Don Siegelman Granted Release Pending Appeal

Former Alabama Governor Don Sigelman was granted an appeal bond today by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled his appeal raises a substantial question. He has served 9 months of a 7 year sentence.

The release may make it more likely Siegelman will testify in a Congressional probe:

Earlier in the day, in fact, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee in Washington asked the Justice Department to allow Mr. Siegelman to travel to Washington to testify about his prosecution, which he has long claimed was politically motivated. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said such a temporary release was unlikely, but the appellate court decision increases the possibility that the former governor will be able to testify before the committee.

< Mumia Abu-Jamal: Court Refuses to Reinstate Death Sentence | DNC Blogger Credential Conference Call Tuesday >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Was just reading about this (none / 0) (#1)
    by athyrio on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 07:24:18 PM EST
    and I am soooooooooooo happy that this is going to happen now....Finally he gets a break...Hope he wins his appeal. What are the odds Jeralyn ??

    There is a goddess. Thank heavens. (nt) (none / 0) (#2)
    by Cream City on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 07:24:49 PM EST
    I saw this earlier (none / 0) (#3)
    by waldenpond on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 07:43:40 PM EST
    I may not care for Dan Abrams but I hope his media attention helped.  From the article, there was not enough detail.  I got from Dan Abrams he should be out pending appeal because of the nature of what he is accused of, but is there a previous item on what he is accused of??

    Got your wish (none / 0) (#4)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 08:03:41 PM EST
    Now my wish is for delegates to be seen wearing Free Don Siegleman T shirts.

    I believe Scott Horton (none / 0) (#6)
    by standingup on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 08:16:59 PM EST
    deserves most of the credit on this one.  According to his post on Siegelman's release, he will be a guest on Dan's show tonight.  

    No problem Michael (none / 0) (#5)
    by standingup on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 08:10:03 PM EST
    Siegeleman does not need to travel to Washington, the House Judiciary Committee will go to Alabama.  

    I am sure Chairman John Conyers remembers the Republican led House Administration Committee went to Columbus Ohio March 25, 2005 for hearings on the Ohio 2004 election.  And in 2006, the Republicans held House committee hearings on immigration in border states.  This seems to be the most logical solution to get Siegelman's testimony.    

    Wonderful news (none / 0) (#7)
    by otherlisa on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 09:07:33 PM EST
    The railroading of Siegelman struck me as a good measure of this administration's willingness to abuse power for political ends. If they'd do it to a former governor with power of his own, who wouldn't they do it to?

    I almost missed this! (none / 0) (#8)
    by Lil on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 09:52:38 PM EST
    I am beyond pleased with this news. Do you know when he actually gets out?

    This is truley an awesome event (none / 0) (#9)
    by DemPrezin2008 on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 11:52:40 PM EST
    I've been watching and reading about this closely and it's scary that a former Govenor's rights could be so violated.

    this should be entertaining. (none / 0) (#10)
    by cpinva on Fri Mar 28, 2008 at 12:25:48 AM EST
    i hope both the obama & clinton campaigns are paying attention, this could indeed provide fodder for speeches come the fall.

    Digby Chimes In (none / 0) (#11)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 28, 2008 at 12:37:17 AM EST
    This seems like a very odd day to make this statement:

    Attorney General Michael Mukasey vowed anew Thursday to crack down on crooked politicians and public officials, dismissing critics who accuse the Justice Department of letting partisan loyalties interfere with corruption cases.


    "It's often in the interest of someone to charge politicization whenever a prominent public figure is investigated or prosecuted," Mukasey said during a noontime speech at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. "I find it notable that they make these accusations in the media, rather than before a court."

    Tell it to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

    This guy has turned out to be far worse than even I imagined, smoothly continuing the Bush Justice Department's primary mission which was partisan prosecutions. Spitzer's investigation stinks to high heaven.

    They need to stay out of the corruption prosecution business until a new president is sworn in. Their credibility on the matter is just a tad frayed.

    (emphasis added)  digby

    Couldn't agree more.

    Huh? (none / 0) (#12)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Fri Mar 28, 2008 at 07:36:23 AM EST

    ...Mr. Siegelman to travel to Washington to testify about his prosecution, which he has long claimed was politically motivated

    Every prosecution politically motivated to some extent or another.  A prosecutor decides to charge, to bargain, or to let slide in every case and prosecutors are, as it should be, politically accountable for their decisions.  Just ask Mike Nifong.  

    As for me, I expect that those holding high office are held to high standards.  

    Great News! (none / 0) (#13)
    by kenoshaMarge on Fri Mar 28, 2008 at 08:20:44 AM EST
    And now it only remains to be seen if for once the Democrats will have the guts to fight for one of their own. Don Siegelman appears to have been railroaded for the heinous crime of being a successful Democrat in an otherwise Republican state. Who knew this was a crime? Governor Brian Sweitzer of Montana had better watch out!

    I am happy for Siegelman and his family and hope that he will finally get justice. Not from the Justice Department of course because Mukasey isn't about justice, he's about covering Republican ... butts.

    My gripe, from the minute I heard about this story was where are the Democrats? Where are the Democrats when one of their own is being railroaded into jail? We know they sit idly by and wring their dainty hands when one of their own is pummeled mercilessly in the media. They sigh and cringe when one of their own is tarred with lies and innuendo. They knuckle under to an administration with an approval rate in the basement. No wonder the Republicans are able to paint them as weaklings; they are. Anyone that won't fight for their own sure as hell can't be trusted to fight for me and mine.  

    Dan Siegelman probably wonders why his party didn't care if he sat in prison until 60 Minutes made it public and Dan Abrams showed more guts and integrity than the  Democratic Party.  

    Court's order suggests more (none / 0) (#14)
    by aquarian on Fri Mar 28, 2008 at 08:53:54 AM EST
    NYT reports only that the Court found his appeal raised a substantial question.  In fact, the Court's order goes further than that:  it found he has satisfied his "burden of establishing that his appeal raises substantial questions of law or fact likely to result in reversal or an order for a new trial of all counts on which imprisonment has been imposed."

    In other words, the Court actually found that Siegelman has established a likelihood of success on the merits of his appeal.  Although the Court could go on to deny Siegelman's appeal in the future, it gives a window into the Court's thinking today.

    It is also interesting to note that before the Court entered this order, it had asked the district court, not once but TWICE, to explain why the district court did not release Siegelman while his case was on appeal.  I surmise that district court's explanation was not satisfactory to the Court of Appeals.  Justice for Siegelman may yet be served.

    This is great news! (none / 0) (#15)
    by madamab on Fri Mar 28, 2008 at 09:07:57 AM EST
    I've been following this case a bit, and I understand that the prosecution's own evidence proved that Siegelman was innocent. It had something to do with dated documents IIRC.

    If an impartial judge hears the case, I have no doubts that Don Siegelman will go free.


    Understandable misunderstanding of the bail law (none / 0) (#16)
    by Peter G on Fri Mar 28, 2008 at 01:10:31 PM EST
    Aquarian: Completely understandable, but your comment is based on a misinterpretation of the federal Bail Reform Act standard for granting bail pending appeal.  As interpreted by the courts themselves (and quite logically so) a "substantial question" which is "likely to result in reversal," under this statute (18 USC 3143(b)) means one which will likely result in his release IF the defendant's position on the issue proves correct.  In other words, the error that the defendant points out as a basis for his/her appeal was not "waived" or would not be "harmless error."  The bail ruling is not a prejudgment on the merits of the appeal.  That is not to say it isn't a good sign; it definitely is.  But it does not guarantee or even predict a later win.  

    Point taken -- not a bail expert (none / 0) (#17)
    by aquarian on Fri Mar 28, 2008 at 02:26:49 PM EST
    Thanks for clarifying Peter (and being nice enough not to say Tsk, Tsk, read the statute!)

    Didn't mean to suggest that court was prejudging merits -- courts of appeals frequently grant stays pending appeal based on "likelihood of success on the merits" and turn around and later deny appeal on merits.  Of course, I should have realized that the standard for criminal relief might be different than civil relief.

    On the other hand, I take it that Siegelman had to establish some measure of credible support before the court would grant the motion. Based on the Court's ruling, and the failure of the district court to provide a satisfactory explanation, the prosecution has to be pretty concerned.  I am never one to predict where a court of appeals will come out, but there is a definite tone to this order.


    Yes (none / 0) (#18)
    by Peter G on Fri Mar 28, 2008 at 02:38:25 PM EST