It also lifts the veil on how politics subverts justice and dirty tricks sully politics…
Editor’s Note: This story is divided into five sections. It starts with An Introduction to North Alabama Law and Politics, which sets the scene and gives you an indication of where the story is going. Like any southern writer knows, you have to establish the place. In part two, Jill Simpson’s Legal and Political History, the story introduces you to the person who wrote the affidavit, like the young lawyer who wrote the Pelican Brief in the John Grisham novel by the same name. In part three, How the 2002 Election Was Stolen in Bay Minette, the story shows how history was changed with the flip of a computer switch. In part four, How Ms. Simpson Discovered A Corrupt Judge, the story shows how legal research and ethics should work. Then, in part five, How and Why Ms. Simpson Wrote and Signed the Famous Affidavit, the story wraps up with why she did it. It took guts to go up against the Bush and Riley political machines. She should be applauded for it.
An Introduction to North Alabama Law and Politics
by Glynn Wilson
RAINSVILLE, Ala., June 17 – Dana Jill Simpson is faxing documents on a Sunday and waiting for me – to my surprise – with the front door unlocked in her modest red brick law office. It’s at the halfway point between Ft. Payne and Scottsboro along Highway 35, which also happens to double as Main Street in the small town of Rainsville, Alabama, in this rural, mountainous Northeast corner of the state near the borders of Georgia and Tennessee.
Her house has already been burned down and one of her vehicles has been run off the road and totaled since she decided to seek justice and come out against the Bush and Riley political machines in the case of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and deposed HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy. While there may be no proof of a connection and there may be no connection at all, knowing the history of how hard the Bush’s are willing to play in their pursuit of power, it has to make a person just a tad concerned – under the circumstances.[A slight clarification here: Ms. Simpson had been communicating with a number of people about her research, including Scrushy and Siegelman lawyers, although she had not yet written the affidavit. Some blogs have reported that these events occured since the affidavit was signed in May. Not true. But she had already made the decision to seek justice. As you can read below, it took her awhile to come to that decision.]
Yet she still practices law with the front door unlocked in this land famous heretofore most notably for the Scottsboro Boys trial, one of the first glaring cases of legal racism that helped spawn the Civil Rights Movement.
The area is also politically famous for Buck’s Pocket. It used to be said that defeated politicians went there to lick their wounds. And, the area is famous for its Sand Mountain tomatoes, the best in the world due to the high lime content in the limestone soil. And from Ft. Payne to the east, there is the country band Alabama.
Then, the area is somewhat famous for a series of strange UFO sightings down the road in Fyffe in the late 1980s, which is about the time I met Jill Simpson for the first time and came to believe in her veracity. She figured out that the UFO sightings were really military exercises.
What the mostly politically conservative people of this rural area may not fully understand yet, including the mostly retired Republicans who meet for coffee every Monday morning at the Hardees in Scottsboro, is that the place is about to be famous for something else.
Namely, unless the Bush Justice Department’s power and corruption is so complete that they are able to bury this story and run roughshod over the blind Lady of Justice, the area is about to be famous for one modern-day Joan of Arc – a rare true believer in truth, justice and the “American way.”
Most people who know her as a real, working lawyer just call her Jill Simpson.
Most people who keep up with the news about this already know that on May 21 of this year, Ms. Simpson wrote an affidavit and signed it in Georgia accusing the Bush and Riley political machines of all kinds of high crimes and misdemeanors. They include a plot to steal and fix the 2002 gubernatorial election for Bob Riley. And they involve a plot to politicize justice in the Siegelman, Scrushy bribery trial in Montgomery.
But since the New York Times and Time magazine came out with only partial stories about the affidavit, Ms. Simpson has been attacked in the local news media. She has been called a “drunk fiction writer” by former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Terry Butts in an AP story. As it turns out, Butts was in on the Republican effort to defeat Don Siegelman in 2002, but somehow ended up representing Richard Scrushy in the Montgomery case against them both.
Ms. Simpson has also been called “intellectually dishonest” and a “disgruntled” bidder by U.S. Attorney Louis Franklin in a case involving a tire recycling contract – even though it’s not true. She is not a bidder but was only a lawyer representing a client, which Franklin should know. And she’s not disgruntled at all.
The tire contract Franklin speaks of went to a person who was found to be illegally dumping tires in Alabama from Georgia, instead of her client who wanted to properly recycle the tires, not dump them in a hole. And she’s the one who saved Riley from a campaign appearance on top of a pile of tires set up by a group of Democrats who at that time controlled the Alabama Department of Environmental Management Board. In other words, she saved Riley from a Democrat dirty trick – and he knows it.
When Ms. Simpson called Mr. Franklin to ask him to investigate and correct the public record, he hung up the phone on her. When given an opportunity to comment for this story, Franklin called me “a nut” and hung up on me.
Franklin is the lead prosecutor in the case against Scrushy and Siegelman in the Montgomery, where a potentially tainted jury found them guilty. Legal experts say Franklin may have violated judicial cannons of ethics himself by making the statements in the pre-sentencing phase of the case, and for making false accusations about another attorney.
Siegelman and Scrushy are scheduled to be sentenced in that case on June 26 for allegedly being involved in a bribery scheme to give Scrushy a seat on a state hospital board, ostensibly in exchange for a $500,000 contribution to retire the debt on Siegelman’s failed attempt at creating a state lottery to fund education.
One of the most important parts of Ms. Simpson’s story involves U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller, who presided over the Siegelman-Scrushy trial and has so far refused to recuse himself from the sentencing phase of the case, in spite of facts unearthed by Ms. Simpson. Those facts show he has a conflict of interest and should never have sat in judgment in the case.
But that is getting ahead of the story. In trying to figure out a way to tell this story in its entirety, I am reminded of the Showtime pitch for “The Tudor’s” series about the Monarchy of the young Henry VIII: “To understand a story, you must go back to the beginning. You only know how it ends.”
You may know how it ends on June 26 – unless the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta intervenes and sentencing is delayed pending an investigation.
How did it all begin? How did Jill Simpson become involved in Republican politics in Alabama and end up being a pawn in a Karl Rove dirty trick that resulted in the unlikely election of Bob Riley as governor of Alabama in 2002?
And why did this otherwise loyal Republican political volunteer decide to come out against the Bush and Riley political machines in the form of an affidavit that lifts the veil on how justice is arrived at in America?
Part 2: Back to the Beginning: Jill Simpson’s Legal and Political History
Part 3: How the 2002 Election Was Stolen in Bay Minette
Part 4: How Ms. Simpson Discovered A Corrupt Judge
Part 5: How and Why Ms. Simpson Wrote and Signed the Affidavit
© 2007 – 2012, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.