Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mississippi Attorney Paul Minor Gets A Second Crack At An Appeal Before The U.S. Supreme Court

Paul Minor

Paul Minor, the Mississippi lawyer who is in federal prison from a Bush-era prosecution that closely mirrors that of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, has filed a second petition to have his appeal heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. (See a copy of the petition at the end of this post.)

The nation's highest court declined to hear Minor's initial petition for certiorari review in 2010. But that petition came before the court's ruling in a case involving former Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling, redefining the federal law on honest-services fraud.

In Skilling v. United States, 130 S. Ct. 2896 (2010), the court established a "uniform national standard" for honest-services fraud, and it includes only cases that involve kickbacks and bribes under federal law. Minor and two codefendants, former state judges Wes Teel and John Whitfield, were convicted under jury instructions that said the right to honest services is defined by Mississippi bribery law.

The Minor defendants filed motions with the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking to have their convictions overturned because Skilling represented "an intervening change of law that rendered the indictment and jury instructions erroneous." The Fifth Circuit denied those motions in August 2012, and Minor now appeals that ruling.

Minor and Wingate remain in prison after being sentenced in September 2007. Teel was released after completing his sentence in 2012.

Minor's second petition to the high court is governed by Supreme Court Rule 10(a), which holds that certiorari review is appropriate when a court of appeals has "so far departed from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings . . . as to call for an exercise of this Court's supervisory power."

Albert Alschuler, a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago Law School, represents Minor in the current appeal. Alschuler is the author of a friend-of-the-court brief the Supreme Court cited favorably in Skilling.

Minor's new brief argues that the Fifth Circuit, in failing to overturn his conviction, failed to abide by the controlling authority of the Supreme Court's finding in the Skilling case:

Skilling's holding was clear: The law of honest-services fraud does not vary from state to state. The Fifth Circuit's disregard of this holding warrants summary reversal. . . . 
The Fifth Circuit's contradiction of Skilling will produce serious inequalities in the application of federal law. State bribery laws differ substantially from one another, both nationally and within the circuit. The Fifth Circuit not only has upheld honest-services instructions grounded on state bribery law; relying on its decision in this case, it also has held honest-services instructions based on federal bribery law erroneous. . . .  
In light of both of these rulings, courts within the circuit will ground honest-services instructions on state law until the Court corrects the error. No other circuit has suggested that state law still defines the right to honest services after Skilling.

Here is a copy of Paul Minor's second petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court:

Paul Minor-SCOTUS Petition2


Anonymous said...

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SUPREME COURT, U.S. of A. to be the power in hearing the cases such as Paul Minor ET AL. The truth is we've been made to be uncritical thinkers and the Supreme Court is one of the greatest scams on America!

"... Over the past several years, many of the things that have been passed on to us as “truth” both in schools and in the media regarding financial principles have now been exposed as pure lies. We are in the process of coming full circle with the bankers and banks that were once consistently, regularly and deservedly vilified by US Presidents and US Congressmen in the late 1800s and early 1900s as “vipers and thieves” and as “evil institutions” that “impoverished and ruined the [American] people”. During the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s’, banking jobs, due to their high compensation and pay, remained the most highly sought after positions among recent MBA grads, and Presidents today still falsely laud bankers for their character (i.e. President Obama on Jamie Dimon: he’s “one of the smartest bankers we’ve got”). However, throughout history, we have often experienced cycles when the truth predominates for a long period, followed by a period when lies predominated for many years, and then ultimately followed by a period when a return to truth was ultimately realized once again.

"... Though the banking elite are now increasingly being exposed for their criminal activities against humanity in their theft of citizens’ wealth, rarely is another one of their greatest transgressions, their theft of citizens’ minds and the process by which they target and transform young adults into docile, obedient creatures through institutional academia, ever discussed. Below, please find a video of how children are targeted at a young age with psychotropic drugs, Skinner operant and Pavlov stimulus-response behavioral modification, and outcome based education (OBE) in the institutional schooling system to literally “dumb down” the critical thinking skills of young adults and turn them into zombie-like unthinking robots. Through behavioral modification and the heavy use of drugs, the banking elite are not only stealing wealth globally at this current time, but also stealing the minds of children to ensure that they will mature into obedient citizens of the state with very little capacity to exert their free-will and determine for themselves the dirty truth of the global monetary system and of our consequent enslavement. If you do not know of the intimate connection between the banking elite and their foray into, and their control of the global education system, then the below video is for you.

Generation X, Y,

Generation Lost

Anonymous said...

It sounds like Minor's attorney is arguing that the Fifth Circuit more or less told the Supreme Court to take a hike on the Skilling case. "We'll handle our cases the way we want to, regardless of what your rulings say."

Anybody else hear that?

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. Siegelman's case is from Alabama, but his appeal went to the 11th Circuit. Minor's case is from Mississippi, but his appeal goes to the 5th Circuit. The states are side by side. What gives?

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 10:15--

It's confusing. The Eleventh Circuit is based in Atlanta and covers Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. The Fifth Circuit is based in New Orleans and covers Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.

Like you, I think of AL and MS as sister states that should be in the same judicial circuit. But they are not.

I don't think of MS having much in common with TX. In terms of miles, how far is it from Meridian, MS, to El Paso, TX? Would be a heck of a drive.

I seem to recall reading that the two circuits were joined at one point, to some extent. I think I've seen 11th Circuit cases that say they adapted 5th Circuit precedent from a time when the circuits were together. Perhaps someone knows more about the history of that. Was the split driven by population growth in the South? Not sure.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 10:13--

That's exactly what I hear. The 11th Circuit did pretty much the same thing on Siegelman, and the petition in Siegelman came after Skilling, if my memory is correct.

Spasmoda said...

Couldn't taxpayers save money by putting the circuits back together?

Looks to me like they both suck, so why do we need two of them?

legalschnauzer said...

Like your idea, Spas. The only better one might be to do away with appellate courts at the circuit level altogether. They aren't doing their jobs under the law, so why bother with them?

If regular Americans had any idea how much of their money is wasted on courts, we would have an uprising.

Bo said...

Any chance a positive outcome for Paul Minor could help Don Siegelman?

jeffrey spruill said...

Has another U.S. Appeals Court ruled differently on honest-services fraud because it's my understanding that's the best way SCOTUS will grant certiorari?

legalschnauzer said...


The Minor team is arguing that the Fifth Circuit failed to follow the Supreme Court's binding authority under Skilling. Minor says that is grounds for cert review under SCOTUS Rule 10(a). Will be interesting to see how this plays out.

legalschnauzer said...


You ask a heck of a question. If SCOTUS were to hear Minor and issue a ruling that clarifies Skilling, it might serve as an "intervening change of law" that would create a window for Siegelman to take a second crack at SCOTUS review.

Here is a key difference in the Minor and Siegelman cases: The appellate court in Siegelman, overturned the honest-services convictions but upheld the bribery; the appellate court in Minor overturned the bribery convictions but upheld the honest-services.

Skilling deals mainly with honest services, so that might be of more help to Minor than Siegelman.

Another difference: Siegelman's original cert petition included grounds regarding Skilling because that ruling had been issued. Minor's original petition was entered prior to the Skilling ruling, so it was not considered. That's why Minor has grounds, at this point, to take another shot at it.

Would be interesting to hear from a knowledgeable appellate lawyer on this. Siegelman followers might want to read up on SCOTUS Rule 10(a). Not sure if it could help the former governor or not, but it's an interesting angle to things.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to follow the governors in the states, those that were Republican and then turned Democrat. Democrats "modernized" as Treasurers the investments, this was beginning in the mid-1960s.

Now the fight for money is really on as a struggle between the so called democrats and republicans.

Our public funds from bonds into the modern "financial innovative products" was done on purpose.

Governors were involved and this is a very strange entanglement of the democrats and republicans who all knew full well what was.

Treasurers began the shape shifting of funds and it was with the Ford Foundation, schools and of course JPMorgan Chase and the Rockefeller Foundation.

No wonder Siegelman ET AL do what they are told to do with the stakes of this bond public fund crashing down. Who was/were the Treasurer in Alabama and all the states, that took the public funds and made the crash a private trillions of wealth booty to the investors of Wall Street ...

Anonymous said...

The attorney at livinglieswordblog, Neil Garfield, has also posted the story about the GENERATION LOST, or call what it truly is ~

America has not understood how corrupt the corruption is and only now with the drugs in the schools beginning in the 1960s, do we see the results of a SOCIETY [see Inns of Courts], at critical mass reality explosions: the truth does hurt.

Bonnie Wyatt must demand the money trail as a complete forensic. I believe she can APPEAL herself, for a trial before the Supreme Court, check out the law it was posted here at LS, RE: lawyer from Tenn, a woman who could no doubt assist Bonnie in her questions.

canadafreepress printed the article and the education about our U.S. Constitution is priceless.

jeffrey spruill said...

Mr. Schnauzer:

What makes bribery so specal that it's allowed to meander to & fro throughout the American landscape?

legalschnauzer said...


That's a good question. And in terms of federal law, we can't even define bribery--especially in the context of a campaign contribution.

I challenge anyone to read the federal-funds bribery statute at 18 U.S.C. 666 and try to figure out what it says--or what it means. I haven't a clue.

And best I can tell, federal bribery involving a campaign contribution is defined (sort of) only in case law. How can a person know he is violating a law that isn't even defined via statute?

Our bribery laws need to be rewritten from top to bottom. If we can't define bribery any better than we currently do it, my suggestion would be to wipe the laws off the books.

That's better than having people go to prison for "crimes" that judges and prosecutors literally can pull out of their asses, with jury instructions that are made up on the spot.

Anonymous said...

LS I think that the lack of legit defiNition of bribery is intentional just as with "terrorism". It's certainly meant to benefit the elite and those most likely to be the perpetrators and it's BS but understandable.