So here’s the headline from the AP wire story today.
Here’s what actually happened. Judge Henry Wingate summarily denied the motions by Paul Minor, John Whitfield and Wes Teel to toss their convictions. And candidly, no one outside of the defense team expected Wingate to do otherwise. All three will be resentenced tomorrow and we will see if they get any reduction in their sentences they are currently serving, which is a realistic possibility, though I don’t think any of those three will walk out of court “a free man” tomorrow.
Now, back to the headline. As we talked about in Kings of Tort, Minor has been this liberal cause celebre and has had every headline and every PR break go his way throughout his indictment, conviction and appeal. This headline shows you just how absolutely, unrepetantly, and irrefutably the Mississippi press elite are in the tank for Paul Minor. His father being Bill Minor, dean of the Mississippi press corps, may have a lot to do that.
For example, from the article . . .
Defense lawyers have long criticized honest services laws as too vague and a last resort of prosecutors in corruption cases that lack the evidence to prove money is changing hands. The Supreme Court largely agreed in a 2010 ruling that the honest services laws were too broad.
The law says it’s a crime for a public official to deprive citizens of honest services while in office, and the Supreme Court had found problems with the law in the conviction of former Enron chief Jeffrey Skilling. The Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors can use the law only in cases where evidence shows the defendant accepted bribes or kickbacks.
One problem . . . that same Supreme Court looked at this case and decided that Skilling didn’t apply. They wouldn’t even hear it. Why even bring it up. It is a non-issue now. Here are the facts. Minor, Teel and Whitfield, were indicted, and convicted by a jury. They appealed and had the conviction largely upheld (except for a couple of counts that are being resentenced). They then appealed that to the Supreme Court and they didn’t hear it. Now Wingate has denied them . . . again. Those are the facts, but you just don’t see them in press accounts.
I think Minor will likely continue to stay in prison. I think he and his legal dream team (which has at varying points included both the guy that prosecuted Bill Clinton’s impeachment AND the guy that defended it) will appeal AGAIN. They will continue to get every favorable break in the press as they will continue to carry the Minor defense team water in the public eye while the US Attorney’s office says “no comment”. But mark my words, there are still very focused and coordinated efforts at work in both the print press and even in other forms of media that are trying to do everything they can to excuse, obfuscate and even outright deny what has happened.
Just keep watchin’.