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WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2006
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EDITORIAL

No place for politics in state, federal courts

Election Day was Tuesday but state politics continue their ugly side in Montgomery where Don Siegelman and Richard Scrushy fight for new trials.

The former state governor and former CEO of HealthSouth have a hearing Nov. 17 before a federal judge who appears reluctant to hear their complaints about their bribery and conspiracy convictions.

The pair may be guilty as charged but the crime they supposedly committed together falls within politics as usual. State and federal prosecutors said Mr. Scrushy gave money to Gov. Siegelman's education lottery campaign in exchange for a seat on the powerful Certificate of Need board that regulates hospital growth. The two said there was no quid pro quo, but what may have been confused jurors zeroed in on that charge and passed over many others.

U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller appeared skeptical of the two affidavits by juror Charlie Stanford of Ozark who said jurors improperly communicated with each other during the trial.

The judge had explicitly told jurors to not discuss the case among themselves. But he appeared more concerned as to whether Mr. Siegelman or Mr. Scrushy or their attorneys contacted the juror after the verdict. He finally held a hearing on that issue last week and now has the Nov. 17 hearing to consider if jurors considered information from the Internet or other outside sources while deliberating.

Yet he's done nothing to preserve possible evidence in the case.

You don't have to like Mr. Siegelman and Mr. Scrushy to be concerned about fairness. You might even think jurors convicted them on the wrong charges, but fair-trial issues hang over this case and need to be resolved.

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