Former attorney Paul Minor is asking a federal court to release him from prison so he can care for his sick wife during appeals of a bribery conviction that he claims was politically motivated.
Laura E. Sweeney, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said Wednesday: “With this appeal, Mr. Minor’s case is considered an ongoing matter, therefore the Department of Justice will continue to litigate this matter in the courts and not the media.”
Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz Jr., who was indicted along with Minor in 2003 and acquitted, also says the charges were politically motivated.
“The Justice Department itself has basically admitted as much by launching an investigation into the case,” Diaz told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility is exploring allegations of selective prosecution in several cases, including the Diaz case and the unrelated 2006 conviction of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.
Diaz, who was a Republican when he served in the state Legislature and now holds a nonpartisan judgeship, was cleared of all charges at the end of a trail in 2006. Minor and the others were convicted during a retrial last year.
Minor claims the high-profile firings of nine U.S attorneys in 2006 contributed to his prosecution.
“Some U.S. attorneys, and that appears to include Dunn Lampton who prosecuted this case, it seems were able to remove themselves from the list of U.S. attorneys slated for firing by bringing cases, like this one, against prominent Democratic supporters,” Minor’s attorneys argue.
Lampton’s office said Tuesday that he recused himself from Minor’s case and will not comment.