No Wonder the Siegelman Prosecutor Didn’t Want an Investigation of the Juror Emails

One of the key grounds for appeal in the Don Siegelman case is that there was evidence of juror misconduct–two jurors plotting how to get a conviction–that the prosecution had the US postal inspectors investigate even while insisting any investigation would taint the jury process.

At issue is a series of e-mails that arose in 2006 suggesting that two jurors had outside influence as they decided Siegelman’s bribery conviction. After he was found guilty, Siegelman sought a new trial over the e-mails, printed copies of which had been mailed to defense attorneys.

U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller denied the motion for a new trial, ruling that the allegations were unsubstantiated. Siegelman has cited the issue as a central point in his ongoing appeal.

Two weeks ago, the head of the Justice Department’s appellate division, Patty Merkamp Stemler, informed Siegelman’s attorneys that the department had discovered undisclosed information about the controversy as attorneys prepared for the appeal. In a July 8 letter, Stemler wrote that while Siegelman’s mistrial proceedings were pending, acting U.S. Attorney Louis Franklin asked U.S. postal inspectors to try to determine who sent the e-mails through the mail.

U.S. Marshals later informed Fuller that the inspectors had concluded the e-mails were fakes. They determined, for example, that one e-mail didn’t match up with the corresponding juror’s e-mail account.

But the information produced for prosecutors and given to the judge was never passed along to Siegelman’s attorneys for cross-examination. [my emphasis]

A letter John Conyers just sent to Michael Mukasey reveals that the prosecution team allegedly knew that one of these jurors was sending flirty messages to the prosecution team during the trial. In other words, when the prosecution team fought any investigation into improper juror conduct, they had reason to believe that there had been improper contact between jurors and the prosecution team.

Those are contacts, of course, that would remain hidden in any investigation the US postal inspectors would do.

The Whistleblower

Conyers explains that Tamarah Grimes, a member of the Siegelman prosecution team, turned over emails reflecting a conversation about juror contacts with the prosecution team.

This email chain is dated June 15, 2006–the day the Siegelman/Scrushy case was submitted to the jury for its decision. The key email in the chain was written by Ms. Patricia Watson, 


In this email, Ms. Watson writes: "I just saw Keith in the hall. The jurors kept sending out messages through the marshalls. A couple of them wanted to know if he was married." Apparently, the "Keith" referenced in this email is FBI Special Agent Keith Baker, a member of the Siegelman prosecution team who reportedly sat at or near the prosecution’s counsel table throughout the trial. Ms. Grimes responded to this email, writing "Yeah, that’s what Vallie said. He said one girl was a gymnast and they called her ‘Flipper,’ because she apparently did back flips to entertain the jurors. Flipper was very interested in Keith.

Now, Conyers goes on to talk about how inappropriate the contact itself was. But to me, it raises much more important questions about why Larry Franklin–the prosecutor in the case–made such an effort to shunt off the investigation into improper conduct of jurors to a secret investigation conducted by the US postal inspectors. Apparently, at least three members of the prosecution team knew that one of the jurors alleged to have been plotting a Siegelman conviction had reached out to contact prosecutors. According to Grimes’ whistleblower complaint, Franklin said of this juror that another member of the prosecution team, "talked to her. She is just scared and afraid she is going to get in trouble." And allegedly knowing this about the juror–knowing that she was "afraid she [was] going to get in trouble," Franklin secretly pursued an investigation not into her potential misconduct itself, but into who sent emails bearing her name.

DOJ’s Crappy Investigation of the Allegations

And then there’s the question of what the DOJ did after the Office of Special Counsel conducted an investigation into them. 

 …we have recently learned that this issue and others raised by Ms. Grimes was referred by the Office of Special Counsel to your office for evaluation. In response, an initial report has been prepared by two Assistant United States Attorneys which essentially concludes that, despite the plain statement to the contrary in this email chain, no messages were actually sent by any members of the jury to the prosecution through the US Marshals.


We are troubled, however, that the investigators appear to have reached this conclusion without interviewing the US Marshals who supervised the Siegelman jury and who are described in the email as having been the conduit for jury messages to the prosecution. Nor do the investigators appear to have interviewed any member of the jury.

In other words, after the prosecutor in the case had launched a secret investigation into the allegations guaranteed to shield any actual misconduct, DOJ conducted a second investigation, once again designed to shield any misconduct. It appears that no one has yet interviewed "Flipper" about all the things she was alleged to have done during the prosecution (she was interviewed by the US Postal Inspectors, but presumably not about these contacts). 

Conyers goes on to describes the proof that Leura Canary–who purportedly recused from the case–was receiving campaign emails from Siegelman and forwarding them onto the prosecution team with strategy suggestions on how to use them against him–suggestions they used.

The real message Conyers appears to be sending, though, is that he holds the Mukasey DOJ directly responsible for ignoring all whistleblower evidence. In a footnote to this statement appearing in his final paragraph…

We appreciate Ms. Grimes providing this information, which she apparently has previously presented to several executive branch offices.

…He cites 5 USC 2302(b)(8)(A)(I)&(ii):

Any employee who has the authority to take, direct others to take, recommend, or approve any personnel action, shall not, with respect to such authority–take or failr to take … a personnel action with respect to any employee … because of any disclosure of information … which the employee … reasonably believes evidences a violation of any law…

For some reason, Conyers suggests, Mukasey’s own DOJ seems to be sitting on an awful lot of damning information from Tamarah Grimes.

53 replies
  1. BoxTurtle says:

    Simply amazing. Let’s see the prosecution get away with this without BushCo to protect them.

    Nobody is going to believe they forgot this was against the rules.

    They can’t claim executive privilege.

    They can’t claim national security.

    And a pardon won’t necessarily keep them from being disbarred.

    IMO, this alone is more than sufficient the declare a mistrial.

    Boxturtle (The horrible thing is, what if he really IS guilty?)

    • WilliamOckham says:

      If Siegelman is guilty, so is every other politician in the country. He was accused of appointing a donor to a cause he supported to a state board the donor was obviously qualified to be on. I’m not a big fan of the way Siegelman does politics, but the absurdity of his prosecution brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘Kafkaesque’.

      • BoxTurtle says:

        If Siegelman is guilty, so is every other politician in the country.

        I could accept that

        Boxturtle (An honest politician is one that stays bought)

  2. Mary says:

    The two AUSAs who were charged with investigating and issued a report concluding that, “no messages were actually sent by any members of the jury to the prosecution through the US Marshals” and did so “without interviewing the US Marshals” and also without interviewing “any member of the jury” should be fired, lose their license, and their conduct reviewed separately for criminal charges – if that report is true. If it is true, it shows what passes for lawyers in this DOJ.

    But the part that caught me was Stemler having the nerve to try to frame the postal investigation as something that “the department” just now discovered, “the department had discovered undisclosed information about the controversy as attorneys prepared for the appeal.”

    Since when is Franklin not a member of “the department?” Since when would “the department” not be charged with constructive knowledge of his investigations regarding the case? Since when are you allowed evidence SUPPRESSED in an all out attempt to OBSTRUCT, as “oopsies look what I foundsies?”

    The Dept didn’t just discover – the Dept IS Franklin and it is charged with his knowledge and he has known, and SUPPRESSED this info all along. Stemler, finally popped it out, but it is a gross mischaracterization to pretend that they are timely turning over info they just discovered, as opposed to finally coming clean on info the Dept had been actively suppressing. She knows better.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The Bush DOJ seems to glory in its Clintonesque use of language to imply a lack of wrongdoing when, in fact, the blood and body parts are strewn about like those in a James Ellroy novel. The “e-mails” were never “sent”, but they were printed out and hand delivered — by federal marshals to and from jurors and the prosecution team! There was nothing worse investigating, so the the AUSA orchestrated two tangent-focused investigations in order to spike any real one.

      May this be the first of many opening of doorways into Bush era miscarriages of justice. Sunshine is the best disinfectant for what grows in the dark. The men who manufactured Nixon’s crimes remained in power. They and their progeny continue to manufacture new ones today. Pretending bygones can be bygones without recognizing and stopping wrongful conduct is the forlorn hope of an eight year-old, condemned to an adult prison, that his next shower will be different than the last.

  3. scribe says:

    Jebbus H. Charlie Crist (or some other exclamation uttered while gagging on my bagel and coffee).

    I speak as a lawyer who has tried, and continues to try, cases to juries.

    I’ve seen similar – though not as egregious – misconduct around juries. Sometimes they get away with it, and sometimes not, even though the law says this kind of misconduct is presumed to be prejudicial and can only be remedied by a new trial.

    Frankly, every last one of those f*cks belongs in jail in Siegelman’s stead.

    • bmaz says:

      Heh, no kidding. And, I might add, what exactly is the holdup with Siegelman’s appeal, seems like we can go ahead and move on that decision and, furthermore, when exactly do proceedings start against Judge Fuller?

      • scribe says:

        I don’t think there’s much of a holdup. One can reasonably expect an appeal to take a year from filing to oral argument, and another period of time from two weeks to six months for an opinion to be written, circulated, agreed-to and published.
        You’ve got to remember that any Circuit Court of Appeals has pending a couple thousand appeals at any one time, and that they can range between 250-500 pages of paper and literally truckloads. Siegelman’s is on the larger side of that spectrum. The judges have to read and understand every stinking page of the record, particularly in high-profile cases such as this. Not that I’m implying they don’t read every page in low-profile cases, too, but they definitely have to pay attention to everything in the high-profile cases. And, then they have to read all the caselaw cited (and not cited but germane) in the briefs. It’s a lot of work and it takes time.

        • bmaz says:

          I am fully aware of the Circuit Court Appellate process. Maybe things just work faster out here. I have never gotten over the asinine amount of time they allowed the whole thing to be jerked around on absolutely bogus transcript delay grounds; until proven otherwise, I assume they are intentionally screwing with this case. That is the presumption they have earned in my eyes. Yours may differ. Fuller should have been in the stock and dock long ago, his conduct was abhorrent. I see no movement on that either.

          LD @18 – Yes, Obama showed his deep love and respect for the 4th Amendment by slitting it’s throat, after specifically promising on his word not to do so, in relation to the FISA Amendments Act. He won’t do squat; and his word isn’t any good either.

          • scribe says:

            I agree on the transcript. There is no way a transcript of a criminal trial takes a whole year to be prepared absent someone screwing around with the reporter to keep it from getting done. You’ve been in courthouses and I’ve been in courthouses and reporters get appeal transcripts done quickly. The antithesis of what happened here.

            I was looking at the time from filing the briefs, etc. and, to be frank, had forgotten about the transcription delays.

          • nonplussed says:

            Yes, Obama showed his deep love and respect for the fourth Amendment by slitting it’s throat, after specifically promising on his word not to do so, in relation to the FISA Amendments Act. He won’t do squat; and his word isn’t any good either.

            Indeed, who can forget the immortal words in his letter to us all just before he went and pimped fore it’s passage. “I realize to some of you this may be a deal breaker and that’s OK.” Knowing full well we could hardly go vote for McCain. Another example of how desperately we need a viable third party alternative. I’m at a loss of how we can ever get one, but we sure could use it. As Mickey Z puts it, “The next time someone tells you America has a two-party system…demand a recount.”

  4. siri says:

    For some reason, Conyers suggests, Mukasey’s own DOJ seems to be sitting an awful lot of damning information from Tamarah Grimes.

    thanks again, Chucky Schumy and DiFi.
    can’t believe i watched them do that with my own eyes.
    and i can’t stand either one of them because of it.
    anyone with half a brain could figure out that ANY Bu$h appointee would be problematic, but MuKasey has been a shameful disaster.

  5. radiofreewill says:

    OT – But related to Justice.

    Re: Torture

    If it can be established that A Policy of Torture – ie, State-Sponsored Torture – was Developed and Implemented, then the following, imvho, should be Tried, and if Convicted, Publicly Hung Until Dead:

    Bush, Gonzales, Cheney, Addington, Rumsfeld, Haynes, Wolfowitz, Rice, and others.

    The Military Generals who were in the Direct Chain of Command to the Torturers should be given a Trial, and if Convicted: Shot by Firing Squad.

    Lesser Officers in the Chain of Command: Hard Labor for Life.

    The Political Leaders who Condoned Torture, if Convicted – for the Dems; Reid, Jello Jay, Pelosi and Harman, but including the Reps, too – if found Guilty: 20 years, Minimum, of Hard Labor.

    Actions Have Consequences! When those actions Stem from A Policy of Torture, then Everyone Involved Waterboarded and Performed Cruel and Depraved Acts on Helpless Human Beings Under Their Total Control.

    Anything Less Than Justice here Makes a Mockery of Everything We say Our Country Stands For.

    Let Justice Prevail!

    No Torture by Our America! – Ever Again!

    • bmaz says:

      We are not subject to the ICC and a bill was passed, you might remember the Torturers Protection Act, exculpating them domestically. Give it up.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Opening the Siegelman case is like opening Pandora’s Box. It will bring woe and misery to those who have so abused an already imperfect system of justice. The Siegelman case is the corruption of Bush-Rove DOJ in a nutshell. It’s the spearpoint attached to the shaft that the Miss Goodlings and Mr. Sampsons so adoringly polished.

    Even the theater of this case is corrupt. Laura Canary’s many alleged leaks to the Birmingham News, the reliably GOP-spun newspaper. It is Franklin’s putting on his team of prosecution lawyers an apparently good-looking FBI agent for whom one juror apparently had the hots. A double whammy in a local culture where deference to the imagery of the law, over its substance, is rather greater than, say, in certain parts of the Bay Area. Initiating two investigations to spike a real one into wildly inappropriate communications with jurors, misconduct that should lead to dismissal and disbarment for some, and dismissal and retrial or an apology for Gov. Siegelman. All to prosecute a case that by all accounts should never have been brought.

    John Grisham couldn’t make this stuff up.

  7. LabDancer says:

    The Horton who hears at Harper’s no doubt will be all over this soon enough, but in the meantime he has a piece up on a Bush-favoring talk radio person, Gene Burns, who having screened Torturing Democracy [It’s already up in episodic form in YouTube] has turned against the BCA, or Cheney at least [and in particular] with the crusading zeal for which such person’s are known. So to this Siegelman outrage [itself being the tip of the iceberg for the DOJ’s pattern of pursuing Dems at a rate that if it were an SAT would get you into any Ivy League college or if it were a slugging percentage would get you up with Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth], we can add the festering sore of the unresolved torture horror, plus the BCA’s kicking the 4th amendment in the knackers, plus the marginally more prosaic US attorney Purge, all of which I expect represents but a quadrant of the tip of the iceberg we can see.

    On all that, Bush, or more precisely the law firm of Fielding and Addington, is about to pour enough pardon pudding to turn 3 Mile Island into a land fill.

    I have to say that, despite my annoyance at Obama’s preternatural calm and constant resort to putting things into the perspective of the pragmatic, I don’t expect him to do anything active to bury any of this. If you’ve read his books, particularly the part of his second on the view of the Constitution from the perspective of the Senate, it is, as we would expect from a liberal Democrat constitutional law prof, very process oriented and precise on the need to adhere to the 4th Amendment. However, given everything else on the plate of the incoming administration, and his declaration of intent to be president of all the people, nor do I expect it to be among the items that will occupy his focus.

    But there’s going to be a reckoning here. It may be an oblique, Chicago type if you will – reckoning [eg Capone going down to income tax evasion rather than the activities underlying the sources of the income he didn’t want looked into], but there’s going to be one.

    • JThomason says:

      Horton says the White House is concerned about the U.S. Attorney’s probe.

      “As the Inspector General noted, the White House’s refusal to cooperate and turn over documents blocked the conclusion of the Justice Department’s internal probe,” he said.

      “But of greater interest,” he said, “is the suggestion now openly aired that the White House is particularly concerned about documents and evidence linking it to the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don E. Siegelman. I am told that this involves former White House counsel Harriet Miers, former senior political advisor Karl Rove, and President Bush, himself.”

      He asks: “What you may wonder was the President of the United States doing meddling in the prosecution of a Southern governor? That is a very good question. Some significant news on this front will break shortly. Stay tuned.”

      Daily Kos

  8. JohnLopresti says:

    I think the logjam issue is interesting, and Barack Obama teologically practical about fitting the timeline and decisionmaking once sworn. Link to the old Nola judgeship left vacant for three decades with oversight by JHelms, veritably generational. My notes on the Horton expertise matter persist with my own tech bent, to read the metadata in emails, and muse over the utils extant, the instant matter incorporating what IT folks know now as NAC, network access control, soon coming to a layer 7 or OS near most of our servers; though admittedly I delve only a while in such matters. I think future emails will include indelible cookies, origin of forged evidence resolved. The TimeMag site appendices had an array of redactions, most reasonable but a few which might help with traceroute information. I liked the one which caveatted that the new attorney would be working offsite reading into 80,000 documents before wider involvement; in the dialect, slow as molasses. I agree, however, with the machine rendering comment, above, employing as I do a similar app for speech rec, which in current iteration understands regional accents, and is trained to render, say, south central Asian accents of speakers who learned English by studying with a Scottsman 1 year on the subcontinent then accreting colloquial Southern drawl parlance in PassChristian, the locals preferring, e.g., that city’s name’s pronunciation francophonic with the accent iamb placed over the ‘an’. It sum, these are postcolonial times, but the pace remains, measured.

    • demi says:

      Whatever you are smoking, I could use some of that.
      It is not going to happen.
      That’s just what I think.
      There has already been enough evidence to bring that charge.
      I watched Kuckinich read every one of them.
      But, you cling to that, if you need to.

    • JimTheCynic says:

      Impeachment? Really? Oh, be still my heart…

      Is it really time to invest in porcine aviation?

      I would hope, but I don’t believe it is likely at all. One important reason to do so NOW is Little Georgie’s Pardoning Pen. As he has stretched the law (many times to breaking) so regularly I fully expect a blanket pardon from him for his entire administration and anyone in a leadership position in the Republican Party for any and all crimes they may have committed or may commit in the future. Of course whatever he does finally sign will be so egregious in its brazen audacity that it will of course go to the Supreme Court.

      Karl Rove indicted? Never.
      Karl Rove testify under oath? You’re kidding, right?

      Little Georgie held responsible for his actions and inactions? It’s never happened before and will never happen.
      Impeachment? We could dream…


  9. Mary says:

    19 – I think they probably moved it off the “hot” list once they ordered him released pending appeal. And I have to wonder if they aren’t hoping that there will be shakeups at the DOJ that will result in them possibly being able to refrain from ruling.

    11/19 – What I think is best is that if Seigelman makes it out, he would likely have recourse to STATE court claims – I don’t know what the state courts there would be like, but they have to be better than a Fuller. That’s on the personal civil damages claim. What I wonder about is whether a state prosecutor can bring any claims against federal prosecutors for abusing process in the state and against a citizen of the state? I can’t think of anything, but it niggles at me that there should be something there.

    • foothillsmike says:

      I think that claims would be in Federal Court. State bar complaints could take the tickets from attorneys.

  10. pinson says:

    Am I crazy or doesn’t this whole episode call for a RICO prosecution of a) the prosecution team, b)the implicated crooked jurors, c) judge Fuller and d) the DOJ lawyers who worked so hard to keep this whole stinking pile covered up? Seriously, how is this not a major criminal conspiracy?

  11. perris says:

    For some reason, Conyers suggests, Mukasey’s own DOJ seems to be sitting an awful lot of damning information from Tamarah Grimes.

    conyers has such a dead pan nature

  12. Mary says:

    25 – Yeah, the licenses would be one aspect – pardons are the reason I’m looking for non-Fed court issues. State law crimes can’t be pardoned, so I’d love to think of a criminal, as opposed to civil damages, action that would fly.

  13. demi says:

    retail sales report, job cuts driving another volatile day on wall street.
    I just read that on the tv.
    Wow? I’m flabbergasted.
    Thank Gawd for CSNBC, or I’d know nothing.

  14. serge says:

    IIRC…Siegelman was never given an opportunity to post bond at the conclusion of his trial in orer to appeal. It was straight into handcuffs and leg-irons and off to prison we go. That part of this travesty of a mockery of a sham (sorry Groucho) truly chaps my ass. Gee, they didn’t do that to Ted Stevens, or Lewis Libby. Wonder why not…

    This whole matter stinks like Rove’s rotting corpse.

  15. DWBartoo says:

    So, will Judge Fuller get to rap some knuckles before his own visit to the ‘cloakroom’?

    What will the 10th Circuit do? Something surely?

    Curiouser and curiouser …

    Overall, what are the chances of this nation actually returning(?) to respect for the Rule of Law?

    Perhaps, if we may manage such a ‘return’, domestically, we can, then, consider doing so internationally.

    Or, is this but an audacious, forlorn hope, in spite of some of the ‘hopeful’ comments here?

  16. foothillsmike says:

    We should be grateful that there are people like Grimes who appear to desire to do what is right. Kudos to Ms Grimes

    • DWBartoo says:

      Absolutely, Tamarah Grimes deserves our appreciation and respect.

      There are many others, far too many others who deserve something quite different.

      It will be quite a ‘test’, for Justice and for the law … to see if what is ‘deserved’ is actually metted out.

      The ‘results’ will be a ‘measure’ of the entire legal system and its future ‘worth’.

  17. Bluetoe2 says:

    OT, but did anyone ask Kashkari how much his shark skin suit he was wearing at todays hearing cost? Another fat cat/aristocrat that wants nothing more to keep the wealth of the U.S. moving upwards to his colleagues and pals.

  18. demi says:

    I’m pretty sure there is something to do between the empty impeachment mantra and just grinning and moving on.
    Neither works for me.
    You might want to widen your imagination of possibilities.
    I have to run to a meeting. Don’t think I’m blowing you off. I hate Friday late afternoon meetings. But, I’m realistic kind of person. When I’m not being realistically idealistic.

  19. radiofreewill says:

    bmaz at 15

    My apologies for dropping-in a passionate OT at 12.

    There’s a saying related to Karma in Buddhism:

    Sow a Thought, Reap a Habit
    Sow a Habit, Reap a Character
    Sow a Character, Reap a Destiny

    So, start with the thought – ’Torture is okay’ (the Bush ’dead or alive’ model), or ’If I don’t hear those Detainee screams, they don’t count’ (the Congressional Leadership ’look-away’ model) – and it’s not too hard to guess the Destiny for those individuals – those folks are going to live in Hell, until they go to Hell when they die their miserable deaths.

    What people don’t seem to realize is that this same iron-clad Karmic consequence applies Equally to Nations, as well.

    If We don’t apply Justice to The Monsters of Commission and Omission, then their Destiny will be Our Destiny, too.

    In Reality, not being members of the ICC, or passing some kind of ’Ablution’ Act, doesn’t change Our obligation to do the right thing when Our Leaders fail US – and for the sake of All of US, We must especially do the right thing when Our Leaders fail US.

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