Experts from Congress and federal courts along with defendants and legal commentators will discuss evidence before the Judiciary Committee that the Bush administration targeted defendants on the basis of political beliefs. Elected Democrats were seven times more likely to be investigated than GOP officials, according to a leading study. Former Georgia State Sen. Majority Leader Charles Walker’s 10-year sentence is one topic of the forum. Last month, his 2005 trial judge recused after Walker proved an appearance of bias. Earlier, DoJ forced the resignation of the first prosecutor for misconduct. On Friday, Walker’s son Charles “Champ” Walker plans to announce a national campaign to protest mistreatment of similar defendants around the nation. “These cases must be investigated,” says Walker, a former congressional candidate. “The biggest scandal in American politics is prosecution misconduct against Democrats, which is just as indefensible as racial bias.”
Confirmed speakers for Friday’s forum include Alabama’s former Gov. Don Siegelman, a Democrat who was convicted on corruption charges during a second trial in 2006. The next year, a Republican whistleblower provided evidence of a conspiracy to eliminate Siegelman from politics. Retired Chief U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon of Birmingham will discuss his recent letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder saying that Siegelman’s first prosecution was “the most unfounded criminal case over which I presided during my entire judicial career” of nearly 30 years.
Law professor and Harper’s columnist Scott Horton, among the first and most vehement critics of the prosecutions, will discuss why the recently dismissed conviction of GOP Sen. Ted Stevens (AK) was a political prosecution also. The Alaskan’s prosecutor is among top DoJ leaders invited to speak. Confirmed speakers include: Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA), chair of Judiciary’s crime and competition subcommittee; former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz, twice acquitted in prosecutions that imprisoned trial lawyer Paul Minor; Puerto Rico State Senate Minority Whip Eduardo Bhatia (D), representing acquitted former Gov. Anibal Acevedo; Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron; Project Save Justice Executive Director Gail Sistrunk, discussing the group’s video, “The Political Prosecutions of Karl Rove”; Investigative reporter Andrew Kreig; and McClendon Group President John Hurley.
“The lid is coming off deep, dark secrets,” says Hurley, a former staff aide to the late White House correspondent Sarah McClendon. “This is an opportunity to learn about some of the nation’s most important and controversial recent investigations of official corruption.”
Sponsors include such civil rights groups as Alliance for Justice, Project Save Justice, and Velvet Revolution US. Registration is free. Reporters can arrange interviews with speakers. “This conference is vital to acquainting the public with DOJ misconduct,” comments Pace University law professor Bennett Gershman, author of the definitive book, Prosecutorial Misconduct.