Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Report that judge forced Senate candidate Doug Jones off Siegelman defense is wildly deceptive -- portraying Jones as a hero, when he was anything but that

Doug Jones and Don Siegelman (with daughter Dana
and wife Lori)
(By Amy E. Voigt)
A federal judge forced Doug Jones off the Don Siegelman defense team, according to an report yesterday that is misleading and deceptive (at best), knowingly false (at worst).

The article, by Amy Yurkanin, is at odds with Jones' own testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in 2007. Is the article just a case of shoddy reporting? Or is it a plant by Jones' right-wing supporters -- including Karl Rove, Bob and Rob Riley, and Bill Canary -- to soothe progressives' concerns about Jones' deplorable treatment of Siegelman?

My guess is it's the latter. And it might be driven by a new poll that shows Roy Moore leading Jones by five points in the U.S. Senate special election in Alabama -- to be decided on Dec. 12. Despite numerous reports about Moore and sex-related misconduct involving teen-aged girls, Jones appears to be losing. Did that drive Jones' right-wing supporters to plant the story in an attempt to appeal to Siegelman voters, who probably are less than thrilled with Jones? The answer probably is yes, and they likely are the same right-wing thugs who caused Siegelman to be prosecuted and sent to prison in the first place.

As we've reported here numerous times, Jones charged Siegelman $300,000 for a criminal defense, did almost nothing on the matter, and then bailed out. We've seen no sign that Jones ever returned the money he was paid, for services he did not render. That's about as classless a move as one can imagine in the attorney-client arena -- and quite a few progressives now might be wondering what that says about Jones' integrity.

The piece appears to be a deliberate attempt to obscure what really happened with Jones' "representation" of Siegelman. From the Yurkanin article:

A federal judge ordered Jones off the Siegelman case because of his involvement in related cases during his time as U.S. attorney. Even though he did not represent Siegelman in 2007, Jones still spoke out against his conviction at the (Judiciary Committee) hearing about selective prosecution.

Is the reporter here poorly informed, or is she deliberately misleading her audience? My guess is the latter.

As any informed Alabama citizen knows, there were two Siegelman trials. One in the Northern District of Alabama (Birmingham), involved Dr. Phillip Bobo and allegations of Medicaid rigging. The prosecution dropped the charges after U.S. Judge U.W. Clemon made a number of evidentiary rulings that essentially gutted their case. The second case, in the Middle District of Alabama (Montgomery), primarily involved allegations of bribery -- with both Siegelman and co-defendant Richard Scrushy being convicted, in what generally is considered the most outrageous political prosecution in U.S. history.

The Birmingham case is the one where the court did force Jones off the Siegelman defense team. From Jones' testimony before the House Judiciary Committee:

Other than an initial contact with the Government to make sure that they were not going to seek arrest and perp walk the Governor, I had nothing to do with the defense of the Birmingham case. The Government made it clear from the outset that they were going to seek to have me recused because of my involvement in allowing the case to go forward against Dr. Bobo when I was U. S. Attorney. While I disagreed with that position, the Court ultimately held that I was precluded from representing the Governor in that particular matter.

OK, this establishes that the court blocked Jones from participating in the Birmingham case. But the piece never mentions the first case. It mentions only the Montgomery case -- the one where Siegelman was convicted -- and gives the clear impression that a judge forced Jones off that matter. That is absolutely false, as Jones' own words before the Judiciary Committee make clear:

Because of a trial conflict in the spring of 2006, and the Governor’s insistence on a speedy trial before June 2006 primary, I had no real choice but to withdraw as lead counsel. However, facing incredible challenges in sifting through mountains of discovery in a short period of time, Gov. Siegelman was the beneficiary of exceptional legal talent lead by attorneys Vince Kilborn, David McDonald and Redding Pitt. But at the end of the day, despite acquittals on an overwhelming number of the charges, matters involving Mr. Scrushy and one obstruction of justice count did stick, and Gov. Siegelman was convicted. As you are aware, following sentencing, an appeal bond was denied and he was shackled and taken into custody from the courtroom.

From reading the article, one could almost see Jones as a hero in the Siegelman case -- the guy who could have saved the governor, if only a judge hadn't forced him off the case. That, however, is pure rubbish. Jones left the Montgomery case of his own accord, because of his own conflict, and we've seen zero evidence that he even had the decency to return Siegelman's $300,000 -- a sum Jones almost certainly did not earn.

An enterprising reporter should ask Jones to provide his time-keeping information on the Montgomery case, to prove how much time he spent on the case and what hourly rate he charged. Jones' likely response? Loud shuffling of feet.

My guess is the Jones campaign is catching heat from progressives for his deplorable treatment of Siegelman. Opposition researcher, whistle blower, and retired attorney Jill Simpson has been ripping Jones to shreds on Facebook as a two-timing, back-stabbing, opportunist, whose loyalty (if elected) would be to the right-wing Alabama Gang headed by Bob Riley. Simpson's reports are both insightful and on target, and it appears true Alabama Democrats are beginning to realize she is right -- that Doug Jones is a fraud, with a history of stabbing Siegelman, Milton McGregor, Ronnie Gilley, and others right between the shoulder blades.

From our chair, the article looks like a right-wing plant job, designed to portray Doug Jones as a hero in the Siegelman case -- when, in fact, Jones played a significant role in ensuring the former governor would be convicted.

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