New allegations of prosecutorial misconduct in Siegelman case
Documents obtained by TIME magazine show what appear to be newly discovered instances of misconduct by the Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney and other prosecutors involved in the controversial corruption case against former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. The apparent misconduct includes extensive and unusual contact between the prosecution and the jury.
The documents include internal prosecution e-mails given to the Justice Department and Congress by whistleblower Tamarah Grimes, a legal aide who worked in the U.S. Attorney's office that prosecuted Siegelman. Earlier this month, House Judiciary Chair John Conyers sent a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey citing the new materials, the magazine reports:
Conyers says the evidence raises "serious questions" about the U.S. Attorney in the Siegelman case, who, documents show, continued to involve herself in the politically charged prosecution long after she had publicly withdrawn to avoid an alleged conflict of interest relating to her husband, a top GOP operative and close associate of Bush adviser Karl Rove. Conyers' letter also cites evidence of numerous contacts between jurors and members of the Siegelman prosecution team that were never disclosed to the trial judge or defense counsel.
Siegelman, a Democrat, was released on bail earlier this year after a federal court ruled that his appeal raises "substantial questions." Critics have raised numerous concerns about the case, including whether Siegelman was prosecuted at the urging of Bush-appointed Justice officials and Leura Canary, a U.S. Attorney in Montgomery whose husband was Alabama's top Republican operative and had worked closely with Rove.
Grimes gave the DOJ e-mails detailing previously undisclosed contact between prosecutors and members of the Siegelman jury. One e-mail describes how jurors repeatedly contacted the government's legal team during the trial -- including one juror who expressed romantic interest in a prosecutor. The same juror also asked prosecutors for career and educational advice, raising concerns about jury bias.
Sue is the editorial director of Facing South and the Institute for Southern Studies.