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Appeals Court Refuses to Dismiss Judge

By Associated Press

Montgomery, AL – A federal appeals court has refused to order U-S District Judge Mark Fuller to step down from presiding over the sentencing hearing for former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth C-E-O Richard Scrushy.

A three-judge panel of the Eleventh U-S Circuit Court of Appeals denied the request from Scrushy's attorneys in a ruling made public Thursday. But the judges said the issue could be raised again when Scrushy and Siegelman appeal their convictions.

The ruling was issued less than a week before Fuller is scheduled to sentence Siegelman and Scrushy at a hearing Tuesday.

Siegelman and Scrushy were convicted in June 2006 of bribery, conspiracy and mail fraud following a two-month trial. Siegelman was also convicted of a separate obstruction of justice charge.

Scushy's attorneys argued that Fuller has a conflict because he owns stock in a south Alabama company that has a contract with the Air Force. One of the prosecutors, Steve Feaga, is a colonel in the Air Force Reserve.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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