Judge wants binder from Siegelman case witness

File Photo: Don Siegelman
File Photo: Don Siegelman

A federal judge has ordered U.S. Attorney George Beck to turn over to him a three-ring binder that a key witness has said he used in preparing his testimony in the government corruption trial of former Gov. Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Coody on Thursday ordered Beck to turn over the notebook so that he can examine it in private.

Attorneys for Siegelman and Scrushy told Coody at a hearing Wednesday that they needed the documents to help prove that their clients should be granted a new trial.

Scrushy's attorney, Art Leach, told Coody the notebook is needed to prove the claim that prosecutors coached former Siegelman aide Nick Bailey on what to say from the witness stand.

Bailey has said government prosecutors suggested he use the notebook to keep up with his testimony and that he turned it over to Beck. Beck was Bailey's attorney before being appointed U.S. Attorney and has recused himself from participating in the Siegelman case.

Beck declined to comment Thursday.

The notebook was among numerous documents attorneys for Siegelman and Scrushy asked Coody to order prosecutors to release to them. U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Coody held a more than three-hour hearing on the request Wednesday.

Coody has not made a ruling on other documents being sought by Siegelman and Scrushy, including those related to former U.S. Attorney Leura Canary's decision to recuse herself from the case. Siegelman had sought Canary's recusal because he said her husband William Canary was a Republican operative who worked to defeat Siegelman in his 2002 reelection effort.

Siegelman and Scrushy have claimed that Canary continued to be involved in the case after her recusal.

Siegelman and Scrushy were convicted of bribery in a 2006 government corruption trial. Siegelman was accused of appointing Scrushy to a seat on a hospital regulatory board in exchange for Scrushy arranging $500,000 in donations to Siegelman's campaign for a statewide lottery to benefit education programs.

Siegelman served nine months of a more that seven-year federal prison sentence and is currently free on an appeal bond. Scrushy has served more than four years of an almost seven-year sentence and is being held at a federal prison in Beaumont, Texas.

Copyright 2011 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.