Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Is Key Figure in Siegelman Case Walking An Ethical Tightrope?

We recently posted about Birmingham attorney Doug Jones and his curious response to one of our posts here at Legal Schnauzer.

On the surface, it would appear that Jones and I are on the same political "team." He served as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama under President Bill Clinton. He was lead counsel for three-plus years on the criminal defense team for former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman.

But Jones has taken exception to my recent reporting on a massive federal lawsuit against a number of entities and people connected to Birmingham-based HealthSouth Corp. Maybe that's because Jones appears to be straddling some uncomfortable ethical fences. And maybe my reporting is hitting close to home because Jones, while a Democrat on one hand, has a huge financial stake in the HealthSouth lawsuit on the other.

Based on our review of some of the 1,600-plus documents in the HealthSouth case file, it looks like one of the biggest money grabs in the history of Birmingham lawyering. In fact, I'm told that some area firms and lawyers have pretty much staked their futures on the case.

And Doug Jones is right in the middle of it. That's quite a turn of events for the former U.S. attorney who looked so righteous in successfully prosecuting the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.

Jones is one of the chief plantiffs' lawyers in the HealthSouth case, and one of his colleagues is Rob Riley, the son of current Alabama Governor Bob Riley and a long-time political adversary of Don Siegelman. One of the key defendants in the HealthSouth lawsuit is former CEO Richard Scrushy, who was Siegelman's codefendant in the criminal case that landed them in federal prison.

Jones' main beef with my post about the HealthSouth lawsuit seems to be that it spotlighted the ethical tightrope that Rob Riley seems to be walking between the Siegelman/Scrushy criminal case and the HealthSouth civil case. Perhaps Jones didn't like my reporting because he is walking the same ethical tightrope that Rob Riley is walking.

Actually, there are probably several hundred million reasons my reporting struck a nerve with Doug Jones. The HealthSouth lawsuit already has produced more than $500 million in settlements, with more likely to come. You don't have to be a math whiz to see that massive amounts of attorney fees are at stake these days on the Birmingham legal scene. And it comes at a time, I'm told, when many lawyers and firms are hurting in a down economy.

You might say that Me and Mr. Jones "have a thing going on." But it's hardly the lovey-dovey kind of thing. Mr. Jones evidently didn't care for my reporting, and I didn't much care for Mr. Jones' statements that I had jumped to "absurd conclusions based on what appears to be purely political motivations."

What political motivations are you talking about, Mr. Jones? In case you haven't heard, someone cheated me out of my job at UAB (where I worked for 19 years), and evidence shows it was because of my blog content supportive of Don Siegelman, your former client. And you, of all people, are questioning my "political motivations"?

Here's a tip, Mr. Jones. My motivations here at Legal Schnauzer are not political. They are part personal and part related to justice, simple right and wrong. For eight-plus years, I've witnessed gross corruption in our justice system--the kind that landed Don Siegelman, your former client and an innocent man, in federal prison. I've witnessed multiple federal crimes committed by lawyers and state judges in the Northern District of Alabama. As a former prosecutor in this district, you should be concerned about the kind of sleaze that exists in an area you once presided over.

If one of your goals as U.S. attorney was to discourage public corruption, it looks like you failed miserably. Shelby County is well-known as a legal cesspool, and I'm hearing a growing number of reports that Jefferson County isn't much better.

When I decided to write a blog about the corruption I had witnessed, I received numerous anonymous threats, including one that specifically threatened my job. About a month after receiving that threat, I was fired at UAB. The university's administration upheld my firing, even after its own grievance committee found I had been wrongfully terminated.

As a quick-thinking attorney, you might have guessed that I'm not real happy about that turn of events, particularly since we recently passed the first anniversary of my "firing." And you would be right.

But I'm starting to wonder if you might know something about my firing at UAB. The chances are extremely strong that your new chum, Rob Riley, knows something about it.

Beyond my personal situation, your response to my reporting on the HealthSouth lawsuit raised questions in my mind about a number of subjects:

* Your actions in defense of Don Siegelman;

* Your motives and alliances regarding the HealthSouth lawsuit;

* Your motives and alliances regarding Rob Riley, particularly in light of the fact that Riley is an owner of Performance Group LLC, a physical-therapy company that allegedly has a serious problem with health-care fraud;

* Your motives and alliances regarding UAB, my former employer. This is of particular interest since your represented several UAB administrators in at least one very ugly, high-profile case.

So hold on, Mr. Jones. We've got some questions coming on.

(To be continued)


Anonymous said...

Does a bear poo-poo in the woods?

Actually, Mr. Jones has already fallen off of the tightrope if he is attempting to justify his current behavior.

As you are discovering, politics is a dirty, dirty business in many respects. And anyone with a strong foundation of ethics usually doesn't get involved or doesn't last very long.

You have to remember with Obama that he is not an African American--he is bi-racial and his grandparents were racist.

Obama identifies with Lincoln, who was only anti-slavery because he wanted the Union to survive, not because he was pro-black. Lincoln was a proponent of repatriation (sending blacks back to Africa) and had to have his arm twisted by two rabid abolitionist Congressmen--Sumner and Stevens--to get him on board.

David W said...

You should look up the 1st case against Siegelman and see the reasons Alice Martin gave to have Doug Jones removed as Don's attorney

legalschnauzer said...

David W:
That's an interesting thought. In his testimony before Congress, I believe Jones said he was removed because he had served as U.S. attorney in the Northern District at the time the Siegelman investigation began. I believe Jones was saying that prosecutors felt he had been privy to inside information about the investigation and shouldn't be allowed on the defense team. Wonder if Alice Martin cited reasons other than that.

David Walters said...

I find Alice Martin's claim that the investigation in the Northern district while Jones was still there interesting. At that time, the only investigation going on was in the Alabmaa AQG's office under Bill Pryor. Because he could and his assistant Troy King couldn't find a state crime to hang Don with they gave everything to Alice and when that failed to Leura Canary. I just don't think that Pryor would have been working with a democrat like Jones.