ward, he increased Jarreau’s salary.

Her job and its responsibilities entitled her to pay raise, Clayton said.

“In the link on this chain of justice that we wear around our neck, the most important link is the job as victim coordinator,” he said.

Clayton expanded to the scope of the office to have an employee in each parish who answers directly to her. She oversees the three parishes and serves as director of the entire office.

“Victims are a big part of our office – the most important thing,” Jarreau said. “Working with the family of the victims, I meet the best people at the worst time of their lives.

“Someone you love has been murdered, rape or molested – the worst of the worst crimes, and that’s when I meet these people,” she said. “Through the work I do, I’ve been told by the very same victims that I’ve made a difference in their lives.

“I always tell them I’m not so sure about that, but the victims I’ve served during my tenure with the District Attorney’s Office have certainly made a difference in my life,” Jarreau said.

She has also worked closely with Assistant District Attorney Chad Aguillard since he joined the D.A.’s office in 2004.

Jarreau has seen people come and go in the office during her years, but she said her job description remains the same.

“Basic needs of the victims have not changed – I just have more victims. It doesn’t change with the victims wants or needs,” she said. “I just have more of them.”

The toughest part of the job is helping victims and their families find closure, she said.

“Even after the trial, it’s hard to find closure,” Jarreau said. “They want a trial – they deserve that trial, and they want closure.

“They hope they’ll find closure by having a trial and seeing the perpetrator convicted, but they’ll walk in here and fall on the floor crying,” she said. “With the death of a child, for example, you never have closure.”

Jarreau doesn’t consider her work a job.

“The toughest cases are when you walk into the trial room in courtroom proceedings, and you have the victims and the suspect,” she said.

Cases involving juveniles and babies have been the most difficult for Jarreau.

‘You look at the victim and you ask who their voice is,” she said. “In this case, it’s Chad and Tony – we do this for victims and for juveniles.

“It’s a tough job, but I love it.”