Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Refusing to Lie in the Siegelman Case Comes With a High Price

The U.S. Justice Department has extracted a fearsome price from individuals who refused to provide false testimony in the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman.

Just ask former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, who refused to testify falsely against Siegelman. Largely because of that, Scrushy now is serving a federal prison sentence.

Gary White, a former Republican member of the Jefferson County Commission, might be experiencing the same thing. A federal appeals court has reinstated White's convictions on bribery and conspiracy and sent the case back to a lower court for sentencing.

The general public probably has forgotten the circumstances surrounding the White prosecution, largely because Alabama newspapers did not report it. But we have not forgotten it here at Legal Schnauzer. And for that, we can thank the reporting of Harper's Scott Horton, who provided a compelling account of what was taking place behind the scenes in the White case.

Powerful evidence, in the form of an affidavit from White's wife Judy, indicates that federal prosecutors applied extraordinary pressure to get testimony that would fit their version of what transpired between Siegelman and Scrushy.

Judy White's affidavit was available in the court file, but Alabama newspapers never reported on it. Maybe that's because the papers did not want the public to know about the Gestapo-like tactics the Bush Department of Justice was using. Consider this passage from Judy White's sworn statement:

My husband was informed that he had been subpoenaed because his name had come up in connection with a meeting that was supposed to have occurred between Gov. Siegelman and Mr. Scrushy. My husband was instructed by the agents that they wanted him to testify that the meeting took place on a particular and specific date which was stated to him by the agents. My husband informed the agents that he had no idea of the specific date when the meeting took place, that he recalled having been asked to arrange an appointment between Gov. Siegelman and Mr. Scrushy, and that he was present only at the introduction, then departed without participating in or witnessing any specific or detailed conversation between Gov. Siegelman and Mr. Scrushy. . . .

The agents repeatedly and insistently told my husband that they "needed" for the meeting to have occurred at the particular and specific date, and they wanted him to testify that it did. My husband maintained that he could not do so, as he did not know when the meeting occurred.

How intense was the pressure on Gary White? Consider this passage from Judy White's affidavit:

The agents later attempted to coerce a guilty plea from my husband, threatening that if he did not do so, they would add so many charges against him, that he would be convicted just because of the sheer volume of the charges. Assistant U.S. Attorney Pat Meadows offered his personal promise that he would have the jury "hating Gary White" and they would convict him, regardless of the evidence.

I have not read transcripts of Gary White's trial, so I cannot speak to the quality of the evidence that led to his conviction. But after reading Judy White's sworn statement about matters that led up to her husband's trial, a reasonable person could ask several questions:

* Did the federal government prosecute Gary White simply because he refused to provide false testimony against Don Siegelman?

* Did the federal government have a legitimate corruption case against Gary White?

* Did federal prosecutors conduct themselves in a lawful manner during the Gary White trial?

The Judy White affidavit is a truly alarming document. And you can check it out, in its entirety, below. After reading it, do you feel confident about the outcomes of federal prosecutions? I sure don't.

Judy White Affidavit


Anonymous said...

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more Democrats who were prosecuted/persecuted simply for being Democrats and/or for not committing perjury as ordered by the Neocon-Fascist thugs.

One guy from Ohio, who helped the GOP commit election fraud, was killed when his plane crashed right after agreeing to testify against Karl Rove.

Kevin Schmidt

Philip said...

This is just an FYI, so you may not want to post this.

"...I have not read transcripts of Gary White's trial, so I cannot speak to the quality of the evidence that led to his conviction."

I greatly appreciate your desire to bring out the truth in this horrible tragedy. One of so many in our system of justice. If it is a federal court you can get the transcripts using the PACER service. You should know that already but if you don't now you do. And now if you are inspired you should do that. The truth needs to come out on what is happening with cases such as these.