How soft was the court's treatment of Hammon, who became majority leader when Republicans took over the Alabama House in 2010 and maintained that position until 2017? (He was a close ally of former House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who has been convicted on corruption charges.) Prosecutors actually asked U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson to order no prison time for Hammon. When is the last time you've heard of federal prosecutors going that easy on a defendant? Heck, even Thompson could not believe it -- and he could not abide by the request. Reports al.com:
Thompson said he found the recommendation for no prison time unusual. The judge indicated he thought that would send the wrong message to other public officials. He said Hammon violated the trust of those who gave to his campaign.
"I don't see how I cannot give him some time in prison," Thompson said.
Thompson ordered Hammon to serve three years of supervised probation after release.
[Stephen] Shaw, Hammon's attorney, asked Thompson to reconsider the sentence or allow Hammon to serve it on weekends. Shaw said that would allow Hammon to continue to work.
Thompson said the sentence was reasonable, fell within guidelines and was "sufficient but not greater than necessary."
The guidelines allowed the judge to impose a fine of up to $20,000, but he imposed no fine, citing Hammon's inability to pay.
Hammon wound up pleading guilty to one count of mail fraud. From the al.com report:
Former Alabama House Majority Leader Micky Hammon of Decatur was sentenced to three months in prison today and ordered to pay $50,657 in restitution for converting campaign contributions to personal use.
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson sentenced Hammon this morning in Montgomery. Hammon will report to a federal facility to begin his sentence on March 29."
"Converting campaign contributions to personal use"? That's a polite way of saying Hammon stole funds intended for campaign purposes and used them for personal reasons. So did Hammon get off unbelievably easy? The answer is yes, and we can compare his case to three others -- showing the justice system makes little or no effort to produce even the appearance of fairness or "equal protection under the law."
(1) Don Siegelman -- The former governor was sentenced to more than six years in federal prison, even though no evidence pointed to him benefiting by one penny from a contribution that went to a campaign fund for an education lottery. No evidence pointed to an unlawful "explicit quid pro quo" -- the standard required for a bribery conviction involving a campaign-contribution -- and no such jury instruction was given. On top of that, it's undisputed that the government brought its case almost one full year after the five-year statute of limitations had expired, meaning the Siegelman case never should have gone to trial, much less ending with a conviction.
Bottom line? Siegelman spends six-plus years in federal prison, while not pocketing any money. Hammon steals more than $50,000 and is sentenced to three months -- and prosecutors don't want him to serve any time. Fair? Don't make us laugh.
(2) Charles Todd Henderson -- The duly elected district attorney of Jefferson County, Henderson is set for sentencing on March 8 after his conviction last October on perjury charges. Evidence at trial, however, showed Henderson did not come close to committing perjury -- suggesting either the case was fixed, or jurors were smoking a powerful form of meth during deliberations. Here is how al.com described the Henderson trial:
Henderson's perjury case was based on information he was in a relationship with Yareima Carmen Valecillos Akl during her divorce with then-husband Charbel Akl. Henderson was appointed in January 2016 as the guardian ad litem of the Akls' young child, but was later removed from the position.
After his removal, Henderson testified during the Akls' September divorce trial and twice denied staying with Mrs. Akl at her apartment, but surveillance evidence showed Henderson had stayed at the apartment on several occasions.
Just a slight problem with al.com's version of events: It's not true. As we've shown in several posts (see here, here, and here), the key question in the Henderson case came when he was asked if he had ever spent the night at Ms. Akl's home. Did a surveillance report prove Henderson spent the night at Akl's home? Not even close, as we reported multiple times. In fact the private-investigator report showed huge gaps in the surveillance -- four hours, five hours, 15 hours, 19 hours -- when Henderson clearly could have left, with PIs having no idea where he was.
The conviction in the Henderson case is a joke, and it must be overturned on appeal if the Alabama court system cares about maintaining any signs of competence or fairness. For sure, Henderson should not spend one moment in prison, and he should be returned to the position he won fair and square -- as a Democrat, over Republican incumbent Brandon Falls.
(3) Legal Schnauzer -- I spent five months in the Shelby County Jail (from 10/13 to 3/14) as fallout from a defamation lawsuit filed by GOP operative Rob Riley and lobbyist Liberty Duke. In essence, I was incarcerated for reporting on this blog about a personal relationship involving Riley and Duke -- and my reporting, by the way, has never been proven false or defamatory as a matter of law.
My case involved nothing remotely criminal. My arrest was based on a preliminary injunction and contempt order, both of which have been prohibited by more than 230 years of First Amendment law. I spent five months in jail for practicing journalism, becoming the first U.S. reporter to be incarcerated since 2006. I was the only journalist in the western hemisphere to be incarcerated in 2013.
But get this: I spent two more months in jail -- for lawfully practicing journalism, in a totally civil matter -- than Micky Hammon will spend for essentially stealing more than $50,000. Don Siegelman spent almost six more years behind bars than Hammon will spend -- and the record is clear that Siegelman committed no crime and was the target of the most grotesque political prosecution in American history. The Charles Todd Henderson perjury case is a travesty -- clearly driven by the Riley political machine, upset that Henderson beat their boy (and protector) Brandon Falls -- but there is no telling what kind of sentence Henderson will receive from wildly corrupt Judge Sibley Reynolds.
The American "justice system"? Ain't it grand?
It is, for some reason, if you're Mickey Hammon.