NEW ORLEANS -- Disgraced former federal prosecutor Sal Perricone, the online commenter whose postings got major convictions tossed and helped tarnish U.S. Attorney Jim Letten's tenure, now claims in a court filing that he was unaware of what he was writing because he was on a sleeping medication.
'As embarrassing as it is, I do not remember making many of the comments ascribed to me,' Perricone wrote in a filing to Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson in Baton Rouge. 'Others may snicker and express disbelief, but they weren't in my shoes for those years. Again, I am sorry to have caused all this pain and work. My career was shattered and my life has changed. Today, I am trying to rebuild my life and pray this court allows me to stay enrolled as an active member.' (See court filing)
Perricone apologizes several times in the filing and acknowledges that his actions caused the court to grant new trials to police officers convicted for shooting unarmed civilians on the Danziger Bridge after Hurricane Katrina. But he contends that his 20 anonymous comments out of 5,100 had no bearing on the jury in the Danziger case.
Perricone makes the appeal because Jackson issued an order last week removing Perricone and Letten's former first assistant, Jan Mann, from the rolls of the federal court for the Middle District of Louisiana. He did so based on Mann and Perricone's agreement to resign from the Eastern District court in New Orleans instead of facing discipline for their online postings.
Both were given 30 days from July 28 to respond. Mann has not responded, but Perricone did respond on Wednesday, giving the Ambien excuse for the first time publicly and arguing that his agreement to resign only applied to the Eastern District of Louisiana, the federal court based in New Orleans.
He said Jackson should only be able to remove him from the rolls in the Baton Rouge-based court if he 'has been suspended or disbarred from practice in any other court or is guilty of conduct unbecoming a member of the court's bar.' Perricone says he was not suspended or disbarred in New Orleans because he agreed to resign instead, but he does not address anything about conduct unbecoming.
He also said he did not resign voluntarily, but under duress because he could not afford the $20,000 cost of a hearing plus attorney fees. Perricone said he has been forced to represent himself now 'because of a paucity of resources.'