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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Former AGs Seek a Stevens-Like Review of Siegelman Case

A group of former top law-enforcement officials is asking Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct a review of the Don Siegelman case similar to the one that resulted in dismissed charges against former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK).

Seventy-five former state attorneys general from both parties sent a letter to Holder stating that prosecutorial misconduct similar to that found in the Stevens case likely occurred in the Siegelman case. Siegelman, the former Democratic governor of Alabama, was convicted three years ago on bribery and corruption charges:

“We believe that if prosecutorial misconduct is found, as in the case of Senator Ted Stevens, then dismissal should follow in this case as well,” the group said in the letter, which was organized by Robert Abrams, a former attorney general of New York.

Parallels between the Stevens and Siegelman cases go beyond procedural matters. Siegelman lawyer Vince Kilborn says three federal prosecutors who are accused of wrongdoing in the Stevens case also played roles in the Siegelman case.

They include Patty Merkamp Stemler, the chief of the appellate section of the criminal division at the Justice Department, who is being held in contempt in the Stevens case over documents demanded by the judge that were not produced.

What role did Stemler play in the Siegelman case? The Times reports:

Mr. Kilborn wrote a letter to Mr. Holder on April 3 laying out several of his charges of misconduct by prosecutors. He said Ms. Stemler sent a letter to lawyers on both sides concerning accusations that emerged in the appeals process that jurors had exchanged improper e-mail messages during the trial.

The letter revealed a private communication between United States marshals and the judge in the case that Mr. Kilborn characterized as inappropriate. The letter from Ms. Stemler came so late in the process, he said, that it limited options for the defense.

Ms. Stemler’s letter stated that the communication between the judge and the marshals had no effect on the case, however, and that it was only being revealed “out of an abundance of caution.” Mr. Kilborn scoffed at that logic, saying that any private dealings with the judge should have been noted at the time.

The Stevens-Siegelman connections do not end with Stemler. Kilborn told the Times that William Welch, chief of the DOJ's Public Integrity Section, and his principal deputy, Brenda Morris, were held in contempt in the Stevens case and had a measure of involvement in the Siegelman case.

The former state attorneys general have been consistent in their support of Siegelman, who once held that position in Alabama:

This is the third effort by Mr. Abrams to organize former attorneys general to help Mr. Siegelman, and the largest yet, with at least 10 Republicans signing their names. Grant Woods, a Republican and former attorney general from Arizona, said “nobody who signed that letter did so lightly,” especially those in his party. The issues transcended politics, he said, and the Kilborn letter raised serious questions.

“We think there’s something there to investigate,” he said. “This is not a desperate appeal by a convicted criminal defendant — these are substantial allegations that have great weight.”

1 comment:

joseph said...

Wait a second! A chiropractor as a professor of neurosurgery? What's that about?