Results Of DOJ Probe Into Siegelman Prosecution To Be Released In ‘Near Future’

December 23, 2008 5:04 p.m.

We may be getting some answers in the saga of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman sooner rather than later.

DOJ’s Office Of Professional Responsibility expects “in the near future” to complete its probe into allegations of politicized prosecution in the Siegelman case, according to a letter from the DOJ sent to Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) yesterday. The letter also reveals that the OPR is looking into the allegations of improper communications between jurors and members of the prosecution team during Siegelman’s trial.

At issue are charges made by a whistle-blower, who worked in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Alabama, that were first publicly reported in November after Conyers sent a letter to the DOJ about the matter.

Emails provided by the whistle-blower suggested that U.S. Attorney Leura Canary — whose husband was a top GOP operative and Karl Rove associate — continued to be involved in the case after recusing herself. Other emails suggested inappropriate contact between jurors and the prosecution, including expressions of romantic interest by jurors in an FBI agent on the prosecution team.

In an interview with TPMmuckraker last month, an outraged Siegelman called it “astounding” that the alleged impropriety involving the jury had not been revealed to the judge and the defense. There has long been evidence that Siegelman’s prosecution on corruption charges was politically motivated.

It was back in July that the DOJ publicly acknowledged the existence of an OPR investigation into whether the prosecution was “selective and politically motivated.”

The letter sent to Conyers yesterday gives us a fuller picture of the OPR probe.In the letter, Principal Deputy Assistant AG Keith Nelson confirms that the OPR is looking into the jury issue and into “whether United States Attorney Leura Canary complied with her recusal from the case.” The letter continues:

We have confirmed that OPR is aware of the e-mails you forwarded, and we expect that they will evaluate the significance of those e-mails in the full context of the prosecution. We understand that OPR expects to complete its investigation in the near future.

The letter also notes that a separate DOJ investigation into the case — which was begun at the behest of the Office Of Special Counsel and was recently reopened — remains in progress. Arguments on Siegelman’s appeal of his conviction were heard earlier this month.

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