NEW ORLEANS -- Former Mayor Ray Nagin renewed his request to delay his Oct. 28 corruption trial and asked a federal judge to make prosecutors turn over findings related to the online commenting scandal inside the U.S. attorney’s office.
Court documents filed Wednesday by Nagin’s attorney, Robert Jenkins, echo what he said back on Sept. 24: that new revelations about online commenting by former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s top lieutenants would have a direct impact on Nagin’s ability to get a fair trial.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan rejected Jenkins’ request for an indefinite delay in Nagin’s trial, stating that the actions of former prosecutors were “utterly juvenile” but would not prevent a jury from properly and fairly deciding Nagin’s fate.
Nagin is facing 21 felony counts, including bribery, conspiracy, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
But Berrigan's denial didn’t stop Jenkins from trying again, this time in a motion to force prosecutors to turn over the findings of a Justice Department probe into the commenting scandal.
“While (Berrigan) observed that jury selection may address some of these issues, the defendant (Nagin) is entitled to know the scope and depth of prosecutorial misconduct before trial,” Jenkins wrote in his motion.
Specifically, he asked for reports by special prosecutor John Horn, his interview notes and affidavits and documents Horn collected in his investigation into leaks and online commenting, none of which have been made public but all of which were cited by Judge Kurt Engelhardt in his recent order to overturn the convictions of police officers involved in the Danziger Bridge shootings in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
He went on to argue that rigorous jury selection would not be enough to ensure a fair trial for Nagin because of the “nature and number of pejorative comments (made by former Assistant U.S. Attorney Sal Perricone) about the defendant.”
Those postings, under Perricone’s acknowledged pseudonyms “Henry L. Mencken1951,” “campstblue” and “legacyusa,” accuse Nagin of rampant corruption and “project a racial animus” toward both Nagin and Jenkins, the filing says.
But prosecutors oppose any further trial delay, pointing out that Perricone’s anti-Nagin postings were well-known long before the Sept. 18 ruling from Engelhardt.