The Siegelman case is not the only questionable prosecution of Democratic public officials in the Deep South by the Bush Justice Department. Perhaps an equally questionable prosecution has taken place in Mississippi, and sentencing of attorney Paul Minor and former judges John Whitfield and Wes Teel is scheduled today in U.S. District Court.
The Mississippi case has a number of connections to both the Siegelman case and the case that is unfolding here at Legal Schnauzer. It will be interesting to see if the Mississippi case becomes part of a Congressional inquiry into selective prosecution. There are signs that it should be included.
About 150 letters have been sent to U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate, asking that mercy be shown toward Minor in sentencing.
Minor, a prominent Gulf Coast attorney, was found guilty in March on charges ranging from racketeering to bribery. Whitfield and Teel were convicted of mail fraud and bribery.The Mississippi case also included former Supreme Court judge Oliver Diaz, but he was acquitted both on corruption and tax evasion charges. The Bushies went after him twice, and failed both times.
Mississippi has nonpartisan judicial races, but it is generally understood that all of the defendants in this case are Democrats. Minor's father, Bill Minor, is a well known journalist in the state, who built his reputation on strong reporting during the civil rights era. He still writes a column that is carried in a number of Mississippi newspapers.
The Bushies went after Minor, Whitfield, and Teel twice, too. The first trial resulted in a hung jury. The second trial produced guilty verdicts.
There are a number of interesting similarities between the Siegelman case in Alabama and the Minor case in Mississippi. Both were tried twice before guilty verdicts were finally produced. (Note how the AP story after the first trial focuses on the weak evidence presented by the prosecution. Sound familiar?) The judges in both were Republican appointees. And the charges in both were almost identical--bribery, RICO, mail fraud, wire fraud, etc.
From the Legal Schnauzer standpoint, the mail fraud charges are particularly interesting. I have overwhelming evidence of honest services mail fraud committed by Republican judges in Alabama. But after more than a year of trying, I've been unable to get anyone in the Bush Justice Department to even look at the evidence.
In fact, I recently had an e-mail exchange with Alice Martin, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, and I think readers will find it fascinating. It is a classic example of a citizen having smoke blown up a certain orifice by a public official. But more importantly, it shows the mindset that allows Ms. Martin to casually shirk her duty to uphold the law and apply justice equally.
Ms. Martin and other members of the Bush DOJ might want to reacquaint themselves with a little item known as the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Has to do with concepts like equal protection under the law and due process of law. These used to be fairly important ideas in America's justice system.
Let's not forget that George W. Bush is in the White House only because the U.S. Supreme Court made creative use of the equal-protection clause in ruling for Bush over Al Gore in the 2000 election fiasco.
Do conservatives still believe in the notion of equal protection under the law? There seem to be legitimate reasons to raise that question about the Siegelman and Minor cases. And as the Legal Schnauzer case unfolds here, you will see huge reasons to raise that question.
Interestingly, Alabama and Mississippi have been at ground zero as spending on state appellate court races has skyrocketed, driven largely by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its corporate backers.
Justice at Stake reports that Alabama led the nation in spending on Supreme Court races in 2006. Mississippi has consistently ranked near the top of such polls in recent years.
As for the Minor and Siegelman cases, mail fraud is central to both. And it is at the heart of the wrongdoing we are outlining here at Legal Schnauzer. We will soon be taking a detailed look at mail fraud--what it is and how it is proven. Mail fraud made up the overwhelming majority of the 30-some counts against Don Siegelman.
We will also be looking at cases where corrupt judges in other states are being investigated or prosecuted. Are there political overtones to those cases? We will take a look.
Meanwhile, we will keep you posted on the sentencing of Paul Minor today in Mississippi.