Federal Prosecutorial Misconduct Leads to New Trial in NOPD Danziger Bridge Shooting Case


In an astonishing 129-page opinion, Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana granted a new trial to five former New Orleans Police Department officers convicted of civil-rights crimes in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The reason: prosecutorial misconduct, possibly in violation of Louisiana Rule 3.8. Among the more pointed comments in the opinion:

  • “This Court is unaware of any case . . . wherein prosecutors acting with anonymity used social media to circumvent ethical obligations, professional responsibilities and even to commit violations of the Code of Federal Regulations. . . . [T]here is no case similar, in nature and scope, to this bizarre and appalling turn of events.”
  • This activity created “an online ‘carnival atmosphere,’ . . . wherein justice was distorted and perverted in ways that are directly and strictly prohibited . . . .”
  • “The government’s actions, and initial lack of candor and credibility thereafter, is like scar tissue that will long evidence infidelity to the principles of ethics, professionalism, and basic fairness and common sense necessary to every criminal prosecution, wherever it should occur in this country.”

As to what happens next (in addition to a new trial), “the Court leaves to the various bar associations and other attorney regulatory bodies the question of who knew what, when they knew it, and whether they discharged ethical and professional responsibilities to report/disclose it.”

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