By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Former Alabama Governor Don Seigelman (D) got his day in court, but it did not go as well as he and his supporters had hoped. Federal Judge US District Judge Clay Land told the former Alabama Governor that he is unlikely to win his appeal in January, thus denied Seigelman his request to be released on bond while awaiting the appeal hearing in January.
This is not the first time that the courts have denied Seigelman his request for bond; but that the Judge brought Seigelman all the way to Montgomery (from his prison in Louisiana) had been cause for hope in the Seigelman camp.
US District Judge Clay Land acknowledged that Siegelman’s team raised, “Significant issues that deserve serious consideration.” Judge Land said that he believes the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is unlikely to grant Seigelman either a new trial or a significantly reduced sentence.
A bipartisan group of 113 former state attorney generals have signed an amicus brief supporting Seigelman.
Clint Walker, who manages the “Free Don Seigelman” Twitter account said, “He looked terrible in court yesterday. He was unbelievably gaunt, unshaven, unkempt & in dirty orange coveralls … shackled hands & feet. He turned & winked, however. Courtroom overflowing with supporters.”
Governor Siegelman is 68 and has 14 more months to go on a six and one-half-year sentence at a Louisiana prison camp in Oakdale.
Seigelman is alleging prosecutorial misconduct by prosecutor Leura Canary, who Seigelman claims has ties to former Governor Bob Riley, who narrowly defeated then Governor Don Seigelman in 2002. Mrs. Canary currently has a senior position with the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) while her husband, Billy Canary, heads the powerful Business Council of Alabama (BCA).
Don Seigelman is the only Democrat elected Governor of Alabama since George C Wallace’s last term.
Seigelman’s case has been reassigned to Land after Judge Mark Fuller, who sentenced Seigelman to 78 months in a federal prison, was arrested for beating his wife in an Atlanta hotel.
Gov. Seigelman’s attorney is Jeffrey C. Duffey. Oral arguments in Seigelman’s appeal are set for January 13. His defense team is asking that Seigelman be released on bond while the Court hears his appeal.
In 2006, a jury found that Don Siegelman was guilty of bribery in exchange for selling, then Health South CEO Richard Scrushy, a seat on the hospital regulatory board that issues Certificates of Needs to allow new hospitals to be built. Scrushy needed the CON to build the digital hospital on Highway 280 near the I-459 intersection (Healthsouth has since sold the digital hospital to Trinity who is attempting to finish the project). In exchange prosecutors argued that Scrushy donated to Gov. Siegelman’s failed 1999 campaign to push a State lottery to voters. Siegelman was also convicted of obstruction of justice.
Seigelman remains hopeful about the future outcome of his case, but acknowledges that his future, “Is in the hands of my lawyers, the judges of the 11th circuit…ultimately Judge Land will make many of the critical decisions which will decide the course of my life . . .”
Don Seigelman defeated Governor Fob James (R) in 1998, before narrowly losing re-election to then Congressman Bob Riley (R from Ashland). Gov. Seigelman ran for Governor again in 2002, but was defeated in the Democratic Primary (while under indictment) by Lieutenant Governor Lucy Baxley (D). Seigelman was also Lt. Governor from 1995 to1999, Attorney General from 1987 to 1991, and Alabama Secretary of State from 1979 to 1987.
Gov. Seigelman last reported to prison in September 2012. At that time Judge Fuller reduced Seigelman’s sentence by ten months after his previous appeals were denied.