No Comment — June 26, 2007, 11:45 pm

Prosecution Continues to Disintegrate in Siegelman Case

In a bizarre twist in an increasingly inexplicable case, prosecutors in proceedings in Montgomery today argued to federal district court judge Mark Fuller that former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman should be sentenced to thirty years in prison on account of accusations they presented to the jury, and the jury rejected. Even more remarkably, Fuller appears prepared to accept these arguments. In a sign of the fairness of treatment that has characterized the entire proceeding, the judge granted the prosecutors two full days to present them, and Siegelman one day to respond. Repeatedly the prosecutors claimed that Siegelman “lined his pockets” and claimed that he was the “nexus of a pay to play” system. The problem with this is that no evidence of personal benefit to Siegelman was ever offered.

Moreover, now the nation’s leading authority under the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) has weighed in. Unable to build a direct corruption case, prosecutors relied on a much abused statute designed to help prosecutors battling organized crime in bringing a case. Professor G. Robert Blakey, a former prosecutor and now a law professor who advised Congress in enacting RICO called the entire case against Siegelman a “garbage can” and “a joke.” The New York Times reports:

The shakiness of the federal case against Mr. Siegelman had forced prosecutors to “adopt the garbage-can theory of RICO,” said G. Robert Blakey, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame and former prosecutor, referring to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act. Professor Blakey suggested that the charges against Mr. Siegelman had been indiscriminate from the outset.

“It’s a joke,” Professor Blakey said. “A guy walks in, gives a contribution, and gets an appointment? Until Congress reforms this, this is the system we live under. They are criminalizing this contribution.” Furthermore, Mr. Blakey derided the prosecutors’ racketeering case against Mr. Siegelman. “It’s the worst-drafted RICO I’ve ever seen,” said the professor, whose career at the Justice Department began in 1960. “You find as much trash as you can, then you dump it in.”

The prosecution against Siegelman was commenced by U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama Leura Canary, the wife of a prominent Republican campaign manager and organizer, William Canary. It was brought before Judge Fuller, a lifelong Republican political activist, in an act of judicial forum shopping after a prior charge was dismissed with prejudice with another federal judge. The prior judge had suggested prosecutorial misconduct in the bringing of the charges.

The most recent bombshell in the case was a sworn affidavit submitted by a Republican attorney, who disclosed that the entire prosecution was a vendetta organized by William Canary in conjunction with Karl Rove. Canary is quoted as stating that “his girls” would go after Siegelman. Leura Canary nominally dropped out of managing the prosecution after her conflict was raised by Siegelman’s counsel. Lead federal prosecutor Louis Franklin claims that he has managed the case alone following Canary’s recusal, but his claims are contradicted even by his own statements, which openly acknowledge guidance in the case from the Washington-based Public Integrity Unit of the Department of Justice – a group now at the center of a maelstrom of controversy surrounding politically corrupted prosecutions. Moreover, notwithstanding her purported recusal, Canary continued to be involved in the case. She has even continued to give comments about the case to the news media, including yesterday to the Los Angeles Times, conduct which cannot be reconciled with her claims to be uninvolved in it.

It is extremely noteworthy that the Department of Justice refused to comply with a FOIA request seeking documents concerning the initiation of Siegelman case. The reasons for its stonewalling grow more obvious with every passing day, and add to the suspicions of politically motivated corruption in the prosecution. Six attorneys general from around the country have now expressed their concern about irregularities and misconduct in the Siegelman prosecution. Several of them have suggested that Congressional oversight committees conduct a probe of the circumstances of the prosecution, and place those who have conducted the prosecution under oath after the issuance of cautions and document preservation letters. That is the most likely next phase of the case.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

July 2015

Dressed to Kill

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Wrong Prescription?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Travel Day

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Fugue State

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

One Day Less

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Avian Voices·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The mockingbird’s bath is an orgy of thrashing and writhing about. When he has finished, one of the innocents alights on the rim of the basin and looks with disbelief at the thimble of water remaining.”
Illustration by Eric Hanson
[Browsings]
Before the War·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I’m worried that what the Houthis did to push Yemen into a civil conflict in September 2014, the Saudis may end up doing again when they end their campaign by eliminating the Houthis.”
Photograph by Alex Potter
Article
The Speakeasy·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“In order to understand how Marty’s could survive as an institution, I returned a year after my first visit to spend a week at what was sure to be the world’s bleakest comedy club.”
Photograph by Mike Slack
Post
The Lost Land·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I had first encountered some of these volumes—A Swiftly Tilting Planet, The Giver—as a child, and during adolescence, they registered as postcards from a homeland recently abandoned.”
Photograph by the author
Article
Wrong Prescription?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Whatever the slogans suggested, the A.C.A. was never meant to include everyone.”
Illustration by Taylor Callery

Date on which a U.S. patent was issued for a phone with which pets can call their owners:

2/1/11

Bees can count to four.

Washington University researchers found that obese Americans outnumber overweight Americans.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today