Siegelman Nov. 2 Showdown Hurts Obama, Not Rove

Don SiegelmanA legal showdown of historic proportion unfolds Nov. 2 in an Alabama federal court. Squared off in Courtroom B4 beginning at 10 a.m. in Montgomery were the Obama Justice Department and its most important domestic defendant, former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, once the leading Democrat in his state.

Frank Johnson CourthouseSiegelman wants the government to provide documents proving that Middle District U.S. Attorney Leura Canary really withdrew from the case, as she claimed. The government contends he is not entitled to confidential government documents. After five years Siegelman has finally won a hearing on a request for documents that are central to his 2006 convictions on corruption charges. Middle District U.S. Magistrate-Judge Charles S. Coody, sitting under the authority of the district's Chief Judge Mark E. Fuller, presides in the courthouse shown below.

Beyond that, Siegelman is in the rare position of having witnesses step forward with evidence that his prosecutors and trial judge framed him. Meanwhile, Siegelman has been tried and sentenced to a lengthy prison term in what our Justice Integrity Project, among others, has described as the nation's most notorious political prosecution in decades. Some of us have documented this many times, with both sources and official denials in the links below.

The main and more novel focus of my column today is how this case exemplifies others around the nation whereby the Obama administration fails to protect our precious legacy of due process. Already, this disgraceful pattern has deeply damaged Obama's reputation and re-election chances.

Barack ObamaYou don't believe that? I can understand. I repeatedly encounter in Washington and elsewhere well-informed professionals in journalism, law or politics who have barely, if ever, heard of Siegelman and his ordeal. Many of them are immersed in mainstream political punditry, typified by the chatter on Sunday morning news talk shows. Their lack of awareness of the dark and dirty secrets in political prosecutions doesn't surprise me.

The Washington Post has never published an in-depth story on the Siegelman case despite what must be tens of thousands of citizen protests to the White House, DOJ and news organizations. The important but far-from-definitive reporting by the New York Times and CBS News in 2007-2008 has long since disappeared. Most other news organizations spend scant resources to report on Alabama. So, the mainstream media rely on skimpy wire service summaries of local news reports and official documents. Beyond that, busy professionals tend to assume that Democrats in an Obama administration along with the inherent fairness of our legal system would correct any partisan irregularities.

Sadly, that's not true, as many bloggers document as they build up followings who are increasingly skeptical of Obama promises to reform justice, or anything else.

Support for Siegelman primarily developed among progressive blogs in 2007 because of corruption allegations that tied the prosecution to Karl Rove's political pressures on the Justice Department to advance Republican goals. That two-party drama climaxed in February 2008 in a CBS 60 Minutes exposé that brought the Siegelman story to nation's largest TV prime-time audience. But CBS omitted sworn documentation of recusal battles and government contract deals that involve both parties. The current and more complex storyline is too much for the mainstream media.

Even so, scandal revelations about Obama DOJ malfeasance resonate with new and largely sub rosa blog and activist audiences across the political spectrum. This is because a crime case holds inherent drama when it pivots on mind-boggling legal irregularities, plus high-level political and corporate intrigue. This coincides with more pervasive discontent with jobs, savings, foreclosure, tax, student debt and war woes, plus more generalized fears -- whether of Big Government or big corporations. This is becoming visible in Occupy Wall Street or Tea Party protests alike.

Illustrating this are several powerful perspectives published below for the first time. That you must go to this blog to read this kind of information discredits Congress, the courts and the mainstream media. Oversight bodies could easily invite these expert, civic-spirited voices to share their views in high-visibility hearings that the media would cover. But that doesn't fit the format of two-party shadow-boxing that distracts the public from the real wheeler-dealers and the vast sums at stake.

With that overview, here's a way to understand what's going on:

Political strategists at the top of the Obama administration apparently have decided to let Republicans in several of the Deep South states do pretty much what they want in the criminal justice system in major political cases, according to Bill Barnes, Alabama's most recent Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate. He believes Obama officials have written off his and other red states in his region, and hope to wheedle concessions from powerful Republican senators on matters elsewhere.

This is shocking if true -- and stupid as well. Someone's due process rights in Alabama, especially the right not to be framed and unjustly imprisoned, is not a possession of the Obama strategy team to barter away -- any more than it was the right of the Bush White House to purge nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 for political reasons, thereby leaving in place "loyal Bushies" as prosecutors who would imprison opponents for trumped-up reasons. Most notorious among those remaining was Alabama's Canary, whom Obama retained until late last spring. Yet I've documented how the Obama DOJ sabotaged its own probes of Bush administration wrongdoing, and I've quoted a top Obama transition executive, law school dean Christopher Edley, Jr., as saying they feared GOP reprisals especially if they investigated security issues.

Let's now go beyond the injustice factor. There's a high probability that any deal would be corrupt on the part of Democrats if it had to be done so secretly. But even if a deal were simple wheeler-dealing, what kind of idiots (with Ivy League pedigrees or not) would think Republicans would fulfill their part of any such deal? It reminds me of the Mafia stories I used to cover or read about. The mobster offers to help a greedy legitimate business owner, and then tells the sucker to get lost -- and forget about the business if he wants to live. "What are you going to do?" Boston mobster Vincent Theresa recalled telling his scam victims. "Complain to the FBI you made a crooked deal with the mob?"

At issue on Nov. 2 is whether Canary recused herself from Siegelman's decade-long prosecution. Siegelman want the case thrown out if the government won't produce its evidence. Canary is shown below at left early in her tenure that began in 2001 and below right more recently, Her husband, William Canary, now reportedly estranged, is a longtime Karl Rove ally and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama. Also, he was campaign manager in 2002 for a Siegelman opponent, and was fingered in sworn testimony as conspiring with fellow Republicans to frame Siegelman to keep him out of politics.

Leura CanaryLeura CanaryMeanwhile, the DOJ convicted Siegelman and co-defendant businessman Richard Scrushy, and won long prison terms. The main charges were because Siegelman asked Scrushy to donate to a non-profit advocating for a state lottery to create funding for a better educational system in the state. By the time the indictment was unsealed in late 2005, Scrushy had a terrible reputation because of widespread reports of financial fraud as CEO of HealthSouth and his acquittal in a federal trial where high-level staff testified against him. But the convictions in the Siegelman case purely pertained to his donations to Alabama Education Foundation.

Several prominent whistleblowers have alleged that the Canary couple were part of Bush DOJ and White House plot to target Siegelman on trumped-up charges for political reasons. The conspiracy, which took the route of linking Siegelman to Scrushy's unpopularity, is alleged to have involved Rove and Siegelman's trial judge, Fuller, who controlled Doss Aviation, Inc. as its largest stockholder at a time it was receiving $300 million in Bush contracts. Fuller's 44% ownership in the closely held company declined to 32% over time, according to state filings that the company declines to amplify.

Fuller has insisted that he is fair and declined to recuse. Last summer, a wealthy Florida federal judge, Richard Hinkle, ruled in favor of Fuller and the DOJ. Hinkle, a Democrat with a vast portfolio of stocks that could create conflicts for himself, largely sidestepped the specific evidence of Fuller's conflict and bias -- and the underlying federal law that forbids even the appearance of impropriety. As part of its shame, the DOJ has signed its name to pleadings arguing an obvious falsehood: that not one reasonable, independent person in the United States might think Fuller might be biased.

These factors alone make this case a travesty. To be sure, the main miscreants have either denied wrongdoing or failed to respond to requests for comment. So the real infamy is the scant evidence of any meaningful oversight by either the Bush or Obama administrations, Congress or judicial authorities. They all received a separate complaint in 2003 that Fuller should be impeached for Doss-related corruption. Authorities apparently never investigated the 39-page sworn complaint and its 140 pages of exhibits by a highly experienced lawyer, Paul B. Weeks III, based in Springfield, MO. Instead, authorities promptly removed the materials from the nationwide electronic database of documents filed with the federal court system so that no other litigants can see the evidence against Fuller -- who, as chief federal judge, enjoys the happy position of controlling the court system in his bailiwick, including the clerk's office.

That's why the hearing Nov. 2 is important. Former Siegelman aide Chip Hill puts it this way:

We contend that: A) Leura Canary should never have been involved due to the fact that she had a prima facie conflict on the day she took office.  At that time, her husband was working for Lt. Gov. Steve Windom, an announced opponent of Siegelman’s in the 2002 race for Governor. B) Even after her “phantom” recusal she continued to be involved in the case. Prosecutors have repeatedly misrepresented facts to the congress and the court about this fact. Their contention that she had no involvement whatsoever is disproven with their own documents.

At every juncture in this case, the government has failed to fully disclose as prescribed by law. When confronted, they are always handy with an explanation in attempt to qualify their malfeasance. Don’t lose sight of this core issue: We are having to go to court to get the information they are required by law to provide Governor Siegelman.

Bill BarnesLet that sink in for a minute. If [Former Alaska Sen.] Ted Steven’s case was dropped due to failures to disclose on the part of the government, then this case should have been tossed years ago.

Barnes, the 2010 Democratic Senate nominee, shared his opinion with me on-the-record last July. I've been saving it for an appropriate occasion. As further background, I got to know him in covering his 2010 race against incumbent Republican Dick Shelby. I saw first-hand that Barnes -- a moderate Democrat, lawyer and former Army officer -- was willing to tackle not simply his opponent but powers-that-be in both parties, in his state and nationally. Thus, he used the last dollars of his campaign funding to travel to a news conference at the National Press Club I organized to tell the public about his concerns with the Obama Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency and White House on major civic issues. The issues included federal responses to the Siegelman case and BP Gulf oil disaster and clean-up.

My information from Barnes is that no one at the White House, EPA, DOJ or even Democratic National Committee ever responded to his letters, much less met with him. To be sure, his trip was on relatively short notice and he faced long odds in challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Dick Shelby, Dick Shelbyat right, who had a $17 million campaign war chest. Even so, Barnes was his party's primary election-winner. Beyond that, his top campaign aide told me that neither the DNC nor state Democratic party contributed anything to his campaign, not even $1. Barnes undertook the race as what he considered a civic duty to provide a choice, and has never complained to me about the financing or similar issues. I mention it only as context for his view of why the Obama administration has not overseen Alabama's federal prosecutions more aggressively, aside from the current immigration law dispute that has caught the attention of the DOJ as well as important pro-immigration and civil rights groups.

Now is the time to share another of my political interviews from July. This was with Luther "Stan" Pate IV, a construction tycoon based in Tuscaloosa who is regarded as one of the founders of the modern Republican Party that is now in ascendancy in the bulk of the state's major offices. We spoke for an hour on-the-record. Pate provided a perspective that is complementary in several important respects to that of Barnes. He believes that Siegelman was framed on the main charges against him, and that his two-term opponent Bob Riley and his cronies received some $27 million in highly questionable and largely secret donations and investments, much of it from gambling interests (as I have repeatedly reported).

Further, Pate says the Obama administration was cowardly in appointing as Canary's successor George Beck, left, who represented the main witness against SiegelGeorge Beckman, a former aide named Nick Bailey. Bailey, a former chauffeur for Siegelman, was a small-time, junior politico with no resources. Bailey -- according to a Pate affidavit in 2009 that prompted me to call him for the interview -- was frightened of prosecution threats of a 10-year sentence for other crimes.

"You're just about the most worthless lawyer I've ever seen in my life," Pate recalled telling Beck on one occasion. Pate was furious that Beck had let his client Bailey be brow-beaten by federal prosecutors in up to 70 pre-trial interrogation sessions, almost none reported to the defense as required by law. Pate felt sorry for Bailey, and says he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Bailey. Thus, Pate was funding Beck's legal work and is an obvious source for anyone wanting to know Beck's qualifications to assume control of the office laboring under the most controversial record in the country.

Pate's comments were particularly striking to me since our Justice Integrity Project had undertaken a campaign against Beck's nomination, including a four-part series last spring. The gist was that Beck's role in the Siegelman case disqualified him for serious consideration for such a powerful office unless authorities wanted him to preside over a cover-up.

Nonetheless, Beck's support by both of Alabama's Republican senators, the Alabama Democratic Party and the Obama White House prompted the Senate to confirm him without even asking him to answer questioPat Leahyns at a confirmation hearing. Beck, the state and national Democratic Party and other relevant figures have never responded to my requests for comment on any of this. An aide to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT), right, wrote back, but largely to dispute that there was any reason to question Beck. That's the way they do business.

Pate's own motives and views deserve a much longer treatment than I can provide now, except for these highlights: He, like many of the important voices on Siegelman's behalf, is a Republican who didn't support him during his political career but is now offended by a corrupt legal and political system operated by both parties.

Pate is famous in Alabama for renting an airplane during the 2010 Rose Bowl during the University of Alabama appearance so that then-Governor Bob Riley, present with friends and family at the national championship game, could see the seven-foot banner, "Impeach Corrupt Alabama Governor Bob Riley." For a news article, Stan Pate says he's behind banner ad urging Gov. Bob Riley's impeachment, Pate explained, "This guy has been in office almost eight years and he's one of the most corrupt governors in my life. I hope he sees that banner and takes every word of it to heart because I mean every word in it."

As a telling point, Pate believes that Siegelman was guilty in back-dating a check to hide receipt of a motorcycle from a lobbyist. But that was a very minor charge compared to the massive indictments that authorities brought against Siegelman. Prosecutors succeeded otherwise only on the deeply flawed theory that Siegelman corruptly induced businessman Richard Scrushy to donate to a non-profit advocating for a state lottery to help fund better schools. Ninety-one former state attorney generals from more than 40 states have argued that those latter convictions aren't even a crime. But both the Bush and Obama administrations have wanted Siegelman to spend much of the rest of his life in prison for it. Siegelman, now 66, is free on bail.

As well known to readers here, courageous Republican whistleblowers who have spoken up on Siegelman's behalf include Dana Jill Simpson, a lawyer. She swore she heard William Canary tell her and other Republican insiders on a 2002 conference call that he was working with "my girls" [who presumably included his wife and fellow Republican Northern District U.S. Attorney Alice Martin, who unsuccessfully prosecuted Siegelman in 2004] to take care of Siegelman. Simpson swore also that she heard that Fuller "hated" Siegelman and would "hang" him at a time in early 2005 when Siegelman thought he was out of legal jeopardy because the first Bush prosecution under Martin collapsed. Behind the scenes, Simpson also documented how Fuller controlled Doss Aviation Inc. as its largest shareholder while the company greatly ramped up its earnings with $300 million in Bush contracts from 2006 to 2009.

"It's amazing to me that Obama can claim he's protecting human rights around the world," Simpson told me this week in an exclusive interview, "and he's ignoring the plight of Democrats railroaded to prison right in his own country. I think I know why in this case." Simpson continued:

Fuller and his company are part of the military-industrial complex. As we've seen with many documents, Doss is training Air Force pilots and refueling Air Force planes, including the President's Air Force One. The government ought to be releasing not simply the records about Leura Canary -- but all the records on Doss Aviation and Fuller. If you look at the Doss Aviation website, you'll see that the company bragged last spring about advancing towards $5 billion in new government business over the next five years. I guess President Obama likes Fuller's company pretty well.

Grimes

Also, the Obama Justice Department in June 2009 fired its top in-house paralegal for the Siegelman trial, Tamarah Grimes, left, after she complained to Bush and then Obama authorities about trial and office procedures, including Leura Canary's supervisory role after supposed recusal. Grimes is a Republican whom I interviewed extensively in 2009 following her 10-page, single-spaced letter outlining her concerns to Obama Attorney Gen. Eric Holder, below right. Alabama blogger Roger Shuler alone has written hundreds of columns about the Siegelman case, including the DOJ's injustice in firing Grimes. Another was Shuler's thorough treatment of the recusal issue last April in The Siegelman Case: Ten Years of Injustice -- and Counting. That column included the full text of Siegelman's February 2006 request under the Eric HolderFreedom of Information Act for relevant DOJ documents. This request was for the vital purpose of enabling the defendant to prepare for trial later, with hopes he could be acquitted that year before Alabama's 2006 gubernatorial re-election.

In a 2007 sentencing, Fuller ordered Siegelman and Scrushy to be hauled from his court in chains to begin seven-year terms that began immediately, with solitary confinement for Siegelman, and without the customary bonds that courts give white-collar defendants during appeals. Siegelman has been free on bond since 2008 following national outrage over CBS 60 Minutes revelations that year describing part of the unfairness of his prosecution.

As I wrote last wrote in September on this case, the bipartisan disgrace continues unabated in what appears to be a court-enabled kleptocracy in Alabama and Washington. Important to this is the $40 billion federal procurement for a next generation of Air Force tankers that has energized power brokers in both parties for the last decade, as we have repeatedly reported. But what will happen in Alabama's federal court on Nov. 2?

Beyond that, what will happen next November? Most people still don't know about the Siegelman case and most never will. But my own observation is that important opinion leaders are aware of it, as are many involved in what OpEd News publisher Rob Kall calls "The "Occupied Territories" across the country stemming from the Occupy Wall Street movement.

This movement spreading to Occupied Territories is not an appendage of the Democratic Party. The Obama DOJ's conduct in the Siegelman case helps explain why.

 

 

 

 

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Below are columns referenced above or otherwise providing context. See the full article by clicking the link.

Siegelman Prosecution and Judicial Recusal Issues

New Abramoff Book Capital Games

Harper's / No Comment, Abramoff 2.0, Scott Horton, Nov. 16, 2011. Jack Abramoff is back. “Casino Jack,” the man at the heart of the biggest corruption scandal in Washington since Teapot Dome, began his career as national chairman of the College Republicans, and went on to build a lobbying empire that set the gold standard for influence peddling. This empire milked clients, swayed Congress and the White House, and exercised sustained influence on the Justice Department even as its prosecutors had Abramoff in their sights. Since being released in June 2010 from a minimum-security federal prison in Cumberland, Maryland, Abramoff has been facing a dilemma: his brand has been trashed, and he badly needs to recreate himself. As an Orthodox Jew, he can’t exactly embrace Jesus and be born again, so he has thus far pursued a different redemption story. He claims now to want to expose the Beltway’s rampant corruption, a posture he is promoting with a blend that’s one part confessional, three parts movement-conservative gospel about the evils of government. Capitol Punishment acknowledges the modus operandi that earned Abramoff convictions for mail fraud and conspiracy, and lobs rounds at those he thinks betrayed him along the way, especially those politicians who took his money and then held him up to ridicule.

Across four pages in the middle of the book, Abramoff describes funneling $20 million to the Alabama G.O.P. and its allies in order to advance the interests of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, which operated a casino in Mississippi near the Alabama line. He writes that the Choctaw had three enemies in Alabama: Don Siegelman, the Democratic governor, who was proposing a state lottery to support Alabama’s education system; Milton McGregor, who was introducing gambling at facilities he ran in the state; and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, which was seeking to develop a casino of its own. Abramoff writes that he used Ralph Reed to “organize the Christians” to stop these initiatives. In fact, it was the Justice Department that blocked Abramoff’s three “enemies.” After immense payments were funneled into G.O.P. coffers, Bush-appointed U.S. attorneys began criminal investigations that targeted Siegelman and McGregor, ultimately launching highly controversial trials with thin criminal pretexts. One U.S. attorney was also appointed to the licensing commission for the Poarch Creek Indians’ casino application, where she was able to block its progress. Abramoff’s ties to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft and his immediate entourage were considerable, and the Alabama U.S. attorney’s offices were probably the most thoroughly politicized in the country — a state of affairs that persists today.
 
U.S. Attorney Leura Canary

Montgomery Advertiser / Al.com, Judge wants binder used to prep Siegelman witness, Brian Lyman, Nov. 3, 2011. A U.S. Magistrate Judge Thursday ordered the U.S. Attorney in Montgomery to turn over a binder used to prepare a key witness in the 2006 corruption trial of former Gov. Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. Charles S. Coody ordered George Beck, the U.S. Attorney for Alabama's Middle District, to submit the documents relating to former Siegelman aide Nick Bailey to allow him to review it. At a discovery hearing on Wednesday, attorneys for both Siegelman and Scrushy argued they needed access to documents to evaluate claims made by Bailey on the news program 60 Minutes that he rewrote his testimony for prosecutors dozens of times. The attorneys also argued for discovery on other issues, including the recusal of then-U.S. Attorney Leura Canary; Coody had not issued any rulings on those subjects as of Thursday morning.

Justice Integrity Project, Siegelman Sentence Delayed As DOJ Hides Conflict Data, Sept. 11, 2011.  The Alabama judge presiding over the notorious Bush prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman postponed the defendant’s re-sentencing last week while prosecutors continue to stonewall defense requests for documents showing whether federal prosecutors violated the defendant's right to an honest, unbiased prosecutor. On Sept. 22, Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Montgomery postponed his re-sentencing of Siegelman and co-defendant Richard Scrushy on corruption charges. Decisions by the Supreme Court and other appellate bodies reduced charges, requiring re-sentencing. “No one [in authority] has ever grasped the magnitude of the recusal issue and why it is the most important issue in this entire case,” former Siegelman aide Chip Hill wrote me this week. “Absent proof that the case was conducted without conflict of interest, every action taken in that conflicted environment should be invalidated. That would include the original indictments, the trial, conviction, etc.”

Legal Schnauzer, The Siegelman Case: Ten Years of Injustice--and Counting, Roger Shuler, April 13, 2011. In April 2001, former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman hired a lawyer after articles in statewide newspapers indicated a federal grand jury was focusing on his administration.

Harper's / No Comment, The Remarkable ‘Recusal’ of Leura Canary, Scott Horton, Aug. 2007. One of the oddest claims has consistently been the simple suggestion that Leura Canary ‘recused’ herself from the case. When I first heard this, I put down on my check list: collect Canary recusal papers from court docket. My researcher went off looking for them, and reported back: there are no Canary recusal papers. How could that be? I sent him back again, for the same result. I started asking counsel and clerks at the court. It seems no one else had ever seen the recusal papers. So did Leura Canary actually recuse herself? I’m skeptical. It’s an extremely important matter, as Mrs. Canary went to great lengths to create a public appearance that she had withdrawn. But there’s a lot to suggest that in fact she never relinquished complete control over the case. Let’s take a deeper look, shall we?

Legal Schnauzer, Justice Department Continues to Play Hide and Seek with Siegelman Documents, Sept. 26, 2011. Thee 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.

Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller

Mark FullerHuffington 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. These are the opinions of Missouri attorney Paul B. Weeks, who is speaking out publicly for the first time since his effort in 2003 to obtain the impeachment of U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller of Montgomery on Doss Aviation-related allegations. Fuller is at left in a photo by Phil Fleming shortly after the jury verdict on June 15, 2006.

Robert HinkleJustice Integrity Project, Florida Judge Continues Whitewash of Siegelman Frame-up, Andrew Kreig, July 11, 2011. A Florida federal judge has ruled that former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and his co-defendant have been treated so fairly that no one can reasonably suspect the appearance of bias. The decision by U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle, right, denied a hearing or other discovery on whether Siegelman’s trial judge should be recused. Hinkle thus continued the whitewash of the nation’s most notorious political prosecution of the decade.

Justice Integrity Project, Judges Who Refuse to Recuse Taint Our Justice System, Andrew Kreig, May 16, 2011. Three recent state, federal and Supreme Court controversies show how the public is nearly powerless to obtain due process when conflicted judges refuse to recuse themselves.

Associatied Press / WSFA-TV, Scrushy denied request for prison release, Nov. 1, 2011. Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy has lost a bid to be released from prison on bond for his conviction on bribery charges in a government corruption case. U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller on Monday rejected Scrushy's request that he be released immediately. Scrushy argued that he has already served more than four years of his nearly seven-year sentence and that he is not a risk to flee.

Al.com, Alabama's newest U.S. attorney won't be involved in the retrial in Alabama's gambling corruption case, Aug. 18, 2011. Montgomery attorney George Beck had his investiture Wednesday as U.S. attorney for Alabama's Middle District. After the ceremony, he told reporters that he will be recused from the gambling case like his predecessor Leura Canary was. Beck said the case will continue to be directed by the Justice Department in Washington.The initial trial in the case ended Aug. 11 with 2 defendants getting acquitted on all charges. The other seven defendants face retrials because the jury couldn't reach a unanimous verdict on all charges.

George Beck Nomination

Justice Integrity Project, Part IV: What To Do About Obama's Alabama Snafu? Andrew Kreig, April 8, 2011. The Justice Integrity Project today calls for the Senate Judiciary Committee to invite independent witnesses to testify at the confirmation hearing for George L. Beck, President Obama's nominee to become U.S. attorney for the middle district of Alabama. Only a full review of the conflicts surrounding this nationally important but dubious nomination can restore vitally needed public trust.

Justice Integrity Project, Part III: Beck's Backers Make Their Case, Andrew Kreig, April 8, 2011. “For his diligence and relentless pursuit of justice, I have named George L. Beck to serve as a U.S. Attorney,” announced President Obama on March 31. “I am confident he will serve the people of Alabama with distinction.”

Justice Integrity Project, Part II: Bailey-Beck Siegelman Frame-up, Andrew Kreig, April 6, 2011. Two videos, one from June 2007 and another just seven months later in 2008, illustrate why George Beck is such a bad choice as the Obama nominee to run Alabama’s troubled middle district office in the state capital of Montgomery.

Justice Integrity Project, Part I: Senate Must Grill Tainted Alabama DOJ Nominee, Andrew Kreig, April 5, 2011. President Obama ended more than two years of high-profile White House indecision March 31 by naming the prominent Alabama attorney George L. Beck as his nominee to become U.S. attorney for the state’s Montgomery-based middle district. Despite an impressive career overall, Beck is a horrible choice because he was a compliant defense attorney in the notorious prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman’s, the state’s leading Democrat.ddd

Richard Scrushy Re-sentencing
Montgomery Advertiser, Scrushy sentencing set for January, Sebastian Kitchen, Nov. 3, 2011. A federal judge scheduled former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, who remains in a Texas prison, to be sentenced again on Jan. 25 after an appeals court threw out two counts against him and former Gov. Don Siegelman. U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller set the resentencing date Thursday afternoon After a hearing earlier in the day on Scrushy, who was found guilty in 2006 of bribing Siegelman. A jury found Scrushy guilty of directing $500,000 to the governor's campaign to pass a state lottery in exchange for his appointment to a state board that regulates medical facilities in the state. Fuller sentenced Scrushy and Siegelman to about seven years each, but Siegelman was released on bond pending his appeal after serving nine months while Scrushy has remained in prison. They were sentenced in 2007 and immediately taken into custody. Fuller originally said he wanted to sentence Scrushy between the middle of
January and the end of February, but then said he would like to sentence him before the beginning of the second trial in a high-profile corruption case
related to gambling, which starts Jan. 30. The judge said the U.S. Marshals Service would be busy with that corruption trial and that it would be more
convenient to wrap up the sentencing before that. Scrushy, 59, has a scheduled release date of June 2013, according to the website for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Scrushy is eligible for release to a halfway house as early as June 2012, according to court documents.

Other Judicial and Prosecution Abuses
Justice Integrity Project, Don Siegelman Guest Column: The President Needs to Engage His Moral GPS, Sept. 12, 2011. Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman: The President should have pursued those responsible for implementing torture as a means of interrogation, and could have explained to the country that this is something that we must do, in order for countries throughout the world, and peoples throughout the world, to once again have respect for the United States.

OpEd News, Obama Team Feared Coup If He Prosecuted War Crimes, Washington’s Blog, Obama Team Feared Revolt If He Prosecuted War Crimes, Justice Integrity Project, Obama Team Feared Coup If He Prosecuted War Crimes, 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).

Huffington Post, Did DoJ Blackmail Siegelman Witness With Sex Scandal? Andrew Kreig, July 21, 2009. The top government witness in the 2006 federal conviction of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman on corruption charges is providing new evidence that prosecutors failed to fulfill their legal obligation to provide the defense with all records documenting witness-coaching. Former Siegelman aide Nick Bailey swears that prosecutors failed to reveal to the defense details of most of his two dozen prep sessions before he became the Bush Justice Department's key witness that former HealthSouth chief executive Richard Scrushy bribed the former Democratic governor.
 
Huffington Post, Alabama Decisions Illustrate Abuse of Judicial Power, Andrew Kreig, June 10, 2009. The plight of litigants who face a biased judge is illustrated by the track record of a prominent Alabama federal judge, as well by major recent decisions requiring new trials in West Virginia and Georgia courts. The track record of Chief U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller of Montgomery, Alabama shows that he continues to supervise cases compromised by his personal, financial or political interests despite his promise at his 2002 confirmation hearing to recuse himself from any conflicts. Exposure of Fuller's record is timely because of the Senate's forthcoming hearings for Obama administration judicial nominees, and because of growing concerns about the recusal standard. These include the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling June 8 that a West Virginia Supreme Court judge should have recused himself from a case involving a major contributor to his judicial election campaign. Also, a federal judge in Georgia admitted last month that he shouldn't have tried and sentenced a high-profile political adversary who now seeks dismissal of the charges.

Huffington Post, Siegelman's First Trial Judge Blasts U.S. Prosecutors, Seeks Probe of 'Unfounded' Charges, Andrew Kreig, May 21, 2009. One of the most experienced federal judges in recent Alabama history is denouncing the U.S. Justice Department prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. Retired Chief U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon of Birmingham calls for a probe of misconduct by federal prosecutors ─ including their alleged "judge-shopping," jury-pool "poisoning" and "unfounded" criminal charges in an effort to imprison Siegelman.

 

Other  Alabama Cases: House Speaker, Gambling and Child Support

 

Legal Schnauzer, Viewing Mike Hubbard's Actions Through the Prism of the Don Siegelman Case, Roger Shuler, Nov. 2, 2011. 
Attorneys for Don Siegelman go before a federal judge in Montgomery, Alabama, today to argue issues related to selective prosecution and government misconduct in the former governor's case. That gives us a window through which to view recent news stories about House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn). It also calls to mind earlier reports about the questionable spending habits of Alabama Republicans. Long-time followers of the Siegelman case will want to stay tuned on the fallout from today's hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles S. Coody. Andrew Kreig, of the D.C.-based Justice Integrity Project, has an excellent summary of issues that are expected to be addressed today: Historic Siegelman Case Showdown Looms Nov. 2.  How does all of this shine light on the evolving Mike Hubbard story? If we can use as an indicator the actions of prosecutors and judges in the Siegelman case--or in the case of the late Republican Governor Guy Hunt, for that matter -- Hubbard and his GOP cohorts might be in trouble. Why is that? If federal laws were applied to Hubbard the way they were applied to Siegelman--and the way state ethics laws were applied to Hunt -- Mr. Speaker might want to start thinking about how he looks in an orange jumpsuit.
 
Montgomery Advertiser, Judge: Riley must be available to testify, Sebastian Kitchen, Nov. 28, 2011. A federal judge has ruled that former Gov. Bob Riley must be available to testify in the upcoming gambling corruption trial of VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor and six other defendants. Attorneys for Riley and the state filed motions to quash the subpoenas sent by McGregor’s attorneys to Riley and Col. Chris Murphy, former director of the Alabama Department of Public Safety, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel Jr. denied those motions in an order issued Monday. “As Governor Riley said during the first trial – if the court ultimately decides he has relevant testimony to give, he is ready and willing to testify,” said Matt Lembke, a private attorney representing Riley. Joe Espy, lead attorney for McGregor, said “our position has consistently been that Governor Riley must follow the law and that he, just like everyone else, should obey a subpoena. And if we need him to testify, he should be available.”
 
Legal Schnauzer, What About the Motives of Prosecutors In the Alabama Bingo Trial? Roger Shuler, Oct. 27, 2011.  A federal judge last week correctly pointed out the impure motives of Republican legislators who served as witnesses in the Alabama bingo trial.  U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson also had a point when he stated in a new order that a prominent defendant had financial incentives to commit acts of bribery. But Thompson ignored the most important question: What about the motives of federal prosecutors who launched a clearly flawed case in the first place?  We do have some interesting news on that front. The Montgomery Advertiser reports that local prosecutors Louis Franklin and Steve Feaga have been removed from the bingo-trial team. That means the case will be handled totally by Washington, D.C.-types on the second go-around.

Justice Integrity Project, Feds Lose Big In Alabama Bribery Acquittals, Hung Jury, Andrew Kreig, Aug. 11, 2011. Federal prosecutors suffered one of their most remarkable setbacks nationally in decades Aug. 11 when an Alabama federal jury failed to convict any of nine defendants on any count in a massive gambling corruption case against state senators and those accused of trying to bribe them.Michelle Rollins

Legal Schnauzer, Michele Rollins Helped Ensure That Her Grandkids Would Wind Up on Food Stamps in Alabama, Roger Shuler, Nov. 1, 2011.  If Republican Michele Rollins had won the 2010 race for Delaware's at-large seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, she immediately would have been one of the wealthiest lawmakers in Washington, D.C.  So what is the public to make of court documents that show Michele Rollins took affirmative steps to ensure that two of her grandchildren would wind up on food stamps in Alabama?  The documents are from a divorce case that Sherry Carroll Rollins filed in Greenville, South Carolina, against Ted Rollins, the son of the late multimillionaire businessman John W. Rollins. Michele Rollins was John Rollins' third wife and the heiress to his fortune.

 

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley
Birmingham News, Stan Pate says he's behind banner ad urging Gov. Bob Riley's impeachment, Charles J. Dean, Jan. 7, 2010. Tuscaloosa developer and Gov. Bob Riley nemesis Stan Pate said this afternoon he paid for a banner calling for Riley's impeachment that is currently flying in the skies of Pasadena, Calif, home of tonight's national college football championship. "I take responsibility for that banner and the words on it and I mean every word on it," Pate said as he made his way in traffic toward the Rose Bowl, site of tonight's game. "This guy has been in office almost eight years and he's one of the most corrupt governors in my life. I hope he sees that banner and takes every word of it to heart because I mean every word in it." The banner, which has been flying over the site of tonight game since shortly after 2 p.m. Central time and will stay in the skies until about 6 p.m., says in seven-foot tall letters, "Impeach Corrupt Alabama Governor Bob Riley."
 
'Occupied Territories' As Protest
OpEd News, The "Occupied Territories" A Meme of Power to Describe All the OWS Locales, Rob Kall, Oct. 25, 2011. I first heard the term, "Occupied Territories" from Vanessa, a press person and occupier living at Occupy Philly.  Occupied territories!! It struck me as such a more powerful word than the words I had been using to describe the different Occupy Wall Street locales and communities. Locales or communities exist. They are. But Occupied Territories, well that's a term with some muscle in it, some fight, some power.
 
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