Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
The same Republican plot that sparked the Don Siegelman prosecution might also have led to the downfall of former California Governor Gray Davis. Siegelman, the former Democratic governor of Alabama, raised the issue in interviews after last week's ruling from the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld most of his convictions from a 2006 corruption trial.
We have reported that the Eleventh Circuit ignored U.S. Supreme Court precedent by holding that a campaign-related transaction between Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy amounted to bribery, even though no "explicit agreement" was involved. McCormick v. Unites States is the binding case on a charge of bribery in the campaign context, and that requires that prosecutors prove that an "explicit agreement" existed. Mark Fuller, the Bush-appointed judge who oversaw the Siegelman trial, did not hold prosecutors to such a standard, and the Eleventh Circuit essentially said, "Ah, that's OK . . . close enough."
So much for the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard that supposedly applies in American criminal law.
Siegelman and I appeared on The Peter B. Collins Show to discuss the latest twists in a case that has become perhaps the best-known political prosecution in American history. You can listen to a podcast of the interview by clicking here.
Collins is based in San Francisco, and Siegelman noted parallels between his own experience in Alabama and the experience of Gray Davis in California. Davis was elected governor in 1998, held strong poll numbers throughout his first term, and was re-elected in 2002. But his approval ratings began to sink when a budget crisis and deregulation in the electricity industry led to widespread instability in California.
Davis' opponents spent some $66 million to stage a recall election in 2003, and Davis wound up being removed from office. He was replaced by Republican and film star Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has been in the news lately for events that have nothing to do with politics.