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Monday, October 29, 2007

Credibility in Shreds

Every time prosecutor Louis Franklin opens his mouth he seems to sink deeper and deeper into an ever-widening pile of doo-doo.

In this space a couple of weeks ago, we offered the following unsolicited advice to "Sweet Lou" Franklin: Keep your mouth shut and leave public relations to the professionals.

But Sweet Lou just can't resist opening his yap. And every time he does it in a public forum, Scott Horton of Harper's takes him apart.

A considerable amount of fun can be had by reading along as Horton dissects significant portions of the Alabama conservative hierarchy--Franklin, Leura Canary, Alice Martin and other prosecutors; reporters from The Birmingham News and Mobile Press-Register; Judge Mark Fuller, and so on.

But Horton's pieces always deal with serious matters, and that certainly is the case with today's post on Franklin and his interview in Sunday's Birmingham News.

Perhaps most disturbing is that a career prosecutor can't keep his story straight. Horton notes that Franklin now has presented three accounts of how the Don Siegelman prosecution unfolded.
But here is where it really gets serious: Franklin's recent statements to the News conflict with two statements he made to the court under oath, in February and April 2006. A prosecutor who says one thing under oath and something else entirely in published accounts? And we're supposed to have faith that the prosecution of Don Siegelman, led by Louis Franklin supposedly, was properly handled?

The key point of the most recent News article? Franklin called all of the shots.

But this conflicts with Franklin's public statements. In March 2006, he said decisions came jointly from career employees in the Middle District of Alabama and the Public Integrity Section in Washington. In a February 2006 sworn affidavit, he said those two entities were joined in the decision-making process by the Alabama Attorney General's Office.

It reminds you of the old "Who's on First" routine.

I know nothing about Louis Franklin's politics. He could be a liberal for all I know in his personal life. But he works under conservatives. And it appears that he is being swallowed up in a vortex of conservative deceit.

I've seen this kind of thing in my own legal situation. Certain dishonest conservatives apparently think people who don't share their belief systems are stupid. They think we can't see clear wrongdoing and deceit and contradictions and misdirection. Trying to pull that stuff over on someone of Scott Horton's intellectual capacity is not such a good idea.

Another key point: Horton notes that the shenanigans couldn't have happened without a cooperative judge. And the prosecution certainly had that in U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller. Thanks to Missouri attorney Paul Benton Weeks, we now know that the Public Integrity Section should have been investigating serious criminal allegations against Fuller at the time it was signing off on him handling the Siegelman case.

More on Judge Fuller, and the Weeks affidavit, coming up.

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