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Monday, June 15, 2009

Public Integrity Section Shows Lack of Integrity in Siegelman Prosecution

Convictions in the Don Siegelman case should be set aside because of misconduct by the chief of the U.S. Justice Department's Public Integrity Section (PIN), says an Alabama attorney and whistleblower.

Jill Simpson says PIN Chief William Welch failed to investigate charges of misconduct against U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, who oversaw the Siegelman case.

PIN holds exclusive jurisdiction over investigations of alleged criminal misconduct by federal judges, and the agency received a copy of an affidavit from Missouri attorney Paul Benton Weeks before the Siegelman case. The affidavit outlined numerous charges of misconduct against Fuller, but Simpson says Welch never fulfilled his duty to investigate the matter. And he did not fulfill his duty to turn over copies of the affidavit to attorneys for Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy.

Welch, Simpson says, was more interested in defending an allegedly corrupt judge than in investigating him. And that caused Siegelman and Scrushy to be deprived of critical information contained in the Weeks affidavit.

In a statement released at the Locust Fork News-Journal, Simpson says the Obama Justice Department should set aside the Siegelman convictions and release Scrushy from federal prison:

The Department of Justice had a duty to turn over the Weeks affidavit and failed miserably in doing so. As a result of this, Mr. Scrushy has spent almost two years in jail and Mr. Siegelman spent over nine months. The time has come for those at the Department of Justice to admit their wrongdoing by accepting responsibility for not providing the Weeks affidavit, and for allowing an attorney who is supposed to be (in charge of) investigating a complaint on a Judge to defend that Judge in another matter without ever disclosing his conflict.

Simpson notes that Welch has been at the heart of alleged prosecutorial misconduct in several Alaska corruption cases. That misconduct has prompted Attorney General Eric Holder to review prosecutions against former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens and former state legislators Victor Kohring and Peter Kott, all Republicans. A similar review should be taken in the Siegelman case, Simpson says:

Bill Welch has in the last couple of months become the whipping boy at the DOJ in the Alaskan case. His conduct is no worse there than it is here in Alabama. It is my understanding that they claim the reason they set aside the verdicts in Alaska in the Stevens case and asked for the release from prison of Kott and Kohring is because . . . they claim Mr. Welch hid evidence. Clearly in Mr. Siegelman’s and Mr. Scrushy’s case here in Alabama, Mr. Welch was involved in misconduct. Instead of researching whether their allegations were true about the Judge, Mr. Welch showed up in the case and defended the Judge. His job was to look at these kinds of allegations to determine if there is corruption or

He was the head guy at the Department of Justice over that very division. If he had done his job instead of rushing to defend Judge Fuller, he would have found the Paul Weeks affidavit in his office that laid out all kinds of misconduct. He would have had a duty to (provide) a copy to the Siegelman-Scrushy legal team. Instead this lawyer who had been in charge of this division for all of one month buried his head in the sand and defended the Judge without ever investigating even what was in his own files in his own office.

Simpson's statements make it clear that the Public Integrity Section acted without integrity during the George W. Bush administration. Will the Obama Justice Department take action to correct injustice that started under Bush?


Anonymous said...

There are just too many lines of misconduct leading to Siegleman's conviction to let me believe that this was not an action coordinated at the national level.
jim gundlach

Robby Scott Hill said...

Amen! I wonder who all George W. Bush and Karl Rove were with when they planned it?