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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Siegelman and Such

Outrageous GOP "Justice"
The Alabama Democratic Party today presents an important post on its official blog.

The post notes that, as of today, it has been 50 days since the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals' second order directing U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller to show cause for denying Don Siegelman appeal bond.

"Don Siegelman has now been imprisoned for 5 months and 29 days with no explanation as to why he was denied an appeal bond," the post states.

The post's opening paragraph gets to the heart of the matter:

"The 11th Circuit should release Don Siegelman because he has been denied his right to an appeal bond based on a technicality, and Judge Fuller is refusing to come clean about why he refused bond for the former governor. Alabama, where is the outrage? Republicans talk about activist judges being bad for our society. I can't think of anything more activist than partisan justice from the DOJ and the federal bench."

This is an excellent post, but I would urge the Alabama Democratic Party to also look at our state bench. Partisan justice also is prevalent there--and not only in the ExxonMobil case. I am just one Alabamian who has been the victim of clear partisan justice at the hands of Republican trial and appellate judges in Alabama. But my conversations with people who are knowledgeable about the workings of our corporate-controlled courts tell me I am far from alone. I suspect many Alabamians get cheated by Republican judges without even knowing it. As happened with me, corrupt judges like to use a citizen's own attorneys against them. That keeps the scales firmly planted over the eyes of many citizens.

But this is one citizen who spent hours at a local law library before the scales fell from my eyes. And now I am doing my darnedest to help educate other Alabamians about what can happen to them in our corrupt courthouses.

I urge the Alabama Democratic Party to join me in that effort. The corrupt judges in my case have been overwhelmingly Republican. But I have little doubt that corrupt Democrat judges also exist in our state, and the party should do everything in its power to give those judges the boot.

It's not enough for Democrats to merely point fingers at corrupt Republicans. Democrats should make an honest justice system a top priority, at both the state and national level. And if that means exposing a few corrupt Democrats, I say good. Only strengthens the party's credibility on the issue.

An Unusual Christmas Message
When we remember those in need during the holiday season, we usually think of the poor, the hungry, perhaps those unfortunate enough to live in oppressive societies.

But this year, those in need include Americans who once enjoyed considerable power and means. And what caused their misfortune? Being active and successful Democrats in the Deep South during the Republican Age of Rove.

Scott Horton of Harper's.org brings this home brilliantly in a Christmas-Day post. His thoughts, Horton writes, are with the families of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and former Mississippi judge Wes Teel.

"They stand as a symbol of a new phenomenon: political prisoners on American soil," Horton writes. "My hope is that in the coming year, Americans will wake up to the injustices practiced in their name. Maybe we will again have a Department of Justice that places value on justice ahead of doing the political dirty work of its partisan masters. Maybe we will again have judges who place their duty to the Constitution and law ahead of their support of a political party. Christmas is a day for peace and contemplation. But the New Year will be a time for accountability for those who betray the public trust--the message promised by the trumpet is simple: The truth shall be known, and justice shall be done."

A Call for Action
The New York Times, like Scott Horton, is calling for action and accountability in the investigation of apparent wrongdoing by the Bush Justice Department. The Times notes that it has been almost a year since the U.S. attorneys scandal broke, and no full investigation has even come close to being done.

The Times notes that a number of key figures in the scandal have left Washington and a few key reforms have been instituted. But much more needs to be done, and leadership must come from Attorney General Michael Mukasey, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"The integrity of the Justice Department is precious," the Times writes. "The fair application of the law is the cornerstone of American justice and American democracy. A halfway resolution of this scandal is not enough. It needs to be investigated vigorously and completely."

Republicans have left "the cornerstone of American justice" in tatters. And Scott Horton notes that Mukasey, a Bush appointee, has shown almost no sign that he is willing to correct the situation. It will be up to Democrats to put it back together and punish those who caused its destruction in the first place. Do Democrats have the backbone needed for such a task?

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