Former AGs Seek Pardon |for Former Ala. Governor

     (CN) – One hundred and twelve former state attorneys general have asked President Barack Obama to pardon former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, who is close to completing a six-and-a-half year stretch in prison for bribery and obstruction of justice.
     The bipartisan group says in a letter delivered to the White House on Wednesday that Siegelman’s conviction a decade ago is both “unjust” and “continues to eat away at the integrity of the justice system.”
     “Many legal scholars as well as the public at large believe that the prosecution of Gov. Siegelman was a perversion of justice,” the letter says.
     Siegelman was convicted in 2006 of charges that he sold a seat on a state regulatory board in exchange for a $500,000 donation that the governor purportedly wanted to use to further his goal of establishing a state lottery.
     He was also convicted of trying to obstruct the investigation into those charges.
     Since then, former attorneys general have been diligently working on the case. In 2008, 44 attorneys general prevailed upon the House Judiciary Committee to initiate a report on Siegelman’s trial and conviction. On the heels of that effort, 75 attorneys general wrote the office of the U.S. attorney general on the former governor’s behalf, and numerous legal briefs have been filed al lthe way up to the Supreme Court.
     Supporters of Siegelman, the last Democrat to have been elected governor of Alabama, claim the evidence against him was questionable and circumstantial at best. They also insist that he did not personally benefit from the alleged quid-pro-quo.
     “The record in the Siegelman case is replete with evidence that Gov. Siegelman was the subject of an unjust, politically selective prosecution,” former New York Attorney General Bob Abrams told Courthouse News Wednesday afternoon. “This case should be deeply troubling to anyone interested in the fair administration of justice.”
     In January, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Siegelman’s appeal. Last year, the 11th Circuit rejected his request for a new trial or sentencing hearing.
     Abrams said with the high court’s denial of certiorari in the case, Siegelman’s judicial opportunities to gain redress have been exhausted.
     “The judicial door is closed,” Abrams said. “Now it’s up to the president to take action.”

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