Saturday, May 06, 2006

Now that's a cross

You'll eventually get a day without a post about former Gov. Don Siegelman's corruption trial, but it won't be today.

Defense attorneys for Siegelman and HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy finally ended their grueling three-day cross-examination of former Siegelman aide Nick Bailey on Friday, complete with a little more of the sensation you've come to love. Friday's incidents were much less physical than Tuesday's confrontation; the judge called Scrushy's attorney to the bench twice in a matter of minutes after the lawyer asked Bailey whether he was on any medication and whether he understood the meaning of perjury.

The defense team's protracted effort to expose gaps in Bailey's memory has led some key players to predict the trial still could be ongoing when the Democratic primary rolls around one month from today. Said one prosecutor, "I've been doing this for 25 years and that's the longest cross-examination I've ever seen."

Thus far, Siegelman's main defense seems to be that Bailey engaged in rampant corruption without the governor's knowledge. No matter what the jury does, Siegelman will face an uphill battle convincing voters that he deserves another run at the top when he appointed a guy who accepted bribes to a job overseeing $200 million or so of public money. Even if Siegelman is acquitted, this trial could well deal a knockout blow to his political career.

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