NOLA Notes: Danziger Bridge Convictions Reversed

Speaking of careless people, our former US Attorney’s staff screwed the pooch on this important post-K police brutality case:

In a 127-page order, U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt overturned
the jury convictions of five New Orleans police officers accused of
shooting unarmed people a week after Hurricane Katrina and then
orchestrating a cover-up.

His decision focused largely on the two
high-ranking former prosecutors who anonymously posted online comments
about the case, as well as other pending cases, when it was still in its
infancy and during the month-long trial.

“This case started as
one featuring allegations of brazen abuse of authority, violation of the
law, and corruption of the criminal justice system; unfortunately,
though the focus has switched from the accused to the accusors (sic), it
has continued to be about those very issues. After much reflection, the
Court cannot journey as far as it has in this case only to ironically
accept grotesque prosecutorial misconduct in the end,” Engelhardt wrote.

The
prosecutors who posted on NOLA.com about Danziger were Sal Perricone
and Jan Mann, the longtime first assistant under former U.S. Attorney
Jim Letten. Neither was directly involved in the Danziger case, which
was spearheaded by prosecutors with the U.S. Department of Justice’s
civil rights division.

I hate to say it, but I told you so. Actually, I don’t hate saying it.Fuck you, Jim Letten
for allowing your office to spiral out of control. This is the second time a major case has been blown because Letten’s staff couldn’t STFU and do their job.

If I were a cartoon character, steam would be coming out of my ears and thunderbolts would be shooting out of my eyeballs.

12 thoughts on “NOLA Notes: Danziger Bridge Convictions Reversed

  1. adrastos says:

    Too soon to tell. A decent deal would be acceptable but the case *is* retriable.

  2. MichaelF says:

    And by decent deal you mean something more than time served I’m guessing.

  3. MapleStreet says:

    I’ve never figured out how there wasn’t at least a constitutional case (even up to international law / Hague) for the morals of blocking refugees from leaving the striken area.
    Best case I can make for the officers is that Faux News reported that they were shooting each other in the superdome. And Black people are scary. But if that is the case, you set up a secure area to hold them while they are searched while providing them with the necessities of life. Maybe you could call it a refugee camp?

  4. MapleStreet says:

    I might quibble with you though. The Katrina / NOLA emergency was being well managed by “Heck of a Job Brownie.” The President of the US had publically commended the Horse-show judge for the fine job he was doing.
    My point being that corruption, perversion of justice, depriving people of their constitutional rights, planting evidence, etc. was all the standard MO for the time. Maybe what we’re calling an outrageous miscarriage of justice isn’t what Bush would have called “Mission Accomplished.”

  5. montag says:

    Once is a mistake. Twice is a trend. As the Trayvon Martin case showed, there’s more than one way for prosecutors to throw a case they should win.

  6. Mark E. Bye says:

    The only up side to this is that there will probably be an additional season of “Treme”.

  7. adrastos says:

    The USA’s office in NOLA was very successful for many years. It’s downfall was caused by hubris and arrogance. The Danziger case was prosecuted long after the thing so I can’t really put this on Dubya much as I like doing that.

  8. grrljock says:

    Ya know, if this was a plot device on “The Good Wife” I would roll my eyes a bit. Sadly, it is not. I was disheartened when I heard that the convictions were reversed. Such a shame.

  9. MapleStreet says:

    Thanks Adrastos. I haven’t had enough exposure to NOLA, especially to the point which I know the US Attorneys there and especially when the office started to start a downward spiral. (and which is a major weakness in what I’m about to say).
    Having lived in a hurricane-prone area, I’d certainly guess that the aftermath of Katrina stretched most govt agencies and well could have interfered with the investigation (added to by the “fine” work of Heck-of-a-job Brownie. Bush was prez for several years after Katrina and well known for politicizing posts which should be non-political which could have been a part of the hubirs you speak of and/or pressured the investigators.
    So I have to question if the evidence was gathered when the case was cold.

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  11. MichaelF says:

    So will there be a new trial, or do you think they’ll work out a deal of some kind?

  12. adrastos says:

    Yep. Probably going back to trial.

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