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.

Stories and Blogs about the Paul Minor Case

 

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.

Jacksonfreepress

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From Bloomberg, a new report is out today on the politicization of the Justice Department.

Gonzales Aides Used Politics in Hiring, Report Says
By Robert Schmidt, Bloomberg News, July 28, 2008

Aides to former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales violated federal law by improperly using political considerations when hiring career Justice Department lawyers and immigration judges, an agency report found.

The audit, by the Justice Department inspector general and ethics chief, concluded that Monica Goodling, the White House liaison, and Gonzales's chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, committed misconduct. Gonzales, who resigned under pressure last year, was generally unaware of his aides' actions, the report said.

The screening ``resulted in high-quality candidates for important department positions being rejected,'' the agency's inspector general, Glenn Fine, said in a statement.

Gonzales' lawyer says he was out of the loop and didn't know. Um, sure. What did he expect from sycophants...

standing conflict of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (pro-business) and the GOP (the business party) with those evil plaintiff attorneys (or "trial attorneys" in GOP speak). Minor became a target because he is on the wrong side of business and the US Chamber of Commerce. In the last decade, the US Chamber of Commerce has focused a good deal of their attention on the state level judicial seats. They essentially want to control the courts by getting states to elect judges that are favorable to business. So plaintiff attorneys, who typically support Democrats, are a natural enemy of the U.S. Chamber. Scott Horton touches on it in his piece. See also:

The United States Attorneys Scandal Comes to Mississippi from Adam Cohen in the NYT.

And from The Tortellini:

This week, the second criminal trial of Mississippi attorney Paul Minor gets under way. For the most of you who don't follow Mississippi politics, Minor is a successful plaintiff's attorney who was known as "the judge maker" in Mississippi democratic circles because of his key role in raising money for progressive judicial candidates. (You can read more about him in my book.) He was also a big donor to a political action committee founded by state trial lawyers to counter the influence of big business in other local elections. (Another one of its founding donors was the former trial lawyer, state legislator and author John Grisham.)

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.)

The intimidation goes back further, see this from in 2004 in the NYT - DEVELOPING THE STRATEGIES: FUND-RAISING; Edwards Returns $44,000 In Donations

And chew on this one - Are Plaintiffs Attorneys Becoming Targets?

No tinfoil required, unfortunately -- these blokes like to cook the books on procedures and restructure things so they can play even dirtier; the US Attorney Purge was taking it to the big leagues, where they got caught and spanked. They need to truly spend some quality time behind the woodshed, however; right now, they've only received little slaps on the wrist.

:/

It's catchy and relevant. :)

are closely related to this one.

Rove Threat to Blackmail GOP IT Mastermind Triggers Immunity Request to Ohio AG by Election Lawyers

GOP Threatens “Valerie Plame” Style Strike Against Wife of IT Mastermind if He Doesn’t Become Fall Guy for Gaming the 2004 Ohio Election

In fact, it's not so amazing, just stunning that one mega-criminal can have so broad an impact as has Karl Rove.

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"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." - Thomas Jefferson

He's a sign of the times.

What Rove did was appeal to the lowest and basest of human instincts - greed and selfishness, mean spirited pettiness. That's what Rove did. He made people into their own worst enemies.

and by agreeing, I don't mean to seem to simply brush off what you're saying because I know that you 'got' the bigger picture well before I did.

But I'd consider his probable strategic role in theft of a country by election fraud a role that makes him a mega-criminal in my -- and your own, I'd guess -- book, when prompted to think in these terms.

Rove's insertion of the piggish political agenda into absolutely everything that he didn't steal is just uglier.

I'm sure there are other reasons to wrap that label around that...him.

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"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." - Thomas Jefferson

http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/index.php/site/minor_attorney_believes_5th_circuit_will_overturn_verdict/

July 28, 2008
excerpt:

Today is the deadline for the US Department of Justice to respond to Mississippi attorney Paul Minor’s June appeal on his federal corruption conviction.
-snip-
Minor's attorney Abbe David Lowell told the Jackson Free Press that he was unsure if Minor would get out on bond pending his appeal, but was confident he would overturn the jury’s verdict because of the holes in the case.

I am linking to Don Siegelman, Alabama Governor, Roved by Politicized US Attorneys here, mostly because I didn't want to lose the links to the Horton series on the Alabama scandal. The point for me is why all this effort to go after Minor for a truly minor (sorry, had to say it)infraction -- if one at all -- when the likes of Libbey, Rove, etc. etc. get away scott free.

In an age where Libby can have his sentence commuted, all of us must work to reestablish Americans' trust in the Department of Justice. In recent years, our prison population has doubled from 1.1 million to somewhere over 2.0 million. Accordingly, Americans need to have faith in the Judicial system. Ironically, according to Horton, Noel Hillman, one of the four judges involved in the Siegelman case:

Hillman is also one of four sitting federal judges who have played roles in connection with the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. The quartet consists of U.W. Clemons, a judge in Birmingham who dismissed the first proceedings against Siegelman with prejudice and went out of his way to suggest he suspected inappropriate conduct on the part of prosecutors. Clemons is the only Democratic appointee among the judges. And, as the case unfolds, I firmly believe that all of Clemons’ suspicions will be fully validated.
The balance are not only Republicans—they were all appointed by George W. Bush. Moreover, Karl Rove is suspected of having played a role in each appointment.

Just saying........ here

“Minor earns up to $2.5 million a year from a settlement with tobacco companies,”

And who supports Tobacco?

That's exactly what ties all of these stories together!

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"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." - Thomas Jefferson

Anything else is a side dish.

I really don't think he should be in jail either. And some Austin bail bonds guys thought the same about the case.