Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Siegelman: Affirming 78-month sentence for former Alabama Governor

In U.S. v. Siegelman, No. 12-14373 (May 20, 2015), the Court affirmed the denial of a motion for a new trial, and the 78-month sentence, imposed at resentencing, of the former Alabama Governor convicted of fraud. Relying on the “law of the case” doctrine, the Court rejected Siegelman’s claim the U.S. Attorney continued to be involved in his prosecution after her disqualification based on conflict of interest. The Court noted that it had already rejected this argument when raised by a co-defendant, ruling that while the law categorically prohibits an interested person from controlling a defendant’s prosecution, it does not forbid an interested person from having any involvement in the prosecution. As to his sentence, Siegelman argued that the district court failed to explain why it treated certain transactions as part of “relevant conduct.” Because Siegelman did not object to the district court’s failure to explain why these transactions qualified as “relevant conduct,” the Court reviewed the issue for “plain error.” The Court found no plain error, because it was clear from the record that, even though the district court made no explicit finding, its loss calculations had relied on specific transactions. The Court also rejected the argument that the transactions should not have qualified as “relevant conduct.” The Court found a substantial connection with the bribery offense of conviction, because there was a common accomplice, a common victim (the citizens of Alabama), a common purpose (power and money), and a similar modus operandi.