The Clarion-Ledger, 10/22/8

With three weeks before trial, prosecutors and defense attorneys in the federal trial of Mayor Frank Melton are trading punches in court documents with tales of drugs, prostitution and “whiskey-soaked” abuses.

Last week, Melton attorney John Reeves filed a motion claiming Melton was acting as the city’s top cop in conducting a “knock and talk” on the Ridgeway Street duplex the night of Aug. 26, 2006, on “reasonable suspicion” that criminal activity was taking place within. A statement from a possible defense witness says the house was used for “drugs, gambling and whores.”

In motions filed Tuesday, federal prosecutors said Melton was merely making such claims, both in public and in his court pleadings, in an attempt to get a jury to ignore the law and “excuse his lawlessness.”

“Melton recites a litany of urban problems associated with the Virden Addition neighborhood generally, and 1305 Ridgeway, specifically, to shift attention away from his whiskey-soaked, arbitrary exercise of power and violence,” the prosecutors’ motion states. “Melton has neither the facts nor the law to argue in his defense. His only recourse seems to be demonizing portions of the city he swore to protect.”