June 2, 2007
Did Karl Rove Sic Prosecutors on Former Alabama Gov. Siegelman?
Any description of the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy that does not include words like tortuous, labyrinthine, or bizarre just doesn't quite capture how strange this case has been. Coming on the heels of Scrushy's acquittal on securities fraud charges, the corruption case against the two men has included allegations of a political witch hunt of Siegelman, who barely lost re-election in 2002 and was running for the Democratic nomination while on trial in 2006. Since the trial, e-mails allegedly between jurors discussing the case have surfaced from an anonymous source and raise questions about possible misconduct, although the court denied a motion for a new trial based on this evidence. A defense motion questioning racial discrimination in the jury selection remains undecided. Allegations that the presiding judge has secret ties to a federal prosecutor through a company in which he was an officer triggered a recusal motion that was denied. Now comes a story in Time (here) alleging that Presidential adviser Karl Rove arranged to have Siegelman investigated by the U.S. Attorney's in the Northern and Middle Districts of Alabama -- the corruption case was prosecuted in the Middle District. According to the article, "A longtime Republican lawyer in Alabama swears she heard a top G.O.P. operative in the state say that Rove 'had spoken with the Department of Justice' about 'pursuing' Siegelman, with help from two of Alabama's U.S. attorneys." The claim against Rove is hearsay, but that hardly seems to matter. Look for Siegelman -- and Scrushy, who is not shy about assailing the government -- to raise a great hue and cry about the prosecution's motives. Like their other claims, it likely will fall on deaf ears in the District Court, and probably won't get much traction in the Eleventh Circuit, either. I'm tempted to say that this case can't get much weirder, but no prediction is safe with this one. (ph)
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