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Thursday, April 05, 2007 

7th Circuit Frees Thompson

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals released Georgia Thompson, the former state employee convicted of illegally directing a contract to a Adelman Travel. You can read the short order here. Here is the text of it if you're not into link clicking...
The judgment of conviction is reversed, and the case will be remanded with instructions to enter a judgment of acquittal. An opinion will be issued in due course. The time to file a petition for rehearing is extended until 14 days after the court issues its opinion.
This extension of time also means that the mandate will be deferred. But Thompson is entitled to immediate release from prison, on her own recognizance. The United States must make arrangements so that she may be released before the close of business today.
I'm listening to the audio from the oral argument right now. Here are a few statements made by Thompson's lawyer...
There is nothing in the indictment that charges that she even knew about the campaign contributions and certainly nothing in the evidence that shows contrary... A retrospective view by the government concerning the contributions... contributions were within the limits of the law... She could not get a promotion... career civil servant... This court will become a clearinghouse for all kinds of retrospective looks second guessing the discretionary acts of government employees in light of information that they didn't know about at the time...
The government's lawyer states that there is evidence about the political connections between Adelman Travel and Doyle. Judge Wood thinks that the connections are weak. The owners had met with Doyle, Doyle spoke at the company anniversary party which is not an odd move for a politician, and the owners made contributions within the legal limits. The government's lawyer then stumbles (It's painful... I've been there during oral arguments too...) because there aren't the smoking guns in the record that Judges Wood and Bauer seem to be seeking. He responds that there were meetings between Adelman reps and administration officials, unlike the other bidders. Judge Bauer asks if Doyle and the Adelman people were prosecuted, since they were the ones who were responsible. Why go after Thompson, he asks.

My hands are about to fall off trying to keep up with this. Basically, the court seems to be concerned that the evidence was way too thin to punish Thompson under the criminal law. I'm looking forward to reading the opinion.

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