Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Bits and Pieces for $50, Alex

Will Scrushy Ruling Help Siegelman?
A federal appeals court has denied Richard Scrushy's release from prison on appeal bond, finding that Scrushy is a flight risk. Associated Press reporter Bob Johnson wonders if this ruling could help Scrushy's codefendant, Don Siegelman.

Johnson reports that even U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller has stated in court filings that Siegelman is not a flight risk. "I do think it should be encouraging for Siegelman that there has not been a question of him being a flight risk," says University of Alabama political scientist William Stewart. "He's obviously got to have hope."

What should give Siegelman more hope than anything else is Fuller's own language, found in his 30-page memorandum opinion stating that Siegelman, like Scrushy, should be denied appeal bond. We have shown in a series of posts that Fuller's opinion actually provides clear evidence of substantial questions of fact and law, requiring that Siegelman be released.

How bad is Fuller's memorandum. Harper's Scott Horton, a law professor at Columbia University, calls it "farcical, the sort of thing that any judge would be ashamed to allow to see the light of day."

An Alabama Newspaper Shows Some Spine!
Try not to faint, but a newspaper in one of Alabama's major cities actually has shown some guts, common sense, and at least a faint grasp of justice issues.

The Montgomery Advertiser, which has hardly distinguished itself in its (lack of) coverage of Bush Justice Department shenanigans in Alabama, calls for former Governor Don Siegelman to be released pending appeal.

The Advertiser bases its finding on the court's outrageous delays in the development of a trial transcript.

The newspaper doesn't go nearly far enough. It should expose the stunningly weak legal reasoning in Judge Mark Fuller's recent opinion claiming Siegelman should remain in prison. But we'll take anything we can get from Alabama's pitiful big-city newspapers. And the Advertiser deserves kudos for, finally, doing something right.

ExxonMobil: Calling a Fraud a Fraud
Jim Martin, former commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, minces no words when it comes to discussing the Alabama Supreme Court's recent ruling to overturn a $3.6 billion jury verdict against oil giant ExxonMobil.

Martin was commissioner when ExxonMobil was caught shortchanging the state on natural-gas royalties. "This was a case where Exxon cheated the State of Alabama and believed it could get away with intentional wrongdoing," Martin told Phillip Rawls of Associated Press.

Martin did not stop there. "When a powerful and politically influential corporate giant can get away with what Exxon did to the citizens of our state, it's truly a sad day for Alabama," he said. "This wasn't just a case where the terms of a contract were not lived up to--it was outright fraud committed at the highest levels of the corporate structure of Exxon. This was a total miscarriage of justice. I was shocked at what the Supreme Court did in this case."

What's Up With Party Switcher?
You have to wonder what is going on inside the cranium of Alabama State Senator Jimmy Holley, who evidently is planning to switch from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party.

Let's review some of the Republican Party's recent achievements:

* A GOP president has led us into a wretched war on false pretenses;

* A GOP-led Justice Department is ridden with scandal and has introduced Americans to the concept of political prisoners;

* A GOP administration is running up massive deficits and leading us almost certainly into a recession;

* Prices at the gas pump are skyrocketing under a GOP administration;

* Our GOP-controlled Alabama Supreme Court recently screwed the state out of a $3.6 billion jury verdict against oil giant ExxonMobil.

* Our GOP governor evidently violated state campaign-finance laws, routinely handed out state contracts to political cronies, gave millions of state dollars to contributors in Huntsville for a biotech project that duplicates what the state already has at UAB--and oh yes, evidence is strong that our GOP governor won the office with the help of tainted money from convicted felons and possible electronic vote manipulation.

So Senator Holley, tell us again why switching parties makes sense at this time. Are folks in your district around Elba so riddled with race-based fears that they are willing to overlook all of the foibles of the GOP on both the state and national stages? You must think so.

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