Across the nation, sentiment grew stronger with each passing month that the fishy smell from Siegelman’s trial was proof that an investigation was warranted. It was that sentiment that compelled the august body of attorneys general to stand up against what they felt was a likely, if not obvious, breach in the U.S. judicial and political system.
“I am absolutely astonished by this,” said Robert Abrams, New York state’s former attorney general. “To me, (this case) smacks of a vendetta.”
Except to Siegelman’s political enemies and some on the extreme far right, that sentiment hasn’t changed. Thus, the Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday to order a review of the convictions against Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy are welcomed developments in a case fraught with unanswered questions and political turmoil.
This editorial page agrees with the Supreme Court’s decision. A review of the former governor’s conviction is overdue.
That Siegelman, 64, has been out of prison on an appeal bond since June 2008 does not lessen the need for the courts to re-examine the dark components of his case. Neither do emphatic denials by GOP White House adviser Karl Rove, among others, that Siegelman’s conviction wasn’t a politically operated scheme during the Bush administration.
In this situation, it also doesn’t matter that the 11th Circuit last year struck down two charges against Siegelman; five counts remain intact.
Regardless of what one thinks of the former governor’s politics, he deserves fair and unbiased justice. Just as important, the nation must know that sinister political motives in Washington or Montgomery had nothing to do with the substantial charges of bribery, corruption, obstruction of justice and fraud brought against him, or the seven-year jail sentence he received.
America needs to know that the courts treat politicians just as they would everyday joes — with dispassionate impartiality.
It’s difficult to separate Siegelman the citizen from Siegelman the politician. In most cases, his persona and resume don’t allow that. But this court-ordered
review must do just that. It has to determine if the charges have merit — that Siegelman broke corruption and bribery laws as governor of this state — or if his actions were lawful and consistent in regards to campaign contributions and board appointments.
Siegelman and his law team are convinced he is innocent of all charges. They offer a compelling case. What’s needed now is a review that’s as strong as the efforts of his defendants and the prosecutors who sought his