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Opinion | Godspeed Matt Hart

Deputy Attorney General Matt Hart opens the case against speaker Mike Hubbard in court on Tuesday, May 24, 2010 in Opelika, Ala. Hart is facing Mike Hubbard, right and attorney Lance Bell, left. (VIA TODD VAN EMST/POOL PHOTO)

For over 35 years, Miles Mathew Hart has served his country and state — first in uniform and then with a badge. Now, those days are behind him as he takes the next step in a storied career. But make no mistake, even though Hart now works in a private law firm where he specializes in white collar defense and investigations, he is not finished fighting the corruption that is an invasive disease in our state.

Hart is a hero for those who truly love justice and a tireless warrior for the law that is underpinning civil society. His career as a soldier and a prosecutor embodies the notion that, “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

The State of Alabama owes Hart a great debt of gratitude, yet he was pushed out of his position as division chief of the attorney general’s white-collar crime division — by a sniveling wimp of a man, AG Steve Marshall — without a word from the state’s leadership.

Hart didn’t lose his job because he did it poorly, but because he did it too well.

How telling it is that Hart’s crime fighting days were ended by a band of political donors who support a reprobate attorney general who has never prosecuted an important public corruption case in his entire career.

Hart did the one thing you are not allowed to do in the state of Alabama, and that is have the courage to prosecute wealthy and politically connected scoundrels.

He wasn’t punished for merely prosecuting Republican Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, but because he dared embarrass the state’s political elites and threatened to upend the orgy of greed enjoyed by the political class.

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Hart took seriously the ethics laws championed by Hubbard, former Gov. Bob Riley and the Republicans who took control of the State House in 2010, but they didn’t mean for those laws to apply to them. They were a show or a tool to keep Democrats in line.

Hart’s biggest mistake was believing the law trumped politics; that the law was color blind and didn’t see red or blue jerseys.

When Hart prosecuted Democrat Mayor Larry Langford or the Democrats who ran the state’s two-year college system, he was a hero to Republicans, but the second he turned his sights on corrupt Republicans, he became a pariah, an enemy of the gods of Alabama.

Hart has joined the law firm Spotswood Sansom & Sansbury LLC, a boutique litigation firm in Birmingham that specializes in complex business litigation.

“Spotswood Sansom & Sansbury LLC is a respected firm with a hard-earned reputation for excellence inside and outside the courtroom, at both the trial and appellate levels,” Hart said. “Joining Spotswood was an easy decision for me. The firm operates with integrity, and its attorneys are elite practitioners and advocates. I look forward to offering the highest level of service to individual and corporate clients.”

Spotswood was selected to assist in writing and research during Hubbard’s trial for which they were paid around $900,000. Some of Hart’s detractors have suggested he bought his job with Spotswood. Those who know the truth know this was not the case.

So it is that the state’s best prosecutor will now find himself on the other side of the bench, but anyone who understands Hart knows that his moral compass points true north where he will always find the will to do what is right.

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Godspeed Matt Hart.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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