Jacqueline London: Less than a week after losing his congressional seat, it is off to court for Chaka Fattah.
Jim Rosenfield: Jury selection underway now in the federal corruption trial of the 11-term congressman and joining us now is defense attorney Enrique Latoison. Enrique, thanks for joining us. First of all, tell us what Fattah’s attorneys are going to be looking for in a juror.
Enrique Latoison: Well, you’re looking for a very fair and impartial juror. A high publicized case like this, that could be very difficult. Now you’re allowed to ask the jury certain questions when you’re picking them out. For instance, you could ask some questions like, “Are you aware of Fattah Junior’s former trial where he was found guilty? Did you follow that trial? Have you read things in the media about this case? Do you have an opinion in reference to that?”
You could also ask some things in reference to, are you politically involved the way – maybe something that’s against Fattah or any kind of his political opponents. It’s very important that you find a fair and a partial juror who’s going to be – who have a free and open mind and listen to the facts of this case.
Jacqueline London: What kind of defense is there for bribery and racketeering charges like these?
Enrique Latoison: Well, these are intent-based cases. They have to show that he intended to do certain things. Now, just because – you have to remember. Politicians are people too. They know people.
Just because a person or a friend or someone does something for a politician, this politician was independently maybe going to do something for that person, it doesn’t mean it’s bribery. There has to be a direct correlation between I did something for you and I’m now doing something for you to repay what you did for me. That would be bribery.
So just because things are done for the people they know or friends or affiliations doesn’t mean there’s bribery. There are also defenses for poor political accounting or things of that nature also. There’s a big organization. It doesn’t necessarily mean that if he might have done different things, he runs a very big organization, people might have done things on his behalf that he wasn’t aware of.
Jim Rosenfield: What about family history? You mentioned this past case involving Fattah’s son who was convicted. Do you think the jury would be swayed by that fact?
Enrique Latoison: Well, that’s why you would like to ask them that question. I mean that case was highly publicized. A lot of information came out and Fattah’s name was used in a lot of the publications, the different things that came out about Fattah Junior’s case. So you don’t want that to be something that sways the jury. So it’s definitely something you want to pull the jury forward and ask them, “Do you have any kind of biases?” in reference to things they might know about the former case.
Jacqueline London: Defense attorney Enrique Latoison, thank you for your time and insight.
Enrique Latoison: You’re welcome.