Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
A federal judge has delayed ruling on whether the judge who presided over the Don Siegelman case should be allowed to rule on motions for a new trial.
Robert Hinkle, a U.S. District Judge in Florida, says he will wait until the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled on appeals filed by Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy. Siegelman and Scrushy contend that U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, who oversaw their trial in Montgomery, should not be allowed to continue hearing post-trial challenges.
What does it mean? It's hard to know for sure, but we think it might be a good sign for Siegelman and Scrushy. We also think it's a sign that the federal judiciary is trying to protect Fuller, one of its own rogue members.
The record in the Siegelman case is filled with grounds that require Fuller's recusal. In fact, the law requires Fuller to make that ruling on his own. But he shuffled it off to another judge. And now that judge, Hinkle, is shuffling his feet, seemingly in hopes that the 11th Circuit will take him off the hot seat.
This all is driven by the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in June that vacated the judgment in the Siegelman case and ordered the 11th Circuit to review the case in light of the high court's findings on honest-services fraud in a case involving former Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling.
A case styled Yates v. United States, 354 U.S. 298 (1957) is likely to drive the 11th Circuit's review on Siegelman. Here is the key holding in Yates: