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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 5/10/11

Is the Eleventh Circuit Court fencing with the United Stated Supreme Court in the Siegelman-Scrushy case?

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Message Dana Jill Simpson

            Today I am reminded of the Lady of Justice statue, which is one of the best-known statues in the world.   I was taught as a young law student that the sword she holds in her right hand represents the power that is wielded by those who sit on the bench as judges.   It was further explained that the scales she holds in her left hand show that justice is to be equally distributed by the judges as they balance the facts of the case.   The blindfold she wears is supposed to show that justice is not supposed to be subject to influence by parties on either side and that none of the judges should be influenced by political concerns.   I would offer today that the buckler "shield" she wears across her breast is to protect her from the injustices that are sometimes wielded by the court when making decisions of a political nature.

            Today a decision was handed down in the Eleventh Circuit Court in the Siegelman-Scrushy case.   The order stated, "This is an extraordinary case.   It involves corruption at the highest level of the Alabama State Government.   Its resolution has strained the resources of both Alabama and the federal government.   But, it has arrived in this court with the Asword and buckler of a jury verdict."   Additionally, the judges stated that, "Though the popular culture sometimes asserts otherwise, the virtue of our jury system is that it most often gets it right."               However, these judges who wrote this decision seem to have forgotten that every person has a right to a jury trial that is fair and balanced with a judge that is unbiased.   They neglect to mention that the judge in the original case owned a large share of stock in a closely held corporation that had over three hundred million dollars worth of government contracts with the United States at the time he was instructing this innocent jury.   It appears that the Eleventh Circuit while wielding their sword of power in the Siegelman-Scrushy matter want to erase this fact.   In fact, they use their sword to fence with the United States Supreme Court and even use terminology of fencing in this order when they use the words Asword and Buckler.

            Many years ago, I took a class in fencing and learned that the terms of Asword and Buckler invoke images of a blood sport that is very combative, as the buckler, a shield, is held in one hand and the sword is wielded in the other hand to kill the opponent.   It is interesting that this court would use this terminology in this particular case.   Everyone who has lived in Alabama for the last decade has known that political elections in Alabama are considered blood sports where the winner takes all and the loser is often threatened with jail sentences.    It really makes one wonder why this court would want to invoke the image of the sword and the buckler.   It is almost as though they were trying to claim the court is a combative playing field and that the jury can be used as a weapon as well.    There have been several articles in recent years that have mentioned that politics in Alabama is a blood sport.   There is probably no better image to invoke it than the Asword and the Buckler.

            The question about this decision is why the Eleventh Circuit failed to look at the other honest service fraud cases that were sent back to it by the Supreme Court to review. It appears all they did in Mr. Siegelman's case is rubber stamp their previous decision to drop the two charges against Mr. Siegelman which they had already ruled to do prior to the case being appealed to the Supreme Court..   In Mr. Scrushy's case it appears it was a win as previously this court inconsistently dismissed the two cases against Mr. Siegelman but not against Mr. Scrushy.   That action never made any sense, how does Mr. Scrushy defraud someone when the other person's cases are dismissed and the court says he was not guilty of fraud.

            It appears that in the future this case will be back before the Supreme Court as both parties have announced they intend to appeal the case.  


            It appears that both courts have been swinging their swords of power and fencing.   It appears to be a good way of thinking about what is going on as each side swings their sword of power and never accomplishes letting the real victims go, which are Mr. Siegelman and Mr. Scrushy.  


            Hopefully, someday the people of the United States will rip off the blindfold of Lady Justice and let her see what has been taking place in the supposed Hallowed Halls of Justice.   However, for now, it appears that Lady Justice needs to take fencing lessons since the Eleventh Circuit Court wants to invoke images of a blood sport in the Siegelman-Scrushy case.


            One can only hope that the Supreme Court, this time when wielding its sword, does not refer it back to the Eleventh Circuit again.   If they do it will be clear they are playing and fencing with Mr. Siegelman and Mr. Scrushy's lives caught in the middle.    It is time for the Supreme Court to rule on this matter, once and for all, and quit fencing with the Eleventh Circuit with Asword and a Buckler. 


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Simpson is a country lawyer who resides in Rainsville, Alabama. She has appeared on 60 Minutes and Dan Abrams MSNBC. Stories were written in Time Magazine, Harpers Magazine, and the New York Times about her being a witness in the Don Siegelman case (more...)
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