While the Siegelman case quite rightly garners much attention, the very similar case of Paul Minor, a Mississippi attorney, is less well known. Minor is in prison after being convicted of largely trumped up charges in a trial presided over by Bush appointee and Rove protégé, Priscilla Owen. Today an element of deep personal tragedy has entered the picture. You see, Minor's wife is in hospice and dying of cancer. The Justice Department - yes, the Obama Justice Department - has granted Minor a three hour furlough under armed guard to say goodbye to his wife, Sylvia.
Not only does the stench of corruption hover over the presiding judge. His conviction came at the hands of Bush-appointed US Attorney Dunnica Lampton, who had serious conflicts of interest in that Minor had litigated against businesses owned by the Lampton family:
At the time when Lampton began investigating Minor, his own interests were directly under threat. Minor had successfully sued several companies associated with Lampton's family members and contributors to his unsuccessful bid for a Congressional seat.
In 2002, Minor was in the midst of a major plaintiffs' case against a company called Magnolia Trucking, a subsidiary of Ergon Inc., a private firm owned by the Lampton family. Members of the Lampton family with ties to Ergon include Leslie B. Lampton, Director and CEO; Bill Lampton, the President of the Asphalt Division ; and Lee Lampton, Director of Operations.
Not only was Minor the largest contributor to the Democratic Party in his home state, he had also earned the deep hatred of the rethugs and business interests there because his firm made more than $70 million in the late 1990's from the state's tobacco lawsuit settlement, in which tobacco companies were accused of defrauding Medicare. It is not too difficult to surmise why he might have been a Rove target.
If ever a case could be made for a presidential commutation, this would be it. All of the "political prisoners" should be freed, and people like Lampton should be fired. Siegelman, Minor, et al could still appeal their convictions and clear their names. It's early days for the Obama administration, but Minor and his wife only have days. Maddow and Olbermann, please take an interest.
Mr. President, commute this sentence!
Update for those unfamiliar with the case:
Minor was convicted of mail services fraud in 2007 in connection with providing a loan guarantee to a state Supreme Court Justice in an effort to secure loans to fund his campaign.
In the months leading up to his trial, a series of leaks from anonymous sources -- which Harper's says could only have come from the prosecution team -- floated various innuendo and allegations of corruption, despite the fact that Minor never had a case before the judge in question.