Covering Louisiana

Sep 20, 2013 1:30 PM by AP

Prosecutors seek limits on Nagin trial testimony

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Federal prosecutors argued Friday that former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin should be barred from trying to persuade jurors that his bribery case has been tainted by prosecutorial misconduct, a strategy his defense attorney is employing.

In a court filing, prosecutors urged U.S. District Judge Helen Berrigan to rule out any mention of prosecutorial misconduct at Nagin's trial because they say those allegations are irrelevant.

On Thursday, Nagin's attorney, Robert Jenkins, asked Berrigan to postpone his trial indefinitely so he can obtain more information about a Justice Department probe of anonymous online comments posted by federal prosecutors.

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 in March 2012 after acknowledging his online activities.

Jan Mann, who was Letten's chief deputy, also acknowledged posting her own anonymous comments on nola.com, The Times-Picayune's companion website. Mann retired in December 2012. Letten also resigned that month.

Prosecutors urged Berrigan to reject Nagin's "last ditch" request to postpone the trial, scheduled to start Oct. 28. They claim Perricone, Mann and Letten weren't involved in the investigation that led to Nagin's indictment in January 2013.

"These individuals did not direct, counsel, or suggest any course of action related to this investigation or prosecution," prosecutors wrote. "All of the evidence gathering, witness interviews, investigative decisions, record analysis, and document reviews were performed by the trial attorneys and federal agents handling the case."

They claim the online posts had "absolutely nothing to do with the investigation and charging decisions related to this indictment."

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