Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin’s appeal to his conviction on fraud charges begins Monday in federal court. Nagin was convicted on 20 counts last year and sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. Loyola Law Professor Dane Ciolino says Nagin is arguing that the jury was incorrectly instructed on laws regarding honest services fraud.

"The judge didn't explain the law well enough to the jury to allow them to properly evaluate the evidence," Ciolino told Louisiana Radio Network's Eric Gill.

He says, on appeal, the best argument any defendant has is that there was a flaw in the jury instructions. Ciolino says Nagin claims that the city would have awarded the contracts in question regardless of whether or not he received any kind of payment from the contractors.

"As a result, there was no quid pro quo, no giving of something of value in exchange for the contracts," Ciolino explained. "Nagin argued the contracts would have been awarded anyway."

He says Nagin’s appeal only covers nine of his 20 convictions. Ciolino says, although Nagin is taking his best shot, it’s difficult in any criminal case to prevail on appeal.

"Generally, deference is given to the trial judge on most matters," he added. "Although with regards to jury instructions, those do get a fresh new look on appeals, unlike most other errors."

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