Supremes decision on Minor more relevant to Siegelman case than motion filed by Zach Scruggs

If attaching an “apologist” label on SLABBED was the only error, I’d be getting ready for this weekend’s big family gathering and cooking, not typing.  However, brief though this post will be, it is important to clarify the distinctions between Paul Minor’s appeal and Zach Scruggs’ motion to vacate his conviction.

Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman’s case is the shortcut to that clarification as political contributions central issues in both Siegelman and Minor. Immediately following the USSC decision in Skilling, the Supreme Court ordered a new review of the Siegelman’s conviction:

The court’s brief order vacated the decision of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had upheld their convictions, and ordered it to review their appeals in light of a ruling that went against what is known as the “honest services fraud” law…

Siegelman attorney Sam Heldman, who handled the former governor’s case before the Supreme Court, called the court’s decision Tuesday “a massive victory”…Siegelman and Scrushy were convicted of swapping $500,000 in campaign donations for a spot on the state health board that decides if hospitals can add beds or new services. Lawyers for the men have argued that what happened was normal politics and not criminal…

Lawyers for both men contend there was no deal to swap donations for an appointment and say prosecutors failed to prove an explicit “quid pro quo” agreement, which is required in federal bribery cases. The defense also argued that U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Montgomery did not adequately instruct jurors that such an agreement was necessary.

These defenses are common to both the Siegelman and Minor cases but are not mentioned in nor relevant to Zach Scruggs’ motion to vacate.  Therefore, despite the claims of some otherwise, the Supreme Court’s decision on Minor’s case cannot be seriously considered as one that would significantly impact Zach’s significantly different case.

SLABBED Daily – April 23 UPDATED 2X

Dumbest move ever in history of Katrina litigation goes to Lexington Insurance for letting this claim  ever reach the point of litigation, much less letting it cool its heels in State court –  Gollott v Lexington.

What makes the move dumb is not the fact that Tommy Gollott is the longest serving member of the State Legislature and an all-around great guy, it’s that you simply don’t threaten Senator  Gollott.  He served 40 years as a Democrat, a powerful one at that, but serves his current term as a Republican.

Gollott said he made his decision to switch because of the threat by the State Executive Committee of the Mississippi Democratic Party to decertify any nominee who has supported a Republican in the past.

A successful businessman, Gollott has the money to go the distance.  IMO, however, this one is going to cost Lexington some money – it’s just a question of how much but it will be a lot.

Moving on to surprise moves brings us to Rebecca Mowbray’s rah-rah story on Zurich Insurance. Continue reading “SLABBED Daily – April 23 UPDATED 2X”

Turn about is fair play – assuming you want to play fair

Like a man who had his own “tea party” before they became talked about in polite conversation really needs another flap – but then again, Louisiana Senator David Vitter must really enjoy flapping because here he goes again!  However, in that light, columnist John Maginnis might want to rethink the title of this week’s  tell-all Landrieu’s Hard Choices to Make. Actually he did – tough choices were in the headline when the column ran in the Times Picayune today.

Since Sen. Mary Landrieu’s re-election in November, the two issues she and her staff have heard the most about from constituents are: card check and Jim Letten…Whether or not the senior senator recommends that the president reappoint the Republican as U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District is a matter of intense interest beyond the New Orleans region.

For many, the career prosecutor has achieved folk hero status as a corruption fighter, whose ultimate trophy was the conviction of former Gov. Edwin Edwards for racketeering in 2000. Letten, then the first assistant, forcefully presented the government’s case at trial.

Letten’s critics acknowledge his competence while questioning his zeal to prosecute Democratic officials primarily. At any rate, they feel that with a change of administrations, it’s time for a new U.S. Attorney, and they expect Landrieu to recommend one.

Letten’s most fervent supporters proclaim that without him, that part of the state will return to its corrupt old ways–“the Louisiana way” as Letten famously dubbed it–and they demand that Landrieu do the apolitical thing and ask the president to keep him on the job. Leading that charge is Sen. David Vitter, who has promised Landrieu a fight if she goes with anyone but Letten.

What Vitter and like-minded others fail to understand is that one man’s trophy case is selective prosecution to another – and both terms reflect the “gotchya mentality” Jim Brown mentioned in his recent column cross-posted here on SLABBED. Continue reading “Turn about is fair play – assuming you want to play fair”

SLABBED Daily – April 2


Where to start?  How about before the serious stuff we stop by Kiss My Big Blue Butt and pick up her observation of international affairs:

“Y’all, look. The queen carries her purse around – even at her own house!”

Although her attention was directed elsewhere, she also had a great lead into the big news from the Department of Justice:

Oh Blessed Mother of Fence Gaps – we are on the wrong side of moving up.

Former Governor Siegelman couldn’t have said it better – and lordknows he was trying when he lamented to the folks at TPM Stevens case is dropped, why not mine. Continue reading “SLABBED Daily – April 2”

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””