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Imprisoned Mississippi Trial Lawyer Latest to Accuse Welch
Posted By Mary Jacoby On June 26, 2009 @ 12:49 pm In News | Comments Disabled
The lawyer for imprisoned Mississippi trial attorney Paul Minor is the latest to allege that Public Integrity Section prosecutors supervised by William Welch II withheld favorable evidence from the defense, The Associated Press reported .
Minor was a major Democratic political donor who was convicted in 2007 of “honest services mail fraud” for guaranteeing loans for Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz and his wife. The loans were used for Diaz’s campaign for the state Supreme Court. Harper’s Scott Horton ridiculed the “honest services mail fraud” charge here in a skeptical analysis of the case.
In a June 24 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Minor lawyer Hiram Eastland Jr. said DOJ prosecutors “under the management of William Welch” improperly convinced a district court that the government didn’t need to prove any quid pro quo to win conviction. A jury failed to convict Minor in a first trial in 2005, when the government had been held to the higher standard of proof requiring prosecutors to prove that Diaz had taken official actions in exchange for Minor’s loan guarantee, Eastland wrote.
“The Justice Department prosecutors over whom Mr. Welch had senior management responsibility were overreaching in their representation of the law,” Eastland wrote. The letter was cc’ed to Criminal Division chief Lanny Breuer and Kevin Ohlson, Holder’s chief of staff.
Eastland also told The AP the corruption charges against his client should be thrown out due to Brady concerns. “This is like the Stevens case on steroids,” Eastland told The AP. One government witness never stated in 17 interviews with government agents and before grand juries that Minor had told him to lie to the FBI. But the witness gave testimony “to that effect” at trial, Eastland wrote.
Welch supervised the bungled prosecutions of former Sen. Ted Stevens (R- Alaska) and two Alaskan lawmakers, and also supervised the Minor prosecution team. Eastland said Welch “allowed ground level prosecutors to engage in the blatantly improper, unethical and unconstitutional trial tactic of withholding exculpatory evidence from defendants,” according to The AP.
Eastland has said the prosecution of Minor was politically motivated. The Office of Professional Responsibility is reviewing allegations of selective prosecution against Minor, Diaz and other Democrats in other states, including ex-Alabama Gov. Donald Siegelman, Georgia Thompson in Wisconsin and Dr. Cyril Wecht in Pennsylvania.
Diaz’s wife, Jennifer, recently filed allegations against former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi Dunn Lampton and his cousin, Leslie Lampton, accusing them of illegally obtaining and distributing her private financial records in an attempt to remove her husband from office. Diaz was twice acquitted of tax charges in Missisippi. Lampton’s office didn’t prosecute him but assisted in the case.
As for Minor, his appeal before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is pending.
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