Siegelman associates have been seeking documents about the case, especially regarding the supposed recusal of then U.S. Attorney Leura Canary, for roughly 10 years. Alabaster attorney John Aaron filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in 2006 and followed up with a lawsuit in 2009. Aaron learned that more than 1,000 documents exist related to the Canary recusal, but the government has refused to turn them over.
Joseph Siegelman filed a FOIA request last year with the DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), but the request was denied. Joseph Siegelman now has filed a lawsuit, which appears to go well beyond the Canary-recusal issue. (Please see full lawsuit at the end of this post.) From a report at WAFF in Huntsville:
The son of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman is suing the Office of Professional Responsibility, a branch of the United States Department of Justice. Siegelman is serving a federal sentence for bribery and conspiracy at Oakdale Prison in Louisiana.
Siegelman’s son, Joseph Siegelman, is suing for records obtained during the Office of Professional Responsibility’s, or OPR’s, investigation into Siegelman’s prosecution and conviction. The OPR investigates Department of Justice attorneys accused of professional misconduct.
The filing states that the OPR opened an investigation after multiple national media outlets reported on the Siegelman case and raised questions about the prosecution. These outlets reported prosecutors placed undue pressure on witnesses, communicated with the jury, communicated privately with the judge, and withheld evidence from the defense.
Could Joseph Siegelman's lawsuit produce devastating information about the prosecution? According to WAFF, the answer appears to be yes:
The lawsuit also notes an article written by the Project On Governmental Oversight. That article mentioned a letter summarizing the OPR investigation. That letter reportedly includes admissions from “several” officials who acted improperly.
In June 2015, Joseph Siegelman filed a Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, request for the OPR findings. The OPR denied that request based on an exemption for inter- or intra- agency memos or letters, an exemption for personal privacy interests, and an exemption for records compiled for law enforcement.
Joseph Siegelman says the OPR is wrong in [its] reasoning and is illegally withholding the information. He has requested a trial before a federal jury. Don Siegelman’s release date is set for August 8, 2017.
From the Joseph Siegelman complaint:
On December 11, 2014, the Project On Government Oversight (“POGO”), an independent nonpartisan non-profit organization, published an article entitled, “Justice Department Downplays Evidence of Politics in Probe of Governor.” The article discussed a letter sent from the Office of Legislative Affairs of the DOJ to the Honorable John Conyers on June 3, 2010 which purported to summarize the findings of OPR’s investigation.
In that letter, the DOJ admits that “several” of its officials involved in the Siegelman case acted improperly.
Among those officials was the Assistant U.S. Attorney (“AUSA”) in charge of the Siegelman prosecution who communicated directly with the campaign manager of Mr. Siegelman’s gubernatorial opponent. The letter discusses an email from the AUSA to the campaign manager informing him that the AUSA “and a small group of like-minded conservative prosecutors” within the U.S. Attorney’s office were pursuing Siegelman.