Friday, June 29, 2007

Did an Alabama Judge Really Say That?

A schnauzer's ears tend to stand up when he hears something unusual, strange, or baffling.

So imagine the Legal Schnauzer's ears standing at full attention when he heard the following remark from U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller during yesterday's sentencing of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman:

"I am convinced the conduct Governor Siegelman engaged in damaged the public's confidence in the government of this state."

What rarefied planet does Judge Fuller live on? Does he really think the people of Alabama are such saps that they would have confidence in state government if it weren't for that dastardly Don Siegelman?

Perhaps Judge Fuller has forgottten a small fact: Alabama government consists of three branches--executive, legislative, and judicial. The U.S. Department of Justice, evidently at the urging of White House strategist Karl Rove, seems to be interested only in the executive branch and only when it was occupied by a Democrat, such as Siegelman. The DOJ doesn't seem to have much interest in current Governor Bob Riley's ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Could that be because Riley is a Republican? Hmmm.

And what about that third branch of state government, the judicial branch? In Alabama, that branch is dominated by Republicans, thanks to the electoral handiwork of Rove and Bill Canary in the 1990s. Is anyone at the DOJ interested in criminal activity by Republican state judges in Alabama?

The Legal Schnauzer will be examining that question, and many more, in the days and weeks ahead.

We can thank Judge Fuller for one thing: His comment serves as a reminder that the Siegelman trial and sentencing were about state government. Corruption trials usually focus on alleged wrongs involving money, mails, or wires, and that causes them to land in federal court. Because of the venue, and the involvement of former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, it was easy to forget that the Siegelman case was about state government.

The Legal Schnauzer has had quite a bit of experience with Alabama state government over the past seven or eight years--all in the judicial branch. And it has not been a pretty sight.

Did Don Siegelman commit the crimes he was convicted of and did he deserve the sentence he received? Maybe. But the whole point of the evolving U.S. Attorneys scandal is that justice should cut both ways; it should be blind to party affiliation. And there is substantial evidence to indicate that is not the case in Alabama and numerous other states.

Scott Horton, of Harper's, offers reason to hope that the Siegelman case might draw the attention of Congress in its investigation of the U.S. Attorneys firings.

This blog will lay out a clear trail of criminal activity by Republican state judges, and at least one attorney, in Alabama. Bill Canary's "girls," Alabama U.S. Attorneys Leura Canary and Alice Martin, were quick to jump on the Siegelman case.

The criminal activity I will describe took place in both of their jurisdictions. Will either take action? Will either show that she is intent on restoring public confidence in Alabama's judicial branch?

Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For months I called the news networks....set them email. I got no feedback. After a while, it became clear they were playing a game, where the news viewer is simply worn down, frustrated, and by default rendered moot. When phoney accounting rules, there is no need to heed the wishes of consumers.
The corporations simply create a fantasy world. The attention is shifted upon trifles.....but its just too much trouble to report the daily deaths of American soldiers. Like good ol time conmen...the suckers keep getting the pie in the sky snowjob, guys like Karl Rove commit felony upon felony, hide email from federal investigations, laws only apply to targets of the crooks who have used 9/11 as means of funneling money to GOP contractors.
Rove is an fat cushy GOP version of Hienrich Himmler, and thats a plain fact.secret files anyone? blackwater...brownshirts?