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Monday, December 31, 2012

Don Siegelman, Paul Minor And The End Of Russian Adoptions: The U.S. Abandons Its Moral Authority

Vladimir Putin

Russian president Vladimir Putin has signed a law that bans adoptions to the United States, taking effect tomorrow (January 1). The story has special resonance here in the Deep South because it raises questions about  America's fading moral authority--and nothing shines light on that issue like the flagrantly unlawful prosecutions of prominent figures in Alabama and Mississippi.

Don Siegelman, the former governor of Alabama, has resided at a federal prison in Oakdale, Louisiana, since Sept. 11. He reported there after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal, even though the trial court and the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals both misapplied the settled legal standard for cases of alleged bribery in the context of a campaign contribution.

Paul Minor, a highly successful attorney from Biloxi, Mississippi, is in a federal prison at Pensacola, Florida, on charges that largely mirror those in the Siegelman case. We have written dozens of posts about the Mississippi case and shown that Minor and codefendants Wes Teel and John Whitfield were convicted mainly because the trial judge issued jury instructions that were almost the exact opposite of what the actual law states.

It's hard to compare cases of judicial and prosecutorial corruption, but the misconduct in the Minor case might have been even more blatant than that in the Siegelman case. That's saying something when you consider that the Siegelman case has attracted the attention of 60 Minutes and other major news outlets.

Siegelman, a popular Democrat in a heavily Republican state, became a target during the George W. Bush years, and extensive evidence suggests that GOP political guru Karl Rove used his connections in Alabama right-wing circles to orchestrate a bogus prosecution.

Minor apparently became a target because he helped win huge settlements against the tobacco and asbestos industries, angering the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other corporate interests. Minor also was a prominent financial supporter of Democratic campaigns, including the John Edwards presidential bid.

Dana and Don Siegelman
Numerous journalists, op-ed writers, and legal experts--including more than 100 former state attorneys general--have concluded that Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy were wrongly convicted of a "crime" that does not exist under the actual law. Scrushy completed his sentence and was released from prison in 2012; Siegelman was free pending appeals, and now faces a sentence of more than six years.

Dana Siegelman, the former governor's daughter, is leading an effort to free her father via a presidential pardon. Her campaign has gained traction, giving birth to a Web site at free-don.org and numerous appearances in the press. But for now, Don Siegelman is every bit as much a political prisoner in Barack Obama's America as millions of political opponents were under the Gulag system of Josef Stalin's Soviet Union.

Sadly, and ironically, the Siegelman fiasco has fallen at the feet of a Democratic president, our nation's first black commander in chief. Siegelman was indicted, prosecuted, convicted, and originally sent to prison during the Bush years. But the Obama Department of Justice, under feckless Attorney General Eric Holder, argued against a Supreme Court hearing of the Siegelman case.

That means Obama now "owns" the most notorious political prosecution in American history. And it means that Vladimir Putin is standing on solid moral ground when he ends 20 years of adoptions between his country and the United States. After all, the U.S. no longer is in any position to point fingers at other countries for failing to abide by the rule of law.

On the surface, the Russian bill that includes a ban on U.S. adoptions grew from opposition to the Magnitsky Act, which Obama signed in mid December. The administration opposed the Magnitsky measure, which bars Russian citizens accused of violating human rights from traveling to the United States and from owning real estate or other assets there. But the president overcame his concerns about possible diplomatic retaliation and signed it, mainly because members of Congress were eager to press Russia over human rights abuses--and they tied the bill to another measure granting Russia new status as a full trading partner.

Paul Minor
In a deeper sense, the controversy over the Magnitsky Act indicates the United States is wearing blinders about its own human-rights abuses. Putin was quick to point that out as the Magnitsky bill made its way toward becoming law, according to a report in The New York Times:

Mr. Putin loudly accused the United States of hypocrisy, noting human rights abuses in Iraq, Afghanistan and at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and he pledged to retaliate.

Putin apparently limited his critique to international matters, but he could have gone much farther by pointing to human-rights abuses on American soil. Exhibit A could have been the political prosecution of Don Siegelman. The Paul Minor case could have served as Exhibit B.

Vladimir Putin likely has never heard of Paul Minor--or Don Siegelman, for that matter. But the Russian president was on target when he pointed out that the United States' record on human rights has been radically diminished in recent years.

When you live in Birmingham, Alabama--as I do--you don't have to look far to see evidence of that.

Here is a Russia Today report on the adoption ban and its implications:


 

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

I SERIOUSLY was worried about you not posting since the 21st. Glad to see you back and this article. x

Barb said...

LS, so glad to have you back. The Web is not the same without you. Great post, by the way.

Anonymous said...

I second everyone else. Great to have you back. Hope all is well.

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks, gang. Really didn't go anywhere; just took a holiday break.

Blogging cuts deeply into your reading time, and I decided I wanted to read a good book over the holidays. Hadn't done that in a long time. Polished off a 650-pager and enjoyed it immensely.

Also worked on some very interesting posts you will be seeing soon after New Year.

Anonymous said...

Hate to say it, but I agree with Putin.

Anonymous said...

You don't have a job, so you're always on vacation, aren't you?

legalschnauzer said...

How do you know I don't have a job?

Ryan said...

Obama didn't sign the Magnitsky Act, so maybe he realized we don't have a moral leg to stand on.

TLR said...

Great to have you back, LS. I was starting to have symptoms of withdrawal.

Anonymous said...

Just curious . . . what was the book that grabbed your attention?

Zachery d Taylor said...

I agree that the US doesn't have the moral high ground for many reasons including the ones that you cited; however, ironically the justification being attributed to the new Russian law is that they complained about Russian human rights abuses which I'm guessing are legitimate. Which means that they might be retaliating for one of the few things that the USA might be doing right and that this could be another example of two pots calling each other black.

BTW I assumed that this blog was related to your job for what it's worth; although to be honest with you I don't always find the time to keep up with it I have found it among the more credible. Hope you enjoyed your vacation; and will be sure to check with the up coming blogs.

legalschnauzer said...

"The Emperor of Ocean Park," by Stephen L. Carter. Has more connections to our Legal Schnauzer story than I expected. Excellent read. Two thumbs up.

legalschnauzer said...

Zachery:

Good points, and thanks for reading. This blog is related to my job (or former job) to the extent that I've reported on my unlawful termination at UAB. I was targeted for reporting about legal corruption in Alabama--and I have tape-recorded proof of that. I've reported on that experience and the ensuing federal lawsuit, but other than that, the blog has been separate from my job. It's been reported and written on my own time and resources.

Hope you will keep reading. Some very interesting stuff is coming in early 2013.

jeffrey spruill said...

More than 100 former state attorneys general--have concluded that Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy were wrongly convicted of a "crime" that does not exist under the actual law.

Where are the US Attorneys? And what do they say about such flagrant abuse of the "rule of law?"

That's right-- to busy making the rounds with media throughout the district, and some local and federal officials and Beltway insiders saying this suggests he is setting himself up for a higher position in the Obama administration.

http://hamptonroads.com/2012/12/us-attorney-raises-his-profile-ambitious-cases

legalschnauzer said...

Jeff:

You are the first person I've seen to raise this question--and it is a profound one.

Where, indeed, are the federal prosecutors? Where are the other federal judges? All of these people have to know the Siegelman and Minor cases were incorrectly decided under the law. Why are their voices silent?

Is it because they are members of the federal tribe, and they must protect one another? This is the kind of tribalism we claim is evil when it's in Afghanistan or Iraq or Iran.

Anonymous said...

End note on tribalism, excellent.

The "Bencher" Inns Of Court publication calls the tribe the tribe which is the entire "legal family" or whatever these more special than the rest of US are about, and the BLOB calls what the tribal controllers are.

LS: was worried you had taken ill, glad that is not so. Your reporting and writing are the bread and water for Americans.

Whew, what a great post. Did I say your reporting and writing are also the creme d'la creme?

Russia and America and China, too, all were-are in on the Agenda 21. Putin carefully watched Bush "W" and in the photo ops Putin always had either both eyes, or one eye, on the "W" Administration.

Yes the "W" began the due process law acceleration into NONE, but Obama as the woman says, is far worse:

Author - Publius Huldah (Bio and Archives) Friday, July 30, 2010,

http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/25983

"... Does anyone read the U.S. Constitution these days? American lawyers don’t read it.

... Same goes for our illustrious
Attorney General Eric Holder.

Anonymous said...

So why would Russia really choose halting their adoptions to the US? Considering what a huge industry adoption and foster care has become in the US , it must be about money? Seems also that Russia is trying to send a message to the people of the US as well.

LS I see the indirect link to Siegleman case but was there another point to this correlation? I just don't think that Russia cares about Siegleman and Minor. With your brilliant story of Vangard/ Rollins the dots were connected but are there dots that are being missed to this? Did they give reasons for this? I'm happy to hear this was their decision. Also happy to see you back! Happy New Year to you and the Mrs.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 10:20--

I think the dots connect in an indirect way. As I note in the post, Putin probably knows nothing of Siegelman or Paul Minor. But he does note the U.S.'s fading moral authority because of our questionable actions on the international stage, violating human rights. The indirect tie comes when you consider our human-rights violations here at home, including the imprisonment of political opponents who committed no crimes.

Anonymous said...

I think there is a lot more to this story than meets the eye. I hope you will follow it. Thanks LS!

Anonymous said...

Follow this money trail:
(1)Physicians who want to be appointed to the Alabama Medical Licensure Commission.
(2)Bribes (or "donations") from those physicians to the Republican Party.
(3)PAC to PAC money laundering (or "cash transfers" to Republican candidates in charge of appointments to the Alabama Medical Licensure Commission.

Solution to this problem: Put the members of the Alabama Medical Licensure Commission under oath to testify about their Political Contributions. When is this Republican controlled, aristocratic, plutocracy of a state ever going to make a stand and in the name of God do something right?

Anonymous said...

Governor Siegelman's only sin was that he was not as sneaky and corrupt as the Republicans are, with their PAC to PAC transfers that effectively launder their political contributions and disguise their origins.

Anonymous said...

I've read several articles that said (paraphrasing) Putin wanted to humiliate the US after they passed the Magnitsky Act. I think this has to do with exactly what Putin made it about, children! He couldn't have picked a more sensitive spot especially right after Sandy Hook! It is no secret to those in other countries how poorly we treat and value children in the US. It's thought that we treat dogs better than children here!

There are elitist groups believed to be running child trafficking rings in and out of the US and I wonder if Putin may be sending those pervs in DC and elsewhere a message. I came across some info and thought of you the other day LS. It was about that child trafficking ring and one of its main locations was believed to be in Charlotte or Charlottsville North Carolina. Hard to recall but if I can remember where I read it I will forward. Anyway, it made me think of Ted Rollins bc doesn't he live there?

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 9:03--

Thanks for a very interesting comment. Please do send info about the child-trafficking ring. Perhaps Putin does have something up his sleeve. If so, it once again raises specter of the Franklin Scandal, which was covered up during Reagan/Bush I years. Also makes you wonder if Putin might have information about "the rest of the story" on the Jerry Sandusky case.

I'm hardly a Putin fan, but who could blame anyone for wanting to keep children away from the U.S. these days?

BTW, Ted Rollins actually has ties to both Charlotte, NC, and Charlottesville, VA. Campus Crest HQ is in Charlotte, and Ted and Sherry Rollins made their first home in Charlottesville, VA, where he ran an investment firm.

Anonymous said...

I just googled "child trafficking North Carolina and some interesting stuff showed up. The first site, "The North Carolina connection to human trafficking wbtv.com".

Sorry would have pasted but won't let me for some reason. This is not the site I was referring to previously but it struck me as interesting. Thought you might want to check it out and see where it may lead.

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks, will check it out. Welcome input from other readers.

Was surprised to see today that PA officials are planning to sue over Penn State sanctions in the Sandusky case. Could the NCAA respond by seeking discovery that might show just how widespread the Sandusky scandal was?

legalschnauzer said...

Here is URL for story about child trafficking in North Carolina. Says it ranks No. 8 among U.S. states, mainly because of heavy vehicle traffic via I-85 and I-95.

Interesting story:

http://www.wbtv.com/story/11828239/the-north-carolina-connection-to-human-trafficking

legalschnauzer said...

An official at Duke University was caught in a child sex sting in 2009:


http://abcnews.go.com/News/story?id=7942546&page=1#.UOPE7uQ8CSo

Anonymous said...

THAT'S the part I thought you would want to see!

Anonymous said...

I think it's also interesting that Obama declared January National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month!

Anonymous said...

The NCAA definitely should because I seriously doubt that the Sanducky case was an isolated incident!

Anonymous said...

The largest child trafficking ring in the US isn't a street job. It's being run by our Family Court judges, attornys, social services, foster care system, faith based (thanks to W) and the so called elite!