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Does justice always have to be blind?

 

 

The Dugué Defense: Part 12

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by Firpo Carr

The Firpo Files

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Here Comes the Judge! There Goes the Judge?

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December 18, 2014, Los Angeles, California--By its handling of the bogus case against retired 30-plus-year veteran New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) Sgt. Gerard Dugué, federal prosecutors--hellbent on destroying Dugué--may have created loopholes for NOPD police officers who were tried and convicted on various charges stemming from criminal acts committed under color of authority against innocent, defenseless African American citizens of the city, as these simply crossed the Danziger Bridge after Hurricane Katrina stormed through the Crescent City.

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Because The Dugué Defense link on this Web site has been critical of--and has consistently exposed--the gross foibles in the federal prosecutor's case against Dugué, suspicions were arosed that they may be doing underhanded things in the cases of the other NOPD officers who were convicted. Some observers believe that the prosecutors, guilty of misdeeds in handling the cases, framed guilty men.

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Be that as it may, now the woefully inept prosecutors want the the judge presiding over the case, Kurt Engelhardt, involuntarily, ignominiously, and summarily dismissed. A closer look at the Dugué case, examined in conjuction with two recent articles (the first one blatantly biased, the second one written to clean up the first one) authored by Andy Grimm of the Times-Picayune newspaper of New Orleans dated November 26, 2014, and December 9, 2014.

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In both articles, Grimm attempts to give prosecution and defense reactions to the former's efforts to remove Judge Engelhardt. At the same time, Grimm appears to have carefully tiptoed around Dugué's case, which is currently on appeal after the judge rightfully declared a mistrial; which mistrial has completely embarrassed the deplorably maladroit prosecution. But first, a brief background on the judge.  

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The Honorable Judge Kurt Englehardt: As a native son, born in 1960 and raised in New Orleans, Kurt Engelhardt acquired his Bachelor of Arts degree from Louisiana State University in 1982. He earned his J.D. from Louisiana State University of Law Center in 1985, after which he served from 1985 to 1987 as a law clerk for the Honorable Charles Grisbaum of the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. In 1987, Engelhardt went into private practice until his nomination to federal judgeship by President George W. Bush on September 4, 2001. Englehardt was subsequently confirmation on December 13, 2001, to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.  

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Judge Englehardt is, for a certainty, an astute, relatively young, sharp-minded, well-informed, well read, well-educated, fair-minded, no nonsense jurist. No wonder the prosecution doesn't like him! You couldn't find a better judge adjudicating these matters. Englehardt has the lifeblood of the Cresent City, as well as its unique culture, coursing through his veins; and it is an inescapable fact that he has his finger on the pulse of all things jurisprudence in these cases. 

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Many thanks are due to Judge Englehardt for all his years of illustrious service to the good people of New Orleans, as well as all persons living within the jurisdiction of the Eastern District of Louisiana.  

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Problematic Prosecutors: At the crux of the matter are comments on the Times-Picayune Web site (www.nola.com) made by top federal prosecutors who hid behind the cloak of anonymity as they criticized the defendents in a bizzare attempt to sway public opinion, but especially the opinion of the jury. Bottom line, they were busted, which led to their resignations. According to reports, the offending federal prosecutors were U.S. Attorney James Letten, Jan Mann, and Sal Perricone. Because of their unethical actions, Judge Englehardt ordered new trials for the convicted officers.

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Arguing for his client one defense attorney wrote: "The district court [Judge Englehardt's court] found that a concerted government propaganda campaign (both on-and-off Nola.com) including government blogging, but also including subornation of perjury, witness intimidation, and leaks of the government's theory of guilt, the activities of the grand jury, the identities of targets, and the status of plea negotiations all had the cumulative effect of prejudicing the jury verdict."

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According to Grimm, Elizabeth D. Collery, "the Washington, D.C.-based attorney for the Justice Department that is handling the government's appeal," responded: "An anonymous comment on the Internet carries no more weight than the opinion of the garrulous customer in the adjacent barber's chair. Which is to say, next to none."

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Really? So, if you heard a customer setting in an adjacent barber's chair say, "A police officer is ticketing legally parked cars, and, in my opinion, I don't think that's right," and your car was parked there, would you be concerned, even though the customer in expressing his opinion was not talking to you?

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I think one blogger put it best when he wrote: "Let me see if I have this right. The federal prosecutors want to remove the judge because he caught them lying and cheating. And their conclusion is that the Judge can't be fair. They're kidding right? How dare the judge do his job! The rest of the judges just rubber-stamp whatever the prosecutors say or do. But Judge Englehardt had the audacity to check on them, and they are now arguing that it was somehow unfair to check on them? I can't wait until some dope dealer asks that the prosecutor's office be removed because they investigated him and caught him selling dope. Apparently investigations of the goose [are] ok, but investigations of the gander, not so much."

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Skewed News...Again?: In his November 26, 2014, Grimm wrote: "U.S. District Judge Kurt Englehardt overstepped his powers." Grimm's irrepressible prejudice beamed through here. Instead of saying that prosecutors felt Judge Englehardt overstepped his powers, Grimm himself--who, as a journalist, is supposed to be a disinterested third party--is not at liberty to give his opinion; that is, unless of course this was an opinion piece. It wasn't. Therefore, right away, in the second paragraph of this article, Grimm lost perspective, and shot himself in the foot in the process. To correct his faux pas, his December 9, 2014, article read in part, "Federal prosecutors have argued that a judge overstepped his authority when he overturned the convictions of five police officers in the Danziger Bridge shootings." (Emphasis supplied.) Though corrected, some believe Grimm is merely reflecting the proclivity of the Times-Picayune to be pro-prosecution.

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Whatever the case, this is one judge lovers of truth and justice never want to see go.

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Stay tuned.

Click here for Sgt. Gerard Dugué's background