|Steve Marshall and Anna Clark Morris|
Steve Marshall's pick to replace Matt Hart as special prosecutions chief in the Alabama attorney general's office is a political hack from the Leura Canary era. The choice of Anna Clark Morris, who had been an assistant U.S. attorney in the Middle District of Alabama, provides more evidence that the white elites who bankrolled Marshall's campaign are in a panic -- likely over the indictment of Trey Glenn, the fear that former House Speaker Mike Hubbard will go to prison and sing for prosecutors, the firing of Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general, and related issues.
Legal Schnauzer reported on Anna Clark Morris in a post from January 2009, shortly after Barack Obama became president. Titled "Are Democrats playing politics with prosecutors?" the post was based largely on analysis from a U.S. Department of Justice source who had seen Clark's work up close and was deeply unimpressed. Here is some background on Morris from the 2009 post:
At least one Alabama Democratic Party nominee for U.S. attorney would be no better than her Republican predecessor, according to a source inside the Department of Justice.
A state Democratic Party advisory council this week recommended Anna Clark Morris as U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. The Middle District, under the George W. Bush administration, was headed by Leura Canary, and her office handled the prosecution of former Democratic governor Don Siegelman.
Morris is an assistant U.S. attorney in the Montgomery-based office, with almost 11 years of experience as a federal prosecutor. She is the daughter of Alexander City trial attorney Larry Morris, a major Democratic Party contributor.
Morris might have Democratic roots, but she has worked under multiple Republican administrations, and our source says she fit right in with the dysfunctional, corrupt, and unprofessional atmosphere Leura Canary created:
The appointment of Anna Clark Morris would be "disastrous," a Department of Justice source told Legal Schnauzer.
"She currently works in the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney's Office, where she is heavily invested in the culture of gossip, support-staff abuses, and maintaining the status quo," the source said. "An appointment of Clark Morris as U.S. attorney would be disastrous -- four more years of the same."
Our earlier post suggests Morris now is likely to enhance the brazen partisanship that already plagues Alabama's "justice apparatus":
An appointment of Clark Morris would smack of the kind of partisan politics that resulted in Leura Canary's appointment, our source said. Canary was appointed after she and her husband, Business Council of Alabama head Bill Canary, made substantial contributions to the Bush campaign and the Republican Party.
Our source also noted the irony of Democrats pushing Clark Morris to lead an office that prosecuted Siegelman for an alleged "pay to play" scheme involving a political appointment in exchange for campaign support.
A Clark Morris appointment would look like a "classic quid pro quo," the source said, "what federal prosecutors call 'white-collar crime' or 'corruption,' yet when it involves a DOJ insider, it is perfectly fine. Am I missing something here?"
Meanwhile, Alabama Political Reporter (APR) publisher Bill Britt blasted Marshall in an opinion piece, saying he has neither the integrity, emotional heft, or intellectual capacity to handle his job. From Britt:
Marshall did not terminate Hart because he was an ineffective leader or an unsuccessful prosecutor, but because Hart is both those things and more.
Marshall is evil, but he’s also weak, which makes him a dangerous man.
With Hart’s forced resignation, Marshall kept his private campaign promises to his big donors that Hart would be gone after the general election. So, just 13 days after his election as attorney general and four years until the next election, Marshall moved on Hart like a coward who shoots a lawman in the back in a Hollywood Western movie.
Marshall is a spineless little man who withers in the presence of a man like Hart. It’s not just his lack of character and willingness to cut deals to achieve power, but his utter disregard for the justice system he oversees.
Hart is not likely to stroll away into the good night, Britt writes:
While Marshall may have silenced Hart’s voice in the grand jury and at criminal trials, it is doubtful that Hart as a private citizen will remain quiet.
Hart knows what Marshall is up to, as well as the intrigue of the elites who paid for his office.
When disgraced Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Marshall, he intended for the men to clash. It was part of the plan. Bentley did not select Marshall because he was the best candidate to take on the attorney general’s position, but because he had a history of compromised investigations and virtually no record of prosecuting public corruption as a district attorney. But, it was Marshall’s willingness to investigate Hart and Van Davis, who successfully prosecuted former Speaker and convicted felon Mike Hubbard, that caused Bentley and his paramour, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, to green-light his appointment.
When Hart confronted Marshall over his compromise with Bentley, there was little hope that a working relationship would be in the making between the two men.
Marshall is afraid of Hart, but he is also jealous of him. After only a few weeks at the attorney general’s office, staffers noticed how jealous he was of Hart’s success, not only as a winning prosecutor but because of the admiration he enjoyed in the press. Staffers laughed at Marshall’s man-crush on Hart behind his back, saying he should grow a beard and maybe the press would like him, too.
It was Marshall’s jealously and unwillingness to ruffle feathers that separated the men; one wanting to be admired and the other wants to fight crime.
Over the last year, the relationship continued to strain as Hart set his sights on some of Marshall’s influential donors or those close to them.
Finally, Britt has ominous words that might give Marshall and his supporters pause -- hinting that the AG has secrets that could wind up biting him in the hindquarters:
Marshall can now say to those who put him in power, “Promises made, promises kept.”
But Marshall will do well to remember that actions have consequences, and there is a cost to corrupt acts, even if they are legal. More than one unscrupulous politico has met his fate at the end of a keyboard.
Marshall is saying he will take a hit from the media for firing Hart, but not a single elected official will say a word against him, according to those in the attorney general’s office.
Marshall believes that four years is long enough for people to forget he axed one of the state’s most successful prosecutors in the middle of multiple investigations to benefit his political donors.
But not everyone forgets, and there is a lot more to know about Marshall and what he has to hide.