DOJ: We're Reviewing Katrina Conviction Reversal
Prosecutors' online comments lead to new trial
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Sep 18, 2013 7:36 AM CDT
From left: New Orleans police officers Robert Faulcon Jr., Robert Gisevius Jr., Kenneth Bowen, and Anthony Villavaso II arrive for booking.   (AP Photos, File)

(Newser) – In a month, the five former New Orleans police officers found guilty in the killing and subsequent cover-up of two people after Hurricane Katrina will learn when they go back on trial—unless the Justice Department gets involved. A judge yesterday threw out the men's 2011 convictions in the Danziger Bridge case, citing "grotesque prosecutorial misconduct" in a 129-page decision the New York Times calls "heated." Judge Kurt Engelhardt gave both sides a month to figure out their scheduling issues in advance of setting that new date—though the family of Ronald Madison, one of the men killed, has urged the DOJ to appeal the judge's decision, noting that it "re-opens this terrible wound not only for our family but our entire community." The Times-Picayune notes that the DOJ did release a statement yesterday indicating it was not happy with the ruling; it's reviewing both the decision and its options, per a rep.

The misconduct: Federal prosecutors in New Orleans and Washington made anonymous online comments about the case, both before and during the trial, on the Times-Picayune website, creating what the judge called a "prejudicial, poisonous atmosphere." (Sample: One lawyer commented that the police department was "corrupt," "ineffectual," and "a joke.") The online comments were first revealed last year; the US attorney whose Louisiana office was involved stepped down, as did two local prosecutors who made comments. But yesterday, the judge revealed a previously unnamed commenter: a DOJ lawyer in Washington who helped ready the case for trial. In an article calling the judge's reversal a "bitter pill" for Katrina survivors, the Times-Picayune notes that none of the prosecutors involved ever addressed the jury.

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Showing 3 of 13 comments
HMD-SMD-ITY
Sep 18, 2013 11:41 AM CDT
Timing is actually not that bad. They get to go on retrial at the same time Ray Nagin goes on trial for the first time for his multiple corruption felonies related to Katrina. Now if we can get Kathleen Blanco that would be the trifecta. These police goons killed an innocent Black man and then covered it up. Their punishment has already been good in that none of them have been able to work in law enforcement since the cases began. But now its up to the courts to make sure none of them are able to get out and go into that line of work.
orlandojonny
Sep 18, 2013 9:55 AM CDT
More power to the N.O. PD the chocolate city is a tough place to be a cop
Who_Cares
Sep 18, 2013 8:40 AM CDT
What proof do they have calling them most corrupted PD in the country? Is like saying that USA is most corrupted country in the whole world. All of it is baloney, someone is trying to make a name for themselves, that's it