U.S. v. SIEGELMAN
561 F.3d 1215 (2009)
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Don Eugene SIEGELMAN, Richard Scrushy, Defendants-Appellants.
United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit.
March 6, 2009.
Arthur W. Leach, Atlanta, GA, Vincent F. Kilborn, III, Mobile, AL, Hiram Chester Eastland, Jr., Eastland Law Offices, PLLC, Greenwood, MS, G. Robert Blakey, Notre Dame, IN, David Allen McDonald, Kilborn, Roebuck & McDonald, Mobile, AL, James K. Jenkins, Maloy & Jenkins, Atlanta, GA, Leslie V. Moore, Moore & Associates, Birmingham, AL, Bruce Rogow, Cynthia E. Gunther, Bruce S. Rogow, P.A., Fort Lauderdale, FL, Sam Heldman, Gardner Firm, Washington, DC, for Defendants-Appellants.
John Alex Romano, U.S. DOJ, Crim. Div., Washington, DC, Louis V. Franklin, Sr., James B. Perrine, Stephen P. Feaga, Montgomery, AL, for Plaintiff-Appellee.
David A. Sifre, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, LLP, New York, NY, for Amicus Curiae.
Before EDMONDSON, Chief Judge, and TJOFLAT and HILL, Circuit Judges.
Don Eugene Siegelman is the former Governor of Alabama. Richard Scrushy is the founder and former Chief Executive Officer of HealthSouth Corporation, a major hospital corporation with operations throughout Alabama. The defendants were convicted of federal funds bribery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 666(a)(1)(B), and five counts of honest services mail fraud and conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341, 1346, and 18 U.S.C. § 371. Siegelman was also convicted of obstruction of justice, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(3).
The defendants' bribery convictions were based on allegations that they made and executed a corrupt agreement whereby Scrushy gave Siegelman $500,000 in exchange for Siegelman's appointing him to Alabama's Certificate of Need Review Board (the "CON" Board). The honest services mail fraud convictions incorporated the same bribery allegations, but also alleged that Scrushy used the CON Board seat obtained from Siegelman to further HealthSouth's interests. Siegelman's obstruction of justice conviction is based on allegations that he corruptly influenced another to create a series of sham check transactions to cover up a "pay-to-play" payment to him.1
This is an extraordinary case. It involves allegations of corruption at the highest levels of Alabama state government. Its resolution has strained the resources of both Alabama and the federal government.
But it has arrived in this court with the "sword and buckler" of a jury verdict. The yeoman's work of our judicial system is done by a single judge and a jury. Twelve ordinary citizens of Alabama are asked to sit through long days of often tedious and obscure testimony and pore over countless documents to decide what happened, and, having done so, to apply to these facts the law as the judge has explained it to them. And they do. Often at great personal sacrifice. Though the popular culture sometimes asserts otherwise, the virtue of our jury system is that it most often gets it right. This is the great achievement of our system of justice. The jury's verdict commands the respect of this court, and that verdict must be sustained if there is substantial evidence to support it. Glasser v. United States,315 U.S. 60, 80, 62 S.Ct. 457, 86 L.Ed. 680 (1942). Furthermore, to the extent that the jury's verdict rests upon their evaluations of the credibility of individual witnesses, and the reasonable inferences to be drawn from that testimony, we owe deference to those decisions. In our system, the jury decides what the facts are, by listening to the witnesses and making judgments about whom to believe. This they have done, and, though invited to do so,2 we shall not substitute our judgment for theirs. This is not to say that the judgment below is inviolable. Our duty as an appellate
court is to answer properly presented questions from the parties in the case as to whether the law was correctly interpreted and applied by the district court. Juries apply the law as the judge instructs them, and the defendants' lawyers assert that there were errors in those instructions. Defendants also contend that there were other legal mistakes committed during the course of this trial. With this in mind, we have reviewed the claims of legal error in the proceedings below, and our opinion as to their merit follows. First, however, we recount the facts as the jury found them.3