Archive for June, 2006

Experts See Prison Time for Siegelman, Scrushy

Friday, June 30th, 2006

It looks like Club Fed for Siegelman and Scrushy, according to experts. Who knew there were federal prison experts?

Edward S. Bales, who runs a national consulting firm specializing in federal prison, said that Siegelman can expect a prison sentence in the four-to-eight-year range. With no prior criminal record and no history of violence, he said, the ex-governor probably would spend his time in a minimum-security prison camp.

Alabama has two such facilities: the Federal Prison Camp at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery and a prison camp that is adjacent to the medium-security Talladega Federal Correctional Institution. There is no guarantee that either man would be incarcerated in Alabama, however.

…U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller will sentence Siegelman and Scrushy later this year. Between now and then, the U.S. Probation Office in Montgomery will conduct an in-depth pre-sentence investigation, as it does with all federal defendants in the Middle District of Alabama who are convicted or plead guilty.

That probation office will calculate the prison ranges under advisory sentencing guidelines. Although not bound by those guidelines, federal judges follow them more than 90 percent of the time.

The sentencing range will be determined by comparing the offenses with the defendants’ criminal histories. The judge decides the official sentencing range after prosecutors and defense lawyers have a chance to object to the Probation Office’s findings.

I hope, for their families’ sake, that both men are incarcerated in Alabama. But I doubt we’ll have to worry about that any time soon. Both of them will appeal and drag this mess out as long as possible, although at least one expert (another expert!) says the verdicts are unlikely to be overturned.

Mobile Press-Register coverage here. Birmingham News here. Montgomery Advertiser here. Anniston Star (subscription required) here.

Scrushy Lashes Out, Promises Appeal

Friday, June 30th, 2006

And his lawyer helps. Or not.

“This is the worst miscarriage of justice since General Sherman burned Atlanta,” his attorney, Terry Butts, said angrily following the verdict.

I guess this means Scrushy’s next TV show will be aimed at white Southerners.

Unhappy Campers

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

Shorter Siegelman: They only found me guilty of seven out of thirty-two counts. That means I’m innocent. And anyway, everyone else is doing it. And I’m going to appeal this all the way to the Supreme Court.

Shorter Scrushy: Dr. King must be spinning in his grave at this injustice. And just to pay you back, I’m cancelling my TV show.

The Verdict Is In

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

Don Siegelman guilty on seven six seven counts of bribery, conspiracy, and mail fraud. Paul Hamrick cleared. Mack Roberts cleared. Richard Scrushy guilty on six counts of bribery, conspiracy, and mail fraud.

UPDATE: Here’s a list of the counts and verdicts for each defendant.

Arkansas Supreme Court Overturns Ban on Gay & Lesbian Foster Parents

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

The Arkansas Supreme Court used its common sense today to rule that it’s unconstitutional to disqualify foster parent applicants based solely on their sexual orientation.

The justices rejected an appeal from the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services which had argued children would suffer under the care of gays or lesbians.

“There is no correlation between the health, welfare and safety of foster children and the blanket exclusion of any individual who is a homosexual or who resides in a household with a homosexual,” Associate Justice Donald Corbin wrote in the opinion.

“The Arkansas Supreme Court clearly understood what social scientists and every respected child welfare organization have been saying for years: There is no reason to deprive children of good homes by excluding lesbian and gay people from serving as foster parents,” said Rita Sklar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arkansas.

“We have a shortage of foster homes in Arkansas, especially for teenagers and sibling groups. Thanks to today’s ruling, Arkansas’ foster children have a better chance of finding loving homes.”

The ban on placing foster children in homes with gay adults was imposed in 1999, supposedly to protect the children from “disease, violence, sexual abuse, neglect and instability”. Hmmm. I bet most of them were removed from their presumably heterosexual birth parents because those parents were already subjecting them to those things. If the Arkansas DHHS wants to base its decisions on stupid blanket assumptions, maybe it should ban straight foster parents.

“There is already a rigorous individualized screening procedure in place that ensures that only those who can provide a safe, stable, healthy home are approved as foster parents,” said Leslie Cooper, a senior staff attorney for the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project, who argued the case before the court.

“Today’s ruling means that gay people will go through the same screening process as any other applicants, rather than be automatically rejected no matter how qualified they are.”

Just as I said — common sense. And more opportunities for kids in need to find loving homes.

Supremes Slap Down Bush on Gitmo Trials

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

Those “activist” judges strike again. The Supreme Court just told Bush, again, that he can’t make up the rules as he goes along.

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that President Bush overstepped his authority in ordering military war crimes trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees.

The ruling, a rebuke to the administration and its aggressive anti-terror policies, was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, who said the proposed trials were illegal under U.S. law and Geneva conventions. [Oh no! He quoted international law!]

…Two years ago, the court rejected Bush’s claim to have the authority to seize and detain terrorism suspects and indefinitely deny them access to courts or lawyers. In this followup case, the justices focused solely on the issue of trials for some of the men.

The vote was 5-3; Roberts was excluded because he had backed the government in this case as an appeals court judge. So I guess it would have been 5-4 otherwise.

Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley is speculating on MSNBC that this decision might give the administration political cover for closing Guantanamo, which has become an international embarrassment. We’ll see.

This Guy Really Loves To Fish

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

This wouldn’t be funny if it hadn’t ended well. Eddie Smith, who apparently is so dedicated to fishing that he removed an ankle bracelet in order to go to a fishing tournament (which he won, BTW), got a bit upset when Alden Thornton repossessed his tournament boat. The two engaged in a highway chase, with Mr. Smith brandishing a gun at Mr. Thornton, before they both ended up in the median of Dauphin Island Parkway. The police, initially unsure as to who was the rightful owner of the boat, impounded it, and a judge later turned the boat over to Mr. Thornton. Mr. Smith was released on on a $2,050 bond Tuesday on charges of menacing, reckless endangerment and carrying a pistol without a permit.

By the way, Mr. Smith and Mr. Thornton didn’t exactly choose an inconspicuous boat over which to have a dispute. It was emblazoned with the Hooter’s logo. Something like this:

AL Legislature Covers Itself with Glory Yet Again

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

In its rush to move Alabama’s 2008 presidential primary to February, the Legislature approved a bill that not only moved the presidential primary but also state and local primaries to Mardi Gras Day. Mobile businesses are traditionally closed on that day, and residents and tourists will be busy with parades and parties. I guess fixing this mess will be high on the 2007 agenda. Meanwhile, the state gets to look stupid in the national press — again.

* sigh *

I’m Glad I’m Not On This Jury!

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

UPDATE: The judge was convicted.

It’s been an embarrassing ordeal to try a judge accused of using a penis pump and exposing himself in the courtroom.

BRISTOW, Okla. (AP) – Serving on the jury in an indecent-exposure trial unfolding in this conservative Oklahoma town has been a giggle-inducing experience.

Former Judge Donald D. Thompson, a veteran of 23 years on the bench, is on trial on charges he used a penis pump on himself in the courtroom while sitting in judgment of others.

Over the past few days, the jurors have watched a defense attorney and a prosecutor pantomime masturbation. A doctor has lectured on the lengths the defendant was willing to go to enhance his sexual performance.

The white-handled sexual device sits before the jury box for hours at a time. Occasionally an attorney picks it up and squeezes the handle, demonstrating the “sh-sh” sound of air rushing through the contraption’s plastic tubing.

I can just imagine those poor jurors cringing every time that happens.

Thompson’s former court reporter, Lisa Foster, wiped away tears as she described tracing an unfamiliar “sh-sh” in the courtroom to her boss. She testified that between 2001 and 2003 she saw Thompson expose himself at least 15 times.

…She testified that during a trial in 2002, she heard the pump during the emotional testimony of a murdered toddler’s grandfather.

The grandfather “was getting real teary-eyed, and the judge was up there pumping on that pump,” she said. “It was sickening.”

The allegations came to light after a police officer who was in Thompson’s court heard pumping sounds and took photos of the device during a break in the proceedings.

Judge Thompson claims the pump was a gag gift from a longtime friend with whom he had joked about erectile dysfunction. He said he never used it and should have thrown away. That certainly would have been best.

Who Could Resist?

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

This is Pumpkin, one of the cuties that we’re fostering right now. He’s a sweetheart; he purrs almost all the time and loves to play. Interested in adopting this sweetie? Click here for more information.