Montgomery, Al. (WSFA) -- Former Governor Don Siegelman will soon be out of prison and back home in Alabama while he appeals his corruption conviction. The blockbuster ruling came from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Siegelman was convicted along with former Healthsouth CEO Richard Scrushy in a federal probe of corruption in state government.
The ruling came as a surprise because Siegelman's earlier request to be released pending his appeal was denied by the federal district court here in Montgomery. The court cited the unlikelihood Siegelman would win on appeal. But the 11th Circuit Court asked for more information and this ruling came as a result after that.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals says a review of Siegelman's record shows that his appeal raises substantial questions of law or fact that's likely to result in a reversal, or an order for a new trial or a reduced sentence. His attorney says the prison in Oakdale, Louisiana will call the 11th Circuit Court first thing Friday morning to verify that order and after that Siegelman will be free to go.
Siegelman's attorney Susan James says they have been fighting for his release for the past nine months. "We've all been waiting and we felt as though we were right and we felt the timing was right because it was ripe for a decision because everything was at the 11th Circuit. So, we just wish it had been last week. He could have been home with his family for the holiday."
Siegelman's attorney Vince Kilborn in Mobile says when he told Siegelman the news, Siegelman was stunned and was at a loss for words. As for his co-defendant in the public corruption trial, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has denied former Healthsouth CEO Richard Scrushy's request to be released pending his appeal. The court indicated it considered Scrushy to be a flight risk.
The US Attorney's office that prosecuted Siegelman said, it's "Disappointed in the court's decision but respects the court's authority and discernment to enter such an order."
Reaction from the state's political parties is predictable: Republicans saying they're disappointed. State party chairman Mike Hubbard says, "The former Governor's release pending appeal does not change the conviction by a jury of his peers. It would be premature to turn this development into anything other than a formality."