TUESDAY, MAY 10, 2011
Breaking: Federal Court Is Pulling a Charade in the Siegelman Case
by Roger Shuler
In a story that broke just moments ago, the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed bribery-related convictions in the Don Siegelman case, but left other convictions in place.
Early wire reports are sketchy, but here is what appears to have happened: The 11th Circuit already had reversed the honest-services fraud convictions against Siegelman, and today’s ruling kicks out the bribery convictions against both Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy. That appears to mean that the only remaining conviction against Siegelman is for an obstruction of justice count related to a transaction involving a motorcycle. It’s unclear what exactly remains against Scrushy.
We have not had an opportunity to review today’s ruling, but this outcome does not surprise us. In fact, we posted roughly two months ago that it appears federal appeals courts are issuing “split decisions” on Bush-era political prosecutions. By upholding at least one segment of the convictions, the appeals courts are giving the prosecutions some legitimacy and making it more difficult for victims to sue for monetary damages.