Free Don Siegelman


don_siegelman_1.jpgFormer Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman was wrongly tried and convicted and deserves to be a free man helping the people of America. Instead, he has been jailed, unable to be out on bail while he appeals his sentence. That’s right — he’s being treated like a flight risk even though he is one of America’s most venerable Democratic politicians.

Gov. Siegelman was sentenced to over seven years in jail for something he did not personally benefit from. And to be sure, it was much less severe, than say, revealing the identities of members of the CIA, spending billions on companies you will be working for when you leave Washington and move back to Texas, or firing very good attorneys because they don’t roll the way you do.

In fact this man was singled out to be persecuted by Karl Rove. Which in and of itself means he most likely is innocent. Ninety-percent of the charges leveled against him were thrown out before the trial. He was found innocent of over a dozen others in the trial.

Don Siegelman was a highly popular Democratic Governor of Alabama. He is the only person to ever have served Alabama by being elected to its four highest offices.

What horrific crime did he commit? Siegalman was convicted of appointing someone to a state board that the same man had been appointed to by three previous governors, in return for a contribution in support of a referendum campaign.

This May, Governor Siegleman and his family joined our Hillel Shabbos dinner at my home. He married a Jewish woman and his children have been raised as Jews, though he himself is a Catholic. His daughter studied in Long Beach and now is a graduate student in Israel. From the day I had a chance to spend with Gov. Siegelman, both my wife and I can attest that he is a decent, loving and righteous man of genuine character, who needs all of our help to get out of jail now!

I encourage those who care about the due process of law and the pursuit of justice to help free Gov. Siegelman.

Wikipedia has a very good synopsis of the injustice served, including, major questions about the jury and the judge, and Rove’s involvement. This recent blog on Time.com has a good introduction to the case.

Here is a brief synopses of why this case is foul from the Progressive Review’s online blog:

(1) Governor Siegelman is currently incarcerated at a Bureau of Prisons facility, having been refused release on bail pending appeal. Indeed, he was even denied 45 days to report to prison to give him time to put his affairs in order, an opportunity which is commonly granted.

(2) A lawyer who had worked in the campaign of Governor Siegelman’s opponent in the 2006 gubernatorial contest has sworn in a recent affidavit that the spouse of the federal prosecutor in this case stated that his wife and another federal prosecutor would “take care of” Mr. Siegelman and that he had talked with a political operative for the White House concerning such assurances.

(3) In an unrelated but recent case, a low-level employee in another state administration was prosecuted and convicted by another U.S. Attorney before a U.S. Court of Appeals ordered her immediate release from prison and reversed the trial verdict calling the prosecution evidence “beyond thin.”

(4) Another former Governor of Alabama was convicted of corruption charges a few years ago in a case where he personally benefited from his action and was sentenced to probation. That case was handled by the same lead prosecutor as in the Siegelman case.

(5) The sentence sought by the prosecutor in Governor Siegelman’s case was excessively disproportionate, and the sentence imposed – 7 years, 4 months – was harsh.

(6) There are numerous apparently legitimate (and arguably compelling) appealable issues in this case, as confirmed by a number of legal scholars. There have been allegations of jury misconduct and the possible introduction of extrinsic evidence into the jury deliberation process that have not been fully investigated. For this reason, and because Governor Siegelman is not in any way a flight risk, the denial of a bond pending appeal appears inappropriate.


28 Comments

  1. DeisCane

    8/14/2007 at 9:55 am

    His name is Siegelman, he married a Jew, but he’s Catholic? I’m confused. Was his mom not Jewish?

  2. DeisCane

    8/14/2007 at 9:55 am

    His name is Siegelman, he married a Jew, but he’s Catholic? I’m confused. Was his mom not Jewish?

  3. Rabbi Yonah

    8/14/2007 at 9:59 am

    He was raised and born a Catholic.

  4. Tom Morrissey

    8/14/2007 at 10:54 am

    Sentencing issues (e.g., the severity of the sentence imposed) are not as a matter of law material to the appeal bond issue. Further, the very fact that Siegelman is not a flight risk suggests that the grounds for his appeal lack merit; he has to show a “substantial” issue or issues likely to result in reversal if the issues are decided in his favor. And under any circumstances, the burden on Siegelman to get the jury verdict/judgment vacated is quite heavy. The Court of Appeals doesn’t begin with a level playing field. Rather, the jury verdict is accorded substantial deference.

    All in all, not a compelling post. There are surely plenty of black kids in the prison system who lack Siegelman’s resources who are worthier of our attention and prayers.

  5. JSinger

    8/14/2007 at 11:46 am

    Siegalman was convicted of appointing someone to a state board that the same man had been appointed to by three previous governors, in return for a contribution in support of a referendum campaign.

    You want to mention who that highly-qualified pillar of the community was, and where he is right now?

  6. Rabbi Yonah

    8/14/2007 at 12:26 pm

    JSinger, I know you don’t like Scrushy and I am not asking you to. I am asking that Gov. Siegleman be let out of jail to launch an appeal. Everyone deserves it.

    Even murderers are let out on appeal — why not Siegelman.

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  8. ramon marcos

    8/16/2007 at 1:13 am

    Personally I don’t care if he’s Jewish or not. This post reiterates not only how much our judicial system is flawed and parochial. But Rabbi Yo’s most telling comment for me was:

    “In fact this man was singled out to be persecuted by Karl Rove. Which in and of itself means he most likely is innocent.”

    Face it, we got our asses conned. Rove and Cheney, best con artists since Angelica Huston and John Cusak in “Grifters” . They got what they wanted and now they’re gonna take their split and live like kings. The G-dfather Part IV… hey, we were so stupid we gave them eight years instead of four. Wait, we did the same thing w/Nixon… oh well, every generation…

  9. VJ

    8/17/2007 at 2:35 am

    Rabbi Yonah is really on to something here. This case has been noticed and championed by Josh M. Marshall’s Talkingpointsmemo.com site and his great Washington companion site TPMmuckraker.com. The posts on the Siegelman case are here in his archives:
    [http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/mt35/mt-search.cgi?search=Don+Siegelman&SearchCutoff=90]

    Here’s some of the more impressive news from the case:
    [http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/003691.php]

    [quoting directly]:

    “44 Former State AGs Call For Review Of Siegelman Case
    By Laura McGann – July 16, 2007, 12:49 PM

    The movement for a review of Gov. Don Siegelman’s (D-AL) case is picking up steam. Forty-four former state attorneys general are now calling on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees for an investigation into whether his corruption prosecution was politically motivated.

    In a petition (available here) the former top state lawyers asked for a full review of the proceedings, noting a half dozen reasons the case raises suspicion.

    In an unusual sentencing phase, the prosecution pressed for a 30-year prison term and the judge denied bail as the former governor awaits his appeal. (Siegelman was ultimately sentenced to seven years in prison.)

    The attorneys also point to an affidavit filed by Republican lawyer Dana Jill Simpson as possible evidence of political interference. In her sworn statement, Simpson recounts a 2002 teleconference with some of her fellow Bob Riley (R-AL) campaign workers, where they discussed using the justice system to get Siegelman to back down from contesting the election results. Republican operative Bill Canary mentioned talking with Karl Rove about getting the Justice Department to investigate Siegelman, according to Simpson.

    The document was not entered as evidence during Siegelman’s trial, but his lawyers said they are considering using it as grounds for a new trial or in a habeas petition.

    Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) has also cited Simpson’s affidavit in asking the House Judiciary Committee to look into Siegelman’s case.

    Simpson recently said she stands by her statement.”

    Now think about that. The clear majority of state AG’s think this is a dirty political case. No different than the trumped up charges made ever day in China or Russia. Run up against the wrong side of the BushCo machine, and they’re perfectly willing (and eager) to pervert the course of justice to ‘get you good’. That’s what Roveism was all about. In TX, and now it’s rotting corruption has been spread nation wide. No, world wide now, to our infinite regret & ever lasting shame. It’s all about justice folks. Cheers, ‘VJ’

  10. Evalynn Monsky Duncan

    8/19/2007 at 8:16 pm

    Thank you, Rabbi Yonah. “VJ,” please note that 44 (at last count) attorneys, both Democratic and Republican, from various states have asked that Governor Siegelman’s case be investigated by both Congressional Judiciary Committees. As a member of the Montgomery, AL synagogue in which the Siegelman “children” were Bat-and-Bar-Mitzvahed, and a volunteer in Don’s campaigns, I am of course not objective. I would suggest that anyone else interested in the case check out Scott Horton’s No Comment blog at Harper’s Magazine. And I would hope that many of you will be interested. As Jews, as humane beings, should we not care deeply about justice? Shalom.

  11. Greg

    8/20/2007 at 3:10 am

    This is an American internal issue and is not the business of foreigners.

    Israelis should stick to their own internal affairs and leave the internal affairs of other countries alone!

    Mind your own business!

  12. Greg

    8/20/2007 at 3:14 am

    By the way, the hatred American Jews have against the Republican is helping to get people elected in America who are very hostile to Israel.

    How’s that for some poetic justice. Just remember your fellow Jews in America when America turns its back towards you like the rest of the world already has.

  13. ramon marcos

    8/20/2007 at 11:02 am

    Ladies and Gentleman… please allow me to introduce Mr. Charles A. Lindbergh!

    Which is weird, since not more than four days ago I drove right past Lindbergh’s home town. I was going to stop for gas but I started feeling very Isolationist.

  14. Anita Darden

    8/23/2007 at 12:41 pm

    Thank you Rabbi Yoni!

    For your support of the The Siegelman case and your love for the Siegelman family.

    I posted this blog to the donsiegelman.o... website. It is such an articulate summary of the case that I put it on the “quick start” page. (If for any reason you find that this is inappropriate, notify me and it will be imediately removed.)

    I found your website while researching the donsiegelman.o... website. I am not Jewish, but an evangelical Xian. However, it was Micah 6:8 that spoke to me when I was trying to decide what to do, and about my level of involvement with this case.

    I thought I was grabbing a lizard by the tale with this case, but it has turned out to be a dragon! I value greatly your intercession for the Siegelman’s in your prayers, and the state of the current government as well.

    Grace to you! Anita Darden

  15. Frankly Speaking

    8/30/2007 at 12:08 pm

    What does America have if we do not have fair and honest elections? Why isn’t there more discussion about the original election in 2002?

  16. Wilson Haire

    9/1/2007 at 10:26 am

    Where does the warmongering independant turncoat from New England stand on this? Oh yeah, silly me, this is American injustice, and would not concern him! (lately)
    Please keep up the good work, Rabbi, very few others will. W.H.

  17. Elvis Allen

    9/11/2007 at 2:10 pm

    Siegelman is as Chatholic mayor gouliani, cast not pearls before swine.

  18. David Hanlin

    9/23/2007 at 1:42 pm

    I have know Don since the eighth grade and I have observed him climb the political ladder from being an officer in our student government associations to the highest office of governor of Alabama.

    His father was a sales clerk in a music store and his mother was a beautician. Don worked his way through college and law school and devoted his life to improving the lives of his fellow Alabamians.

    I doubt very seriously that there is any politician out there with higher integrity than Don.

    If all politicians were scrutinized under a microscope like Don was, and several years of politically charged vendetta by the largest newspapers in the state to boot, we’d have to spend mega billions to build new prisons in which to house our politicians.

    Don’s political persecution is a very sad chapter in American history and flies in the face of what our nation is supposed to be all about.

  19. Peggy Walls

    10/3/2007 at 8:48 pm

    Don Siegelman was a wonderful governor, and his opponents have gone through the years of his political service in as detailed a manner as could be done. Please read the background on this case and pass on this heartbreaking story. Siegelman and his wife, Lori, dedicated their lives to promoting education, business, and the arts in Alabama. He started the Reading Initiative Program that has been so successful in Alabama and across the nation. See the link below for latest reports; however, don’t expect to see any credit given to him in the report. To learn that he started the program, you will have to go to the second link. The article at the AL state archives lists facts about his achievements, such as bringing four major car industries to AL during his administration. His success is what angered his opponents because the people in Alabama loved him and elected him in an overwhelmingly Republican state.

    eagleforum.org...

    archives.state...

    donsiegelman.n...

  20. tandress

    11/22/2007 at 8:07 pm

    I’m surprised that as many Alabamians are informed as they are. It has been very hard to get the truth in Alabama about anything that involves Democratic politicians. Even the local TV and radio media pretty much parrots what the three largest newspapers in Alabama print. These newspapers are the Birmingham News, the Huntsville Times, the Mobile Press-Register which are owned by Communications giant Advance Publications, Inc.

    Lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Michael Scanlon, Toby Roth, Rob Riley, etc. have represented big business clients (Mississippi Casinos, Chevron/Exxon, etc) who have funneled large amounts of money through money laundering organizations, such as the Business Council of Alabama, to campaign funds and to these larger newspapers to endorse GOP politicians in return for political favors.

    It is not certain, at this time, whether the corruption is isolated to the three larger Alabama newspapers or to Advance Publications Inc.

    My hat goes off to the smaller locally own Alabama newspapers that investigate and print the truth.

  21. Myriam Thelemaque

    2/24/2008 at 8:00 pm

    How many more injustices will be committed by the republican machine, Bush and Carl Rove? It broke my heart when tonight
    Feb. 24/08 I saw 60 minutes and the story of Governor Don Siegelman, a good human being, not like the bunch of republicans that are today in the White house. A bunch of republicans headed by Carl Rove, the actual governor of Alabama Bob Riley, his wife, his son, the judge that sent him to jail without allowing him his rights. amongst others, lied and concocted a horrible situation in which Mr. Siegelman was thrown in jail for 7 years. Is this what a Democratic country does to it’s most clean and honest citizens?
    Then what do we expect from Dictatorships around the world?
    Is the world supposed to look up to the U.S. for honesty and democracy? This kind of democracy? Is the gang of Rove free to defame and destroy human beings without any kind of punishment? if so, we are lost; they are few and the american people are millions, but americans are too weak or too busy with their Ipods and cell phones to fight against a few that are destroying this country. Is the blood of the republicans so contaminated with so much putrid ugliness? They act like the scum of world.

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  23. B. Horn

    2/25/2008 at 1:33 am

    I read that Siegelman cannot even file an appeal because the judge who presided over the trial will not release the transcript. An official transcript is normally released within 30 days but Siegelman has been denied his for over 7 months. It’s a travesty.

  24. D. Evans Farkas

    2/26/2008 at 11:18 am

    Call 60 Minutes and let them know to stay on top of this story. It took forever for the mainstream press to cover this story, and it was blocked from airing in parts of Alabama. Not my blog, but much good info in the link above. Keep the heat on 60 Mintues to follow up until this innocent man is free!

    (CBS) 60 Minutes:
    ADDRESS:
    60 Minutes
    524 West 57th St.
    New York, NY 10019

    EMAIL: 60m@cbsnews.com

    PHONE: (212) 975-3247

  25. ronpanco

    5/13/2009 at 6:25 pm

    people need to call atty gen ofc and ask for comment line at 202 514 2000, say what they think about this case. why is obama allowing this to happen? why is eric holder allowing this to happen? we must scream out and publicize this so much that the administration will be forced to do the right thing.

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  27. David

    7/17/2009 at 1:35 pm

    Has Don file a motion to move the case under Rule 21(a) of the Federal Criminal Procedure? This rule allows a defendant to have the case moved due to prejudice. And if the judge denies the motion, Don can appeal the ruling on that motion to the Court of Appeals – BEFORE the trial even begins.

  28. Zan Overall

    1/27/2011 at 9:36 pm

    Sounds like Gov. Siegelman is getting a raw deal, railroaded like Rep. Jim Traficant from the other side
    of the aisle. Traficant went to prison for telling the truth in Congress. That does not happen often, but when it does the truth teller is severely punished.

    Traficant is now writing truth for the American Free Press. Check him out at americanfreepr....

    Was Rabbi Yo and the other commenters concerned when Jim Traficant was being railroaded?

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