As Americans, we should have the utmost respect for the justices who serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
So, respectfully, there are too many unanswered questions lingering for the top court in the land not to hear an appeal of former Gov. Don Siegelman’s bribery conviction.
Several of those questions were raised right here in DeKalb County, and it was enough a few years ago for the House Judiciary Committee to step in and ask them.
Democrats in 2007 began reviewing Siegelman's 2006 corruption conviction as part of a broader investigation into allegations of political meddling at the Justice Department by the Bush administration.
The effort gained momentum after Republican lawyer Jill Simpson, of Rainsville, who had volunteered for Siegelman’s re-election opponent – former Republican Gov. Bob Riley – said she overheard conversations suggesting that former White House adviser Karl Rove was talking with Justice Department officials about Siegelman's prosecution.
“I think it is a great decision,” Simpson told the Times-Journal in 2008. “I think the House Judiciary Committee should hear from Don Siegelman. He’s a political prisoner, and it’s a step in the right direction. Everyone involved in this is happy.”
On Monday, Siegelman said through his attorney he was disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear an appeal.
Siegelman was elected governor in 1998 and served one term before narrowly losing re-election to Riley in 2002, as reports of corruption investigations clouded Siegelman’s administration.
Siegelman was indicted in 2004 on charges of conspiring to rig bids on state Medicaid contracts. Prosecutors dropped the case, however, after a judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to support key charges.
Siegelman was indicted again a year later in a separate bribery and corruption case.
In June 2006, he was convicted on six bribery-related and one obstruction of justice charge. He began serving a sentence of more than seven years last June.
Siegelman was accused of appointing then-HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy to an important hospital regulatory board in exchange for Scrushy arranging $500,000 in disguised contributions to Siegelman’s campaign for a statewide lottery. Siegelman was also convicted of a separate obstruction of justice charge concerning $9,200 he received from former lobbyist Lanny Young to help with the purchase of a motorcycle.
The case, now apparently over, will go back to a federal court in Montgomery, where U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller has ordered a new sentencing hearing for Siegelman. He’s currently free on bond after serving nine months of his original sentence of more than seven years.
But it shouldn’t be over. After being dragged out for the past six years, we deserve some answers. Simpson’s testimony should be considered. This case deserves resolutions.
At the very least, Siegelman’s new sentence should be time served. The guy’s been through quite enough for arguably something he didn’t do.
Disagree with me? Let’s argue it out and see what happens. At this point, what would it hurt?
But to do nothing is, respectfully, the ultimate injustice.
Managing Editor Jared Felkins’ column appears Wednesdays. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: