Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman finds himself in a curious position. He was tried, convicted and sentenced on corruption charges brought by a U.S. Attorney whose husband happened to be advising Siegelman’s political opponent. In the meantime, spectacular public charges leveled by Republicans against figures in their own party have turned the tables on the prosecutors, who are now increasingly fighting a rear-guard action attempting to save their careers. Under intense Congressional pressure, the Justice Department acknowledges that its Office of Professional Responsibility has started multiple investigations into accusations of ethics lapses and illegal conduct leveled at the prosecutors and investigators they directed.
Evidence of the involvement of former senior Presidential Advisor Karl Rove continues to mount, and Rove’s denials become more strangely qualified as time progresses.
In Atlanta, the Court of Appeals, after issuing a series of increasingly irritated orders challenging the conduct of the trial judge, ordered Siegelman’s release from prison, remarking that his appeal had substantial prospects for success. This is particularly remarkable because the court ruled on the basis of the trial record itself, whereas the most dramatic evidence of misconduct and abuse was only unearthed after Siegelman went to prison. The disclosures link the prosecution team to illegal witness coaching and to the suppression of vital exculpatory evidence.
Siegelman’s appeal on the merits is proceeding with historically unprecedented support. Fifty-four former attorneys general have submitted a brief amicus curiæ in the case calling for the conviction to be thrown out.
I've been skeptical of all this Siegelman hoopla for some time. I mean, sure the prosecution was totally politically motivated and directed by the president's campaign strategist, and yes it's of a piece with the US Attorney purge, but at the end of the day a jury convicted this guy, right?
Apparently, maybe not. If this judge does overturn the conviction and Don Siegelman is shown to have been wrongly prosecuted for the second time, this is going to turn into a nightmare for the Republicans.
Imagine: Karl Rove directing the Justice Dept. to conduct a trumped up, politically-motivated prosecution of a popular Democratic governor and getting him convicted by withholding evidence and coaching witnesses.