Monday, April 9, 2007

Georgia Thompson Can Return to State Job

Gov. Jim Doyle has indicated that Georgia Thompson, who's conviction on a corruption charge was summarily overturned by a three judge panel of the seventh circuit court of appeals last week, is entitled to her former job and back pay. quoted her attorney, Steve Hurley

"I think she's going to make up her mind this coming Monday. Her overwhelming desire is just to get her life back on track and to be productive. The indications are that she'll probably accept, but we just won't know until Monday. . . . There wasn't a hint of bitterness in her. She was just very happy to be with her family."
Hurley speculated on how a case so easily tossed out by a federal appeals court got so far in the legal system. First, he thinks the case got through the grand jury because the defense is not allowed to present to the grand jury. Second Hurley charitably opines that the case got by the trial judge because the law is not clear on cases like this. And finally he said he believes a Milwaukee jury convicted her because of a building resentment about political corruption.

Given the power and swiftness of the appellate reversal, one wonders if U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph T. Randa isn't rethinking his decision to deny Thompson bail pending appeal. Randa specifically found in his order that "Thompson has failed in her effort to identify a substantial question of law that would produce the result or results necessary to impose a stay on the execution of her sentence." Sometimes a judge just misses the law. Maybe, as Hurley opines, the law in this case is hard. The Court of Appeals thinks it's pretty easy, but what the heck. You won't find many Wisconsin lawyers saying bad things about Judge Randa's judgment. Federal Judges are appointed for life pending good behavior. Lawyers have got to get along. I would love to know what they are saying among themselves. In any event I suspect the Court of Appeals thinks Judge Randa is a judge who bears watching. Judge Randa will probably do a better the next time.

UW-Madison political science professor Charles Franklin
called the ruling "amazing" and said it was fortunate that Thompson's conviction didn't ultimately affect the outcome of the election.

"We kind of dodged a bullet," Franklin said.

But Thompson's trial raised "perfectly legitimate issues" that political opponents and the news media were right to focus on, Franklin said.

18-month sentence Hurley said Thompson's appeal focused on two claims - that there was insufficient evidence presented at trial, and that the grand jury indictment failed to show a crime.
Source Jason Stein // Madison State Journal (WI).

I can't wait to read the final opinion in this case.