Larisa Alexandropovna has the story of how Karl Rove, the Mississippi GOP, Big Tobacco, and the Bush US Attorney have combined to crush Paul Minor and his family. If you thought the Don Siegelman case was bad, this will make you puke.
On July 25, 2003, three months before the Mississippi gubernatorial election, in a case that would stun the legal community, Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz Jr., Paul Minor, former chancery court judge Wes Teel and former circuit court judge John Whitfield were indicted on charges of bribery, relating to loan guarantees that Minor had made to the three judges to help defray campaign costs.
There was no state law prohibiting Minor’s contributions, and his trial resulted in an acquittal on some charges and a deadlocked jury on others. However, this trial was immediately followed by the unsealing of fresh charges.
During the second trial, presiding Judge Henry Wingate excluded evidence showing that Minor had a long-established pattern of offering loans or loan guarantees to his friends in the legal community, thus creating the appearance that Minor had helped the three judges in hopes of receiving something in return.
Although prosecutors were unable to prove that Minor had bribed the judges in exchange for favors from the bench, the second trial resulted in a conviction. The jury determined that a quid pro quo had taken place between Minor and two of the judges, Teel and Whitfield, in large part because Judge Wingate had instructed them it was not necessary for the prosecution to prove bribery.
Even thought no quid pro quo was proven and there was no state law prohibiting lawyers from making loan guarantees to judges, Minor was sentenced to serve an 11-year prison term and pay over $4 million in fines and restitution.
In a startling similarity to the case of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman — who was also targeted by a Bush-appointed US Attorney — Minor has been denied appeal bond. Both Siegelman and Minor, despite being convicted of white-collar, non-violent crimes, were shackled and manacled, and moved to out-of-state prisons.