Alice Martin will resign as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama on Friday, ending a tenure that might have set a new standard for corruption and incompetence in the history of our justice system.
What will we remember most about Martin's eight-year "Reign of Error"? A highlight for me has to be the comment from Scott Horton, Harper's legal-affairs contributor and Columbia University Law School professor, stating that Martin was perhaps the most corrupt and crooked public official in the country.
That statement, made during the George W. Bush era, is quite a mouthful.
A mountain of evidence supports Horton's statement, including the fact that Martin is under investigation by multiple government agencies. But Martin's crooked ways were not an abstract concept for me. I saw her operate in an up-close and personal way.
Longtime readers might recall that I sent detailed allegations to Martin about criminal behavior (honest-services mail and wire fraud) I had witnessed by various judges and attorneys in Shelby County, Alabama. When I heard nothing about an investigation into these matters, I e-mailed Martin to ask for an update. To my astonishment--and probably to her great regret--she responded. That set off an intriguing e-mail exchange that speaks volumes about Alice Martin's crooked ways. Let's review:
* Martin informs me that she has sent my complaint to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service;
* I ask Martin why the material was sent to postal inspectors instead of the FBI. She says it is standard procedure to send complaints regarding mail fraud to postal inspectors;
* I helpfully point out to Martin that the postal inspection service, according to its own Web site, does not have jurisdiction to investigate honest-services mail fraud cases. I make it clear in an e-mail to Martin that I'm not buying her story about the postal inspection service;
* Martin, clearly irritated with me by now, suggests I can contact the FBI directly;
* I remind Martin that she had promised in an earlier letter that, if I sent her detailed allegations of wrongdoing, she would refer them to the appropriate agency. I ask why she is going back on her promise;
* Backed into a corner, Martin turns to a classic tactic--changing the subject, fast;
* I don't let her get off easily. If it's standard procedure to refer honest-services mail fraud cases to postal inspectors, I ask, why was that not done in the Don Siegelman case?
* Apparently deciding it's best not to swap e-mails with a Legal Schnauzer, Martin quietly exits stage left. I hear no more from her.
Did Alice Martin, in fact, send my material to the wrong investigative agency? Well, I contacted a gentleman named Jim Dormis, from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Birmingham, several weeks back. He confirmed that he received my complaint from Martin's office. He also said he and his staff quickly determined that they did not have jurisdiction to investigate such a case and sent the material back--either to Martin or the FBI, he wasn't sure which.
Alice Martin had an obligation to make sure the material was sent to the proper investigative agency, but she did not do it. And I never heard anything more from her.
Did Alice Martin commit a crime--obstruction of justice--by intentionally ensuring that my complaint would not be investigated? My research indicates the answer to that question probably is yes.
Did Alice Martin violate ethical standards in the handling of my complaint? The answer to that is almost certainly yes. A key figure in my charges was Pelham, Alabama, attorney William E. Swatek. I later would discover that Dax Swatek, Bill Swatek's son, had been Alice Martin's campaign manager in a 2000 run for a seat on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. Alice Martin had a gargantuan conflict regarding my complaint, but she never said a word to me about it.
When I wrote about Alice Martin's ties to Dax Swatek on February 18, 2008, I received an anonymous comment: "Nut case yours is comong (sic.)" You don't have to be Gil Grissom to make an educated guess about the source of that comment. And a little more than two months later, I was wrongfully terminated from my job at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
In her investigative piece about my termination, Lindsay Beyerstein of Raw Story explicitly raised the question: Was Alice Martin involved in my termination?
Martin ignored Beyerstein's requests for interviews and issued a last-minute written statement. I reported that Martin's statement was full of holes.
The bottom line? Alice Martin soon will be out of office, but she will not be out of mind here at Legal Schnauzer. Evidence strongly suggests that Martin either was involved with my termination at UAB or knows who was.
We are not through with Alice Martin--not by a long shot.