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The memory of a beloved pet inspires one couple's fight against injustice.

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    Alan Colmes
    One of the nation's best-known liberal commentators is reporting today on our reports about photos of U.S. Circuit Bill Pryor that appeared in the 1990s at a gay porn Web site.

    Alan Colmes' Liberland addresses the issue in a post titled "Circuit Court Justice's Gay Porn Site Photo Comes Out Of The Closet."

    Colmes perhaps is best known for his 13-year run as co-host of Hannity & Colmes, a nightly political debate show on Fox News Channel. He currently is the host of The Alan Colmes Show, a nationally syndicated talk-radio show distributed by Fox News Radio. Colmes is the author of two books, Red, White & Liberal: How Left Is Right and Right Is Wrong (2003) and Thank the Liberals For Saving America (2012).

    Liberland serves as Colmes blogging base, and the site zeroes in squarely on Bill Pryor. Here is how the post begins:

    Earlier this week, provocative Alabama law blogger Roger Shuler posted an interesting tidbit about solidly conservative US Court of Appeals 11th Circuit Justice William Pryor.

    The post then quotes from our reports, noting that the photos appeared in 1997 at the Cocoa, Florida-based Web site badpuppy.com and Pryor has a staunchly conservative public record, including opposition to gay rights. More from Liberland:

    And, to quote the great George Takei, “Oh, my!” Above the Law, arguably the most popular (and dishy) legal blog in the nation, has picked up the story . . .

    Bill Pryor at badpuppy.com
    Liberaland then pulls this nugget from the Above the Law (ATL) report:

    If true, this would not be the first time that a respected jurist has inadvertently revealed what lies underneath their robes. Judge Wade McCree of Michigan bared it all when one of his sext messages was leaked to the public. Madam Justice A. Lori Douglas blushed red as a Canadian maple leaf when nude photographs of Her Honor engaging in bondage acts surfaced online.
    On the other hand, if the gossip that is making the rounds is true, it would likely be the first time that a federal judge seated on one of the United States circuit courts has been caught with his pants around his ankles — or in this case, with no pants at all . . . 
    The judge implicated in this affair is William Holcombe Pryor Jr. of the Eleventh Circuit, who also serves on the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Though we have no way to confirm if the accusations are true, we can’t help but notice a possible resemblance between Judge Pryor and the attractive young man in the pictures (meaning that Judge Pryor is quite the judicial superhottie).

    Both Liberaland and Above the Law now have reported on the historic nature of our investigative work. Has a federal judge ever been caught with--as ATL puts it--"no pants at all"? Has any national political figure ever been so directly exposed as a blatant hypocrite? 

    The answer to the first question clearly is no. On the second one, it's hard to think of any politico who comes off as more of a phony than Pryor.

    The story, by the way, is far from over. As Liberaland shows, it's just warming up. We have much more coming on the Pryor story here at Legal Schnauzer.

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    Bill Pryor, in a "family
    friendly" version of his
    badpuppy.com photo.
    The number of news accounts is steadily growing about photographs of U.S. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor that appeared at a gay porn Web site called badpuppy.com in the 1990s. Perhaps the story has not "gone viral" yet, but given Pryor's staunchly anti-gay views and the flagrant hypocrisy the photos represent, members of the gay press are starting to latch onto the tale with glee. (See here, here, and here.) The style site NewNowNext.com picked up on the story yesterday.

    Based on inquiries I'm receiving from major news outlets, the story might go viral on the Web at any moment. Pryor once was considered a conservative boy wonder, whose boyish looks and right-wing credentials made him a possibility for future appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. Pryor might be watching that dream, and maybe quite a few others, slowly swirl down the drain.

    (Perhaps the most fair and thorough report I've seen on the story so far comes from the "U.S. Eleventh Circuit Blog" at findlaw.com. Written by William Peacock, Esq., the piece is titled, "Accusations of Bias in 11th Circuit Judge: Pryor's Nude Photo Scandal." I recommend it as a solid overview and analysis of the evolving story.)

    How has Pryor responded to all of this? In a dumbfoundingly ignorant way, by apparently aligning himself with three Alabama lawyers who have dubious records on mattes of ethics. Who forms this unholy alliance? We are talking about Birmingham-based lawyer Bill Baxley, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, and Strange's mistress/former campaign manager Jessica Medeiros Garrison.

    What signs point to Pryor joining hands with Baxley, Strange, and Garrison? Well, let's consider Pryor's response late last week when D.C.-based lawyer/journalist Andrew Kreig contacted the judge for comment about the gay porn story. Our understanding is that Kreig plans to use Pryor's response in an upcoming article at the Justice-Integrity Project.

    Did Pryor grant Kreig an interview? No, he brushed off that possibility, just as he did when I submitted multiple interview requests before writing the post that broke the gay porn story. Did Pryor respond directly to Kreig with a comment. No, the judge assigned that task to Jennifer Bandy, one of his former law clerks who now works for the Washington, D.C., law firm of Kirkland & Ellis.

    What does Jennifer Bandy know about this story? Probably nothing. Why on earth did Bill Pryor choose her to issue a "statement" to Andrew Kreig? I haven't a clue. Did the words come from Bandy or Pryor? We don't know.

    Anyway, here is Bill Pryor's "official statement" on the matter, per Andrew Kreig:

    "Over the last week, I have been smeared by a widely discredited blogger with a political agenda. His allegations have now been picked up by other bloggers. The person in the unsourced, undated photographs is not me, and I deny these allegations. I have been twice vetted by the FBI, including as recently as this past year; I have won two contested statewide elections; and I have been in the public eye for almost twenty years. I will not dignify these disgraceful accusations with any further comment."

    That paragraph raises all sorts of issues, but let's focus on just one for now. Notice that Pryor calls me a "widely discredited blogger." That raises this obvious question: "Discredited by whom?"

    It certainly isn't Harper's legal analyst and Columbia University law professor Scott Horton, who has referenced my work. It isn't Kreig himself, a University of Chicago law school graduate who has referenced my posts on scores of occasions. It isn't Alan Colmes, the long-time Fox News political commentator who picked up on my coverage of the Pryor story last week. It isn't David Lat, a Harvard and Yale law grad whose widely read Web site, Above the Law,also picked up on my Pryor coverage last week. It isn't members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, who saw my work cited in a 2007 hearing on political prosecutions of the George W. Bush administration.

    If some of the best known and most respected legal and political analysts in the country have not discredited me--and neither have members of Congress--to whom is Bill Pryor referring? It seems clear that Pryor is referring to the individuals behind an alleged lawsuit that Bill Baxley filed on behalf of Jessica Garrison, claiming defamation because of my reporting about the Garrison/Luther Strange extramarital affair.

    Jennifer Bandy
    I say "alleged lawsuit" because I haven't been served with it, and I haven't seen it. A man who apparently was working as Bill Baxley's process server pounded on our door for an extended period one evening last week, making a point to traipse all over our front yard and around our driveway into the backyard. Mrs. Schnauzer was home by herself, it was dark, and she was not about to answer the door for this strange, thuggish-looking character, but she did watch his actions closely. (Keep in mind, I have received a number of death threats since starting Legal Schnauzer, so we are not prone to opening the door for strangers.)

    As I was coming home and about to pull our car into the driveway, my wife saw the man run down our driveway and throw something toward our closing garage door. The man then drove off, without ever saying a word to either of us, without even confirming who lived there or who was home at the time--and we haven't found whatever it was he appeared to throw in our driveway.

    Aside from drama over Bill Baxley's failed attempts to serve me, what do we learn from Bill Pryor's official statement to Andrew Kreig?

    It tells me that he has jumped in bed with Bill Baxley, Luther Strange, and Jessica Garrison, who are the only people who've made any serious effort to discredit me--even though they can't even get me lawfully served.

    What kind of company is Bill Pryor keeping? I addressed that when Andrew Kreig asked if I had any response to the Pryor statement. Here is a portion of my reply on Saturday morning, after Kreig and I had communicated about the Pryor statement last Friday night:

    Just a thought on Pryor's statement about me being a "widely discredited blogger." It didn't occur to me last night, but I feel certain that is a reference to the apparent lawsuit that Alabama lawyer Bill Baxley has filed against me . . . over my reporting on the extramarital affair involving Attorney General Luther Strange and his former campaign manager Jessica Medeiros Garrison. I say "apparent lawsuit" because I haven't been served with it and haven't seen it, but I hear it's out there.
    The point, though, is that it seems Pryor now has joined an unsavory alliance that has formed in an effort to attack me for reporting accurately about judicial/legal sleaze in Alabama and beyond. This alliance includes a judge who engaged in gay porn (Pryor); a former politician who is a notorious drunk and was caught having an affair with an AP reporter and is known for all sorts of colorful deeds in Las Vegas (Baxley); plus two people who have engaged in financial, professional, and extramarital hanky panky (Strange and Garrison).

    I then provided Kreig with some context about what's really going on with Bill Baxley's alliance from hell:

    As you report on this, you might want to keep in mind that Jessica Garrison used to work for Pryor (and his No. 1 supporter, Jeff Sessions), and she has called Pryor her mentor. . . . When Garrison couldn't take a job with Big Luther in AG's office because of her divorce/custody case, she landed at the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), which Pryor started. How does Garrison live in Birmingham and work at D.C.-based RAGA? (BTW, property records show Garrison bought a $440,000 house in Mountain Brook, Alabama's most prestigious suburb, for $30,000. How did she pull that off? I will be reporting on that soon.)
    I know the apparent lawsuit isn't about my coverage of the Strange/Garrison affair, because all parties involved know that is true. But I've been working on 2-3 stories that the lawsuit is designed to shut down. One involves Jessica Garrison's funky real estate deal. Another involves her business ties to a guy name Erik Davis Harp, who was indicted in an offshore illegal gambling ring (Panama) that has ties to Gambino and Genovese crime families. Another involves a major Alabama judicial figure who has issues similar to those involving Pryor.

    We have much more coming on this story, but let's consider this for a moment: Many Americans probably assume that men and women who wind up on the federal bench get there because of keen intellects and sharp observational powers.

    By aligning himself with Bill Baxley's "Coalition of the Corrupt," Bill Pryor has proven that he's got the intellectual skills and moral acuity of a dead stump. Of course, Pryor was nominated by George W. Bush, so maybe we shouldn't be surprised.

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    Murphy Abigail Shuler, the schnauzer
    who inspired a top 50 law blog
    We have been heartened by response to the first fund-raising campaign in Legal Schnauzer history. For six-plus years, this blog has been a "no profit" enterprise, with no ads, no donate button, no form of external support. That changed last Thursday when we installed a donate button in the upper left-hand corner of the blog, and we are pleased to report that a number of readers have been most generous in their support.

    Why does this matter? A look at a 2012 ranking of "The Top 50 Independent Law Blogs in North America" provides perspective. And it suggests Legal Schnauzer might be the only blog of its kind in the Unites States and Canada. To be sure, the number of like blogs is extremely small.

    Cision, a Chicago-based social media/marketing firm, compiled the ranking, and we were pleased to discover that Legal Schnauzer came in at No. 37. Actually, we were more than pleased; we were stunned, almost speechless--and regular readers know that is an unusual state for us.

    How many law blogs are there in North America? We don't know, but our research indicates they number well into the hundreds of thousands; wouldn't be surprised if it tops a million. To think that a one-man operation like Legal Schnauzer could break through all of that clutter to reach the top 50 . . . well, I'm still dumbfounded--especially when you consider I did nothing to push for inclusion in the Cision survey, and I didn't even know it was taking place.

    Perhaps the most curious element of the Cision rankings is its use of the word "independent" to describe the blogs on the list. I've read everything I can find about Cision and its surveys, but I still don't know what they mean by "independent law blogs." My best guess is that it refers to legal blogs that are not attached to any form of mainstream media, such as a newspaper, magazine, or broadcast outlet.

    I've researched each blog in the top 50 and discovered many of them are not as "independent" as it might appear--certainly not when compared to the kind of independence we have here at Legal Schnauzer. In fact, it appears that LS is one of only two blogs on the list that could be called truly independent.

    Do most of the blogs on the Cision list receive some sort of institutional support? The answer is a yes, and here is a breakdown:

    * Of the 50 blogs, 47 are written by lawyers; those lawyers are connected to law firms of various sizes;

    * Of the 50 blogs, 27 are group blogging efforts, including more than one author. Some have a dozen or more writers;

    * Of the 50 blogs, 13 are connected to law schools;

    * Three of the blogs are tied to a major publishing house, American Lawyer Media.

    * One of the blogs, LSAT Blog: Ace the LSAT, appears tied to a business enterprise, with ties to the legal and publishing fields.

    Legal Schnauzer is the only blog on the list that is based in Alabama, and only four others are in the Southeast--three in Florida and one in Atlanta.

    The only other truly independent blog on the list appears to be Grits for Breakfast, which focuses on the Texas criminal justice system and came in at No. 3. It is the work of Scott Henson, who describes himself as "a a former journalist turned opposition researcher/political consultant, public policy researcher and blogger."

    Henson has been an associate editor at Texas Observer and has worked for the ACLU, the Sunshine Project for Police Accountability, and the Innocence Project of Texas. He has an impressive background, and if I am alone in his company on the Cision list . . . well, that seems like a pretty good place to be.

    This much is clear: Independent voices in the legal blogosphere are rare. We are fortunate here at Legal Schnauzer to have readers who recognize the value in what we do. Whether their support is financial, moral, emotional, informational, or otherwise, it all is greatly appreciated.

    For the record, it's probably safe to say that we are the only law blog that draws inspiration from the memory of a beloved pet. Our work is dedicated to Murphy Abigail Shuler (1993-2004), the miniature schnauzer who helped us survive some of the darkest days of our personal legal nightmare. Since starting this blog, I've heard from an extraordinary number of similar victims; they come from all corners of the United States.

    That reminds me of Hillary Clinton, who is famed for saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." I've come to learn that it also takes a village to shine a spotlight on a broken justice system.

    Legal Schnauzer might be a one-man operation, but it's never been a one-man effort. Those who have pitched in to help have our deepest gratitude.

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    An edited version
    of Bill Pryor, from
    A gay pornography scandal involving U.S. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor likely is a byproduct of an Alabama political system that tends to reward candidates who tout "family values" on the stump while leading private lives marked by sexual impropriety.

    That is the take of Andrew Kreig, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Justice Integrity Project. Kreig, a journalist with a law degree from the University of Chicago, is the author of Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney, and their Masters, which is being released in hardcover this month.

    We broke the Pryor story one week ago here at Legal Schnauzer, and since then, it has been featured in a wide variety of press outlets--from those focusing on dishy legal news (Above the Law), to one connected to Fox News (Alan Colmes' Liberaland), to one focused on style and culture (NewNowNext).

    I discussed the controversy yesterday on Justice With A Snap! a Miami-based radio show hosted by former Florida judge David Young. The first openly gay judge on TV, Young left the bench in 2007 to star in the Emmy-nominated Judge David Young program, a nationally syndicated court show. Like most of the others who have examined the gay-porn story, Young spent a lot of time on the two-faced nature of Pryor's actions.

    Political hypocrisy, of course, is not limited to Alabama or even the South. But Kreig suggests our culture generates an overabundance of public figures who say one thing, but do something else. From Kreig's September 23 piece, titled "Famed Conservative Federal Judge Accused of Posing Nude as a Young Man."

    Illicit sex, which is widespread among the powerful and their ambitious acolytes in Washington as elsewhere, appears to have been especially pervasive among Alabama leaders, who have typically kept up appearances by being married.
    Those in both political parties were involved. But this column focuses upon those who especially touted their family values on their way to political victory, not upon the vanquished.
    Why is this is relevant to politics and courts? Because the degree of hypocrisy and conniving required to sustain a promiscuous lifestyle at the same time as a virtuous public image is precisely the brazen skill-set that enables success in fund-raising, gerrymandering, voting machine rigging, and trumped-up criminal charges against political opponents.
    Even those committed to Republican victories are sometimes repulsed by the methods and life-styles of major practitioners of the dark political arts. Yet these kinds of stories are extremely difficult to bring to public attention, important though they might be to the average voter operating on conventional wisdom.

    How creepy can the sexual shenanigans get in the political underworld? Consider this tale from Kreig:

    I am among the DC-based reporters who have been approached by a longtime conservative journalist who had researched the ascendancy of gays and bisexuals in the national party leadership -- and was frustrated because his major outlet, a well-known conservative newspaper, would not print it. Among the veteran reporter's findings, never published, that was the existence of a so-called "Hairy Bear Club" purportedly involving well-known conservatives who liked hairy men. Those involved were said to have given themselves a nickname with confidence that such secrets remain hidden forever from their base of family values voters.

    Compared to that, the Bill Pryor gay-porn scandal seems almost quaint. But Kreig says it has serious implications, beyond the titillation factor. For one thing, Kreig says word of Pryor's ties to gay porn are not new:

    The public risks blackmail or other undue pressure on officials who may be compromised by hidden scandals. Reports have circulated for years in elite Alabama legal circles that Pryor was compromised by "badpuppy.com" photos held by well-connected Republicans with interests before the courts. I received a copies of several such photos -- purportedly of Pryor -- more than two years ago from a reliable source.

    Pryor has denied, both to me and in an official statement to Kreig, that the young man in the photo is him. The judge, however, has refused to grant interviews on the subject, and Kreig reaches this conclusion: "My opinion is that the photo is Pryor, more likely than not, despite his denial."

    Kreig counters Pryor's claim that the gay-porn story originated with a "widely discredited blogger"--and that, of course, would be me. From Kreig's piece:

    [Shuler's] columns allege serious legal, financial and other wrongdoing in Deep South courts. With the collapse of the traditional newspaper industry, his research is often the last hope of those who believe they cannot find justice in the courts. A typical recent column was headlined, Cases Of "Ken Nowlin And Penni Tingle In Mississippi Raise Red Flags About Criminal Defense Lawyers."
    Many of his columns are republished on websites for more national audiences than his Legal Schnauzer site. The site is named after the couple's late pet, Murphy, a breed known for its digging prowess. . . .
    Cision, a Chicago-based social media/marketing firm, compiled an annual ranking of "The Top 50 Independent Law Blogs in North America." It listed Legal Schnauzer at No. 37, with few of the others undertaken by a lone writer without corporate or non-profit group support.
    Several of his recent investigative crusades have probed disgraceful financial and sexual by central figures in Alabama's power structure. These include many columns reporting that married officials were having affairs that indicated financial or other skulduggery hurting taxpayers.

    Pryor, in labeling me a "widely discredited blogger," is both wildly inaccurate and arrogant. The term seems designed, in part, to heap disdain on the numerous victims of judicial abuse I've covered in these pages. Kreig picks up on that theme:

    I am not in a position to retrace and affirm all of Shuler's reporting on these and hundreds of other blogs. But I have worked with him on a number of sensitive columns for more than four years in which our reporting overlapped on at least two dozen published columns, including those involving Siegelman, witnesses in that case, and Karl Rove. In my opinion, Roger Shuler is an exceptionally capable, courageous, and public-spirited reporter.
    For many litigants in Alabama especially, he is one of their last hopes for justice if they encounter an overzealous or other unjust prosecutor or judge.

    It's heartening to read such words from a journalism peer, of course, but Kreig goes "outside the lines" to show how the Pryor story fits into Alabama's dysfunctional legal/political environment. We have entered an age of one-party rule, and that helped set the stage for gross injustice, perhaps best represented in the political prosecution of former Governor Don Siegelman. Kreig shows that conservatives, who have come to dominate in Alabama and other Southern states, are not two-faced just about sexual matters. It can extend to the courtroom, as Don Siegelman and his supporters discovered in the critical year of 2006:

    At the Justice Department in Washington, the stage was being set for the era of "loyal Bushie" prosecutors who could retain their jobs by bringing politically oriented criminal prosecutions, we now know from reports about the scandal.
    The real motivation for this was money, my research has indicated. Behind a veneer of rhetoric about good government, the goal is taxpayer-paid government contracts awarded on a political basis and business deals with foreign potentates. The well-connected could enjoy fabulous success. Token opposition leaders among Democrats could enjoy more modest prosperity so long as they muted criticism of the power structure.

    Even with a black Democrat in the White House since January 2009, white Republicans have trampled basic constitutional rights in Alabama, Mississippi, and other deep red states:

    President Obama has catered for the most part to the state's powerful Republican senators, Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby, by making timid presidential appointments. Among the most shameful was Obama's choice of George Beck . . . , defense attorney for Siegelman's main accuser Nick Bailey, to continue the Siegelman cover-up in effect as Canary's successor as U.S. Attorney.
    Why? In my view, the president and his top team, including Attorney General Eric Holder, have many dirty, dark secrets of their own that are well-known to Republican power-brokers like Rove but almost entirely unknown to the general public. The leverage keeps national leaders in line -- or in "puppet" status as I describe it -- while the gravy train rolls ahead for insiders.

    Such an environment helped produce Bill Pryor as a justice on the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, even though he had no previous judicial experience. That, Kreig says, is one reason the gay-porn photos at badpuppy.com matter:

    The controversy regarding Pryor and the photo is far more important than passing embarrassment to either the judge or the reporter, if proven wrong. Shuler purports to use this matter as a window into a sinister world of judges who lie in an unaccountable manner that ultimately hurts the general public.
    In a largely independent manner, that's a similar conclusion I have reached in my new book, Presidential Puppetry, as have many others in Alabama and elsewhere horrified by corruption in the legal and political systems. The stakes are high enough so that I suggest learning the truth about the "badpuppy" photos is worth the effort.

    In his official statement, Pryor pointed to an FBI background check as evidence that his personal history includes nothing unsavory. But Kreig has followed the Senate confirmation process closely and found investigative standards to be lax:

    In view of that rubber-stamp process, I suggest that Pryor would have more credibility if he would release his confirmation records to clear the air on the quality of the FBI/Senate investigation. Shuler has already asked for these documents, and reports that the judge has refused to supply them. They are public for the most part anyway.
    Beyond that, Pryor could always sue Shuler and let the public learn the truth via discovery and courtroom verdict. That assumes, of course, that legal procedures fairly result in truth and justice. But there's always hope.

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    Bill Baxley
    According to a report at Alabama Political Reporter (APR), Republican operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison has filed a lawsuit against me, claiming that my reports on her extramarital affair with Attorney General Luther Strange are false and defamatory. APR reports that Birmingham attorney Bill Baxley filed a complaint on Garrison's behalf, and I have reported here on two threatening letters I've received from Baxley.

    I haven't seen the alleged complaint, and I haven't been served with a copy, so I don't know if APR has its facts straight or not. But I do know this: If Jessica Garrison has filed a lawsuit against me, with Bill Baxley's assistance, it probably has nothing to do with my reporting on the Luther Strange affair.

    What's the real reason that Jessica Garrison is threatening and/or taking legal action against me? Here are three distinct possibilities:

    (1) I have been investigating the curious circumstances under which she purchased a foreclosed property in Mountain Brook, which had been appraised at almost $440,000, and she wants to stop that;

    (2) I have reported on, and I continue to investigate, her business relationship with a man named Erik Davis Harp, who was indicted in 2009 as a kingpin in an illegal sports-betting operation that had servers in Panama and generated $20 million a month. Leaders of the gambling ring reportedly had ties to the Gambino and Genovese crime families, and Garrison wants to stop my reporting on that;

    (3) I have been investigating massive corruption in central Alabama courts, and my reporting at the moment focuses on a prominent judicial figure in Jefferson County. This married judicial figure reportedly has what might be called an "unconventional relationship" with an executive at an "old money" Birmingham investment firm, one that has operated in these parts for more than a century. I interviewed the investment executive on August 15 about his relationship with the judicial figure. Two days later, I received a threatening letter from Bill Baxley.

    What does all of this mean? Well, let's focus first on what we know: We've already shown that I contacted Garrison via e-mail on July 12, requesting an interview about her relationship with Luther Strange. I gave Garrison five days to respond, and when she didn't, I proceeded to write my first post on the matter, dated July 17. From that date until August 13, I wrote six posts about the Luther Strange affair--and I never heard a word from Jessica Garrison.

    Jessica Medeiros Garrison
    What does that tell you about Ms. Garrison and her lawyer, Bill Baxley? It tells me that they know my reporting on the Luther Strange affair is true, and they didn't want to kick a hornet's nest by threatening a bogus lawsuit against me.

    That strategy apparently changed on August 14, when I sent a second e-mail to Jessica Garrison, raising the issues noted in Nos. 1 and 2 above. Two days later, I heard from Ms. Garrison for the first time, via a threatening letter from Bill Baxley.

    So, what do we have here? I wrote six posts about the Luther Strange affair, over a roughly one-month period of time, and never heard a peep from Jessica Garrison. I asked a few questions about her house transaction and her business ties to Erik Davis Harp and . . . presto, Bill Baxley is sending nasty missives to me, on Ms. Garrison's behalf.

    What about item No. 3? Well, that is the most interesting possibility of all, the one to which I am paying the most attention. And get this: It doesn't involve Jessica Medeiros Garrison at all.

    It does, however, involve Bill Baxley. Someone at the old-money investment firm noted earlier is very close to Mr. Baxley. And I have electronic documents suggesting that someone (or several someones) at the firm was extremely distressed about my interview with the executive. My electronic records show these individuals conducted extensive research on my major posts at the time, especially on reports about the Jessica Garrison/Luther Strange affair.

    This all suggests that Bill Baxley is using Jessica Garrison as a "straw man" in an effort to stop my reporting on a corrupt Jefferson County judicial figure and an executive at a local investment firm. This further suggests that any lawsuit filed on Jessica Garrison's behalf probably has nothing to do with Ms. Garrison.

    I will be sharing my electronic documents shortly. They suggest that Bill Baxley is conducting an elaborate legal hoax, apparently with Jessica Garrison's support and permission. It's the kind of scam that probably should get both of them disbarred.

    We also soon will be learning much more about the investment executive and his close relationship with a major judicial figure in Jefferson County.

    (To be continued)

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    A scandal about gay-porn photos of U.S. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor could lead to the judge's indictment if it is proven that he falsified background documents during is Congressional confirmation, a prominent legal blog reports.

    South Florida Lawyers (SFL), which is an ABA Journal Top 100 law blog, makes that assessment in an article that was posted Monday. We broke the Pryor story last Tuesday here at Legal Schnauzer, and it has been picked up by an array of Web sites that focus on everything from law to politics to gay rights to style/culture. The story has brought national attention to badpuppy.com, the Cocoa, Florida-based Web site where the Pryor photos appeared in 1997.

    Judge Pryor surely will be comforted to learn that he now is featured at Gay Porn Times, in a post titled "Antigay Federal Judge in a Nudie-Cutie Scandal?"

    The judge's discomfort might take a different turn down the line. Drawing on an article from instinctmagazine.com ("Homophobic Federal Judge's Gay Porn Past Exposed?), SFL writes:

    The Alabama Bureau of Investigations (ABI) is looking into images that appeared on then-popular gay porn site Badpuppy.com in the '90s. Reportedly working on a few tips, the ABI is concerned that the full-frontal images feature federal circuit Judge Bill Pryor. If the ABI confirms that the images are in fact those of the conservative Bush-appointee, there is a chance Pryor could be indicted for falsifying his background during his Congressional confirmation hearings. According to LegalSchnauzer, Congress commonly asks federal judicial appointees about "potentially embarrassing or compromising information in their backgrounds." Sources indicate that Pryor was aware the pics were public on the gay site (which was dubbed the "Wal Mart of gay porn") in 1997, a few years ahead of his appointment.

    SFL apparently is written by one or more gay lawyers, and the Pryor photos are not breaking news to them:

    Funny thing, aficionado of the male form that I am I remember seeing these pics when they first came out. They were featured quite prominently in Bad Puppy's promotions. Judge Pryor is denying that these are actual pictures of him and while they seem to be the same guy I wasn't there so I couldn't tell you for sure.

    SFL touts itself as "a law blog done with jealousy, love, snark, humor and civility." That slightly campy approach is apparent in the introduction to the blog's Pryor story:

    Here's a little story that peaked my interest over the weekend, and I do mean peaked. It's the story of a struggling, broke college student trying to deal with the high cost of tuition, books, and housing expenses by earning a little honest money on the side. What the heck is wrong with that? Nothing if you ask me. But this youthful indiscretion is raising eyebrows, not so much for the "act" but for who this young man grew up to be.

    The young man, of course, grew up to be a federal judge, one with strongly anti-gay views. That's where the SFL post turns serious:

    But what I find striking about this story is that the scandal over the Judge's morality is centered around his possible youthful modeling career and not the bigoted, hateful positions and actions that he's taken as an adult "member"of the judiciary. I couldn't care less who he showed his body to. What I care about is that he would deny people like me equal protection under the law.
    That's immoral.
    Everybody deserves to be treated equally; gays, lesbians, bisexuals, the transgendered and judges who exposed their private parts for fast cash! For not understanding that simple fact, Judge Pryor you are one bad, bad puppy.

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    This is a time of transition for our little blogging venture. Just last week, we added a donate button at the top of the blog, where readers can provide financial support for our reporting efforts. We recently received an invitation to join an ad network for progressive blogs, and we plan to dive in headfirst. This all comes on the heels of our inclusion in Cisions's 2012 ranking of the "Top 50 Independent Law Blogs in North America."

    A major part of our renovation is the adoption of an updated look for Legal Schnauzer. This is our first day to try it out, and we hope you like it. We've used the same blogging template from day one, so we were overdue for an upgrade.

    I picked the original template, in part, because . . . well, this might sound stupid, but because it was not terribly attractive. The goal was to have the focus on reporting about serious matters of legal corruption, so I didn't really want a slick design. I wanted to be rather stark and plain.

    The old template certainly fit that bill, but it long has outlived its usefulness. Aside from being drab, the old format was inflexible, making poor use of space and not allowing for important elements like advertising.

    Our new format is cleaner and more inviting, without being showy. I'm still learning how to tool around in the new template, so I've been a bit slow today on tasks like moderation of comments. In fact, it's possible that I might need to disable comments temporarily while I get used to driving my sporty new template. (By the way, that would be a cool name for a sports car, "The Template.")

    We ask for your patience in the next few days if comment moderation seems unusually slow--or if the comments go away altogether for a while. We don't plan for any interruption to last long.

    It's heartening to know that we have a devoted group of readers who value aggressive reporting on the corruption that ails our democracy--in Alabama and many other states. Our goal is to make Legal Schnauzer an even more valuable part of your reading endeavors. 

    As always, thanks for your support and for welcoming LS into your lives. We welcome your comments about the new look and other renovations at the blog.

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    Bill Upton, of Vulcan Steel Products
    The president of an Alabama steel company had an extramarital affair with a young woman he and his wife had raised as their daughter, according to court records in Jefferson County.

    William D. "Bill" Upton Jr. is president of Vulcan Steel Products, which is based in the Birmingham suburb of Pelham. Upton sued his wife, Linda S. Upton, for divorce in 2010 and received a stunningly favorable judgment, even though he admits in court papers to having an affair with a young woman who had called him "daddy" for years.

    Bill Upton might not have technically committed incest, but his actions come close to meeting the description. When I contacted Upton yesterday and requested an interview, he said only that the Upton v. Upton case had been handled properly and quickly hung up.

    Gincie Walker had grown up in an abusive home in Shelby County before settling into the Upton family when she was about 11 years old. Linda and Bill Upton have one biological son and had adopted or fostered a number of special-needs children over about a 20-year period. Court records state that Gincie Walker has multiple-personality disorder, and she was in her mid to late 20s when the affair with Bill Upton started; she now is in her early 30s.

    The Uptons never officially adopted Walker, but they parented her throughout adolescence and well into early adulthood. Sources state that she was treated as, and seen as, the Upton's daughter.

    Court records describe Bill Upton as a multimllionaire, and the family home is in the exclusive Shook Hill Road section of Mountain Brook. In addition to his clout in the business community, Bill Upton also has ties to the conservative religious community. He once was a member of Briarwood Presbyterian Church and was active in the Pro-Life movement.

    A review of public records indicate that Bill Upton's admitted affair with Gincie Walker was the precipitating event that broke up the Upton marriage. But Bill Upton initiated the divorce case, and despite flagrant marital misconduct. he received a largely favorable judgment in a Jefferson County domestic-relations court that has been riddled for years with what has come to be known as "hunting club corruption."

    How bad was the outcome for Linda Upton? She lost custody of all her children. She is being forced to sell the marital residence on Shook Hill Road. She's had to sell a vacation home. Most of the maintenance and insurance expenses for the homes landed on her. She received little in marital assets, almost nothing from land and business assets that she and her parents had helped build and manage.

    We have reported on a number of Alabama divorce cases that produced outlandish results, usually with wives and children coming away the "losers," with wealthy, connected husbands walking away as "winners." 

    That certainly was the case in Rollins v. Rollins, where Birmingham resident Sherry Carroll Rollins and her two daughters wound up on food stamps because of an unlawful judgment from Shelby County Circuit Judge D. Al Crowson. The husband in that case, Campus Crest Communities CEO Ted Rollins, comes from one of the wealthiest families in the country (the folks behind Orkin Pest Control) and owns multiple private jets. For good measure, his company has received some $800 million in Wall Street support. How much does Ted Rollins pay in child support for two children? It's $815 a  month, plus $500 in alimony.

    It also was the case in Wyatt v. Wyatt, where Clanton resident Bonnie Cahalane wound up in jail for five months last year for failure to pay a property-related debt in a divorce case. Chilton County Circuit Judge Sibley Reynolds ordered Ms. Cahalane's imprisonment and also ordered the sale of her house--even though black-letter Alabama law forbids both actions. Harold Wyatt, who was the opposing party, is not particularly wealthy. But Bonnie Cahalane's previous husband is Bobby Knox, president of Shelby Concrete and one of the wealthier individuals in Chilton County. Did Bobby Knox help engineer a cheat job against his ex wife, out of spite, that caused her to land in jail--and to lose her home? Our reporting strongly suggests the answer is yes.

    Upton v. Upton is disturbing on multiple levels. The case originally was assigned to Judge Dorothea Batiste, but attorneys from both sides agreed to have it heard by a private judge. Gary Pate, who was retired at the time from the Jefferson County bench, issued the  judgment in one of the first cases heard under the Alabama Private Judge Act, passed in 2012. Scott Vowell, then presiding judge in Jefferson County, signed off on moving the case to Pate--and Vowell later led the charge to file complaints against Batiste, resulting in her three-month suspension from the bench.

    In another oddity, the case file was sealed, without Linda Upton's knowledge or consent. In fact, at one point, Upton v. Upton disappeared from public files altogether, with no record that it had even taken place. The case currently is on appeal before the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals.

    I've described the facts and the outcome of Upton to several individuals who are familiar with Alabama divorce law. The response has been an across-the-board expression of disbelief.

    We long have described Rollins v. Rollins as the most flagrant cheat job we've encountered in a civil court case. It looks like Upton v. Upton might turn that into a close race.

    (To be continued)

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    U.S. Judge Bill Pryor
    Deputies from the Shelby County, Alabama, sheriff's office have made at least four visits to our house this week in the wake of my reporting about photos of U.S. Judge Bill Pryor that appeared at a gay porn Web site in the 1990s.

    On each occasion, at least two vehicles and two deputies came to our home and pounded on the door. At least two times, the second vehicle was a sports utility model that looks like it could be used for transporting prisoners. At least one time, three deputies appeared at our door step. (See video at the end of this post.)

    What is going on? The only legitimate reason I can think for deputies to appear at my home would be if they were trying to serve court papers. According to press reports, Republican operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison has sued me for reporting about her extramarital affair with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange.

    I have not been served with papers in that case, although a reader informs me that court files show a process server claims, falsely, that I was served on September 18. If the court file shows I've been served--even though I haven't--there is no reason for deputies to be trying to serve me. Furthermore, the Garrison complaint apparently was filed in Jefferson County court, so it seems unlikely that Shelby County deputies would be attempting service.

    Finally, it's hard to see why 2-3 deputies and 2-3 vehicles would be needed to serve papers.

    So what's really going on? I can only guess, but I'm thinking a corrupt deputy filed an affidavit and a corrupt Shelby County judge signed it, approving a search warrant for our home. My guess is that someone is alleging that the photograph I published of Bill Pryor constitutes child pornography, and law enforcement in Alabama is trying to set me up on an absurdly bogus charge. At the least, they probably are trying to scare my wife and me.

    Never mind that multiple sources told me, and I reported more than once, that the photos of Pryor were taken when he was a student at Northeast Louisiana University (now University of Louisiana Monroe). Never mind that the photo appeared with shots of at least 10 other young men in a gallery at an adult gay porn site called badpuppy.com. Never mind that Alabama law states that child pornography applies only to a subject who is under 17 years of age.

    Bill Pryor doesn't look 16 in the photo, the other young men in the gallery clearly are not 16, and it's unlikely Bill Pryor was 16 when he entered college.

    Do local officers plan to arrest me? I have no idea. But I know, for sure, they have no legitimate grounds to search our house, so that can only point to a campaign of intimidation or retaliation. It also might indicate they plan to confiscate my computer, which would be one way to shut down reporting on Legal Schnauzer.

    Regardless of the plans, it all is unlawful--an example of real-life actions from jack-booted thugs. All of this, it seems clear, is driven by my audacity to report accurately about the ugly past of a sitting federal judge from Alabama.

    Below is a brief video of one visit from officers. More extensive videos are in the works.

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    The U.S. Supreme Court started becoming a joke in the eyes of many Americans with its 2000 decision in Bush v. Gore, awarding the presidency to George W. Bush. The trend picked up steam with the court's dubious decisions on campaign finance (Citizens United v. FEC, 2010) and the Voting Rights Act (Shelby County v. Holder, 2013).

    It's easy to forget that the nation's high court once issued well-reasoned opinions, grounded in America's constitutional values. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court once acted with stunning foresight. We were reminded of that fact upon opening our mail on Saturday to find a Petition for Contempt that Homewood attorney Rob Riley--the son of former GOP governor Bob Riley (2003-2011)--has filed in a lawsuit against my wife and me. (See contempt petition at the end of this post.)

    Riley contends that my reports about his extramarital affair with lobbyist Liberty Duke are false and defamatory. Not content to litigate his claims on the merits, Riley persuaded specially appointed Judge Claud D. Neilson to issue a preliminary injunction that purports to force removal of posts on the Riley/Duke affair from Legal Schnauzer and forbid future reporting on the subject.

    Apparently convinced that sunlight does not benefit his case, Riley also persuaded Neilson to seal the case file and forbid reporting on the matter. (I'm not joking about this; you can read the judge's order here.) Sources told us a couple of days ago that the case--styled Robert R. Riley Jr. and Liberty Duke v. Roger Shuler, Carol T. Shuler and Legal Schnauzer, Civil Action 2013-236 in Shelby County Circuit Court--does not appear in the public files via AlaCourt.gov.

    I knew immediately that Neilson's actions on Rob Riley's behalf were wildly unlawful. But I needed to conduct some research to realize they violated about 230 years worth of black-letter law on free speech. And that process gave me renewed appreciation for a U.S. Supreme Court that has a proud history--even though its present is embarrassing.

    Peter B. Collins invited me on his San Francisco-based radio show yesterday to discuss the Riley case and associated activities. You can check out a preview of our interview here. Here is a key segment of our discussion:

    PBC: It appears [the judge] has reached an arbitrary finding that you have, in fact, defamed these parties. I'm aghast that this could occur without your participation . . .  
    LS: It can't, under the law. . . . I'm convinced the preliminary injunction was written by Rob Riley's office, and that happens a lot. . . . Even with (lawful service), we had less than 24 hours notice. The law is that you have sufficient notice to respond in writing, to call witnesses. This is not a minor deal. Preliminary injunctions aren't something judges are to toss out like baseball cards. . . . You don't know whether to get angry or laugh about it . . . this is so absurd. Most people intuitively know that this isn't right. You almost have to laugh, like it's an episode of "Hee Haw."

    Published reports indicate Rob Riley intends to run for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Spencer Bachus, and that almost certainly is driving his Legal Schnauzer lawsuit. After all, news about the affair--which led to an abortion and payment of hush money--is not likely to sit well with "family values" voters who tend to cast ballots in GOP primaries.

    Rob Riley wants an injunction against my reporting, even though no court of law has found it to be defamatory. The U.S. Supreme Court of 1931 could see thugs like Rob Riley in the future and found that such actions constitute unlawful prior restraint. The court went even further--in a case styled Near v. Minnesota, 283 U.S. 697 (1931)--using the term "censorship" to describe prior restraint.

    What exactly is Rob Riley up to? Let's consider these words from the Petition for Contempt that Riley doesn't want you to see:

    Civil contempt is the "willful, continuing failure or refusal of any person to comply with a court's lawful writ, subpoena, process, order, rule or command that by its nature is still capable of being complied with. . . . " 
    The Respondents' [my wife and me] above-described non-compliance with TRO and the Preliminary Injunction constitutes on-going civil, constructive contempt. Respondents' on-going contempt not only is an affront to this Court's clear orders, it causes on-going injury to Petitioners [Riley and Liberty Duke] through the continued publication of false, defamatory, and libelous statements.

    The key word in the above section, of course, is "lawful." And 230 years of U.S. law shows Neilson's efforts to stifle a free press are unlawful. Riley's petition is a thinly veiled attempt to threaten my wife and me with jail for practicing journalism--the publishing of information that has not been found by any court to be defamatory.

    Judge Claud Neilson
    In Near, the U.S. Supreme Court saw that kind of thuggery coming and wrote the following:
    When a newspaper or periodical is found to be "malicious, scandalous and defamatory," and is suppressed as such, resumption of publication is punishable as a contempt of court by fine or imprisonment. Thus, where a newspaper or periodical has been suppressed because of the circulation of charges against public officers of official misconduct, it would seem to be clear that the renewal of the publication of such charges would constitute a contempt and that the judgment would lay a permanent restraint upon the publisher, to escape which he must satisfy the court as to the character of a new publication. Whether he would be permitted again to publish matter deemed to be derogatory to the same or other public officers would depend upon the court's ruling.

    That passage describes exactly what Rob Riley is trying to pull--he wants to suppress a free press, with the threat of a contempt finding that is punishable by imprisonment. The U.S. Supreme Court in Near found "this is of the essence of censorship."

    It was unlawful in 1931, and it's unlawful in 2013--no matter how badly Rob Riley wants to replace Spencer Bachus in Congress.

    Warnning: Do NOT Get Caught While Searching!!
    Your IP : - Country : - City:
    Your ISP TRACKS Your Online Activity! Hide your IP ADDRESS with a VPN!
    Before you searching always remember to change your IP adress to not be followed!
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    Judge Claud Neilson
    Alabama Republican Rob Riley has filed documents that seek to have me held in contempt of court for violating a preliminary injunction related to our coverage of Riley's extramarital affair with lobbyist Liberty Duke.

    Under Alabama law, however, no preliminary injunction exists because we were not given proper notice of a hearing on the matter. In fact, Riley's own court documents prove that no lawful injunction exists.

    How do we know? It's spelled out in an Alabama Supreme Court case styled Southern Homes, AL v. Bermuda Lakes, LLC, 57 So. 3d 100 (Ala., 2010)  As you can see, the ruling was issued in 2010, so it's not ancient law. A Yale Law School graduate like Rob Riley should be able to find it. But apparently that kind of research is beyond Mr. Riley's legal skills--and those of retired Circuit Judge Claud Neilson, who issued the injunction.

    The Southern Homes case involved a preliminary injunction that a circuit judge issued related to the development of 87 acres in Madison County, near Huntsville. The order enjoined Southern Homes from taking any action related to its dispute with Bermuda. But the Alabama Supreme Court found the preliminary injunction was unlawful because Southern Homes did not receive sufficient notice of a hearing, pursuant to Rule 65 of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure (ARCP). From the opinion:

    Southern Homes argues, among other things, that it received insufficient notice under Rule 65(a)(1), Ala. R. Civ. P., of the hearing on Bermuda's motion for a preliminary injunction, in violation of Southern Homes' due-process rights. We agree.
    Rule 65(a)(1), Ala. R. Civ. P., provides that "[n]o preliminary injunction shall be issued without notice to the adverse party." Rule 65(a)(1) does not specify how much notice must be given to the adverse party before a preliminary injunction can be issued. However, as the United States Supreme Court has held in interpreting the federal equivalent of Rule 65(a),2 the notice required by Rule 65(a) "implies a hearing in which the defendant is given a fair opportunity to oppose the application and to prepare for such opposition." Granny Goose Foods, Inc. v. Brotherhood of Teamsters & Auto Truck Drivers Local No. 70 of Alameda County, 415 U.S. 423, 434 n. 7, 94 S.Ct. 1113, 39 L.Ed.2d 435 (1974). See also Alabama Republican Party v. McGinley, 893 So.2d 337, 344 (Ala.2004) (holding that "[t]he hallmarks of procedural due process are notice and `the opportunity to be heard "at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner."'

    The Alabama Supreme Court, in Southern Homes, made a clear distinction between the notice required for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction:

    In Granny Goose Foods, the adverse party was given notice by telephone on the same day it was served with all the documents and the hearing was held, and the adverse party's counsel was present in the courtroom and argued on behalf of the adverse party at that hearing. The United States Supreme Court recognized that Rule 65(b), Fed.R.Civ.P., like Rule 65(b), Ala. R. Civ. P., authorizes a trial court to issue a 10-day temporary restraining order ("TRO") without notice to the adverse party. The Court compared the lack of any requirement of notice in Rule 65(b) for a TRO with the explicit notice requirement for issuing a preliminary injunction under Rule 65(a), Fed.R.Civ.P. The Court held that the "informal, same-day notice" that was provided to the adverse party in Granny Goose Foods, "desirable though it may be before a restraining order is issued, is no substitute for the more thorough notice requirements which must be satisfied to obtain a preliminary injunction of potentially unlimited duration." 415 U.S. at 434 n. 7, 94 S.Ct. 1113. See also Ciena Corp. v. Jarrard, 203 F.3d 312, 319 (4th Cir.2000) (holding that "[b]ecause a preliminary injunction is unlimited in duration, its entry always requires notice to the opposing party sufficient to give that party an opportunity to prepare an opposition to entry of an injunction").

    In other words, the issuance of a preliminary injunction is serious business--and it requires that an adverse party be able to prepare opposition. Lawyers for Southern Homes had roughly two hours' notice of the preliminary-injunction hearing. According to Rob Riley's own documents, we had less than 24 hours' notice. (See petition at the end of this post, plus Riley's motion to seal the record.) The Alabama Supreme Court makes it clear in Southern Homes that such notice is not sufficient:

    In the present case, it is undisputed that Southern Homes had less than two hours' notice of the hearing on Bermuda's motion for a preliminary injunction and that Southern Homes' counsel participated in the hearing only by telephone. Southern Homes was not able to submit written arguments in opposition to the motion or to submit evidence to support its arguments. Also, under the circumstances, Southern Homes could not call any witnesses. . . .

    Southern Homes had to be given notice of a hearing in which it was given a fair opportunity to oppose the motion for the preliminary injunction and to prepare for such opposition. Southern Homes simply was not given such notice. Therefore, under these circumstances, we conclude that Southern Homes did not have a fair opportunity to oppose the motion for a preliminary injunction, and, thus, the circuit court exceeded its discretion in issuing the preliminary injunction.

    Like the Southern Homes lawyers, we were given no opportunity to submit written arguments, submit evidence, or call witnesses. That means Judge Neilson exceeded his discretion in issuing a preliminary injunction. And it means we were denied due process.

    All of that doesn't even take into account the fact we were unlawfully served with the complaint, and any preliminary injunction violates long-held U.S. law forbidding prior restraint of free speech.

    How does a Yale-educated lawyer not know this, not to mention a retired Alabama judge? One can only imagine.

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    Alan Colmes
    One of the nation's leading liberal voices is shining a spotlight on Alabama Republican Rob Riley and his efforts to shut down our reporting about Riley's extramarital affair with lobbyist Liberty Duke.

    Alan Colmes reports at his Liberland blog that Riley's tactics smack of desperation and show shines of backfiring. In a post dated October 10 ("Desperation: Alabama GOPer's Harassment of Legal Blogger Backfiring?"), Colmes notes that Riley is seeking to hold me in contempt of court, even though a judge's preliminary injunction runs counter to black-letter Alabama law. Liberland compares Riley's legal shenanigans to an episode of the Keystone Kops:

    Last week, an Alabama sheriff made what appeared to be a bogus traffic stop in an attempt to serve whistleblowing legal blogger Roger Shuler with legal papers. Rob Riley, a big player in Alabama GOP politics, had apparently filed an injunction against Shuler connected to Shuler’s having exposed Riley’s extramarital affair with Liberty Duke.
    In a true Keystone Kourts move, Riley now seeks to have Shuler held in contempt of court.

    How could all of this backfire on Riley? Attention from Colmes is a sign that a backfire already is in the works--and Colmes notes that Riley is almost begging for more unflattering attention:

    Moves like that can ricochet back on the perpetrator pretty badly — especially as Shuler’s travails are being picked up by moire and more Internet sites. Riley is inadvertently begging for mainstream media coverage with his ill-conceived legal moves. As a certain other web site is fond of saying, “Developing Hard" . . .

    Colmes perhaps is best known for his 13-year run as co-host of Hannity & Colmes, a nightly political debate show on Fox News Channel. He currently is the host of The Alan Colmes Show, a nationally syndicated talk-radio show distributed by Fox News Radio. Colmes is the author of two books, Red, White & Liberal: How Left Is Right and Right Is Wrong (2003) and Thank the Liberals For Saving America (2012).

    Thanks to Colmes' longstanding ties to Fox News, Rob Riley's antics are becoming well known to a largely conservative audience, the folks that Riley apparently hopes to help represent in Congress by running for the U.S. House seat that Spencer Bachus (R-AL) is vacating. A post at Fox News Radio ("Intimidation of Law Blogger Tied to Alabama GOP Primary") picks up on that theme:

    Following a week of intimidation and attempted unlawful service of papers on a law blogger whose national profile is rapidly on the rise, more pieces of the story are falling into place.
    People who follow Alabama politics might well have put two and two together to figure out what was behind an apparent intimidation campaign targeting Roger Shuler, whose outspoken blog Legal Schnauzer has pulled no punches on matters of corruption in Alabama’s legal and judicial community.
    Last Thursday, Shuler confirmed that one Rob Riley had filed a civil case against him, which explains a litany of visits and one very questionable “traffic stop” by local law enforcement.

    After noting the apparent connections to Spencer Bacuhs' recent announcement that he will not seek re-election, the Fox News Radio piece compares Riley actions to missteps that other conservatives have made on the national stage:

    This should come as no surprise to anyone. Rob Riley’s legal tactics are not unlike those of Tea Party Republicans who have realized that they have overplayed their hand with the government shutdown and a possible debt default and cannot dig themselves out of the hole they made.
    In both cases, their actions are too little, too late.

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    Bill Pryor
    Photographs of Bill Pryor indicate the federal judge has an eye condition that clearly is present in the young "Bill Pryor" who was featured at a gay porn Web site in the 1990s.

    Strabismus is the medical term for a crossing or misalignment of the eyes. It is a disorder involving the muscles surrounding each eye, causing the two eyes to not line up in the same direction. The condition commonly is known as "crossed eyes," although only one eye is misaligned in most cases. Strabismus can lead to a vision problem called amblyopia, or "lazy eye."

    One of our sources on the Pryor story, a former agent with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, said he was convinced the young man in the gay porn photos was the current federal judge because "Bill Pryor is hard to fake a photo of."

    That probably was a reference to the fact that Judge Bill Pryor, the former attorney general of Alabama, has strabismus. The young man who appeared in the photos at badpuppy.com--reportedly taken when Pryor was a student at Northeast Louisiana University (now University of Louisiana Monroe) from 1980 to 1984--clearly has strabismus. (See a large version of the photo, with the genital area blacked out, at the bottom of this post.)

    A number of surveys show that strabismus occurs in 3 to 4 percent of the U.S. Caucasian population, including infants. The incidence in the adult population is lower than that.

    In most official photographs of recent vintage, Pryor tends to be posed toward his right, and his right eye appears to be misaligned. The young man in the gay porn photo is posed toward his left, and his left eye clearly is off center.

    How could this be? There are several possible explanations. Some cases of strabismus are constant (at least one eye is always crossed), and some are intermittent (the eyes look normal at times). Many cases involve "alternating strabismus," where the misaligned eye can change from one to the other. The Web site allaboutvision.com has one of the most clear and succinct descriptions of the condition I've seen:

    Strabismus is a failure of the two eyes to maintain proper alignment and work together as a team.
    If you have strabismus, one eye looks directly at the object you are viewing, while the other eye is misaligned inward (esotropia, "crossed eyes" or "cross-eyed"), outward (exotropia or "wall-eyed"), upward (hypertropia) or downward (hypotropia).
    Strabismus can be constant or intermittent. The misalignment also might always affect the same eye (unilateral strabismus), or the two eyes may take turns being misaligned (alternating strabismus).

    Can the severity of strabismus lessen over time? Yes, and vision therapy can help in some cases. Surgery, however, is the primary treatment for the condition:

    In most cases, the only effective treatment for a constant eye turn is strabismus surgery. If your general eye doctor finds that your child has strabismus, he or she can refer you to an ophthalmologist who specializes in strabismus surgery.
    The success of strabismus surgery depends on many factors, including the direction and magnitude of the eye turn. In some cases, more than one surgery may be required. The strabismus surgeon can give you more information about this during a pre-surgical consultation.
    Strabismus surgery also can effectively align the eyes of adults with long-standing strabismus. In many cases of adult strabismus, however, a significant degree of amblyopia may remain even after the affected eye is properly aligned. This is why early treatment of strabismus is so important.
    The earlier strabismus is treated surgically, the more likely it is that the affected eye will develop normal visual acuity and the two eyes will function together properly as a team.

    Did Bill Pryor have surgery between his college years and now to reduce the severity of strabismus? Sources who have seen Pryor a number of times in person say the eye misalignment now is noticeable, but it appears to have improved considerably from his younger days.

    The only way to know for sure about possible treatment is to ask Bill Pryor himself. We did that recently, and we soon will let you know how that went.

    (To be continued)

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    Liberty Duke
    Alabama lobbyist Liberty Duke saw her marriage dissolve under unusual circumstances in early 2006, a time frame that our sources say coincides with her extramarital affair with prominent Republican Rob Riley.

    Duke and Riley are suing my wife, Legal Schnauzer, and me, claiming that my reporting on their affair is false and defamatory. Court filings in the case include an affidavit from Duke in which she denies having an affair with Riley and claims, "To the best of my knowledge, I have never even been alone in a room with Rob Riley." These are among the documents that Riley and Duke have sought to have sealed in Shelby County Circuit Court.

    The filing also includes copies of e-mails that Duke allegedly sent to me on July 5, 2013, denying the affair with Riley even though she had failed to respond to multiple interview requests before I broke the story on January 24, 2013. Why would Duke pass on multiple opportunities to take questions on the matter--before a story ever was published--and then wait almost seven months to deny the reports? Why are she and Riley seeking a preliminary injunction that would forbid reporting on the lawsuit, even though such a restraint clearly runs counter to the "prior restraint doctrine" that has guaranteed the right to free speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution for some 230 years?

    Those are among many oddities in this story. Here is another: I recall receiving the alleged e-mails from Liberty Duke, but when I tried to respond, the messages always came back as "undelivered." I never knew if she was able to read my responses or if the person on the other end really was Liberty Duke. My computer started acting strangely after opening her e-mails, so I decided to pass on future messages that arrived from that address. I did, however, offer to take a public statement from her, and I gave her my phone number to call. She did not respond to either offer. (See affidavit and copies of e-mails at the end of this post.)

    What is unusual about Liberty Smith Duke's divorce from William Joseph Duke? For one, court documents show the couple lived in Chilton County--at 1155 County Road 368 in Verbena--but the divorce case was filed in Talladega County. Sources tell Legal Schnauzer that Talladega is known as an Alabama jurisdiction where divorces can be obtained quickly. Filing a divorce action in Talladega County also can keep sensitive information away from prying eyes in the home county.

    Public documents in the Duke divorce do not include any inflammatory information, but that likely is because the case was resolved so quickly. Our sources say that someone was at risk of having dirty laundry revealed if the case did not reach a quick resolution. Given that William Duke initiated the divorce as plaintiff, the party in a weak position likely was Liberty Duke--and that almost certainly was due to her affair with Rob Riley.

    Liberty Duke did not contest the divorce, and she did not even hire an attorney to fight it.

    Rob Riley
    How quickly did the Duke divorce reach a conclusion? William Duke filed the complaint on February 27, 2006, and a final divorce decree was issued on April 5, 2006. The whole thing was over in little more than a month, even though the Dukes were married for 14 years, they had two children, and a fair amount of property.

    As a comparison, the Rollins v. Rollins case that we have covered extensively was litigated for three years in its proper jurisdiction, Greenville, South Carolina, before being unlawfully moved to Shelby County, Alabama, for more litigation.

    Liberty Duke now is claiming that our reporting on the Rob Riley affair is false and defamatory. But she passed on multiple opportunities to answer questions on the subject, and court documents show that she got divorced under duress. Her husband initiated the divorce, she did not contest it, and she clearly had no bargaining power--for some reason.

    (To be continued)

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    Tony Farese
    How many ways can a criminal-defense lawyer cheat his own client? The prosecution of Mississippi insurance broker Ken Nowlin presents a classic case study on that disturbing question.

    The Bush Justice Department indicted Nowlin, alleging he and former Lafayette County Supervisor Gary Massey had engaged in a kickback scheme involving an employee health-care contract. The case never went to trial because both men pleaded guilty, but a growing body of evidence suggests they were unlawfully pressured to plead guilty to crimes they did not commit.

    How could this happen in a democracy where counsel supposedly has a sacred duty to represent the best interests of his client? The answer seems to be this: Quite a few attorneys do not take their sacred duties seriously--and that especially seems to apply at the Ashland, Mississippi, firm of Farese Farese & Farese.

    We've already shown that one member of that august firm, Steve Farese Sr., was so busy sexually harassing client Penni Tingle that she wound up entering a guilty plea that she now seeks to have overturned. Anthony L. "Tony" Farese was slightly more subtle with his client, Ken Nowlin. But the end result was the same--a government target wound up pleading guilty to a "crime" we now know he almost certainly did not commit.

    Our research indicates members of the Farese firm are more interested in gaining favor with government prosecutors than in representing the best interests of their clients. We also see signs that the Farese lawyers are not alone; Birmingham lawyer G. Douglas Jones, who once served as defense counsel for former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, seems to have a similar habit. In fact, Jones testified before Congress in 2007 about his undying respect for Bill Pryor, the former Alabama attorney general and current federal judge who is responsible for launching the Siegelman investigation.

    How did Tony Farese coax a bogus guilty plea out of Ken Nowlin? For one thing, it's important to understand that federal statutes tend to be written in such murky language that most citizens have no idea what they say. God only knows how many Americans have pleaded guilty to violating statutes that they could not begin to understand--and in some cases, we are talking about defendants who are well educated.

    Public documents show that Farese used a sort of "yin and yang" game with Nowlin--failing to dig for information that might have proven his client's innocence, while applying extraordinary pressure about the dangers of going to trial. (See document at the end of this post.) Let's take a closer look at how these two con games worked:

    * Evidence, what evidence? Court documents show that Nowlin informed Farese repeatedly that Massey had a letter from Lafayette County Scot Spragins, saying that the payment arrangement Nowlin and Massey planned to implement was lawful. In fact, Nowlin told Farese and assistant U.S. attorneys Tom Dawson and David Sanders about the letter during a meeting on March 19, 2007. From the court file, where Nowlin is referred to as "petitioner":

    During this meeting, Petitioner explained how and why he paid Massey the way he did. He also told them about the letter Mr. Massey said he had that allowed Petitioner to pay Mr. Massey the way he did. When Mr. Dawson asked Petitioner for a copy of the letter, Petitioner told him that he did not have one but they could get a copy of the letter from Mr. Massey. He explained that he and Mr. Massey did not conspire to hide anything and that there was no kickback or bribe involved in the way he paid Mr. Massey. Petitioner told them that Mr. Massey did not even know how he was paying him.

    Did Farese make any effort to obtain a copy of this letter, which likely would have proven his client's innocence? It doesn't look like it. Nowlin wound up pleading guilty, and five days later, a Mississippi newspaper published an article about the Spragins letter to Massey.

    * The prospect of a 75-year sentence--Nowlin began frantically calling Farese's office, to get a meeting about withdrawing the guilty plea. They could not meet with Farese until almost two months later. Larry Nowlin attended that meeting with his brother and provides this account in an affidavit:

    Partly on my advice, Ken pled guilty on July 27, 2007. On September 28, 2007, I drove Ken to Ashland to see Farese. During this meeting, Ken told Farese that he wanted to withdraw his guilty pleea and tried to explain to Farese that he would have earned his four percent override on the Lafayette County insurance account no matter who had the insurance with the county. Farese became very angry and told Ken that he could not understand how he had ever made what he had made of himself as dumb as he was. Farese told us that we were not going to embarrass him and started dictating a letter saying that he was getting out of the case and told us to get out of his office.
    Farese called me later that day and told me that if Ken was allowed to withdraw his guilty plea, he could be going to prison for 75 years. Farese also told me that if Ken insisted in going to trial, it would cost Ken more than $200,000. On my advice, Ken wrote Farese and told him that he did not want to withdraw his guilty plea . . .

    Ken Nowlin wound up being sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. But we can all be thankful that Tony Farese was not embarrassed before his prosecutorial buddies.

    (To be continued)

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    Bill Pryor at
    A blog that spotlights news in the gay porn industry is asking its readers to help track down all of the photos of U.S. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor that appeared at badpuppy.com in the 1990s.

    GayPornBlog.com (GPB), which definitely is NSFW (Not Safe For Work), picked up on a story that we broke here at Legal Schnauzer. The GPB post istitled "Did Notoriously Anti-Gay Federal Judge William Pryor Pose Nude for Badpuppy?"

    The GayPornBlog report says the Pryor photo gallery included 12 images. We have published only one photo so far, although our sources connected to Alabama law enforcement say their investigation in 1997 turned up "eight or nine" images.

    Pryor's unfriendly public stances toward the gay community attracted the attention of editors at GayPornBlog:

    A former state attorney general of Alabama from 1997-2003 (and the youngest state attorney general at the time), Judge William Pryor was nominated to the Eleventh Circuit by President George W. Bush in April, 2003.
    Since then, the staunchly conservative judge has proven to be an outspoken homophobe. In 2005, Pryor wrote a brief to the Supreme Court on behalf of the Texas anti-sodomy law where he argued that decriminalized gay sex would lead to legalized necrophilia, bestiality and child pornography.
    Lambda Legal Task Force President called him “an ideological tyrant of the highest order.”

    Who are the folks behind GayPornBlog? The site's "About Us" page says it is the work of Jack Shamama and Mike Stabile. Here is more about the site:

    Gay Porn Blog has been blogging about gay porn since there was an internet with porn to blog about. It has been featured in Salon, Slate, Huffington Post, Out and many others.
    It is run by Mike Stabile and Jack Shamama. Jack Shamama was born in Brooklyn and moved to Miami’s tony South Beach for his adolescence. He’s been fending off men ever since. Jack prefers Yoko Ono and Jessica Simpson.
    Mike Stabile first discovered the power of porn in boarding school, when he would trade his father’s Playboy centerfolds for social currency. He’s been trading sex for favors ever since. Mike likes John Lennon and Ashlee Simpson.
    Mike and Jack have been best friends since college and both work in the gay porn industry. Their writing has, collectively and separately, appeared in magazines such as Playboy, Daily Beast, Salon, Huffington Post, the Village Voice, Pug Talk, Out.com and others.

    That intro might be light-hearted, but these guys are not lightweights. Shamama is an award-winning author, producer, and screenwriter. Much of his commentary has focused on technology, social networking, and adult entertainment. He has been interviewed by a number of news outlets about Apple products.

    Stabile has extensive experience as a documentary filmmaker, and currently is working on a film about GLBT philanthropist Chuck Holmes. An industry publication named GayPornBlog the best adult blog of 2005, and several of Stabile's screenplays have been nominated for GayVN Awards.

    Obviously, GayPornBlog has been around a long time, and it has a high profile in the blogosphere. We can't help but be impressed with the blog's public spirit, as seen from its determination to help unearth any and all gay-porn photos of Judge Bill Pryor. After running a nude photo of Pryor from badpuppy.com next to one of Pryor in his judicial finery, the GPB editors had this to say:

    It seems like it could very well be Pryor, who is a married father of two. Posing naked is not something we would normally chide someone for doing. Given the fact that he’s been classified as one of the most demonstrably anti-gay judicial nominees in recent memory adds a level of hypocrisy to the whole equation. What do you guys think? (Also, if anyone has any of the other 11 photos from the set, please feel free to email them to us!)

    That e-mail address at GPB is jack@fauxjob.com.

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    A Shelby County sheriff deputy trampled the U.S. Constitution when he recently conducted a traffic stop to "serve" my wife and me with court papers in a defamation lawsuit that Alabama Republican Rob Riley has filed against us.

    Lt. Mike DeHart probably committed a criminal act when he stopped our vehicle without probable cause to believe a traffic violation had been committed. DeHart compounded his lawless acts by unlawfully prolonging the traffic stop in order to serve us with court papers.

    A traffic stop is considered a seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, which protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. A law-enforcement officer who treats such matters loosely is asking for serious trouble.

    DeHart essentially urinated on 45 years of U.S. Supreme Court precedent on the law of traffic stops. In the process, he gave us grounds for a civil-rights lawsuit, a criminal investigation via the U.S. Justice Department and the Alabama Attorney General's Office--and he ensured that "service" in the Riley lawsuit is improper and invalid.

    What are the implications? We have grounds to sue DeHart, Sheriff Chris Curry, and anyone else in the department who knowingly participated in, planned, or approved the unconstitutional traffic stop. We likely have grounds, under 42 U.S. Code 1983. to sue Rob Riley and co-plaintiff Liberty Duke, who allege in their lawsuit that our reporting on their extramarital affair is false and defamatory. 

    We also have grounds to seek an investigation of a criminal conspiracy. The governing criminal law is found at 18 U.S.C. 242 (Deprivation of rights under color of law).

    The law on traffic stops in the United States--at both the federal and state levels--largely is based in a Supreme Court case styled Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). Any law-enforcement officer should be well acquainted with the provisions of Terry, plus the hundreds of cases that have grown from it.

    Officer DeHart acted as if he had never heard of the Terry case. In fact, DeHart seemed to find his unlawful traffic stop amusing, especially when he handed me the court papers--after his "traffic business" had concluded--and smugly said, "Mr. Shuler, you've been served."

    My response? Officer DeHart, you've been unmasked as a lawless thug--and your career might be in jeopardy.

    Here are the basics of traffic-stop law, as found in a long line of cases from the Eleventh Circuit, which covers Alabama, Georgia, and Florida:

    * The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. U.S. Const. amend. IV. “A traffic stop is a seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.” United States v. Purcell, 236 F.3d 1274, 1277 (11th Cir., 2001)

    * Ordinarily, when a citation or warning has been issued and all record checks have been completed and come back clean, the legitimate investigative purpose of the traffic stop is fulfilled. United States v. Simms, 385 F.3d 1347, 1353 (11th Cir., 2004)

    * However, an officer may detain an individual beyond the purposes of the traffic stop if there is “articulable suspicion illegal activity has occurred or is occurring” or if the driver consents. United States v. Pruitt, 174 F.3d 1215, 1220 (11th Cir., 1999).

    DeHart claimed I had rolled through a stop sign while making a left-hand turn at a "T intersection" in our neighborhood. I immediately told him I did not roll through the stop sign, and we have shown that DeHart likely could not even see the stop sign in question from his stated location. (For the record, I believe DeHart was waiting for us at or near the North Shelby County Library, where he made the stop. I don't think he was anywhere in the vicinity to see me stop and turn left at the T intersection.)

    DeHart had no probable cause to believe a traffic violation had occurred, so his traffic stop amounted to an unreasonable seizure from the outset. But he really stepped in doo-doo by prolonging the stop to hand us court papers. The "legitimate purpose" of the traffic stop had been fulfilled at that point, and DeHart could only detain us further based on "an articulable suspicion illegal activity has occurred or is occurring."

    Clearly, Mrs. Schnauzer and I were not engaged in criminal activity in the parking lot of the North Shelby County Library in broad daylight. 

    That means DeHart went way beyond his lawful boundaries, simply to serve a lawsuit on Rob Riley's behalf. In the process, the deputy probably engaged in a criminal act, and if we have a say in the matter, his law-enforcement career might soon be over.

    (To be continued)

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    Bill Pryor
    Both federal judge Bill Pryor and a young man who posed under that name at a gay porn Web site in the 1990s appear to have an eye condition called strabismus. The Bill Pryor who sits on the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, however, wants no part of taking questions on the subject.

    The Eleventh Circuit is based in Atlanta, but Pryor's primary office--his "duty station," as it's called in the judicial trade--is at the Hugo Black U.S. Courthouse right here in Birmingham. Pryor's residence is in the Birmingham suburb of Vestavia Hills, not too far from my home in North Shelby County.

    It seemed only natural to contact Pryor and seek comment about strabismus, which affects 3 to 4 percent of the U.S. Caucasian population and appears to be present in at least two gentlemen named Bill Pryor--one who sits on the federal bench and one who revealed all for the gay porn Web site badpuppy.com in the 1990s.

    You might think that Pryor, with his lifetime appointment that is 100 percent funded by taxpayer dollars, might feel an obligation to answer questions from the public on any number of topics, even one that understandably might make him a tad uncomfortable. But you would be wrong.

    We kept our query about strabismus short and sweet, trying to make things as convenient as possible for Pryor. But he still wouldn't bite. Here is the message we sent via e-mail:

    This is a followup on my reporting at Legal Schnauzer.
    Do you have a condition known as strabismus, which is a crossing or misalignment of the eyes?
    Have you ever been treated for strabismus?
    Would you release copies of your medical records as it relates to any and all eye care?
    Thank you,
    Roger Shuler

    Pryor already has denied that the young man in the badpuppy.com photos is him, so you might think it would be easy for the judge to reply, "The guy in the porn photo isn't me, and I don't have strabismus."

    Of course, we have photographic evidence that suggests both "Bill Pryor, the judge" and "Bill Pryor, the porn star" do have strabismus. 

    Maybe that's why the judge wanted no part of our questions.

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    Wayne Madsen
    Republican Rob Riley's efforts to silence our reporting on his extramarital affair with lobbyist Liberty Duke are akin to what one might expect to see in a third-world country, a Washington, D.C.-based investigative journalist writes.

    Wayne Madsen has more than 20 years of experience with national-security issues, and his journalism has appeared in numerous daily newspapers, including The Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He is the editor of the online Wayne Madsen Report, and his work has appeared in a wide variety of political journals from both the left and right, including In These Times, CorpWatch, and The American Conservative.

    Madsen minces no words about Riley's unlawful efforts to seek a preliminary injunction and contempt finding against me, my wife, and this blog. (Why are Riley and his paramour, Ms. Duke, suing Mrs. Schnauzer? They claim she is "administrator" and "contributor" at this blog. Never mind that I am Legal Schnauzer's one and only author.)

    Even though we have not been lawfully served with the Riley/Duke complaint, my wife and I have seen court filings that indicate they are seeking our arrest for . . . get this . . . practicing journalism. You can almost hear Madsen's eyes rolling and his teeth clinching as he writes about Rob Riley's antics. (Wayne Madsen Report is a subscription-only Web site, but we have received permission to reprint some of his material here. Madsen's full article about the Rob Riley injunction can be viewed at the end of this post.)

    Writes Madsen:

    Roger Shuler, a veteran journalist with 13 years with the Birmingham News and a graduate of the University of Missouri's School of Journalism, one of America's top journalism education institutions, now knows what it's like to be a journalist in a Third World country like Sierra Leone or Honduras.
    After writing a series of articles on his website Legal Schnauzer, Shuler has been hit with a "nuisance subpoena" by prospective GOP U.S. House candidate Rob Riley, the son of Alabama's former Governor Bob Riley, the man whose political chicanery and vote count rigging cost Democratic Governor Don Siegelman his job in the 2002 election and paved the way for Bob Riley to move into the Governor's Mansion in Montgomery for two terms. The younger Riley is planning to run for the seat of retiring Representative Spencer Bachus and is launching his bid by silencing Shuler, one of Alabama's most outspoken muckraking journalists bird dogging to Rileys and their nepotistic and kleptocratic political corruption.

    Madsen is just getting warmed up with that blistering salvo. He goes on to note our recent reports about U.S. Judge Bill Pryor, a long-time ally of the Riley family and Bush-era political strategist Karl Rove:

    Junior Samples
    Shuler has also gone after U.S. Judge Bill Pryor, a former Alabama Attorney General who is now a member of the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals who refused to recuse himself in the appeal of Siegelman who was sentenced to six and a half years in federal prison on trumped up charges brought by a cabal of Karl Rove GOP politicos in the U.S. Attorneys' Offices in Montgomery and Birmingham in a trial presided over by U.S. Judge for the Middle District of Alabama, Mark Fuller. Shuler doggedly pursued sex scandal stories involving Fuller, Pryor, and current Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, all Republican "family values" politicians.
    Shuler's latest story concerns nude photographs of Pryor published by a gay porn website specializing in erotica featuring young males. So what's the problem if Pryor was of legal age at the time the photos were taken? Shuler nails it in one sentence: "In 2005, Pryor wrote a brief to the Supreme Court on behalf of the Texas anti-sodomy law where he argued that decriminalized gay sex would lead to legalized necrophilia, bestiality and child pornography." Well now. I guess the Eleventh Circuit should ensure that Pryor keeps his distance from funeral homes, barns, and day care centers.

    Madsen has written extensively about Alabama's dysfunctional political culture. But even a veteran like Madsen seems taken aback by the absurdity of Rob Riley's recent actions:

    WMR has been reporting on political and judicial malfeasance in Alabama for a number of years. Overall, Alabama Republican politicians and judges evoke memories of Al Capp's Jubilation T. Cornpone, Hee Haw's Junior Samples, and Green Acres's Eustace Charleston Haney, otherwise known as "Mr. Haney." Bumbling, goofball, ignorant, and corrupt vestiges of a bygone plantation-era South don't even come close to describing what passes for judges and political leaders in the state that refers to itself as the "Heart of Dixie."

    The judge who has been assigned to hear the Riley/Duke complaint has a dubious past, Madsen reports. That would be the retired Claud D. Nielson, of Demopolis:

    Rob Riley convinced Alabama Supreme Court Judge Roy Moore, of Ten Commandments-in-the-courtroom infamy, to appoint retired Alabama state judge, Claud Neilson, to act as a special judge to handle a lawsuit brought by Rob Riley against Shuler and his wife. Neilson is the man who, in 2009, dismissed remaining deadlocked counts after a jury voted not guilty on the majority of sexual abuse, sodomy, and assault charges brought against Mobile Circuit Court Judge Herman Thomas. After Riley Junior submitted a motion for all matters in his suit against Shuler to be sealed, Neilson agreed.
    Only in Alabama could a journalist be enjoined by a judge not to write about a candidate for public office. This action by Neilson is a flagrant violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Alabama remains subject to the U.S. Bill of Rights, regardless of what the Tea Party and its ZZ Top- and Charlie Daniels-looking truckers and motorcyclists may believe.

    Madsen finds a certain level of humor in Riley's actions. But he also notes their potentially serious implications:

    Reporting on Alabama politicians is like taking a walk down nostalgia lane behind the "Kudzu Curtain"
    The actions by Neilson raises the issue now being debated in Washington about media shield laws for journalists. A number of entrenched politicians, including Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas and Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California, do not believe independent journalists with websites, blogs, or newsletters should be considered journalists under a federal shield law that would protect only corporate journalists from having to testify before juries and grand juries about their sources. . .
    The Alabama nuisance subpoena, SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) suit, and court gag order against Shuler and his wife not only have repercussions for the press in Alabama but a finding against Shuler and Legal Schnauzer will definitely be used as cited case law for other corrupt politicians to bring legal action against independent journalists in other jurisdictions far beyond Alabama.

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    Rob Riley
    Alabama Republican Rob Riley has filed a proposed court order that seeks the arrest of my wife and me for reporting here at Legal Schnauzer on Riley's extramarital affair with lobbyist Liberty Duke.

    Riley, who reportedly plans to seek the U.S. House seat being vacated by Spencer Bachus, wants two citizens arrested for--get this--practicing journalism.

    The preceding paragraphs were not taken from The Onion. They also were not pulled from a document that dates to Josef Stalin's Soviet Union. They are for real, and they are happening right now in Karl Rove's Alabama. (What makes my home state "Karl Rove's Alabama"? The answer can be found in Joshua Green's definitive article on the subject, "Karl Rove In a Corner," from a 2004 issue of The Atlantic.)

    Rove no longer presides over the White House, but Rob Riley's actions are glaring proof that Rovian arrogance and lawlessness still reign over Alabama and other deep-red states across the South.

    Riley's father, two-term GOP governor Bob Riley, took office in 2002 on the "strength" of blatant election theft that Rove acolytes almost certainly engineered. Bob Riley also benefited from $20 million that GOP felon Jack Abramoff has admitted funneling into Alabama because a proposed education lottery from Democrat incumbent Don Siegelman posed a financial threat to Abramoff's Indian-gaming clients in neighboring Mississippi.

    The skinny? Rob Riley is deeply connected to some of the most corrupt activities in modern American political history. So it should be no surprise that, contrary to his "pro family" and "pro life" public stances, Riley engaged in an affair with Liberty Duke that led to an abortion and the payment of $250,000 in hush money. It also should be no surprise that Riley is trying to quash our reporting on the subject, especially now that Spencer Bachus has surprised many observers by deciding to abandon his safe Congressional seat.

    How exactly is Rob Riley trying to circumvent the First Amendment and force our reporting out of public view? The latest salvo is found in a cover letter and proposed court order, dated October 7 and prepared under the name of Jay Murrill, an attorney in the Riley Jackson law firm. (See a copy of the cover letter and proposed order at the end of this post.)

    The proposed order explicitly seeks to have my wife and me arrested if we failed to appear at a court hearing that was set for last Thursday (October 18) at the Shelby County Courthouse in Columbiana. The hearing was designed to hold us in contempt for refusing to abide by an unlawful preliminary injunction. Here is the key segment of the proposed order:

    Pursuant to Ala. R. Civ. P. 70A(c)(2), Respondents [Mrs. Schnauzer and me] are hereby notified that failure to appear at the aforesaid hearing may result in an issuance of a writ of arrest pursuant to Ala. R. Civ. P. 70A(d) to compel the Respondents' presence.

    Did we attend the hearing at Rob Riley's kangaroo court? No, we did not--and here are three reasons why:

    * We have not been lawfully served with the summons and complaint, meaning the court has no jurisdiction over us. Shelby County Sheriff's deputy Mike DeHart "served" us during the course of an unconstitutional traffic stop, and service has been challenged as improper and invalid;

    * We were not given lawful notice of a hearing on the preliminary injunction, meaning no such injunction currently exists under Alabama law;

    * Such an injunction violates the "prior restraint" doctrine that forbids injunctions in defamation lawsuits. Prior restraint grew out of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and has only been around, in one form or another, for about 230 years.

    In a semi-functional democracy, Rob Riley would be embarrassed to file such a proposed court order. Retired Circuit Judge Claud D. Neilson, who was appointed by the Alabama Supreme Court to hear this case, would be embarrassed to even think about granting it.

    But this is Karl Rove's Alabama. Long-settled law and constitutionally guaranteed civil rights mean little or nothing here.

    (To be continued)

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