Former governor’s fate up to a three-ring-binder?

November 3rd, 2011 at 4:03 pm by under OnPolitix, OnPolitix - Alabama
Don Siegelman

Don Siegelman

Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman has postponed a seven-year sentence for three years, only serving 9 months in a federal prison.

Why? Because the 11th Circuit Appeals court says that not is all as it may have seemed in his 2006 corruption trial.

Siegelman’s lawyers are back, after successfully having some charges dropped in a 2009 appeals hearing. This time, Siegelman says that one of the key witnesses in his case, aide Nick Bailey, was coached by federal prosecutors.

In question is a three-ring binder that, according to Siegelman’s attorneys, contains proof that Bailey was heavily coached by prosecutors. Bailey said that government prosecutors told him to use the notebook in question to help him “keep up” with his testimony.

Bailey says he turned the book over to his attorney at the time, George Beck. Oddly enough, Beck is now a U.S. prosecutor himself. Beck said he has recused himself from the Siegelman case since he is now a federal attorney.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Coody ordered the notebook be turned over so that he could examine it “in private.”

Bailey testified against Siegelman in exchange for a lighter sentence in his own trial of extortion. Bailey testified in the trial against Siegelman that he personally witnessed former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy write a check to Siegelman as a bribe, a check that turned out later to have been written days later.

Whether this notebook provides any steam to Siegelman’s or his co-conspirator, Scrushy, is still unknown. Siegelman has been appealing his conviction from day 1, and in 2009 his appeal was mostly struck down.

But there was some light at the end of the tunnel for Siegelman: the same court in 2009 who denied his request for a new trial did strike down two of the seven charges Siegelman was found guilty on, and ordered a new sentencing hearing. That sentencing hearing has not yet taken place, pending the appeals process.

According to a 2008 Time Magazine article, prosecutors were alleged to have had “unusual” and “suspect” contact with the jury in the case. And a federal prosecutor who recused himself after agreeing to run Bob Riley’s gubernatorial campaign—Siegelman’s opponent in 2003—continued to direct emails to other prosecutors, instructing them on how to handle the case.

Numerous outlets have cried foul in Siegelman’s prosecution, namely 60 Minutes, The New York Times, a congressional oversight panel and nearly 50 former states attorney general. Yet, Siegelman still fights on, slowly but surely winning small victory after small victory.

His co-defendant, Scrushy, still remains in a federal prison in Beaumont, Texas, serving four years of his nearly seven-year sentence. It is not clear whether or not Scrushy hopes to ride on the coat-tails of Siegelman’s appeal.

If nothing else, Siegelman may end up walking away without spending another day in jail. But all bets are on the little three-ring-binder.

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