Home National Politics Courts Matter: Free Don Siegelman (and More of Why Voting is Crucial,...

Courts Matter: Free Don Siegelman (and More of Why Voting is Crucial, Virginia)

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Former Governor of Alabama, Don Siegelman, is a political prisoner. He committed no crime, yet he’s been in prison for 6 years, with no end in sight. I urge you to watch this entire twelve-minute trailer on the right side of this diary. It previews a full-length documentary currently in production. The trailer contains much of what you need to know about this case. Please also refer to the 60 Minutes video on the subject. Free Don Siegelman.

The same right- wingers responsible for his prosecution are the “deciders” about whether he can be free now. If the term “deciders” sounds familiar, it should. After all, it is Bushies, including Karl Rove, who stand accused of manipulating this entire charade, a charade which makes a mockery of our criminal justice system.

Don Siegelman’s “crime” was being a Democrat in Alabama. His “crime” was asking for a recount when he barely lost his gubernatorial re-election bid and when 6,000 votes had mysteriously moved to his opponent overnight. Astonishingly, he was warned not to appeal or face arrest (again, please see the video at the top of this page). He did appeal. What resulted was dozens of bogus charges piled high and deep, charges invented to make the case look compelling when it was not. And so, today, when actual bribery is considered just A-OK by SCOTUS, Don Siegelman who benefited zero from any political donation sits in federal prison.

Scores of Republican and Democratic former prosecutors and attorneys general have joined together to undo this gross injustice. Strangely many elected Democrats have been less-than-generous defending Siegelman and helping his daughter obtain justice for him at long last. (Please follow below the page break.)  

A New Yorker article illustrates better than I could the case for freeing Siegelman. It also implicitly shows how important a balanced judiciary really is.

As courts become more and more lopsided through GOP rigging, gerrymandering, and tampering with election procedures, chances of a fair trial for Democrats are even smaller. The GOP claim that it has confirmed 99% of President Obama’s federal court appointments is patently false.

It isn’t “just” this case. If one needs any evidence that the courts matter, one has abundant evidence at his or her disposal: The profit motive in incarceration; racial disparities in arrests, convictions and sentencing; three strikes; the war on drugs; the abolition of parole for some crimes; prison for the supposed crime of homelessness; arrests for feeding the homeless; the ever-increasing criminal liability for minor mistakes in judgment, instead of real criminal behavior; criminalizing children’s school behavior and truancy; and, in the wake of 9-11, the growth of secret law, so one might not even know he or she is breaking the law.

Up and down jurisdiction levels, elections have consequences. This November is not a federal election, but Virginia has an important opportunity to affect not just the legislative branch in Richmond, but to indirectly sway court appointments and also to elect local prosecutors. So, vote. Vote for candidates who will confirm, not obstruct, Governor McAuliff’s court appointments. Unless we win back majorities in statehouses and Congress, the right-wing monopoly of our court system will march on. Commit to bringing in at least 10 eligible voters on election day. And, one more time, say it, free Don Siegelman!