- Associated Press - Monday, January 11, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The Supreme Court won’t hear former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman’s latest appeal of his prison sentence for bribery and obstruction of justice.

The justices had no comment Monday on their order letting stand a lower court ruling that rejected his request for a new sentencing hearing.

Siegelman had argued that a judge gave him too long of a sentence by wrongly factoring in accusations that the jury didn’t convict him of when handing down a 6½ year prison sentence. Although the Supreme Court has upheld the use of acquitted conduct in sentencing, defense lawyers argued the practice violates both the U.S. Constitution and the public’s sense of justice.

“Don Siegelman believes a person should not serve time in prison for conduct a jury finds them innocent of. Astonishingly, America’s highest court disagrees,” the former governor’s son, Joseph Siegelman, said in an email.

More than 100 former state attorneys general had signed a brief in support of the Alabama Democrat.

Siegelman, who has waged a long effort to overturn his conviction, is now entering the final stretch of his prison sentence. Siegelman, 69, has a projected release date of Aug. 8, 2017.

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 1999 campaign to establish a state lottery. Siegelman also was convicted on a separate obstruction of justice charge.

The jury found Siegelman not guilty on racketeering and other charges.

The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Siegelman’s sentence, which included an enhancement for “systematic and pervasive corruption.” Federal judges can use acquitted conduct for sentence enhancements if they feel the charges were proven by a preponderance of evidence, a lesser standard than the beyond the reasonable doubt requirement for a jury to convict.

The former governor’s supporters have urged President Barack Obama to pardon Siegelman, or commute his sentence, before his second term ends.

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