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General News    H3'ed 1/20/11

Will Siegelman Convictions Collapse Under A Shifting Legal Landscape?

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Message Roger Shuler

Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

Two recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions possibly have altered the foundation upon which convictions in the Don Siegelman case were built, according to statements from appellate judges at a hearing yesterday in Jacksonville, Florida.

Three judges from the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals appeared ready to see the convictions of Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy in a new light, according to a report from John Schwartz at The New York Times.  One of the judges called the convictions "problematic" in light of new developments at the nation's highest court.

Attorneys for Siegelman, the former Democratic governor of Alabama, and Scrushy, the former CEO of HealthSouth, argued for a reversal of the convictions or, at the least, a new trial. One of the judges appeared to agree with them. Reports Schwartz:

Judge J. L. Edmondson asked if the jurors in the original trial had been given alternate ways to convict Mr. Siegelman and Mr. Scrushy, and suggested that if some of those grounds for conviction had been invalidated, "that's problematic." Judge Edmondson asked if "there should at least be a new trial." It is not clear when the panel will issue an opinion in the case.

Joining Edmondson on the panel were Judge James C. Hill and Judge Gerald Bard Tjoflat. All three are Republican appointees.

Much of yesterday's hearing focused on two recent Supreme Court cases--Skilling v. United States and Citizens United v. FEC. The Skilling ruling, which involved a narrowing of the federal statute on honest-services fraud, might be most critical to the Siegelman appeal.

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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)
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