The ugly intersection of justice and politics in Alabama has been in the news recently. But the national headlines only tell part of the story.
Time magazine last Friday reported that Karl Rove, President Bush's top political strategist, has been linked to the prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman. (The New York Times also reported the story on Friday.) Siegelman, a Democrat, stands convicted of bribery and conspiracy charges, along with former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. Siegelman long has claimed that his prosecution was driven by politically motivated, Republican-appointed U.S. attorneys. An affidavit from Dana Jill Simpson, a lifelong Republican and lawyer who practices in Alabama, supports that view.
Simpson states in her affidavit that William Canary, a senior GOP political operative and adviser to Governor Bob Riley, boasted that "his girls" would "take care of" of Siegelman. This was a reference to his wife, Leura Canary, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, and Alice Martin, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. Canary further stated that he had his plan worked out with a powerful friend in Washington named "Karl." This was a reference to Rove.
The Siegelman/Rove story touches only on a portion of what is wrong with the dysfunctional courts in Alabama. The story deals only with federal courts and with defendants of substantial power and means.
What about state courts, where the vast majority of parties in Alabama end up? And what can happen to people with little power, and modest funds, in Alabama's state courts?
That's what this blog is about. It will show you that problems with justice in Alabama go way beyond anything that might have happened to Don Siegelman and Richard Scrushy.
But there are connections between the story reported in Time and the story that will unfold in this blog. After all, as Time reported, Canary and Rove worked closely together in the mid 1990s in a successful series of campaigns to get Republicans elected to Alabama state courts.
Republican judicial candidates invariably tout themselves as "strict constructionists," who rule according to the written law. But my case shows that is nothing but cheap rhetoric, and in fact, Republican jurists in Alabama practice "good old boy" justice of the worst kind.