Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
A federal appellate court, for the third time, has rendered a "split decision" on an apparent political prosecution from the George W. Bush era--overturning convictions on some counts, while upholding others.
The latest example came last Friday when the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta released its ruling in the case of Sue Schmitz, a former Democratic state legislator in Alabama. The appeals court overturned Schmitz' convictions for theft concerning a program receiving federal funds, while upholding her convictions on mail fraud. Schmitz sentence has been vacated, with the case returned to district court for resentencing.
This is similar to what happened on the appeals of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman (Eleventh Circuit) and Mississippi attorney Paul Minor (Fifth Circuit). What should we make of this pattern? Here is what I make of it: Federal appeals courts are engaged in a coordinated effort to cover up Bush-era political prosecutions and protect the rogue judges and prosecutors responsible for them.
As we noted in a previous post (multiple posts, actually), federal judges often are more interested in protecting the interests of the legal profession than in administering justice. By rendering split decisions on the Siegelman, Minor, and Schmitz appeals, they allow a thread of legitimacy to cling to the trial-court proceedings. That will make it more difficult for the victims of political prosecutions to ever receive justice in the civil arena, from filing lawsuits against those who were likely responsible.
We have studied the Siegelman and Minor cases extensively and shown that the appellate courts, by law, had to overturn the convictions entirely. They didn't, and got away with it, because no one in this country holds federal appeals courts accountable--except the U.S. Supreme Court, and it hears only a tiny fraction of the cases that come before it. As we know from Clarence Thomas' recent machinations, the nation's highest court is itself ethically challenged: