Thursday, January 14, 2010

Alabama's "King of Conflicts" Takes On Another Curious Case

Birmingham attorney Doug Jones once led Don Siegelman's defense team while also suing Siegelman's codefendant, former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy.

It seems Jones never met a conflict of interest he didn't like. What's the latest evidence? Jones now is involved in the John Goff criminal case, according to Bob Gambacurta of the Montgomery Independent.

Goff is the Montgomery insurance executive who sued Alabama Governor Bob Riley, seeking (among other things) information about Riley's campaign funds in the 2002 election. Goff wound up being prosecuted for a matter that already had been resolved in an administrative-law court. According to Scott Horton, of Harper's, Riley sicced Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney Leura Canary on Goff in retaliation for the lawsuit.

So what's curious about Doug Jones' involvement in the Goff case? Well, Jones has an interesting partner in the ongoing civil case against Scrushy and others connected to HealthSouth. And that partner is Homewood attorney Rob Riley, the governor's son.

As we reported in an earlier post, Jones and Rob Riley joined forces to help rake in almost $28 million in fees for plaintiffs' attorneys in the HealthSouth lawsuit. And the case isn't over.

Jones is a Democrat, and Riley is a Republican. But they apparently have no problem crossing political boundaries when cold, hard cash is to be made. Could they also join forces when cover is needed for the governor's unsavory actions? Could that be why Jones is involved in the John Goff case?

Goff is seeking a new trial, based on allegations of prosecutorial misconduct and violations of his constitutional rights--and Doug Jones is leading that effort. But consider this curious passage from Gambacurta's story:

Gone from the appeal are Goff’s original defense team; also gone are the allegations of a political conspiracy, by Gov. Bob Riley and others including White House advisor Karl Rove, to destroy Goff and his once lucrative insurance business.

What is Doug Jones' legal strategy in the John Goff case? A big part of it seems to be: Keep Bob Riley and his associates out of it, at all costs.

Could Jones be doing that as a favor to Rob Riley, his new moneymaking partner? If the political-conspiracy issue is off the table, it appears that Bob Riley's role in abusing the U.S. Justice Department to go after John Goff will never be known. Is that what Doug Jones wants?

Those certainly seem like reasonable questions, from where we sit. It's also possible that Jones, and Goff, are simply taking a pragmatic approach. Perhaps they know that our justice system, in its current form, is hopelessly corrupt--and with Attorney General Eric Holder seemingly asleep at the switch--it isn't likely to get much better under the Barack Obama administration.

Maybe John Goff has decided, "The heck with Bob Riley. I've got to limit my damages and try to avoid prison time. And my best bet is to let Riley and his nasty bunch off the hook."

Either way, it's a sad situation. Try to grasp what the governor of Alabama allegedly did: He retaliated against someone who had sued him by encouraging the corrupt Bush Justice Department to bring a bogus prosecution for the ugliest of political reasons.

It's hard to imagine a more grotesque abuse of executive power than that. If proven, it's the kind of thing that should send Bob Riley to a federal prison for quite a spell.

But it's looking more and more like he will get away with it.

Is Doug Jones trying help Riley get away with it? Or is he taking a realistic approach that might be his client's best hope, given our twisted, befouled system?

I hope John Goff is asking himself those questions.


Robby Scott Hill said...

Once again Roger, it's "The Machine" from The University of Alabama's Student Government Association. The Machine is a secret society bankrolled by the richest, most elite families and businesses of Alabama. Loyalty to the families behind The Machine is much more important than loyalty to any political party. The Machine is the Skull & Bones of Alabama.

Brian Smith said...

The fact that Doug Jones is interested in the Goss case should be an indication to Mr. Goss that he should expect to be thrown under the bus as soon as Mr. Jones gets what he wants from Goss.
Doug Jones has no sense of loyalty or altruism to any individual or group. Run Mr. Goss. Run very, very fast away from Doug Jones!