Siegelman hits home run in federal court

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–What with this being the baseball play-off season, it could be said that former Gov. Don Siegelman hit a home run in federal court last week…but it was not a grand slam home run.
Federal prosecutors raised their hands in surrender after U. S. District Judge U. W. Clemon threw out a conspiracy charge brought against Siegelman and his top aide, Paul Hamrick.
That left only a health care fraud case pending and prosecutors decided to drop that charge.
That Siegelman went scot free on the ruling of a judge rather than be cleared by a jury took a little gloss off his victory. To have been found innocent by a jury would have been a grand slam.
There was a flurry of heated exchanges between opposing counsel after the case came to its abrupt but expected end.
U. S. Attorney Alice Martin and State Atty. Gen. Troy King…both Republicans…were very critical of the fact that the charges against Siegelman never went to a jury.
Martin said Judge Clemon "denied the citizens their right to a fair trial" and King called it a "day without justice."
This provoked a howl of protest from Siegelman attorneys Joe Espy and Bobby Segall, who called the comments by Martin and King "inappropriate."
Predictably, there was immediate speculation that Siegelman was now back in the 2006 governor's race but such talk may be premature. A federal grand jury in Montgomery is still looking at allegations of wrong-doing in the Siegelman Administration. He may face further indictments from that panel.
If there are further indictments that would mean the litigation would continue well into 2005, which would put a crimp into any gubernatorial campaigning Siegelman might have in mind.
Last week the high court refused to hear Moore's appeal to be returned to the office of chief justice, bringing to an end the years-long Ten Commandments fight. Moore has no more legal avenues to explore.
Despite this latest in a long light of courtroom setbacks, Moore insists the fight isn't over.
"The battle to uphold the Constitution is not over, and I will continue to fight to preserve our inalienable right to acknowledge the sovereignty of God," Moore declared.
The only place he can continue the fight is in the political arena…perhaps another race for Chief Justice.
The $2 billion this hike will raise will be used to pay for federally mandated environmental regulations.
PSC President Jim Sullivan and Associate Commissioner Jan Cook voted for the hike, Commissioner George Wallace Jr. voted against it. Wallace said he felt the utility…which made a profit of $473 million last year…should pick up a part of the tab.
The hike will mean a customer who uses 1,000 kilowatt hours a month will see his bill increased by about 60 cents.
That is but a drop in the bucket when it is remembered that insurance costs for teachers and employers is soaring ever closer to $1 billion a year, however it is a step in the right direction. The Alabama State Employees Association has not signed off on the agreement, but wherever AEA leads, ASEA will follow.

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