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Artur Davis, the centrist Democrat who represents Alabama’s seventh district, is a career federal prosecutor who amassed an almost perfect conviction rate working in the Middle District of Alabama – the same U.S. attorney’s office that took on the prosecution of former Governor Don Siegelman. When the Simpson affidavit was published and Siegelman began to talk about the political machinations behind his prosecution, Davis distanced himself – a posture that could well be expected of a man who was still prosecuting cases in 1998. Evidently he’s now seen enough to change his mind. On Friday, Talking Points Memo Muckraker published a letter from Representative Artur Davis (D-AL) to House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers (D-MI) in which Davis presses his colleague for a review of United States v. Don E. Siegelman by Congressional hearing.
No Comment readers will recall Siegelman’s 2006 conviction on charges of bribery, honest services mail fraud, and obstruction of justice, and his recent sentencing to 88 months in federal prison without appeal bond. Despite the ongoing appeal, Davis believes Siegelman’s case merits a review:
The trading of favors for official acts is reprehensible, and stains the reputation of the political process. But it would shatter the system if a Justice Department built a culture in which prosecutors’ career advancement depends on their willingness to press exotic legal theories that might advance the electoral interests of the Republican Party.
I am sensitive to the fact that the Siegelman case is on appeal. But an appellate court is not susceptible to being influenced by publicity in the way that a jury might be. I agree with the New York Times editorial of June 30, 2007 that the facts are suggestive enough that United States v. Donald Siegelman merits inclusion in the committee’s inquiry.
Momentum to review the Siegleman case builds with each passing week. A wide spectrum of media outlets, elected officials, and elected officials from both parties are asking questions about the Siegelman case. As worries about possible manipulation of the U.S. justice system arise from reasonable people across the political spectrum, wide agreement about the importance of prosecutorial independence is evident.
Evan Magruder contributed to this post.
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Freddie Gray’s relatives arrived for the trial in the afternoon, after the prep-school kids had left. By their dress, they seemed to have just gotten off work in the medical and clerical fields. The family did not appear at ease in the courtroom. They winced and dropped their heads as William Porter and his fellow officer Zachary Novak testified to opening the doors of their police van last April and finding Freddie paralyzed, unresponsive, with mucus pooling at his mouth and nose. Four women and one man mournfully listened as the officers described needing to get gloves before they could touch him.
The first of six Baltimore police officers to be brought before the court for their treatment of Freddie Gray, a black twenty-five-year-old whose death in their custody was the immediate cause of the city’s uprising last spring, William Porter is young, black, and on trial. Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”