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General News    H3'ed 4/25/11

Will Democrats Ever Rise Again in the Deep South?

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Message Roger Shuler

Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

As a progressive living in Alabama, I like to think that the Deep South might once again become fertile territory for the Democratic Party.

But the Obama administration's nomination of George Beck as U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama is not likely to help matters any. And if national Democrats continue to listen to the likes of Birmingham lawyer G. Douglas Jones, a vocal supporter of Beck's nomination, Republicans probably will dominate the South well into the future.

We long have suspected that a federal lawsuit against individuals and entities connected to HealthSouth Corporation has had a corrupting influence on Alabama's justice system. Now it appears the boatload of cash that plaintiff attorneys made from that case is helping to influence Democratic appointments on a national level--and not in a good way, if you are a progressive.

As we reported last week, Jones helped reel in more than $50 million for plaintiff attorneys in the HealthSouth case. Access to significant cash, sources tell Legal Schnauzer, made Jones a "kingmaker" in the Beck nomination. Is Doug Jones' influence good for the Democratic Party? Does he share a progressive vision for Alabama--or does he primarily promote his own interests and those of our state's other moneyed elites?

Jones was about the only person who would comment about the Beck nomination for a recent four-part series by Andrew Kreig, executive director of the Justice Integrity Project (JIP). Jones' comments, if read closely, are hardly comforting. In fact, he seems to engage in the kind of dissembling that is likely to turn off any Alabamians who might consider joining the progressive cause. From Part III of the Andrew Kreig series:

My questions to Jones . . . addressed not simply his support for the Beck nomination to run the office in charge of the Siegelman/Scrushy prosecution, but lingering questions about his own role. Jones has previously stated that he agreed to waive the statute of limitations only to show cooperation and other good faith after prosecutors erroneously told him they were not planning to indict Siegelman after their first prosecution was gutted by a skeptical trial judge. . . . But the limitations waiver and transfer of prosecution efforts to Middle District Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller . . . helped prosecutors obtain the time needed to indict Siegelman and Scrushy a second time in May 2005 with a secret indictment. Authorities unveiled the indictment the following fall, helping set the stage for a 2006 trial that thwarted with a conviction Siegelman's attempted political comeback. . . .

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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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