Friday, December 3, 2010

Creative Perjury: Count Two: Judge Mark Fuller's 'grudge' against Siegelman

                The post-trial attacks on U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller appeared coordinated and well-planned. Fuller, who performed admirably in presiding over a very complicated trial, can't defend himself. One reason I feel good about, "The Governor of Goat Hill," is that, without it, the often vicious and invariably dishonest attacks on Fuller, the jurors and others would have largely gone unchallenged.

The following is the second installment from a chapter called, "Creative Perjury," regarding Jill Simpson's October 2007 testimony to lawyers for the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.." For an explanation of it, see the top of the previous post.

The following, from the book:

Count Two: Fuller’s ‘grudge’ against Siegelman.

      This example regards a dispute between Fuller  and his successor as district attorney for Coffee and Pike counties. It produced the most oft-quoted line from Simpson’s testimony – that Rob Riley told Simpson that Fuller told him he “would hang Don Siegelman.”
     Late in his tenure as district attorney Fuller nearly doubled the salary of his chief
investigator for a one-year period. After Fuller’s appointment to the bench, Siegelman,
in keeping with the duties of his off ce, appointed a successor district attorney to
complete Fuller’s term. The replacement, Gary McAliley, was not Fuller’s fast friend.
      The new D.A. conducted an audit of Fuller’s office and concluded that Fuller
raised the investigator’s salary in part to increase the man’s retirement benefits. It’s
a sign of Scott Horton’s twisted genius that he was able to convert a little-known,
long-forgotten southeast Alabama dispute between the former district attorney
and his successor into A) a reason that Fuller should have recused himself from
the Siegelman trial; and B) a motive for Fuller to want to “hang” Siegelman.
      It’s almost inconceivable that Horton, up in New York, found this Fuller factoid
or was otherwise already familiar with it, such as by possessing an encyclopedic
knowledge of every aspect of the judge’s past. I apologize to readers for not being
able to say conclusively who fed this and other information to Horton, along with
the angles for him to spin the data into the vast conspiracy storyline.
     Horton’s summer series (a number of highly critical columns on Harper's web-site) excoriating Fuller included a piece called, “Judge Fuller: A Siegelman Grudge Match.” He wrote that Fuller blamed Siegelman for the audit because the governor had appointed McAliley. He took it a step further
in a subsequent column, declaring that it was inappropriate for Fuller to preside
over the trial because of his “clash with the Siegelman administration over the
‘salary spiking’ case in Coff ee County.”
       District attorneys are not members of a governor’s administration nor
considered as such by anyone I’ve ever met. Only someone of Horton’s deeply rooted
dishonesty could place the district attorney of Coffee County within the Siegelman administration.
      If Simpson was testifying truthfully, then Rob Riley was indeed far gone with
his Fuller obsession. Per Simpson, the governor’s son made it his business to know
everything about Fuller. What’s more, Riley was such a compelling storyteller that two
years later Simpson was able to testify to the Fuller minutia with exacting clarity.
       “(Rob) made a statement that Fuller would hang Don Siegelman,” she said.
“He told me about a backlogging case, which is what you call the salary spike. He
called it the ‘backlogging.’”
      Simpson told the congressional lawyers she’d “never heard the term ‘backlogging”
so “had to ask Rob what backlogging was.”
      Riley (baby pictures meeting) laid it all out for her, allowing her to do the
same, thusly, for the Judiciary Committee lawyers:
        “Evidently from what I understand, Fuller had an employee when he was at the
DA’s job … And he had two employees, a secretary and an investigator. And during his
term of being DA, somehow that investigator wasn’t making your typical salary, and he
(Fuller) kicked it up. And Rob got to telling me that there was an audit done, a couple
of audits, I think, and that Fuller just hated Don Siegelman and thought he was
responsible for these audits on those salaried employees and that there was something
involving a backlogging because they go back to fi gure your retirement and there was
something kind of backlogging deal. But I didn’t understand it at the time ...
       “He said that Don Siegelman had caused Fuller to get audited. That’s what Fuller
thought. He (Fuller) hated him (Siegelman) for that.”
       The day after public release of the transcript, Horton pulled the “hang Don
Siegelman” quote from Simpson’s testimony and reminded his readers that he had
“previously documented Judge Fuller’s grudge against Siegelman.” To prove it, he
gave readers a link to what he called “the complete background” on the issue. The
link led readers to his “Judge Fuller: A Siegelman Grudge Match” column.
       Rob Riley said he never told Simpson the first thing about the Coffee County
district attorney dispute, in part because he didn’t know the first thing about it.
       “I have no knowledge of any ownership in any business or alleged grudges Ms.
Simpson says Judge Fuller holds against Mr. Siegelman, and I never discussed
such with Ms. Simpson,” he said.
       The fantasy of Mark Fuller telling Rob Riley or anyone else that he “would
hang Don Siegelman” appeared in stories published by Time, the New York Times
and others, and was repeated on four different Dan Abrams shows. The Judiciary
Committee Democrats footnoted Simpson’s testimony (in a later report alleging "selective prosecution" of Democrats by the Bush Justice Department.) to support its finding that Fuller was “a judge who Mr. Riley stated could be trusted to ‘hang Don Siegelman.’”
      From Scott Horton to Jill Simpson to the top names in the national media and,
lastly, into a congressional report.
       Fiction to fact, Tinkers to Evers to Chance-like.

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