Federal Siegelman Frame-up Early Draft

The flagrant, unbridled abuse of governmental power by the DOJ and FBI in attempting to destroy an individual — (financially, professionally, socially, and sometimes physically) for personal and political reasons, and to an extent that is grossly disproportionate to any alleged act of criminality — is the hallmark of a totalitarian government. Once a victim has been targeted there are no limits to the amount of time, energy, money, and use of personnel that the Feds will employ to pursue and persecute that individual. No charge will be considered too petty or unimportant in their efforts to coerce the victim into pleading guilty to avoid the frightening possibility of a lengthy jail term. “Select the victim / search for the crime” is a deplorable, dangerous prosecutorial tactic that all decent, fair-minded American citizens — liberal Democrats or conservative Republicans — need to let their voices be heard in denouncing, castigating, and rejecting.

Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D., is one of the world’s leading forensic pathologist/lawyers. He is the author or co-author of A Question of Murder, Tales from the Morgue, Mortal Evidence, Who Killed Jon Benét Ramsey? Grave Secrets, Cause of Death, and hundreds of professional publications. He has served as president of both the American College of Legal Medicine and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and has appeared on many nationally syndicated television programs.

Justice Integrity Project, 3 Ways To Reform Our How To Reform Our Out-of-Control Legal System, Andrew Kreig, Aug. 7, 2013.  "3 Ways To Reform Our Out-of-Control Legal System." Shocking abuses are occurring throughout the country's legal system, according to authoritative recent news reports. On Aug. 6, I joined New Orleans radio station WWL AM/FM host Garland Robinette to discuss the scandals. My suggested three-step action guide

Justice Integrity Project, New Book, Viral Video Focus on Police, Prosecution, Judicial Abuses, Andrew Kreig, August 2, 2013. A new book on paramilitary police tactics underscores ongoing assaults on American civil liberties. So does a video about a sexual attack in a Nevada courthouse by a court marshal, who arrested the victim while the judge failed to intervene. Rise of the Warrior Cop is the title of a book published in July by Radley Balko a columnist for the Huffington Post. He amplified the book’s themes with two recent columns on “Police Militarization” and “America's Misbehaving Prosecutors.”  A graphic example of the arrogance that some law enforcers possess even in court is a video that went viral this spring after CBS-affiliate KLAS-TV in Las Vegas exposed the treatment of a young mother who was groped and arrested.

The federal prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman has hurt many victims in addition to the state's most prominent Democrat, who continues to serve a seven-year prison term on corruption charges based on 1999 events described by independent experts as non-criminal.

Don SiegelmanHis Bush-era political frame-up deserves ongoing scrutiny. But so does the prosecution's devastating effect on co-defendants, whistleblowers, their families, and many ordinary citizens who saw their most effective public policy advocates removed from public life.

This column focuses upon those victims, including groups. Also, I suggest several individual actions to improve the effectiveness of reform efforts that can be so frustrating given the clout of the power structure over courts, Congress, political parties, universities, and the news media. For most of them, individuals count for little. But they theorectically must adhere to professional standards and respond to professional criticism. My advice is not going to be write your congressman. It's going to be write only after you learn their secrets and they know it.

Let's explore how to get better results:

The Siegelman prosecution has damaged many civic groups and well-meaning individuals. So we must learn from this history. Those Alabama interest groups damaged especially badly include Alabama's financially crippled Democratic party, the state's African-American community, and others who support moderate or progressive social policies.

Siegelman started making a name for himself by calling for peaceful co-existence in 1964 as a student government leader at Murphy High School in Mobile, which was Alabama's first K-12 school to be integrated. Throughout Siegelman's career, he advocated for racial fairness and better funding for public education. He became Presidential possibility in the mode of fellow Southern moderates Clinton and Gore

Other victims include state and federal taxpayers who paid the vast sums necessary for meritless prosecutions. Siegelman's prosecution cost taxpayers an estimated $100 million. That includes prosecution expenses to pursue two co-defendants who were acquitted and co-defendant businessman Richard Scrushy, who was convicted on corruption charges that were far more bogus even than Siegelman's.

Barack ObamaLongtime Alabama newspaper editor Bob Martin estimated $50 million in additional taxpayer costs for the later prosecution of Alabama gaming entrepreneur Milton McGregor.

Jurors acquitted McGregor and his co-defendants of every corruption charge in two federal trials totaling nearly 130 counts. The defeat was one of the most embarrassing defeats for federal prosecutors nationally in modern times. By official policy and common sense, prosecutors are not supposed to bring complex charges in dubious cases. The transformation of much of the media into sycophant stenographers for prosecution leaks and indictments  has made accountability difficult.

The government crusade against McGregor was rooted in political favoritism to McGregor's rivals in gambling casinos, who lavished donations on well-connected officials who mounted a long-running attack on the legality of electronic bingo entertainment complexes built by McGregor-affiliated companies. The defendants never would have been prosecuted, in my view, if the Justice Department had disciplined its prosecutors for previous gross misconduct, if not crimes, in their Siegelman/Scrushy prosecution.

Wasted taxpayer money was only part of the financial damage from such prosecutions. Also, the prosecutions diverted public intention -- doubtless by intention -- from actual criminals and their schemes to loot taxpayers of vast sums.

The "victims" of the Alabama prosecutions of Siegelman arguably include some of the perpetrators. Republicans such as former White House advisor Karl Rove and Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Montgomery took actions that, upon close scrutiny, ruin their reputations forever among decent people.

Former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, below left, and the state's two current Republican Senators, Dick Shelby and Jeff Sessions, have not yet reached that level of public infamy, mostly because as elected officials they can distance themselves from court procedures and related efforts handled by their allies.

Also, they collect so much in campaign contributions that they easily win re-election, further providing respectability. Shelby reported $17 million in his campaign war chest during his most re-election campaign, in 2010. Defeatist-minded state and national Democratic parties contributed nothing to Shelby's rival, Bill Barnes, according to one of the Democratic primary winner's top aides. Bob riley

But Riley, Shelby, and Sessions are widely disparaged privately in political circles of both parties, locally and nationally, for greed, ruthless conduct, and suspected dishonesty.

In 2010, for example, Republican businessman Luther "Stan" Pate hired an airplane to fly back-and-forth over a Rose Bowl crowd with a banner "Impeach Corrupt Alabama Governor Bob Riley" while the University of Alabama football team played for a national championship. Pate also donated nearly $300,000 for the lawyer of Nick Bailey, a witness in the Siegelman case whom Pate felt was unduly pressured by prosecutors to give false testimony against Siegelman and Scrushy.

In a 2011 interview with me, Pate recalled that he told Bailey's lawyer, George Beck, that he was the most worthless and cowardly lawyer in the state for letting federal prosecutors abuse Bailey, who was threatened with a long prison term unless he adapted his testimony to match the prosecution's theory. Prosecutors interrogated and coached Bailey up to 70 times before trial, with only a tiny few of those sessions reported to the defense, as required by law. Much of that intimidation occurred in the paramilitary setting of an Air Force base. Also, the witness was a slightly built  reputed homosexual who especially vulnerable to sexual blackmail implicit in the threat of a long sentence. These factors are documented in the court record but rarely reported except by a few bloggers.

In mid-2011, President Obama showed his complicity by naming Beck to be Middle District U.S. Attorney in Alabama, thereby helping ensure the bipartisan cover-up of the Siegelman case. Obama had kept a Bush holdover, Leura Canary, in office for nearly two and half years.

Dick Shelby

The extent of federal disgrace should be measured not simply in the cruelty and money waste that office-holders inflicted upon Alabama. The damage includes also the template created in Alabama and Washington for similar legal outrages across the country enforced under federal authority.

The complicity and cowardice of Democratic Attorney General Eric Holder, former Solicitor General Elena Kagan, and President Obama similarly impacts their legacies, as I mentioned to the president's first two White House counsels during recent chance discussions in Washington, DC.

In previous columns, the Justice Integrity Project has documented how Democratic officials ruthlessly enforced institutional loyalty against defendants and whistleblowers in Alabama, partly to appease the state's powerful U.S. senators.

Holder and Kagan, for example, argued against Supreme Court review of the Siegelman frame-up, thereby helping ensure that Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, would merely oppose Kagan's Supreme Court appointment but not wage jihad against it in the Senate. More than 90 law school deans strongly endorsed the former Harvard dean and Obama colleague at the University of Chicago. As expected, the Senate confirmed Kagan, below left.

While foreseeing that result, our project opposed her confirmation on the basis that her actions opposing high court review of the Siegelman/Scrushy convictions helped illustrate that she was a opportunist who did not deserve a lifetime appointment. Another major factor in the project's opposition to Kagan was her decision in tandem with the administration to curry favor with the law enforcement community by arguing to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2009 that United States citizens lack a Constitutional right not to be framed. The case involved two black men from Iowa who served 26 years for a crime they did not commit. Prosecutors and investigators framed the suspects to solve a murder before election day -- a real-life reprise of The Front Page, a play written in the 1920s.

Elena Kagan In February 2009, Shelby asserted his muscle by placing a hold for nearly a month on every federal appointment in the new Obama administration. Shelby wanted a $34 billion Air Force contract for his allies, who included Alabama business interests and other constituents, Republican politicians, and European manufacturers, bankers, and political leaders at the Airbus, Rothschild, and Putin-Cameron level, respectively. Ultimately, Boeing received the contract to build a next generation of tanker airplances. But the power play illustrates why few at the Justice Department or anywhere else dare differ when the two Alabama senators want something badly. 

The Obama administration's continued prosecution of Siegelman provided an early sign in 2009 that the administration would subordinate justice to politics, and also protect federal authority by fighting whistleblowers, leakers, and reporters both within the justice system and in other realms of government. 

was the headline for film director Oliver Stone's speech Aug. 12 to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, thereby illustrating the kinds of attacks now being incurred by Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and former law professor.

My reflections below come from five years investigating the Siegelman case. I wrote many articles and a new book, Presidential Puppetry, that built on the efforts of other independent investigators of the nation's greatest lingering human rights scandal. The Siegelman prosecution has helped enable many other scandals, including election machine fraud and the growing police state nationally, as documented in the book.

Pam Miles Free DonOne of Siegelman's most stalwart defenders is Alabama Democrat Pam Miles, who founded a near-daily email bulletin that has reported for a decade to hundreds of recipients new commentary on his case and similar news events.

Portrayed at right with a "Free Don" sign, the former executive committee member of the state Democratic Party invited me to speak Aug. 22 about these issues and my book at her home in Madison, near Huntsville. The occasion was a political reception to raise funds for the New Democratic Majority, a spin-off from the financially troubled and political split state party.

The logistics suggested that it would be more practical to research this column for a wider audience and visit Alabama for follow-up discussions to any group. The Justice Integrity Project is non-partisan, and my book message of fighting corruption reaches so far across traditional divisions that I shared its message this week at the annual meeting of America's Survival, an ultra-conservative group.

What is most important now is to suggest practical methods for reform in this column and in future meetings. To get there, however, we must appreciate the full horror of the Siegelman-Scrushy prosecution.

 

A Dickensian Saga of Great Expectations Dashed

Nearly two centuries ago, Charles Dickens reported on Britain's Parliament before he became a novelist. Dickens thereby overcame the inherent limitations of journalism and portrayed his era vividly.

Don Siegelman in prisonA Christmas Carol, his iconic tale of ghosts and redemption, began this way: "Marley was dead," Dickens wrote. "There is no doubt about it."

In that spirit, let me begin this case summary with: Siegelman was framed. There is no doubt about it -- except in legal circles that are ignorant at best, or else corrupt. These circles include most of those in Congress and in the nation's highest courts.

I did not use such blunt language when I began this research in 2008. I was a university research fellow probing the 2006 Bush administration purge of nine U.S. attorneys for political reasons. My reports used with standard journalistic hedge-words, such as "alleged" and "according to legal documents." These terms arose from my training as a metro newspaper reporter covering the Justice Department fulltime for five years. Then I became a law clerk to a distinguished federal judge and a practicing attorney for the past two decades in the nation's capital.

At this point, however, we need blunt language to describe shocking abuses.

Hundreds of investigative reports and commentaries have already revealed astonishing irregularities in the Siegelman and Scrushy convictions. Yet all courts rubber-stamp the convictions. Therefore, Siegelman's guilt has now become conventional wisdom for most readers and voters, who are understanbly busy with other matters after 14 years of news coverage of corruption allegations against the defendant, shown at left in prison garb from a 2008 CBS 60 Minutes report that at one point seemed destined to help free him before the case was returned to his corrupt trial judge.

Dana SiegelmanA hardy band of supporters include his Siegelman's daughter, Dana, at left, and son, Joseph. In my experience talking wth them, each is thoughtful, civic-minded young professional who is still learning about the deviltry causing so much needless misery in their case and others like it.   

Below is a brief summary of the prosecution followed by a longer summary in the appendix. This column's main focus is on victims in addition to Siegeman, and suggested reform measures.

Siegelman is serving a seven-year prison sentence largely for his 1999 reappointment of Alabama businessman Richard Scrushy to a state board.

Siegelman reappointed the Republican Scrushy to the board following Scrushy's service under three previous Republican governors, to whom Scrushy had made hefty political donations. Also, Siegelman successfully persuaded Scrushy to contribute to the non-profit Alabama Education Foundation, which Siegelman had helped start by guaranteeing a loan to jump-start its advocacy for a state lottery to improve Alabama public schools. 

At trial, proseclutors claimed that this routine reappointment was part of a monumental racketeering and bribery scheme. But they produced only implied and largely concocted evidence that Scrushy made the charitable donation to obtain reappointment to the unpaid board. Scrushy did not testify at his trial because of the mistaken belief that testimony was not necessary -- and his fear he would be impugned for matters irrelevant to the charges. He has told me and others that he did not even want the reappointment and never discussed a donation in exchange for an appointment that Siegelman sought so as to include one of his state's richest businessmen in his circle. Siegelman also was convicted of backdating a check to hide the gift of a motorcycle from a lobbyist who provided such gifts to many other officials.

The jury threw out most charges, including all charges against former Siegelman Chief of Staff Paul Hamrick and Transportation Commissioner Mack Roberts.

"We knew that we were innocent all along and knew it would come out like this," Roberts told Alabama's WSFA-TV after the jury verdict in 2006. Roberts added that his family has used up all of his savings and that, "we'll never recover financially." Hamrick said, "I'm angry at what has been done to my family. He said defense costs included "every asset we could scrape up and borrow." He added, "emotionally with two little girls, it's been unspeakable."

Scrushy, father of nine children, told me in an interview this week that the prosecution was a frame up. While Scrushy was imprisoned, Siegelman's former attorney Doug Jones teamed with Riley's son, Robert Riley, to a lead a class action suit against Scrushy that resulted in a $500 million award against Scrushy and HealthSouth Inc., a company Scrushy had founded. Alabama legal commentator Roger  Shuler has written hundreds of columns about inequities in the Siegelman case, with the most recent this week under the headline, Lawyer Doug Jones Charged Siegelman $300,000, And What Did The Former Governor Get For It? Jones has said he did the best he could under the circumstances.

Scrushy has said he was offered immunity if he would falsely testify against Siegelman, which he refused to do. As a major contributor to Republicans for many years, he said he was astonished that he and his company would be so ruthlessly targeted in the zeal to convict Siegelman. Fox News host Neal Cavuto has published several hard-hitting reports questioning why the government could so ruthlessly railroad a businessman for making a donation to a non-profit and receiving a routine appointment.

Other allegations of government pressure to frame Siegelman with perjured testimony comes from former Jefferson Country Commissioner Gary White and his wife, Judy., both Republicans.

White refused to testify against Siegelman, and was then convicted for what human rights lawyer and law professor Scott Horton called "petty" transgressions.

"Gary and I are certain," Judy White wrote me o me last week, "that his refusal to give false grand jury testimony against Don Siegelman, as solicited by the prosecution, resulted in the retaliatory, vindictive, and malicious prosecution, conviction, 10-year sentence and extremely abusive imprisonment of Gary." She has written many columns and given interviews to OpEd News reporting abusive Bureau of Prisons procedures. Among them are delay in cancer treatment for her husband, his placement in an Arkansas facility needless distant from Alabama, and repeated cruelty to prison visitors, including children.

McGregor was at least as outspoken in a phone interview with me last week.

"I've never met a more dishonest group in my entire life," he said of federal prosecutors and FBI agents who prosecuted him under the umbrella of the DOJ's Public Integrity Section, based in Washington but populated by holdovers from the prosecution of Siegalman and former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, the late Republican who was framed when prosecutors withheld evidence that could have cleared him in his 2008 corruption trial.

Both political parties have blocked expected aavenues for relief of litigants with proof of corruption in the courts.

Our Justice Integrity Project has repeatedly reported that Justice Department internal investigative procedurs are highly political, and higly inclined to igore or whitewash complaints. This includes the major Obama administration investigation of the U.S. attorney firing scandal. The investigation was run by a lawyer who herself had been chaterized by a federal appeals court for suppressing evidence. She focused largely on one dismissal of a U.S. attorney, recommended no sanctions, and called no witnesses of the Siegelman prosecution or other abuses around the nation.

Similarly, House questions of Rove in July 2009 were restricted by a deal he cut with the White House to limit questions. The questioning itself, led by California Conbressman Adam Schiff, was a whitewash that failed to box Rove in with focused focused questions.

Tamarah GrimesAlso in mid-2009, the incoming Obama administration fired Justice Department paralegal Tamarah Grimes, left, who had complained about serious unfairness and taxpayer waste during the department's long-running probe of Siegelman. A Republican in private life, she had been the senior DOJ paralegal on the prosecution team. Authorities threatened her with criminal prosecution following her complaints and closed ranks around the Bush administration prosecutors Grimes complained about. Like many whistleblowers in the case, she sought the opportunity to testify under oath in a congressional hearing but neither party shows any interest in probing such matters.

In general, Congress, bar associations, universities, and the news media have shown only mild interest in the kinds of mind-boggling abuses noted in this column and supported in many instances by sworn or other compelling evidence.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, a Democrat from Detroit, issued hardhitting reports on injustices when he could attack the Bush adminisration. But Conyers became an ineffective figurehead after his party assumed office in 2009. Other factors: the Justice Department imprisoned his wife on federal bribery charges, and Democrats lost the House majority in the 2010 elections.

Alabama attorney Dana Jill Simpson played the major role in exposing the Siegelman prosecution in 2007 as a national scandal. A Republican opposition researcher and attorney for federal contractors, she courageously exposed relationships between Rove, prosecutors, the trial judge, and a nationwide pattern of similar political prosecutions, as well as such related crimes as tampering with electronic software to fix elections.

In September 2007, I met her just before she testified under oath to Congressional staff and outlined for CBS 60 Minutes the inner workings of how the Siegelman prosecution occurred. But Republicans and Democrats alike subjected her to unfair attacks without daring to undertake similar testimony and cross-examination. Also, she learned (as have others) that the mainstream media are reluctant to investigate complex angles involving judges and other high-level officials, especially when mujltiple figures have ties to powerful intelligence agencies and conractors. 

The well-connected New York lawyer and Harper's columnist Scott Horton was one exception. Following up her tips, he wrote a number of columns that helped keep the scandal and others like it prominent from 2007 to 2009 until the Obama administration's opposition and adverse court rulings undercut public interest.

Roger ShulerAlabama bloggers Roger Shuler and Glynn Wilson helped keep the story prominent locally and nationally. Shuler, working in his spare time, paid a steep price. His daytime employer, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, fired him in reprisal after 19 years on the job. Shuler has filed a lawsuit documenting that he did not use university resources and undertook the blog in his spare time. Shuler named his blog, "Legal Schnauzer," after his late pet at right. He has published hundreds of professional-quality columns illuminating irregularities on the Siegelman case alone. His additional columns explore similar problems in the Deep South and around the natio.l   

 

udges, Rove, is another prospective witness regarding corruption in the Siegelman prosecution and related events such as election theft who reports lack of interest by Congress and Justice Department officials alike in hearing evidence.

 Summarize whistlblowers, reporters, etc.

Grimes

Nordine

Wecht

Former Alabama Congressman Parker Griffth, a Democrat turned Republican, is among the few recent elected officials in the overwhelmingly Republican state to dare speak of Siegelman's innocence.

What Can You Do?

"The President needs to engage his moral GPS. He needs to get his moral compass locked in -- while there's still a chance to recoup some value for himself and some legacy of his Administration that all of us can be proud of."

 

The flagrant, unbridled abuse of governmental power by the DOJ and FBI in attempting to destroy an individual — (financially, professionally, socially, and sometimes physically) for personal and political reasons, and to an extent that is grossly disproportionate to any alleged act of criminality — is the hallmark of a totalitarian government. Once a victim has been targeted there are no limits to the amount of time, energy, money, and use of personnel that the Feds will employ to pursue and persecute that individual. No charge will be considered too petty or unimportant in their efforts to coerce the victim into pleading guilty to avoid the frightening possibility of a lengthy jail term. “Select the victim / search for the crime” is a deplorable, dangerous prosecutorial tactic that all decent, fair-minded American citizens — liberal Democrats or conservative Republicans — need to let their voices be heard in denouncing, castigating, and rejecting.

Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D., is one of the world’s leading forensic pathologist/lawyers. He is the author or co-author of A Question of Murder, Tales from the Morgue, Mortal Evidence, Who Killed Jon Benét Ramsey? Grave Secrets, Cause of Death, and hundreds of professional publications. He has served as president of both the American College of Legal Medicine and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and has appeared on many nationally syndicated television programs.

Justice Integrity Project, 3 Ways To Reform Our How To Reform Our Out-of-Control Legal System, Andrew Kreig, Aug. 7, 2013.  "3 Ways To Reform Our Out-of-Control Legal System." Shocking abuses are occurring throughout the country's legal system, according to authoritative recent news reports. On Aug. 6, I joined New Orleans radio station WWL AM/FM host Garland Robinette to discuss the scandals. My suggested three-step action guide.

Justice Integrity Project, New Book, Viral Video Focus on Police, Prosecution, Judicial Abuses, Andrew Kreig, August 2, 2013. A new book on paramilitary police tactics underscores ongoing assaults on American civil liberties. So does a video about a sexual attack in a Nevada courthouse by a court marshal, who arrested the victim while the judge failed to intervene. Rise of the Warrior Cop is the title of a book published in July by Radley Balko a columnist for the Huffington Post. He amplified the book’s themes with two recent columns on “Police Militarization” and “America's Misbehaving Prosecutors.”  A graphic example of the arrogance that some law enforcers possess even in court is a video that went viral this spring after CBS-affiliate KLAS-TV in Las Vegas exposed the treatment of a young mother who was groped and arrested.

 

 
Contact the author Andrew Kreig or comment
 
 

 

Summary of Siegelman/Scrushy Prosecution

William PryorIn January 1999, Alabama's Attorney Gen. William H. Pryor, Jr., left, an unusually partisan Republican, saw how Democrat Don Siegelman began his first term as the state's governor after breaking a streak of three straight Republican gubernatorial victories.

Pryor promptly launched a state investigation to learn how his office might be able to incriminate the governor, the only one in the state's history to win all four of the state's top executive branch offices (including attorney general, treasurer and secretary of state). He was one of the most controversial of all Bush administration nominees, but won appointment in 2004 to the Atlanta-based appeals court overseeing Alabama federal trials.

At vast expense, the Bush administration then created a joint state-federal task force located at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery to research how to imprison Siegelman. The first effort failed in 2004 before Chief U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon of Birmingham, who later wrote that the prosecution was the most baseless he had witnessed in nearly three decades on the federal bench.

The task force took no chances when it undertook a highly unusual second shot at Siegelman and Scrushy, who had been acquitted also on separate charges in a federal trial.

U.S. Attorney Leura Canary of Alabama's Montgomery-based middle district assumed control of the prosecution. Appointed by President George W. Bush in 2001, she was the wife of William Canary, the campaign manager of Bob Riley, Siegelman's Republican gubernatorial opponent in both 2002 and 2006.

William Canary was (and remains) CEO of the powerful Business Council of Alabama, and has long been a close political ally of Rove. As a senior Bush advisor, Rove, meanwhile, was a key figure in orchestrating Justice Department prosecutions nationally against prominent Democrats by subservient federal prosecutors who risked firing unlesshey filed criminal charges on dubious evidence.

The investigation headquartered at the Air Force base included remarkably high-pressure interrogations and coaching of witnesses led by an Air Force reserve colonel who held a joint appointment with the Justice Department as a lead prosecutor of Siegelman. Siegelman's attorney, Douglas Jones, waived his client's statute of limitations for 1999 events by  trusting of the good intentions of prosecutors, he says, thereby allowing them to indict his client.

Prosecutors filed a sealed indictment against Siegelman, Scrushy, and two of Siegelman's former aides in the spring of 2005, and then unveiled the massive array of secret charges in the fall of 2005 just as Siegelman was gearing up for a rematch with then-governor Riley in the 2006 election.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, had steered their case to Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Montgomery, a powerful but corrupt figure in Alabama politics who hated Siegelman. One obvious reason for Fuller's animosity was partisan politics stemming from Fuller's former executive committee leadership of the Alabama Republican Party as it was transforming the state's politics.

Also, Siegelman, as governor, had appointed a prosecutor to investigate Fuller's attempt as a prosecutor and judge to bilk the state's pension plan out of $330,000 for an unmerited pension for an aide who has been suspected of trying to blackmail Fuller.

Fuller's pro-prosecution rulings railroaded Siegelman and Scrushy to conviction on less than a third of the more than 30 charges in the blunderbuss racketeering indictment.

Mark FullerIn apparent celebration just after the verdict in 2006, the rarely photographed judge requested a portrait in chambers minutes after the verdict. Free-lance photographer Phil Fleming, who took the portrait at right, recalled to me that he urged the judge to stop smiling so much like a "Cheshire Cat" -- and thereby look more dignified.

Well-connected Republicans had known of the judge's hatred of Siegelman and vulnerability to impeachment and a corruption investigation, as one litigant sought in a 150-page sworn affidavit sumitted to the Justice Department and courts in 2003, but hidden from public view in the federal court's electronic documents system.

Instead of investigating the judge, the Bush administration fed his greed by awarding his closely held contracting company, Doss Aviation, more than $300 million in Air Force contracts during the period 2006 to 2009. Defense attorneys and the public had no idea that the judge owned up to 44 percent of the company's shares, making him by far its largest shareholder, according to a company report.

Doss was in the business of training Air Force pilots, refueling Air Force planes (including Air Force One) and manufacturing uniforms for the military, the FBI, and other federal agencies. This work was dependent on federal contracts, most via the Air Force. That put the judge into a bizarre secret relationship with federal authorities, including those at the Justice Department using paramilitary methods to undertake their civilian prosecution out of an Air Force base.

At sentencing in 2007, Fuller ordered seven-year terms for each defendant, Siegelman and Scrushy, to begin without the normal appeal bond. Each was led away in chains as if they were terrorists of the most dangerous kind who should be subjected to maximum public disgrace. Siegelman was put in solitary confinement and kept on the move between prisons so that he would be prevented from communicating with family, friends, and the media.

The Supreme Court, other appellate courts and the Obama administration affirmed the fairness of the convictions despite vast evidence of irregularities too many to summarize even in the appendix below. The Supreme Court declined to hear arguments from 113 former state attorneys general who submitted an unprecedented brief arguing that Siegelman's reappointment of Scrushy to the state board did not violate law. The former chief law enforcers from more than 40 states have unsuccessfully argued that appointments of donors occur on a routine basis at federal, state, and local levels. Many law professors have filed similar petitions that are unprecedented demonstrations of support for a criminal defendant, but without achieving success.

Alabama attorney Dana Jill Simpson courageously protested the frame up beginning in early 2007 by alerting the defense to the judge's conflicts. Also, she testified under cross-examination to Congressional staff.

Jill Simpson 60 MinutesShe swore that she had heard from fellow Republicans about plans to remove Siegelman from politics by criminal prosecution as early as 2002, and about the specific plan in 2005 to create a new case that would go to Fuller because he "hated" Siegelman and would "hang" him. Alabama Republicans claim they have never heard of her or met her. I have examined her bona fides since meeting her in 2007, and believe she is far more credible in her statements than her targets. 

Other civic-minded Republican whistleblowers have also alleged misconduct in the prosecution. One was Tamarah Grimes, the most senior fulltime DOJ paralegal for the Siegelman case. She protested internally about irregularities. But the Bush administration protected its operatives, launched a criminal investigation of Grimes. Holder fired her in June 2009 promptly after she delivered her allegations in writing to him.

Prosecution infamies helped prompt many investigative stories documenting scandals in the case. Siegelman was released on a bond in March 2008 following a CBS 60 Minutes expose and what must have been well over 100,000 citizen letters to the Justice Department, Congress, and White House on Siegelman's behalf.

But nothing has made any appreciable difference except to delay the imprisonment.

Fuller has consistently prevailed in enforcing his jurisdiction over Siegelman despite a clear-cut U.S. Supreme Court precedent in 1989 that a judge has the duty to alert even civil litigants and recuse if the judge has a potential conflict that even one reasonable and unbiased outside observer might think could create a potential conflict.

The Justice Department has formally argued that no one such reasonable and unbiased person can be found in the United States who would dispute Fuller's appearance of fairness.

Among many other remarkable irregularities involving Fuller, the married judge's divorce filings in 2012 revealed that he had been having an affair with his married federal courtroom bailiff. The judge's wife raised questions also about what she claimed as his drug and alcohol intake. Fuller and his attorneys have repeatedly declined comment.

They were able to seal the divorce file, contrary to normal Alabama procedures and the wife's objections. Fuller later married his clerk. Prior to the divorce, he and the six smaller Doss shareholders sold the company to former Navy Secretary John Lehman, one of the nation's leading neo-conservatives and advocates for U.S. war in the Mideast.

On Aug. 3 last year, Fuller ordered Siegelman to resume the six years remaining on his seven-year term. The judge made the near-inexplicable remark at sentencing that Siegelman deserved his fate because of his refusal to accept responsibility for his conduct for more than two decades. Since the indictment's earliest offense was 1999 the judge's remark was indecipherable and vindicative at best. One columnist, Wayne Madsen, has written that the comment could be construed as relating to dark chapters of the judge's life beyond the scope of this column. 

Meanwhile, Siegelman was sent to a Louisiana prison in Oakdale over the pleas of his family, who urged that his confinement be closely to Alabama, ideally in a comparable prison on Florida's Panhandle at Pensacola. His daughter Dana has led a petition drive collecting more than 50,000 recent signatures calling on the White House to free him. Joseph, his son, is a 2013 graduate of the University of Alabama who lives at home so he can drive his mother the nearly 500 miles one-way to the prison.

Thanks in part to prosecution of Siegelman and other Democrats, Alabama is now a one-party state in terms of major state and federal offices, aside from one Congressional district. The seventh district has been gerrymandered from the state's seven-seat delegation to pack together as many African-American Democrats as possible in a corridor extending from Birmingham through Selma to the outskirts of Mobile. Although the pattern protects the incumbent, Terry Sewell, it marginalizes the two-party system for much of the rest of the state.

 

Related News Coverage

Siegelman Case

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. Mark Fuller, 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. Fulleris portrayed at left in a Phil Fleming portrait the judge requested minutes after the verdict in 2006.

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.

Legal Schnauzer, Lawyer Doug Jones Charged Siegelman $300,000, And What Did The Former Governor Get For It? Roger Shuler, Aug. 19, 2013. G. Douglas Jones, who was Don Siegelman's second chief defense counsel, charged the former governor $300,000, a source tells Legal Schnauzer.  What did Siegelman get for that hefty expense? The answer appears to be, "Not a whole lot."

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, left, denied a hearing or other discovery on whether Siegelman’s trial judge should be recused.

Huffington Post, Alabama Decisions Illustrate Abuse of Judicial Power, 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.   U.W. Clemon

Huffington Post, Siegelman's First Trial Judge Blasts U.S. Prosecutors, Seeks Probe of 'Unfounded' Charges, 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, fight, 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.

Legal Schnauzer, Siegelman: What Happened to President Obama's Moral Compass? Roger Shuler, Sept.14, 2011.Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, the most high-profile victim of a Bush-era political prosecution, had a strong reaction to recent news that advisors to Barack Obama feared a coup if the administration pursued prosecutions for war crimes. ”Clearly if one's moral compass is locked in, the decision is easy to make that the United States does not tolerate torture as a means of interrogation.”

 

Richard Scrushy

Richard Scrushy

Justice Integrity Project, Shocking Alabama Legal Irregularities Continue, Andrew Kreig, April 28, 2013. Revelations continued this month exposing disgraceful conduct by state and federal authorities in Alabama courts. The cases have national implications, especially since the Obama Justice Department has been complicit in enforcing such injustices from the Bush-Rove era as the frame-up of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and co-defendant businessman Richard Scrushy on corruption charges. Each was sentenced to seven years in prison in a case marred by massive irregularities and protested by 113 former state attorney generals from more than 40 states who said the defendants did not commit a crime.

Justice Integrity Project, Scrushy Speaks, Film Director McTiernan Imprisoned, Andrew Kreig, April 6, 2013. Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy proclaimed his innocence last week in his first post-imprisonment interview. Scrushy was the co-defendant with former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman in the most notorious political frame-up in recent American history. Scrushy told radio host Peter B. Collins that federal prosecutors offered before trial to let him go free if he would testify falsely against Siegelman, whom he was accused of bribing with a large donation to a non-profit organization Siegelman supported, the Alabama Education Foundation. In a separate case involving prosecution overzealousness, Hollywood director John McTiernan began serving a year-long term on false statement charges. Federal authorities abused their vast powers in the McTiernan case at needless expense to taxpayers, as I wrote three years ago in "Feds Bully 'Die Hard' McTiernan Into Plea for False Statements."

Huffington Post, Let's Reflect upon our Political Prisoners Kerik, Siegelman & Scrushy, Andrew Kreig, Nov. 27, 2010.  

 

Dana Jill Simpson

Jill Simpson 60 MinutesYouTube, Karl Rove's Election Fraud Empire, Press Conference, Jim March, Jill Simpson, Dana Siegelman, plus Moderators Clifford Arnebeck and Andrew Kreig, Oct. 24, 2012. This press conference covered intertwined issues related to election fraud and the political misuse of the justice system.

Justice Integrity Project, Rove Repeatedly Lies on Fox News About Siegelman Case, Andrew Kreig, June 23, 2012. http://www.justice-integrity.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=632: rove-repeatedly-lies-on-fox-news-about-siegelman-&catid=44:myblog  Republican money-man and strategist Karl Rove deflected a Fox News interviewer's questions about his financing this week with a lie-filled rant about Robert Bauer, President Obama's counsel, and Alabama corruption-fighter Dana Jill Simpson. Rove falsely told the Fox News audience that Bauer represented Simpson when she alleged in 2007 that former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman was framed by the Bush Justice Department. In fact, Bauer's name never previously surfaced in arguably the most prominent and notorious federal domestic prosecution of the decade. Rove is shown at left in his official photo as a Bush White House senior advisor from 2001 to 2007.

OpEd News, Whistleblowers Compare Harsh Reprisals from Bush, Obama, Andrew Kreig, Sept. 19, 2011. Who has been worse for whistleblowers and the public, the Bush or Obama administration? I posed that question and received different answers Sept.18 during meetings by watchdog groups in Washington, DC. 

 

Tamarah Grimes

 Tamarah GrimesKNOW: The Magazine For Paralegals, From Justice Dream Job to Nightmare…Tamarah Grimes, Justice Department Paralegal…Why This Whistleblower Was Dissed & Dismissed, Andrew Kreig, Sept. 11, 2009. As federal prosecutors prepared in 2006 for the corruption trial of Alabama’s former Gov. Don Siegelman, Justice Department paralegal Tamarah Grimes, left, thought she was progressing well in her career. Indeed, she was the government’s top in-house paralegal in one of the country’s most important federal prosecutions, which targeted an iconic former governor along with one of their state’s richest businessmen. But just a year later, the prosecution’s all-out effort to convict Siegelman and HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy brought Grimes to a career crisis. In July 2007, Grimes stepped forward to allege that her colleagues had violated basic legal protections to ensure a fair trial.

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

 

Siegelman Co-Defendants Hamrick and Roberts Acquitted

WSFA-TV (Montgomery), Verdicts Reached: Mack Roberts & Paul Hamrick Found Not Guilty, Staff report, June 26, 2006. With the two convictions of former Governor Don Siegelman and Richard Scrushy in the government corruption trial, came two acquittals. The same jury found Paul Hamrick and Mack Roberts not guilty on all counts, meaning their legal battles are over. Former state transportation director Mack Roberts isn't bitter about the case. He says, "We knew that we were innocent all along and knew it would come out like this. It's just been a roller coaster.  One day were handling it ok and the next day we were so down in the dumps we never thought we could come out." Roberts says for his family, there was also the fear of a hung jury, which would have led to another trial, something Roberts says he couldn't have done financially. He tells WSFA 12 News that he has used up all of his savings and that, "we'll never recover financially."  Former Governor Don Siegelman's chief of staff Paul Hamrick feels differently. "I'm angry at what has been done to my family. He says, "I hope the harassment has stopped." Hamrick says he should have never been here in the first place, and like Roberts, says the trial has taken its toll.  Hamrick says, "Not only every asset we could scrape up and borrow, but also being able to earn a living while this is going on, emotionally with two little girls, it's been unspeakable." The two men also agree on what's next. Both say they'll spend some time at home with their families, Roberts, with his wife, Hamrick with his wife and two small children.Si

 

Roger Shuler

Roger Shuler and MurphyLegal Schnauzer, Is "Your Honor" Really Honorable? Roger Shuler, June 3, 2007. I used to think that I probably would never be involved in a court case. And if I was somehow involved, I figured the judge (or judges) surely would rule according to the law. After all, they wear robes, we call them "your honor," we rise when they come into the courtroom. Of all people, surely a judge would be honest. This blog will show you how wrong I was. It will show you how judges and attorneys conspire to cheat some people and favor others. It will show you how politics raises its ugly head in our courtrooms. It will show you how you can figure out if you are being cheated by a judge or an attorney (even your own!). And it will show you what you can do about it.

Legal Schnauzer, Did an Alabama Judge Really Say That? Roger Shuler, June 29, 2007. A schnauzer's ears tend to stand up when he hears something unusual, strange, or baffling. So imagine the Legal Schnauzer's ears standing at full attention when he heard the following remark from U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller during yesterday's sentencing of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman: "I am convinced the conduct Governor Siegelman engaged in damaged the public's confidence in the government of this state." What rarefied planet does Judge Fuller live on? Does he really think the people of Alabama are such saps that they would have confidence in state government if it weren't for that dastardly Don Siegelman? Perhaps Judge Fuller has forgottten a small fact: Alabama government consists of three branches--executive, legislative, and judicial. The U.S. Department of Justice, evidently at the urging of White House strategist Karl Rove, seems to be interested only in the executive branch and only when it was occupied by a Democrat, such as Siegelman. The DOJ doesn't seem to have much interest in current Governor Bob Riley's ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Could that be because Riley is a Republican? Hmmm. And what about that third branch of state government, the judicial branch? In Alabama, that branch is dominated by Republicans, thanks to the electoral handiwork of Rove and Bill Canary in the 1990s. Is anyone at the DOJ interested in criminal activity by Republican state judges in Alabama? The Legal Schnauzer will be examining that question, and many more, in the days and weeks ahead.

 

Alabama Gambling Trials

Milton McGregorJustice Integrity Project, Alabama's Bingo Nightmare Is Over, But We Still Need Accountability, Roger Shuler, March 9, 2012. One of the most embarrassing episodes in the history of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) ended March 7 when a federal jury found that all defendants in the Alabama bingo trial were not guilty. The jury clearly reached the correct verdict -- and after two trials and a months-long, anti-bingo crusade led by former Governor Bob Riley -- citizens might be tempted to say, "Whew, thank God that's over."

Legal Schnauzer, Ala. Supreme Court Tramples Controlling Precedent In Forcing Judge Off VictoryLand Forfeiture Case, Roger Shuler, Aug. 26, 2013. The Alabama Supreme Court repeatedly violated its own precedent in ruling last Friday that Macon County Circuit Judge Thomas Young must step down from a forfeiture case involving February's law-enforcement raids at VictoryLand casino. Attorney General Luther Strange filed a petition for a writ of mandamus, seeking Young's recusal after the judge refused to approve a search warrant at VictoryLand. Under Alabama law, mandamus is the appropriate vehicle for seeking a trial judge's recusal, but it is an "extraordinary remedy that will not lie unless the petitioner can show a clear right to legal relief." In order to clear that high bar, petitioner must show that a judge's alleged bias is "personal," not "judicial." Strange did not come close to showing that Young exhibited personal bias. Rather, the AG repeatedly pointed to examples of Young's judicial actions with which he did not agree. That does not meet the standard of personal bias required by law, but the Alabama Supreme Court granted Strange's petition anyway. This is just the latest in a long line of preposterous rulings that show Alabama's high court no longer makes any pretense of being a fair and impartial tribunal. Rather, it is a rubber stamp for corporate interests, especially those who support Strange, former Governor Bob Riley, and their favored law firm, Bradley Arant of downtown Birmingham.

Justice Integrity Project, Alabama Gambling Leader Claims DOJ Misconduct; Top Prosecutor Quits, Andrew Kreig, Jan. 20, 2012. Facing retrial Jan. 30 on federal corruption charges, Alabama’s top promoter of legalized gambling alleges that the elite Justice Department unit prosecuting him illegally suppressed evidence during his first trial last summer. Meanwhile, that unit’s deputy chief suddenly resigned this month under mysterious circumstances. Victoryland bingo parlor owner Milton McGregor’s willingness to hit back hard at federal prosecutors in this week’s filing could presage even more explosive allegations.

Florence Times-Daily (Alabama), Millions lost in Alabama gambling trial, Mike Goens, March 11, 2012. Did the guilty get away with it or did another political witch hunt blow up in the faces of those with an agenda? Either way, between 35 million and 40 million of our tax dollars walked out the door Wednesday with the remaining six defendants in a federal gambling corruption trial. All six, as well as fellow defendants who were acquitted in 2011 during the first trial, were found not guilty Wednesday. By the way, some estimate as much as $50 million was spent on investigating and prosecuting the defendants, which included a casino owner, former and current state legislators, lobbyists and others. In trying to answer the question posed above, it seems logical this case is another example of a political witch hunt gone bad....You know, $35 million could pay for a nice prison in a state so financially strapped that many convicts will likely be released early because it cannot afford to house them.

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. The federal probe grew out of opposition to legalized gambling by the administration of former Republican Gov. Bob Riley, who departed from office in January after two terms.

Legal Schnauzer, Is Our Country Rotting From the Inside Out? Roger Shuler, Aug. 8, 2011. We are used to writing about dubious prosecutions from the George W. Bush era. But the electronic-bingo case is a production of the Barack Obama Justice Department, and that truly is unsettling. Not only are we rotting from the inside, we are rotting from both sides of the political aisle--from the Republicans and the Democrats. The case went to the jury over the weekend, and a verdict could come at any moment. Regardless of the outcome, the case has been emitting foul odors for weeks. A reasonable citizen might observe the strange proceedings and ask, "What in the name of Eric Holder is the U.S. Justice Department doing with my taxpayer dollars?"

Legal Schnauzer, Choctaws Faced Huge Debt Payment When Bob Riley Launched Bingo Raids in Alabama, Roger Shuler, Sept. 6, 2011. The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians were facing about $80 million in looming debt when former Alabama Governor Bob Riley launched a series of raids against bingo facilities in his state. Was Riley trying to help the Choctaws by stamping out competitors in Alabama? Given that Riley reportedly benefited from at least $13 million of Mississippi gaming money in the 2002 race for governor, the likely answer is yes. And that means the federal bingo trial that recently ended with no convictions--but is scheduled to be retried--almost certainly was driven by Riley's efforts to harm businesses in his own state.

 

Jefferson County Commissioner Gary White

Gary and Judy WhiteHarper's, Corruption in a U.S. Attorney’s Office, Scott Horton, Feb. 10, 2008. Since early in 2002, the Bush Administration’s Department of Justice has made “public integrity” matters a top priority. U.S. Attorneys around the country have been urged aggressively to investigate and prosecute cases involving the corruption of elected officials. And, as academic studies have now revealed, this has been taken as an unambiguous mandate to persecute Democratic political figures. If we had to pick one state in the nation where these evil tendencies are most obviously on display, then certainly it is Alabama, home to the nation’s highest profile and most abusive political prosecution.

One of the cases I have been tracking from a distance for some time is an investigation by Alice Martin into corruption in the administration of Jefferson County, Alabama. The most populous county in the state, Jefferson is home to the city of Birmingham and the center of the state’s business and professional services community. Martin began an investigation into some of the county officials on suspicion of receiving bribes. This produced several criminal indictments, including one against a county commissioner named Gary White (shown at left with his wife, Judy). White refused to give false evidence. The prosecution followed. These accusations, if true, amount to a corrupt manipulation of the criminal justice system, a felony.

 

Mobile County Commissioner Stephen Nodine

Huffington Post, You Call This Justice? How America Became a Prosecutocracy, Conrad Black, at left, July 18, 2013. The saga of Stephen Nodine has taken a new turn with the unctuous statement of the Republican Party chairman in Alabama that he would never approve a "felon" as a candidate, in this case, for Congress. Nodine (shown below right inspecting Hurricane Katrina damage with then-President George Bush) was a coming figure in the Republican Party in Alabama, and professed to have been concerned about his girlfriend's mental state as he drove away from her home following an argument. The ensuing trial failed to convict Nodine, though it ran him out of money and threw him on the mercies of the threadbare legal aid system, and the investigation prior to trial did turn up evidence of his being a drug user and owner of an unauthorized firearm in a manner prohibited to public officials.

As a consolation prize for their failure to convict him of murder, the prosecutors obtained a sentence against him of 15 months on those and related charges to which he pleaded in the usual coercive manner of the American plea bargain, (for which prosecutors would be disbarred in any other civilized country). Nodine now says that he is paying for ethical and character failings but remains strenuous in his professions of innocence on the main charge. The Stephen Nodine case is a disgrace from the beginning to the present, and the Republican Party should not be legitimizing his oppression, much less pandering to the ignorant with sanctimonious claptrap.

Al.com, The prosecution (or persecution) of Stephen Nodine: How a suicide became murder (photo essay), Brendan Kirby, March 15, 2013. Stephen Nodine: "I think that you don't go to the courthouse looking for justice anymore. I think that you go to the social media, or the media." 

 

Alabama U.S. Attorney George Beck

George BeckConnecticut Watchdog, Strong Senate Oversight Is a Consumer Issue, Andrew Kreig, July 5, 2011. The U.S. Senate approved by voice vote June 30 a new U.S. attorney for Alabama, thereby raising media watchdog issues for the federal justice system in that state and nationally. On the eve of the big holiday, the Senate approved George Beck, 69, to run the Middle District office in Alabama’s capital city of Montgomery. Among Beck’s accomplishments, he represented as a private defense attorney the main prosecution witness in the still-disputed 2006 corruption conviction of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. Confirmation hearings are one of the few times in our political system when the public can learn – through the expert questions of Senators, who serve as our surrogates – about sensitive matters in such fields as law enforcement. Here, the Senate Judiciary Committee failed to require Beck, shown at right, to appear at a hearing and answer any questions, including about the Siegelman case and several other major disputes.

Justice Integrity Project, Justice Irregularities In Alabama Continue Disgrace, Andrew Kreig, July 4, 2011. The U.S. Senate approved by voice vote June 30 a new U.S. attorney for Alabama, thereby extending a series of disgraces blighting the federal justice system in that state and nationally. The Senate voted to approve George Beck, 69, to run the Middle District office in Alabama’s capital city of Montgomery.

 

Forensic Medical Expert Cyril Wecht

Cyril WechtConnecticut Watchdog, Famed Physician Dr. Cyril Wecht: Fight Justice Department Misconduct, Andrew Kreig, Sept. 28, 2010. Forensic medical expert Cyril H. Wecht provides a vitally needed defendant’s perspective on the terrible Justice Department misconduct that USA Today just documented in a major investigative project. On Sept. 23, the paper reported 201 criminal cases in which federal judges found that prosecutors broke laws or ethics rules since 1997.  

Overall, the abuses put innocent people in jail, and set guilty people free. Wecht’s prosecution didn’t fall within the newspaper’s scope because his first judge in Pittsburgh coddled the prosecution instead of criticizing it. But we at the Justice Integrity Project, a non-partisan legal reform group, documented Wecht’s ordeal from 84 overblown felony charges in 2006 carrying long prison sentences for trivial matters. He was vindicated last year at age 78.

 

National Prosecution Accountability Issues

Justice Integrity Project, 3 Ways To Reform Our How To Reform Our Out-of-Control Legal System, Andrew Kreig, Aug. 7, 2013.  "3 Ways To Reform Our Out-of-Control Legal System." Shocking abuses are occurring throughout the country's legal system, according to authoritative recent news reports. On Aug. 6, I joined New Orleans radio station WWL AM/FM host Garland Robinette to discuss the scandals. My suggested three-step action guide

Justice Integrity Project, New Book, Viral Video Focus on Police, Prosecution, Judicial Abuses, Andrew Kreig, August 2, 2013.  A new book on paramilitary police tactics underscores ongoing assaults on American civil liberties. So does a video about a sexual attack in a Nevada courthouse by a court marshal, who arrested the victim while the judge failed to intervene. Rise of the Warrior Cop is the title of a book published in July by Radley Balko a columnist for the Huffington Post. He amplified the book’s themes with two recent columns on “Police Militarization” and “America's Misbehaving Prosecutors.”  A graphic example of the arrogance that some law enforcers possess even in court is a video that went viral this spring after CBS-affiliate KLAS-TV in Las Vegas exposed the treatment of a young mother who was groped and arrested.

Los Angeles Times, Prosecutor conduct case before Supreme Court is settled, David G. Savage, Jan. 5, 2010. Two Iowa men freed after spending 26 years in prison for murder had sued, saying prosecutors framed them. With justices signaling they might favor the men, the county settles for $12 million. A Supreme Court case testing whether a prosecutor can be sued for framing suspects for a murder ended Monday when an Iowa county agreed to pay $12 million to two men who were freed after spending 26 years in prison. In the past, the high court had said prosecutors could not be sued for doing their jobs, even if they sometimes convicted the wrong defendant. And in November, an Obama administration lawyer argued on behalf of Pottawattamie County, asserting that there is no constitutional "right not to be framed."

NPR, Can Prosecutors Be Sued By People They Framed? Nina Totenberg, Nov. 4, 2009. Do prosecutors have total immunity from lawsuits for anything they do, including framing someone for murder? That is the question the justices of the Supreme Court face Wednesday. On one side of the case being argued are Iowa prosecutors who contend "there is no freestanding right not to be framed." They are backed by the Obama administration, 28 states and every major prosecutors organization in the country. On the other side are two black men — Terry Harrington and Curtis McGhee — men who served 25 years in prison before evidence long hidden in police files resulted in them being freed.

John LewisHuffington Post, John Lewis Speech: 1963 March On Washington Speaker Urges Crowd To Fight For Voting Rights, Luke Johnson, Aug. 24, 2013. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) urged the crowd at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington Saturday to fight for the Voting Rights Act in the wake of a June Supreme Court decision gutting its core provision.  "I gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma, Alabama for the right to vote," he said, referring to Bloody Sunday in 1965 when police beat him and hundreds of other peaceful protesters. "I am not going to stand by and let the Supreme Court take the right to vote away from us." Lewis continued, "You cannot stand by. You cannot sit down. You got to stand up. Speak up. Speak out, and get in the way."

The BOP report finds "no prohibited act was committed" by White and "the charge of ... violating a condition of a furlough is not substantiated." However, despite that finding the same BOP report finds that White's alleged use of a phone posed "a  serious threat to the ability of staff to provide for the safety and security of the intuition as a whole," according to the report. The report goes on to state the use of the phone posed "a hazard to the general public in that threats and other illegal activities can be made against any individual." The report does not explain how it concluded White had violated a phone use policy when in the same report it finds White had not violated his furlough conditions, which again did not prohibit his use of a phone.