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Minor Gets Three Hours with Dying Wife

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Hiram Eastland, attorney for Paul Minor (above), filed a motion connecting Judge Priscilla R. Owen to former White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove, after which Owen removed herself from Minor's appeal.

Bill Minor, the father of convicted attorney and Democratic fundraiser Paul Minor, told the Jackson Free Press that his son only has three hours to visit his dying wife in Baton Rouge today.

"He told me last night that he was only given three hours and that he would have to be escorted by someone from the Pensacola prison," Minor said. "I heard that he was cleared to get three days, but the local U.S. Attorney's office intervened to reduce it to only three hours."

The office of acting U.S. Attorney Stan Harris said it is recused from the case and had no power in the matter, referring questions to the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice's Criminal Division, which could not immediately be reached for comment.

Minor had guaranteed campaign loans for some state judges, and a federal jury convicted him of corruption in 2007¬óbut only after U.S. District Court Judge Henry Wingate allowed the prosecution to remove proof of any bribe with which Minor had allegedly influenced the judges. (An earlier trial over the same charges, which had required proof, or quid pro quo, had resulted in a hung jury.)

Wingate further aided the prosecution by ruling that the jury did not have to consider whether the "influenced" judges had rendered irregular or illogical decisions, and took no account that the judges had been assigned by their superiors to preside over Minor's case. The defense in any of the cases also apparently didn't see enough of an issue in Minor's influence over the judges to file a motion to remove the disputed judges. (They did, of course, have the afterthought to revisit the settlements once Minor was convicted.)

Minor claims he was prosecuted for political reasons, that the Republican-led U.S. Department of Justice targeted him as a Democratic fundraiser to break the back of the state Democratic Party. The American Association for Justice, a national advocacy group for attorneys, agreed, passing a resolution this month proclaiming that Minor "was targeted for prosecution by the Bush Justice Department" because he was a trial lawyer, and because he was the largest contributor to the Democratic Party in Mississippi and "contributed generously to Democratic candidates across the nation," and because he "boldly stood up against 'tort reform' and the U. S. Chamber of Commerce."

AAJ also stated that the DOJ investigated and indicted Minor for loaning money to Mississippi judges' campaigns, an act that the association describes as "standard lawful practice" in Mississippi. It also pointed out that "Republican lawyers also engage in the practice, as well as businesses and members of the United States Chamber of Commerce," an anti-plaintiff organization that funnels money to the campaigns of Mississippi judicial candidates who exhibit an anti-plaintiff bias.

Minor filed for an appeal after Wingate spent more than a year withholding pertinent information related to the appeal from his lawyers. U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Priscilla Owen, a Bush nominee, then upheld a lower court's decision to keep Minor in jail pending his appeal, even though most white collar crimes allow the release of the defendant on appeal.

Minor's father pointed out that his daughter-in-law is in the final stages of breast cancer, and that these three hours could be the last time his son sees his wife alive.

"None of us know how long she's going to be here, but the fact that she's been taken into hospice shows she has a terminal date and that she won't be around very long," Minor said. "He shouldn't be locked up in the first place. He should be out on bond. No public funds were stolen, nobody was hurt, and he was right and correct under state law."

Previous Comments

ID
143813
Comment

The call for compassion for Paul Minor is misplaced. PBS reported last night that our nation is suffering from loss of faith evidenced by distrust of politicians and in our economy. Compassion and special privileges for those who bribe judges will do nothing to curb corruption nor to restore that trust. It is no coincidence that the meltdown of confidence in our economy and our government occurred during the same decade of the meltdown of confidence in our courts. Trust has to be earned before it is given. Minor has shown no remorse and given no indiction he would not bribe judges if given the chance. His family clearly benefited from the bribery, especially since Minor was given time to transfer his property to his wife. Compassion needs to be directed toward the victims of Mississippi's judicial meltdown. For a change we need to show more respect for the law and less for those who break it.

Author
Story Teller
Date
2009-02-21T11:00:21-06:00
ID
143819
Comment

Story Teller, in my spiritual view, I call for compassion for everyone. Compassion does not mean no punishment. In the case of this story, the problem is that the man couldn't be given a full day with his dying wife. Just three hours. As for the overall Paul Minor story, this paper has never condoned anything he did wrong. The problem with his prosecution is that it may well have been political, and the case transpired in a very questionable fashion compared to similar cases. One can believe in correct justice, and be against political prosecutions and the law applied unfairly. In fact, as true Americans, we have to be.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-02-21T17:00:04-06:00
ID
143820
Comment

And as you may know, one of the biggest problems in this state that allows so much corruption is that the laws are not strong enough to prevent it in many cases or to do enough about it, or prove it, in other cases. It is fine to scream for justice in cases such as Minors (in which no quid pro quo was proved), but what would be even better is for the same people to scream even louder (a) against it every time it happens and (b) to get stronger laws passed in this state, regardless of who the corruption benefits.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-02-21T17:02:15-06:00
ID
143821
Comment

BTW, AP and Ledger reported this story today.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-02-21T17:09:51-06:00

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