Reform Needed After Court Drops Siegelman Charges

By Andrew Kreig / Project Director

A federal appeals court in Atlanta May 10 reversed two bribery convictions of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and businessman Richard Scrushy but upheld the rest of their 2006 corruption convictions in what our Project has long denounced as the nation’s most notorious political frame-up. The ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sending the case back to the district court for resentencing is yet another reason for the public to demand a thorough investigation of the case.

We and others, including CBS 60 Minutes, have published many exposes describing massive irregularities in the politically orchestrated prosecution of Alabama’s leading Democrat under the Bush Administration. The Obama Administration has continued the prosecution and cover-up, despite evidence that the trial judge hated Siegelman and benefitted from $300 million in Bush federal contracts to a closely held company the judge controls as its top shareholder. Imprisoning Scrushy has also proven to be a bonanza for well-connected lawyers from both parties able to prosper from some $500 million in damage awards in a civil fraud settlement by insurers of his former company, HealthSouth, while he’s been imprisoned on a seven-year term imposed in 2007.

Our project has called for public protests unless the Senate Judiciary Committee rigorously examines the case as part of its confirmation hearing for the Obama administration’s nominee to become U.S. attorney for Alabama’s middle district, based in the state capital of Montgomery.


The Obama nominee is George Beck, left, who represented as a private attorney the Justice Department’s main witness against Siegelman and Scrushy. We now have solid evidence that the witness was pressured unfairly and that vital evidence of the witness's pretrial interrogations and coaching by prosecutors was improperly withheld from the Siegelman/Scrushy defense, presumably with Beck's concurrence. Therefore, Beck is thus utterly compromised from supervising the personnel in that office who perpetrated one of the most scandalous prosecutions in the nation. Links to our recent columns on the topic are listed below. These include our four-part series on the Beck nomination last month.  Additional information in a separate section entitled “Leading Cases” on this website. Kindly resend these articles to your networks and contact us if you would like to volunteer for an organizational effort on the confirmation hearing.

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Below are significant articles on the Siegelman case. See the full articles by visiting the News Reports archive on the homepage, and clicking the link.

Associated Press / Greenwich Time, Fed court reverses 2 convictions in Siegelman case, Greg Bluestein, May 10, 2011. A federal appeals court has reversed two bribery convictions of a former Alabama governor and a high-profile businessman, but upheld the rest of the 2006 corruption convictions. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in ruling Tuesday that there was not enough evidence to convict former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and ex-HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy of the two bribery counts, which involved a hospital license and equipment.  But the three-judge panel's ruling upheld the rest of the jury's verdict on corruption-related counts against the two, finding that it "commands the respect of this court, and that verdict must be sustained if there is substantial evidence to support it."  The two are scheduled to be re-sentenced.

Legal Schnauzer, Federal Judges on Siegelman Appeal Prove To Be Both Corrupt And Lazy, Roger Shuler, March 11, 2011. A federal appeals court might have unwittingly provided insight yesterday about its muddled handling of appeals in the Don Siegelman case. Yesterday's ruling from a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit accomplished almost nothing. The judges provided no insight on Skilling or its impact on bribery convictions. And they provided zero relief for Siegelman. The only relief came for codefendant Richard Scrushy, who had two of his convictions on honest-services fraud reversed.

Birmingham News, Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman may ask Supreme Court to review case, attorney says, Kim Chandler, May 10, 2011. A lawyer for former Gov. Don Siegelman said the governor will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court if needed following the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision today upholding most of his conviction in a government corruption case. The 11th Circuit after reviewing the case for a second time upheld five of the counts against Siegelman and four against former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. "I'm disappointed in the ruling, but we will continue to fight until we have complete exoneration and a correct understanding of the law," Siegelman lawyer Sam Heldman said. Heldman said the governor's first step will be to seek a rehearing before the 11th Circuit. "If that is not successful we will go to the Supreme Court," Heldman said. Scrushy lawyer Bruce S. Rogow said he was pleased the court dismissed two of the charges against Scrushy. "It's a step in the right direction. Now we just need to take a larger step," Rogow said.

Justice Integrity ProjectWhat To Do About Obama's Alabama Snafu? Part IV, 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.

Legal Schnauzer, Breaking: Federal Court Is Pulling a Charade in the Siegelman Case, Roger Shuler, May 10, 2011. It appears federal appeals courts are issuing "split decisions" on Bush-era political prosecutions. By upholding at least one segment of the convictions, the appeals courts are giving the prosecutions some legitimacy and making it more difficult for victims to sue for monetary damages. Victims might have their prison sentences greatly reduced, or eliminated, but justice still will not be served. In the Siegelman/Scrushy case, we still have motions to recuse trial judge Mark Fuller.

Related Alabama Federal Prosecution News

Justice Integrity Project, Latest Alabama Legal Mess: ‘Mistake’ Is Not Excuse, Andrew Kreig, April 26, 2011. Authorities tainted by previous scandals no longer deserves benefit of the doubt even if their latest snafu stems simply from human error.

Justice Integrity Project, More DOJ Abuses Revealed In Notorious Alabama Court, Andrew Kreig, April 23, 2011. A notorious federal prosecutor and federal trial judge face a new scandal for allowing court clerks in Alabama to disclose confidential records about dozens of sensitive law enforcement surveillance operations. The security breach occurred in the same courthouse where the Bush Justice Department obtained corruption convictions in 2006 against former Gov. Don Siegelman in a now-infamous political prosecution against the state's leading Democrat.