Here's a story that leaves a good news/bad news taste in your mouth.
Glynn Wilson, of Locust Fork News, reports that a pardon for former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman could be on the presidential agenda if Democrats take back the White House in 2008. That word comes from Pam Miles, a member of the Alabama Democratic Party executive committee who was in Washington, D.C., last weekend for the Democratic National Committee's fall meeting.
Miles spoke with a number of presidential candidates, party chair Howard Dean, and members of Congress. "The investigation and the possibility of a pardon would be on the agenda," Miles says. "It came up in every conversation."
Kudos to Miles for her efforts on behalf of justice in the case. But the story raises this question: Are we going to have to wait until a Democrat is in the White House before major steps toward justice can be taken? Seems we would be looking at spring of 2009, at the earliest, before positive steps are taken.
That's an awfully long time for Siegelman to remain in federal prison for a crime that he almost certainly did not commit. Haven't heard much lately from the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on the issue of selective prosecution. Let's hope that group can move forward quickly and start dispensing justice long before spring 2009.
A few points I hope Democratic leaders keep in mind:
* While a pardon for Siegelman is an admirable goal, it doesn't address punishment for those who have poisoned our justice department. We need Siegelman heading out of federal prison and a significant number of Republicans heading into federal prison.
* Siegelman is not the only Democrat being held political prisoner. Attorney Paul Minor of Mississippi, a major Democratic donor, is in federal prison in Florida, the victim of a corrupt federal prosecutor (Dunn Lampton) and a corrupt federal judge (Henry Wingate). Former Mississippi state judges Wes Teel and John Whitfield will join Minor in federal prison later this month. Their crimes? They ruled as they were required to rule according to the facts and the law in cases involving clients of Paul Minor. That's at least three other political prisoners that Dems need to keep in mind.
* Democrats also need to remember that wrongdoing does not stop with our federal justice system. We are showing here at Legal Schnauzer that Alabama's state courts are awash with corruption. It happened in my personal case. It happened in the recent ExxonMobil ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court. And I suspect it happened in an even more recent ruling that ousted a Democratic judge in Talladega County.
There is a federal/national component to all of this. When a state judge uses the U.S. mails or wires in furtherance of a fraudulent act, it's a federal crime. Democratic leaders need to push this point early and often in the next campaign season--and before.
And remember this: The trail that led to rampant corruption of our justice department started with Karl Rove and Bill Canary and the state courts of Alabama. They hijacked Alabama's state courts in the 1990s, and they have been using similar sleazy tactics to corrupt justice on a national scale. Their playbook was written in Alabama, in state courts. That's where it all began. And our state courts still bear an unmistakable stench.
Our goal here at Legal Schnauzer is to shine an everlasting light on that stench, in hopes that someday some serious air freshener will be applied.