Friday, February 03, 2006

Democratic Ex-Governor Faces Trial

The federal corruption trial of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman gets a little closer:

A federal judge ruled Thursday that former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy will be tried with former Gov. Don Siegelman and two other defendants in a government corruption case scheduled to start May 1.
Scrushy and former state Transportation Director Mack Roberts had asked to have their trials separate from Siegelman and his former chief of staff, Paul Hamrick. U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller refused.
Scrushy and Roberts had argued that they were involved in only a small part of the lengthy bribery indictment against Siegelman and Hamrick and that evidence against Siegelman and Hamrick might unfairly prejudice or confuse jurors.
"In this case, the court finds that there is no reasonable possibility that the jury will not be able to keep track of the evidence as it pertains to each defendant," Fuller wrote. "There are only four defendants. The charges against each defendant contain discreet, factually distinct and relatively uncomplicated offenses." ...

Scrushy, Siegelman, Roberts and Hamrick were indicted by a federal grand jury in October on charges alleging that bribes were paid for political influence. The charges came after Scrushy was acquitted in June in a federal court trail in Birmingham, where he was accused of orchestrating a $2.7 billion accounting fraud at HealthSouth.

Meanwhile, Siegelman's lawyers seem to be pushing a rather unusual application of "critical race theory":

Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy and former Gov. Don Siegelman will get the information they need to challenge the racial makeup of juries in the federal courts in Montgomery, but they will have to do their analysis quickly, a federal magistrate said Thursday.
U.S. Magistrate Charles Coody, who is handling preliminary matters in the government corruption case, said U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller doesn't want the trial postponed.
"In his mind, May 1 is a very firm date," Coody told defense lawyers during a hearing Thursday.

Scrushy and Siegelman, who are white, contend blacks are underrepresented in the grand juries and the pools of potential trial jurors for the federal courts in Montgomery. They argue that their indictment should be dismissed or that changes be made in the process of choosing potential jurors before they go on trial.

What the heck does this mean? A white man can't get a fair trial from white jurors? This trial doesn't have anything to do with Siegelman's race. The only color involved is green.

Obviously, Siegelman's lawyers want to use race as a proxy for party affiliation. In Alabama, as everywhere else in America, black voters vote Democrat more than 90 percent of the time. Therefore, the more blacks on the jury, the more Democrats on the jury, and the more likely that a Democrat like Siegelman can get acquitted -- or at least get a hung jury. What a cynical move. And it might just work.