Seeking Minor Justice: Why Is Paul Minor in Jail?
A recent email alerted me to the plight of Paul Minor, who currently sits in prison convicted on the esoteric criminal act of "honest services mail fraud." Apparently, Minor arranged to loan money to Oliver Diaz for his campaign for Justice of Mississippi Supreme Court. Minor, along with a Republican co-owner who was not prosecuted, also rented an apartment to Justice Diaz. There is no evidence that Minor received anything in return for the loan or for the apartment, beyond the rental.
It seems to be another instance of our tax dollars and impartial Department of Justice at work. Why would someone want to "silence" Minor and others who might also be big donors to Democratic candidates? Standingup in the comments provided one possible reason from The Tortellini:
The U.S. Attorney in Mississippi accused Minor of bribing several state court judges to secure favorable rulings in his cases. The ensuing FBI investigation and 2003 indictment of Minor and several judges came at the same time the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars into judicial elections in the state. The indictment all but ensured that trial lawyers stopped giving money to the Democratic party and to its candidates in the state, giving the GOP and the business groups a huge spending advantage. (There is no other source of money for progressive candidates in Mississippi besides trial lawyers.)
It's called, I believe, poisoning the well to stop everyone from participating.
Many suggest that this case is similar to that against Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. Both of the cases follow the pattern uncovered by Dr. Shields of politicized investigations into local Democratic government officials.
In my reading about the Minor case, I found a number of intriguing points:
- Minor was convicted of buying a favor essentially, but there is no favor bought... no "quid pro quo." That's kind of like being convicted of murder but there is no murder, no body.
- Minor is a large donor to Democrats, according the Scott Horton's article A Minor Injustice: Why Paul Minor? the tenth largest donor to John Edwards -- and oddly every "major attorney donor to the Edwards campaign mysteriously became the target of an aggressive Justice Department criminal investigation."
- According to Horton again, FBI agent Matthew Campbell (who expressed disbelief that the case was dropped against Republican-connected Scruggs) was reassigned to Guantanmo.
- FBI Agent Campbell's replacement was Kevin Rust, who "under FBI ethics rules, Rust should have been excluded from the case" because he had close ties to Diaz's opponent in the race.
- The email I received alleges that the US Attorney Dunnica Lampton -- who prosecuted Minor and lost the first trial -- then appeared on the US Attorney to be fired list, the same list that resulted in the Gonzales Seven (Plus several) being forcefully resigned. And then surprisingly, after the second trial resulting in the conviction of Minor, Lampton was dropped from the fire list.
Below are a few links to stories covering this case.
- Why is Paul Minor Being Prosecuted? In March 2004, TChris at TalkLeft first looks into why a Mississippi lawyer was indicted in federal court.
- Biloxi Attorney Paul Minor and Two Former Mississippi State Court Judges Convicted for Role in Bribery SchemeThe Department of Justice's press release about the Paul Minor conviction
- White Collar Crime Prof Blog --Paul Minor's Appellate Brief, brief overview that also includes the link to the 146 page PDF file of the actual brief
- A Minor Injustice: Why Paul Minor? Scott Horton, in an October 2007 Harpers article, tries to discover the crime for which Paul Minor is being prosecuted -- other than being a donor to Democratic campaigns
- Mississippi Justice: Bush US Attorney targeted my wife, supporters and friends, an interview with Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz Jr., by Raw Story's Larisa Alexandrovna
- Rove Justice Department investigating two US Attorneys for political prosecution
Raw Story's Larisa Alexandrovna continues her research into the Paul Minor story
There's more here to be researched and compiled, but this is a start for any one interested in looking up more of the information. Please post what you find in the comments and I will update.
UPDATE: Thanks to Avahome, we know that today was the deadline for the US Department of Justice to respond to Mississippi attorney Paul Minor’s June appeal on his federal corruption conviction.