Friday, January 31, 2014

Chewbacca defense

Ray Nagin's attorney Robert Jenkins wants you to know that Rodney Williams' testimony does not make sense.
Williams pleaded guilty in 2012 to paying Nagin more than $72,000 in bribes. He faces 37 months in prison, and is awaiting sentencing. Williams' plea deal is predicated on cooperation with prosecutors -- a point Jenkins tried to use to discredit his testimony.

Jumping back and forth in time, and from topic to topic, Jenkins grilled Williams on the details of his plea agreement, his meeting with Nagin's sons to his dealings with federal investigators. At one point, Jenkins' line of questioning was so confusing that Williams had to ask for clarification.

While asking Williams about his meeting with federal investigators, to whom Williams admitted lying on two occasions, Williams stopped the attorney.

"With all due respect sir, it's kind of confusing because you are jumping all around," Williams said.

"You're confused about who you lied to?" Jenkins replied.
 Veteran legal observers will recognize this as the famous "Chewbacca Defense"

Also today in the Nagin trial, Greg Meffert made it clear he had no qualms over selling out his erstwhile "undercover brother."
Meffert also testified that Nagin knew exactly who paid for a family trip to Jamaica shortly after Katrina.  He said Nagin and he used Blackberries to discuss sensitive issues so they wouldn't become public.

However, the government was able to retrieve the actual Blackberries in question and retrieve a few of the messages between Meffert and Nagin. Among the messages was one where Nagin advised Meffert not to deal with businessman Aaron Bennett because he talked too much, including to then-TP investigative reporter Gordon Russell.

There was also a message where Nagin was excited after finding out that Meffert had scored some tickets to the Saints' 2006 NFC Championship game.

"You the man, and has always been my undercover brother."

Meffert further stated that he tried to get a roofer to fix Nagin's roof, but that the contractor was spooked when he found out that St. Pierre's company would pay for it. Another time a $1,080 charge on a St. Pierre credit card went for liquor for Nagin's 50th birthday party.
 I also like the bit about the "spooked" roofer. If true, it means that St. Pierre literally haunted Nagin's house. 

Interesting that Jenkins wasn't very aggressive in his cross-examination of Meffert. It's been kind of a mystery as to why Nagin hadn't taken a plea deal up to this point. But now that we're at trial, it seems like a more vigorous effort at refuting Meffert's testimony would be in order.  Stuff like this, for example.

Of course, if we are gonna go down that road of looking through mayoral aides' text messages, that road goes to interesting places.
As the mayor’s race entered the home stretch, some department heads at City Hall received text messages requesting that they attend a campaign debate and canvas neighborhoods for Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s re-election effort.

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