Sunday, April 19, 2009

Paul Minor Is Not Allowed to Attend His Wife's Funeral

Sylvia Minor's funeral was on Friday in New Orleans. Her husband of 41 years, Mississippi attorney Paul Minor, was not allowed to attend.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons ruled that Minor could not be released. And the U.S. Department of Justice refused to intervene.

Minor is in federal prison on corruption charges similar to those brought against former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. Like Siegelman, Minor is a Democrat who was the victim of a political prosecution carried out by the Bush Justice Department.

A highly successful plaintiff's attorney, Minor was a generous supporter of Democratic Party causes and candidates. Minor was one of the largest contributors to the presidential campaign of John Edwards, who once was considered to be the biggest threat to George W. Bush's re-election in 2004.

In a 25-part series called "Mississippi Churning," we have shown on this blog that Minor was the victim of a bogus prosecution brought by U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton, a George W. Bush appointee. Larisa Alexandrovna at Raw Story and Scott Horton at Harper's magazine also have written extensively about the case.

Minor and former state judges Wes Teel and John Whitfield were convicted only because of a series of unlawful rulings by U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate, a Ronald Reagan appointee.

In all, we probably have written close to 100 posts about the Minor case. Why has the case attracted our attention? In our view, it's probably the most blatant of all the political prosecutions under the Bush DOJ.

Siegelman was the victim of a bogus prosecution, but some of the underlying actions in that case happened out of public view, behind closed doors. The corruption on the part of prosecutors is somewhat obscured. And Judge Mark Fuller at least tried to come close on his unlawful jury instructions.

In the Minor case, the corruption of our justice system is plain for anyone who cares to look. The two underlying lawsuits, in which Minor was alleged to have bribed judges in return for favorable results, are matters of public record. And the record shows they were decided correctly, under the law, so there can be no "corrupt act" required for a bribery conviction. And the public was not actually deprived of anyone's honest services, a requirement for a fraud conviction in the case.

As for Judge Henry Wingate, he made no effort to hide the fact that he was giving bogus jury instructions and making other unlawful rulings, essentially denying Minor & Co. an opportunity to defend themselves. In fact, Wingate's jury instructions were pretty much the opposite of what the law actually says, meaning that Minor and his codefendants were convicted for offenses that do not exist--except in Henry Wingate's warped mind.

So much for that old canard about the United States being "a nation of laws, not of men."

That Paul Minor could have been convicted under such circumstances is mind blowing. That he was denied an opportunity to attend his wife's funeral is inhumane. Reports Associated Press:

The denial capped weeks of legal maneuvering through the courts, prison system and U.S. Justice Department for Minor to get out of prison to be with his wife in her last days. After her death from brain cancer Monday, Minor sought a pass to attend the funeral.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons denied the request apparently because Minor had already been allowed a brief visit in February, but Minor's attorney wrote an urgent letter Thursday to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to intervene. Holder replied in an e-mail to attorney Hiram Eastland Jr. late Thursday that Minor wouldn't be allowed to go.

Holder apparently determined that he was powerless to intervene in the case:

"I do not in any way fault the attorney general or the Justice Department for this denial," Eastland said.

He said Holder and the agency brought "this entire bizarre issue front and center with the Bureau of Prisons."

"The Bureau of Prisons, however, would not budge and based their denial on an antiquated, Draconian, anti-family policy of forcing a prisoner to choose between being with their wife while they are dying or after they have already passed away," he said.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is absolutely heartbreaking. You imprison a man under highly questionable circumstances, and deny him the right to attend his wife funeral. Jeremiah Wright the people responsible for this heartless decision.