Minor makes another bid for freedom

Paul Minor’s attorneys are asking an appeals court to reverse his conviction in a judicial bribery case and free him from prison.

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals already has partially reversed the convictions of Minor and two state court judges on multiple bribery charges, which will reduce their sentences.

But Minor’s attorneys argue in a new appeal that the court erred in upholding Minor’s conviction for depriving the public of the judges’ honest services, or honest services fraud. Former judges John Whitfield and Wes Teel also were convicted on the fraud charges in 2007.

“Unfortunately,” the appeal says, “this court appears to have misread the actual jury instructions given in this case because that concept was never conveyed to the jury.”
The honest services fraud charges also are the basis for the remaining charges on which Minor was convicted: racketeering and conspiracy. If the fraud charges were reversed, his 11-year sentence would be vacated, as would those of Whitfield and Teel.

Read the appeal here

Sun Herald
1/25/10