Archive for the ‘Larry Watch’ Category

Langford Requests New Trial

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Former Birmingham mayor Larry Langford has requested a new trial following his conviction on corruption charges.  His attorneys cite the speed of the verdict (the jury took less than two hours to find him guilty on all 60 counts), the venue, and the fact that gambling magnate Milton McGregor’s name came up during the trial.  They have also asked for a judgment of acquittal.

The linked article doesn’t say why Langford thinks mention of McGregor would influence the jury.  I’d be interested to know the reasoning there.  As for the venue, Langford’s attorneys asked for and received a change of venue for the first trial.  I don’t know how much traction they’ll get on that complaint.  Speed of the verdict?  Well, it was much faster than I expected, but then I didn’t expect him to be convicted on all counts.  Kyle Whitmire offers a very reasonable explanation here as part of an excellent retrospective on Langford.  Be sure to read the whole thing.

U.S. District Judge Scott Coogler sent the case to the jury at about 2:30 in the afternoon. By 4:30, everyone was returning to the courtroom for the verdict. When you consider that the jury took a 15-minute smoke break before starting deliberations, and tack on another five to 10 minutes for getting situated and electing a foreman, the jury spent at most an hour-and-a-half coming to its conclusion.

Since the verdict, many have pointed to that expediency as evidence of jurors’ negligence. One lawyer I talked to wondered whether the jury even took the time to read the indictment. With 60 counts, this looked like a complicated case, but as defense lawyer Mike Rasmussen said in his closing argument, this trial wasn’t about what happened; it was about why it happened. The defense never really contested the circumstantial evidence. Instead, Langford’s lawyers questioned only the mayor’s understanding of the scheme. They left the jury with only one question to answer: Did Langford understand he was taking bribes? Once they had answered that question, the rest of the so-called “overt acts” in the indictment fell into place.

I don’t blame Langford’s attorneys for going this route.  It’s all part of a vigorous defense.  We’ll see if they have any success.

Langford Rejected Plea Deal, Attorney Says

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

This isn’t exactly shocking news.

Larry Langford rejected a plea deal with federal prosecutors that would have given him just a few years in prison, defense attorney Glennon Threatt said this morning.

Threatt, appearing on WJLD radio’s Morning Talk this morning, told radio host Gary Richardson that rumors of a plea offer were true.

Threatt said Langford likely would have received a sentence of less than five years if he’d taken the deal.  He now faces a maximum of 800+, and his rant on the courthouse steps following the guilty verdict will not dispose the judge toward leniency.

Larry Langford blamed everyone but himself when he stood outside the courthouse moments after he was convicted on federal corruption charges and ousted as Birmingham’s mayor. He said he’d been treated worse than Jeffrey Dahmer, the infamous mass murderer and cannibal.

That remarkable exercise in free speech could cost Langford additional time in prison at his sentencing, one of Langford’s lawyers [Threatt] and a legal expert said Monday.

I’d like to know when the deal was offered.  Was it before or after Blount and LaPierre rolled?  Perhaps he really believes he’s innocent.  Or he really believed his pals would keep their mouths shut.  Their testimony was essential to the prosecution’s case.  He may very well have walked without it.  Too bad for him they weren’t willing to risk long sentences to keep him out of prison.

The big question: were the Feds after an even bigger fish — say, possibly, Milton McGregor?  We may never know, unless Larry writes a tell-all at some point.

Langford Convicted on All Counts

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Former Birmingham mayor Larry Langford was found guilty on all 60 counts of bribery, money laundering and conspiracy.  Wow!  I never expected a verdict that quickly.  He and his wife are on the local TV news right now trashing the media and claiming innocence.

Langford and Work and Plays, Oh My!

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Sticking my head above water for a few minutes.  Work has been very busy these last two weeks, and most of my contact with the outside world has consisted of reading tweets from the Langford trial.  Can you believe Larry didn’t testify?  I’m sure his attorneys did everything short of duct-taping him to the chair to keep him off the witness stand.

Great trial coverage at the Birmingham Weekly, archiblog, WBHM, and of course real-time updates on Twitter @BhamWeekly and @JohnArchibald.

I’ll be back soon, and Del is around.  Our family is in theatre mode right now, so look forward to updates on Schoolhouse Rock Jr.A Christmas Story and A South City Christmas.

What are you up to these days?  Let us know in the comments.


Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Courtney Haden of the Birmingham Weekly addresses the pitiful turnout for the Langford prayer vigil on Sunday.  Frank Matthews will not be happy.

I knew Larry Langford was in trouble after the prayer vigil. Not that our mayor, innocent until tweeted guilty, hasn’t faced adversity on a fairly regular basis, but I hadn’t had any real sense of foreshadowing until I learned that the downtown prayer vigil scheduled for the night before his departure for Litigation Land attracted only 55 of the faithful.

And I thought the city runoff election stats were pitiful…

…You see, the vigil was organized by Frank Matthews, noted gadfly, talk show host and currently co-director of the Birmingham Office of Citizen Assistance. (Thank you, Charles J. Dean, for the published reminder.) That means Frank Matthews, who got his cushy political job from Larry Langford, couldn’t turn out 60 people to pray publicly for Larry Langford. [I’m glad for the published reminder too, as the News initially identified Matthews as a “community activist” in its blog post until I provided a link to the city web page in comments.]

…Frank Matthews knows better than to make his boss look pitiful at a prayer rally. He dropped the ball, when he should have been dropping some cash into the outstretched palms of “neighborhood activists” to guarantee a respectable showing for the Sunday night TV cameras. If Frank had been making some rain, instead of excuses, he could have conjured a massive throng as ready to pray for Jon Gosselin as for Larry Langford. As a result of the spiritual snafu, Frank’s next public action may well be a rally to pray for the survival of his paycheck.

Go read the whole thing.  The snark is delicious.

The Weekly has posted a link on Facebook.  I look forward to a profane, poorly spelled response from Frank.  His favorite swear word appears to be “dam”.

Opening Arguments

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Kyle has a summary here. I’m blogging by Blackberry from the health care reform rally, so no highlights. He didn’t mention that Larry’s lawyer referred to the owner of Remon’s as a “Palestinian” who double-billed for Larry’s clothes.

Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have a Jury

Monday, October 19th, 2009

That was fast.  The jury is seated, and opening statements begin in the morning.  John Archibald tweets:

Jury looks favorable for LL.  Diverse, low education level.  Some run-ins with cops.

The big surprise: camo dude is on the jury.

If you’ve been following the tweets today, you’ll recognize camo dude as the guy who apparently fell asleep during voir dire. I hope the actual testimony can hold his interest.

Langford Trial Begins Today

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Larry Langford goes on trial today in Tuscaloosa, barring any last minute legal maneuvering.  Kyle Whitmire and Madison Underwood of the Birmingham Weekly will be live-blogging beginning at 9 AM.  Langford’s attorneys asked that the trial be moved out of Birmingham because of fears that pre-trial publicity would taint the jury pool, which will now come from ten counties in the Northern Division’s western district.  The trial is expected to last two weeks.

My prediction?  It will be interesting.