Siegelman Whistle-Blower Says Firing Was Retaliatory
By | July 9, 2022 3:36 am
Don Siegelman

Don Siegelman

Department of Justice whistle-blower Tamarah Grimes, who accused federal prosecutors of misconduct in the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (D), has been fired, and claims in a press release that the firing came as a direct result of her efforts to expose prosecutorial misconduct, reports Scott Horton.

The DOJ denies that Grimes was terminated because of her whistleblowing. “The Department takes seriously its obligation under the whistleblower law and did not violate it with regards to the termination of this employee.  For privacy reasons, it would be inappropriate to comment any further on this personnel matter at this time,” said department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler.

Grimes also alleges that she wasn’t the first whistleblower in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama to be fired:

I am the second employee to be terminated from the Us. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama for opposing unlawful conduct in the workplace. A third employee awaits her fate after seeking relief from violence in the workplace. The message to those left behind is clear: The price for opposition at any level, is at a minimum, termination.

Grimes, whose firing has been confirmed by the Department, says that she received a notice of immediate termination from Deputy Director and Chief of Staff of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys Terry Derden on June 9, exactly one month ago.  The release, written in the third person, also notes that:

Ironically, her termination came just one week after two significant events. First, attorneys for Richard Scrushy requested permission to interview Ms. Grimes under federal regulation 28 CFR § 16.21 relating to allegations of prosecutorial misconduct during the Siegelman/Scrushy prosecution. Second, Ms. Grimes submitted a letter to Attorney General Holder on June 1, 2022 providing details of the misconduct on the part of the prosecutors in the Siegelman/Scrushy trial.

The press release explains that:

In a letter sent to Ms. Grimes’s attorney on June 9, 2009, the agency stated that the whistleblower disclosures were unrelated to her termination.

Here’s Derden’s explanation (as characterized by Grimes’s press release):

Mr. Derden alleges that Ms. Grimes’s termination arose from a management decision made after- hours meeting in the lobby bar at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Montgomery, Alabama during an active mediation more than 3 months after the agency learned of Ms. Grimes’s whistleblower disclosures.

Horton says that, according to the Justice Department, Grimes was terminated because she presented “an unreasonable risk to operational security.”

Leura Canary (gov)

Leura Canary

You may remember that Grimes provided internal prosecution e-mails to Congress and the Justice Department, which were also obtained by TIME Magazine, allegedly showing evidence of juror misconduct, and that U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama Leura Canary had not fully recused herself from the Siegelman case as promised.

We reported back in May on Siegelman’s attempts to get the Department of Justice to review the prosecution, which relies heavily on information revealed by Grimes.  You can read our latest report on Siegelman’s attempt at getting a new trial here, and our latest report on Scrushy’s efforts here.

The Justice Department’s investigatation into these accusations concluded that Alabama prosecutors had not “violated any law, rule or regulation,” in this October 2008 report.  The report went so far as to say that the evidence “strongly supports” the positions taken by the prosecutors.  But then, three days after then-Sen. Barack Obama’s victory in the presidential election, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) responded with a letter to then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey criticizing the DOJ report as “one-sided” and urging him to revisit the allegations made by Grimes:

[W]e have recently learned that this issue and others raised by Ms. Grimes was referred by the Office of Special Counsel to your office for evaluation. In response, an initial report has been prepared by two Assistant United States Attorneys which essentially concludes that, despite the plain statement to the contrary in this email chain, no messages were actually sent by any members of the jury to the prosecution through the US Marshals.

John Conyers

John Conyers

We are troubled, however, that the investigators appear to have reached this conclusion without interviewing the US Marshals who supervised the Siegelman jury and who are described in the email as having been the conduit for jury messages to the prosecution. Nor do the investigators appear to have interviewed any member of the jury.

It’s also worth noting that Conyers ended the letter by giving Grimes a huge thank you, and throwing in a footnote reminding Mukasey that you can’t just fire whistle-blowers:

We appreciate Ms. Grimes providing this information, which she apparently has previously presented to several executive branch offices.  It is no easy thing to speak up in these circumstances, but we in Congress and all Americans depend on whistleblowers like Mr. Grimes taking action when they learn of troubling facts like those described above.

Any employee who has the authority to take, direct others to take, recommend, or approve any personnel action, shall not, with respect to such authority- take or fail to take … a personnel action with respect to any employee … because of any disclosure of information … which the employee … reasonably believes evidences a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or gross mismanagement… an abuse of authority…

But apparently that’s what ended up happening anyway.  Grimes concluded her letter with a plea to Attorney General Eric Holder:

Eric Holder

Eric Holder

My hope remains with the Attorney General of the United States. I remain confident that Mr. Holder will provide assistance to the employees of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama, to wrongfully terminated former employees of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and to citizens of the United States within the Middle District of Alabama whose interests have not been well served under the Canary administration.



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  3. knowjustice says:

    She should be fired…. Leura Canary has been a fine US atty…..

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