Witnesses Called by the PROSECUTION in the U. S. v. Murphy Painter Trial
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
December 9, 2013 - December 20, 2013.


On Trial for Alleged Violations of Terms of Use of Criminal Databases Made Available to the Louisiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission (ATC)


I want to begin by stating that, prior to the commencing of this trial, I had NEVER met Murphy Painter in my life.  All I knew about him was what I read in the paper or saw on TV, and that portrayed a man of seemingly unspeakable bad character and someone we should all fear.  With that in mind, I opted to attend his trial to see for myself just what the situation would be.  I firmly expected to see the opening two hours of the trial and leave figuring that it would be THAT obvious that he simply wasn't a good person.  Well, here is a list of the witnesses called by the PROSECUTION who had their names searched (at least all I can remember - the U. S. charged him with 32 counts), and what I learned from them on the witness stand.  I don't remember every single one, so I may have missed one or two (at most).  I also can remember only three names, so I'm going to just use a catch phrase (which the witnesses would probably prefer anyway) and briefly relay what transpired on the stand.


Witness # 1:  Old Friend in Spring, Texas:

Mr. Painter accessed the database to get contact information for a past female friend whom he'd enjoyed a strong bond and friendship.  He had not seen her since 1982.  Through his search, he uncovered an email address.  He sent an email which the witness indicated said:  "Hi.  I was just thinking about you.  How is your family doing?"  When asked how she felt about hearing from Mr. Painter after some 25+ years (search made about 4-5 years ago), she replied, "It was nice to hear from him."  When asked how much communication transpired thereafter, she said only one or two brief emails between them.  She characterized her overall feeling of a renewed brief communication with Mr. Painter as being "indifferent."  She said, "he was just an old friend whom it was nice to hear from."  With that, she was excused and headed back to her home in Spring, Texas. My thought:  Are you KIDDING me?????  You're going to prosecute him for THAT???????


Witness # 2:  Former LSU quarterback Tommy Hodson:

Mr. Hodson seemed in a very jovial and festive mood and smiled at everyone in the courtroom.  He was asked if he had any friends or business associates in the restaurant or liquor business (after it was established that he was not), and he said, "Sure.  I have 6 or 8 friends and business associates who own restaurants and bars."  He was even asked if he had any close friends who owned restaurants, and he replied that he did and named Ruffin Rodrigue, Mike Anderson, and a gentleman whose name I simply can't recall.  Defense attorney Michael Fawer posed limited questions to support the unspoken contention that Mr. Hodson may be thought of as perhaps a silent partner or to have at least some potential tangential involvement in the restaurant business given that he has so many close friends and business associates in the business.  Mr. Hodson said he had no idea why his report would have been pulled, but, in my opinion, his voice inflection certainly didn't portray any anger over the fact that it had.


Witness # 3:  Ms. Daigle:

Ms. Daigle served as Mike Foster's Chief Assistant upon his inauguration in 1995 and served the full 8 years of his term in high-level positions.  She ended up being the one to vet Mr. Painter and ultimately recommended him for the ATC Commissioner position.  Once Mike Foster left office in 2003, Ms. Daigle left State government and moved to Shreveport.  She indicated her neighborhood was "way out there" and the houses were very close together (3 feet separation).  She indicated that, for some time, her neighbor had a guest resident whom she was strongly suspicious was dealing drugs.  She said, "when there's drugs, there's usually other problems."  She also said drug dealing was "unheard of" in her subdivision, so this was a huge concern for her.  She testified that she had, what was then, a 12-year-old son and a 4 (or so) year-old-son.  Well, one day she was in her bedroom and the phone rang, and a neighbor said she needed to gather the kids fast as there were eight (8) men dressed in all black appearing to be about to raid her neighbor's home.  Her oldest son was already outside from the commotion, and her youngest son was running to the door yelling he wanted to see too.  She got outside and one of the men said, "Ma'am get your kids in the house, lock your door, and DO NOT come out of the house!"  The men turned out to be undercover narcotics officers and they arrested the man whom she'd been suspicious of drug dealing.  She said she was panicked beyond words and "didn't know what to do, when he would be back, or anything."  She also testified that she'd tried to get information from local law enforcement on the gentleman but had no luck whatsoever.  She then relayed that she did call Mr. Painter and ask for ANY help he could provide.  Mr. Painter ran a check on the suspect (Jonathan Babb) and was able to relay that he had two prior arrests.  It was later ascertained that Mr. Babb had routinely been dealing LSD from the house!!  Ms. Daigle was asked if the man had ever engaged in any other activity that would cause her to have fear for her or her kids' safety, and she said, "Yes.  He was riding by our driveway one day and told the driver to 'speed up so we can hit the Daigle boy'."  Ms. Daigle, who clearly did NOT want to be on that witness stand, said she was very grateful for Mr. Painter being able to at least confirm her suspicious about Mr. Babb.


Witness # 4:  The New Orleans Attorney:


In his capacity as ATC Chief, Mr. Painter frequently had to make appearances at the Legislature, and he had a professional association with an attorney with 30 years of practicing governmental affair legal work.  They would frequently encounter each other at the Legislature and talk about various bills and how they may impact the alcohol or restaurant business.  Well, Mr. Painter learned that his attorney business associate's mother passed away, and he wanted to send a sympathy card to the attorney and his brother.  He wanted to send it to their home addresses feeling that would be more respectful than sending it to his law office and the work office of wherever his brother worked.  Accordingly, he looked up both men's names (that's two counts, folks) in the database and mailed the sympathy cards.  When he next saw him at the Legislature, he even went up to him and said, "Look.  I used our criminal database to get your address, and I thought I'd let you know you've got a problem with your truck that you need to take care of."  The witness said he was "very grateful" for the information on he truck, and he testified that Mr. Painter readily admitted to using the database to get his address and relayed that fact to him rather matter-of-factly.  He was asked if he found Mr. Painter to be a professional during the 14 or so years he worked with him, and he said, "Mr. Painter was ALWAYS very professional during all of the times I worked with him."


Witness # 5:  The Marrero Man Who Had France Problems in 1974:


A gentleman from Marrero testified that, after Katrina, he felt nervous about the tension all around New Orleans and therefore wanted to apply for a concealed weapon permit.  He testified that he owned several pistols but wanted the ability to legally carry one with him.  He said that, in 1974 (that's right, 1974), he and his wife were in France, and there was some kind of confusion resulting in his car being impounded and he and his wife being arrested.  He said they soon released him but that his wife remained detained.  He said that he quickly found that, in France, you're guilty until you can prove innocence one way or another. He said that, in order to get his wife released, he responded to some questions in a different manner than he would have had they not continued to have his wife incarcerated.  He said she was released and the charges were subsequently dropped, but he knew if a query was made of whether he'd ever been arrested, it may still be on his record.  He testified that he was an inspector for the Louisiana Contractor's Board, and the Brady law had just been passed, and he was concerned that, if he applied and they uncovered the 1974 problem, he may lose his job and his pension.  So, he called his State Representative (D'Amico) and asked if he could help in any way.  Mr. D'Amico gave him Mr. Painter's name to call, which he did.  He testified that, two weeks later, Mr. Painter called and said it was on his record due to Interpol and there was "no way" it would EVER come off due to the new Terrorism Laws.  He said he therefore did not apply for the concealed-carry permit and thanked Mr. Painter for being able to make a "covert" inquiry.  He was so anxious to leave the courtroom that he got up to leave after direct, not realizing he still had cross and re-direct to undergo.


Witness # 6:  The Gun Enthusiast:


Mr. Painter's neighbor was in a custody battle for her young son with her ex-husband.  Her ex-husband entered the courtroom and took the stand and spoke in a very authoritative manner.  Several photos were placed on the courtroom TV monitor depicting him holding rather large rifles with friends and relatives all having similar large rifles.  He was asked if the rifle was an AK-47, but he was very defensive in saying it was an "automatic" and "totally legal."  When asked if he could understand why his ex-wife would be uneasy with him having the guns around her small child, he responded, "No."  Mr. Painter ran a search, but it was of no benefit in his neighbor's custody battle with her ex-husband, who both entered and exited the courtroom with a VERY authoritative, military-like walk, and he spoke VERY authoritatively and was obviously not intimidated one bit by the courtroom environment.


Witness # 7:  The Librarian from Albany:


A high school librarian in Albany somehow received in the mail a notice of a few issues of The Smithsonian magazine "compliments of the Louisiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission."  She said that the magazine would be useless because no student would read it as it wasn't relevant and couldn't be used for any kind of research students are assigned as part of their classes.  Nevertheless, she said she was appreciative of any free magazine but did find receiving it bizarre.  Mr. Fawer (Painter's Defense attorney) indicated Mr. Painter was equally baffled about how it had happened, but what was known is that SOMEBODY ran a search for her to get the subscription to her.  She was asked a question by one of the three U. S. attorneys and, after her answer, the attorney said, "But back in April when you were interviewed by the Office of Inspector General, you said....." To which the witness (who also clearly didn't want to be on the witness stand) said, "Well, if that's what I told you people back in April, then that's what it is." 


Witness # 8:  The Guy with Carnal Knowledge:

The mother of a 28-year-old man with a conviction for carnal knowledge of a juvenile called Mr. Painter and said her son simply could not land a job and she and her husband felt certain it was because of his conviction.  She testified that she asked Mr. Painter if he may be able to supply the name of an attorney who may be able to find a way to have the conviction expunged.  Subsequently, the son himself took the stand and said he called Mr. Painter and made the request.  Mr. Painter then ran the search and called the man back two weeks later with the name of an attorney.  The witness said that the attorney relayed there was simply no way to get the conviction expunged.  The witness also testified that, even if he had been able to, the attorney had quoted a fee that he said would have been impossible for him to have paid.


Witness # 9:  Keitha Nelson (former WAFB reporter):

Ms. Nelson testified that she had probably 4-5 occasions to interview Mr. Painter at his office, typically for bars with various violations (particularly underage drinking).  She said she found Mr. Painter to be "just a person," and had no memorable impression of him positive or negative during her interviews.  She again said he was "just a person."  She said that Mr. Painter apparently ran a search on her name, and he informed her he'd done so and that, as a result of several speeding tickets "around Morganza, which we all know is a speed trap" which she had not paid, Mr. Painter said her driving privileges were about to be suspended.  Ms. Nelson did say she had "no idea whatsoever" as to why Mr. Painter would run her name, but she did appreciate the tip on the problems on her driving record and the severity of them.  She said she quickly went and "took care of" those tickets because she had no idea her driving privileges were about to be suspended.  She reiterated she was appreciative for Mr. Painter's assistance but nevertheless was baffled as to why he would have run her name in the first place.   



Witness # 10:  Jill Craft:

Ms. Craft served as legal counsel for three (3) liquor applicants or licensees with issues of noncompliance.  It was evident from prior testimony of others that there is no love whatsoever lost between Ms. Craft and Mr. Painter.  Craft testified that she was "horrified" to learn Mr. Painter had run her name and driven by her home and taken 3-4 photos of it from the road [NOTE:  The preceding sentence was written the evening of the day of Ms. Craft's testimony.  The prosecution merely placed the photos of Ms. Craft's residence on the ELMO (court monitor) and posed the questions.  I was under the impression that Mr. Painter had taken the photos (hence my sentence).  The next day of the trial, Mr. Tom Boulton (Lead Investigator at Louisiana Office of Inspector General) was placed on the stand, and he had to testify to the fact that Ms. Jones (lead Assistant U. S. Attorney) requested that HE go out and take the photos, and he testified that he did so in MARCH of 2013!!!].  Under cross examination by Defense Counsel Michael Fawer, Ms. Craft admitted that she conducted annual Halloween parties at her home.  Mr. Painter was terminated by Gov. Jindal in mid August of 2010, and she admitted that, at her Halloween party of 2010, she dressed up as a painter, and her husband, WAFB news reporter Jim Shannon, dressed up as Mr. Painter and wore a name tag saying, "Hi.  I'm Murphy."  Mr. Fawer asked Ms. Craft if she and her husband were gloating over the termination of Mr. Painter, and she responded, "no.  I was dealing with a very traumatic experience in my life entailing my family and young children.  I was coping with it the best way I knew how, and that's with humor."  Mr. Fawer (Defense Counsel) wrapped up his cross examination of Ms. Craft by stating, "That's all the questions I have, Ms. Craft, Happy Halloween!"



Witness # 11:  Jill Craft's Neighbor:

For whatever reason, Mr. Painter ran a search on Ms. Craft's neighbor and, because houses in Walden are so close together, her home shows on the picture entailing Ms. Craft's garage.  Ms. Craft's neighbor merely confirmed her home in the picture, her license plate number on the report that was run on her, and proceeded to be excused because Defense Counsel posed no questions of her. 




Both sides reached stipulation agreements with two or three other folk (including Wendy Vitter) that merely said they'd never had ties to the alcohol or tobacco industry and had no idea that their names had been searched or any reason why there would have been a need to.  It should be noted that Ms. Vitter's name search was conducted only two days after the prostitution scandal broke entailing Sen. David Vitter.  I'm sure she told prosecuting attorneys that she had no desire whatsoever to be subjected to that timeframe being rehashed in an open forum (hence the stipulation).  Mr. Painter's pulling of that report was likely morbid curiosity and not the greatest judgment in the world, but who could have ever imagined it would lead to all this??


There may have been one or two other witnesses who had searches performed and were placed on the stand for detailed questioning, but if so, I can't recall them.  Next, the Government paraded in about 4-6 witnesses who merely took the stand, confirmed a search had been run, stated they had no alcohol or restaurant ties, and were told they could step down.  For those instances, Defense Attorney Fawer even said, "I have no questions, your honor."


Brant Thompson testified at 1:30 p.m. Monday afternoon, December 16, 2013.  He was the Deputy Commissioner at ATC when Mr. Painter was fired, and he was appointed Interim Commissioner.  He only lasted four (4) months; however, and is now with the State Fire Marshall's Office.  Thompson's testimony actually didn't create the fireworks that were expected; however, Mr. Fawer made it a point to pick his brain on whether Gov. Jindal fired Mr. Painter over his refusal to issue a liquor permit to Champion Square at the Superdome.  The attorneys went to sidebar, and the jury, which was seeming fatigued, suddenly sprang to life when the mention of Bobby Jindal and the termination was being addressed.  Thompson said Mr. Painter did issue a temporary permit for the Saints pre-season games.  Thompson then testified, however, that he had no idea when or if a permanent license was issued and, if it had, he had zero involvement in its issuance.  Mr. Fawer openly questioned whether Thompson could be that aloof as Interim Commissioner.  Though not hammering him over the head (most likely because Judge Brady indicated during a preliminary hearing that he would only grant limited discretion regarding Mr. Painter's termination being a political vendetta), Mr. Fawer certainly succeeded in planting the seed that Painter was fired for refusing to issue the Champion Square permit and, thereafter, he was pursued for the violations referenced above.  Fawer also scored big when he put up the Louisiana Statute directing ATC to DIRECTLY use the crime databases to facilitate its function regarding issuing licenses and enforcement of regulations for existing licensees.  The U. S. Government prosecutors emphasized that, Louisiana Statute notwithstanding, the contract (or perhaps more appropriately, letter agreement) with State Police forbid the use of the database.  It was testified to that using fingerprints to obtain an applicant's past criminal history could take nearly two weeks (and they're supposed to have a license issued within 35 days) whereas using the database would result in the report being available within an hour.  Both Mr. Thompson and another former employee stated that Mr. Painter was not happy with a Louisiana State Police audit that said the ATC should only use fingerprinting for obtaining reports and refrain from using the criminal databases.




The Prosecution has failed to show ANY (and I do mean ANY) sinister intent on the part of Mr. Painter!!!!!  In fact, virtually every witness, most of whom clearly didn't want to be in the courtroom, was practically apologizing to Mr. Painter from the witness stand that he or she had even played a role in getting him in this mess.  It sure appears to me that virtually every person who had these searches performed (with the possible exception of Mr. Carnal Knowledge and Ms. Craft's neighbor), has resulted in sympathy toward Mr. Painter!!  The Defense hasn't even put on its case yet, and Mr. Painter would seem more worthy of an award for striving, perhaps a little too zealously, to be helpful and kind to people (most of whom he'd never even met)!!!  The Defense team contends all of this is a result of Gov. Jindal's anger over Mr. Painter's refusal to grant a liquor license to Champion Square, an entity desiring to sell liquor just outside the Superdome.  Defense Attorney Fawer emphasized that part of the liquor license entailed a Budweiser exclusivity agreement, which the ATC attorney stated violates Louisiana law (subsequently, an email was placed on the ELMO between a Budweiser official and then-Jindal Chief of Staff Stephen Waguespack wherein Budweiser proposed a $300,000 "sponsorship" payment in exchange for the exclusivity provision).  The former ATC attorney also testified that Champion Square was the ONLY license applicant in which Governor Jindal's office had involved itself and that correspondence between Mr. Waguespack and him was "very terse from beginning to end."  Tuesday, when the Defense begins, perhaps we'll get a better insight into just what type of Governor Louisiana has because the jury sure came to life when Mr. Fawer referenced Mr. Painter being terminated as a result of him refusing to issue a liquor permit to Champion Square.


I want to conclude by relaying that, it has been demonstrated that Mr. Painter many times didn't go to the "second level" on the database and only obtained information which could be obtained at a local courthouse by any member of the public.  Nevertheless, the Louisiana State Police lady in charge of the database (Ms. Scott) kept emphasizing "that's not relevant.  It's still a violation of the terms of use.  It doesn't matter that he could have easily gotten the same information from another source!"  Also, in opening arguments, Mr. Fawer (Defense attorney) said, "Let's address the 800-pound gorilla in the room:  police officers all over this nation have access to this same information on mobile devices, and they run checks all the time when they learn their daughters have new boyfriends and they want to ensure they have no criminal backgrounds!"


Can you spell       W I T C H      H U N T     ???????


To think that the U. S. Government has spent probably $500,000 - $800,000 (perhaps more) and cost Mr. Painter an ungodly sum to defend himself for things like sending sympathy cards (that's two counts, folks!!), trying to calm the fears of a near-hysterical woman in fear for the safety of her two children, etc., is downright SCARY!!  At least, that's my take on this whole fiasco.


I predict Mr. Painter will be acquitted in less than an hour (assuming Judge Brady doesn't grant a Motion for Directed Verdict and not even permit a jury to deliberate), but the sad commentary is that this trial ever even transpired in the first place!!  No way to know, but the Government probably offered Mr. Painter plea deal after plea deal, and he turned them all down, and they got scared to death about having to try this case and, based on what I've seen, I can see why they would be so uneasy.  As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the most disheartening things I've ever witnessed in my 50-year life living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  I never would have dreamed anything like this was even possible!!!

I walked into a courtroom expecting to spend only two hours to confirm a man is as bad as has been portrayed, and I will leave having met a man I would be PROUD to call my father or my older brother!!


God Bless Mr. Painter, and God, please save our great country from further such travesties of "justice."



On Friday, December 20, 2013 at noon, the jury unanimously acquitted Mr. Painter after approximately eight (8) hours of deliberation.  So, my prediction of the outcome was accurate, and it merely took longer in deliberations than I would have anticipated.  Thank God our system of justice hasn't run amuck and for the jury's ability to recognize a witch hunt when they saw and heard one.


Here is a complete rundown of EXACTLY what I am convinced happened for this entire episode:


Jindal wants CS to get liquor license but Painter rebuffs due to Budweiser exclusivity (violates State law)=====Jindal seeks way to get Painter ousted "wi...th cause"======Internal ATC covert operation already underway to undermine Painter====OIG gets involved with Shane Evans interviewing Brant Thompson, who says Painter "manic depressive, out of control, selectively enforcing regulations."=======Determination that the "solid" material to fire Painter is the searches outlined above.========Jindal uses that uncovered fact to summon Painter in on the day of the OIG raid and fire him.========Painter repeatedly makes public statements to news media that he has been sandbagged and openly taunts OIG into brining formal charges.======SOMEBODY gave authority to proceed with criminal charges (HUGE mistake) on the belief that Painter could never afford to pay to defend the charges (a bet that went horribly bad).=====Government offers plea deal after plea deal knowing they have a HORRIBLE case. =====Painter refuses ALL plea deals and tells Government and OIG "bring your case on." ======Government tries case because they have no choice (i.e. they're trying a case they NEVER DREAMED they'd be trying).======Prosecution, as outlined above, presents an utterly laughable case.======OIG ends up with huge embarrassment and Jindal looks like a fool for his knee-jerk reaction of firing Painter (and that is being kind and assuming Jindal didn't orchestrate the whole episode, which I personally believe he did), and he needs a scapegoat somewhere====Who will that scapegoat for Jindal be??????? It just may be OIG itself (I've heard from a reliable source that Jindal may no longer support the agency that only two years ago he vehemently defended when one State Representative wanted to shut it down after the Butch Browning fiasco). Anyway, we know one thing. It won't be Bobby Jindal ever admitting he made a mistake and, without bothering with getting any of the truth, let a guy who was doing a great job at ATC go based on an inside coup already underway to sandbag Mr. Painter.