Prosecutors dropped their Medicaid fraud case against former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman Tuesday after US District Court Judge U.W. Clemon ruled that there was insufficient evidence to support the conspiracy charge, the only charge outstanding. As reported yesterday on JURIST's Paper Chase, Judge Clemon had delayed jury selection so he could review the evidence behind the conspiracy charge.
Siegelman, who was elected as governor in 1998, was accused of trying to rig bids on lucrative contracts to provide medical care to poor pregnant women in rural Alabama. Siegelman still faces an investigation into other issues in his administration including tax breaks given to a Waste Management, Inc. landfill and approval for HealthSouth to build a hospital in Birmingham. View Siegelmans indictment here [PDF]. The Montgomery Advertiser has continuing coverage of the case. AP has more.
Previously on JURIST's Paper Chase:
- Jury selection delayed for trial of former AL governor
- Appeals court refuses to remove judge in former AL governor trial
- Former Ala. governor pleads not guilty to bid-rigging charges
If a case can be thought of as a jigsaw puzzle and the evidence as its pieces, what has occurred in Tuscaloosa is that the judge systematically removed the most important pieces of the puzzle until the completion of the puzzle was made impossible. As a result, those charged with assembling the now defective puzzle were ethically bound and had no other choice than to drop what was left of the charges. The losers today are the people of Alabama who have the right to have their public officials serve them honorably, to have them held accountable when they do not, or to at least have a full and fair hearing when allegations supported by substantial and credible evidence of wrongdoing are presented. These proceedings began on a dark day and they sadly conclude on an even darker day, a day without justice.Read the full text of King's statement here.