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June 29, 2010

Supreme Court Vacates Don Siegelman Conviction

Posted in: Uncategorized

The Supreme Court ruling Skilling v. United States narrowed the definition of “honest services fraud,” which had implications for a host of public corruption cases. Generally speaking, progressive court watchers saw that as a bad thing. But many of the trumped-up cases in the Bush era hinged on the same statute, and thus, the Supreme Court vacated the ruling in one of them, sending the case of Don Siegelman back to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The US Supreme Court has ruled to vacate the a ruling by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals for former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, who was convicted of bribery charges in 2006 in a case that was widely seen as politically motivated [...] Siegelman’s case will now be remanded to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals for a second consideration.

It doesn’t mean, however, that Siegelman is out of the woods. In March 2009, the Eleventh Circuit upheld bribery, conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges against Siegelman and refused a request for a new trial. They could easily do so again.

Prosecutors in the Siegelman case had other counts beyond honest services fraud, so this could end up just being a re-run. And I hope this doesn’t start a flood of public corruption cases vacated, making it harder to bust criminal activity. But it’s good to see Siegelman get another day in court in one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in the past decade.


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