Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Richard Scrushy's Tenacity Might Unearth Evidence Of Prosecutorial Corruption In The Siegelman Case

Richard Scrushy
Richard Scrushy, codefendant in the political prosecution of former Governor Don Siegelman, is one of the most controversial figures in modern Alabama history. Some people admire him for launching Birmingham-based HealthSouth Corporation and making generous donations to a number of worthy causes. Others loathe him for being CEO when HealthSouth became embroiled in an accounting scandal that cost investors millions of dollars and almost took the company under.

I've never known quite what to make of Scrushy, but I do know of at least one reason to admire him at this moment. Scrushy was released from federal prison last summer after serving 70 months for his convictions in the Siegelman case. Many individuals, after serving time in one of the most controversial criminal cases of recent decades, would wipe their hands of the matter and quietly get on with life.

But that's not Richard Scrushy. He seems convinced that he was wrongly convicted, that a broken justice system punished him for a non crime, and he remains intent on proving it. I admire that kind of principle and backbone in anyone. And in Scrushy's case, he is absolutely on target--he and Siegelman were railroaded by a bevy of corrupt lawyers, prosecutors, judges, and political operatives.

In his most recent brief to the U.S. Eleventh Circuit of Appeals, Scrushy points to the existence of evidence that likely will prove he and Siegelman never should have been prosecuted, much less convicted, under the law.

Will Scrushy be allowed access to that evidence, and will he be able to use it in a way that shows the Siegelman case was a cheat job of monstrous proportions? Those questions are at the heart of Scrushy's pending appeal, which included oral arguments before a three-judge panel in Atlanta on March 19.

Art Leach, Scrushy's chief attorney in the case, points to law that shows Scrushy is entitled to a review of the documents--and any others that might show his convictions should not stand. (The full brief can be read at the end of this post.)

Will the documents be unearthed, helping to prove what really happened behind the scenes of the Siegelman fiasco? Given the Eleventh Circuit's stupefying actions in the case so far, it's hard to imagine Scrushy's motion being successful. But it's also hard to imagine any lawful justification to deny a citizen's right to prove his criminal convictions were deeply flawed.

Consider, for example, the matter of former U.S. Attorney Leura Canary and her supposed recusal from the Siegelman case. In his brief on the current Scrushy appeal, Leach cites a pending Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) proceeding styled John Aaron v. U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Case No. 1:09-cv-00831.

John Aaron, an attorney based in Alabaster, Alabama, filed a FOIA request in 2006, seeking DOJ records about Canary's role in the Siegelman case. When the Bush administration turned over almost no pertinent information, Aaron filed a federal lawsuit in 2009. The Obama DOJ also has stonewalled on the matter, but the Aaron lawsuit turned up some compelling information anyway.

Art Leach
Leach notes in his brief that U.S. Magistrate Charles S. Coody denied Scrushy's Motion for Discovery on the Canary issue by claiming the government had been forthcoming with information and stating: "This is not a matter of withholding any documents; there are no documents."

A motion from Aaron's lawsuit, however, shows that Judge Coody is mistaken. Writes Leach in the Scrushy brief:

Scrushy cited to a summary judgment motion filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office in [the Aaron Freedom of Information Act proceeding]. A declaration attached to the summary judgment motion by Middle District of Alabama First Assistant Sandra Stewart shows that documents relating to the recusal of the U.S. Attorney not only exist, but had also been indexed. These materials include the entire file of the then-First Assistant and a CD containing “all the captured electronic records from U.S. Attorney Canary’s computer system. . . . ” At the time the magistrate found that no such documents existed, he was on notice that documents relevant to this issue had been gathered and indexed in the D.C. District Court proceeding.

What are the take-home points from this? I can think of at least two biggies:

* Electronic records from Leura Canary's computer system have been captured and indexed, meaning they are in a searchable format.

* U.S. Magistrate Charles S. Coody knew this when he found that no such documents exist. That strongly suggests Judge Coody is incompetent, wildly corrupt--or both.

Is Scrushy entitled to discovery on the Canary issue? Leach cites the applicable law, and it appears to be heavily in Scrushy's favor:

The standard for granting discovery is whether “there is a firm evidentiary basis for believing such evidence likely exists.” United States v. Velarde, 485 F.3d 553, 561 (10th Cir. 2007).

By citing information revealed in the Aaron FOIA case, Scrushy seems to have established beyond a doubt that "such evidence likely exists." The words of Sandra Stewart, Leura Canary's one-time chief lieutenant, make it clear.

Leach then points to law from the nation's highest court to support his contention that Scrushy's discovery requests are due to be granted:

As the Supreme Court held in Harris v. Nelson, 394 U.S. at 300, “where specific allegations before the court show reason to believe that a petitioner may, if the facts are fully developed, be able to demonstrate” that he is entitled to relief, “it is the duty of the court to provide the necessary facilities and procedures for an adequate inquiry.”

Has there been an adequate inquiry on prosecutorial misconduct, juror misconduct, judicial bias, or any of the other ugly issues surrounding the Siegelman case? Art Leach's words in the Richard Scrushy appeal suggest there hasn't been much of an inquiry at all--adequate or otherwise.

(To be continued)


Anonymous said...

Legal Schnauzer: You should continue researching the Scrushy/Seigelman cases in Alabama. This should be your first book. Scrushy and Seigelman must realize this by now.

Anonymous said...

Legal Schnauzer: You should continue researching the Scrushy/Seigelman cases in Alabama. This should be your first book. Scrushy and Seigelman must realize this by now.

Anonymous said...

“Renoir, Picasso, Scrushy’s Amen Corner,”
choir for HealthSouth fraud corruption culture
transferred SEC token ~

President of the United States,
Leura-Rove-William-Scrushy-Siegleman, Wall Street
bandits American secrecy actors protected ~

get caught thieves in action,
buses run and across the bare backs
tire tracks covering-up, crimes

Anonymous said...

Too bad Richard Scrushy isn't more of a sympathetic character. Many people remember his extravagant lifestyle and over-the-top ways. Many have heard stories about the nasty way he treated certain subordinates. It hurts his case, and probably hurts Siegelman's, too.

Anonymous said...

Is this type and magnitude of corruption in all states or is it just worse in Alabama? Because corrupt judges have so much power this type of injustice should be a concern to all of us. Who knows it could happen to me or you.I don't understand the US Attorney General's reluctance in getting involved and investigating what is going on here. Does Karl Rove have that much influence over Eric Holder?

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 8:50--

My take is that this is a national issue, not just an Alabama issue. The Siegelman case was in federal court, with judges, prosecutors and facilities that are supported by taxpayers across the country. It was in Montgomery, AL, but under federal auspices. We also had well-known companion prosecutions in Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin--plus many lesser-known cases across the country. The Bush U.S. attorney scandal, firing those who refused to engage in political prosecutions, was a coast-to-coast issue.

Don't think anyone knows for sure why the Obama admin has refused to address this. I suppose we have a possibility that their stance will change in second term, and I'm hearing that the FBI is looking into some things in the South. But I'm not holding my breath.

TLR said...

If Leura Canary's computer files are available and indexed, what's the matter with a public hearing to see what they contain. Let's open the courthouse doors and shine light on this. It shouldn't be just a matter of a judge and Scrushy's lawyers finding out what is there. We all are entitled to know. Our tax dollars paid for Ms. Canary's services and her computer system. That information belongs to the people.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the most hopeful pieces I've read on the Siegelman case in a long time. Thanks for great reporting, LS.

Anonymous said...

Roger, like you I don't have any faith in the FBI investigation into corruption in Alabama. However, based on some I've spoken with, I do believe the DOJ may finally go after some of the low hanging political fruit. I feel like the low hanging fruit in question will lead to the picking of the fruit higher on the vine.

Anonymous said...

I have quite a few reservations about Richard Scrushy and his actions (inactions?) in the HealthSouth accounting scandal. But I agree that he is to be admired for taking on this fight, when he doesn't really have to.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 9:35--

Here's hoping that you are on target. In fact, I'm praying that you are on target. Our democracy, at least as it exists here in Alabama, depends on it.

And I love your use of the term "low hanging fruit." We have so much low-hanging fruit in Alabama that our trees are about to snap and fall to the ground. Much of our fruit is riddled with worms and other disgusting creatures. They must be eradicated--industrial strength insecticide is in order.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:35
I'm hearing the same thing so hopefully it's the truth. Great description but if we are referring to same situation, rancid fruit comes to mind. This rotten apple has been spoiling the bunch for far too long.

Anonymous said...

So much has been written about Siegelman that you almost forget about Scrushy's role in all of this. Wouldn't it be ironic if Scrushy were to unlock the key to justice?

Anonymous said...

with our money situation being in the "sequester" phase, it could very well be we see the "low hanging fruits," plucked -gotta trim the excess fat from the picnic feast.

wish, hope, pray, and whatever we can to see taking out the trash.

firing of the U.S. Attorneys was certainly a way to allow Rove and the merry band of GOP loons to do so much damage.

Clinton and Bush, the time was in full corruption as expected - Rove watching the people the GOP wanted to destroy.

Scrushy knows they are all criminals, every top "official" that gets to spend enough for the Renoir or Picasso. Add the perks for being part of the team USA, helicopters, planes, and wealth opulence causing many to be very interested in the business of experimenting, "health."

wall street gamblers. siegelman was a lesser bandit, couldn't negotiate with the SEC RICO, into the bucket.

Unknown said...


About Gary WEBB:

"... Be dedicated to democracy. Remember: Watergate wasn’t told in Tweets. The press — in whatever form — is known as the Fourth Estate for a reason. Don’t let that die. (Hint: You’ve made a start by reading this essay.) Save the Tweets for offering feedback to reporters and editors. Better yet, send a lengthy email — you remember those.

H. “Corky” Johnson is an award-winning investigative reporter/producer with more than 30 years of experience. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, on “60 Minutes” and in many other media outlets. [This story originally appeared at Op-Ed News and was reprinted with the author’s permission.]

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't Leura Canary call a press conference and state that she supports her electronic communications being made public, at least as it involves the Siegelman case and her role as US Atty? She could say, "I was a public servant, and these e-mails were written/received on the taxpayer's dime and the taxpayer's time. The public is entitled to inspect them, and I want to make sure that citizens are reassured about the integrity of their justice system, the one that they fund."

Why doesn't she come forward and say that? Why is she hiding behind DOJ lawyers who are trying to keep this information out of sight?

Anonymous said...

@11:23, perhaps Leura Canary doesn't make such a public statement because she knows the e-mails would incriminate her.

Spasmoda said...

Props to John Aaron for pursuing that FOIA case all these years. The DOJ has put up quite a stonewall on that. Makes me wonder why.

Anonymous said...

Why don't they turn over Nick Bailey's binder, showing how he was coached by prosecutors? Where is that? That might be the most incriminating information of all, pointing at the prosecution. It probably would show the whole case was a fraud.

Michael D said...

My concern when I read the brief that was too much attention was placed in the beginning with the juror emails. The other issues were far more compelling. I noticed in earlier rulings from the the 11th that they seemed to pick and choose at will. I fear they will pick the email issue clean and largely ignore the more meaningful points.

legalschnauzer said...


I agree with you. I would like to have seen the Canary computer info higher up in the brief; that's pretty explosive in my mind. The way legal briefs are supposed to be organized, there might have been technical reasons for doing it the way it is. But from a reader-impact standpoint, I think they led off with the wrong stuff.

I also think you are absolutely right about the 11th Circuit's tendency to pick and choose the fact and law that supports their preconceived notion of what the outcome is supposed to be.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it interesting that the MSM never revealed the information about Canary's computer records? In fact, I'm guessing most MSM reporters never even read the Scrushy brief past the first couple of pages. Too much effort.

Thank God you are on the ball, LS. Keep up the great work.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised Scrushy isn't in fear of retaliation after he spent 7 (?) yrs in prison. Says a lot that instead of succumbing to their attempt to institutionalize him (proven psychologically to take 7 yrs) that he came out swinging. Scrushy doesn't appear to be a weak individual. They may have some problems headed their way. Hope he succeeds and hope his back yard is clean.

jeffrey spruill said...

Just received a call from Congressman Bobby Scott's office pertaining to this premeditated judicial crime KNOWING EVERYTHING about my case was unconstitutional(Judge Doumar wanted the U.S. code the feds charged with dissected in J. Harvie Wilokinson's 4th Circuit)& was told they could do nothing about it.

I told the intern the Holder DOJ could not prosecute itself!!


On April 24, 1996, this Court ordered the defendant, Jeffrey
Lynn Spruill, committed to the crrstody of the Attorney General for a provisional term of five (5) years. Spruill was convicted on
August 14, 1995 of three counts of violating 18 U.S.C 844{e).
At the end of the sentencing hearing, the Court neglected to
inform the defendant of his right to file a notice of appeal if he
desires to appeal. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 32(c)(5), the defendant is hereby informed that he has an absolute right to file a notice of appeal with this Court. Said notice of appeal must be in writing. Defendant shall have twenty (20) days from the date hereof to file said notice of appeal.

The United States Marshal fcr the Eastern District of Virginia
is ORDERED to personally serve the defendant, Jeffrey Lvnn Spruill with a copy of this order forthrwith.

jeffrey spruill said...


Richard Scrushy actions after his release from federal prison proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he & Siegelman were railroaded.

I can empathize with them.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the "justice system" thought Scrushy was going to curl up in a corner upon release and "go quietly into the good night." Looks like Mr. Scrushy had other ideas. My hat is off to him.

Anonymous said...

The system is by design. There are more corrupted "officials," than not, it has been a carefully "webbed" machine or call it what it is, the matrix.

Get these judges history in meds, put them on plenty of drugs that control their minds.

Don't mean to scare anybody, but the "shooter" in the Colorado "mass shooting," is really a wake up to all of us about the "justice," in America.

The Colorado Judge said the poor victim of the "staged Second Amendment hostile grabs," he didn't get to plead insanity, drugs would be given to get him to remember.

Now this is a statement that the torture system was about how to drug and get whatever the system needs, to make more prisoners, or simply the terror of prison.

Scrushy knows the system. He understands exactly what he must do and truly I am his "Amen Corner," and sincere to the most humble at his courage to correct the injustice.

we must find his contact info ...