CBS 60 Minutes expose of the politicization of DOJ USAO in Alabama in multiple prosecutions in Alabama.
“The Prosecution Of Governor Siegelman
Scott Pelley Reports On The Case Against Alabama’s Former Governor, Don Siegelman”
CBS 60 Minutes
There are many comments at the CBS page below.
The prosecution was handled by the office of U.S. Attorney Leura Canary, whose husband Bill Canary had run the campaign of Siegelman’s opponent, Gov. Riley.
Canary allegedly said, “My girls” can take care of Siegelman. Simpson says she asked “Who are your girls?”
“And he says, ‘Oh, my wife, Leura. You know, she’s the Middle District United States Attorney.’ And he said, ‘And then Alice Martin. She is the Northern District Attorney, and I’ve helped with her campaign,’” Simpson says.
In this new investigation, prosecutors zeroed in on that vivid story told by Siegelman’s aide, Nick Bailey, who said he saw the governor with a check in his hand after meeting Richard Scrushy. Trouble was, Bailey was wrong about the check, and Siegelman’s lawyer says prosecutors knew it.
“They got a copy of the check. And the check was cut days after that meeting. There was no way possible for Siegelman to have walked out of that meeting with a check in his hand,” Jones explains.
Bailey told 60 Minutes that before the Siegelman trial, he spoke to prosecutors more than 70 times, and he admitted that during those conversations he had trouble remembering details. He told 60 Minutes the prosecutors were so frustrated, they made him write his proposed testimony over and over to get his story straight.
If Bailey’s telling the truth, his notes, by law, should have been turned over to the defense. But Siegelman’s lawyers tell 60 Minutes they never saw any such notes and never had a chance to show the jury just how much Bailey’s story had changed.
No one at the Justice Department would be interviewed for this story, but they did send a statement which read, in part, “This case was brought by career prosecutors … based upon the law and the evidence alone. After considering that evidence … a jury of Mr. Siegelman’s peers found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
This is why jurors should be
- Instructed they are the judge of the law as well as the facts.
- Be given more access to information not less.
- Be allowed to use the internet or anything else.
- Be allowed to submit questions to witnesses during the trial or during deliberations.
- Get the transcript in the jury room. Jurors should not be subject to read backs in the court room. We need to use cognitive psychology about learning. You need the transcript to learn.
- Jurors, witnesses, judges, prosecutors, and lawyers would all have to take cognitive psychology tests that show fallibility of judgement. These would be part of the record, including those of the judge and the jurors and the prosecutors and investigators and witnesses, etc.
- Lawyers who ask are you sure would have to retake the test. Also make this part of law school, taking these tests and repeat at the bar exam. These results would be posted, including first time results. Same for judges and prosecutors when appointed or candidates for office.
The basis of keeping evidence from juries is that the judge and prosecutor can be relied on in almost all cases to be fair. Once that is no longer the case, there is no basis to withhold evidence from the jury or keep them from reading what is available on-line. When the judges and prosecutors can’t be relied on to almost always be fair, then the idea that they can be trusted to decide what the jury can see or know is discredited.
We also need to reform almost every part of the legal process. This includes the following.
- Sentencing guidelines are too harsh for non-violent crime. Go back to the days of basically going into parole immediately for most non-violent offenders.
- The use of plea bargaining to testify against others. This has been corrupted.
- We need more transparency in the actions of prosecutors.
- Choose lawyers at random to review cases, from outside government and to interview witnesses, etc. This report would go to the judge and jury. It would evaluate the work of the prosecutors and investigators in the case. It would be made public.
The basis of harsh sentencing guidelines is that prosecutors and judges can be relied on to be fair in almost every case. The basis of plea bargaining to get testimony cross cases or within a case is that prosecutors and judges can be relied upon. This is shown to be violated in this case. Its also shown in other Bush DOJ cases.
The case of Professor Thomas C. Butler in Texas is another case. The case of the two border agents is another case. The main witness was engaging in crime during the case. The case of the bacteria in art prosecution in New York State is another case. These are all Bush DOJ cases. Dr. Robert Ferrell and Steven Kurtz:
CBS Blackout in Alabama during this segment only:
Alternative title (suggested by LA’s piece)
Don Siegelman: Prisoner in Putin’s, no, in Bush Gonzales Rove’s America.
It was another case of prosecution based on a deal with a bad witness who would say anything. But it was also pushed by a corrupt DOJ at the USAO level and at DOJ HQ level.
This was part of the Alberto Gonzales DOJ. The case was after Gonzales became Attorney General in 2005. The BG DOJ was one of the most corrupt in history. This is the Bush Gonzales corruption of America.
We need to reform oversight of DOJ. We should have a rotating committee of elected state Attorney Generals review the actions of DOJ on a regular basis. This is part of federalism. They should get security clearances. They should supervise when it comes to investigating the president, attorney general, or appointees of the president. The same would apply to Congress or the judiciary. We can’t have politicized DOJ’s that can choose to investigate judges or members of Congress this way.
During Bush Clinton Bush, the 3 branches of government became politicized in handling misconduct. This really was a building consequence of Watergate. The result is that others see this and taken advantage of it. Russia and other countries have seen how to gain benefits from this. The case of US v. Harvard, Shleifer and Hay and the possible withholding of evidence and information by DOJ HQ under Clinton and Bush is another one that should be investigated. Here though, its not the USAO Mass that did wrong (at least at the assistant USAO level), its the DOJ HQ and others in DC. The US Attorney during that case left and became a lecturer at Harvard Law School while the case was still pending. He was supposed to lecture, at least in part, on ethics for government lawyers. During Bush there were many cases that created fear in many people so as to interfere with justice.
Harper’s has received this press release from Dana Jill Simpson concerning recent developments in the Siegelman case, reproduced in full below:
Truth is marching on. I will not allow Middle District U.S. Attorneys Laura Canary or Louis Franklin to deter me from testifying before Congress.
Initially, I was shocked to read the false and gross distortions issued in a press release by Middle District U.S. Attorneys Laura Canary and her assistant Louis Franklin regarding my role in the controversy surrounding the Don Siegelman/Richard Scrushy prosecution.
It is my understanding that it is a violation of the ethical rules governing prosecutorial conduct to issue this type of press release when a case is still pending in the courts.
Justice in Alabama
DEPARTMENT No Comment
BY Scott Horton
PUBLISHED June 24, 2007
Siegelman v. McCain: