[Update 7/24/09: I interviewed Seigelman on Thursday about these matters and the latest status of his case, while Guest Hosting The Mike Malloy Show. Listen to the interview right here. Select Hour 2 audio archive.]
How it's even possible that former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman's bribery case and conviction has not long ago been dropped by the Dept. of Justice is beyond us. There is now so much evidence of clear conflicts of interest, overt partisan political prosecutorial targeting, failures to recuse by at least one conflicted prosecutor as well as the judge in the case, evidence withheld from the defense team, and now evidence of the coaching and strong-arming of witnesses in exchange for a lighter prison sentence and a promise to conceal embarrassing personal information, it all makes the prosecutorial misconduct in the case of former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens --- a Republican whose case was dropped by Obama's Justice Dept. shortly after they came to power --- look like jaywalking.
Official declarations filed along with a recent motion by Siegelman, requesting a new trial in light of the new evidence, reveal what seems just the tip of the iceberg of a flagrant and wholly inappropriate case of wide-spread prosecutorial misconduct. The allegations (with much evidence to back them up) paint a compelling picture of an illegally targeted political prosecution/witch-hunt carried out by Karl Rove and his Alabama-based Dept. of Justice cronies in an attempt to remove Alabama's most popular Democrat from the political grid all together.
The scheme worked, as Siegelman is currently fighting his conviction on appeal and --- now armed with new evidence gathered by the defense team of fellow defendant Richard Scrushy, the man alleged to have "bribed" Siegelman --- is calling for a completely new trial. The government is to answer Siegelman's motion next week, and the decision will be made by the same federal U.S. District Court judge, Mark E. Fuller, reported to have severe conflicts of interest in the entire case, including a specific "grudge" against Siegelman.
The new declarations, believed to be posted here publicly in full for the very first time ( PDF links follow below), reveal a startling case of inappropriate misconduct by federal investigators, as Siegelman's former aide Nick Bailey, the government's star witness against him, is revealed to have been "coached and cajoled and threatened," as Siegelman's late June motion for a new trial describes it, throughout some 70 interviews and phone calls. Bailey, the documents describe, was said to have been frightened for his life and facing a possible years-long sentence in federal prison, if he failed to testify precisely as investigators had required him to.
The investigators went so far as to require Bailey to write down his testimony after he had failed, time and again, to offer the same answers to prosecutors' questions during undisclosed interviews. Yet, evidence of that coaching was allegedly concealed from the defense, according to the new documents and testimony, in violation of federal law, and in what appears to directly parallel the precise reasons for the dismissal of the Stevens case in Alaska.
Siegelman tells The BRAD BLOG that after the years-long prosecution, this is the first time the information has come to light about coached witnesses, and undisclosed documentation of government interviews.
Star witness Bailey, who testified that he saw Siegelman in receipt of a $250,000 check alleged to have been a "bribe" from Scrushy --- a check that was actually dated several days later than the day Bailey testified he saw it in the hands of the Governor --- is said to have been so unable to remember the specific details prosecutors wanted him to testify to, that he was given written questions and instructions to write down his answers to practice for the actual trial. He was, according to the new documents, told quite specifically how to answer questions.
The hand-written notes from Bailey's attempts to memorize his testimony to the satisfaction of prosecutors is said, in the new affidavits, one from Baily himself, to have included a page in which he responded to the government's specific instructions by hand-writing "bullshit," in response, on one of the undisclosed pages.
A complete notebook of those hand-written documents and other records of interviews with Bailey was apparently never given to the defense teams in either the Siegelman case or in Scrushy's, who also filed a motion for a new trail in late June...