Thursday, February 9, 2017

How sick is this? Don Siegelman returns home on the same day one of his nemeses, Jeff Sessions, is confirmed as nation's top law-enforcement officer

Don Siegelman arrives at the Birmingham airport.
How ironic is it that former Alabama governor Don Siegelman was released from federal prison and returned to Birmingham on the same day former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) was confirmed as our nation's attorney general and chief law-enforcement officer? The juxtaposition illustrates the rot in our "justice system" -- and with Sessions elevated to a position of huge influence, the situation is not likely to improve any time soon.

Siegelman's return to Birmingham had to be bittersweet. His release was a rare positive development in a case that is widely known as the most outrageous political prosecution in U.S. history -- and supporters greeted him downtown with waves and cheers. That he was in prison for a "crime" that does not exist is, well . . . "American tragedy" is not too strong a term. That we've seen no sign that Siegelman and his family ever will be compensated for the wrongs committed against them -- or that the criminals responsible ever will spend a minute behind bars -- makes the tragedy even more stark.

No wonder our country allowed Vladimir Putin to put a baboon like Donald Trump in our White House. (Sorry for the insult to baboons; one of them would make a much better president  than Trump.)

As if Siegelman's mind and body have not been assaulted enough already, his release on home detention came as Jeff Sessions took a position for which he is not remotely qualified. (A baboon certainly would be smart enough not to appoint him.) On top of that, Sessions played a major role in the prosecution that unlawfully sent Siegelman to prison.

It was Sessions, after all, who helped push President George W. Bush to nominate Mark Fuller to the federal bench. And it was Fuller who, despite his well-known animus toward Siegelman that required his recusal, presided over the case and repeatedly made pro-prosecution rulings that in many cases were wildly contrary to law.

The dozens of butchered rulings that led to the Siegelman conviction have been laid bare at news outlets, large and small -- none more so than here, where we undoubtedly have covered the case more extensively than anyone else. In fact, we posted a multi-part series titled "The Cheating of Don Siegelman," which might be the most fact-filled indictment of our court system ever written.

(Of course, the "honorable" Judge Fuller was forced off the bench following his arrest on charges that he beat his wife in an Atlanta hotel room in summer 2014. This came after allegations surfaced in the divorce from his first wife that he had abused her and their children, while regularly ingesting copious amounts of alcohol and prescription painkillers, and engaging in extramarital affairs -- and that's a story we broke at Legal Schnauzer. So much for Jeff Sessions' ability to make wise personnel decisions. He wouldn't know a competent, ethical person if they landed on his little gay crotch.)

With all of that in mind, there is no need to recount today the many ways Siegelman was railroaded and cheated.

All any semi-coherent citizen needs to know is this: The case against Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy (former CEO of HealthSouth) was brought almost one full year after the five-year statute of limitations (SOL) had expired. Prosecutors wrote the indictment in such vague fashion, the defendants didn't know what they supposedly had done wrong.

Defense lawyers sought a bill of particulars, which would have forced the prosecution to provide specifics on the charges. Fuller, who published reports have concluded was assigned to be "hanging judge" in the case, denied the motion. Even child rapist Jerry Sandusky was granted such a motion during his criminal case in Pennsylvania. Nothing goes to Fuller's crookedness like denial of a bill of particulars.

When it became clear during the trial that the alleged wrongdoing had occurred way outside the SOL, defense lawyers moved for the case to be dismissed on those grounds. Fuller denied that motion, too, meaning a prosecution that, by law, could not begin would go to a dazed and confused jury that somehow ignored the complete lack of evidence regarding a quid pro quo and voted to convict anyway.

How could all of this nutty stuff happen in a court system that supposedly guarantees due process and equal protection? The public needs to know, but the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has been stonewalling on turning over records that could reveal uncomfortable truths about the Siegelman case.

Efforts to seek documents via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) have been ongoing for almost 10 years. So far, hardly any relevant records have been produced. Joseph Siegelman, Don's son and an attorney at the Cochran Firm in Birmingham, is seeking information about the apparent failure of then U.S. Attorney Leura Canary to abide by her recusal.

If even a sliver of justice is to come for Don Siegelman, the best bet might be via his son's FOIA activities.

For now, Siegelman has said that he feels like a "refugee," and his adjustment to life outside of prison likely will take a while. (I know. I spent five months in jail for the "crime" of blogging, in a case driven by some of the same GOP thugs present in the Siegelman case. I also lost my job at UAB for reporting, on my own time and with my own resources, about the Siegelman case. Journalism is dangerous in Alabama, folks.)

The public, however, should not give up on the possibility that the criminals behind the Siegelman prosecution will someday be unmasked -- even if Jeff Sessions, for now, is in charge of the DOJ.

Is there still hope for the U.S. justice system? It looks bleak at the moment, but maybe Joseph Siegelman will prove to be the guy to change the complexion of things.


Anonymous said...

read the trickle down effects of Sessions appointment, it saves Bentley's ass.

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for sharing, @10:24. I wonder what is going on with the supposed federal investigation, led by USA for ND of Georgia. Trump probably will replace that guy, so Bentley/Mason likely will get off there, too. The biggest threat for them might be civil damages, which could wind up in the millions of dollars. But criminally, I would say they are almost home free, which just shows again that the GOP is corrupt beyond all comprehension.

Anonymous said...

Great analysis on the Siegelman release, LS. I knew you would do it justice.

Trickster said...

So the DOJ has been hiding documents on the Siegelman case since 2006, failing to respond to FOIA requests, even a lawsuit? Gee, I can't imagine that there would be anything to see here.

Anonymous said...

By far the best report I've seen on Siegelman release. Sobering, but hopeful. A home run. Great work, LS.

Anonymous said...

That anyone could go to prison for alleged "wrongdoing" that was so far outside the statute of limitations is mind-boggling. Not sure the public understands just how corrupt, and wicked, this is.

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, @11:46, and it also was grossly incompetent. These prosecutors were like the Keystone Cops. You've got this "Big Case," and you can't bring it within five years, as required by law. It's absurd. The prosecutors probably knew Fuller was crooked, so they didn't have to follow the law.

Anonymous said...

Good post from Alan Colmes Web site about Bentley's appointment of Luther Strange to replace Sessions:

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for sharing, @11:51. I would be remiss if I didn't note that the Colmes piece mentions our fine blog:

And Strange himself has been implicated in an affair by Legal Schnauzer, whom the alleged “other woman” has sued – though it appears to be all about the money.

Alabama Republican operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison claims my reporting about her extramarital affair with Attorney General Luther Strange cost her about $10 million, according to a transcript of testimony in her defamation case against Legal Schnauzer and me.

In fact, Garrison tosses around copious amounts of curious numbers, all suggesting she has a high opinion of her value as a political consultant/campaign manager. What has she actually accomplished? Well, she got a Republican appointed to statewide office in Alabama. But how hard is that? I probably could scoop up a dead armadillo off the highway and get him elected attorney general if he had an “R” by his name — unless he had been caught fondling Rebekah Caldwell Mason’s boobs.

Heck, Garrison doesn’t even have a particularly impressive won-loss record. She helped Strange win in 2010, but she also was on board when he lost the lieutenant governor’s race to Jim Folsom in 2006. So she’s 1-1 in getting a Republican elected in Alabama? Whoa, let’s print out some money for that girl — she’s special!

And you thought I was snarky. ‘Nuff said…

Anonymous said...

"Even child rapist Jerry Sandusky was granted such a motion during his criminal case in Pennsylvania. Nothing goes to Fuller's crookedness like denial of a bill of particulars."

These words should give every thinking American reason to pause and reflect about the Siegelman travesty.

legalschnauzer said...

You are right, @11:56. Jerry Sandusky, a child rapist, received due process and equal protection of the law. Don Siegelman and Richard Scrushy got neither.

Anonymous said...

Love the line about Donald Trump and baboons. But I do agree that it's an insult to baboons. Hah!

Anonymous said...

Kyle Whitmire is back at it today, attacking Siegelman again:

I've made no bones about it -- I think Don Siegelman was guilty. I sat through the trial. I saw the evidence. I covered the end of his administration. I saw enough to convince me.

Most politicians hate raising money, but Siegelman took pleasure in squeezing donors for cash. If you gave Don money and he got elected and you needed a favor later, he would take care of you. If you gave to the other guy, he would screw you, and he'd let you know it, too. The only way to get back on his good side was to give him twice as much the next round as you gave his opponent in the last. That's what he did to Richard Scrushy.

You can have a strong career in politics like that, but sooner or later that sort of behavior catches up to you. If the voters don't see through it, the authorities will.

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for sharing, @12:20. Kyle apparently likes to embarrass himself in public, over and over.

The key is in the first sentence: "I think Don Siegelman was guilty."

But guilty of what? Kyle doesn't know. He attended the trial, but he didn't bother to research the law. He has no clue what the charges even were or what the evidence did (or did not) show.

Kyle's like a guy who goes to a baseball game but has no idea about the rules of the game. His account of what took place is likely to be faulty.

Kyle is just lazy. To analyze the Siegelman case, you have to research the law, research documents, understand court rulings (whether they are correct or incorrect under the law). All of that takes time and work, which Kyle isn't willing to do. Understanding a case takes more than sitting on your ass in a courtroom for hours on end.

I've done the work for Kyle. He could read our posts here at Legal Schnauzer and get an accurate read on what happened. But then, Kyle would have to admit to himself that our coverage kicks his ass, and he's a sorry, lazy journalist. He would rather not go there.

It's easier to make an innocent men -- two innocent men -- out to be criminals. Takes a load of ethical shortcomings to take that route.

Anonymous said...

Don't you figure Big Lutha will have to hire Jessica Garrison for some Senate job?

legalschnauzer said...

To keep her quiet? Yes, probably so.

She supposedly have to stay within 60 miles of her ex, per child-custody agreement. But she can figure out a way around that. Hell, give the kid up for adoption. We're talking "the opportunity of a lifetime"!

Anonymous said...

Great headline from Raw Story:

First prominent Republican politician to endorse Trump is arguably the most racist

Anonymous said...

I think Sessions supported Trump because he knew the election was going to be rigged by Putin for Trump. That would make Sessions a criminal.

Anonymous said...

You ought to look up the laws that Bentley is violating by appointing Luther with over 2 years left in term. 4 months is max time an appointed person can serve. Law says he is required to call a vote "with haste". Sorry I can't link to the law or article, and I know you're busy with many personal issues--I'm just giving you something to investigate that MSM is not covering.

Anonymous said...

@11:51. Is there any evidence Strange was particularly minded to go after Bentley? What motivation would he have?

I don't really get the premise of the article as it seems like he already had a Republican stooge as AG.

e.a.f. said...

Yes, there is still hope, however small, for the American Justice system, The State of Washington is alive and well and C.B.C. (CANADIAN BROADCAST CORPORATION) is reporting that the State of Washington just won its case against Trump and his foul executive order.

Now as to the baboons, they are rather smart. they are also kind and loving family orientated animals. One can't always say that about Trump and his goons. No that isn't far to goons either, even some "goons" had ethics and in my opinion Trump and his "friends" just are a tad short on that, just watch Kelly ann Connlley at work.

From what I can see the racists/facists now have control of the U.S.A. and some of the ground work started in Alabama.

Anonymous said...

"She supposedly have to stay within 60 miles of her ex, per child-custody agreement. But she can figure out a way around that. Hell, give the kid up for adoption."

LS: Didn't someone comment on here recently that Garrison's ex was not running for (or has resigned from) his school board position? Perhaps Big Luther has promised both of them employment.

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, someone did make that comment, and I think that has been reported in Tuscaloosa. Could Luther offer both jobs? You might be onto something there.