Danziger Five Get New Trials Due to Nola.com Postings!!
I’ve never heard of upending a trial result because of a newspaper’s forum postings, but that’s the reason given by U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt when he granted a new trial for the five former officers convicted in the Danziger Bridge shooting and subsequent coverup.
Was the evidence tainted? No. Did the prosecutor or defense attorneys behave very poorly in court? No. Instead, it was prosecutorial misconduct on nola.com’s crime and safety forum. Here’s the judge on the misconduct- This testimony and other recited information illustrates the diseased root that unfortunately casts an ineradicable taint on these convictions. The government’s actions, and initial lack of candor and credibility thereafter, is like scar tissue that will long evidence infidelity to the principles of ethics, professionalism, and basic fairness and common sense necessary to every criminal prosecution, wherever it should occur in this country.
The Danziger Bridge verdicts were very important to the fiber and soul of New Orleans. I wrote up the original verdict, which meant so much to New Orleanians the world over.
It seems the prosecutors erred badly by commenting under nom de plumes on nola.com’s crime and safety forum, and some prosecutors didn’t admit to their postings in a timely fashion. This all happened on Jim Letten’s watch. Letten resigned over the furor created by the prosecutor’s postings and their cover up of their postings.
I’m still having trouble understanding this ruling. All bad behavior occurred out of court, Engelhardt made no mention of any shenanigans in court. Engelhardt condemned grotesque misconduct among Letten’s prosecutors.