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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

On Siegelman, Exxon, Religion, and Such

Tell us again: Why is Don Siegelman still in prison?
We receive word today that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued deadlines for briefs in the appeal of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy.

The bottom line: Oral arguments are not likely to be heard until late 2008, at the earliest. And God only knows when a ruling might come.

Siegelman and Scrushy already have served nine months in federal prison, and it looks like they are facing a minimum of another 11 months. That's at least 20 months in prison for crimes that they almost certainly did not commit.

Heck of a justice system, isn't it?

Here's an even more galling point to ponder: The 11th Circuit required trial judge Mark Fuller to justify in writing his decision for denying Siegelman bond pending appeal. We showed here that Fuller did not even come close to meeting his burden under the law. The facts are simple: By the trial judge's own words, Don Siegelman must be freed pending appeal. But he is looking at probably another 11 months in prison while the 11th Circuit does nothing about Fuller's remarkably weak memorandum opinion.

Here's a question: Why did the 11th Circuit ask Fuller to write the opinion if they weren't going to act on it?

What message is the 11th Circuit sending? Better to wrongfully keep Siegelman in prison for at least 11 more months than to embarrass a federal judge.

Folsom finally gets his due
Sure was nice of Republican Gov. Bob Riley to have Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom at a press conference yesterday about a bill to raise taxes on companies that pump natural gas from offshore in Alabama.

It was particularly nice since Folsom, a Democrat, came up with the idea--one which Riley has blatantly stolen for several days.

"This is bipartisan," Folsom said. "We feel like we're here proposing the right thing and what's in the best interest of the people of Alabama."

Said Riley: "What we are not willing to have happen is that we give this natural gas away."

Of course, "Slick Riley" was perfectly willing to not say a peep when the Alabama Supreme Court let ExxonMobil get away with $3.6 billion worth of fraud. Evidently no mention of that at the press event.

Just what we need: Another Roy Moore
Alabama still is trying to live down the guffaws drawn from around the country by former Chief Justice Roy Moore and his Ten Commandments monument.

Now we have another state judge who doesn't seem to get the minor notion of separating church and state. This time it's Covington County Circuit Judge M. Ashley McKathan, who told some 100 people in his courtroom to gather in a prayer circle.

This is not the first time McKathan has tried to mix his religion with his role as a public official.

Here is the thing I've never understood about the Roy Moores and Ashley McKathans of the world: No one is forcing them to be a judge. They know up front that they can't mix their religion and their public position, but they do it anyway. They certainly are free to wear their religion on their sleeves, but not on the robes they wear as public officials. If religion was that important to them, why didn't they go to seminary instead of law school?

And the same thought comes to mind about the corrupt judges I've encountered at every turn. Hey, gang, no one is forcing you to be a judge. If you can't learn the law and apply it correctly, do something else.

Here's a thought about judges and lawyers: Why would someone who has no respect for the law go into the legal profession? The field is filled with some of the most lawless people you will ever meet--many of them wearing robes and going by the title "Your Honor."

Ironic world.

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