Posted on October 11, 2013 at 4:40 PM
Dominic Massa / Eyewitness News
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin wants a federal judge to reconsider a request from his attorney for what he calls key documents in his trial, two weeks before it is set to begin.
On Friday, Robert Jenkins, Nagin's attorney, filed a request for Judge Ginger Berrigan to reconsider a ruling this week by magistrate Judge Alma Chasez.
Judge Chasez rejected an attempt by Nagin’s attorney to force the government to provide a copy of a report on the online commenting scandal in the U.S. Attorney's office.
The judge said none of the prosecutors involved were directly handling Nagin's case, and so Jenkins’ request was not justified.
She told Jenkins that he hadn’t cited any cases in which a judge had ordered prosecutors to provide the defense with a document essentially unrelated to a case.
“The magistrate judge erred by denying the Defendant’s motion for essential documents that would establish the magnitude of improper prosecutorial misconduct and the ramifications of deliberate misconduct by government attorneys, thereby impacting adversely defendant’s right to a fair trial,” Jenkins wrote in his motion filed Friday.
“As this Court observed, (the online postings by former prosecutors Sal Perricone and Jan Mann)…are juvenile,” Jenkins wrote. “But they are much more. They go to the integrity of the investigation and ensuing charges filed by the government against the defendant. They alone are offensive examples of prosecutorial misconduct. And defendant should be afforded the opportunity to uncover all prosecutorial misconduct, which is what his discovery seeks to accomplish.”
Nagin is the latest in a string of federal defendants to seek relief in the wake of U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt’s ruling last month setting aside the convictions of five former New Orleans police officers charged in the Danziger Bridge shootings and cover-up. Engelhardt ruled that “grotesque prosecutorial misconduct” — headlined by the pseudonymous online comments posted by former prosecutors Perricone and Mann — left him no choice but to order a new trial.
But Chasez on Monday noted that Jenkins should be able to ensure that his client gets a fair trial by carefully screening the jury pool, and eliminating jurors who have already formed opinions about the former mayor’s guilt or innocence.
Nagin is set to be tried Oct. 28 on bribery and corruption charges.
Judge Berrigan will now have to rule on this new request for the report into the online commenting and prosecutorial misconduct.
-- with reporting by The New Orleans Advocate