That might cause a reasonable person to ask: What in the world is in the Canary documents that would cause a federal magistrate to lie openly in court documents--with at least five more judges helping to perpetuate the lie in followup rulings? Are these judges trying to protect powerful individuals who were pulling Canary's strings in the background, ensuring that the Siegelman case was a political prosecution--as the former Alabama governor and his supporters have claimed for years.
As we reported last week, Siegelman's lawyers stated in an appellate brief that U.S. Magistrate Charles S. Coody never even ordered documents related to Leura Canary, who was U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama at the time. That means Coody's claims that he "thoroughly reviewed" the documents and found nothing to help Siegelman's case could not be true. Ironically, the revelations about Coody come to light as a new appeal is due to be heard in Atlanta tomorrow before the U.S. Eleventh Circuit.
Members of Siegelman's legal team were not the only ones to catch Coody's ineptness and deceit some time ago--even though it largely has escaped public notice. Lawyers for former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, codefendant in the Siegelman case, made almost identical claims regarding Coody.
Lawyers tend to use delicate language when they make the slightest criticism of any judge--and both the Siegelman and Scrushy legal teams use careful wording to describe Coody's actions. But we are not bound by any courtroom traditions that call for soft treatment of corrupt judges, and we will put it bluntly--lawyers for both Siegelman and Scrushy claim that Judge Coody lied, and in so doing, he trampled their clients' due-process rights to have their case handled by an impartial judge. More importantly, probably every ruling subsequent to Coody's order has been affected by the finding that a magistrate reviewed documents related to Leura Canary and found nothing helpful to the defendants.
In other words, two-plus years' worth of rulings that have gone against Siegelman and Scrushy are based largely on a lie.
Let's consider language from Scrushy's brief dated April 9, 2012. Scrushy's lawyers address Coody's failure to review Canary-related documents on pages 29-34. (The brief is embedded at the end of this post.)
The magistrate’s representations as to the discovery requests relating to the e-mails to or from U.S. Attorney Canary are at odds with the record. The wording of the order denying discovery as to these e-mails states that he “laboriously reviewed the documents provided to it by the government related to his issue.” . . . The magistrate’s finding that “there is no evidence to support the defendant’s supposition ‘that other e-mails’ exist,’” . . . clearly implies that the in camera review included the e-mails specifically requested by Scrushy in his discovery motion. However, since the Government was never ordered to produce any materials relating to the U.S. Attorney’s failure to honor her recusal, it is not surprising that the in camera review would find no such e-mails.
Scrushy's team also refers to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) proceeding, upon which the U.S. Justice Department (under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama) has been stonewalling for roughly nine years:
These findings are further undercut by the supplemental showing that Scrushy made in support of his motion for discovery. . . . Scrushy cited to a summary judgment motion filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office in a Freedom of Information Act proceeding.
A declaration attached to the summary judgment motion by Middle District of Alabama First Assistant Sandra Stewart shows that documents relating to the recusal of the U.S. Attorney not only exist, but had also been indexed. These materials include the entire file of the then-First Assistant and a CD containing “all the captured electronic records from U.S. Attorney Canary’s computer system.” . . .
At the time the magistrate found that no such documents existed, he was on notice that documents relevant to this issue had been gathered and indexed in the D.C. District Court proceeding.
This makes Judge Coody's lies even more perverse. He knew that documents related to Canary's recusal had been gathered and indexed--but he failed to order them, and then he lied about having reviewed them.
If a cover-up is in place on the Siegelman/Scrushy case, it might have started with Charles Coody. Why are he and others trying to deny fundamental rights to the defendants and hoodwink the general public? Are he and others engaged in a criminal conspiracy?
Americans need to be asking these questions--and more--if our justice system ever is to be restored to a place of integrity. A white-hot spotlight needs to shine on the entire Eleventh Circuit, and its butchery of the Siegelman case. And the light needs to shine first on U.S. Magistrate Charles Coody.