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Congress Presses Towards a Siegelman Probe

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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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