Siegelman Sentence Cements Judicial Scandal In History

The country’s most notorious federal judge Aug. 3 sentenced former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman to 78 months more in prison on trumped-up corruption convictions. The proceedings cement into history a national disgrace for the justice system. The infamy is parallel on the world stage to France's sentence of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus to Devil's Island on phony charges more than a century ago. Don Siegelman Family

U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller of Montgomery, a longtime Republican partisan, also imposed a $50,000 fine payable immediately by a man who has already spent vast amounts on legal bills to defend himself from a prosecution that cost United States taxpayers an estimated $100 million.

The judge's high-minded rhetoric at sentencing was accompanied by his needless cruelty against his Democratic target. In imposing the fine, the judge clearly sought to hurt Siegelman’s wife and two children, shown at left with the defendant. The judge's financial scorched-earth policy is in the spirit of cultures who celebrate defeats of enemy soldiers by brutalizing surviving family members and burning their village.  

Mark E. FullerFuller, at right, ordered Siegelman, 66, once his state’s most powerful Democrat, also to spend 500 hours of community service upon release. By then, the defendant will be in his seventies, stripped of his license to practice law and with no foreseeable way to generate any income.

Update: Siegelman supporters have launched a petition here at Change.org for a presidential pardon or commutation.

Siegelman was prosecuted largely because his political popularity threatened GOP success in transforming Alabama to overwhelmingly Republican state office-holders and policies. Alabama’s Republicans began investigating Siegelman promptly after he became governor in 1999. Bush Republicans joined in the hunt after they took office nationally in 2001.

With the prodding of White House senior advisor Karl Rove, the Bush Justice Department prosecuted prominent Democrats like Siegelman across the United States on flimsy charges. This transformed the nation’s political map by imprisoning Democrats and protecting Republicans where prosecutorial discretion could impact elections. We know about the plan because of the U.S. attorney purge scandal in 2007. The scandal revealed that the Bush DOJ fired nine of the 93 Republicans in powerful regional posts, leaving the most partisan “loyal Bushies” in place in Alabama, as elsewhere.

Not surprisingly, Bush Republicans whitewashed the scandal. The Obama administration and Senate cooperated by declining to call witnesses or otherwise investigate the Bush excesses. Instead, the Obama Justice Department has harshly pursued virtually all victims. One of the few exceptions was Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, who landed before an honest judge who demanded justice from the Justice Department.

The purpose of my column today is to: 1) Recap Siegelman's Aug. 3 sentencing; and 2) Point to commentary that helps clarify the meaning. The material is in segments, with background at bottom. I'll write a follow-up later explaining reasons why leaders of both parties have long protected the judge and allow similar outrages to continue. That column also will suggest next steps for those who are justifiably astonished, dismayed, fearful, and angry about this scandal's implications for the rest of the country.

The Siegelman prosecution cost federal taxpayers to least $100 million, according to Siegelman adviser Chip Hill. The column and appendices below will show that the cost to the United States reputation for justice is far higher.

Siegelman was a largely a patsy, in my view. With a faith in the justice system and the merit of his appeals, he only dimly understood the machinations against him for the most part. He and his attorneys protested the obvious irregularities, but seemed stymied by the system's unresponsiveness to their arguments. It's no wonder. From the first, he was a marked man, destined for ruination and imprisonment. Opponents expressed resentment that he has cited political factors in his defense. But what else is a victim supposed to do?

In this case, the defendants and defense attorneys did not know until long after the 2006 trial that the judge had a major conflict of interest in controlling Doss Aviation, Inc. as by far the largest shareholder. The company refueled Air Force planes and trained Air Force pilots, and would receive $300 million in no-bid contracts from the Bush administration from 2006 to 2009. Meanwhile, the Justice Department's Siegelman prosecution was led in significant part by a well-connected Air Force Reserve colonel. In 2007, defendants learned about the judge's enrichment for the first time because a Republican attorney named Dana Jill Simpson told them confidentially about Doss and how Republicans boasted among themselves of a plan to frame Siegelman.

Later, she implicated Rove and his friend William Canary, husband of Middle District U.S. Attorney Leura Canary and a campaign manager for Siegelman's GOP gubernatorial rival, Bob Riley. Additionally, she provided the House Judiciary Committee with an extensive sworn statement under cross-examination describing how fellow Republicans plotted against Siegelman beginning, to her knowledge, in 2002. She swore that she heard in early 2005 that Republicans planned to indict Siegelman and send the case to Fuller because the judge "hated" Siegelman and would "hang" him. This was part of a pattern whereby it was evidence, not defendant speculation that provided the basis for protest.

Additional perspective comes from Chip Hill, who runs a strategic consulting company in Alabama. He wrote fellow Siegelman supporters Aug. 5:

I guess most people know that I have been working with Governor Siegelman for over seven years. I'm very proud that we have a very close friendship. I was with him when he was being investigated. I was there when he was indicted. I attended every hearing, every day of the trial, and was an eye witness to everything that has happened since. This phase of Don's long battle ended Friday, so I think this is a good time  to correct a few things people think they know.  

The media has written hundreds of times that "Siegelman's supporters questioned his conviction."  That is true -- but we were in good company. It's worth noting that for the first time in history, well over a hundred former Attorneys General (Republicans and Democrats) from more than 30 states filed a brief stating that the contribution the Governor received and the appointment he made, was routine politics across the land. Top law professors across America also filed a brief stating much the same thing. In one of the 13 editorials written by the New York Times about this case, the Times said that Siegelman was convicted of something that "had never been considered a crime before." This sentiment was echoed by an episode of "60 Minutes," 13 MSNBC segments, conservative columnist George Will, and multiple segments by Neil Cavuto on Fox News.

The Obama Justice Department under Attorney Gen. Eric Holder had many reasons, none respectable, for its cowardly failure to correct the obvious legal irregularities that occurred when the “loyal Bushies” framed Siegelman. That's not simply my view. Rob Kall, founder, editor and publisher of OpEd News, a leading progressive public affairs channel, promptly posted his view of the sentencing:

This case is a tragic and horrendous miscarriage of justice. And Obama could have made it right. He still can. If he fails to do so, it will move me STILL further away from the supportive place I was in 2008. Add this as another ugly blot on Obama's already shameful record. There's no way that liberal apologists can say that Obama has tried his best when it comes to this one.

As it is, DOJ's executives preen and pretend as if they had done something impressive. Prosecutor Louis Franklin, a careerist doing much of the dirty work for the DOJ in this case, told the judge that the case has "energized my faith in our legal system and renewed my commitment to prosecute politicians who commit bribery, honest services mail fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice."

Lanny BreuerAfter the sentence, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, right, a close confederate of Holder from their days as partners at the powerhouse Washington government relations firm Covington and Burling, said the case shows the government's "resolve" to bring the case to a conclusion.

What the case really showed is the worst of Big Government, to borrow a term. Democrats and Republicans alike should demand the resignation of Holder and Breuer for, among other things, bringing the entire weight and majesty of the United States government to focus on destroying one man, Don Siegelman, for no good reason.

The basic charge was that he asked a wealthy man, Richard Scrushy, to donate to the non-profit Alabama Education Foundation in 1999, and then reappointed Scrushy to a mid-level state regulatory board on which Scrushy was already serving after making donations directly to the campaigns of three previous Alabama Republican governors.

To accomplish a frame-up on bribery-related charges using such flimsy fare, the government used a military base as headquarters for a secretive prosecution process that could not withstand a hard scrutiny. Evidence has surfaced that the federal-state anti-Siegelman task force headquarter at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force base spent $500,000 simply on one paralegal assigned to index documents that might help imprison Siegelman.

Prosecutors needed more. They needed a corrupt federal judge to preside.

They readily found one in Mark Everett Fuller, who was accused within months of his 2002 appointment to the federal bench of conspiring to defraud Alabama’s pension system of $330,000. That allegation is contained in 180 pages of documents, summarized here in Affidavit for Recusal and Impeachment, with Exhibits 1-13 with full documentation below. the material was filed with the federal court clerk in Montgomery by an experienced Missouri litigator who had a case pending before Fuller. Becoming suspicious of the judge based on newspaper accounts, litigator Paul B. Weeks III compiled evidence and distributed it widely in legal channels along with a demand for a corruption investigation and impeachment proceedings. For mysterious reasons, that material does not exist in the federal court system’s electronic PACER database that is supposed to contain all filings for public review.

We have reported that story many times since 2009, and reprint the link below in an appendix of references. What is important for current purposes is that no one in court administration or the justice department, the Senate or House has exhibited the slightest interest in interviewing witnesses regarding the judge. He is, of course, extremely useful on the bench for hit jobs such as the Siegelman prosecution.

His reward? Enrichment on the side with secret, no-bid military contracts for his privately held company, and the chance for what his wife, at least, claims is a debauched lifestyle. More on that below.

Aug. 3 Re-Sentencing

On Aug. 3, Siegelman’s re-sentencing hearing included pleas for mercy by the defendant and his supporters, a Justice Department response and the judge’s above-noted decision. Siegelman has five weeks to arrange his affairs before turning himself into authorities on Sept. 11 for assignment to an as-yet unspecified facility outside of Alabama.

Defense witnesses included those from public life whom Siegelman had supported during his long career. Courtroom developments included:

Grant Woods, a Republican former attorney general of Arizona and co-chair of the 2008 McCain for President campaign, asked for mercy, saying that Siegelman’s main convictions stemmed from a legal gray area and that no purpose would be served by imprisoning him again. Woods had joined with 112 of his peers as attorneys general from more than 40 states in an unprecedented but unsuccessful petition to the Supreme Court. It argued that Siegelman’s actions did not violate law, and threatened many other officials nationally who  act favorably on requests from donors without an explicit deal.

Another character witness was Sephira Shuttlesworth, the widow of the late civil rights leader Fred Shuttlesworth. "The Don Siegelman that I know,” she said, “is not one who intentionally would do the things I'm hearing about."

Dana Siegelman, 27, gave a powerful description of her father’s civic commitment that often sacrificed their family life. She begged for mercy in a way that reporters on the scene described as bringing tears from onlookers, including her father.

The former governor spoke also, apologizing for his disgrace.

U.W. ClemonFuller’s new sentence was nearly the same as the first term of 88 months, minus nine months Siegelman served before his release on appeal bond in March 2008. That release by order of a federal appeals court followed a CBS 60 Minutes report documenting irregularities that helped frame him.

The background of the case is now so long that that no article can encompass the chronology, much the vast number of legal irregularities. The essence of the history is that a federal judge in Birmingham, U.W. Clemon, right, thwarted in 2004 an initial bogus federal indictment of Siegelman. Bush prosecutors abandoned that effort in mid-trial.

In still-suspicious fashion, prosecutors on an insatiable quest to imprison him secretly revived the case in 2005 with a confidential indictment and selection of Fuller to preside.

Bob RileyMeanwhile, the unsuspecting Siegelman believed he was free from legal jeopardy and geared up for a 2006 re-election effort after narrowly losing in 2002 to Republican Bob Riley, left, after the mysterious switch of 6,000 votes out of the Siegelman column in 2002 after polls closed in rural Baldwin County.

In the fall of 2005, authorities unveiled the secret indictment they had obtained the previous spring against Siegelman. They brought him and three co-defendants to trial in 2006. His federal jury in Montgomery nearly deadlocked on 34 felony counts.

The main bribery-related charges were because Siegelman as governor persuaded former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, one of Alabama’s richest men, to donate generously in 1999 to the non-profit Alabama Education Foundation, which advocated for a state lottery to fund better schools. Siegelman reappointed Scrushy in 1999 to a slot on a state regulatory board that he had held under previous governors.

Siegelman obtained no money from Scrushy’s donation to the education foundation, which totaled $500,000 over two years. Separately, Siegelman appears to be culpable in backdating a check to obscure a motorcycle given by a lobbyist, who was showering similar gifts on other Alabama politicians. But that was relatively small change given the scope of the original charges.

Both Siegelman and Scrushy denied a bribe. The key government witness was former Siegelman aide Nick Bailey, who faced the threat of 10 years imprisonment for an unrelated offense. He offered vague testimony to the effect that the reappointment seemed be related to the donations. Normally, a conviction requires an explicit deal. Among many other irregularities, authorities failed to disclose to the defense, as required, that they had interrogated Bailey up to 70 times without required disclosure to the defense.

Under pressure from Fuller and following his many pro-prosecution rulings on these kinds of highly irregular developments, the jury convicted Siegelman on nine counts in a compromise verdict. Scrushy was convicted of, in effect, bribing Siegelman. The jury acquitted two Siegelman aides of all charges.

The rarely photographed Fuller, chief federal judge in Alabama’s middle district from 2004 to 2011, celebrated after the Siegelman-Scrushy convictions by posing for a series of portraits by freelance-photographer Phil Fleming. These photos, one shown above, were taken during a break minutes after the jury verdict. Fleming recalls that he urged the judge to stop smiling so much.

Hill, Siegelman's friend, noted in his Aug. 5 statement:

Richard Scrushy had contributed to three previous governors and received the same appointment three times. Governor Riley received large contributions from someone he appointed to the same board. There was no investigation at all. In a 2003 story, the Washington Post said that to be considered for appointment as an ambassador, an individual had to raise $250,000 for the Bush campaign. The Houston Chronicle reported that Rick Perry's top contributors all received appointments.

The burning question that remains is why did it suddenly become a crime when Scrushy contributed to Siegelman?

Richard ScrushyGrant Woods, a Republican who served as Attorney General of Arizona from 1991 to 1999, (and who chaired John McCain's Presidential campaign) appeared in court to ask the judge for leniency, and said "no one was prosecuting the president for appointing donors to be ambassadors or other positions."

I could write a novel about hundreds of others issues that arose during the investigation and trial, but I simply want to clarify something that people keep misstating. Richard Scrushy's contribution did not go to Governor Siegelman.  It went to the Alabama Education Foundation. The Government never charged Siegelman with personally receiving a penny. He will serve 69 months for a bribery in which he didn't receive anything.  Also, some are finding it easy to vilify Richard Scrushy.  What the layman does not know, is that the Government offered Richard Scrushy three deals that would have resulted in no jail time.  He rejected them because he would have had to make statements that were not true. His decision to stick to the truth cost him five years of his life.

Scrushy, a father of nine, recently completed a seven-year sentence. He is shown at right with one of his sons while in prison. He is reported to be living near Houston.

Commentaries

The sample of commentaries below is largely drawn from Alabama, in part because the national media lost interest in the case when appellate courts and the Obama Justice Department essentially backed the original prosecution and Fuller.

Roger Shuler, former editor at a newspaper in Birmingham, for years has been one of the most prolific and incisive reporters. His column, Siegelman Resentencing Serves as a Grim Reminder That His Prosecution Was Bogus from the Outset, focused on the obvious injustice of Siegelman being indicted in 2005 for 1999 events seemingly barred by a five-year statute of limitations:

We have shown in an exhaustive series of posts that Siegelman and Scrushy committed no crime under the "explicit agreement" framework set out in McCormick v. United States, 500 U.S. 257 (1991), which both sides agree is controlling law. But even if the defendants had completed the most flagrant kind of bribery -- with an unlawful deal memorialized in writing or tape-recorded conversations -- their prosecution still was unlawful.

Why? The government waited too long to bring its case -- even with former Siegelman defense attorney Doug Jones helping them by agreeing to extend the statute of limitations.

Shuler has published extensive reports on how Jones, a leader in Alabama’s Democratic Party with considerable influence in Washington, has an unforgivable conflict of interest. Jones represented Siegelman in the criminal case, waived the statute of limitations and participated as co-lead counsel (with Rob Riley, son of Siegelman’s GOP gubernatorial rival) in winning a $500 million civil fraud judgment against Siegelman’s co-defendant Scrushy. Jones, like others named in this column, denies wrongdoing and says Siegelman knew of civil fraud representation.

Dale Jackson, a conservative radio host based in Huntsville, took an entirely different view than Shuler on the prosecution. In a website post, Jackson argued that Siegelman should be imprisoned promptly to honor the jury’s finding. I left a reader post on Jackson’s site disputing such views. A jury verdict can easily be unfair if a judge and prosecutors conspire to a frame a suspect. Juries tend to trust judges, and have scant way of knowing which ones are corrupt.

But I recognize that Jackson-style impatience with details and appeals is a popular view, especially when the mainstream news media shirks from basic reporting of relevant intrigues, or adopts pro-prosecution shorthand to summarize the facts. The most obvious is terse descriptions by Associated Press sent nationwide that Siegelman was convicted of accepting a $500,000 bribe. Most AP reports did not inform readers that the money went to a non-profit, not him.

Pam Miles, a former executive committee member of Alabama’s Democratic Party, for years has sought to remedy this kind of information gap by publishing an average of about a dozen news items or reader comments daily for an email list-serve. She began it as a Siegelman case update for several hundred of his supporters in Alabama. The focus is now on multiple political topics of interest to Alabama Democrats and the readership is national.

Many readers published comments since Aug. 3 on her list saying they are disheartened at Siegelman’s harsh treatment despite the case record of injustice. The Alabama Democratic Party issued a statement of sympathy for Siegelman that received a mixed reaction. Some called it too tepid considering the frame-up. Others say leaders mean well.

Some commenters are grieving. Others urge prayer or additional petition drives, this time for a presidential commutation of sentence. Commenters elsewhere recognize that the Siegelman frame-up is part of a nationwide abrogation of due process that advances executive branch power without constitutional protections.

Chip Hill wrote:

Knowing my long involvement with the Siegelman case, many have asked how I feel about his sentencing. It's a given that I'm sad, angry and frustrated.  Again and again, I traveled to every corner of this state with him. The first time Don held my daughter, she was 18 months old. Today she is nine. He called her every year to sing Happy Birthday. This is all personal stuff that no one wants to hear but it's what I'm thinking about this morning.

I'd like to offer this summary: Don Siegleman is the only person to hold every constitutional office in this state. As governor, he revolutionized early childhood education, built 1,000 new schools and brought two automobile manufacturing plants to the state.  He built more roads and bridges than any governor in the last fifty years. He's 66 years old and will be over 70 when he is released. The investigation, indictment, trial, and appeal of Don Siegelman lasted over 13 years and cost us, the taxpayer, over 100 million dollars.

Yet, the law regarding when a contribution is a bribe remains unclear, and whether it is in fact a crime is completely at the discretion of the prosecutor who is looking into a particular case. We should all pray that if we make political contributions, we are on the good side of those prosecutors. Please be aware that whether your contribution is a bribe is not clearly defined in the law. The decision to prosecute your contribution as a bribe rests solely in the hands of a prosecutor. Let's hope that he or she is honest and not politically motivated.

Next Steps

My next column will suggest the most viable means to redress the injustices of this case.

As a preview, it will suggest actions focused on Fuller and Rove. In my opinion, President Obama and his attorney general are frightened of those two and their backers. That's not simply based on surmise or political considerations. High-ranking Obama transition advisor Christopher Edley, Jr., now dean of the University of California at Berkeley Law School, told me last year the Obama transition team feared a "revolt" if the new administration tried to investigate legal abuses under the Bush administration.

Edley was referring most specifically to Bush-era crimes regarding foreign policy. But as we have shown many times previously and will reiterate in our next column, the Siegelman prosecution is heavily involved with these same kinds of policies and personnel, including a bidding war between Europe's Airbus and Boeing over a $35 billion Air Force contract, along with Doss Aviation's contracts for Air Force refueling, pilot training and related activities.

The Obama team may have feared an actual revolt if they failed to"look forward, not backward" on Bush law-breaking, or may have simply feared political hubub damaging to their public posture of non-partisanship. Either way, cowardice is contemptible for someone who wants the title "Commander in Chief."

At this point, it is now up to the ordinary civic-minded patriot, as so often the case, to take the risks needed to preserve the country's hard-won freedoms. To be continued.

 

Contact the author Andrew Kreig
 

 

Related News Coverage

Update:

Fox News, Former Gov. Don Siegelman Petitions President for Pardon, Neil Cavuto, Aug. 13, 2012. (Video). Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman on the petition for the President to pardon him from his prison sentence for bribery. Host Neil Cavuto describes Siegelman treatment as unfair, and worrisome to business executives from either party making donations.

Legal Schnauzer, Siegelman Is Allowed to Attend Democratic National Convention, Via a Smarmy Federal Court Order, Roger Shuler, Aug. 30, 2012.  Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman will be allowed to attend the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, thanks to a federal-court order that only can be described as smarmy.  Not content to simply grant or deny Siegelman's request via the federal Probation Office, U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller tries to justify his own disgraceful handling of the case--and jury convictions that are at odds with the relevant facts and law. Siegelman is due to report to federal custody on September 11 after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal. He asked to be allowed to travel to Charlotte from September 3-6; the Democratic National Convention (DNC) will take place in Charlotte on those dates. Fuller granted Siegelman's request, but he could not do it without providing editorial comment, including a mocking reference to Siegelman's stated reasons for the trip.


Pam MilesOpEdNews: Democratic Activist Pam Miles on Justice for Siegelman, Joan Brunwasser, Aug. 29, 2012. Interview: Democratic Activist Pam Miles on Justice for Don Siegelman. Excerpt from Pam Miles, at left: Governor Siegelman and I first worked together in 1988 when he was Alabama Secretary of State and I worked for Better Business Bureau on several consumer issues. I also volunteered on his campaigns through the years as he ran and won Alabama's Attorney General, Lt. Governor and Governor. We've been close friends since 2004 and I knew that what the US Attorney was prosecuting him for wasn't a crime. I believed, at that point in time, in the justice system and could not imagine an innocent man would be found guilty of these manufactured charges. Wow, was I ever wrong! So I took it upon myself to try to find justice through every venue I could think of, starting with sending out the message for everyone on my email listserv and yahoo groups to call Congressman John Conyers and every member of Congress on the Judiciary Committee and ask for an investigation into the governor's case.

Don SiegelmanPam Miles List Serve (Alabama), This is Pure Meanness, Pam Miles, Aug. 28, 2012. On August 3, our Governor Don Siegelman was resentenced to serve the balance of a 78 month term. Don’s reporting date is September 11th.  At the sentencing in 2007 Judge Fuller had the Governor hand-cuffed and shackled with chains around his legs and waist -- and taken from the court room and put into solitary confinement in the basement of a maximum security prison in Atlanta at 1 AM. On August 3rd at resentencing, Judge Fuller granted a motion for Don to self-report and said that he would request that the BOP place Don at a facility “as near Alabama as he can be designated.”

While Talladega is only 49 miles away and Maxwell Air Force base only 97 miles, Judge Fuller must have thought that Don’s enthusiastic supporters like me would be viewed as way too much of a distraction if Don were in Alabama. Pensacola, however, is only 251 miles away, about a 4 and ½ hour drive for Don’s wife, Lori. But oh no, apparently even Pensacola is too near Alabama for the Judge, because Don  just received notice that he iPam Miles Free Dons assigned to Oakdale, Louisiana, a 17-18 hour, 900+ mile round trip. As you may remember Lori, Don’s wife, lost an eye in a horrific automobile accident with a drunk driver in 1984. She would have difficulty driving the 17-18 hour, 900+ mile round trip to Oakdale and back. It would be very dangerous and nearly impossible for her to drive it alone. This is nothing but punitive. It is outrageous that the Judge is sending Don to prison at all for something that wasn’t a crime. It’s never been a crime to appoint a contributor to something. Where do Ambassadors come from? From people who raise money for whomever is elected president! If it was not for Richard Scrushy being the contributor and for the government pressuring Nick Bailey, who was facing 40 to 100 years in prison, to lie there would not have been a conviction.

Legal Schnauzer, An Overpowering Stench of Corruption Emanates From U.S. Eleventh Circuit On Siegelman Appeal, Roger Shuler, Aug. 28, 2012. Reports on corruption in the handling of the Don Siegelman case have tended to focus on the trial court, especially Judge Mark Fuller and prosecutors in the Middle District of Alabama. But our review of one critical issue in the Siegelman case shows that the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta botched its ruling in such an outrageous fashion that it almost had to be intentional. The Eleventh Circuit includes 17 judges (seven on senior status) and covers three states -- Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. The circuit's decision to uphold bribery convictions against Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy -- contrary to well-settled law -- hints at the kind of dark conspiracy that probably meets the definition of organized crime.

How serious is this? The Siegelman case, by law, could not go to a jury -- much less result in convictions. And yet, Scrushy already has served a six-year federal prison sentence, and Siegelman is due back in federal custody by September 11.  What is the one issue that should have doomed the prosecution's case before it ever reached a jury? It was the statute of limitations, and the facts and the law, show the case against Siegelman and Scrushy was brought almost one full year too late. So regardless of what one thinks about the testimony of key government witness Nick Bailey, the shaky jury instructions, the questionable juror behavior, the weak evidence on a quid pro quo ("something for something") agreement, and the myriad conflicts involving the judge and U.S. attorney . . . none of that should have been a factor.

Legal Schnauzer, Child Rapist Jerry Sandusky Received a Favorable Court Ruling That Was Denied to Don Siegelman, Roger Shuler, Aug. 20, 2012. Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky was granted a motion that forced prosecutors to provide specifics about charges in his child sexual abuse case. The defendants in the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman were denied a similar motion on charges of public corruption. What does that mean? One judge found that Sandusky was entitled to specifics about charges that essentially alleged he was a serial child rapist. Another judge found that Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy were not entitled to specifics about charges that essentially sought to criminalize a standard political transaction.  Does that sound fair to you? Is that what passes for justice in American courts?

Redeye: Keeping an Eye on the Reddest State in the Union, No "Absence of Malice" in 'Bama, Slimfall, August 7, 2012. Initially I was going to give Dale Jackson credit for having the courage to have Andrew Kreig on his show, until I heard his diatribe, I mean promo, of the segment, which begin with the typical right-wing talking points -- convicted felon, bribery, found guilty by a jury of his peers, Siegelman sold his house for double the worth, blah, blah, blab, blab. Dale likes to say Democrats and liberals are afraid to appear on his show. But it's not fear that keeps self respecting Democrats away. It's the knowledge they are going to be treated with contempt and  malice. Andrew Kreig must have assumed he would have an honest and open discussion/debate regarding facts about the Siegelman prosecution, but he was wrong. Psst Mr. Kreig! See what we're up against here in Sweet Home Alabama?  Do you see why attorneys and Democrats are scared? Should we all be afraid? When Kreig tried to tell Dale it wasn't about Don Siegelman the person, and our system of justice should investigate crimes not people, Dale cut him off.

Legal Schnauzer, Are Professors in Alabama Afraid to Speak the Truth About the Prosecution of Don Siegelman? Roger Shuler,  Aug. 10, 2012. Veteran academics are supposed to feel free to speak out on important matters. In fact, the general idea behind tenure is that professors should be able to examine controversial issues without fear of reprisal.  But we cannot help but wonder if fear is hanging over the professoriate in Alabama when it comes to the prosecution of former Governor Don Siegelman.
Why does that thought come to mind? For one, I worked as an editor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) for 19 years before being unlawfully terminated in spring 2008 because of my reporting about the Siegelman case on this blog. And that's not a guess on my part; a human-resources official at UAB told me in an audiotaped conversation that I was targeted because of the Siegelman-related content on Legal Schnauzer. (See video at the end of this post.)  For another, three Alabama academics recently made comments about the Siegelman case that are utter nonsense. These gentlemen are articulate and, best I can tell, highly respected. So why did their comments on the Siegelman matter come across as pablum?

Legal Schnauzer, Judge in Siegelman Case Owned a Company That Helped Train 9/11 Terrorist Mohamed Atta, Roger Shuler, Aug. 7, 2012. The judge in the Don Siegelman prosecution owned a company that helped train 9/11 pilot Mohamed Atta, according to a report from a Washington, D.C.-based investigative journalist. U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller owned a 43.75 percent stake in Doss Aviation, a Colorado firm that has received lucrative federal contracts. Doss Aviation helped train Mohamed Atta, according to a new article from Wayne Madsen Report (WMR). Atta is believed to have piloted American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Multiple reports in the mainstream press have stated that Atta trained at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, where Fuller has served as a judge in the Middle District of Alabama since his 2002 appointment by President George W. Bush.

Legal Schnauzer, Judge In Siegelman Case Displays Monumental Arrogance and a Seriously Faulty Memory, Roger Shuler, Aug. 6, 2012. The most nauseating moment in last Friday's resentencing of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman came when U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller stated that he had no doubt a bribe had taken place in the case. This is a judge who, according to an affidavit from Missouri attorney Paul Benton Weeks, once tried to defraud the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) and committed perjury in the process. This is the same judge who, according to documents in his ongoing divorce case, had an affair with a female employee, committed acts of domestic violence, drove under the influence, and showed signs of having an addiction to prescription painkillers.

WHNT-TV (Huntsville), Courtroom Blog: Minute-by-Minute Updates On Siegelman Proceedings, Claire Aiello and Carson Clark, August 3, 2012. Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman has been resentenced to 78 months in prison for his corruption conviction. U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller issued the ruling shortly after 2:30 p.m. The hearing started Friday at 9 a.m. Defense attorneys called "several character witnesses" who asked for leniency for Siegelman. Siegelman also took the stand and begged the judge for mercy.  Fuller went closer to the maximum sentence, though, which would have been 88 months, based on a formula for the various counts and charges in the 2006 trial. Siegelman showed no emotion as the sentence was read. The defense immediately objected, saying the sentence was “cruel and unusual punishment.” Judge Fuller said Siegelman could file an appeal within 14 days. Defense attorney Susan James asked that Siegelman be allowed to serve his time closer to home, so it is not a hardship for his family to visit him. His previous incarceration was in Oklahoma City. Read our "courtroom updates" from earlier in the day.

Columbus (GA) Ledger-Enquirer, Does Siegelman Deserve More Time? Editorial Board, Aug. 7, 2012. The question that arose last week is about the sentencing judge's rationale for sending Seigelman back to prison. The question that has hung over this case from the outset is how much of the prosecution was about proven lawbreaking and how much was about scorched-earth politics, given compelling evidence of Bush administration involvement....Whether sending the 66-year-old ex-governor back behind bars furthers the cause of justice, especially given the dubious circumstances of his prosecution, should be a troubling question well beyond the borders of Alabama.

Roger ShulerLegal Schnauzer, Siegelman Resentencing Serves as a Grim Reminder That His Prosecution Was Bogus from the Outset, Aug. 3, 2012. Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman was resentenced today to serve five years and nine months on top of the time he already has served in federal prison -- plus three years of probation, a $50,000 fine, and 500 hours of community service.  All of this for committing what we have termed a "crime that doesn't exist." And that is an accurate statement because U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller did not include the "explicit agreement" language that is required by law to form an illegal quid pro quo in the context of a campaign contribution.  But today's events are disturbing for reasons that go way beyond legal lingo. Lost in all of the reporting about what does or does not constitute bribery in the political realm, is this undisputed fact--the charges against Siegelman and co-defendant Richard Scrushy were barred by the applicable statute of limitations.

Associated Press / Huffington Post, Ex-Ala. gov. going back to prison for bribery, Bob Johnson, Aug. 3, 2012. Before his sentencing that his lawyer called "cruel and unusual," the 66-year-old Siegelman told a judge that he "deeply regrets" the things he has done. “I apologize to people for the embarrassment my actions have caused," Siegelman said. U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller said the case has been hard on everyone, including Siegelman's family. He acknowledged the good things Siegelman had accomplished in his years of public service that spanned nearly three decades. But he said they did not justify the crimes for which he was convicted. He allowed Siegelman to remain free and turn himself in by Sept. 11. "It's been a long seven years," Fuller said. "Good luck to you."

OpEd News, Publisher's Editorial, Rob Kall, Aug. 4, 2012. The news that former governor Don Seigelman has been sentenced is, to me, another indictment of Obama. Siegelman was wrongly prosecuted by a Karl Rove supervised DOJ attorney. This case is a tragic and horrendous miscarriage of justice. And Obama could have made it right. He still can. If he fails to do so, it will move me STILL further away from the supportive place I was in 2008. Add this as another ugly blot on Obama's already shameful record. There's no way that liberal apologists can say that Obama has tried his best when it comes to this one. On the contrary, he pushed for the prosecution and actually making the sentence even longer. Shame on Obama.

Wayne Madsen Report, Federal judge's firm trained lead 9/11 hijacker, Aug. 3, 2012 (subscription required). Judge Mark Fuller's former firm trained Mohammed Atta. U.S. Judge for the the Middle District of Alabama Mark Fuller, scheduled to re-sentence former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman on August 3 in Montgomery, was the previous owner of a firm that trained accused 9/11 lead hijacker Mohammed Atta. The information on Fuller's links to the 9/11 attack were uncovered by a former Republican Party campaign aide in Alabama who spoke to WMR on background. WMR previously reported on Fuller's financial dealings with Doss Aviation, which, among other government business, had the contract to re-fuel Air Force One. Having had trained Atta, as well as Saudi, Iranian, and other Egyptian pilots to fly aircraft, the Colorado Springs, Colorado-based Doss Aviation was in a position to help carry out threats against Air Force One that were received by the presidential airplane's pilot on 9/11, specifically "Angel is next." Angel was the classified code word used at the time to denote Air Force One.

Associated Press / San Francisco Chronicle, Siegelman's daughter makes moving plea for dad, Phillip Rawls, Aug. 4, 2012. Don Siegelman’s daughter has inherited his ability to move an audience. She testified on his behalf Friday when the former Alabama governor was resentenced for bribery and other crimes. Her emotional presentation had many people in the courtroom wiping their eyes. Even her dad.  Dana Siegelman, 27, was born after her father began his long political career as secretary of state, attorney general, lieutenant governor and governor. "It's really hard being a politician's kid because you have to share your dad with everyone," she said. Now attending graduate school in Egypt, she said she has a hard time going out in public when she is at home in Birmingham. "I just want to crawl in a hole," she said. She urged the judge to be lenient on her father, possibly sentencing him to community service. "I can't imagine my dad going back to prison," she said before stepping down from the witness stand. Siegelman ignored courtroom protocol, got up from his seat and held his daughter in a long hug. The composure she showed on the stand vanished, and she cried. U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller said the case had been hard on everyone on the courtroom, but the person who solicited a bribe shouldn't get less time in prison than the person who paid the bribe. Scrushy recently got out of prison after about five years. Then the judge gave Siegelman six and one-half years. Dana Siegelman covered her eyes with her hands and wept.

Birmingham News, Witnesses describe Don Siegelman as man of character, integrity (slideshow, video), Kim Chandler, Aug. 3, 2012. After a six-year battle to overturn his conviction in a 2006 bribery case, former Gov. Don Siegelman was sentenced in federal court to 78 months in prison for government corruption. Siegelman will actually serve 69 months. Siegelman spoke in front of the courthouse surrounded by his family and attorneys. Don Siegelman speaks after his sentencing. The widow of a Civil Rights icon and Sen. John McCain's former chief of staff both told a federal judge this morning that nothing would be served by sending former Gov. Don Siegelman back to prison.

WVNN-AM & FM (Huntsville) / The Attack Machine, Can we hurry up and put Don Siegelman in jail now? Dale Jackson, Aug. 2, 2012. A lawyer for former Gov. Don Siegelman is asking a judge not to send Siegelman back to prison — or at least to cut his sentence substantially — arguing the one-time titan of Alabama politics already has been punished enough. Siegelman lawyer Susan James wrote in a sentencing memo filed Tuesday that Siegelman — who has served nine months of his original 88-month sentence — has been humiliated and punished, and that a sentence of community service would allow him to put his considerable skills to good use for the state.

WBRC-TV Fox 6 and MyFoxAL.com (Birmingham), Tweets on Siegelman Case, Alan Collins, Aug. 3, 2012. Alabama Democratic Party, ADP Chairman Mark Kennedy's Statement on Siegleman Sentencing, Mark Kennedy, Aug. 3, 2012. "Today is a sad day for Governor Don Siegelman, his family, and our state as a whole.  Multiple charges have been thrown out of the case. Attorneys General and political officials around the country have raised serious questions about the few remaining charges -- questions which remain unanswered after this sentencing. The Democratic Party of Alabama's thoughts and prayers are with Governor Siegelman and his family."

Thom Hartmann Program, Interview with Don Siegelman, Mike Papantonio, August 6, 2012.

Justice Integrity Project, Your Guide to the Aug. 3 Sentencing of the Century, Andrew Kreig Aug. 1, 2012. Tragically, higher courts and the Justice Department have left Siegelman's convictions largely intact instead of granting a new trial. Among the many compelling reasons for a new trial is the failure of the trial judge, Mark E. Fuller, right, to recuse for his mind-boggling behavior and appearance of bias. The Justice Department's Washington headquarters has encouraged this outrage for many years, and covered up all wrongdoing.

Justice Integrity Project, Obama Team Feared Coup If He Prosecuted War Crimes, Andrew Kreig, Sept. 7, 2011. President-Elect Obama’s advisors feared in 2008 that authorities would revolt and that Republicans would block his policy agenda if he prosecuted Bush-era war crimes, according to a law school dean who served as one of Obama’s top transition advisors. University of California at Berkeley Law School Dean Christopher Edley, Jr., he sixth highest-ranking member of the 2008 post-election transition team preparing Obama's administration, revealed the team's thinking on Sept. 2 in moderating a forum on 9/11 held by his law school (also known as Boalt Hall).

 

Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues

Paul Craig RobertsPaulCraigRoberts.org, Friday’s Jobs Report: More Lies From “our” Big Brother, Paul Craig Roberts, Aug. 4, 2012. In his report on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest jobs and unemployment report, statistician John Williams (shadowstats.com) writes: “The July employment and unemployment numbers published today, August 3rd, were worthless and likely misleading.”…. Other than some minor insignificant detail, “your” government has been consistently lying to you about everything of importance. “Your” government lies to you, because “your” government has an agenda that it most certainly will not tell you about, because if you knew what it is, you would revolt. Putting down the revolt would divert the government from its agenda.

Who What Why, Senator’s Lonely Battle For Public’s Privacy Rights, Andrew Kreig on Aug. 6, 2012. During the Bush administration, it seemed that nary a Republican—and just a handful of Democrats in Congress—spoke out about the government’s crackdown on civil liberties. Since a Democrat took power, the silence has spread. One notable exception is Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Wyden continues a lonely battle to generate discussion and accountability where there is virtually none. Among his concerns are how Executive Branch officials resist providing meaningful estimates of whether it is only a few Americans–or vast numbers—who are being monitored without warrants. For example, while the public is generally aware that judges authorize limited numbers of wiretaps each year, it remains largely in the dark about newer and far more prevalent techniques, such as the routine use of cell phones as sophisticated tracking devices.Wyden’s most recent effort involves placing a “hold” on the Senate’s reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court system—until he is able to learn more about how, post-9/11, the Executive Branch is using its powers.

WBHM-FM Public Radio (Birmingham), Prison Overcrowding in Alabama, Andrew Yeager, Feb. 9, 2012. Alabama faces a potential $400 million shortfall in the general fund budget this year. And that could leave the state’s already-strapped prison system at a tipping point -- so overcrowded Alabama could face the possibility of a federal lawsuit. As WBHM’s Andrew Yeager reports lawmakers are searching for ways to fix a system bursting at the seams. Click here to listen to the story. Most people probably don’t have first-hand knowledge of life inside an Alabama prison. But we do get a glimpse through a lawsuit filed over conditions at Donaldson Correctional Facility in Jefferson County. "Over 620 men were packed into open dorms often supervised by just two roving officers.”  Sarah Geraghty is a senior attorney at the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta. The organization filed the lawsuit on behalf of prisoners at Donaldson in 2009.  "Inmate on inmate assaults with knives occurred roughly once every 10 days and men were regularly rushed to the hospital with serious injuries."

Salon, David Plouffe’s speaking fees, Glenn Greenwald, Aug. 6, 2012. Obama's 2008 campaign manager and current adviser becomes very rich by converting his influence into corporate cash. The Washington Post this morning has what it clearly believes is a serious scoop and scandal: David Plouffe, President Obama’s 2008 campaign manager and current senior adviser (“a key member of Obama’s inner circle, a confidant whose desk is just steps from the Oval Office”), was paid $100,000 in speaking fees “from an affiliate of a company doing business with Iran’s government.”  The reason the Post sees this as some sort of a scandal and the reason it will resonate – namely: the money Plouffe received is tainted by virtue of a connection to the Evil Persian Regime — is frivolous and cynical, just part of the ongoing Washington fear-mongering orgy over Iran. [O]ur highest political officials — regardless of party or ideology — maintain supreme fealty to those who can afford to personally enrich them. It converts almost every politician with any real influence in Washington into an entrenched and loyal member of the oligarchical class — or, more accurately, a well-paid servant of oligarchs. That’s what makes Plouffe’s case so instructive.

 

Contact the author Andrew Kreig
 

 

2002 Fuller Impeachment Pleading

Murray v. Scott Affidavit for Recusal and Impeachment, with Exhibits 1-13, submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, dated July 25, 2002 and entered in the court records on July 31, 2002. This is a 39-page affidavit and the first 13 exhibits filed in Alabama's federal Middle District seeking the recusal and impeachment of Judge Mark E. Fuller. The remaining exhibits, Nos. 14-22, are here. The documents are not listed in the federal electronic PACER database, as illustrated by a docket here. See docket entry No. 756.

Huffington Post, Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge’, Evidence Shows, Andrew Kreig, May 15, 2009. The Alabama federal judge who presided over the 2006 corruption trial of the state's former governor holds a grudge against the defendant for helping to expose the judge's own alleged corruption six years ago. Former Gov. Don Siegelman therefore deserves a new trial with an unbiased judge ─ not one whose privately owned company, Doss Aviation, has been enriched by the Bush administration's award of $300 million in contracts since 2006, making the judge millions in non-judicial income.

 

Dana Jill Simpson House Testimony in 2007

Al.com, The transcript: Jill Simpson's House Judiciary interview, Bob Sims, Oct. 10, 2007. A Rainsville lawyer told congressional lawyers last month that former Gov. Don Siegelman dropped his contest of the 2002 election results after Alabama Republicans promised to end the federal investigation of him. The statement by Simpson, included in a transcript of her Sept. 14 testimony, is a significant addition to statements she made in a May affidavit that was used to call for a congressional investigation of Siegelman's prosecution. In the affidavit, she said Siegelman dropped his challenge of results showing Gov. Bob Riley had won the election because he learned there were photos of one of his supporters planting Riley campaign signs at a Klan rally in northeast Alabama. You can read the transcript of her testimony by clicking on this link here. http://blog.al.com/bn/2007/10/914simpson.pdf

Pre-Sentence Message from Don Siegelman to Supporters (July 30, 2012)

Dear ________,

This may be my last chance to email you for some time. I am going back before U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller to be re-sentenced this Friday, August the 3rd at 9:00 AM (CST) at the federal courthouse in Montgomery.

Your friendship and support throughout this incredibly long, painful, and costly ordeal has meant so much to my family and me.

This battle for justice within the court system comes to a close. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear my last appeal even though 113 former state Attorneys General and many of the nation's top Constitutional Law Professors joined in my appeal saying that the law is so unclear that any contributor and candidate is "at risk of being indicted and convicted..."

I served nine awful months in federal prison, thirty days in total isolation in solitary confinement, three weeks in a maximum-security prison side-by-side with hardened criminals. Every step of this fight for justice over the past nine years has been devastating to my family and me.

I have lost my livelihood, most of my assets, and my freedom.

I am now a “felon” and have lost my right to vote and run for public office. I can no longer practice law. Regardless, I remain committed to our system of justice; flawed though it may be, it is still one of the best. It is up to us to make it better.

Thank you for your encouragement, which keeps my spirit strong. Please continue to keep in touch with my family as this journey for justice continues.

May God bless you and your family.

Sincerely,

Don Siegelman
Governor of Alabama, 1999-2003
www.DonSiegelman.org

Background

 

Who's Who? Chart Prepared by Siegelman Supporters (Reprinted from July 31, 2012)

Siegelman Case Relationship Chart

Related News Coverage

Birmingham News, Lawyer: Don't send Don Siegelman back to prison, Kim Chandler, Aug.1, 2012. A lawyer for former Gov. Don Siegelman will ask a judge Friday not to send the former governor back to prison, but instead to impose probation or some type of alternative sentence. "Returning Governor Siegelman to prison is not necessary and would serve no stated penological purpose," lawyer Susan James wrote in a sentencing memo filed in court. Siegelman, 66, is scheduled to be resentenced Friday after a long appellate battle to overturn his 2006 conviction on bribery charges. The appellate courts eventually tossed out two of the honest services fraud charges against Siegelman, but the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case. A federal jury in 2006 convicted Siegelman of selling a seat on a hospital regulatory board to former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. Siegelman served nine months of an 88-month sentence before being released to continue his appeal. Scrushy, who was not released, has completed his sentence and is living at home in Texas. Prosecutors want Siegelman's original 88-month sentence to stand, according to James' memo. But James argued a "substantial reduction" is warranted and urged the court to give the governor a lengthy probation or an alternative sentencing plan such as intermittent confinement coupled with community service. James said that the good that Siegelman accomplished should be weighed against his alleged crime. "If there ever was a case where one's life works should be measured against the purported harm he did to the state it is clear that further incarceration is not necessary," she wrote. James noted Siegelman's lengthy career of public service and pointed out that he did not personally profit from his crime. "Don Siegelman has never committed a crime of violence. Instead he devoted his career to trying to protect the citizens of Alabama from violent and dangerous offenders. Further, he did everything possible to try to improve things for Alabama citizens," James wrote.

Milton McGregorLegal Schnauzer, U.S. Judge Releases a Timely Opinion That Shows Siegelman Defendants Were Unlawfully Convicted, Roger Shuler, July 27, 2012. A federal judge in Alabama released an opinion this week that adds to the mountain of evidence showing defendants in the Don Siegelman case were unlawfully convicted, based on murky law and improper jury instructions. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson is intimately familiar with public-corruption cases; he oversaw the trial and re-trial in the Alabama bingo case that resulted in zero convictions. In fact, Thompson's opinion, dated July 24, 2012, was issued in his role as the judge in United States v. Milton E. McGregor, et al, as the bingo case is officially known after a lead defendant, at left. But Thompson's words have implications that go way beyond bingo issues -- and way beyond Alabama, for that matter. For one, Thompson shows that the U.S. Supreme Court and Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals have failed miserably in their duty to ensure that the law is applied consistently. Two, Thompson shows that Siegelman and co-defendant Richard Scrushy were convicted of phantom "crimes." Three, Thompson proposes a jury instruction that should clarify the law for judges, prosecutors, defendants, and the public. Meanwhile, lives are being ruined because of incompetence in the federal judiciary regarding public-corruption cases--and Thompson's opinion comes at a critical time. Siegelman is set to be re-sentenced in Montgomery on August 3. With clearly compromised trial judge and Bush appointee Mark Fuller still at the controls, the former Democratic governor almost certainly is headed back to prison. Scrushy, meanwhile, has completed his sentence and was released from federal custody this week.

Associated Press / Montgomery Advertiser, Alabama gambling trial judge wants bribery clarity, Phillip Rawls, July 26, 2012. The judge who presided over Alabama's two gambling corruption trials said the U.S. Supreme Court needs to clear up when a campaign contribution constitutes a bribe. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued an opinion saying that even though the trials ended with total acquittals for the eight defendants, he wanted to "highlight a murky field of federal law." He wrote that there is "considerable confusion" about how federal corruption laws apply to campaign contributions, and a precise definition of bribery would help.
 
Alabama Wants Democrats, The Case for Impeaching Federal Judge Mark Fuller, Publius IX, July 26, 2012. At every turn of [Former Alabama Gov. Don] Siegelman’s trial, Fuller improperly ruled against Siegelman and co-defendant Richard Scrushy, and for the prosecution. He failed to take action when the Government failed to disclose evidence favorable to Siegelman. He  silenced Siegelman’s attorneys from making relevant and legal arguments to the jury. He let charges go to the jury which were later ruled improper by the U.S. Supreme Court. Not only that, Fuller failed to notify defense attorneys that a female juror, by the name of Katie Langer, had been passing notes through Judge Fuller’s bailiff, asking if the FBI agent sitting at the prosecution table was single. I can’t imagine how her not wanting Mr. Potential FBI Dream Date to be angry about an acquittal could have influenced her vote on the jury.Fuller’s conduct in the trial (I have only named a handful of his pro-Government rulings) gave Siegelman’s attorneys lots of ammunition in his partially-successful appeal, and is doubtless going to provide them more fodder in the “§ 2255 proceeding” that is likely going to be filed, now that the direct appeals are playing out.

But what do those violations of Siegelman’s rights have to do with the hypothetical case I described in the first paragraphs? Fuller was for years, including during the Siegelman trial, a principal of Doss Aviation, Inc.; some reports made him a 43% owner. He was listed on corporate reports as the company’s CEO, even after becoming a federal judge. In his 2010 financial disclosure form as a federal judge, Fuller valued his interest in Doss at between $5,000,000 and $25,000,000; with an additional $500,000 to $1,000,000 in the affiliated Doss of Alabama, Inc. That’s enough coin to get even Mitt Romney’s attention. Doss Aviation is extremely, if not exclusively, dependent on government contracts, many of them no-bid, that can disappear if the Air Force -- or the administration in power -- decides it isn’t happy with, say, the rulings of a leading shareholder. The conflict of interest is obvious to even a layman. Despite this, Fuller has, throughout his career as a federal judge, regularly decided cases involving the Air Force.

WBRC-TV, Don Siegelman apologizes to Ala. in Fox Business Network interview, Staff report, July 27, 2012. Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman apologized to Alabama for his bribery conviction in an interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox Business Network last night. "I would like to apologize to the people of Alabama for the embarrassment that this has caused them, and of course to my family. This process has been going on for a long time and has been both personally and financially devastating," he said in the beginning of the interview. Siegelman faces a re-sentencing in a week, on August 3. He told Cavuto it's a frightening prospect to think about going back to federal prison. The former governor also said he and Richard Scrushy, also convicted on bribery charges, never had a conversation about a bribe. Siegelman agreed with Cavuto that federal bribery laws are still unclear and contends that anyone contributing to the presidential campaign and given an ambassadorship could also be prosecuted.

 

Judy WhiteOpEd News, Happy Father's Day! and the Justice Department's War On Families, Joan Brunwasser, June 16, 2012. My guest is Judy White, right, whose husband, Gary, has been incarcerated since September, 2010 [as an outgrowth of the Siegelman case]. Welcome back to OpEdNews, Judy. What's on your mind today? Based on many shocking and hurtful experiences during the past twenty-one months, Gary and I have come to understand that our federal government is aggressively anti-family. And terribly dishonest. But I suppose that with the widespread government corruption and unlimited resources -- meaning our tax dollars and the complicity of the media -- they can mislead, misinform, and manipulate public opinion however it suits their purposes, while prisoners and their families are left to suffer. At Memphis's satellite camp in Millington, Tennessee, the prison employees really don't seem to like for the prisoners to have their family members visit, despite all the published propaganda claiming -- falsely -- an understanding of the importance of maintaining family ties. Could it be they don't want our eyes and ears?
 
Associated Press, Siegelman backers seek pardon for ex-Ala governor, Bob Johnson, June 18, 2012. Some backers of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman want President Barack Obama to grant a pardon that would prevent the ex-Democratic officeholder from returning to prison for his 2006 bribery conviction. Siegelman is out of prison on an appeal bond. But the U.S. Supreme Court this month rejected his latest appeal, and he may soon face a new sentencing by U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Montgomery. Indicted in 2005 and tried the next year, Siegelman was convicted of selling a seat on a hospital regulatory board to former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy in exchange for $500,000 in donations to Siegelman's 1999 campaign to legalize a state lottery, which failed. Former Democratic Party executive committee member Pam Miles of Huntsville is now encouraging supporters to write Obama and urge the president to pardon Siegelman. She operates an internet e-mail network for Siegelman's backers. Miles says followers are pursuing all avenues to prove Siegelman's innocence. Miles says she "can't bear the thought' of Siegelman returning to prison. "We can't forget about Don," Miles said. Miles and other Siegelman supporters sent a Father's Day message to Obama asking the president to pardon Siegelman. "Right now his only hope seems to be a presidential pardon. Please do the right thing and pardon this innocent man. Happy Father's Day," the letter to Obama said. Siegelman declined to comment concerning the effort to obtain a pardon.
 
Huffington Post, Corruption, Bribery and the "Quid Pro Quo" Conundrum, Bennett L. Gershman, June 13, 2012. A prosecutor's charging power is the most dangerous power of all, because it can be used by prosecutors to target for prosecution almost anyone a prosecutor wants to get. Indeed, a Congressional Committee investigating allegations of selective prosecution by the Bush administration's Justice Department heard abundant testimony supporting that claim by Governor Siegelman -- that he was the most powerful Democrat in Alabama, that state Republicans desperately wanted to take him down, and according to a former U.S. Attorney in Alabama, federal prosecutors knew the case was weak but went on a "fishing expedition" to "find anything they could find against [Siegelman]."
 
Legal Schnauzer, Biased "Reporting," Not Technology, Led to the Steep Decline of The Birmingham News, Roger Shuler, May 25, 2012. Why would anyone subscribe to a "daily" newspaper that comes out three days a week? Do the News, Times, and P-R have futures as strictly digital news organizations? The Advance Media spin machine is playing this as a reaction to changing technology. But I would submit it's more about bias, backward thinking, and old-fashioned incompetence. You might call yesterday's announcement Don Siegelman's Revenge. Throughout the 2000s, one of our nation's most important stories was the decay of the U.S. Justice Department under George W. Bush. It was a coast-to-coast story, but several of its most compelling chapters unfolded in Alabama, led by the prosecution of Siegelman, a popular former Democratic governor, and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy.  Coverage in the Advance Media newspapers consisted mostly of cheerleading pieces for Bush-era prosecutors Alice Martin and Leura Canary. The papers made almost no serious effort to address compelling evidence that the cases were driven for political reasons by Bush strategist Karl Rove and his associates.
 
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Montgomery circuit court seals file in U.S. district judge's divorce proceedings, Amanda Simmons, May 29, 2012. Three journalists requested access to the sealed file of an Alabama-based federal judge's divorce proceedings wrought with accusations of domestic violence, drug abuse and the judge's alleged affair with his court bailiff. The journalists and other legal watchers have expressed concern that the court quietly sealed the records without taking the standard procedural steps. Citing security reasons, U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Montgomery, Ala., moved to seal the file of his divorce proceedings on April 20 despite his wife's objections. Without providing an explanation, a judge in the domestic relations division of Montgomery County Circuit Court granted the request on May 15.  Last week, Andrew Kreig, director of the Justice Integrity Project in Washington, D.C.; Bob Martin, editor and publisher of The Montgomery Independent and The Millbrook Independent in Alabama; and Roger Shuler, online content provider of the Alabama-based website Legal Schnauzer, submitted their request for public access.

Eric HolderLegal Schnauzer, Justice Department Continues to Play Hide and Seek with Siegelman Documents, Roger Shuler, Sept. 26, 2011. The decision to prosecute Siegelman and Scrushy for "crimes" that do not exist under the law rests with the Bush administration. But the decision to stonewall on DOJ records now rests with the Obama administration. [Obama Attorney General Eric Holder is at right.]

Justice Integrity Project, Inside Story on DoD's $35 Billion Boeing Air Force Tanker Deal, Andrew Kreig, Feb. 25, 2011. The Department of Defense Thursday announced its choice of Boeing for a $35 billion contract to build the Air Force’s next generation of mid-air refueling tankers. Boeing’s selection, subject to any challenge by the losing bidder EADS, could end a decade-long, scandal-ridden process that became one of the controversial and important in modern U.S. procurement history. The Justice Integrity Project has tracked the proceeding closely for a year and a half after learning from reliable sources details about industrial espionage and skullduggery in the contract battle. This went far beyond even the scandals showcased in Senate oversight hearings led by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Those scandals sent a Boeing executive and former Air Force procurement officer to prison on bribery charges and led to DoD revocation in 2005 of the initial award to Boeing.

Esquire, Can One Good Man Redeem a Nation for the Sins of Guantánamo? Tom Junod, March 5, 2010. As the Obama administration prepares to try the 9/11 plotters in military tribunals, David Iglesias stands at the ready to prosecute them — and maybe just save the legacy of the White House that fired him

 

Editor's Postscript: Judge Fuller has repeatedly declined comment to the Justice Integrity Project. The project is a non-partisan legal reform group that operates independently from defendants, their supporters or any politically active entity. More specifically, the project has never received funding from Siegelman, his lawyers or other supporters, and has published this column without advance input from any of them.