Madison, Wisconsin—Georgia Thompson, former state purchasing officer, was acquitted by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on April 5, vindicating Thompson against a savage republican political and legal attack.
Convicted last year in federal court, Thompson was blasted in the 2006 election by republican partisans and ex-congressman Mark Green, republican nominee for Governor, as a corrupt civil servant allegedly representative of corruption in Gov. Jim Doyle’s administration.
Doyle won the election handily, and the legal vindication by Thompson represents a “total, humiliating embarrassment” for US Atty. Steven Biskupic, in the words of one observer, and a body blow to Wisconsin republicans who maintain near constant attacks on Gov. Doyle, who in political fights large and small keeps coming out on top.
The three-judge panel overruled the jury's conviction of Thompson within hours of oral arguments in an extraordinary decision that almost all principals and observers agree was based on the utter lack of evidence presented by the U.S. attorney’s office in the 2006 trial that resulted in a guilty conviction on fraud charges.
“Stunning,” is the word used most frequently to describe the decision freeing Thompson and embarrassing the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
"I have to say it strikes me that your evidence is beyond thin," federal Appeals Judge Diane Wood told prosecutors.
Thompson’s attorney Stephen Hurley, regarded as a top criminal defense attorney in the state, said, “The government charged Thompson with conduct that did not constitute a crime…It cost Georgia her job, her life savings, her home and her liberty, and it cost Georgia her good name."
Gov. Doyle called the conviction a "terrible injustice," and said, "Georgia Thompson is an innocent woman who was imprisoned for more than four months just for doing her job. It is great for her that the Court of Appeals has taken this extraordinary action so she does not have to spend one more night in prison."
Doyle said Thompson should get back her $77,300-a-year state position, back pay and substancial state assistance covering legal and other expenses.
U.S. Atty Steven Biskupic
Republican U.S. Atty Steven Biskupic who has, by reputation and deed, withstood heightened scrutiny in light of the Bush U.S. Atty. scandal took a body blow by prosecuting a case that was all but laughed out of the appeals court.
The presiding trial judge, US District Judge Rudolph Randa, is a former member of the Federalist Society that no objective observer regards as anything but a right-wing legal machine out to serve corporate interests and degrade civil liberties, so few observers expected fair play from Randa.
But Biskupic has now suffered a mortal blow to his reputation and objectivity.
“Although Biskupic proudly persecuted this life-long civil servant and demanded that she go to prison before her appeal was final, he knew how bad his case and his conviction was,” writes blogger Mike Plaisted.
Another blogger, Milwaukee Rising, writes, “…Biskupic overreached and will be beaten up good for this one…”
To speculate, it is possible that Biskupic instructed his asst. U.S. Atty to offer up arguments ethically (based on the facts) before the 7th Circuit, knowing the outcome would vindicate and free the innocent Thompson, and resulting in Biskupic washing his hands of the case.