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Ray Nagin's Call for New Trial Is 'Meritless,' 5th Cir. Rules

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on January 14, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Remember former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin? He was chared and convicted of corruption charges in 2014 and is currently serving his sentence in federal prison in Texas.

The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled against Nagin, essentially laughing off his calls for a new trial based on incorrect jury instructions. The circuit called this claim "meritless."

What's a Bribe

One of the bases for requesting a new trial was Nagin's contention that the lower court instructed the jury improperly on the elements of bribery. Nagin's lawyer, Claude Kelly, was assigned to defend the ex-mayor. In his opinion, the lower court erred in letting the jury convict Nagin despite no existence of a "quid pro quo exchange."

This Is a Bribe

For Federal Wire Fraud Charges to stick, according the Fifth Circuit, no quid pro quo is needed. The only elements that must be proved are that a bribe was offered and was accepted -- whether or not either party intended to ultimately hold up their end of the deal was irrelevant.

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

Nagin also appealed on another issue: forfeiture of a significant amount of his own personal property. Under civil forfeiture laws, it has been well settled that personal property also includes cash. Nagin essentially sought to convince the courts that this rule ought not to apply to him. The panel found if it were to assume Nagin's theory, then alleged criminals would fraudulently transfer all real property and nothing would be left for the state.

As a reminder, Nagin was convicted on 20 criminal charges ranging from wire fraud and bribery to money laundering.

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