A federal judge refused Friday to indefinitely postpone the bribery trial of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, whose attorney asked for more time to gather information about a Justice Department probe of anonymous online comments posted by prosecutors.
U.S. District Judge Helen Berrigan said she would consider a brief delay in the trial if Nagin’s attorney can justify it.
Berrigan acknowledged that prosecutors “demeaned their high offices” with their “utterly juvenile postings,” but stressed that only the jury would decide whether Nagin is guilty of bribery charges.
The trial is scheduled to start Oct. 28.
Nagin was the subject of some of the anonymous posts by veteran prosecutor Sal Perricone, who was a top deputy to former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten. Perricone resigned last year. The scandal eventually led to Letten’s resignation.
Prosecutors say the three were not involved in the Nagin investigation.
Nagin lawyer Robert Jenkins last week sought access to a report on the posts by John Horn, a federal prosecutor from Georgia.
In the earlier filing, Jenkins said that if the court declines to grant a delay pending the release of a final version of the Horn report, then Nagin’s defense should be given access to early drafts of the report and documentation including interview notes, affidavits and transcripts.
If, after those documents are produced, the court still doesn’t grant a delay in the trial, Jenkins said a hearing should be held where Letten, Perricone and Mann could be examined under oath.