Amidst all of the buzz generated by the 60 Minutes story on the Don Siegelman prosecution, it has been easy to lose sight of an awfully important matter in the case.
In fact, I must admit I had forgotten about it until a light bulb went on over my head earlier today.
What did the light bulb cause me to ask myself? Why in the heck is Don Siegelman still in federal prison pending his appeal?
This question floated to the surface because I was reminded of U.S. Judge Mark Fuller and the memorandum opinion he issued on January 2, 2008. The opinion was designed to show why Siegelman should remain in prison pending appeal. But as we noted here at Legal Schnauzer, Fuller actually did a splendid job of making the case that Siegelman should not--in fact, must not--remain in prison pending appeal. We showed that Fuller inadvertently made Siegelman's case for him, undoubtedly the first favor the federal judge ever has done for the former governor.
With all of the hub-bub generated by the 60 Minutes story, I realized that I had forgotten just how pathetic Fuller's memorandum opinion actually was. And I figured that others perhaps had forgotten it, too.
How bad was Fuller's handiwork? Scott Horton, of Harper's, said his colleagues in the legal profession called it "farcical" and the work of a "third rate legal mind."
I don't disagree with Horton on much, but I would take issue with this last statement. It's an insult to those of us with third-rate legal minds. I would say Fuller's memo revealed, oh, an 87th-rated legal mind.
Why does Fuller's memo matter? The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals had asked Fuller, twice, to justify his decision to deny Siegelman bond pending appeal. After putting it off as long as he could, Fuller finally issued his opinion on January 2.
As we showed here, Fuller did not come close to meeting his burden for showing that Siegelman should be denied bail.
More than two months have passed since Fuller proved, in his own words, that Siegelman's imprisonment pending appeal is not legally justified. And yet, nothing has changed.
And so we ask: Why is Don Siegelman still in prison?