Oral arguments were heard today in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Jacksonville, Florida in the ongoing Don Siegelman case. As I reported on Tuesday, the arguments today were in response to the Supreme Court vacating the convictions of Don Siegelman and Richard Scrushy and sending the case back to the Eleventh Circuit in light of the Supreme Court decision in Skilling.
The panel of judges was Gerald Tjoflat, J.L. Edmondson and James C. Hill. Arguing for Governor Siegelman was Sam Heldman and arguing for Mr. Scrushy was Bruce Rogow. Arguing for the Justice Department was John-Alex Romano.
The judges had many questions for the attorneys, but, as I pointed out in the post Tuesday, the crucial question gets down to whether the decision in Skilling narrows the definition of fraud so much that the convictions for Siegelman and Scrushy must be reversed or at least sent back for re-trial.
Reflecting a concern noted by the judges, Heldman stated to the media after the proceedings that the court seemed very concerned with the concept that what they do with respect to criminal law in this case has real implications for the First Amendment. During arguments, we heard that this concern centers on the potential for criminal charges resulting from a contribution made to a politician’s campaign or to an issue campaign, as Scrushy did in this case when he contributed to the campaign for a lottery to raise education funds for Alabama.
I will attempt to decipher my notes and prepare a more detailed post later.