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SUNDAY, JANUARY 15, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Feds need to move ahead with trying Siegelman

One sure way to take former Gov. Don Siegelman out of the political mix in this year's gubernatorial election is for a jury to convict him.

But to do that, U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller in Montgomery must first set a trial date, and a jury must believe the former governor is guilty of federal racketeering and conspiracy charges.

The party primaries are June 6. The judge says trial could begin as early as March. That's not much of a window in which the former governor can mount a campaign, including raising the money he says is not forthcoming as the result of the federal charges against him, former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy and two members of the former governor's Cabinet.

Raising money isn't Mr. Siegelman's only problem. Until he's found innocent, his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley, shows contempt for his anemic campaign, noting she'll consider debating him once he's cleared his name.

But right now, he's at the mercy of Republicans in the U.S. Middle District Court who appreciate his political plight. They know time is running out on Mr. Siegelman making a comeback this year.

The judge should go ahead and set an early trial date to keep the ugly Texas-style, hardball politics out of Alabama.

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