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.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Oscar de la Renta dies; Pistorius sentenced; World Series begins and more national and international news for Tuesday, October 21, 2014.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.
Coming off the high of a fourth quarter comeback against Tampa Bay and a helpful bye week, linebacker Junior Galette sees a real turnaround coming for New Orleans' struggling defense.
Former President Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party's most popular surrogate this fall, is heading to Louisiana early next week for a campaign rally with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Time and again you hear people say DA Mike Harson is unbeatable because he's doled out political favors over the past 20 years. But a new lawsuit could end that speculation.
After the season's signature win (so far), here are some helpful tips for Cajun Nation during the conference stretch.
Did the state close last year's books with a surplus or a deficit?
Practicing without limitations on Wednesday, running back Mark Ingram looked ready to return to a New Orleans offense that once again ranks among the NFL's best when the Saints play at Detroit on Sunday.
It’s been decided: Superintendents of Louisiana’s public school system will retain the controversial powers granted by Act 1 of the 2012 session.
Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy has a bone to pick with the Jindal administration, which recently — surprise! — announced that the state ended the most recent budget year with a $178.5 million dollar surplus.
The messaging battle, however, isn't tied to individual campaign accounts. Third-party groups have poured millions of dollars into advertising.
With her political future in jeopardy, Sen. Mary Landrieu is turning to a natural constituent base in her re-election bid.
Terrance Broadway threw for a touchdown and rushed for 113 yards to lead Louisiana-Lafayette to a 34-10 victory over Texas State on Tuesday night.