Evidently it helps to be a Bush-appointed U.S. attorney in the Bush Justice Department. That's the only conclusion we can make from news today that Alice Martin, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, has been cleared of perjury allegations.
The allegations stem from Martin's deposition related to an EEOC complaint filed against her office in 2004 by a former employee. Deirdra Brown-Fleming, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Huntsville Office, filed complaints alleging that Martin had perjured herself when she testified under oath about events leading up to Brown-Fleming's termination in 2002.
But the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility and the Alabama State Bar made no finding of wrongdoing.
The EEOC in 2007 found that Brown-Fleming's firing was retaliatory and ordered Brown-Fleming and her former supervisor, Victor Conrad, to be reinstated with back pay and other benefits.
In a post dated September 8, 2007, Harper's Scott Horton made it abundantly clear that Martin lied under oath in the Brown-Fleming deposition.
First, we should consider exactly what perjury means. A good definition, drawn from the U.S. Code, can be found here.
Here's how Horton, a Columbia University law professor, assessed the case against Martin:
There are of course all sorts of technical defenses that can be raised to a perjury charge. Perjury is not frequently charged all by itself. It tends to be an add-on. I am sure that Martin’s counsel has formulated a rafter of defenses to the accusation.
But we’re dealing with a sitting U.S. attorney who gave false evidence under oath in a legal proceeding–the same U.S. attorney who leveled charges of corruption and obstruction against Governor (Don) Siegelman. The conclusion of the (EEOC's) proceedings on Brown’s claim was that Martin’s testimony was “not worthy of credence.” I’ll say. But how can a person who behaves in such a way–let’s put it as mildly as possible–as cavalierly with the truth, under oath, in legal proceedings–serve as a United States Attorney?
Quite easily, it appears, in the age of Rove. How strong was the case against Martin.
Consider that the heart of the case was Brown-Fleming's allegation that she was fired for helping Conrad file an EEOC complaint against Martin. Martin stated under oath that she did not know about Conrad's EEOC complaint until March 2003, almost a year after she had fired Brown.
But evidence showed that she received a December 20, 2001, letter, delivered by FedEx, which set out the Conrad claim in considerable detail. Later, in March 2002, she received an e-mail from Will Chambers, head of the Huntsville U.S. Attorney's office, spelling out Conrad's claims and noting Brown-Fleming's assistance in the matter.
Horton sums it up, after quoting from the Chambers e-mail:
There you have it: Martin did know in some detail about Conrad’s EEO claim. She did know about Brown’s work with Conrad to put it together and push it forward. And her reaction was to fire Brown.
The bottom line? The evidence was overwhelming that Alice Martin committed perjury. But the Bush Justice Department let her off. Is anyone really surprised by this?
As for the Alabama State Bar, I've seen firsthand how worthless it can be and how it is prone to ignore its own Rules of Professional Conduct.
The Martin perjury case involves some curious jurisdictional issues that I don't understand. Why was Alice Martin not tried in a court of law, as would have happened if you or I had lied so blatantly under oath? I can only assume it's because her alleged crimes took place in her own district. Perhaps procedure calls for such a case to be heard by the Office of Professional Responsibility. But how would Martin have fared before a jury of her peers? Not so well, I have a feeling. It seems Brown-Fleming's claims should be heard by a true tribunal.
Martin might have been cleared on perjury charges, but we will show here at Legal Schnauzer that she has no problems lying to the public, the people whom she is supposed to serve. I've got an e-mail exchange that will show you how, in her own words, Queen Alice plays fast and loose with the truth and intentionally cheats victims of crimes.
Scott Horton's words from September 2007 still ring true:
Back when I started writing about the U.S. attorneys scandal, I got flooded with personal accounts of dealings and encounters with Alice Martin—they came in from attorneys, businessmen, political figures, and prosecutors who work for her, and even a judge. And not a single person had a positive thing to say about Martin. Many expressed questions about her professional competence—and her handling of the HealthSouth case may be the basis for some lasting judgments on that score. But in others she was characterized as mean-spirited, mercurial, petty, vindictive, and extremely partisan. Indeed, her extreme partisanship was a consistent theme of comment.