Friday, June 10, 2011

Ex-Judges in Shackles, Living the High Life

Former Mississippi State Court Judge Whitfield enters federal Court
Jack Elliot, Jr.'s report at the Clarion Ledger about the resentencing of former Mississippi State Court judges and the lawyer who bribed them in the wake of the reversal of "honest service" convictions is pretty strong stuff and fits in pretty well with the widely-published story of the resentencing of Lord Conrad Black that was all over the Internet the other day.  Here's an excerpt:

A federal judge on Wednesday refused to throw out the convictions of imprisoned ex-attorney Paul Minor and two former judges.  U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate heard arguments on the defense motions but said if there were an error in the judicial bribery trial, it was harmless.

"The jury found facts establishing guilt," Wingate said.


The defendants (l to r), Minor, Whitfield and Teel prior to convictions
Now, Minor and former Harrison County judges Wes Teel and John Whitfield must be resentenced because a federal appeals court vacated their bribery convictions in 2009. The appeals court upheld other convictions, including honest services fraud against each and racketeering against Minor.  Minor has long said he did nothing wrong. He said the loans were meant to help friends in times of need and that he expected nothing in return. He was sentenced to 11 years.

Teel was sentenced to nearly six years in the case. Whitfield was sentenced to more than nine years.

Wingate heard pleas from attorneys for both that the two ailing former jurists be sentenced to time served. All three have served about 42 months of their sentences.

Wingate made no ruling Wednesday and recessed court until 10 a.m. today at which time he'll hear from Minor's attorneys.

Attorneys for the former judges said they were in poor health. Teel had suffered a heart attack shortly after entering prison in December 2007 and had heart surgery in January 2008.

Whitfield has Crohn's disease. There is no cure, and the causes are unknown. With the disease, the immune system goes awry, causing inflammation in the intestinal wall. The disease is controlled by drug treatments.

"I'm regretful," Teel told Wingate. "I didn't mean for any of this to happen. I really would like to go home."

Whitfield said he also was remorseful for what led to his conviction. "Had I followed my code of ethics ... I wouldn't be before you today. I apologize for the stain I have placed on the judiciary," he said.

The attorneys said both men have jobs waiting for them if they are released and have families who need them. The government, however, asked for the maximum sentence for all three. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dave Fulcher told Wingate that following the 2006 federal sentencing guidelines would result in each defendant getting longer prison terms.
[AUSA] Fulcher said the crimes were serious and the government would be consistent in asking for the longest sentences available. "All these defendants put justice (up) for sale," he said.   Fulcher said the pleas for leniency "do not overwhelm the facts of this case."

A main issue raised by the defense is that the case was not built on bribery, and was instead based on matters like concealment. The defense contends recent court rulings narrow the scope of honest services fraud and concealment no longer applies.

Prosecutors said concealment was just an element of a bribery scheme. They say Minor orchestrated a complicated scheme in which he guaranteed loans for the judges, then used cash and third parties to pay off the loans. The judges then ruled in his favor in civil cases[ . . . ]
The [now, unconstitutional] law sa[id was] a crime for a public official to deprive citizens of honest services while in office[.]
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There, you go, some crooked judges and lawyers living the high life at their regional Club Fed.  They put justice "up for sale," of course that never should be allowed in our courts.

4 comments:

  1. How come the Judge in the picture is wearing orange? Did you say that Khaki is the color for federal inmates or did I read that some where else? Is the Judge in shackles or just his hands are cuffed? Explain what the picture shows if you know?

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  2. When in transfer the color jump is whatever the county jail your staying is uses. FPC P'cola is a green uniform. I believe tan is for lows on up. I feel bad for the guy. The bribery convictions are tossed and he is still guily of honest service? How? The part of that bunk law the supremes did not strike down involves bribes to public officials....again the bribe counts are out. Love your country....FEAR your government

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  3. Has Bad Lawyer started following the Leader v. Facebook judicial corruption scandal? If not, suggest you do. Here's info: http://americans4innovation.blogspot.com/

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