This morning, the United States Supreme Court denied Paul Minor certiorari for his appeal of his conviction. After his much ballyhooed defense team, which included Ted Olson (who prosecuted the Clinton impeachment as Solicitor General) and Abbe Lowell (who defended Clinton as House Minority Counsel), made the best defense that all the money in the world could buy, the Supreme Court denied his core arguments that (1) bribes (in the form of campaign loan guarantees) are consitutionally protected speech and (2) that the Skilling honest services decision exonerates those bribing public officials.
This is a HUGE case that will have ripples throughout the Mississippi legal and political community.
Nowhere will it have a bigger impact than on the legal effort by Zach Scruggs to have his guilty plea set aside. One of his arguments has been the Skilling decision effect on honest services. SCOTUS seems to have handled that pretty directly by saying that bribing judges (or committing a misprision of it by not reporting it) is somehow not covered by the honest services law. Biggers and the 5th will have a lot of support to keep the applicability of honest services in Zach’s case, should they choose to.
Again the facts of Minor and Scruggs are covered extensively in Kings of Tort. At YallPolitics as well, this is a vindication of the highest order. We have been the only outlet consistently putting the data out there stating that Minor was guilty (as he was found to be so by 12 jurors and remaining so on appeal). It will be interesting to see how Huffington, Justice-Integrity, Legal Bow-Wow, Raw Story, Mark Crispin Miller, New York Times, Jackson Free Press, Slabbed and the dozens of other media apologists that have claimed Paul Minor has been basically “a political prisoner” will now take on this very clear and final decision that will keep Paul Minor in jail for the forseeable future.
So where do we go from here?
Minor will be resentenced in front of Judge Henry Wingate, whom the defense has excoriated throughout the appeals process as unfair. Wingate will have the opportunity to downgrade Minor’s sentence on the program bribery finding at the 5th. Likely, Minor will get some money back (though likely not enough to cover what he paid Lowell and Olson), but don’t expect a major reduction of sentence. He’s still convicted of RICO, and that carries quite a load.
For the Minor team, their only hope now is politization of the Supreme Court ruling and angling for a pardon. That’s where they’ll go next. It’s a longshot, but look for the local Minor team (sans Olson, whom I’m sure won’t shill for that) and the aforementioned shill outlets to press hard for that over time.
For Zach Scruggs, he now has a much tougher row to hoe. He is hanging his hat on Skilling AND trying to undo a guilty plea. The Minor decision adversely affects his chances which were slim to begin with.
Smile folks . . . there’s justice in the world. At least today.