|Democratic National Convention|
Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman will be allowed to attend the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, thanks to a federal-court order that only can be described as smarmy.
Not content to simply grant or deny Siegelman's request via the federal Probation Office, U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller tries to justify his own disgraceful handling of the case--and jury convictions that are at odds with the relevant facts and law.
Siegelman is due to report to federal custody on September 11 after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal. He asked to be allowed to travel to Charlotte from September 3-6; the Democratic National Convention (DNC) will take place in Charlotte on those dates. Fuller granted Siegelman's request, but he could not do it without providing editorial comment, including a mocking reference to Siegelman's stated reasons for the trip.
You can view the full order at the end of this post. The following segment provides a taste of Fuller's arrogant tone:
Don Siegelman has asked the Probation Office if he can travel to Charlotte, North Carolina, from September 3 to September 6, 2012, for a “family vacation.” During this time, he plans to lobby various power brokers for clemency during the Democratic National Convention. The Court takes no position on whether he should receive a pardon. The Court finds that Siegelman is neither a flight risk nor a danger to himself or to society, and thus, the Court approves his request to travel outside the Middle District of Alabama and the Northern District of Alabama for the purpose of attending the Democratic National Convention.
Notice that Fuller puts "family vacation" in quotation marks. Is this guy a smart ass or what? Then we are left with this question: Did Siegelman disclose in his request that he intends to "lobby various power brokers for clemency," or did Fuller simply make that assumption? For that matter, did Siegelman disclose that he is attending the DNC, or did Fuller assume that, too?
Fuller proceeds to show extraordinary sensitivity about this case, that Siegelman (or anyone else, for that matter) would dare question whether it was handled according to law:
While the Court takes no position on Siegelman’s quest for clemency, it must note that Siegelman continues to question the integrity of those prosecuting his case specifically and of the judicial system generally. Moreover, he still maintains that he merely accepted campaign contributions, and that he therefore never violated the law.
Gee, I can't imagine why Siegelman would question the integrity of prosecutors and the judicial system, considering what we know about his case:
* The case was styled U.S. v. Siegelman, and yet the trial judge (Fuller) has made massive amounts of money from contracts with one of the parties--the United States of America--via his stake in a company called Doss Aviation. The "judicial system" denies that presents a conflict;
* Powerful evidence indicates that chief government witness Nick Bailey was improperly coached and threatened--and that exculpatory evidence was withheld from the defense;
* Powerful evidence indicates jurors were unlawfully e-mailing each other during the case and communicating with members of the prosecution team;
* Fuller gave unlawful jury instructions that do not describe the relevant law for the charge of federal funds bribery. One of Fuller's judicial colleagues recently shined light on the problem of jury instructions in such cases;
* Fuller unlawfully denied a defense petition for a bill of particulars that would have provided critical specifics about the charges;
* The prosecution brought the case almost one full year past the statute of limitations, a fact that would have been proven by a bill of particulars. Defense lawyers properly raised the limitations defense, but Fuller denied it--and the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals violated its own precedent by letting the ruling stand.
* Bottom line: The prosecution was barred from the outset by the statute of limitations. Once it reached a conclusion, Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy were convicted of a "crime" that doesn't exist under the actual law. Can't imagine why Siegelman would question the integrity of a system that produced such an outcome.
Fuller might be crooked, but he isn't stupid. He knows this case was a massive con job on Siegelman, Scrushy, the public, and the rule of law. That's why the judge is so squeamish about scrutiny that might come from Siegelman attending the DNC. Fuller goes on to cite what he calls the "uncontroverted facts" of the case and repeats the claim he made at resentencing--that he has "no doubt" the actions in the case constituted a bribe.
While saying that from one side of his mouth, Fuller recites "facts" from the other side of his mouth that never include evidence of an "explicit agreement," a quid pro quo that forms the essence of a federal-funds bribery charge. In Fuller's own words, he has no doubt about the existence of a bribe--but the central element of a bribe is missing. Get a load of this:
While the Court respects the Siegelman’s ability to exercise his constitutional rights, it cannot accept Siegelman’s misrepresentation of the facts of this case in an effort to discredit the prosecution, the trial, the jurors’ unanimous verdict, as well as the decisions of the Eleventh Circuit and the Supreme Court of the United States. For whatever other reason Siegelman wishes to pursue his application for clemency, the Court feels responsible to state the uncontroverted facts that the jury considered and unanimously agreed constituted the crimes of bribery, honest services fraud, and obstruction of justice.
Fuller seems to assume that if he repeats the "no doubt it constituted a bribe" mantra often enough, thinking citizens will eventually believe him.
I've got news for the judge: It ain't going to happen.
Siegelman DNC Order