A victim of a Bush-era political prosecution is being held in a federal prison, even though he has no sentence.
You did not misread that. Wes Teel, a former Mississippi judge who was convicted in the Paul Minor case, is being held without a sentence.
Teel and codefendants Paul Minor and John Whitfield stand a heightened chance of having their convictions overturned after the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling on honest-services fraud. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals already had overturned the bribery convictions in the case.
But that process could take months, and it doesn't answer this question: Why is Wes Teel in prison, at this moment, when he has no sentence? Can our "justice system" get any more absurd than that?
In a recent letter from the Federal Prison Camp in Atlanta, Georgia, Teel explains the situation:
In my case, the Fifth Circuit did something unusual--they vacated all of my sentence and remanded the charge they left standing to Judge (Henry) Wingate for resentencing, suggesting that the sentence was too long. We have filed a Motion for Bond Pending Appeal, but expect this to be denied.
Thus, I am sitting here in federal prison without a sentence. Yes, that's right. I have no sentence.
Teel has legal options, but he and his codefendants face a dilemma that is familiar to those who have followed the Don Siegelman case in Alabama. In the Siegelman matter, the case keeps rolling back to federal judge Mark Fuller, who has proven beyond all doubt that he is corrupt. The same situation exists with the Minor case and Judge Henry Wingate.
What's it like to deal with a judge who simply refuses to follow the law? In his letter, which was written before the release of the recent honest-services opinion, Wes Teel tells us:
I could ask Wingate to go ahead and resentence me, but (1) I don't trust him, and (2) I have no desire to be shackled like an animal, bused to the Hines County (MS) Jail, and left there to await the "pleasure" of Henry Wingate. I would rather stay here, where I am in familiar surroundings, and wait for the Supreme Court to rule.
In other words, a secure spot in prison is preferable to dealing with a corrupt federal judge. Having dealt with a few corrupt judges myself, I can understand that sentiment.
The bottom line? Wes Teel holds a unique place in American society, perhaps in American history. And no one in the U.S. Department of Justice, now run by a supposedly enlightened Barack Obama administration, seems to notice. Teel writes:
I am the only person I know who is in jail without any sentence or holding order.
We've asked these question before, and we will ask them again: Is anyone in the Obama administration paying the least bit of attention to justice matters? Is Attorney General Eric Holder completely asleep at the switch?