Supreme Court Denies Siegelman, Scrushy Appeals

Written by Andrew Kreig
Published on June 4, 2012

Don Siegelman

True to recent form, the U.S. Supreme Court denied relief June 4 to former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman on corruption charges. This sets the stage for Siegelman's reimprisonment in the most notorious federal political prosecution and frame-up of the decade.

The court denied without comment the certiorari petition of Siegelman and co-defendant Richard Scrushy, former CEO of HealthSouth, Inc. In 2007, U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller sentenced them to seven-year prison terms on multiple charges from Siegelman's solicitation of donations from Scrushy in 1999 for the non-profit Alabama Education Foundation. Siegelman supported the foundation's initiatives to increase school funding with a state lottery over the opposition of a Republican-orchestrated coalition.

On receipt of the court's decision, Siegelman gave a brief comment to his supporters, who have helped him through the years by donating to help pay millions of dollars of legal bills. As published on a list-serve run by Alabama supporter Pam Miles, Siegelman wrote, "Cert Denied.....:)...I'm Blessed by having your love and support..." Later he expanded it to read:

My heart is broken. Not for me, but for my family and friends who have stood by me during this struggle. I am eternally grateful for the work of my attorney Sam Heldman. I am indebted to the 113 state Attorneys General of both political parties who supported my case. And I am thankful for the law professors from around the nation who actively supported my appeal. I pray that something positive will come of this in our future.

 

The court, as usual, gave no details on its vote to deny the petition. But Democratic Justice Elena Kagan, left, presumably recused herself because she had advocated Siegelman's imprisonElena Kaganment when she was the Obama Administration's Solicitor General in 2009. The new administration stood shoulder-to-shoulder with its Bush predecessors in continuing the frame-up and cover-up. This was part of a "look forward, not backward" mantra that President Obama articulated most famously in avoiding accountability for Bush-era torture and cover-up. But events make clear that the cover-ups obviously applied also to Bush political prosecutions. Kagan's recusal made possible a 5 to 3 Republican majority for the case (although the precise totals aren't otherwise known) on a Supreme Court increasingly divided on partisan political lines.

Our Justice Integrity Project has been collecting hard evidence from legal scholars that the court's result-oriented decision-making is becoming an unprecedented disgrace, and is something every thinking voter needs to appreciate. Still to come are the court's politically-charged, election-year decision on the health care mandate.

But already anyone can see that Democrats and Republicans tend to vote as blocs on tight cases. Important legal scholars discern political motives as vital in such close decisions. Such scholars rarely share such views with the lay public because expert court-watchers do not want to antagonize fellow VIPs in the close-knit, high-prestige world of legal scholarship and advocacy. In that world, a travesty such as the 5-4 Bush v. Gore Florida vote recount decision in 2000 passes as a blip on the screen, forbidden even by the court itself from being cited as precedent.

Evidence of Supreme Court scandal, which our project carefully accumulated and shall provide in-depth later this summer, rarely finds such a tragic and dramatic result as the federal-state persecution of Siegelman, Alabama's most important Democrat of his era. That is because his frame-up not only involved great suffering for all co-defendants and their families, but helped transform the public policies in an entire state. Beyond that, it helps bring the United States justice system into disrepute in human rights circles nationally and in some case internationally, thus undermining United States foreign policy credibility. The June 4 ruling appears to have been Siegelman's last chance to avoid revocation of his appeal bond and resentencing by his nemesis, Judge Fuller. The Republican Fuller was chief middle district judge from /2004 to 2011. Fuller allegedly "hated" Siegelman even before the Bush administration's second secret indictment of Siegelman, and tried to frame him while also benefiting from some $300 million in no-bid Bush contracts for a military contracting company the judge secretly controlled as its largest shareholder.

Last week, the Montgomery Independent reported that Fuller cashed out his interests at Doss Aviation with an $18 million payment as he undergoes allegations of adultery and drug-use made by his wife of three decades, Lisa Fuller, in a divorce action filed in April. The divorce case files have now been sealed. This is part of the pattern of secrecy that has blighted this case at all judicial levels since its inception. We have reported that the secrecy can be traced to a culture of silence whereby attorneys and judges protect each other. One motive is the vast defense contracts -- including the Boeing-Airbus rivalry over $35 billion involved in the next generation of Air Force tankers -- looming as part of the motive for the Siegelman prosecution, as we have reported previously.

Siegelman, whose Karl Rove-inspired prosecution helped gut Alabama's once-competitive Democratic Party, served nearly a year of his term before release on bond when whistleblowers and legal experts helped show in 2007 and 2008 that he had been targeted for political reasons. As trial judge, Fuller paved the way for conviction with innumerable pro-prosecution rulings that ignored clear-cut legal irregularities plus allegations of monumental scandal. The prominent, blunt-speaknig Alabama businessman Luther "Stan" Pate has said his fellow Republicans clearly famed Siegelman. But Fuller, Rove and the vast bulk of other politicians and judges have denied wrongdoing or irregularities. House Judiciary Committee John Conyers (D-Michigan), hte leading voice in government for justice, was afire in 2007 with allegations when he could accuse the Bush administration. But Conyers, like his peers, shirked any effective action when Democats began running the Justice Department, his party lost its majority in the House in 2011, personal scandals enfeebled him. As overall context,party leaders decided, in effect, that Obama's re-election was more important that wasting efforts to help victims of the Bush administration. 

The Obama administration and Fuller's fellow federal judges have thus closed ranks and crafted many tactical successes to keep the lid on the scandals. In Siegelman's case, this is despite the sworn testimony of whistleblowers and the unprecedented filing to the Supreme Court of 113 former state attorneys general from more than 40 states arguing to the court that Scrushy's donations to the non-profit did not constitute a crime even though Siegelman in 1999 reappointed Scrushy to a state board after the donations. On a related matter, Siegelman stands conviced of backdating a check to hide a lobbyist's gift. But that charge would scarcely justify a prosecution effort begun in 1999 by Republican State Attorney General Gen. William Pryor (now a federal appeals court judge) and which I estimatee as coting taxpayers at least $25 million so far.

 
The June 4 Supreme Court ruling provides many sad lessons. Most obvious is a lack of transparency and logic in the court's deliberations, leading to justified suspicions that it is result-oriented jurisprudence with legal rhetoric just for show. Those regularly involved with the court as legal pundits or professors dare not voice such sacrilege publicly for the most part, but I can report that the overwhelming evidence is becoming difficult even for court loyalists to suppress. Second, we see illustrated in the Siegelman-Scrushy case a visible breakdown of the news media as a meaningful watchdog, aside from a temporary blessing in 2007 and 2008 by the mainstream media and an ongoing, dedicated cadre of old-school but low-income bloggers and citizen activists who have tried to hide the obvious irregularities of the case, to scant avail.
 
We see also that the bipartisan political system represents scant check on any misconduct. Listed below is a new book about Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, who reputedly feels sorry for himself because he is attacked by Republicans. There's no hint in the news articles about the forthcoming book that he feels the slightest shame at abandoning political prosecution torture victims from the Bush administration, or even the whistleblowers who courageously risked everything to fight injustice in the Justice Department. One of them is Tamarah Grimes, the DOJ's top-house paralegal in the Siegelman case. Holder fired her in 2009 after she sent him a 10-page single spaced description of irregularities in the office of holder Bush U.S. Attorney Leura Canary and others who helped lead the Siegelman prosecution. Ironically, Grimes was scheduled for a federal hearing June 5 on her claim of unjust firing, which the Obama administration is resisting out of loyalty to its predecessors.
 
None of this makes sense according to conventional political and other civic affairs analysis. But it all makes sense, in a diabolic way, with the kind of slightly deeper reporting independent media have been providing for years. Thus, 2010 Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Bill Barnes told me on the record that his view is that the Obama administration had largely written off the Deep South on such justice issues as the Siegleman case in order not antagonize powerful Republicans, sch as incumbent Sen. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions. Similarly, Congressman Artur Davis, Alabama's most important elected Democrat following Siegelman's persecution, worked out a deal with Republicans to sell out Siegelman, according to multiple confidential reports. But Davis was widely suspected of the double-cross, and lost the 2010 Alabama Democratic primary for governor. His reputation in ruins, last month he announced that he was becoming a Republican.

Richard Scrushy

Beyond breakdowns in political, court and news media watchdog functions, the Siegelman case illustrates the powerlessness of defendants no matter how much experience they have, how many witnesses or how much they can raise in defense costs. Siegleman was a Rhodes Scholar and former state attorney general. His co-defendant, Scrushy, was one of Alabama's richest men before the onslaught. Scrushy faced separate fraud allegations him both civilly and criminally arising from fraud in inflating the assets of HealthSouth, thus hurting investors. But his only convictions were for his donations to the non-profit, not any substantive action involving his company. Scrushy, denied bond, was released form prison to a halfway house this spring for the remainder of his term. He is shown at right in prison with one of his sons.
 
Scrushy and Siegelman received temporary hope last June when the Supreme Court provided an ambiguous ruling in parallel cases regarding unfairness of the "honest services" law under which they had been convicted. That decision was focused primarily on well-connected other defendants. Appellate courts whittled down meaningful application to Siegelman and Scrushy, thus setting up today's final appeal by defendants almost unaccountably doomed from the start.
 
In 2009, the Obama Justice Department requested that Fuller sentence Siegelman to 20 more years in prison when his appeals were concluded. Presumably, but not certainly, some sense of shame at DOJ as well as cost-benefit recognition of the enormous costs of prosecution and imprisonment will encourage Obama officials to reduce that request. On June 7, my weekly radio show MTL Washington Update is scheduled to host Montgomery Independent Editor and Publisher Bob Martin, among other guests, to discuss next steps with co-host Scott Draughon and me. The show is June 7 at noon (EDT), and available nationally. Click here to listen to the interview live nationwide on the MTL radio network or by archive. Listener questions: Call (866) 685-7469 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 
Sadly, if there's one thing this case has proven it's that law enforcers -- including and especially including those with most illustrious credentials and high-minded rhetoric -- cannot be counted upon to do the right thing when confronted with self-interest, including friendly relations with their fellow judges. Their lifetime appointments, book contracts, honors, junkets, posh careers for relatives should increasingly be examined in view of their go-along, get-along decision-making and largely shared world views. All but one, Clarence Thomas, is from the New York metro area. Most were propelled to the court by interest groups to whom they seem indebted with lifetime allegiance. All current Supreme Court Justices are alumni of Harvard or Yale Law School (although one transferred from Harvard to Columbia en route to a degree).
 
Sadly, it's rarely been more apparent than today that true merit of a legal education is its application, not its prestige.
 

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Millbrook Independent, DOJ Legal Team Sent Packing Once Again, Bob Martin and Brian Hodge, June 6, 2012. After a few months some of my law school learning hit me one day. It’s The Posse Comitatus Act I was trying to recall and it, in part, states simply: “Whoever....willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.” ongress passed the Posse Comitatus Act in 1878 to end military occupation in the Southern states during the Reconstruction period. Southern Democrats had complained bitterly about the oppressive use of the military in a policing role. The Act incorporates a founding American principle of keeping the nation's military forces separate from and subordinate to the "Civil Power” and that there should be a total separation of military from civil law enforcement. As one southern Senator stated during debates over the Act, "whenever you conclude that the Army can discharge those duties that belong to civil officers and to the citizens, then you have given up the character of your Government; it is no longer a government for liberty...it has become a government of force.'' So, was the United States Air Force aiding or abetting civil authorities in the prosecution of Siegelman and Scrushy by providing the Justice Department space and perhaps personnel in that effort?

DeKalb County Times-Journal (Alabama), Respectfully, Siegelman should be heard, Jared Felkins, June 5, 2012.  As Americans, we should have the utmost respect for the justices who serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. So, respectfully, there are too many unanswered questions lingering for the top court in the land not to hear an appeal of former Gov. Don Siegelman’s bribery conviction.Several of those questions were raised right here in DeKalb County, and it was enough a few years ago for the House Judiciary Committee to step in and ask them. Democrats in 2007 began reviewing Siegelman's 2006 corruption conviction as part of a broader investigation into allegations of political meddling at the Justice Department by the Bush administration. The effort gained momentum after Republican lawyer Jill Simpson, of Rainsville, who had volunteered for Siegelman’s re-election opponent – former Republican Gov. Bob Riley – said she overheard conversations suggesting that former White House adviser Karl Rove was talking with Justice Department officials about Siegelman's prosecution. The case, now apparently over, will go back to a federal court in Montgomery, where U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller has ordered a new sentencing hearing for Siegelman. He’s currently free on bond after serving nine months of his original sentence of more than seven years. But it shouldn’t be over. After being dragged out for the past six years, we deserve some answers. Simpson’s testimony should be considered. This case deserves resolutions. At the very least, Siegelman’s new sentence should be time served. The guy’s been through quite enough for arguably something he didn’t do.
Disagree with me? Let’s argue it out and see what happens. At this point, what would it hurt? But to do nothing is, respectfully, the ultimate injustice.

Tuscaloosa News, Court doesn’t buy Siegelman’s Rove conspiracy, June 7, 2012. Can we now put aside all of the silliness about Karl Rove’s plot to undo Don Siegelman? The U.S. Supreme Court’s inaction this week reaffirmed the former Alabama governor’s 2006 conviction in federal district court on bribery and corruption charges. The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals had twice upheld the jury’s verdict in the case, and the Supreme Court declined Monday to hear his appeal. Now, Siegelman is likely to be resentenced. He had served only about nine months of an 88-month sentence before a federal appeals court ordered him released from prison on an appeal bond in March 2008. Siegelman deserves to do more time for his crimes, but we would be OK if he didn’t go back to jail, if he would just go away. For years, we had to listen to his inane claims that he was the victim of a Republican conspiracy, engineered by Rove, to remove him from office and derail his political career. Those claims, replete with allegations of spying and secret phone conversations, were seized upon by congressional Democrats and some national news outlets eager to tar Rove, a senior adviser to former President George W. Bush and a longtime GOP political strategist, and prove that the White House was trying to influence federal prosecutions for political reasons.

Bob MartinWetumka Herald (Alabama), Was USAF aiding or abetting civil authorities? Bob Martin (right), June 6, 2012. If the U.S. Supreme Court decides this coming week not to take up Don Siegelman’s appeal, political contributions throughout the country, could be in jeopardy. (Editor’s Note: The Court did refuse to hear the appeal of Siegelman.) If Siegelman’s attempt to get the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his appeal fails, that will likely be the end of the line for the former governor, except for a possible reduction in his sentence which still must be ruled on by the U.S. District Court in Montgomery. It also means the Justice Department can start cleaning out the 40,000 square foot building at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery which housed the “nerve center” for the federal prosecutors in the Siegelman and Richard Scrushy cases. I was given a tour of the building at Maxwell several years ago. Everything was left in tack after the trial, including the pencils and paper on the desks. I left the tour wondering how much the Air Force had charged the Justice Department for using this space on a U.S. Military Base for the prosecution of this civil trial...or if they had collected any rent at all. I asked but never got an answer. And I could never shake the thought that this intrusion, though minor, of the military into civil litigation just doesn’t sound right.

Legal Schnauzer, SCOTUS' Refusal to Review Siegelman Case Will Forever Stand As a Reminder of Obama's Shame, Roger Shuler, June 5, 2012. The Obama Department of Justice, on multiple occasions, opposed U.S. Supreme Court review of the Don Siegelman case. The DOJ got its wish yesterday when the nation's highest court announced that it would not review what has come to be seen as the most notorious political prosecution in American history. One can only wonder why a Democratic administration would be unconcerned about the prosecution of a former Democratic governor in a heavily Republican state. The wonder turns to amazement when you consider that evidence in the Siegelman case, even if taken as true, did not amount to a crime, as described by the U.S. Code and relevant case law.  But here is the most distressing part of the DOJ's actions in opposing certiorari review of the Siegelman case: A review of documents filed by government lawyers proves that even they do not believe the testimony of the key prosecution witness. Either that, or DOJ officials do not even bother to review documents they file in cases of national importance--and if that's the case, someone is committing professional negligence, misconduct or both. What are we talking about? Let's consider the government's opposition brief in Siegelman's bid for certiorari review. It apparently was written by DOJ lawyer John-Alex Romano and approved by Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. and Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer. (The full opposition brief can be read at the end of this post.)

Legal Schnauzer, What Is the Fallout from the U.S. Supreme Court's Refusal To Hear the Siegelman Appeal? Roger Shuler, June 4, 2012. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) today ruled that citizens can be convicted of "crimes" that do not exist, based on jury instructions that do not mirror actual law. The Supreme Court also overturned the case that had served as precedent for more than 20 years in cases that allege bribery in the context of a campaign contribution. For good measure, the high court also provided overwhelming evidence that Barack Obama does not deserve a second term as president. And, by the way, criminal cases no longer have to be proven "beyond a reasonable doubt."

SCOTUS did not make any of those decisions in the form of actual rulings. But those are essentially the take-home lessons from the court's decision this morning not to hear an appeal in the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. Perhaps the most important lesson is this: The nation's highest court proved beyond any doubt--and there really was no doubt in light of the 2000 Bush v. Gore ruling -- that it is corrupt and our entire "justice system" needs a thorough cleansing from top to bottom.

New York Times, Justices Refuse to Hear Ex-Governor’s Appeal, John H. Cushman Jr., June 4 2012.  The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the appeals of former Gov. Don E. Siegelman of Alabama and the man convicted of bribing him, a case which has tested the murky limits of when a campaign donation can be considered corrupt. The two were convicted in 2006 on federal bribery charges after Richard M. Scrushy, the former chief executive of HealthSouth, contributed $500,000 to help pay off the debt of a 1999 referendum campaign for a state lottery favored by the governor, who in turn named Mr. Scrushy to a state hospital board. Mr. Scrushy is in prison and Mr. Siegelman has been out on bail as the case bounced around the courts, its status complicated by subsequent rulings of the Supreme Court involving corruption and campaign finance. Among other defenses, their lawyers have argued that Mr. Siegelman did not personally benefit from the payment and that there was no explicit quid pro quo to turn Mr. Scrushy’s campaign contribution into an illegal bribe. But the prosecution of Mr. Siegelman, begun during the Bush administration but carried on by the Obama administration as well, has provoked a considerably broader political and legal debate. His defenders claimed it began as a politically inspired attempt by Republicans to take down a rising Democrat, pushed through by overly zealous prosecutors on shaky legal grounds. Scores of former state attorneys general and legal scholars came to his defense, saying that there was a danger in allowing prosecutors too much discretion in making a crime out of political contributions. It is a question that has new salience in light of the recent trial of former presidential candidate John Edwards, and in a new era of enormous financial support for candidates from wealthy individuals supposedly operating independently from candidates.

Washington Post, Justices won't hear former governor's appeal, Robert Barnes, June 4, 2012. Supreme Court turns down appeal from Siegelman. The Supreme Court on Monday turned down former Alabama governor Don Siegelman’s attempt to challenge his public corruption conviction. Siegelman and former Alabama hospital executive Richard Scrushy were found guilty on charges Scrushy made $500,000 in political contributions to one of Siegelman’s favored causes so that the governor would name him to a state hospital board.

Associated Press, Court Won't Hear Siegelman, Scrushy Appeals, June 4, 2012. The Supreme Court will not take another look at the bribery conviction of former Ala. Gov. Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. The high court on Monday turned away the two men's appeals. Siegelman was convicted of selling a seat on a hospital regulatory board to Scrushy in exchange for $500,000 in donations to Siegelman's 1999 campaign to establish a state lottery. The Siegelman's lawyers wanted to argue that campaign donations can't be bribes unless there's a clear agreement between the donor and the politician, and that there was no such agreement in Siegelman's case. Siegelman has been free on bond while appealing his conviction, while the courts refused to free Scrushy. The appeals were turned away without comment.

 
Los Angeles Times, When is a campaign donation a bribe? Supreme Court may decide, David G. Savage, June 2, 2012. Scores of former state attorneys general urge the justices to hear the appeal of convicted former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman was charged with bribery and sent to prison because, prosecutors said, a wealthy hospital executive gave him $500,000 in exchange for appointing him to a state hospital planning board. But this half-million-dollar "bribe" did not enrich Siegelman. Instead, the disputed money was a contribution to help fund a statewide referendum on whether Alabama should have a state lottery to support education, a pet cause of the governor's. The Supreme Court is set to decide as soon as Monday whether to hear Siegelman's final appeal, which raises a far-reaching question: Is a campaign contribution a bribe if a politician agrees to do something in return, or is it to be expected that politicians will do favors for their biggest supporters? Prominent election law experts and more than 100 former state attorneys general have urged the justices to review Siegelman's case. They say the law in this area is hazy, with the result that aggressive prosecutors can bring charges against political enemies.
 
SCOTUS Blog, Petitions to watch, Matthew Bush, May 29, 2012. At its May 31, 2012 Conference, the Court will consider such issues as dismissing a claim so that it may be appealed instead of amended, bribery and implied “explicit” promises, mens rea in the federal alien smuggling statute, and whether the police can detain someone away from the premises being searched while executing a search warrant.  This edition of “Petitions to watch” features petitions raising issues that Tom has determined to have a reasonable chance of being granted, although we post them here without consideration of whether they present appropriate vehicles in which to decide those issues. Certiorari-stage documents:
 
Scrushy v. United States
Docket: 11-972
Issue(s): In the context of a First-Amendment-protected contribution to an issue advocacy campaign, whether the McCormick v. United States holding that campaign contributions cannot constitute bribery unless “the payments are made in return for an explicit promise or undertaking by the official to perform or not to perform an official act” means “explicit,” or whether something less than proof of an “explicit promise” can be sufficient to sustain a conviction.

Siegelman v. United States
Docket: 11-955
Issue(s): Whether the McCormick v. United States standard -- under which a connection between a campaign contribution and an official action is a crime “only if the payments are made in return for an explicit promise or undertaking by the official to perform or not to perform an official act” -- requires proof of an “explicit” quid pro quo in the sense of actually being communicated expressly, or whether there can be a conviction based instead only on the inference that there was an unstated and implied agreement connecting a campaign contribution and an official action; (2) whether 18 U.S.C. § 666 and “honest services” law (under 18 U.S.C. § 1346) cover campaign or referendum contributions as alleged bribes at all; and (3) whether the “intent” clause of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(3) requires proof of the specific intent to interfere with communications to law enforcement, or whether it is satisfied by proof of an intent to engage in a “cover-up” more generically.

Certiorari-stage documents [Visit SCOTUS Blog for hot-links]:
Opinion below (11th Cir.)
Petition for certiorari
Brief in opposition
Amicus brief of Richard F. Scruggs
Amicus brief of Former Attorneys General
Amicus brief of Law Professors
Reply of petitioner

Eric HolderMain Justice, New Book Sheds Light on Holder's Battles With Justice Department, Elizabeth Murphy, June 3, 2012.  A new book by a journalist close to Eric Holder details the pressures the attorney general was under critics both within the administering and from the political right, portraying him as depressed and close to quitting at one point, according to news accounts. Holder is painted as struggling to stay afloat as public pressure mounted over controversies like the failed attempt to prosecution 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad in federal court in New York. “Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency" is written by former Newsweek managing editor Daniel Klaidman.

 

 

 

Background


Who's Who? Chart Prepared by Siegelman Supporters

Siegelman Case Relationship Chart

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.

Montgomery Independent, Judge got $18 million in Doss Aviation sale; Fuller divorce records have been sealed by judge in case, Bob Martin, May 31, 2012.  Montgomery Circuit Judge Anita Kelly has sealed the records in the divorce matter involving U. S. District Judge Mark Everett Fuller and his wife, Lisa.  Fuller’s lawyers had requested that the file be sealed, however Mrs. Fuller had initially objected to the entire file being sealed. The Independent, Justice Integrity Project in Washington and Lgal Schauzer in Birmingham have filed a request seeking the file to remain open to the public. udge Kelly waited some three weeks after the case was filed before sealing the records.

The Independent reported last week that Judge Fuller and his partners sold Doss Aviation, located in Denver last December. We have now learned that the company which was moved from Enterprise to Colorado, brought $42 million and some change. If that is the correct number Fuller’s 43.75 percent share of the business earned him slightly more than $18 million. The company’s income has come primarily from U. S. Government contracts and once listed its mailing address at the United States Federal Courthouse, shortly after Fuller was appointed a judge by President George W. Bush. Doss Aviation  was a major source of Fuller’s income, probably the main source and its primary income came from government contracts or from those who received government contracts. Doss Aviation benefited from a steady stream of Department of Defense and other federal contracts some awarded on a no-bid basis under highly suspicious circumstances.

Washington Post, Is it bribery or just politics? George F. Will, Feb. 12, 2012. All elected officials, and those who help finance elections in the expectation that certain promises will be kept — and everyone who cares about the rule of law — should hope the Supreme Court agrees to hear Don Siegelman’s appeal of his conviction. Until the court clarifies what constitutes quid pro quo political corruption, Americans engage in politics at their peril because prosecutors have dangerous discretion to criminalize politics....In 2009, a bipartisan amicus brief by 91 former state attorneys general urged the Supreme Court to use Siegelman’s case to enunciate a clear standard for establishing quid pro quo bribery. Today’s confusion and the resulting prosecutorial discretion chill the exercise of constitutional rights of political participation and can imprison people unjustly.

Young Turks, Obama Admin With Karl Rove Against Don Siegelman, Cenk Uygur, Feb. 20, 2012 (Video). Conservative columnist George Will thinks Democratic Alabama Governor Don Siegelman was unfairly convicted of bribery. Why does the Obama Administration?

Legal Schnauzer, George Will, Of All People, Stands Up for Justice in the Don Siegelman Case, Roger Shuler, Feb. 12, 2012. Who could have imagined that George Will would prove to be more progressive than Barack Obama on fundamental matters of justice? Will, probably the nation's foremost conservative columnist, writes in his most recent piece that the U.S. Supreme Court should review the convictions of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy to ensure that overzealous prosecutors are not criminalizing standard political behavior. The Obama Justice Department, meanwhile, has stated that the Siegelman case was correctly decided and should not be reviewed by the nation's highest court. That presents a disturbing scenario for Democrats as they think about heading to the polls in November: George Will actually is more enlightened than Barack Obama on constitutional issues of profound importance to many progressives.

Pam Miles List-Serve, Don Siegelman, Esther Davis, Feb. 12, 2012. A brilliant, determined young man, a Rhodes scholar and karate black-belt, Donald Eugene Siegelman worked work his way through law school and eventually became the only Alabamian ever to be elected to four state-wide office, including the governorship.  As Lieutenant Governor, in 1997 Lieutenant Governor Don Siegelman  joined other states in a lawsuit against tobacco companies. Attorney General Bill Pryor and Alabama Republican Bill Canary fought the lawsuit. Siegelman accused Pryor, a close personal friend of Karl Rove, of being  too friendly with the tobacco industry. This disagreement served as the spring board for Pryor and his friends to launch an on-going investigation that would ultimately end Siegelman’s political career. Bill Canary was known as  “a legend in Republican circles” and  “someone you drop in a state when something needs fixing.”  He and Rove developed a strategy to turn around the court system in Alabama by hand-picking GOP candidates, spending million of dollars to get them elected. The strategy worked. Not one Democrat serves on the Alabama Supreme Court.  At the same time, there remained the problem of the popular Democratic governor. There was always the possibility that he would one day run for president.  In 2001 Bush- appointed US attorney, Leura Canary, wife of Bill Canary, and former assistant to  Bill Pryor, federalized Pryor’s on-going investigation of Siegelman. Subsequently,  Siegelman was indicted and dragged into court in 2004, 2005 and 2006. He was dogged his entire political career by a cabal engineered from Washington, which included Pryor, Karl Rove, who had been  Pryor’s campaign manager, and Canary, who had been  Bob Riley’s campaign manager, and Leura Canary. Through the years, they would bring more than 100 indictments against him.

Legal Schnauzer, Why Did Karl Rove and His GOP Thugs Target Don Siegelman in Alabama? Roger Shuler, Feb. 6, 2012. (1) Why did Karl Rove and his pro-business GOP thugs target Alabama Democratic Governor Don Siegelman? (2) Why did the Bush administration proceed with what has become the most notorious political prosecution in American history? Those questions are particularly powerful now because Siegelman last week filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court for review of his 2006 convictions on bribery and obstruction of justice charges. This appears to be Siegelman's last crack at appellate review, and if it is denied, he probably is headed back to federal prison. I've probably written more words about the Siegelman affair than just about anyone on the planet, so I might as well take a crack at answering those questions.

Montgomery Advertiser, Don Siegelman asks U.S. Supreme Court to review bribery conviction, Brian Lyman, Feb. 1, 2012.  Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review his 2006 conviction on bribery and obstruction of justice charges. The 116-page petition for writ of certiorari requests the court to consider when a political contribution becomes a bribe, a key element of the former governor’s case. In their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Siegelman’s attorneys ask the court to settle the matter, citing different rulings by different U.S. circuit courts on the issue. Jill Simpson

Justice Integrity Project, Alabama Democrat’s Slam at Party, Bush Advocacy Prompt Pushback, Guest Column by Jill Simpson, right, Jan. 31, 2012. "The truth about Artur Davis is that he sold out the Democrats in the State of Alabama, including Don Siegelman, when he stopped requesting as a House Judiciary Committee member that Karl Rove be brought before Congress in a public hearing with full examination to answer for his crimes devising political prosecutions."

 

Artur DavisLegal Schnauzer, Artur Davis Must Be the Sorest Loser In the History of American Politics, Roger Shuler, Feb. 1, 2012. Former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis [left] has been conducting a world-class whine-fest ever since he got spanked in the 2010 Democratic primary for governor. Davis says standing up for Siegelman made him appear soft on crime, and by questioning the actions of the Bush Justice Department, Davis called his own integrity into question. If you are a coherent, rational human being, that paragraph will leave you scratching your head. Davis, in so many words, is saying that he now regrets appearing to have principles -- he now regrets suggesting that federal prosecutions should focus only on actual crimes, not the political affiliation of the accused. Artur Davis is saying that he regrets standing up for due process and equal protection under the law -- that if a man has to choose between fundamental constitutional rights and his own political career, he should choose the career stuff every time.

Justice Integrity Project, Judge Denies Siegelman Co-Defendant Scrushy New Trial, Andrew Kreig, Jan. 24, 2012.  An Alabama federal judge imposed a reduced 70-month prison term for former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy Jan. 24 on a 2006 corruption conviction after denying Scrushy’s request for a retrial based on new evidence. Middle District Chief U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller resentenced Scrushy for bribery, conspiracy and fraud charges involving the one-time billionaire’s donation of $500,000 beginning in 1999 to the non-profit Alabama Education Foundation at the request of then-Gov. Don Siegelman. Scrushy is shown at right with one of his sons during a prison visit.

 

Appendix of Cited and Follow-up Reports

2011

Legal Schnauzer, Obama Nominee Should Be Rejected for Key Justice Department Post, Roger Shuler, April 6, 2011. The U.S. Senate should thoroughly grill and then reject the Obama administration's nominee for a controversial U.S. attorney position, according to a report out this morning from the Justice Integrity Project (JIP).

Birmingham News, Federal prosecutors in the bingo vote-buying case need to get their act together, Editorial Board, April 5, 2011. Federal prosecutors involved in the bingo vote-buying case are apparently off to a bad start, if a hearing last week is any indication. U.S. Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel Jr. sharply scolded the government's team for not giving the 10 defendants information they are entitled to have about federal wiretaps. He threatened sanctions and issued a special rebuke for lawyers from the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., who are leading the prosecution. "This is supposed to be some elite unit coming down from D.C., and how this case has been conducted is ridiculous," Capel said.

Legal Schnauzer, Obama Proposes a Wretched Nominee for Controversial U.S. Attorney Post, Roger Shuler, April 1, 2011.
Just when you think the Obama administration's performance on justice issues in Alabama can't get any worse . . . it does.  Now we know why Obama waited more than two years to nominate a replacement for Bush appointee Leura Canary in the Middle District of Alabama. He apparently planned to nominate someone who is almost as bad as she is . . . so, why rush it?  George Beck, from the Montgomery firm of Capell and Howard, is the administration's choice, according to a press release issued yesterday. Sources tell Legal Schnauzer that the White House would have needed to strive awfully hard to come up with a worse choice than Beck. The Alabama Democratic Party issued a statement supporting the nomination, which speaks volumes about why Democrats can't win a statewide race in "The Heart of Dixie" to save their souls.

Birmingham News, Alabama judge threatens sanctions against bingo prosecutors, Kim Chandler, April 2, 2011. A judge on Friday said federal prosecutors acted with arrogance and "blatant ignorance" of the law by failing to turn over information about wiretaps to defense lawyers in the bingo vote-buying case. U.S. Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel Jr. said he is considering sanctions against prosecutors for their repeated delays in sharing documents.

2010
Nieman Watchdog, New Questions Raised About Prosecutor Who Cleared Bush Officials in U.S. Attorney Firings, Andrew Kreig, July 25, 2010.

2009
Legal Schnauzer, Lawyers Rake In Almost $28 million in Fees On Scrushy Case, Roger Shuler, Dec. 17, 2009.

Nieman Watchdog, Covering Prosecutors Calls For Tough-Minded Reporters, Andrew Kreig, Oct. 18, 2009.

Huffington Post, Siegelman Blasts DoJ and Judge In ‘Final’ Reply Seeking Hearing, Andrew Kreig, Sept. 21, 2009.

OpEd News: Explosive New Interview: DoJ Whistleblower Slams Siegelman Case, Parts I & II, Andrew Kreig, Sept. 16 & 18, 2009.

Huffington Post, Did DoJ Blackmail Siegelman Witness With Sex Scandal? Andrew Kreig, July 21, 2009.

Huffington Post, As Rove Testifies About Firings At Justice, Why Did DoJ Fire Whistleblower? Andrew Kreig, July 8, 2009.

C-SPAN, June 26, 2009 (3 hours, 4 minutes), Video: C-SPAN. Thirteen speakers describe political prosecutions in the United States during a breakthrough forum on the topic at the National Press Club organized by the Justice Integrity Project's predecessor coalition, following revelations about such prosecutions as Siegelman's, Oliver Diaz in Mississippi and Charles Walker, Sr. in Georgia.

Huffington Post, Alabama Decisions Illustrate Abuse of Judicial Power, Andrew Kreig, June 10, 2009.

Huffington Post, Siegelman's First Trial Judge Blasts U.S. Prosecutors, Seeks Probe of 'Unfounded' Charges, May 21, 2009, Andrew Kreig.

Huffington Post, Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge’, Evidence Shows….$300 Million in Bush Military Contracts Awarded to Judge’s Private Company, Andrew Kreig, May 15, 2009.

Huffington Post, Probe the Past to Protect the Future, Andrew Kreig, March 4, 2009.

2008
Truth in Justice, It Does Happen In America: The Political Trial of Don Siegelman, Paul Craig Roberts, Feb. 28, 2008.

CBS 60 Minutes, Did Ex-Alabama Governor Get A Raw Deal? Scott Pelley, Feb. 24, 2008. U.S. House Judiciary Committee

2007

Alabama Public Television, For the Record hosted by Tim Lennox, With guests George Beck, Barbara Bobo, Bob Martin and Dave White, June 29, 2007.

 

Investigative Archives:

Harper's / No Comment by Scott Horton

Legal Schnauzer by Roger Shuler

Locust Fork News-Journal by Glynn Wilson: Siegelman/Scrushy Archive

Wayne Madsen Report by Wayne Madsen (Subscription only)

U.S. House Judiciary Committee Democratic Majority (By Then-Chairman John Conyers of Michigan)

5. “Allegations of Selective Prosecution” Joint Hearing Materials (2007)