Ex-Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman regains license to practice law

Published 9:45 pm Monday, May 24, 2021

Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman has regained his state law license, years after being released from federal prison in a government corruption case.

The Alabama Bar Association on Monday confirmed that Siegelman’s license was restored in December after he went through an application process.

The former governor, 75, told The Associated Press that he expects to do a mix of criminal and civil work. He said he would like to work with public defenders or advocacy groups to take on criminal defense cases.

“I look forward to finding those special cases in which I believe and feel like I can make a difference and working either pro-bono or with another lawyer,” Siegelman said in a telephone interview.

Siegelman has become an advocate for making changes to the criminal justice system, including “providing a measure of justice to families who lose someone to the abuse of power or use of excessive force by police.”

Siegelman for decades was a dominating figure in Alabama politics, holding the offices of secretary of state, attorney general, lieutenant governor and governor. He served as Alabama’s governor from 1999 to 2003. He was the last Democrat to hold the position in the conservative state.

Siegelman was released from prison in 2017 after serving a six-year sentence for his conviction on charges of bribery and obstruction of justice.

A federal jury in 2006 convicted Siegelman on charges that he sold a seat on a state regulatory board to HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy in exchange for $500,000 in donations to Siegelman’s signature political issue — his 1999 campaign to establish a state lottery. Siegelman was convicted on a separate obstruction of justice charge that he tried to hide money he received from a lobbyist.

Siegelman maintained his innocence and unsuccessfully waged a lengthy battle in court, and in the media, to try to overturn his conviction. His lawyers argued his prosecution was motivated by Republicans upset by the Democrat’s political success and that the conviction was backed up by scant evidence.