Saturday, December 4, 2010

Creative Perjury: Counts Three and Four

                                      Scott Horton, of Harper's magazine

      This is the third of five installments of a chapter called, "Creative Perjury," in my book, "The Governor of Goat Hill," and that address testimony by Jill Simpson to lawyers for the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. The chapter is somewhat complex, and in parts, probably requires of the reader that he/she know what came before. Still, I think it's understandable without having done so. However, you will probably need to read the previous installments, which are under this post.

      In the chapter, I break the "perjury" case into six counts. Here are counts three and four:
         Count Three: Riley’s foreknowledge that Fuller would be assigned to preside
over the Siegelman case.
        Among the mini-conspiracies conceived by Horton to support the primary
conspiracy was his assertion that the Justice Department engaged in “amazing and
blatant judge-shopping” by bringing the Siegelman case in Montgomery.
       “In fact, moving the case out of the district in which it was initiated so as to
evade the control of the federal judge (Clemon) to whom it was assigned was the
first clear-cut sign of prosecutorial misconduct in the history of the Siegelman
prosecution,” he wrote in mid-July.
        Horton’s unique to say nothing of wildly erroneous interpretation was that
the Bobo case and warehouse investigation were linked. They were investigated by
prosecutors and agents from the districts in which the cases were brought -- the
Birmingham-based Northern District for the Bobo case and for the “G.H.” case,
the Middle District. It would have been uncalled for and odd indeed for Franklin
to take the Montgomery case to Birmingham.
        Assuming for the moment that Horton is correct – that the G.H. case was
an extension or related to the Bobo case -- Clemon wouldn’t have been the judge.
After Clemon’s outrageous conduct in the second Bobo trial, the 11th Circuit
Court of Appeals removed him from presiding over the continuing prosecution
of the Tuscaloosa doctor.
      Horton’s “judge shopping” charges didn’t end there.
     In his first story on Fuller, he wrote that a “well-placed Alabama GOP source
who wishes to remain anonymous” had told him that “senior figures in the
Alabama GOP appear to have known from the start that this case was going to
be handled by a man they counted a friend, namely, George W. Bush–appointee
Mark Fuller.”
      Six weeks after that column, Simpson testified that state Republicans knew
well ahead of time that the grudge-holding Fuller would get the Siegelman
case. She knew this because Rob Riley told her so during the 2005 baby picture
     After release of Simpson’s transcript, Horton wrote:
      “In her Congressional testimony, Republican attorney Jill Simpson charges
that senior G.O.P. operatives had hand-picked Judge Mark Fuller as the judge who
would handle the Siegelman case because they knew he was a loyal Republican
who bore a deep grudge against Siegelman.”
       And concluded: “Simpson’s allegations match the facts we upturned in our
investigative series on Judge Fuller this summer.”
       The House Judiciary Committee completed the circle. The Democratic
majority’s April 2008 report on selective prosecution cited Simpson’s testimony
as the source for its assertion that Rob Riley “also said the case would be in the
Middle District of Alabama and would be heard by Chief Judge Mark Fuller…”
       That someone so dishonest and wrong on so many points could have an
impact on the Judiciary Committee and, it would seem as well, the coverage by
the likes of Time, the New York Times, CBS, and MSNBC jars the mind. I know
– I know! – I’ve made the point before. And will again. Just because it happened
doesn’t mean it’s any less incomprehensible.
       Count Four: The government’s decision to prosecute Scrushy along with
       In one of his post-sentencing Fuller columns, Horton wrote that inclusion of
“Richard Scrushy, the notorious CEO of HealthSouth” into the Siegelman case
was “clearly calculated for dramatic effect …”
      Alabamians were “seething over the botched prosecution” in Birmingham
and there was “a broad public demand for Scrushy’s head,” Horton wrote, and
then: “Given this situation, the linkage between Scrushy and Siegelman was weak
and highly prejudicial to Siegelman. The judge should have investigated whether
prosecutors were attempting to capitalize on public anger against Scrushy to ‘get’
Siegelman -- but I can find no evidence at all that Fuller examined this possibility.”
       Six weeks after that column, Simpson gave testimony that, once again,
confirmed that Horton was right on target.
        She testified that Rob Riley told her (baby picture meeting) that “they had
come up with an idea to prosecute Don with Richard Scrushy … because nobody
likes Richard Scrushy, and (Riley) thought that that would assure a conviction for
Don Siegelman.”
         The governor’s son said “they” had “figured a way to do it,” she testified.
Riley’s statement that day in 2005 produced another opening for Curious
Jill. She was always asking, was Simpson. Hey, Rob, what is backlogging? she’d
wondered. And, to Bill Canary during the 2002 conference call, she’d asked who
he meant by “his girls,” after which Canary hung himself with the words he never
spoke. And, she’d wondered aloud to Rob Riley (baby pictures): Has Fuller, since
becoming a judge, continued to be involved with the Doss companies?
         This time Simpson’s curiosity was piqued by Riley’s statement that “they” had
conceived a plan to throw Scrushy into the Siegelman case.
        “… and I basically asked him, ‘What way are you – how are they going to
do that?’ And (Riley) proceeded to lay out to me the lottery issue,” she told the
Judiciary Committee lawyers.
            It’s a good thing she asked and Riley answered, since it helped the Judiciary
Committee get to the truth. This from the April 2008 “selective prosecution”
report: “Mr. Riley’s comments about plans to have Mr. Scrushy and Mr. Siegelman
tried jointly have also drawn notice from commentators …”
          The footnote to that statement was a blog posting from the Huffington Post.
          Such is the nature of what passes for Congressional evidence these days.

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