Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Corrupt Judge - Henry Wingate

The Gulf Coast Sur-Realist has obtained permission from Roger Shuler, a renowned investigative journalist, to reproduce his article here for your enlightenment. You can keep up with his writings on legalschnauzer which is a link off to the right. Now you will be able to see that I far from being alone in my opinions.

Henry Wingate: Portrait of a Corrupt Judge January 28, 2008
Let's return for a moment to the subject of U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate, who ramrodded the Paul Minor case in Mississippi.Scott Horton, of Harper's, recently completed a two-part series on the Minor case, focusing on former Mississippi state judge Wes Teel (one of three defendants in the Minor case). Horton's searing account reveals to a national audience what we have shown to our Legal Schnauzer audience--that
Judge Wingate butchered the Minor case in a way that almost had to be intentional.Horton called some of Wingate's rulings "breathtaking" and "unconscionable." Given that three innocent men are in federal prison because of Wingate's actions, I would say Horton was being charitable. Terms such as "malicious," "despicable," "corrupt," and "wicked" might be a better fit. Give me time, and I will think of a few more adjectives.

But here is the point: Henry Wingate, because of his unlawful rulings in the Paul Minor case, has become a truly historic figure.I've been a professional journalist for almost 30 years, and before that, I was an inveterate newspaper reader. (OK, I admit my "pre-professional" newspaper-reading days consisted mostly of reading the sports section, the comics, and Ann Landers. But hey, that's a start, right?)I certainly don't claim to have perfect knowledge when it comes to news coverage of justice matters. But I don't ever recall reading a story where a judge has so clearly been shown to be corrupt in his actions on the bench.Oh sure, there have been cases where judges have been shown to be "on the take" in behind-the-scenes ways. The Operation Greylord case in Chicago comes to mind.But I don't recall another case where a judge was so clearly, and almost certainly so intentionally, committing fraud right there in the broad daylight of open court. And in a high-profile case, no less.

How did Wingate do it? By making unlawful rulings that essentially prevented defendants Minor, Teel, and John Whitfield from putting on a defense. And by giving jury instructions on bribery and honest-services mail fraud that did not even come close to reflecting what the law actually is. The end result? Paul Minor, Wes Teel, and John Whitfield are political prisoners--in the good ole US of A.Eventually, I think U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, who oversaw/ramrodded the Don Siegelman case in Alabama, will be shown to be Wingate's equal when it comes to corruption. But so far, because no trial transcript exists, it's impossible to know just what hanky-panky Fuller might have pulled.Most of the criticism of Fuller has come because of his many apparent conflicts in the Siegelman case--and because the case had what appears to be an unlawful result. But I'm not aware of anyone showing that Fuller repeatedly made unlawful rulings throughout the trial. (Although I expect that will be shown.)

Wingate, though, is another matter. It's clear as day that he made mucho unlawful rulings. And we have a transcript to prove it. So just how profound is this? What does it mean that a federal judge would do this, under the supposedly bright lights of open court? I have a few thoughts:* It shows that Henry Wingate thinks the press, and the public in general, are a bunch of saps. In regards to the mainstream press, he might be right about that. Not that mainstream reporters are saps, actually. But the folks who run mainstream news outfits can be controlled these days. I think folks like Wingate and Fuller understand this all too well. A few pesky bloggers have not been so easily controlled. Just how much trouble those bloggers will wind up causing Wingate and Fuller remains to be seen.* Judges like Henry Wingate have utter disregard for our constitution, our form of government, our very way of life. What exactly is our form of government? Well, that has been a matter for debate for many years. Some call it a representative democracy. Others prefer the term constitutional republic. Whatever you call it, our system does not involve "king judges," judges who can do whatever they want. Our judges take an oath to uphold the law--law that is written by our elected representatives and interpreted by appellate courts. Trial-court judges such as Henry Wingate have a duty to follow the law that is passed down by those above them. They do not have endless discretion. In fact, in this country, we have a place for those who see themselves as "king judges." It's called federal prison.* Henry Wingate holds a place in history, and he also holds a key place here at Legal Schnauzer. For he is the first judge that we have clearly shown to be corrupt. And he is the first instance where we have shown exactly how a corrupt judge operates. But he will not be the last. Numerous Alabama state judges will be unmasked in the same way.* Finally, here is a truly disturbing thought about Henry Wingate. He duped the members of the jury in the Paul Minor case. The dictionary defines "dupe" as someone who is easily deceived or cheated. And that's exactly how Henry Wingate saw the Minor jurors. Wonder what those jurors would think if they knew that. In fact, you might try asking yourself this question: What if you had served on a jury and voted to convict, only to find out you did so based on unlawful instructions from the judge? Would you be horrified to learn that you had unlawfully put an innocent person in prison? I know I would be horrified to learn that. Wonder how the jurors in the Minor case would feel about it.
Posted by legalschnauzer at
6:40 PM (The Sur-Realist added the bold)


Lucy Lui said...

I wonder how long the public has to scream to be heard on capitol hill...yeah I meant it lowercase...Seems to me that aslong as the public votes partylines instead of thinking for themselves we are doomed to repeat history....too bad

A friend of Wes said...

So how do we get this information to the jurors? Then they can see they put innocent men in prison, and maybe this corruption can be stopped.

doodlebug said...

Dear Friend of Wes:
WE the People have no direct control over this. It is up to the Justice Department to get rid of corrupt federal judges. Start by contacting your local Congressman/Senator and aske for a Congressional/Senate investigation of Federal Judge Henry Wingate's handling of the Minor/Whitfield/Teel case. You can reference the information from legalschnauzer. God knows the House Committee on the Judiciary has been contacted by many of us. Another voice in the choir cannot hurt. It's too late to tell the jurors that they were manipulated by the judge himself. People who sit on a jury expect to be manipulated by attorneys on both sides, but they should NOT have to expect to have their decisions made for them by a judge who won't let the defendants put on their expert witnesses in their own defense, among other dastardly maneuvers. You are wise to be concerned about this issue. It didn't have to be Mr. Teel on trial. It could have been any of us -- even YOU!!!

Anonymous said...

This is appalling, and it makes me very angry. I agree with Doodlebug - this could happen to anyone. I think we're going to see more and more cases like this as time goes on, because the courts at all levels are packed with judges like the one who railroaded Judge Teel.

I'm not an attorney, but I have studied quite a few cases. I don't think I've ever heard of a judge in the U.S. hearing testimony outside the presence of the jury and then telling witnesses how they can and cannot answer a question. The overall picture I get of the trial from the Harper's article reminds me of things we used to hear about the Soviet court system during the 80s.

Anonymous said...

There is not direct citation of anything. No copies of court documents. No evidence of quotes, even misinterpretted out of context, to support any such findings. I do not know about anyone else, but when I read an article, I need to see direct evidence. Your opinion posted as fact is problematic. You are not "reporting" the news as "custodian of fact," which is the charge you are suppose to have as a journalit. However, I am assuming you are a journalist. So perhaps I mispeak. Leave out your opinion and give me facts! I will determine for myself if someone is corrupt. You are entitled to call behavior or decisions questionable, however, do not sensationalize the piece with your opinions. I have concluded you are on an attack and lack all merit.