Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Breaking: Federal Court Is Pulling a Charade in the Siegelman Case

Don Siegelman

In a story that broke just moments ago, the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed bribery-related convictions in the Don Siegelman case, but left other convictions in place.

Early wire reports are sketchy, but here is what appears to have happened: The 11th Circuit already had reversed the honest-services fraud convictions against Siegelman, and today's ruling kicks out the bribery convictions against both Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy. That appears to mean that the only remaining conviction against Siegelman is for an obstruction of justice count related to a transaction involving a motorcycle. It's unclear what exactly remains against Scrushy.

We have not had an opportunity to review today's ruling, but this outcome does not surprise us. In fact, we posted roughly two months ago that it appears federal appeals courts are issuing "split decisions" on Bush-era political prosecutions. By upholding at least one segment of the convictions, the appeals courts are giving the prosecutions some legitimacy and making it more difficult for victims to sue for monetary damages.

Victims might have their prison sentences greatly reduced, or eliminated, but justice still will not be served. In the Siegelman/Scrushy case, we still have motions to recuse trial judge Mark Fuller.

If the Eleventh Circuit has, in fact, left only the obstruction of justice count hanging against Siegelman, it proves what we have known for some time--our federal courts are a farce from top to bottom.

Under the law, none of the counts against Siegelman or Scrushy could be upheld. But upholding only the obstruction charge against Siegelman would be nutty. Our understanding is that obstruction, like conspiracy, usually is a "piggyback" charge that essentially rides on the back of another charge. If there is no other charge standing, how can there be an obstruction charge? Obstruction of what?

Here is what we wrote roughly two months ago regarding appellate courts' handling of political prosecutions, including the Siegelman, Sue Schmitz, and Paul Minor cases:

As we noted in a previous post (multiple posts, actually), federal judges often are more interested in protecting the interests of the legal profession than in administering justice. By rendering split decisions on the Siegelman, Minor, and Schmitz appeals, they allow a thread of legitimacy to cling to the trial-court proceedings. That will make it more difficult for the victims of political prosecutions to ever receive justice in the civil arena, from filing lawsuits against those who were likely responsible.

We have studied the Siegelman and Minor cases extensively and shown that the appellate courts, by law, had to overturn the convictions entirely. They didn't, and got away with it, because no one in this country holds federal appeals courts accountable--except the U.S. Supreme Court, and it hears only a tiny fraction of the cases that come before it. As we know from Clarence Thomas' recent machinations, the nation's highest court is itself ethically challenged.

At first glance, today's ruling appears to be another step in trying to cover up for the corrupt federal prosecutors and trial judges responsible for the Siegelman/Scrushy case. Americans should be outraged at such theatre of the absurd. Even if you don't live in Alabama, your tax dollars are being used to support federal courts that engage in clear and grotesque subterfuge.


Anonymous said...

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" - Who's watching the watchers ,who're stealing from the hen house?

Keeping Don Siegelman's charge of obstruction was a deliberate and fraudulent attempt of misrepresentation by the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals according to the facts. This both suggested that the weaknesses of the justice system's employees were further compromised than I anticipated. Their decision further eroded any special respect that I had left for the United States judicial bodies, and the justice system when the civil rights of those attacked for political gain, or the poor were violated. Furthermore, this sole act further violated any confidence that I had left for any dysfunctional body of the United States government. I read detailed reports everyday of how law enforcement and the judicial bodies conspire and violate the god given civil rights and liberties of people like Don Siegelman. One positive energetic result from any of these compounded problems associated with the lackadaisical outfit called the Department of Justice would eventually see the people to rise up en mass and take their justice out into the streets. Even at this time the public haven't seen one RICO charge against a wall street banking executive, ratings agency executive, or political savant. I wrote this in the small hope that someone somewhere would read this find their courage and be effective at doing their job. I hoped their courage would then spread by example.

mikkrikk said...

Does anyone see something strange on page 29 of the newly revised brief? The court repeats its discussion of evidence and importantly the earlier praise of the 12 wonderful jurors. The three judges tell us they really, really don't want to throw out anything the jury decided.

In the new sections regarding counts 8 & 9 on page 29, they state the following:

In view of this absolute lack of any evidence whatsoever from which the jury could infer that Siegelman knowingly agreed to or participated in a broader scheme that included Scrushy’s alleged subsequent self-dealing while on the Board, we shall reverse Siegelman’s convictions on Counts 8 and 9.

In other words, the jury decided guilt based on something other than testimony and evidence because there was none. On what could they have based this? A threat from a judge to keep them for months, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Wondering if you ever saw this comment. I know this is a little late and random, but was looking up Canary's connections to Babylon, Long Island, NY. Always wondered if the guy had any shady NY connections. But this is even juicier..

"...REMEMBER BILL CANARY? Bill was a trustee in the Village and also was a member of the Babylon Town Board way back in the late '70s and early '80s. Just finished reading Dorothy Bush's new book about her father, My Father, My President and Bill is mentioned several times for his work in the presidential campaign of '88 and later as the Bush White House and "a close friend of the Bush family." Bill is now living in Montgomery, Alabama with his wife and children where he's the president and chief executive officer of the Business Council of Alabama."