Monday, February 10, 2014

Nagin Trial - (start Jeopardy theme music)

...if it even takes that long.

I just left the courtroom after hearing the closing arguments.  I'm honestly dumbfounded at the defense's efforts.  I thought maybe they would tie together everything they've done in the past week, or even lack of what they've done....but no dice.  It was honestly painful for me to watch.  I wanted to take over myself.  How bad can it be if I want to help defend Ray Nagin?

Aside from broken sentences, random trains of thought, missed opportunities (so many), and a general lack of organization in the way the argument was presented the basic theme Jenkins attempted to make was "The prosecution and their witnesses are not credible!"  Actually I'll retract the exclamation point and replace that with a period...."The prosecution and their witnesses are not credible."....I don't want to overstate the effort.

So many missed opportunities.  The two most glaring I would have harped on were selective prosecution and witness selection.

The prosecution themselves consistently had Fradella and Meffert berate Aaron Bennett yet they then used multiple emails from Bennett as evidence.  Why didn't the defense point that out?  If Bennett isn't trustworthy and is such a moron as Meffert and Fradella would have us believe, why would we take anything he says in his emails seriously?

Secondly, why isn't George Solomon indicted?  If he bribed the Mayor with the private jet ride to NYC, why wasn't he charged?  I was told that Jenkins did try to bring this up in the trial (I missed this part) but the judge stated he couldn't and called for a sidebar.  Can someone explain to me how the prosecution can claim Solomon bribed Nagin but Nagin's defense can't mention that Solomon hasn't been charged with bribery?

What about Ed Burns from Ciber who was mentioned at the beginning of the trial?  He is just as guilty of the campaign bundling charges as Mark St. some ways more..why wasn't he charged with a crime?  (He was guilty of a lot more that didn't come up in the trial)

Another issue they failed to address in closing arguments is that the prosecution claimed Fradella and Samuel bribed Nagin in order to curry favor for their Market Street/Power Plant project.  The "Reinventing the Crescent" project would have placed Condo towers in the direct line of sight between the river and the Samuel/Fradellas Condo development blocking the view of the Mississippi.  They were asking Ray to stop the "Reinventing the Crescent" development but Nagin didn't capitulate to that demand.  In fact he was stonewalling them at one point.  I don't understand why the defense didn't point this out in the closing argument.

Alright, I suppose that's enough of me playing armchair defense attorney.  The clock is now ticking.  I predict a verdict on Wednesday afternoon.  I think that's simply because some of the tax issues will need to be defined for the jury.  If they find that any of the "bribes" were not bribes but investments into Stone Age as the defense claimed, I am assuming that the money would not be considered income and then it could get somewhat complicated.  Honestly I think they will run the table on him though.



Anonymous said...

Glib denial works for Gusman.

Anonymous said...

Glad I am not alone in finding the whole spectacle completely bizarre.

Whole lines of questioning never opened up. Witnesses who for sure could have contributed to painting a picture of that regime were not called.

The reports of the questions asked to the people who were put on the stand were strange.

Selective prosecution, leaving open grounds for appeal... everyone who is commenting is using phrases like this.

It is totally confusing.

And as a husband and father and one-time shining hope for a city will probaby go to jail for a long time, while others just as dirty will get off scot free, the whole thing is really just... sad.

It is all sad.

It makes me feel like a disappointed child and a jaded old person both at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Amazing how little research Jenkins and co. did on the witnesses. Jenkins could have hammered Fradella, McGrath and Bennet much harder. Was Brian Marshall brought up at all. The criminal enterprise that was Home Solutions should have been exposed by the defense. Nagin is guilty but everyone deserves a decent defense.

Anonymous said...

The lack of effort indicates that the fix is in.

Anonymous said...

question - where was nagin's drug pusher pimp photographer bunny ???

Anonymous said...

Whose fix is in?

There are so many potential fix-ees here, and so many dropped threads:

That drug dealer photographer never got a mention, the Katrina cars and debris removal was not addressed, the NOAH issues are still laying there, what happened to the schools wasn`t part of this... City Attorneys working for Bennett and Fradella on the side, their wives working for HSOA and signing things, maybe, as if they worked for the city (this taking place with the knowledge of other attorneys who still work for the city, albeit in different capacities, so confusing)... how crazy is it that that didn`t come out? I mean, Nagin`s defense team missed a real `Shadow Government`play there!

There`s been speculation here that Heebe and the landfill folks up in this commenting thing may reach into the Nagin Saga...

... development issues in New Orleans East with a slightly different set of shady characters was touched on as if the lawyers were skipping sotnes across water... land deals involving LSU and hospitals were not part of this... dramas at the prison, where were they, and weren`t some of the same construction companies involved in bidding on the prison work?

Tiny vendors being pushed out of their businesses to make way for the gentrification of the French Market, that caused heartbreak. Other Nagin appointees had to resign from boards over FQ related issues... where were those stories?

... that list is not the half of it-- no mention of airports, not nearly the airing out of the crime cameras and missing e-mails... I mean, seriously, the e-mail company was called Sunblock... that`s like naming characters Envy or Spite in those moralility plays from the middle ages.

Which fix is in?

Years ago I knew of a Nagin staffer sent out to work on a Jefferson campaign. I`d have loved to learn more about that set of connections! No dice. Nothing to see here, folks, move along.

Whose fix is in?

Is it like Agatha Christie`s Murder on the Orient Express, where they all killed the dead guy?

The presentation of the case against Nagin, and the defense of Nagin, came across as some kind of lacklustre dinner theatre.

It is a good thing for Louisiana that most people do not read Louisiana newspapers or political blogs, because the whole thing seems so dirty, if these stories were followed outside the state in any diligent way, Louisiana would never see any businesses or people investing.

This was not cleaning house, this was moving deck chairs on the Titanic.

Anonymous said...

Dave Cohen at WWL has your answer about Nagin's legal strategy. Note I am not saying it makes sense.

Jason Brad Berry said...

Yeah I saw that. And I heard about it yesterday.

For the record, I'm not saying I agree with it either. I was just letting folks know the word was on the street and not just some backroad streets.

Anonymous said...

"Can someone explain to me how the prosecution can claim Solomon bribed Nagin but Nagin's defense can't mention that Solomon hasn't been charged with bribery?"

Immunity? Cooperation with the Feds? Just guessing, but you don't want to validate a topic publicly when your private info says it in no way will be profitable to your defense. Most lawyering is done before the trial starts. If Jenkins names Solomon, does the prosecution get to add him to their witness list?

To prove bribery, you don't need the agreement fulfilled, so stonewalling the Market Street Power Plant is irrelevant if Nagin took the money. Similarly, Bennett's emails are records that a mere berating of his credibility may not undermine, especially if facts are known to have a greater depth than shown. And Jenkins wouldn't want to open a door to Sunblock either.

Jason Brad Berry said...

That's mighty observant of you in respect to Sunblock....I was just writing about that topic in my Nagin opus.

As to the original thesis:

"Immunity? Cooperation with the Feds?"

...that's horribly disconcerting...I would hate to try and justify that story.

Anonymous said...

I'm not following the logic on many of these comments...because there were other misdealings in Nagin's administration, he should be found not guilty of his well documented crimes? because, uh, selective prosecution?

I remember only a few years ago when this blog was about exposing Nagin's crimes, not excusing them.

but he's a father and husband! Such rare traits in a man...

Jason Brad Berry said...

I'm not excusing his crimes, I'm not saying he should be found not guilty....where are you getting that? I'm saying the guy deserved a better defense, as I would for anyone. I'm also stating that through this whole debacle there's clearly been a lot of people who got away without so much as a slap on wrist....that's the selective prosecution issue.