Thursday, February 06, 2014

Nagin Trial - Da man takes da stand

I only got to watch the post-lunch run down today but it was quite entertaining.   I missed most of Jenkins' examination with Ray but I did watch all of Coman's cross-examination.  I have a few observations.

Some of the talking heads on MSM were tweeting that Nagin was getting testy with Coman and things were getting heated.  That is was quite the opposite.  Nagin was playing the victim role and was actually quite coy.  He was firmly establishing his role as an unwitting target of the vindictive "government"....the antagonist Jenkin's has repeatedly harped on through the trial.

How well did this work with the jury?  I was watching them closely, as I have every day, and I don't think this ploy is working in the least.  That's not to say that Nagin didn't put on one hell of a performance...he did.  He's consistently answering questions even when Jenkins objects...Ray interrupts and says, "No I want to give the man an answer...".  He keeps answering Coman with a submissive, "Sir".

The most notable exchange came when Jenkins threw an encroachment flag because Coman kept approaching the witness stand to show Nagin documents he claimed he wasn't aware of.  Nagin mockingly replied to Jenkins, "It's ok...I like this guy..."  Jenkins mumbled, "I don't...".  Some publications implied Coman was fuming....he wasn't.  He was simply dismissive.

That's not to say Coman wasn't getting a little flustered, I think he was because Nagin kept playing the memory loss card.  Coman kept running monotonously through the contracts bestowed to 3-Fold and documents from Stone Age to make Nagin confirm that he had signed them.  At one point when Coman was trying to confirm that Nagin had signed an executive order, Ray actually started referring to the "mayor" in second person in order to avoid responsibility and fluster Coman's attempt to place blame.

It was like trying to have a conversation with someone in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's.

No surprise it was getting Coman tweaked but the real issue, I think, was that Coman was getting mired down in the "Is this your signature?" line of questioning to the point of monotony.

Just when I thought that was going to stretch on to the point of oblivion, Coman switched gears and asked Ray directly if Williams had bribed him.  After some squirming, Coman finally nailed him down and Ray stated what everyone was waiting for..."Williams had lied more than once".

Coman even had him repeat the claim just to make sure it was understood that Ray was claiming Williams lied on the stand.

That was the highlight of the whole thing for me.  Nagin claimed he wasn't bribed and that Willliams lied on the stand.  He also claimed he never assured Williams that he had a city contract during the Mardi Gras event where they were pictured together.

There were some humorous moments when Coman showed Ray pictures of him hugging Williams.  Ray kept claiming he couldn't tell who it was because the guy had his back turned to the camera.  Coman claimed he knew it was Williams and Ray then told him he must have X-ray vision.

I personally counted at least one instance where I know Ray lied on the stand.  This was when Ray claimed that he had never spoken to Scott Sewell, owner of Associated Contractors, about business issues.  I know that is a lie because I've spoken with Sewell and I know Ray called him about business matters, in particular the flooded cars that were removed from the city after Katrina.

To his defense, I believe he was telling the truth when he claimed he never spoke about business with Aaron Bennett on the plane ride to Chicago.  That was confirmed to me by someone sitting very close to Bennett on the plane.  In fact, I was told Ray was spooked by Bennett's zeal and told Meffert, "That guy talks way too much."

Now whether or not he spoke with Fradella about business on the plane is another matter altogether.

In the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter, the fact that he was on the damn plane to begin with negates any argument he could possibly make.  Hopefully the jury understands that.

Overall, I think Jenkins is doing a pretty shabby job.  I don't understand why he isn't pounding on the issue that Solomon was not indicted for bribery.  If Solomon wasn't prosecuted how could that be a bribe?  He should have asked Ray that on the stand.  I think he should keep pounding that exact issue...selective prosecution....home at every turn.  Of course I don't get paid the big bucks as a defense attorney so what the hell do I know?

More to come tomorrow.  


I like Pat Fanning, I really do...but were these people in the same fucking courtroom I was today?  

Nagin was getting whacked around like a pinata?  There were reports of him sounding cocky and arrogant? Really?  Who was reporting that?  

Nagin got baited by Coman and started yelling at him? 

I feel like I must have went to a different trial today.  None of that bullshit happened....especially the Nagin yelling back at Coman part. he didn't....not even fucking close.   


Ray Ward said...

Two comments:

On C Ray: Oh, he’s good.

On "sir" being submissive: Nope. Just courteous and respectful of the court.

Jason Brad Berry said...

"On "sir" being submissive: Nope. Just courteous and respectful of the court"

No...if he was addressing the judge I would buy that. You had be there to understand. He was working it and "Sir" was his go to term.

But yeah...he is good.

Jason Brad Berry said...

I'll give them the "cocky and arrogant" part but only partially. I didn't perceive him as cocky, I just perceived him as a man trying to convince a jury that he is innocent. I think there's a difference.

I totally disagree with the use of those adjectives.

Anonymous said...

A deal with Nagin must have been cut a long time ago. It is as if this trial is a scene in a "Mob" movie.... Nagin takes the fall for the Bosses(Solomon, Georges etc.)...does 4 years at the "country club" federal prison while his family will be taken care of for the rest of their lives as long as he keeps his mouth shut.
What would be his alternative?

Jason Brad Berry said...

you tell me....

Anonymous said...

Keeping in mind that Jeremy Nagin has a propensity.....and a record.

Twangster said...

If that were true about a deal being cut there would be no reason for him to go to trial.

Anonymous said...

I looked at the witness list posted at

Based largely on what I`ve read here over the years, I was really curious about what Kenya and Penya would be asked, and what they would say.

It is interesting that they do not seem to have been called.

Whole potential lines of questioning about the role of the City Attorney`s Office, about some of the housing stories covered by your friend Karen Gadbois, and about the French Market deals might have opened up if one or the other of them had taken the stand.

I`m not saying that they are implicated in things, I`m just thinking that someone who wanted to ask background questions about how things were supposed to work, how they worked in practice, and which city staffers (or city staff spouses with ties to some of the vendors who have taken the stand)were working on which projects, missed some great chances to make the whole picture clearer.

Kenya`s wife also worked in the administration, and her job and other personal connections made me curious about how she fit into the now notorious tech dramas at City Hall.

The person who comments on the staged feel of the trial made me feel sad. I hope that is not true.

So many people have been badly hurt, and it would do such a lot of good for the region, and also for every community that sent money, love, or help in the aftermath of the Flood, to see a much integrity restored as possible.

The flood was literally oceanic and boundary destroying, a profound psychological shock. The restoration of the physical experience of the city is important, but so, too, is sense of narrative restoration.

We seek that tidy resolution of horrific crimes through detective fiction.

One character in a novel once described her mother as liking murder mysteries `for the Theology``, for the spiritual gift of the tidy and healing narrative resolution.

Maybe fiction with all the plotlines explained at the end is what we`ll get in a world where real life will never work that way, and the mysteries will remain, making us uncertain about who and what to trust.

Clay said...

I heartily agree with AZ's assessment at the end. Yesterday, Nagin was playing things exactly like he wanted and it was Coman who was flustered if anyone.

Nagin is still going to the pokey.

Anonymous said...

Um, if Nagin said that a City Attorney was part of redacting the information about his meetings with Frank Fradella, why is no City Attorney being asked about that?

Does it say which City Attorney or which attorneys, plural helped to advise Nagin about the redactions in his calendar?

Who was the boss lawyer on that kind of issue for the time period of the June 2008 meetings with Fradella that got blacked out when his meetings were released to the press?

Shouldn`t they have something to say about what all was going on here?

I don`t get why Penya is not being asked questions.

Does getting bad legal advice from City Attorneys give Nagin any grounds for waking away from the charges?

Does having a lawyer who does not ask these questions, especially as it came out in the MSM as well as here that some City employees had their own ties to Fradella, give Nagin grounds for making an appeal, if obvious questions like that were not asked?

Can he claim he was poorly represented, either then or now, and skate?

Anonymous said...

Unlike the MSM who are singing Matt Coman's praises the others in the courtroom feel like he was ineffective and came off like a bully. Instead of wanting to put Ray Nagin underneath the jail I'm now leaning on letting him off because its apparent he is being selectively prosecuted because he is the former mayor of New Orleans. This case has more holes than a swiss cheese sandwich for the government. I really expected more from the feds in this case.

Anonymous said...

Is it my imagination, or did Nagin blame his secretary, Pat Smith, when he was talking about who booked his trips?

Was he suggesting that taking improper trips was something she should have stopped him from doing?

And he did seem to blame City Attorney Landry when questioned about some City Attorney stuff.

Was he or was he not the place where the buck stopped? All those people worked for him.

Jason Brad Berry said...

"If that were true about a deal being cut there would be no reason for him to go to trial. "

Not true...the deal was simply not to roll on specific people. Note that Heebe's lawyer showed up the day Ray decided to take the stand.

Jason Brad Berry said...

"Unlike the MSM who are singing Matt Coman's praises the others in the courtroom feel like he was ineffective and came off like a bully. Instead of wanting to put Ray Nagin underneath the jail I'm now leaning on letting him off because its apparent he is being selectively prosecuted because he is the former mayor of New Orleans. This case has more holes than a swiss cheese sandwich for the government."

I agree with you to an extent but I think you're overstating it. What I don't agree with you on is letting Ray Nagin fucking way.

Jason Brad Berry said...

The selective prosecution issue.....I agree wholeheartedly.

Kevin said...

Personally, I think Jenkins had client control problems, and there will be no "ineffectiveness of counsel" appeal. They put on the defense Ray Nagin wanted.

Anonymous said...

You think a deal was cut with the understanding that he would not roll on certain people? Can they do that?

I`m confused I guess because I would think that the police would want to `roll`on as many people involved in corrupt dealings as possible.

Nagin`s wilingness to do this becomes sympathetic to me a bit if he was protecting his sons. I`m not saying that they deserved to be protected, but that a father who protects his kids is sympathetic to me.

The presentation of the case against Nagin has been surprising to me, because based on reading this blog and others and the paper, I would have throught they could have covered more and charged him with more, and his trial could have exposed and explored a whole bunch of other relationships more fully.

It seemed to be in the public interest to bring a whole lot more to light than we have seen here. In whose interest is it to keep it all quiet?

Jason Brad Berry said...

No I don't think he cut any deal with DOJ. I think he may have cut a deal with Heebe. I think Heebe bribed Ray. I think Heebe needed Ray not to talk when he was still being investigated.

Anonymous said...

Anything about Irvin Mayfield get mentioned in the trial?

Anonymous said...

Curious question. Reading this from the NOLA play by play and so I wonder if I am reading into this quoted text:

"12:06 p.m.: Coman now going over a 2004 executive order that Nagin signed that allowed him to hire IT contractors without a public bid.

According to Nagin, his attorney assured him that, if a contractor had been approved as a bidded contractor through the federal General Services Administration, the city could "piggyback" on that bid process. Bottom line, Nagin was able to hire Mark St. Pierre's company to do major work for the city without having to bid the projects out.

Nagin's tech chief at the time, Greg Meffert, according to his own testimony, accepted bribes from St. Pierre and funneled bribes to Nagin on St. Pierre's behalf.

Nagin is saying that Meffert never told him St. Pierre was paying for the free cellphones, lawn care and extravagant vacations to Hawaii and Jamaica.

Nagin says he only met St. Pierre once, that he can remember, at a Christmas part.

Coman just showed a text message from St. Pierre to Meffert that carbon coppied Nagin.

Before Coman can expound on its significance, Berrigan calls a break for lunch."

So Coman was setting up a GSA scenario, Judge cuts him off for lunch and this is never touched on again...

I wasn't there but it reads like an opinion over the St. Pierre/ Meffert coin exchange could be read like a federal judge having the instinct to not allow GSA questioning to potentially unravel companies that fall into the "don't ask don't tell category?

Hoping that someone who was there might be able to clarify.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy the blog from time to time, but this conspiracy shit is nuts. Nagin isn't about to become a convicted felon and spend, what, up to 20 years? in prison on a secret deal with Heebe when nagin is capable of earning his own salary for the next 20 years as a free man not in prison. Further, any secret illegal deal they had would be unenforacable and thus the risk untenable.

And no, the judge isn't in on it.

Lastly -- all persecution is selectve. Every single case.

Jason Brad Berry said...

You're right that is nuts and I never said all that did I?

Jason Brad Berry said...

I said I think Nagin may have may a deal with Heebe...I never said that would keep him out of prison.

Heebe bribed Nagin....just like he bribed many other people. If Nagin had rolled early on in the Heebe investigation it could have been a big problem for Heebe.

Heebe know a hell of a lot more about the commenting scandal than what was revealed...count on that.

What I'm saying is that a deal may have been cut between Nagin and Heebe early on to keep Nagin from rolling and Heebe certainly has the ability to help Nagin in many different ways..

I have no idea what you're talking about.

Jason Brad Berry said...

Do not take speculation in the comment section and attribute it as a thesis to the blog

Anonymous said...

Shonekas showed up?