Ruling could aid Minor case

The June 18 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court was in the case of F. Scott Yeager, a then-former employee of an Enron subsidiary whom the federal government indicted in 2004 on securities and wire fraud, insider trading and money laundering.

In 2005, a jury acquitted Yeager of the fraud charges but failed to reach a verdict on the insider-trading and money-laundering charges.

Later in 2005, the government reindicted Yeager on some insider-trading and money-laundering charges. Yerger filed court papers to have the charges dismissed, citing that since the jury acquitted him on the fraud counts, it barred a second trial for insider trading and money laundering because of double jeopardy.

But based upon the inconsistency of the acquittals and the hung counts, the 5th Circuit ruled the government could prosecute Yeager anew for insider trading and money laundering.

The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the 5th Circuit and remanded the case to the lower court. The high court’s decision said the hung jury on the insider-trading and money-laundering charges shouldn’t have figured into the 5th Circuit’s decision.

“Because a jury speaks only through its verdict, its failure to reach a verdict cannot – by negative implication – yield a piece of information that helps put together the trial puzzle,” according to the Supreme Court ruling

Eastland said the reversal in the case gives additional hope for Minor in his appeal.

Assistant Federal Public Defender George Lucas, who represented Teel, agrees that the Supreme Court allowing the briefs is a good sign, especially for Minor and Whitfield.

“It can definitely help,” Lucas said.

Federal prosecutors argued in the Yeager case that the acquittal on some charges didn’t bar retrial on the charges on which the jury deadlocked.

In Minor’s case, prosecutors have said he received a fair trial.

In 2007, when Minor and the former judges were convicted, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dave Fulcher said the verdict “shows how important it is for the judicial system to be fair to everyone. It shows how important it is to maintain the integrity of the judicial system in Mississippi.”

Minor has maintained he was the victim of a politicized local U.S. attorney and the U.S. Justice Department.

Eastland said Attorney General Eric Holder has said his office will review Minor’s case.

Clarion Ledger
7/12/9