Corruption Trial Day 1 - Opening Arguments

Siegelman told reporters Monday the case is politically motivated.
Siegelman told reporters Monday the case is politically motivated.

A defense lawyer representing former Governor Don Siegelman told jurors Monday that the government's corruption case was built on lies by witnesses who are "trying to save their own skin."

Attorney Vince Kilborn focused on Nick Bailey, a former top Siegelman aide, and landfill developer Lanny Young. Both have pleaded guilty in the case and await sentencing.

Attorneys for ousted HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, former chief of staff Paul Hamrick and ex-state transportation director Mack Roberts said their clients had no reason to be part of an illegal scheme.

Verbal fireworks broke out toward the end of the opening statements, when prosecutors accused Scrushy's attorneys of hiring attorney Fred Gray to influence blacks on the jury. Gray represented Rosa Parks when she challenged Montgomery's segregated buses in 1955.

Federal Judge Mark Fuller allowed Scrushy to add Gray to his defense team Monday morning. At the end of the day, prosecutor Louis Franklin admitted to reporters that he got "a little heated" in making his objections.

In an earlier presentation, chief federal prosecutor Louis Franklin accused Siegelman of corrupting Alabama's top state office with bribes and payoffs in political deals with Scrushy and two of his Cabinet members.

The first witness called Monday afternoon was state health official Alva Lambert, who explained to jurors that the Certificate of Need Board decides whether there is a need in the state for proposed new health projects.

Scrushy is accused of paying to ensure his position on the board. Lambert was expected to continue his testimony Tuesday morning.

with help from the Associated Press