Sunday, December 23, 2007

Psychological Torture, GOP Style

How wicked are some members of the modern-day Republican Party? Consider the case of former Mississippi chancery judge Wes Teel.

Teel and fellow state judge John Whitfield were convicted along with attorney Paul Minor on a variety of corruption charges. All three are Democrats, and the prosecution was led by the Republican-controlled Bush Justice Department.

Minor has been in federal prison for several months, currently near Pensacola, FL. Teel and Whitfield are to report to federal prison on December 27, four days from now. That prospect probably does not make for a terribly cheery Christmas.

But keep this fact in mind: All three of these men did not commit the crimes they were charged with. A jury found them guilty of bribery, honest-services mail fraud, and conspiracy because of wrongdoing by U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate.

Wingate gave the jury unlawful instructions related to the two key charges--bribery and honest-services mail fraud. And he improperly did not allow the defense to put on expert witnesses who would have shown that Teel and Whitfield ruled correctly under the law on underlying lawsuits involving Minor's clients. In other words, they were not influenced by loan guarantees they had received from Minor, which are legal under Mississippi law.

So not only is Wingate responsible for sending three innocent men to prison--for political reasons--but he appears to be making a special effort to toy with Teel and his family.

George Lucas, Teel's attorney, filed a motion some time ago that Teel be allowed to remain free pending his appeal. Wingate has refused to rule on it. Does this sound familiar to those who have followed the Don Siegelman/Judge Mark Fuller saga in Alabama?

Lucas was supposed to meet last Monday with Wingate. One issue they were to discuss was a motion for extension of time to report. The motion was filed mainly because Teel's wife, Myrna, has multiple sclerosis and will require close care while her husband is in prison. The family has made arrangements for Teel's daughter-in-law to be with his wife while the Teels' son works during the day. But Teel's daughter-in-law has epilepsy and needs time to adjust to a new anti-seizure medication.

Does any of this concern Judge Wingate? Evidently not. He stiffed Lucas on the meeting repeatedly last week. Lucas had an appointment, but the meeting still has not taken place.

Teel compared Wingate's antics to psychological torture. And that is an apt term. Psychological torture has been applied to Don Siegelman, Paul Minor, and numerous other folks who had the temerity to be politically active and effective Democrats. There is evidence to strongly suggest psychological torture is being employed against Jill Simpson, the Republican whistleblower in the Siegelman case.

It's ironic that Teel used the term "psychological torture" in an e-mail to me about his situation. My wife and I have used that term at several key points in our own ordeal with corrupt Republican judges in Alabama state courts.

This goes back to a point I've made several times on this blog: The modern Republican party is infested with sociopaths, people who do not have a functioning, healthy conscience.

I've had the good fortune to get to know Wes and Myrna Teel via e-mail in recent months. This blog, and our shared status as victims of gross injustice, brought us together. The Teels seem like delightful people; Wes somehow has managed to maintain a sense of humor and it is on display at his Gulf Coast Realist blog.

But my anger and sadness at the Teels' plight goes beyond the fact that I find Wes to be a genuinely likable fellow, and he makes a great e-mail buddy, and we share a similar political philosophy. I've had little if any direct communication with Paul Minor and John Whitfield, but I also grieve for them

So why grieve for people I've never met and hardly know? I grieve because of what this says about our country.

Through more than 25 posts in our Mississippi Churning series, I have shown that these three men are innocent of the charges brought against them. And it's not even a close call. That prosecutor Dunn Lampton--a GOP appointee with reasons to have a personal ax to grind with Paul Minor--would bring the charges, is a disgrace. That Wingate would allow the case to go to a jury, and then make numerous unlawful rulings to ensure conviction, is despicable.

I hope there is an especially warm corner of hell that will someday occupy the likes of Lampton and Wingate (not to mention Mark Fuller, Leura Canary, Alice Martin and numerous GOPers in Alabama).

But assuming that these scoundrels will be on earth for a while, I have a suggestion for Democrats: First, take every action necessary (under the law) to ensure that a Democrat wins the White House in 2008. And then push hard for aggressive prosecutors to be placed in the U.S. attorneys offices in Mississippi, Alabama, and the rest of the nation. And give these pit bulls a mandate to go after the GOP slimebags who have turned our justice department into a corrupt carnival in recent years. The statute of limitations on many GOP crimes will not have run out by 2009, and these criminals must be punished.

I've heard it said that many Jews have taken a "never again" approach to the conditions that led to the Holocaust. I would suggest that Democrats take a similar approach to administering justice to the sociopaths who have sullied our nation. The time to develop an action plan for justice is right now.

In the name of Wes Teel, Don Siegelman, Paul Minor, and others who have suffered from GOP psychological torture, Democrats must be prepared to see that justice is done.

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