Saturday, January 28, 2006
On this day:

Siegelman plays the race card

Don Siegelman's trial on federal racketeering charges isn't set to begin until May 1, but the former Governor looked into his crystal ball last week and determined that the jury selection process will be tainted.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Former Gov. Don Siegelman has joined former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy in asking a judge to throw out their federal indictment because blacks are underrepresented in the jury selection process for the federal courts in Montgomery.

Scrushy's lawyers filed his challenge Tuesday and Siegelman's attorneys added his nearly identical challenge Friday.

They argue that the population making up the 23 counties in the court district is 30 percent black, but pools of jurors called for cases in the district last year ranged from 10 percent to 20 percent black.

Siegelman and Scrushy, who are white, asked that their indictment be thrown out or that the selection of the jury for their trial be postponed until the process for developing pools of jurors is changed.

U.S. Magistrate Charles Coody has set a hearing for Feb. 2.

Federal prosecutor Louis Franklin said the jury selection procedure had been approved by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and he is not concerned about the challenge.