It's been a newsy week for Alice Martin, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.
First, she went on the defense against charges from Birmingham attorney Doug Jones that her office is practicing partisan politics with its handling of the Alabama two-year colleges scandal.
Then came news that Martin was handing down another indictment in the two-year case. This time the target was E.B. McClain, a state Senator and Democrat from the Birmingham suburb of Midfield.
Throughout the week came reports that the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is investigating several U.S. attorneys for practicing exactly what Jones alleges--the selection of prosecutions based on politics. The probe reportedly is focusing on cases in Alabama (Don Siegelman), Mississippi (Paul Minor), and Wisconsin (Georgia Thompson).
Counsel H. Marshall Jarrett is leading the OPR investigation, and if it is legitimate, Martin surely will be in the crosshairs. After all, she instigated the first Siegelman prosecution, which a federal judge kicked out of court before it could even get started.
(For those wondering about Jarrett's credentials, whether he will be a dogged and nonpartisan sleuth, there is reason to hope. He was appointed to head OPR in 1998, by then Attorney General Janet Reno. At least he doesn't appear to be a "loyal Bushie.")
With all this news swirling around Alice Martin, what better time to launch a series of posts about our experiences with one of Alabama's notorious Bush appointees. When our series is completed, you will have a clear answer to this question: "Does Alice Martin take political considerations into account when determining which cases to pursue and which cases to ignore?"
And the answer is--a resounding "yes!"
In part I of our series, we presented background about both Alice Martin and the issue of selective prosecution.
Now, we invite you to join us on a brief travelogue of my experiences in trying to inform the Bush Justice Department about clear criminal conduct by Republican judges and Republican-connected attorneys in Alabama:
* Contact the FBI--The bureau claims that public corruption cases are its No. 1 priority, so I was expecting prompt action when I went to its special Web site for reporting such cases. After filling out a lengthy complaint and transmitting it, I waited . . . and waited . . . and waited . . .
And let's just say the wait is ongoing. I believe I filed the complaint in spring 2006.
* Contact the FBI again--A few months went by without hearing anything regarding my e-complaint, so I decided to call the Birmingham FBI office. A gentleman answering the intake calls that day listened to a short version of my story and showed little interest. I asked him for the name of the person in charge of white-collar crimes. I left several voice messages with that person. Still waiting for a reply.
* Contact the Birmingham U.S. Attorney's Office--Somehow, I came up with an e-mail address for Matt Hart, director of the white-collar crime unit. I sent him an e-mail and never received a reply. I decided to take a shot at calling his office, and by some miracle, managed to get him on the phone. First, Hart told me I didn't have a clue about the applicable law--honest services mail fraud. When I made it clear that I certainly did know about both the statutory and case law behind honest services mail fraud, Hart changed his tune. Whether I had been the victim of a crime or not, Hart was "kicking" my case. "I kick cases all the time," he said. I found it interesting that he could "kick" a case he hadn't even looked at yet.
* Send snail mail to the Queen herself--On January 14, 2007, I fired off a letter to Queen Alice Martin, her ownself. Since Matt Hart had questioned my knowledge of the law, I decided to focus more on the law and less on the facts.
* Queen Alice responds!--In a letter dated January 22, 2007, Queen Alice Her Ownself (QAHO) informed me that she already was familiar with the applicable law, but she needed more in the way of facts. She needed allegations that were in "focused detail," she said. "Be careful what you ask for, Queen," I thought to myself.
* A Schnauzer rises to the challenge!--By now, I had read enough about QAHO in the press to think she almost certainly would not take my allegations seriously. So I let her response sit for a while. Finally, in a letter dated June 14, 2007, I loaded up the guns and fired everything I had in the Queen's direction. In a six-page letter, I laid out in "focused detail" the allegations of federal crimes I had witnessed. After sending the letter via snail mail, I waited . . . and waited . . .
* A Schnauzer doesn't like being ignored--More than a month went by, and I began to think, "You know, I don't think QAHO is taking this seriously." What to do? I had Matt Hart's e-mail address, and under the assumption that the Queen used a similar construction, I took a shot at e-mailing her. And what do you know, I guessed right. She responded.
And that was the beginning of an e-mail exchange that we are about to present here at Legal Schnauzer. We think you will find it highly educational.
By the way, the Queen's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
(To be continued)