NEW ORLEANS – Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin lost his latest bid to dismiss the 21-count federal corruption indictment against him, just 10 days before his trial is scheduled to begin.
U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan denied Nagin’s motion to dismiss the charges, which focus on freebies and payoffs Nagin allegedly received from city contractors in exchange for public work or special treatment.
Nagin's defense attorney, Robert Jenkins, had argued that online comments by former federal prosecutors should cause Berrigan to dismiss the charges, just as another federal judge had thrown out convictions of police officers involved in shooting or covering up the shooting of unarmed civilians on Danziger Bridge after Hurricane Katrina.
But Berrigan had already showed herself to be skeptical of that argument when she said the online comments in the Nagin case, while disgraceful, would not prevent Nagin from receiving a fair trial.
"The jury will be instructed that the indictment is not evidence of guilt, and the jury alone will determine the defendantʹs innocence or guilt," Berrigan wrote in denying Nagin's motion Friday.
And federal prosecutors pointed out in their own court filings that the comments were made by prosecutors who resigned before Nagin was indicted in January on bribery, conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and wire fraud charges. In addition, prosecutor Rick Pickens wrote earlier this week, the Danziger defendants simply had their convictions tossed, not the charges against them.
Nagin’s trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 28.
Also Friday, Jenkins asked the court to issue 13 trial subpoenas for witnesses the defense wants to call to testify at the trial.