Monday, July 2, 2007

Fallout in Alabama?

Will there be fallout from the Alabama chapter in the growing U.S. Attorneys scandal? Scott Horton, of Harper's, says the answer might be yes.

Horton notes that the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman drew the attention of The New York Times editorial page. The Times calls on Congress to investigate Bill Canary, Karl Rove, and others who are alleged to have instigated a politically motivated prosecution of Siegelman.

Horton also notes that even some members of Alabama's lapdog press are showing signs of consternation over the Siegelman case. This, of course, does not include The Birmingham News or the Montgomery Advertiser, who seem to specialize in ignoring Republican wrongdoing. But newspapers in Tuscaloosa, Anniston, and Florence have questioned whether justice was done in the Siegelman case.

Horton compares certain characters in the Siegelman case to Javert, the corrupt prosecutor in Victor Hugo's classic Les Miserables. Javert, Horton says, is convinced of his devotion to the law, but he uses its tools to create injustice."On the surface he is a prosecutor, but deep down inside he remains in fact, a criminal," Horton writes.

The spirit of Javert is alive and well in Alabama, Horton concludes. And he is so right. Javert lives not only in the federal courtroom where Siegelman was convicted and sentenced. He also lives in Alabama's state courts, starting at the lowest level (district court) and rising to the top (Alabama Supreme Court).

Legal Schnauzer was struck by the similarities between Horton's description of Javert and the unctuous, self-righteous--and criminal behavior--the Schnauzer has witnessed from Alabama state judges.

How will fallout from the Siegelman case manifest itself? Horton hints that a story is developing concerning dealings between the Bush White House and the former head of the Public Integrity Division (PID) of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

The former PID head in question probably is Noel Hillman, and Horton says the story will have direct ramifications for the Siegelman case. Bush nominated Hillman for a federal judgeship while Hillman was in the midst of investigating the Jack Abramoff scandal. You will recall that several Alabama Republicans, including sitting Governor Bob Riley and fund-raiser Dax Swatek, have ties to Abramoff.

And it was Swatek's father, Bill Swatek, who instigated the baseless lawsuit that will be examined in detail here on Legal Schnauzer.

Will attention eventually be focused on corrupt Republican judges in Alabama state courts? Time will tell. But the DOJ evidently takes honest services mail fraud seriously. After all, that was at the heart of the case against Siegelman.

Legal Schnauzer will be laying out a case of clear honest services mail fraud against Republican judges and at least one attorney in Alabama state courts. We'll see if the DOJ and its U.S. Attorneys in Alabama have the same hunger to prosecute these members of the GOP as they showed in the Siegelman case.

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