The Supreme Court has ordered a lower court to take a new look at the controversial conviction of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman in the wake of its ruling last week narrowing the scope of a key public corruption statute that was used in the Siegelman case.
Siegelman was convicted in 2006 on charges of bribery and honest services fraud, the statute that was limited by the court last week. Siegelman was found to have given former HealthSouth executive Richard Scrushy a seat on a state board regulating hospitals in exchange for $500,000 in donations to a state lottery campaign.
The former governor did nine months in prison before being released pending appeal in the case, which has been plagued by allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.
This is the court’s order in full today with respect to Scrushy v. US and Siegelman v. US:
The petitions for writs of certiorari are granted. The judgment is vacated, and the cases are remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit for further consideration in light of Skilling v. United States, 561 U.S. ___ (2010).”
Siegelman’s challenge of the conviction hinges on whether prosecutors proved there was bribery versus a legal political transaction in his dealings with Scrushy. The court ruled in the Skilling case last week that the honest services fraud statute only covers explicit “bribery and kickback schemes,” not less clear-cut cases.
The Wall Street Journal notes, though, that Siegelman is not yet in the clear:
The high-court’s decision to send the cases back for further proceedings at the appeals court doesn’t necessarily mean that the men’s convictions will be affected.
Messrs. Scrushy and Siegelman argued they shouldn’t have been convicted of bribery because there was no explicit promise that Mr. Scrushy would receive the board appointment in exchange for the contributions.
TPMmuckraker’s past coverage of the case is here.