After the grand jury closed the door on his always-shaky case, Foti's use of the word "victims" in his statement was telling, as he continued to publicly imply that Pou and nurses Lori Budo and Cheri Landry killed patients in Memorial Medical Hospital in the hellish days after Katrina made landfall. The honorable thing for Foti to do would have been to accept his defeat and move on ' but a few hours after issuing his statement, Foti decided to ratchet up his character attacks on Pou and the two nurses. At a Baton Rouge press conference, Foti claimed he had medical experts willing to testify that the patient deaths were homicides ' while conveniently neglecting to mention that New Orleans coroner Frank Minyard, after exhaustive testing and consultation with top forensic experts, had already said that the physical evidence did not support the homicide charges.
Foti then tried to place the blame on embattled New Orleans District Attorney Eddie Jordan, a tactic that might ordinarily fly if it wasn't so transparent and Jordan wasn't such an easy target as scapegoat.
The next day, Foti took the rare step of releasing a number of "investigatory" documents compiled by his office in the case to press outlets. The files detail the findings of five experts used by Foti's office. It's standard practice for private attorneys to cherry-pick and pay expert witnesses for preparatory work and trial testimony, and The Times-Picayune reported that criminal pathologist Dr. Cyril H. Wecht says he charged Foti's office $300 an hour for his work on the Memorial Katrina case and was unsure of the total amount he earned for working for Foti's office.
Of all the expert witnesses that Foti could have used in this case, Wecht is a controversial choice. Wecht is currently under an 84-count federal grand jury indictment that alleges mail and wire fraud and also accuses Wecht of bartering unclaimed bodies in exchange for use of lab space at Carlow University.
In addition to Wecht, another expert Foti used was Dr. Michael Baden, host of the HBO television show Autopsy. Baden is perhaps best known for being an expert witness for O.J. Simpson's defense, and here's how USA Today encapsulated Baden's work in that case:
"Contradicted nearly all of pathologist Spitz's opinions about fingernail wounds, thinks Simpson cut hand on glass shards; believes multiple killers used multiple weapons; killers should have gotten blood on skin and clothes; Goldman could have remained on his feet struggling with his killer for two or three minutes after being stabbed; didn't recall telling national TV audience that Goldman remained standing for 10 minutes; reviewed film clip and said difference between two, three and five minutes was inconsequential because it was still five to 10 minutes from first stab wound to death."
Those experts' notoriety aside, their opinions that the Memorial deaths were homicide might be moot in the criminal case against Dr. Pou, but a number of civil cases are still pending against Pou ' and now the plaintiffs' attorneys in those cases could swoop in and try and use the expert opinions paid for by Foti's office. As Dr. Wecht's $300-an-hour rate illustrates, expert witnesses don't come cheap. So by releasing his internal documents, Foti ' and by extension, we Louisiana taxpayers that fund his office ' could be subsidizing a significant component of the legal costs for Pou's opposition in the civil cases.
The New Orleans grand jury's refusal to indict Pou is the most stinging rebuke of Foti's career, and he's not handling it well. Foti grew angry at last week's press conference when a reporter asked about his re-election prospects; "I really don't care how it affects my chances for election," he snapped.
Foti might not care, but I suspect a lot of voters will care when they head to the voting booths on Oct. 20. That's assuming, of course, that Foti still intends to run for re-election and still believes that the citizens of Louisiana trust his judgment as attorney general.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Ten departing CEOs rake in $430 million; profile of FSU gunman emerges; Buffalo's weather woes and more national and international news for Friday, November 21, 2014.
The Ethics Board gives the lame duck Youngsville mayor permission to offer a sweet parting gift to the community he’s presided over for three terms.
The money came through a general obligation bond sale Thursday.
A legend in the Acadiana Oil Patch, Comeaux died Monday, Nov. 17.
With a growing number of alleged sexual assault victims coming out against Bill Cosby in recent weeks, upcoming projects have been canned by NBC and Netflix, but that won’t affect the once-loved comedian and actor’s scheduled performance in Lafayette.
The Baltimore Ravens' retooled secondary had no trouble against a rookie quarterback at home. This week, however, their task is far more challenging: stopping Drew Brees on the road in New Orleans.
Add Texas Gov. Rick Perry's name to the list of possible Republican presidential candidates flooding the campaign trail for GOP Senate candidate Bill Cassidy.
Gov. Bobby Jindal is in Florida this week with his fellow Republican governors for another gripe session aimed at their favorite target, the president, this time taking aim at his immigration plans.
Early voting for the runoff is shortened by two days because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Coach Don” Gagnard is running for school board. Today he offers his critique of the socioeconomic relationship between government subsidies and obesity.
Former Le Rosier chef who cooked at the James Beard House and was named one of the “Best New Chefs in America” by Food & Wine magazine in 1995 was 48.
Pat Cooper is contesting his termination by the LPSB, filing a petition Tuesday that calls the recent decision “arbitrary and capricious.”
A look at the numbers highlights the challenge facing Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu as she tries to win a fourth term in a Dec. 6 runoff against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising the new Republican majority will quickly resurrect Keystone XL pipeline legislation killed by Democrats, potentially setting up an early 2015 veto confrontation with President Barack Obama.
A national animal rights group has been rebuffed by a Baton Rouge district court judge, although the group might still get its day in court.
The administration says public college campuses won't be on the chopping block.
The legendary musician is performing at a $1,000-per-person fundraiser Dec. 1 in New Orleans.
Old savings and checking accounts, payroll checks, stocks and dividends, insurance proceeds, oil and gas royalty payments and other unclaimed money is sent to the state when a business cannot locate someone.