Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Stench Grows Stronger in Montgomery

Where do you turn if your local federal prosecutor appears to be coming after your client for political reasons? If you are Montgomery attorneys Thomas T. Gallion III and Donald R. Jones Jr., you turn to new U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey.

Scott Horton, of Harper's.org, reports today that Gallion and Jones have sent Mukasey a 14-page letter outlining abuses by Leura Canary, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, in a case involving Montgomery insurance executive John W. Goff.

Gallion and Jones represent Goff in a lawsuit against Alabama Governor Bob Riley, former Lieutenant Governor Steve Windom, and others, alleging their actions caused the failure of one of Goff's companies. They ask Mukasey to remove Canary from the Goff investigation because Riley and Windom have strong business and political connections to her husband Bill, the state's most prominent GOP campaign advisor and president of the Business Council of Alabama.

"Those on the other side of Mr. Canary's campaign efforts have a strange habit of finding themselves the target of a criminal investigation led by Mrs. Canary," Horton writes.

The Goff case appears to represent a particularly vicious form of vindictive behavior by a prosecutor. As part of Goff's lawsuit, Gallion and Jones gave notice of their intention to take the depositions of Governor Riley, his son Rob, and Bill Canary.

"They were astonished to discover a response from Mrs. Canary in the form of a criminal investigation opened against their client," Horton writes. "In a particularly abusive move, Mrs. Canary also served grand jury subpoenas against the lawyers, in a likely effort to block them from further representation of their clients."

Part of the Goff lawsuit involves allegations that Karl Rove, Jack Abramoff, and Michael Scanlon helped direct campaign funds to Governor Riley from Indian casino gambling sources.

Horton has been a remarkably prescient reporter on this story. He reported on September 23 that Bob Riley was highly agitated at the prospect of having to answer questions under oath in the Goff lawsuit. And Horton reported that Riley appeared to be looking to Leura Canary to help make the lawsuit "go away."

He apparently turned to the right person. Now, will Mukasey continue to allow Canary to run amok in Montgomery? If he takes action, what will it be?

Horton notes that Rachel Paulose, the 34-year-old U.S. attorney in Minneapolis, has stepped down to take a job at Main Justice. Paulose was a Rove-connected U.S. attorney, much like Canary. Paulose stepped down after Minnesota's Republican Senator Norm Coleman publicly criticized Paulose and met with Mukasey to discuss his concerns. She was the subject of an investigation into charges that she had discriminated against office employees.

Could Canary meet a fate similar to that of Paulose? Could Mukasey, considering Canary's role in the Don Siegelman prosecution, take action beyond removing her from the Goff investigation?

Stay tuned.

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