Mainjustice.com, in an article titled "Morass in Alabama's Middle District," says Montgomery lawyer George Beck Jr. now is the leading candidate to fill the post, which still is held by controversial Bush appointee Leura Canary.
Any effort to nominate Beck is sure to draw a major fight from progressives, led by north Alabama attorney and Siegelman-case whistleblower Jill Simpson. Beck served as a lawyer for Nick Bailey, a key government witness in the Siegelman case who was sentenced to 18 months in prison on bribery-related charges.
A combination of caution from the Obama administration, objections from Republican U.S. senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, and objections from progressives have scuttled three possible nominees--Joseph Van Heest, Michel Nicrosi, and Tamarra Matthews Johnson. Reports Mainjustice.com:
Both Republicans and Democrats have objected to different candidates, and the White House has been unwilling to cross the state’s powerful GOP senators, according to a Democrat who has spoken to administration officials about the matter. The result has been the continued service of Canary, a bête noire of Alabama Democrats for her prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (D), while the administration now considers a fourth candidate.
The fourth candidate is Beck. And Simpson has stated, in so many words, that a Beck nomination will happen over her dead body.
Why does Simpson object to Beck? Let us count the ways:
Mr. Beck works at Capell & Howard, a law firm that represents Leura Canary's husband and the Alabama Business Council--and is the office used by Karl Rove when he holds meetings in Alabama.
So Beck's firm has ties to Karl Rove. And Simpson is just getting warmed up. Beck's actions, or lack thereof, indicate he did everything possible to help the government earn a bogus conviction in the Siegelman case. Says Simpson:
Mr. Beck is the gentleman who represented Nick Bailey and let him be questioned 70 times and be bullied by Leura Canary's team of lawyers. And George never saw a conflict here even though his firm represents Mr. Canary who was causing (the Siegelman case to be brought).
Simpson even has a serious personal beef with Beck:
George Beck is the gentlemen who went with the lawyer who ran off with $50,000 on my tax case and told tall tales on me this past year to the Alabama bar. He said I was a drug dealer, a member of the "Dixie Mafia," an arsonist, a tax evader, a baby buyer. He said I could have people seriously hurt. And when asked by the Alabama bar to put this in writing, he refused and bailed on Steve Glassroth, who was then suspended from practicing law for what he did to me.
When Beck's name first was floated in early November, Simpson vowed to fight it "24/7." And she provided specific reasons why she was against it.
And yet, Beck's name still is floating in the air. Why? Simpson says its because Artur Davis is trying to gain support from the Business Council of Alabama for his gubernatorial campaign.
Jill Simpson is not going to let a Beck nomination pass quietly. And Alabama progressives should be joining her in the fight.