Gratuity can get you appointment as "ambassador" – Moultrie got one to Bureau of Prisons

I’m having the hardest time wrapping my arms around “gratuity” as a crime – that puts me in the good company of Dr. Marty Wiseman, director of the Stennis Institute at Mississippi State University, according to the Daily Journal (h/t folo and deep bow to Dr. Wiseman for the laugh)

Longtime Mississippi political observer Dr. Marty Wiseman expressed surprise at the new charge, saying access is “the reason most people give political contributions” of any substance.

“If this is all there is,” he said, referring to the government’s case, “it’s kind of like the country song I Shaved My Legs for This?.”

I haven’t had my hair done (read the lyrics) but I had thought about going up and blogging the trial – but after the pleas, I’ve given more thought to the powerful and unique argument in former Governor Siegelman’s appeal.

Every President who has ever appointed a contributor as Ambassador to France, every Senator who has ever exercised the Senatorial prerogative of putting forward a nominee for the United States District Court after such person supported the Senator’s campaign, every Governor and state Legislator, every Mayor and City Council member throughout the nation, and indeed every constituent of every such person, needs to know here the line is drawn between politics and crime. And the line must not be subject to the whim of prosecutors. Continue reading “Gratuity can get you appointment as "ambassador" – Moultrie got one to Bureau of Prisons”

New York Times – “Laws against bribery must be used carefully”

Yes, “Laws against bribery must be used carefully” in every case, including that of former Alabama Governor Siegelman – the subject of a Sunday editorial. h/t legalsnauzer

Mr. Siegelman was the Democrats’ strongest candidate to retake the Alabama governorship, and Congress has uncovered evidence that the United States attorney’s office in Montgomery — with possible White House input — may have decided to prosecute him to undermine his campaign…

While Congress examines those allegations, Mr. Siegelman is asking the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, to reverse his case on the law…Siegelman was convicted of bribery and related crimes and sentenced to more than seven years, and served nine months before being freed on appeal.

Laws against bribery must be used carefully...there needs to be an express quid pro quo — something the prosecutors did not prove in Mr. Siegelman’s case…(emphasis added)

Congress…should keep investigating this prosecution and what role crass politics may have played. While it does, the 11th Circuit should cast a skeptical eye on this case, based on the law and the facts.

While stopping by the Times for this story, I happened on one about another case I’ve been following – chiefly because so many of the stories about the plea agreement and sentencing of Mel Weiss also mention Dick Scruggs. Continue reading “New York Times – “Laws against bribery must be used carefully””

NY Times reports 54 former AG’s file brief in support of Siegelman asking Court to overturn conviction

The New York Times reported fifty-four former state attorneys general filed a brief Friday supporting the appeal of former Gov Don Siegelman of Alabama.

A year ago, Mr. Siegelman was sentenced to serve more than seven years in prison for appointing a wealthy businessman to a state health board in exchange for a $500,000 contribution to a campaign for a state lottery. Mr. Siegelman had intended the lottery money to go the state’s schools.

The former governor and his supporters have contended that the money was nothing more than a routine political contribution and that there was no agreement that the businessman, Richard M. Scrushy, would be re-appointed to a board on which he had previously served. Continue reading “NY Times reports 54 former AG’s file brief in support of Siegelman asking Court to overturn conviction”

Siegelman appeals with “powerful and unique” argument on quid pro quo

Hats off the legal defense team for the former Alabama Governor and a hat tip to the White Collar Crime  Prof blog for pointing out the significance of the argument on quid pro quo – the basis for USA v Scruggs and a key factor in USA v Moutrie as well.

The first argument in the brief is powerful and unique.  It takes the quid pro quo requirement used in the Supreme Court’s McCormick case, a Hobbs Act case involving campaign contributions, and applies it to the “honest services” aspect of the mail fraud, conspiracy to commit, and bribery portions of the charges here. Continue reading “Siegelman appeals with “powerful and unique” argument on quid pro quo”

Siegelman’s release should answer “Eastland” who?

Former Governor Siegelman’s release should resolve questions asked when Steve Patterson selected Greenwood (MS) attorney Hiram Eastland to represent him in USA v Scruggs.

Has Eastland ever in his life handled a criminal case…to the best of my knowledge no one has ever considered him a “go-to” guy for criminal work.

I’ll say this in public, and not much more: Hiram Eastland is a lowish level political operative, not a lawyer. In the sort of fix Patterson is in, there is no skill Eastland has I know of that you would need. Coghlan is a real criminal defense lawyer, and I would assume had nothing to do with bringing in the, um, extra talent.

It seems the, um, extra talent, came in handy for the former Alabama Governor – and unlike some in Mississippi, um, the folks at CNN and Talking Points knew the go-to guy when the story broke.

As the lead appellate counsel on Siegelman’s legal team, Eastland developed the legal theories and wrote the briefs that the 11th Circuit agreed with in freeing the former Alabama Governor while his appeal is pending.

Looks like we’ll have the opportunity to hear this profound story when Siegelman testifies before Congress in May. It’s anyone’s guess if or when the profound story of USA v Scruggs will be told – but there’s no need to keep second-guessing Eastland’s claim there’s one to tell.

Breaking News – Siegelman Released on Appeal

Former Alabama Governor Siegelman – lead from the courtroom in shackles – has been released from prison pending the outcome of his appeal. Mississippi lawyer Hiram Eastland, Jr., of Greenwood wrote the brief that won his release. Actual release will take place later today – no later than in the morning – according to Eastland.

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