Friday, November 21, 2008

More Details in Siegelman Case Revelations

This NY Times story is mostly a re-tread of the Time article we already discussed last week, but there is some additional detail that's worth highlighting. First, on Leura Canary's continuing involvement in the case: her complaint, the Justice Department employee, Tamarah T. Grimes, cited several instances suggesting Ms. Canary maintained a close watch on the case. Ms. Grimes said a legal aide in the office reported on Mr. Siegelman’s trial to Ms. Canary or her top deputy “every day, sometimes several times per day by telephone.” Once, she observed Ms. Canary “frantically pacing in the executive suite” after a courtroom blowup, “pleading with someone” to get on the phone to “tell Louis he has to control his temper.”

Ms. Grimes also disclosed an e-mail message written by Ms. Canary commenting on legal strategy in the case and suggesting to aides that Mr. Siegelman not be allowed to “comment on court activities in the media.” Ms. Grimes, who is also in a dispute with the department related to her accusations that the Siegelman prosecution team had harrassed her, cited the affidavit of a former legal aide in the Montgomery office, Elizabeth Jane Crooks, who wrote that “the morning that the trial started, the U.S. attorney herself carried food and beverage over to the courthouse to support the ‘Trial Team.’ ”

Mrs. Canary obviously has a different definition of "recusal" than is commonly accepted by most courts and attorneys, one that apparently permits her to say intimately involved in the case.

And on the contacts between jurors and the prosecution team:

And the formal complaints by the employee, a legal aide in office of the United States attorney in Montgomery, Ala., have brought to light an episode in the 2006 bribery and corruption trial that Mr. Siegelman’s lawyers now say could have led to a key juror’s removal: flirtatious messages sent by jurors to the prosecution about the marital status of an F.B.I. agent who was working with prosecutors. Other jurors have said they felt pressured by the judge to reach a decision in order to go home, and said some jury members read about the case on the Internet during the trial.

The Justice Department investigated the issue of contact between the jury and the prosecution and dismissed it as “rumors.” The Judiciary Committee, however, pointed out that investigators failed to interview key witnesses, including jurors and the United States marshals who might have been the conduits for their “social messages,” in the committee’s words.

...Ms. Grimes cited an e-mail message sent during the trial that appears to show a juror or jurors developing a romantic interest in an F.B.I. agent, Keith Baker, who sat near prosecutors, and sending the prosecution messages about his marital status.

So the lead prosecutor who recused herself didn't actually recuse herself, members of the jury wanted to be playing footsies with an FBI agent on the prosecution's side, the prosecution felt no need to mention any of this, and DOJ felt no need to investigate it competently or reveal that they already knew all of this Congress asked DOJ officials about it last year. Obstruction of justice? Possibly. Perversion of justice? Certainly.

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