NEW ORLEANS - Ray Nagin left federal court Monday night as a free man, but with his fate now in the hands of a jury, political analysts say it doesn't look good for the former mayor.
“If the jury believes half of what the government has told them, the mayor is in big trouble,” said University of New Orleans political scientist Ed Chervenak. "We would be shocked if he walked out."
"Nobody I've spoken to who has sat through this trial thinks he's going to be acquitted on all 21 counts," said Eyewitness News political analyst Clancy DuBos.
The charges include money laundering, wire fraud and bribery.
While political analysts don't expect an acquittal, they say it's possible for a hung jury or not guilty verdict on some of the counts.
“It only takes one juror on each one of the 21 counts to lock it up,” said DuBos.
All 12 jurors must agree in order to reach a guilty or not guilty verdict on each count.
Regardless of the outcome, analysts say when the verdict comes down it will close the final political chapter of Hurricane Katrina for a city now forging ahead.
“We didn't really start recovering until after Ray Nagin left office. I think a lot of people now that we've seen the city gain some traction, they want him to go away,” said DuBos. “They want him to go away to jail.”
Ironically, Nagin came into office in 2002 touting himself as a reformer. Now, he's the only New Orleans mayor to stand trial on federal corruption charges. Analysts say it's part of a precipitous fall for a once popular mayor.
“I think most people also see it as kind of a sad commentary. You know, this was a guy who came into office riding the crest of a tidal wave of good feeling and reform,” said DuBos.
“[It] was basically a Cinderella story where he was elected with high approval ratings,” said Xavier University public policy professor Silas Lee. “When he left, he left with a 72 percent negative ratings. It went from voters approving him to voters rejecting him.”
And now we'll see whether a jury believes him as the deliberations continue.
Deliberations resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
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