In an unusual move, a panel of U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ordered a former Wisconsin official released from prison after hearing oral arguments indicating that he corruption case against her was invalid. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the judges decided that Georgia Thompson was wrongly convicted of making sure a state travel contract went to a firm linked to Gov. Jim Doyle’s re-election campaign. Thompson had served four months of an 18-month sentence.
Judge Diane Wood said “the evidence is beyond thin.” Doyle said Thompson, 57, was prosecuted for “doing her job,” was “an innocent woman who was used as a political football” and is entitled to her old job and lost pay. U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic said that depending on the wording of the court’s decision, it could affect other cases in which the government does not prove the defendant personally benefited directly from the purported crimes. Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook noted the winning travel agency had the lowest bid and assailed math used to score competing bids. “Because they flunked high school math doesn’t mean a felony was committed,” he said.