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Monday, December 21, 2009

Justice Department Can't Handle the Truth About Siegelman Judge

As the year comes to a close, one of the great justice-related mysteries of 2009 involves the federal prosecutions of former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) and former Governor Don Siegelman (D-AL).

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) asked that the case against Stevens be dropped because of prosecutorial misconduct. The DOJ has taken no apparent action on the Siegelman case, even though the misconduct in that prosecution almost certainly was worse than it was in the Stevens case.

In a recent piece at BradBlog, Rebecca Abrahams examines the disconnect between the DOJ's handling of the Stevens case and its behavior in the Siegelman case. The article also is available at Huffington Post. After reading Abrahams' excellent analysis, we can come to only one conclusion: The difference between the two cases is that the Stevens case had an honest judge, and the Siegelman case did not.

The DOJ, under Obama appointee Eric Holder, apparently does not mind rogue prosecutors being exposed--as has happened in the Stevens case. But you cannot get to the bottom of the Siegelman fiasco without exposing the prosecutors--and the federal judge who acted corruptly in the case. (The same holds true for the Paul Minor case in Mississippi.)

Eric Holder seemingly does not have the stomach for such an investigation. He would prefer that Americans continue to cling to the myth that our federal judges are honest.

What would we say to Eric Holder? To borrow a line from Jack Nicholson's classic character in A Few Good Men: "You can't handle the truth!"

Even worse, Holder does not think the American people can handle the truth. And that is where he and the Obama administration have it wrong. The American people can handle the truth about federal judges. In fact, we must know the truth about federal judges--we must look backward toward the evils of the Bush administration--before we can move forward to the brighter future that Obama potentially offers.

Instead we get U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, another Obama appointee, urging the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear Siegelman's appeal. The former governor, understandably, is baffled. Writes Abrahams:

When asked why he thought Kagan filed the petition, Siegelman responded:

"The people making the decisions are the same people who have been making the decisions all along. We've changed things at the top but the people who are doing the work, certainly doing the work on my case are the same who worked under George Bush and Karl Rove. There's no change. These people with a vested interest in the outcome and they're going to keep fighting for the same results."

Prosecutor Leura Canary had numerous conflicts in the Siegelman case, and e-mails have proven that she did not abide by her recusal in the matter. But Siegelman's team has met nothing but obstruction from the DOJ in its efforts to prove Canary's unlawful actions. Writes Abrahams:

Siegleman's legal team filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain documents from DOJ to determine who instructed Canary to remain on the case. To date the Department has refused to turn over these documents to lawyers as well as House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers.

Siegelman says this information could be critical to his appeal:

"For some reason they're stonewalling and this is information that we feel we're entitled to. It could show that Leura Canary had a financial and political conflict or she lied about it."

He adds:

"What I find a complete paradox is that Canary came forward and said she talked to the people at DOJ and said there wasn't a conflict but I'm going to recuse myself anyway. If they actually put that in a memo then there's a serious problem there because there was a financial and political conflict and we proved it. So if someone gave her a green light to go forward after we proved that her husband was a paid consultant working for my opponent than there's someone at justice who should get their pink slip from Eric Holder."

So what's going on with Holder & Co.? Writes Abrahams:

Siegelman says he believes that the Administration appears to be sitting on its hands with regards to reviewing his case and other Democrats who were politically targeted by the Bush Administration.

"I think Holder's well aware of my case and other cases so there's been a decision made not to do anything for what reason I don't know but it's pretty clear they've made a decision not to do anything."

Siegelman says he does not know why the Obama administration has chosen to do nothing about political prosecutions against Democrats. But we can make an educated guess. And it comes directly from Abrahams article:

Two weeks ago the Washington Post reported that U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan named federal prosecutor Henry Schuelke to investigate whether gross prosecutorial misconduct tainted the government's case against Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska. At issue is whether prosecutors withheld critical evidence from the defense or whether the case was improperly handled under pressure to meet deadlines.

There you have it: In the Stevens case, the judge is driving the effort to get at the truth. In the Siegelman case, U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, a George W. Bush appointee, is not about to lead any effort to get at the truth. That's because a legitimate investigation would show that Fuller himself was up to his armpits in the sleaze surrounding the Siegelman case.

Is Eric Holder determined to stick his head in the sand and hope the stench emanating from Montgomery, Alabama, blows over? If so, the attorney general is on the wrong path. The stench from the Siegelman case--and from the Paul Minor case next door in Mississippi--is not going away.

Maybe Holder needs to watch A Few Good Men. Maybe then he will remember why it's important to get at the truth:

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

There are other cases like this one where Democrats were prosecuted for being Democrats.

Their cases also need to be dismissed.

Could these other cases also be a reason why Holder refuses to get involved with the Siegelman case?

Kevin Schmidt

legalschnauzer said...

Good point, Kevin. You wonder if the truth in the Siegelman case might unleash an avalanche of appeals in cases where the motives of the federal judge could be questioned.

Maybe that's what Holder wants to avoid. I guess he thinks it's better to have innocent people in prison--or ruined financially for the rest of their lives.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe -- and I'm just throwing this out there -- Maybe Holder believes like the jury that convicted him, that he's guilty. I know that appears to be beyond the realm of possiblities for you, but you might want to reflect on it.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon No. 2:

You apparently haven't spent much time reading this blog or thinking about the law in this country.

You aren't convicted of a crime based on what someone "believes," whether it be you, me, or a jury.

In the case of you and me, we are free to "believe" whatever we want. But a jury is supposed to be guided by a trial judge who applies the actual law--and it is supposed to be overseen by an appellate court that makes sure the facts and the law were applied correctly.

Neither of those happened in the Siegelman case. Any reasonably objective person who studies the case will see that. It's not a matter of what anyone believes.

You might not like Don Siegelman and Richard Scrushy--and that's A-OK by me. But they did not commit the crimes with which they were charged. That's fact, not belief.

All Americans should be alarmed by what happened in this case. If our system can be perverted in this way to abuse Siegelman and Scrushy, it can be used to abuse you or me or someone we care about.

You know what they say about "an injustice anywhere." It's a threat to justice everywhere. The next time, you or someone you care about might be the victim. Don't think it can't happen.

Anonymous said...

I've begun my investigation with the City Commissioners in the City of Portland, State of Oregon.

Here's why:

Conflicts of interest.

Obama is hiding this in America.

First, the stock portfolios are filled with the Rove era of 100% against the Constitution of the US.

Gosh be shocked that the US Constitution is just a GD piece of paper!

GEORGE W. BUSH

-- this means from the beginning of this family being in charge as the militant-police state it now is --

are a cockroach leadership and now the insects are running for their lives BUT these nasty, filthy, hideous bugs are continuing to be all over and have done terrible damage to all the good.

The FEDERAL JUDGES know their retirement depends upon the militant-police America designed by BUSH-OBAMA and this is such a STALIN-esq type of dictatorship (think Gulags) that they are ashamed and would rather destroy the Siegelman and Minor and others before exposing the greatest crime of the US.

We are a GITMO, a GAZA, etc. Just watch OBAMA each time he, THE CONSTITUTIONAL HARVARD ATTORNEY!!!! LOL signs another death warrant to "enemy combatants."

We have been "sold down the river" by our "Black President."

Last week Mr. O gave every judge in America the right to put us all away for life without one right to fight this, as enemies of the state.

Obama and Holder have no intention of being other than what they have been paid to be: dictators of the new gulag, USofA.

Biloxi

8th Degree said...

Holder sitting on more than just this case.
Take the time to listen to the calls

http://privateattorneygeneral.ning.com/page/calls-1

Review the web site.

We may Laugh but it's not Funny
In reading this article"

We Laugh at Our Peril: Fox News as an Information Operation "

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/12/11/813329/-We-Laugh-at-Our-Pe.

It occurred to me there's a much larger issue.

The main stream TV media boosting on the minute news as its happening there’s a whole lot not to getting reported.

Our TV's may be getting clearer pictures and sharper sound but the information we receive is being increasingly edited picture of unclear information & unconfirmed sources.

http://privateattorneygeneral.ning.com/profiles/blogs/we-may-laugh-but-its-not-funny

Anonymous said...

You ain't seen nothin' yet. Wait until you see the precedents set by the New York "trial" of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Torture, no habeus corpus and that's just the start of it. Oh boy.

Anonymous said...

"You apparently haven't spent much time reading this blog or thinking about the law in this country."

Actually, I read your blog daily for the laugh it provides me.

"In the case of you and me, we are free to "believe" whatever we want. But a jury is supposed to be guided by a trial judge who applies the actual law--and it is supposed to be overseen by an appellate court that makes sure the facts and the law were applied correctly. Neither of those happened in the Siegelman case. Any reasonably objective person who studies the case will see that. It's not a matter of what anyone believes."

I am a reasonable, objective person and I believe that. But even if I didn't, the process has worked in this case. The jury convicted. The appeals courts have heard and agreed. The only real contention here are those people like you who refuse to accept it.

"You might not like Don Siegelman and Richard Scrushy--and that's A-OK by me. But they did not commit the crimes with which they were charged. That's fact, not belief."

Actually I know both men and like them both as people. But a jury and the appeals court apparently believe they are guilty of these crimes. That, is the "fact." Your opionion is "belief."

"All Americans should be alarmed by what happened in this case. If our system can be perverted in this way to abuse Siegelman and Scrushy, it can be used to abuse you or me or someone we care about."

Again, you see at as perverted. I see it as working as it was designed to work.

"You know what they say about 'an injustice anywhere.' It's a threat to justice everywhere. The next time, you or someone you care about might be the victim. Don't think it can't happen."

The real injustice would be a Democratic president and his attorney general overstepping their bounds in a case where the jury system and the appeals process have worked exactly how it was supposed to. Allowing a few left-wing conspiracy wackos who refuse to accept the truth ("You can't handle the truth!") until an actual inustice is done to correct the justice would be far worse. Oh, and as long as I don't bribe an elected official, I doubt it will happen to me.

legalschnauzer said...

You seem to be saying that you agree that the trial judge acted corruptly and did not apply the correct law in the case--but you are perfectly OK with that.

Amazing.