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.
Black Friday shopping begins; Pope visiting Turkey; oil prices decline and more national and international news for Friday, November 28, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
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.