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

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    Gincie Walker Upton
    A central figure in the Upton v. Upton divorce case has strong connections to probably one of the worst cases of child sexual abuse in Alabama history.

    Gincie Walker essentially was the daughter of Linda and Bill Upton when she began a sexual relationship with Bill, who is the multimillionaire president of Vulcan Steel Products in Pelham. That prompted Bill Upton to file for divorce from Linda, his wife of more than 30 years, and led to a case that included numerous dubious rulings by private judge Gary Pate.

    Bill Upton, who generally was the beneficiary of Pate's rulings, has since married Gincie Walker (her name now is Gincie Walker Upton), and they live in Mountain Brook. Linda Upton has remarried and still lives in the marital residence after being forced to pay Bill Upton for his share of the property, despite egregious marital misconduct -- to which Bill Upton admitted in a deposition.

    Where does child sexual abuse enter the picture? Gincie Walker Upton has been diagnosed with multiple-personality disorder, with roughly 30 distinct personalities. How did Ms. Upton come to have such a severe mental disability? Multiple factors probably are involved, but she was born into a family that apparently took dysfunction to levels most people cannot imagine.

    Her biological father is Dr. William Flynn Walker. By all accounts that we've heard, Dr. Walker was a brilliant physician and a major figure in the evangelical religious movement in Shelby and south Jefferson counties. He was a leader at Briarwood Presbyterian Church before going on to start Evangel Christian School, a home-school ministry of Evangel Church PCA (Presbyterian Church of America) in Alabaster.

    But Dr. William Flynn Walker's life behind the facade included horrifying acts against children. In October 2005, he was indicted on seven counts related to child sexual abuse. This is from a a Shelby County Reporter article on the case:

    A well-known member of the Shelby County home-school community has been indicted by a federal grand jury for interstate transportation of children for illegal sex acts.

    William Flynn Walker, 48, of Shelby, was charged in a seven-count indictment filed last week in U.S. District Court in Birmingham.

    Walker is charged with transporting three different children across state lines between 1984 and 2004 and engaging in illegal sexual acts with them.

    Our research indicates conservative religious and political figures have been remarkably quiet about the case from the outset. In fact, state law-enforcement officials in Shelby County reportedly ignored evidence of Walker's secret life until federal officials finally entered the picture when he transported children across state lines. Here is more from the Shelby County Reporter:

    Walker is known in home-school circles for his role in the founding of Evangel Christian School, a Helena-based organization formed as a ministry of Evangel Church, PCA.

    However, church leaders refused to comment on Walker’s official role at the church or with the home-school group.

    If convicted on federal charges, Walker could face a maximum sentence of 130 years in prison and a fine of $1,750.

    He also faces prosecution by the Shelby County District Attorney’s office, stemming from two sex-related charges filed in May.

    Walker was arrested in Jefferson County, where he worked as a physician in Birmingham and charged with sexual abuse and first-degree sodomy.

    Would Walker have gotten away with sodomy, sexual abuse, and other unspeakable acts involving children if he had not invoked federal jurisdiction by transporting children across state lines? Our guess is yes -- that powerful religious, political, and law-enforcement figures were determined to cover for him, probably because of his ties to Briarwood and Evangel Christian.

    Evangel Christian PCA in Alabaster, AL

    In August 2006, William Flynn Walker was sentenced to 27 years in federal prison, without the possibility of parole. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison on the state charges. He is due for release in 2033 and will be on state probation for the rest of his life. From a Shelby County Reporter article:

    Shelby resident William Flynn Walker, 49, who was indicted last October on seven counts of transporting minors across state lines and engaging in sex acts with minors, was sentenced in federal court last week to serve 27 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

    Walker was also sentenced to 20 years in prison in Shelby County district court in April. Walker will serve the two sentences concurrently.

    Walker was sentenced on charges that he transported three separate children seven times over state lines to commit sex acts with them between 1984 and 2004.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Phillips confirmed Monday that Walker will also be required to pay $100,000 in restitution for his crimes.

    Strangely, the article does not say if Walker pleaded guilty or was convicted by a jury. In another strange twist, a search at al.com turns up nothing about the William Flynn Walker case--and I can find no photos of William Flynn Walker on the Web.

    William Flynn Walker is being held at the Federal Correctional Institute at Butner, North Carolina. Here is information about him from the Federal Bureau of Prisons Web site:


    WILLIAM FLYNN WALKER

    Register Number: 25462-001

    Age: 59

    Race: White

    Sex: Male

    Located at: Butner Low FCI

    Release Date: 11/15/2023

    We are guessing that the 2023 release date is a mistake. A 27-year sentence should put his release at 2033, as stated in news reports.

    Bill and Gincie Upton
    (From facebook.com)


    Was Gincie Walker Upton, as a child, one of her father's victims? Did he have accomplices who abused her and other children? It seems unlikely that Dr. Walker acted alone, although no one else has been implicated in the case. Was Gincie Walker abused in a way that led her to have multiple-personality disorder--and did that condition play a major role in the breakup of the Upton marriage?

    This much seems clear: Linda Upton, who adopted four special-needs children and fostered numerous others, genuinely seemed to be trying to help a troubled youngster when she took Gincie Walker into her home. That led her husband to engage in abominable behavior, and Alabama's dysfunctional court system piled on by making sure Linda Upton would receive a division of property that was nowhere near what she was entitled to under the law.

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    U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta
    Republicans stalling on President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court are committing a grave injustice. That's because, by pretty much all published accounts, Garland is qualified to sit on the nation's highest court.

    If Republicans also are stalling on Obama's nomination of Abdul Kallon to the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals -- and that appears to be the case -- they are doing us a favor. That's because Kallon is a dreadful judge, and I've seen his sorry act with mine own eyes multiple times.

    Why is Kallon so bad? Well, let's consider the following question that many Americans surely have asked themselves: Why is it so frustrating to deal with judges and courts? Answer: Even when you are right about a key issue, and the court admits you are right, judges still find a way to make it look like you are wrong--and to deny you justice. Abdul Kallon taught me that one.

    My wife, Carol, and I experienced a classic example of this phenomenon in Roger Shuler and Carol Shuler v. William E. Swatek, et al, a case that involved an unlawful sheriff's sale that cheated us out of full rights to property we had owned for more than 20 years at the time.

    We've shown that  Kallon, who currently sits on the federal bench in the Northern District of Alabama, botched his ruling on a simple issue involving Carol's rights to her own home. Given that Obama has nominated Kallon to a seat on the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, this should concern every American. It certainly should concern the some 33 million people who live in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida--the three states covered by the Eleventh Circuit.

    Kallon found that he could not consider Carol's claims because he lacked subject-matter jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman Doctrine. We argued, in a Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment and in our appellate brief, that Carol was not a party to the underlying state case, so Rooker-Feldman did not apply to her. In other words, Kallon was wrong, and he had to hear her claims. (Note: For purposes of this post, we will assume Kallon correctly excluded my claims because of Rooker-Feldman. That's not the case, but by focusing only on Carol's claims, we hope to simplify matters and make this post easier to understand. I was, at least, a party to the underlying state action, but Carol was not.)

    What happened next was astounding. The Eleventh Circuit found that we were right, and Kallon was wrong -- that Carol's claims were not precluded by Rooker-Feldman and had to be heard by the district court. But the Eleventh Circuit cheated Carol anyway, by borrowing a point Kallon had ruled on (incorrectly) and applying it to Carol's claims -- even though her claims had not been heard in the district court, as the appellate court found they must.

    That probably sounds like a mind-twister to many readers, but it's a classic example of how convoluted court corruption can be. Let's see if I can provide a little clarity: The Eleventh Circuit essentially found that Carol had wrongly been deprived of a hearing on her claims in the trial court, but then threw out her claims on grounds that the trial court had not heard--it could not have adequately heard those grounds, of course, because it had not heard Carol's claims at all.

    Here is a fundamental holding of law: An appellate court is supposed to rule only on issues adequately heard and raised in the trial court. But that's not what happened in Shuler, et al v. Swatek, et al. It's a sign, in my view, that the Eleventh Circuit was more interested in protecting Kallon than it was in dispensing justice. The law required, as the Eleventh Circuit admitted, that Carol's claims be heard by the trial court. But they never were.

    On what did the Eleventh Circuit hang its flimsy ruling? It found that Carol's claims against our troublesome neighbor (the criminally inclined Mike McGarity) and his sleazy lawyer, Bill Swatek, must fail because McGarity and Swatek were not "state actors" for purposes of a civil-rights claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Specifically, here is what the appellate panel found:

    Finally, Carol Shuler contends that the district court erred in dismissing her claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985 against William Swatek and Mike McGarity for failure to state a claim. Section 1983 provides a right of action only against "a person acting under color of state law." Holmes v. Crosby, 418 F.3d 1256, 1258 (11th Cir. 2005). Although neither Swatek nor McGarity are state officials, Carol Shuler argues that they can be held liable under § 1983 because they obtained a writ of execution against the Shulers' property and caused the writ to be enforced. However, this contention is insufficient to state a violation of § 1983, because "one who has obtained a state court order or judgment is not engaged in state action merely because [he] used the state court legal process."Cobb v. Ga. Power Co., 757 F.2d 1248, 1251 (11th Cir. 1985).

    Where did the Eleventh Circuit judges come up with Cobb v. Ga. Power Co. and one of its findings? They borrowed it from Kallon; it's right there on page 31 of his memorandum opinion in our case.

    Abdul Kallon
    There's a slight problem with borrowing material from Kallon -- he's likely to get it wrong, and that's exactly what he did in this instance. Most of us learn this lesson in third grade -- if you are going to copy off someone's paper, copy from one of the smart kids, not one of the dummies. The Eleventh Circuit copied from a bad judge and -- surprise, surprise -- they got it wrong.

    What's the correct law? We cited it in our appellate brief. (See full appellate brief at the end of this post.)

    The district court found that Swatek and McGarity were protected from the Shulers‟ 1983 claims because they were not acting under color of state law. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, has held that private individuals who act jointly with state officials are deemed to be acting under color of state law. In Lugar v. Edmondson, 457 U.S. 922 (1982), our nation’s highest court found: “As is clear from the discussion in Part II, we have consistently held that a private party's joint participation with state officials in the seizure of disputed property is sufficient to characterize that party as a "state actor‟ for purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment. The rule in these cases is the same as that articulated in Adickes v. S.H. Kress and Co., supra, at 152, in the context of an equal protection deprivation: "Private persons, jointly engaged with state officials in the prohibited action, are acting "under color‟ of law for purposes of the statute. To act "under color‟ of law does not require that the accused be an officer of the State. It is enough that he is a willful participant in joint activity with the State or its agents," quoting United States v. Price, 383 U.S., at 794.

    How badly did the Eleventh Circuit, likely in conjunction with Kallon, want to make sure Carol's claims were not heard. As you can see above, the appellate court was willing to ignore clear findings from three U.S. Supreme Court cases. That tells me the fix was firmly locked in place.

    Is there much a citizen can do in such situations? Not really. The only realistic option is to file a Petition for an En Banc hearing, which we did. (See petition at the end of this post.) Those, however, are rarely granted, and ours was denied.

    The only other option is to seek review from the U.S. Supreme Court. For most citizens, the chances of getting hit by a piece of space debris probably is greater than the chance of having a case heard by SCOTUS.. On top of that, the expense of seeking Supreme Court review is prohibitive for many regular folks.

    And so, Abdul Kallon (with help from the Eleventh Circuit) made sure that my wife had no chance at justice. This is the kind of judge Barack Obama wants to promote?

    If you are a Democrat, that notion should make you want to vomit.








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    Sureshbhai Patel
    (Fifth post in a series)

    Why did U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala throw out criminal charges against Alabama police officer Eric Parker in the vicious body slamming of Sureshbhai Patel, a grandfather from India? It certainly is not because Haikala's finding is well grounded in the law; we've shown in multiple posts that it isn't. (See previous posts at the end of this post.)

    The law strongly suggests this case should have gone to a third jury after the first two deadlocked, that the key issue was a matter for jurors to decide. But Haikala did not allow that to happen.

    Our research suggests Haikala's reasoning might best be summed up this way: Parker had to make a split-second decision about how to handle Patel, and his actions therefore could not meet the willful component required in a criminal civil-rights-case under 18 U.S.C. 242. The government had to show that Parker acted willfully -- that he had a specific intent to deprive Patel of his right to be free from excessive force --  and the split-second nature of the interaction between Parker and Patel makes it impossible for the government to meet that burden.

    Here are Judge Haikala's own words on the subject, from page 90 of her 92-page opinion:

    The evidence here reveals that Officer Parker made a split-second decision in a rapidly evolving situation rather than a premeditated decision to use violent force. . . . The Court does not mean to suggest that a single, split-second decision can never arise to the level of a constitutional violation so egregious that it supports a finding of intentional conduct. The record in this case simply is not strong enough to eliminate reasonable doubt. For that reason, the Court grants Officer Parker’s renewed motion for judgment of acquittal.

    Haikala is being disingenuous here; she actually IS suggesting that an officer almost never can be held criminally accountable, at the federal level, if he acts in a stressful, harried situation. More importantly, Haikala ignores the full legal meaning of the word "willfully" in Section 242 cases.

    That's strange because Haikala cites the full meaning of the term, upon which the Patel case largely hinges, on page 53 of her opinion:

    “A person acts ‘willfully’ for purposes of section 242 when he acts with ‘a specific intent to deprive a person of a federal right made definite by decision or other rule of law,’ or ‘in open defiance or in reckless disregard of a constitutional requirement which has been made specific and definite.’” United States v. House, 684 F.3d 1173, 1199-1200 (11th Cir. 2012) (quoting Screws v. United States, 325 U.S. 91, 103, 105 (1945)).

    As you can see, it's not just a matter of whether Parker acted with "specific intent." It also is a matter of whether he acted with "reckless disregard" of a constitutional requirement.

    We invite you to view the video below and ask yourself, "Did Parker act with reckless disregard for Patel's rights when he clearly used a leg swipe to knock the older man's feet out from under him, causing him to land head-first on the ground, becoming partially paralyzed and sustaining injuries that required spinal fusion surgery?"

    As Haikala acknowledges on page page 89 of her ruling, "willfulness generally is a question that a jury must resolve, and jurors generally are tasked with the responsibility for assessing the credibility of witnesses."United States v. Feliciano, 761 F.3d 1202, 1206 (11th Cir. 2014).

    Multiple expert witnesses testified at trial that Parker's leg swipe is not among the techniques usually taught, or approved for use, in law enforcement. A jury clearly could have found that Parker's use of an improper technique constituted "reckless disregard," even though he acted in a split-second fashion.

    So why did Haikala ensure that a third jury would not hear the case, after the first two had deadlocked? The answer to that question remains unclear, but the judge's actions certainly are not supported by law.


    (To be continued)


    Previously in the series:

    (1) Here's the flip side of police-brutality cases -- July 13, 2016

    (2) Federal judge in Alabama shows how cops tend to get favorable treatment in court -- July 18, 2016


    (3) Judge threw out charges based on case that does not support her findings -- July 29, 2016

    (4) Record indicates officer lied about three key issues in Patel brutality case -- August 5, 2016




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    John Fisher Jr. and family
    (From Facebook)
    A Tuscaloosa lawyer who was arrested on Friday for trafficking in methamphetamine has extensive ties in conservative legal, political, and media circles. In fact, John Fisher's Jr.'s Facebook friends include Gov. Robert Bentley, Sec. of State John Merrill, and just about every prominent right-wing blowhard that you've ever heard on Alabama radio.

    Facebookand LinkedIn pages indicate Fisher, 48, has an attractive wife and a young daughter, plus multiple business interests, but he still found time to get trapped in a meth-trafficking investigation. How's that for "family values"?

    When have you ever heard of a white-collar professional, especially one who is well connected in right-wing political circles, getting nabbed in a meth-trafficking operation? I can't recall ever hearing of such a case. That's what could make the Fisher arrest an extraordinary story, even though we only have bits and pieces of information at the moment.

    Agents with the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force found Fisher and Christopher Shane Rushing (age 42, also of Tuscaloosa) with two active "one-pot" meth labs. Agents also seized 369 grams of meth oil during the investigation, according to police.

    Based on press reports, the exact charges against Fisher are unclear. An al.com report says Fisher was released from jail after posting a $250,000 bond, while Rushing remains in jail on a $250,000 bond.

    At mugshots.com, the charges against Rushing are listed as follows:

    Agency    Bond Type                           Bond Amount     Count Charge
    (1) TCSO      BONDSMAN/SECURED   $250,000.00       1 TRAFFICKING METHAMPHETAMINE 
    (2) TCSO      BONDSMAN/SECURED   $500,000.00       1 UNLAWFUL MANUFACTURE OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE 
    (3) TCSO      BONDSMAN/SECURED   $15,000.00         1 UNLAWFUL POSSESSION W/ INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE

    The Web site does not appear to include information about charges against Fisher. The information above appears to conflict with that found at al.com. Mugshots.com shows Rushing facing three charges with a total bond of $765,000, which is more than twice the amount listed at al.com. Our understanding is that those arrested normally can be released by paying 10 percent of the total bond, which would be $76,500 in this case.

    Does Fisher face the same charges and the same total bond amount. That is not clear at this point.

    At the Tuscaloosa News,a police spokesperson said more arrests are expected in the case. That raises this question: How big a meth-trafficking operation is this and were other conservative legal/political figures involved?

    Christopher Shane Rushing
    According to his LinkedIn page, Fisher is owner and administrator of Adams Independent Living Home in Tuscaloosa. He has owned the Fisher Law Firm P.C., which is at 1609 Greensboro Avenue in Tuscaloosa, for 17 years. And he is host of the John Fisher Talk Showon WTBC (AM-1230). Before that, Fisher was an attorney with Rosen Harwood, one of the most prominent law firms in west Alabama.

    The Web site for John Fisher Law Firm says it focuses on personal injury, criminal defense, business law, family law and mediation, estate planning, and probate.

    A report at Raw Story, by reporter David Ferguson, states that Fisher is active in Alabama's Tea Party movement. In 2010, Fisher ran for a seat in the state legislator and appeared at multiple Tea Party rallies with Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. Fisher lost the primary election to Republican Bill Poole. Ferguson notes that Fisher's show claims it is known for "“Plain Talk, Easily Understood with NO Political Correctness.”

    Is Fisher well connected in conservative circles? In addition to Bentley and Merrill, consider just a few prominent figures who appear on Fisher's Facebook friends list:

    * Jessica Mederios Garrison -- lawyer, GOP operative, closely aligned with AG Luther Strange and U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer. (Palmer has spent a significant amount of cash for Garrison's consulting services. More on that in an upcoming post.)

    * Lee Garrison -- Jessica's former husband and president of the Tuscaloosa City School Board

    * Cliff Sims -- publisher of Yellowhammer News

    * Leland Whaley -- right-wing talk host

    * Matt Murphy -- right-wing talk host

    * Chip Beeker -- Alabama Public Service Commission

    * Gary Palmer -- member of U.S. House of Representatives

    * Brandon Falls -- district attorney, Jefferson County

    * Cam Parsons -- attorney for real-estate magnate Stan Pate

    * Allen May -- veterinarian and director at Paul Bryant Jr.'s Greene Group


    Where is this meth-trafficking investigation headed, and who else might be arrested? Stay turned. It could get extremely interesting.


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    Chilton County Judge Sibley Reynolds
    (From Montgomery Advertiser)
    A central Alabama man recently was thrown in jail for using social media to post critical comments about the judge in his divorce case.

    Carlos B. Ortigoza, of Jemison, served a day in the Chilton County Jail after Circuit Judge Sibley Reynolds found him in contempt of court for violating an order not to post on social media about a divorce case styled Renee Hicks Ortigoza v. Carlos B. Ortigoza. Reynolds originally ordered Carlos Ortigoza incarcerated for five days, but decided to free him after one day.

    Reynolds has a history of unlawfully throwing people in jail. If his name sounds familiar, that's because you might have read about his abusive actions here against a female litigant. (More on that in a moment.)

    In an order dated July 18, Reynolds stated that Ortigoza was "prohibited from posting on social media anything concerning issues that fall within the control of the Court Order of Final Decree." (See order at the end of this post.) On August 3, Ortigoza posted about the case at GoFundMe, with the post also appearing at Facebook, and described Reynolds as a "corrupt judge." At a court hearing the next day, the post was brought to Reynolds' attention, and he ordered Ortigoza to jail for five days. (See order at the end of this post.)

    Does Reynolds have the authority to tell someone in advance that they cannot write on social media? I haven't been able to find such authority, and it's hard to imagine that any exists. Considering that I was thrown in jail for five months in Shelby County (just north of Chilton) because I write Legal Schnauzer, one must wonder if Alabama is about to become a First Amendment-free zone.

    Screenshot from Carlos
    Ortigoza's GoFundMe page
    In my case, lawyer Rob Riley and lobbyist Liberty Duke sued me for defamation and sought a preliminary injunction, which has been forbidden under First Amendment law for more than 200 years. In other words, Riley and Duke wanted a judge to order me to quit writing about their extramarital affair prior to any finding that my reporting was false or defamatory. That, under the law, is called a "prior restraint" and it is unlawful. Ultimately, Riley and Duke failed to prove their case at trial -- because there was no trial, before a jury or anyone else -- and that means, by law, my reporting was neither false nor defamatory.

    Reynolds' order forbidding Ortigoza to write about a certain subject on social media almost certainly is an unlawful prior restraint. And his order to have Ortigoza incarcerated for practicing free speech probably amounts to false arrest/false imprisonment.

    It's almost impossible to successfully sue a judge for such violations of civil rights. But Ortigoza probably would have a civil case against anyone who participated with Reynolds in a false-imprisonment scheme. Also, Ortigoza could file a complaint with the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC), which currently is busy trying to get Roy Moore off the Alabama Supreme Court, although that august body is notorious for failing to discipline rogue judges.

    Immunity, for the most part, protects judges from civil complaints, but they are not above criminal law. It's way past time for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate Reynolds and the relationships he has with certain favored lawyers. Our guess is that a federal indictment against Reynolds could be quite lengthy.

    Unlawfully tossing someone in jail is a familiar tactic for Reynolds; it's as if he takes a perverse delight in violating the rules he is sworn to uphold. In 2012, Reynolds kept Clanton resident Bonnie Calahane in the "Chilton Hilton" for almost five months over issues connected to her divorce from Harold Wyatt. Reynolds found Cahalane in contempt for failing to pay a debt of about $165,000 related to the divorce -- even though Alabama case law states that a party cannot be subject to contempt, and incarceration, for failure to pay a property-related debt from the dissolution of a marriage.

    How does Reynolds get away with this stuff? Well, in our "justice system," no one oversees judges, especially if the DOJ has been sound asleep, as it has during most of President Barack Obama's tenure. Judges almost never can be sued; outfits like the the JIC tend to be worthless and spineless. Appellate courts are more likely to cover for a corrupt judge than to do anything about his crooked acts.

    The only solution is for everyday citizens to become informed and outraged, demanding reform in a broken system. Pehaps the Carlos Ortigoza case will draw national attention and help unmask Sibley Reynolds, and others like him, before a wide audience.





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    John Fisher Jr.
    (From nydailynews.com)
    The Alabama lawyer who was arrested Friday for methamphetamine trafficking had used Facebook to rant against those who use illegal drugs.

    That is one of the nuggets we learned yesterday as the story of Tuscaloosa attorney John Fisher Jr. made national, even international, headlines -- including commentary from one of America's best-known legal analysts.

    The New York Daily News portrayed Fisher, who was arrested with Christopher Shane Rushing, as a colossal right-wing hypocrite. The Daily News focused on comments Fisher had made at the Facebook page for his radio show. Writes reporter Alfred Ng:

    Fisher has publicly spoken out against illegal drug use in the past on his radio show’s page.

    In one post defending gun owners, he called himself a “law abiding citizen” and criticized the government for not spending more resources on taking drugs off the streets.

    “Illegal drug use is a MUCH more expensive drain on society in terms of healthcare and work issues,” he wrote in his rant.

    Fisher is a "law abiding" guy -- at least if you don't count meth trafficking? Geez, this guy takes conservative hypocrisy to galactic levels. And like many conservatives, he doesn't seem to show the slightest concern for the misfortunes of others -- in fact, he mocks them. Fisher went out of his way to knock an Alabama family that had wrestled with substance abuse. Writes Ng:

    In 2013, he also called out Alabama’s then-secretary of law enforcement Spencer Collier after his son Christopher Collier was arrested for selling Oxycodone pills.

    The UK Daily Mailtook the Fisher story to international levels. Reporter Ariel Zilbert shines light on Fisher and Rushing's behavior:

    The two men were alleged to have been in possession of 'one-pot' meth labs.

    One-pot labs are methods by which individuals can manufacture the drug with chemicals and a plastic bottle, thereby making it harder for authorities to track down offenders who eschew the large, traditional drug laboratories.

    The men apparently were well versed in techniques for avoiding the attention of authorities. Sounds like somebody was a veteran at this game. But Zilbert describes how they came to draw attention anyway:

    Law enforcement officials zeroed in on the suspects after receiving a tip indicating that Rushing was dropping off a backpack containing drug-making paraphernalia at an unspecified location.

    According to The Tuscaloosa News, Fisher took the backpack and drove it back to his office nearby. The West Alabama Narcotics Task Force followed Fisher to his office. Soon after, Rushing was seen walking into the location and then walked out with the backpack. That was when authorities arrested both men.

    George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley -- the veteran of numerous appearances on Meet the Press, Face the Nation, and other public-affairs TV programs -- addressed the Fisher case on his blog. The piece included a photo of Fisher, under a headline reading "Can You Guess What This Person Was Charged With?" In other words, Fisher doesn't look much like the guy you would expect to be charged with meth trafficking. Writes Turley:

    The police followed a tip and tracked what they believed as a backpack containing items believed to be components of a methamphetamine lab to an unreleased location. The backpack was then picked up by a second man. That man then went to an office located in the 1600 block of Greensboro Avenue in Tuscaloosa. Fisher’s law office is located at 1609 Greensboro Avenue. They then saw the first man arrive at the office and walk out with the same backpack. They arrested both Fisher and Rushing. Later they found what police described as an active “one-pot” meth lab in one of their cars.

    Turley then looked at the case with the eye of a big-time lawyer, the kind we rarely write about here:

    We have not heard Fisher’s side of this arrest. Fisher may claim that Rushing is a client and that this was evidence, but it is not clear whose car contained the meth pot. Moreover, absent an effort to turn over evidence to police or prosecutors, the holding of criminal components is not something that is likely to convince a court. Conversely, it may be argued that he was working with Rushing to shutdown his operation. However, again, the possession of such material is problematic for a lawyer. As a conservative radio host, Fisher promised “Plain Talk, Easily Understood with NO Political Correctness.” This may be his greatest challenge yet.

    Perhaps Fisher will need an attitude adjustment to work his way out of this mess. Some people likely have worked up a certain level of sympathy for Fisher, but I'm having a hard time doing that. To me, he comes across as a world-class, right-wing hypocrite and . . . well, an a-hole. Consider his own words from Facebook:


    America has become a country of people who believe as a whole that no one has any personal responsibility for their reckless, careless, ignorant, callous, incorrect choices in life. You will never legislate personal responsibility into anyone. This must be instilled in each person through family, and societal values and education. Unfortunately America has moved away from instilling such values in our citizens and now favor a blame someone or something else mentality.

    Will Fisher take "personal responsibility" for his actions or will he look to blame someone or something else? That might be the biggest question at the heart of a case that raises many questions.

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    Pam Bondi and Donald Trump
    (From victorygroup.com)
    The IRS should investigate Donald Trump and his organization, referring the matter to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for criminal prosecution on tax-evasion charges, according to a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Treasury.

    Boston attorney J. Whitfield Larrabee filed the complaint on August 3, claiming that probable cause exists to establish that Trump failed to pay $25,000 for the 2013 tax year and failed to pay interest, taxes and penalties on at least $25,000 of unreported income. The alleged violations are connected to a campaign donation Trump made to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. (See the complaint and related documents at the end of this post.)

    The complaint also alleges that Trump failed to report income and pay taxes related to a $35,000 donation to Texas Attorney General Gregory Abbott's 2013 campaign for governor.

    In both instances, the states were thinking about joining, or initiating, investigations or litigation against Trump University. After the donations arrived, both AGs withdrew from any actions that would cast scrutiny on Trump University.

    Larrabee's complaint alleges two counts of political corruption and one count of organized crime against Trump and the Trump Organization.

    In a separate complaint, Larrabee alleges tax evasion against former Trump campaign manager Paul J. Manafort and related organizations regarding $12.7 million in cash payments Manafort received from the Ukraine Party of Regions between 2007 and 2012.

    Taken together, Larrabee's documents portray a Republican presidential candidate who is at the center of a financial mess that could have criminal implications.

    What about details regarding the donation to Florida AG Pam Bondi? From the complaint:

    In summer of 2013, at a time when her office was reviewing complaints against Trump University and related entities, Florida Attorney General Pamela Bondi personally solicited a campaign contribution from Trump.

    Weeks after Bondi solicited the contribution, on September 17, 2013, a political group backing Bondi's re-election, called And Justice for All, reported receiving a $25,000 contribution from The Trump Foundation. In its 2013 990-PF Information Return, the Trump Foundation reported making a contribution to And Justice For All, although it listed the incorrect address for recipient of the $25,000 political contribution. The And Justice for All organization was established and maintained by Bondi. In a Statement of Solicitation Filed by Bondi on August 6, 2013 with the Florida Division of Elections, as required by Florida Statute, 106.0701, Bondi stated that she “established and “maintained” the And Justice for All political organization.

    What are the implications of the transaction? Larrabee spells it out in stark legal details:

    The payment made to Bondi’s political committee was a bribe given in exchange for Bondi’s agreement not to join in or initiate litigation against Trump, Trump University, and related entities.

    In violation of his fiduciary duty as the president and manager of the Donald J. Trump Foundation, Trump arranged for Donald J. Trump Foundation to make the payment to Bondi’s political group.

    It is illegal under the laws of the United States, Florida and New York for charities to make political contributions. 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3) provides that charitable foundations may not “participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”

    If the IRS takes a close look, it could spell trouble for Trump:

    By misappropriating the assets of the Donald J. Trump Foundation, and converting the assets of the foundation for his own personal use so as to promote his political agenda,Trump personally benefited from the campaign contribution to And Justice for All. Because Trump converted and stole money from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, for his own use and benefit, he had a duty to report the $25,000 as income on his 2013 tax return.

    There is probable cause to conclude that Trump did not report the $25,000 payment as income and that he did not pay taxes on this income because the payment itself was an illegal one, and it is unlikely that Trump voluntarily disclosed his illegal acts to the United States government.

    The allegations regarding the Abbott donation in Texas feature a similar refrain:

    In 2010, Richard Berlin, an Assistant Attorney General with the Texas Consumer Protection Division requested permission to file a lawsuit against Trump University,Trump and his business partners seeking more than $5.4 million in penalties and restitution related to fraud and deceptive business practices. The suit was dropped by the office of Texas Attorney General Gregory Abbott. Former Texas Deputy Chief of Consumer Protection John Owens said the case was strong and had been dropped for political reasons. In 2013, Trump contributed $35,000 to Attorney General Abbott in his campaign to be Governor of Texas. Gregory Abbott is presently the Governor of Texas. Trump has engaged in a pattern of corrupt influence peddling.

    To his credit, Trump has been up front about the way he conducts business and political affairs. Unfortunately, it appears his methods conflict with the law. Writes Larrabee:

    Trump has publicly declared that he gives political contributions to elected officials in exchange for political favors. On July 16, 2016, while campaigning in Laconia, New Hampshire, Trump spoke about Jeb Bush’s fundraising. He stated: "He raises 100 million, so what does 100 million mean? 100 million means he's doing favors for so many people, it means lobbyists, it means special interests, it means donors. . . . Who knows it better than me? I give to everybody. They do whatever I want. It's true." On January 9, 2016, at a campaign rally in Clear Lake Iowa, which was broadcast on C-SPAN, Trump boasted, “You know, it's interesting. I was looking at the ones I'm running against. I've contributed to most of them -- can you believe it? I've contributed to most of them. And one of them said, No, I don't think you've contributed to me. They found out I did. I contribute to everybody. I've given to Democrats. I've given to Hillary. I've given to everybody, because that was my job. I've got to give to them. because when I want something I get it. When I call, they kiss my ass. It's true. They kiss my ass. It's true.”

    It's almost comical now to read Trump's words. But they aren't so funny when taken in context with federal law, as Larrabee points out:

    There is probable cause to conclude that, in exchange for Trump’s promise of financial support, Abbott agreed not to pursue litigation against Trump University, Trump and Trump’s business partners, to the benefit of Trump and The Trump Organization.
    By avoiding litigation in exchange for the payment of a bribe, Trump and The Trump Organization not only received a $5.4 million dollar benefit in that they avoided paying penalties and restitution, but they also received a valuable benefit in that they avoided the attorney’s fees and litigation costs that they would have incurred if the Attorney General’s Office had moved forward with the recommended litigation.

    There is probable cause to conclude that Trump and The Trump Organization did not report the $5.4 million benefit as income and that they did not pay taxes on this income because the payment itself was an illegal one and it is unlikely that Trump or The Trump Organization voluntarily disclosed these illegal acts to the United States government.

    There is probable cause to obtain indictments against Trump and The Trump Organization for tax evasion in the 2010 to 2013 time period related to the failure to report and pay taxes on more than $5.4 million in income.

    Where is this headed? That is not clear. But this is clear: Attorney J. Whitfield Larrabee isn't messing around.












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    John Fisher Jr.
    (From Tuscaloosa News)
    A bail bondsman, fearing he was being set up for a drug offense, took steps that led to the arrest last Friday of a Tuscaloosa attorney and another man on charges of trafficking methamphetamine, according to a new report.

    The bail bondsman received a visit from Christopher Shane Rushing, who left a backpack in the bonding company's office. That raised the bondsman's suspicions, and they raised even more when he noticed the backpack contained items used to make meth, according to a report at The Tuscaloosa News. 

    The bondsman contacted law enforcement, sparking a complicated series of events that led to the arrest of Rushing and attorney John L. Fisher. At one point in the proceedings, Fisher held a gun at his office, in the presence of drug task force agents. Did that play a role in his arrest? We aren't sure.

    Due to the convoluted nature of events, I will run the entire T-News article below and hope readers can figure it out. If you are like me, you probably will have more questions when you finish than when you began. Part of that is due to the way the newspaper chose to report the story. For the record, the T-News has a subscription site, so that means a limited number of people can see this coverage. Hopefully, we are doing a public service by including the full article here:


    Meth bust details released

    Court records say bail bondsman called police
    Stephanie Taylor
    Staff Writer
    Published: Tuesday, August 23, 2016 at 9:00 p.m.
    Last Modified: Tuesday, August 23, 2016 at 9:22 p.m.

    A bail bondsman who feared he was being set up called drug agents, sparking the investigation that led to the arrest of a Tuscaloosa attorney accused of meth trafficking.

    The bondsman called the commander of the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force Friday and reported that Christopher Shane Rushing had left a backpack at his office, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

    He had opened the bag and noticed that it contained items used to make methamphetamine, according to files.

    The bondsman then spoke with a lieutenant who arranged for narcotics officers to observe the bonding company on T.Y. Rogers Avenue. Afterward, he called attorney John Fisher's office to tell him about the bag, and that he suspected he was being set up, according to the court documents.

    Agents watching the business saw Fisher arrive and later leave with the bag. They followed him to his office, and saw as Rushing later arrived. Rushing placed the backpack in his car and went back into the office, according to the court filing.

    The agents confronted Rushing when he later left the law office and met a woman in the parking lot. They searched the bag and found 369 grams of meth oil, digital scales with meth residue, a bag of meth, lithium batteries, baggies and straws with meth residue. Agents went to speak with Fisher, who met them at the back door of the law office with a pistol in his hand.

    Both men were arrested and charged with trafficking methamphetamine. Rushing faces additional counts of manufacturing a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance.

    Fisher has practiced law in Tuscaloosa for nearly 20 years after earning his degree from The University of Alabama School of Law in 1997. He ran for the Alabama House of Representative District 63 seat in 2010, but was defeated by Rep. Bill Poole in the Republican primary.

    A few questions that come quickly to mind:

    (1) Why would anyone take drug paraphernalia to a bail bondsman's office, and why would he let it out of his control?

    (2) Why was Rushing visiting the bail bondsman? Does he have a pending criminal matter? Does he have a criminal history. (Answer: Yes, and we will have more on that in an upcoming post.)

    (3) Why did the bondsman place a call to Fisher? Had Fisher represented Rushing in a criminal matter? IF so, what were the charges?

    (4) Why was Fisher holding a pistol when he greeted agents at the door to his office? Did that play a role in his arrest? Was he hit with a gun charge? If not, why not?

    (5) Who was the woman that Rushing met in the parking lot? Why wasn't she been arrested? Will she be among the others expected to be arrested?

    (6) Did agents search Fisher's office, and if so, did they find something that caused them to file trafficking charges against him? This account provides little evidence that Fisher was involved in trafficking.

    (7) Why did the T-News omit certain details from its story? What is the bondsman's name, and what company does he work for? What is the lieutenant's name?

    (8) Was the newspaper careful with certain details because it fears lives could be in danger? If that's the case, does it mean Fisher and Rushing are small pieces in a larger ring that includes some nasty individuals?

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    Christopher Shane Rushing,
    in 2006 Georgia mugshot
    The man who was arrested with Tuscaloosa lawyer John Fisher Jr. on meth-trafficking charges has been arrested at least twice before on similar charges. He also has at least one other arrest, for theft.

    Public records and news accounts indicate Christopher Shane Rushing is no stranger to the criminal justice system, although we have not yet been able to compile a complete record on him.

    On February 9, 2006, Rushing was arrested in Douglas County, Georgia, on two counts of trafficking methamphetamine, one count of possession of methamphetamine, and three counts of possession of a firearm during a crime. Bail was set at $100,000.

    Just seven months later, on August 11, 2006, Rushing was arrested in Tuscaloosa and charged with unlawful distribution of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $20,000.

    On February 5, 2008, Rushing was arrested and charged with attempted first-degree theft in Tuscaloosa. Bail was set at $10,000.

    In all three instances, we have not yet been able to determine the disposition of the case. In the last two cases, Rushing's address was listed as the 13800 block of Chism Road in Northport.

    An entry at mugshotsnow.com, shows Rushing being arrested in Douglas County, Georgia, on April 8, 2009, but it does not list an offense. Another item on the Web suggests Rushing was arrested in Douglas County, Georgia, in 2013, but we do not yet have details. We also have seen an item that indicates Rushing was arrested for a serious traffic-related offense, but for now, the details on that are sketchy.

    Much still is not known about Rushing's criminal history, but it appears he has been arrested at least five times in roughly the past 10 years.

    Has Rushing been convicted and incarcerated in any of these cases? That remains unclear, but it appears that he never has spent much time behind bars for any of them.

    A few questions come to mind? Why was attorney Fisher hanging around with a guy like this? Was Rushing a client or was he something else -- like a business associate in a "business" that is not authorized by law?

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    U.S. Judge Madeline Haikala
    (Final post in a series)

    Which is more damaging to our society, a corrupt/incompetent judge handling a case of constitutional importance or a jury tainted with racism deciding such a case?

    U.S. v. Eric Parker raises this troubling question, plus many others. Parker is the Madison, Alabama, police officer who body slammed and partially paralyzed Sureshbhai Patel, an unarmed grandfather from India who simply was walking down a sidewalk at the time of his encounter with American law enforcement.

    We don't have an answer to the question posed above, but evidence is overwhelming that judicial incompetence (or corruption) and juror racism (or blinding ignorance) were present. This much is certain: U.S. Judge Madeline Haikala stomped on any notion that justice can be achieved in Alabama's federal courts when she threw out criminal charges against Parker--after two juries had reached deadlocks.

    Now, back to our two-part question:

    (1) Are white jurors so blinded by racial bias that they cannot issue just decisions?

    Americans have a tendency to get misty-eyed about our jury system, to feel that it's virtually sacrosanct and ranks as "the best system in the world." If that's the case, it's not because our system is noble and dependable; it's because all of the other systems are wretched.

    How bad were the juries in the two Parker trials? Consider this from a Think Progress article on the proceedings:

    The trials ended with a jury split along race and gender lines. Ten white males pushed to acquit and two black female jurors pushed for guilty.

    Are white males in Alabama so blinded by bias against people of color that they cannot see what clearly is shown on video of the incident? (See video at the end of this post.) The images cannot be disputed: Parker used his left foot to perform a "leg sweep" that caused Patel to crash head-first to the ground. Multiple expert witnesses testified at trial that the leg sweep generally is not an authorized technique in American law enforcement, and relevant law clearly states that actions showing "reckless disregard" for a person's rights amount to the "wilfullness" required for a criminal conviction under 18 U.S.C. 242.

    To repeat our question: Are white males so blinded by racial bias that they cannot reach a verdict of guilty against a white police officer -- when the facts and the law clearly show such a verdict is justified? The only answer we can come up with is yes.

    (2) How blatant, and goofy, can judicial incompetence/corruption be, and what impact does it have on our justice system?

    Was Judge Haikala drinking, or smoking crack, when she presided over the case and wrote her opinion?

    I'm only slightly joking with that question. The reality is that Haikala probably gave the job of writing the opinion to a clerk, with instructions to make sure it was 90 pages or so long -- so people would think it was serious and be less likely to read it. What do you learn if you actually read the whole thing? Well, I can only wonder if Judge Haikala has a few loose shingles on her roof -- or maybe the clerk was desperate for material to reach the required length. Let's focus on two issues:

    (A) Haikala suggests that it was partly Patel's fault that he got beat up by an Alabama cop. First, she suggests Patel committed a crime -- one so obscure that even the officers apparently were not aware of it. On page 14 of her opinion, Haikala (or her clerk) writes:

    Mr. Patel, a resident alien, violated 8 U.S.C. § 1304(e) when he left his son’s house without identification. . . .  That is a misdemeanor crime for which Officer Parker could have arrested Mr. Patel. 8 U.S.C. § 1304(e) (“Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration receipt card issued to him pursuant to subsection (d) of this section. Any alien who fails to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor . . . .”); United States v. Vasquez-Ortiz, 344 Fed. Appx. 551, 555 (11th Cir. 2009)

    From the record, it does not appear this was an issue at trial, and it's not clear if the officers ever asked Patel to present such a card. It certainly is not clear that Patel understood any such request. Is Haikala suggesting that Patel's failure to have such a card on him justifies getting his neck broken?

    Given the language barrier in the encounter, it's not clear Patel could have complied if he'd had a card. This much is certain: Nothing in the language surrounding 18 U.S.C. 242 ("Deprivation of rights under color of law") suggests the presence or absence of identification is a factor in determining an officer's guilt or innocence. So why on earth did Haikala make it an issue?

    (B) Astonishingly, Haikala spends roughly nine pages (p. 53-61) of her ruling discussing whether the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable force applies to a legal resident alien, such as Patel. That a federal judge apparently thinks there is some doubt about that issue boggles the mind. From pages 53-54 of her ruling:

    United States citizens’ constitutional right to be free from a law enforcement officer’s use of unreasonable force is specific and definite. See Graham, 490 U.S. at 394 (“Where, as here, the excessive force claim arises in the context of an arrest or investigatory stop of a free citizen, it is most properly characterized as one invoking the protections of the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees citizens the right ‘to be secure in their persons . . . against unreasonable . . . seizures’ of the person.”) (emphasis added); Weiland v. Palm Beach Cnty. Sheriff's Office, 792 F.3d 1313, 1326 (11th Cir. 2015) (“A citizen’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures includes ‘the right to be free from the use of excessive force in the course of an arrest.’”)(quoting Saunders v. Duke, 766 F.3d 1262, 1267 (11th Cir. 2014) (emphasis added)).

    Haikala seems to suggest that the Fourth Amendment protects only an American citizen, not a resident alien, such as Patel. Where does she get such a notion? First, she and the cases she cites misquote the Fourth Amendment. Here is how the amendment actually reads:


    Amendment IV 
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    As you can see, the actual language protects the right of "the people," not just "citizens," to be secure from excessive force. The people includes resident aliens, such as Mr. Patel. And it's hard to conceive that a federal judge is not aware of this. Legal scholars certainly know it. Consider the words of David Cole from the Georgetown University Law Center:

    The Constitution does distinguish in some respects between the rights of citizens and noncitizens: the right not to be discriminatorily denied the vote and the right to run for federal elective office are expressly restricted to citizens. All other rights, however, are written without such a limitation. The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment due process and equal protection guarantees extend to all "persons." The rights attaching to criminal trials, including the right to a public trial, a trial by jury, the assistance of a lawyer, and the right to confront adverse witnesses, all apply to "the accused."And both the First Amendment's protections of political and religious freedoms and the Fourth Amendment's protection of privacy and liberty apply to "the people."

    In short, contrary to widely held assumptions, the Constitution extends fundamental protections of due process, political freedoms, and equal protection to all persons subject to our laws, without regard to citizenship. These rights inhere in the dignity of the human being, and are especially necessary for people, like non-nationals, who have no voice in the political process.

    David Cole knows what he's talking about; Madeline Haikala apparently has no clue.

    Perhaps she is jockeying for an appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court if Donald Trump is elected president. She would fit right in with his way of thinking.


    Previously in the series:

    (1) Here's the flip side of police-brutality cases -- July 13, 2016

    (2) Federal judge in Alabama shows how cops tend to get favorable treatment in court -- July 18, 2016


    (3) Judge threw out charges based on case that does not support her findings -- July 29, 2016

    (4) Record indicates officer lied about three key issues in Patel brutality case -- August 5, 2016

    (5) A jury could have found that officer violated Sureshbhai Patel's civil rights -- August 19, 2016





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    Don Blankenship
    Of all the outrageous court orders I've seen over the past 16 years, none can top the default judgment that awarded GOP operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison a $3.5-million in a defamation action against me. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Don Blankenship issued an order, denying my motion to vacate the default judgment, that is wrong on every substantive matter of fact or law.

    The good news is that Blankenship's order is void, and I have an unlimited amount of time to have it overturned and declared a nullity. (More on that in an upcoming post.) The bad news is that Blankenship is a black Democrat, and in my three appearances before him, I thought he seemed like an intelligent, fair individual. Boy, was I wrong about that. That a black judge in Birmingham, Alabama -- site of historic civil-rights conflicts in the 1960s -- could trample black-letter law . . . well, one wonders the speed at which Martin Luther King's body must be spinning in his grave.

    To put it bluntly, Don Blankenship is a disgrace to the many people -- of all colors -- who put their lives on the line to ensure that black Americans would enjoy fundamental human rights. To put it bluntly, Blankenship is a sellout. There is little doubt in my mind that someone in Birmingham's white legal power structure got to him and probably offered him some sort of favor in exchange for the noxious ruling examined below. How bad is Blankenship's order (which can be viewed at the end of this post)? Let's take a look:

    Improper notice of Garrison's default judgment

    It's undisputed that I never received lawful notice of Garrison's application for a default judgment or of a hearing on the matter. Blankenship blamed that on me, but he never cites any law to support his finding. That's because there isn't any; the burden was on Garrison to give notice -- and she didn't do it. From Blankenship's order:

    The Defendant argues that this Court’s Order dated April 13, 2015, should be set aside on the procedural ground that notice of the default was not afforded the Defendant three days before its entry. The Defendant relies on Rule 55 of the Ala. R.Civ. P. in making this argument. On January 13, 2015, this Court granted the Plaintiff’s Motion for Default, however that default was not entered until damages were affixed to same. Damages were affixed on April 13, 2015, after a hearing had taken place to prove damages on March 19, 2015. The Court sent notices of the aforementioned hearings to the last known address of the Defendant. It is not the Court’s responsibility to determine the whereabouts of the Defendant; but, it is the responsibility of the Defendant to inform the Court of his whereabouts. The notice of the first leave to prove damages hearing was given more than thirty days in advance of that hearing. Moreover, notice was sent to the Defendant that the aforementioned hearing was continued until March 19, 2015. Therefore, the Defendant was given ample notice of the hearing to prove damages, but failed or refused to attend such hearing. Consequently, the Defendant’s procedural argument fails.

    For a judge to write such utter horse manure is . . . well, it's pitiful. Blankenship is correct that it's not the court's duty to determine my whereabouts. But as we showed in an earlier post, under a case styled Abernathy v. Green Tree Servicing (Ala. Civ. App., 2010), it is Garrison's duty to make sure I have at least three days notice of the default hearing. And she failed, meaning her default judgment is void, and Blankenship had no discretion to find otherwise.

    On top of that, court documents show that my e-mail address was on every document I filed with the court. Garrison or her attorney, Bill Baxley, easily could have sent me an e-mail to determine my whereabouts. They never did that. I think they didn't do it because they didn't want me there; they wanted Garrison and Attorney General Luther Strange to blabber in court without pesky questions from the opposing side -- questions that might center on their professional, and personal, relationship.

    To fully grasp Blankenship's corrupt motives, we invite you to examine the two highlighted areas above. He says default was granted on January 13, 2015, but he gives no indication that I was there (I wasn't), that notice was sent (it apparently wasn't), or that I received it (I didn't). He claims notice was sent for a hearing on damages set for March 19, 2015. But under Abernathy, that is beside the point. The plaintiff must receive three days' notice of the application for default and any hearing on the matter -- and Blankenship's own words show I did not.

    Blankenship proceeds to address two other "substantive issues," both of which he gets wrong. We will address those issues in an upcoming post, but for now, all we need to know is that Garrison's default judgment is void, and Judge Blankenship's own words help prove it.

    For good measure, I have an unlimited amount of time to get her bogus judgment reduced to ashes. And that is where it will wind up.

    Blankenship is a black Democrat, and Garrison is a white Republican. But it appears they have at least one thing in common -- they went to law school for appearances sake, and no other reason. Clearly, they neither one have any respect for, or interest in, the law or justice.

    That Don Blankenship would turn into a shill for Jessica Garrison, her lawyer Bill Baxley, and her prime political candidate/boyfriend Luther Strange provides a classic example of just how far our system has fallen.

    Here is a theory I've developed since our unpleasant introduction to the legal world began about 2000: The practice of law, I think, presents a pretty miserable existence for many lawyers. Yes, a fair number of them become relatively wealthy and live in gated communities, with golf courses winding through them. Some become partners at large firms where they are expected to perform as "rainmakers" that keep their fellow elites living in style, while junior attorneys and paralegals do most of the real work. And some, like Blankenship, wind up in solo or small practices where they can do OK financially, but they have to put up with crooked judges and arrogant opposing counsel in order to do it -- and they have to look the other way when their own low-end clients get shafted and the solo/small-firm lawyer can do nothing about it. In other words, they see the casualties of one-sided legal war, but unlike the hero surgeons on M*A*S*H, they cannot piece them back together with meatball surgery. After awhile, I suspect, that scenario starts eating at one's soul.

    So, what happens? If a mediocre black lawyer like Blankenship, or a mediocre white one like J. Michael Joiner, is lucky enough to become a judge, he hangs onto the position for dear life. They want to become "judge for life," and my impression is that they would slit their grandmother's throat to achieve that. Why? Because they are desperate not to go back to the drudgery and financial uncertainty of being a crappy lawyer.

    If someone suggested that he could help make Don Blankenship a "judge for life" -- in exchange for screwing me over in the Garrison case -- I'm sure it would take "Dandy Don" about 2.3 seconds to make that deal.

    In 2012, Blankenship was elected to the bench over Republican David Lawrence Faulkner, in a race that probably was decided strictly along racial lines. Blankenship is up for re-election in 2018, and I'm betting he runs unopposed. That's a nice, cheap way for elite white lawyers to buy "justice" for clients like Jessica Garrison. If Blankenship does have opposition in 2018, it will be a sign (I believe) that he received a handsome "gratuity" in exchange for the pathetic order you see below.

    What's that saying about how awful it is to watch sausage being made? I'm guessing it's almost as horrifying to see "justice" being made in the US of A.


    (To be continued)



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    Child sexual abuse: In Alabama and beyond
    (From fairobserver.com and Shutterstock)
    A former Alabama physician, who in a roundabout way became a major figure in the Upton v. Upton divorce case, was involved in child sexual abuse of international proportions, according to newly discovered documents.

    Dr. William Flynn Walker is the biological father of Gincie Walker Upton, whose affair with Birmingham steel executive Bill Upton broke up a marriage of more than 30 years to Linda Upton and led to numerous dubious rulings in the divorce case from Jefferson County private judge Gary Pate.

    Walker pleaded guilty to seven federal counts of transporting three different children across state lines between 1984 and 2004 and engaging in illegal sexual acts with them. He also pleaded guilty to state charges of sexual abuse and first-degree sodomy. In August 2006, Walker was sentenced to 27 years in federal prison, without the possibility of parole. He currently is housed at the Federal Correctional Institute at Butner, North Carolina, and is scheduled for release in 2033.

    New documents, from the revocation of Walker's medical license, strongly suggest that he did not act alone, but he is the only one to be held accountable for a series of horrific crimes that took place over more than 20 years.

    As we noted in a previous post, Walker was a prominent figure in the conservative, evangelical community in Birmingham's southern suburbs. He had been a member at Briarwood Presbyterian Church (PCA) before leaving to start a home schooling program at Evangel Christian Church (PCA).

    The Walker convictions took place roughly 10 years ago -- and they involved horrifying examples of child abuse in a community that is known for its right-wing religious fervor -- and yet Web research almost suggests the case never happened. We've been able to find two relatively brief stories at the Shelby County Reporter, which provide the barest of details, and we can find no sign of coverage from The Birmingham News/al.com. That news outlet, the state's largest, was run at the time by members of the Hanson family, who've long had connections to Briarwood Church.

    Gincie Walker Upton, now in her 30s, has been diagnosed with multiple-personality disorder. Is that because she was so close to, and perhaps a victim of, her father's criminal acts? Was she a witness to the criminal acts of other prominent individuals who never have been held accountable? Does Alabama have a statute of limitations on cases involving alleged child sexual abuse? Our research indicates the answer is no.

    Documents related to the revocation of Dr. Walker's medical license provide perhaps the most detailed account of his actions that has become public so far. (See the documents at the end of this post.) What do the documents tell us? Consider the following:

    Based upon evidence presented, the Medical Licensure Commission makes the following findings of fact:

    1. September 30, 2005, Dr. Walker was indicted in the United States District Court, Northern District of Alabama, Southern Division, on seven criminal felony counts for violating 18 U.S.C. 2424.

    2. All of the felony charges involved transporting minor females in interstate and foreign commerce with the intent that the minor females engage in sexual activity. The minor females were transported from Alabama to Colorado, Kentucky, Florida, Wyoming, the Caribbean, and Russia.

    That is shocking stuff. Dr. Walker did not just take the girls to Georgia or Mississippi. He took them to Colorado, Wyoming -- even Russia and the Caribbean. Russia has become known as a hub for human trafficking.

    Briarwood Presbyterian Church
    (From birmingham365.org)
    Attorney Wayne Turner was appointed as hearing officer in the case. According to Alabama State Bar records, a Wayne P. Turner practices in Wetumpka.

    Our sources say Dr. Walker's victims included his own children, plus the children of others. Some of the trips obviously were via flight. It's not clear if those within the United States involved air travel or ground vehicles. It's also not clear if boys ever were among the abuse victims. The documents we've seen so far point only to girls as victims, and we are not sure about the age range.

    How could Dr. Walker engage in such activity for 20 years without the assistance of others? How could he engage in such activity for 20 years without other adults knowing about it -- and failing to at least try to stop it?

    Those are just two of many disturbing questions raised by the story of Dr. William Flynn Walker, which might be the most disturbing crime spree in the history of Alabama, especially when you consider its length and the ages of the victims. That media and religious and perhaps corporate figures apparently helped cover it up makes it even more gut-wrenching.

    One gets the sense that Dr. Walker had a number of accomplices who probably are still out there, in Birmingham's southern suburbs and in its most fervent religious institutions, perhaps with easy access to a new generation of children. That suggests the Dr. William Flynn Walker case is far from over, that overwhelmingly white and affluent neighborhoods are housing some extremely dark secrets.






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    A-Advance Bail Bonds in Tuscaloosa
    (From Tuscaloosa News)
    A bail bonds company, connected to the recent arrest of a Tuscaloosa attorney and another man on meth-trafficking charges, was the site of a suspicious fire Sunday morning.

    The fire was contained toward the back of the A-Advance Bail Bonds building on T.Y. Rogers Avenue, according to a report in The Tuscaloosa News. The building sustained minor damage to the siding and wood framing, but officials said the fire appeared to have been intentionally set.

    The business was involved in the recent arrest of attorney John Fisher Jr. and Christopher Shane Rushing, a Northport man who has an extensive criminal record, much of it related to possession or distribution of controlled substances.

    From an article published Monday in The Tuscaloosa News, written by reporter Stephanie Taylor:

    Firefighters say that a fire at a bail bonding company Sunday appears to have been set intentionally.

    The fire set at the back of the A-Advance Bail Bonds building caused minor damage to the siding and wood framing, said Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Service Fire Marshal Gene Holcomb.

    It's the same business owned by a bail bondsman who was involved in the recent arrest of Tuscaloosa attorney John Fisher.

    Firefighters were called to the business on T.Y. Rogers Avenue Sunday morning, Holcomb said.

    "It is suspicious, and we are investigating," he said. Arson investigators have recovered samples from the site, he said.

    Why would someone intentionally set a fire at A-Advance Bail Bonds? Does it involve the company's prime role in one of the most peculiar crimes in recent west Alabama history? Writes Taylor:

    Drug investigators were at the business last week after bail bondsman Mark Flemmings found a backpack containing a meth lab in the office.

    He told investigators that Christopher Shane Rushing had left the bag in his office, and he suspected that he was being set up to be arrested, according to court documents. West Alabama Narcotics Task Force agents watched the business, and reported that they saw Fisher arrive and later leave with the bag. The agents followed Fisher back to his office on Greensboro Avenue, and later charged him and Rushing with trafficking methamphetamine.

    Records from the Alabama Secretary of State show Markeithian N. and Sparkle M. Flemmings being involved in a number of businesses related to bail bonds and real estate. The registered office address for A-Advance Bail Bonds is listed as: 14966 TOWNSEND LOOP RD, MOUNDVILLE, AL 35474.

    The Flemmings, understandably, find the recent events disturbing and are determined to get to the bottom of them. Writes Taylor:

    Flemmings is offering a $1,000 reward for anyone who provides information leading to an arrest for the fire.

    "We're actively trying to find out who did it," he said. "I don't know where this is coming from. I'm not a person who carries enemies at all. As far as why I was a target, I don't know."

    Flemmings received a call that his building was on fire at 6:30 a.m. Sunday.

    Was the arson designed to intimidate Flemmings? If so, it doesn't seem to be working:

    "I don't think this was a random act," he said. "I hope we can bring the people who did it to justice and prosecute them properly. They will be brought to justice, I promise you that."

    He declined to comment on the charges against Fisher and Rushing.

    The Alabama Supreme Court has appointed a Walker County Circuit Judge to preside over their cases because Fisher has practiced for years in Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court.

    Walker County Circuit Court Judge Henry Allred will preside over a preliminary hearing scheduled for Sept. 23.

    Flemmings might not know where the arson is coming from, but it should be noted that Fisher's Facebook friends page suggests he is well connected in conservative political, legal, and media circles. Gov. Robert Bentley and Sec. of State John Merrill are among his Facebook friends. From our recent post on the subject:

    A report at Raw Story, by reporter David Ferguson, states that Fisher is active in Alabama's Tea Party movement. In 2010, Fisher ran for a seat in the state legislator and appeared at multiple Tea Party rallies with Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. Fisher lost the primary election to Republican Bill Poole. Ferguson notes that Fisher's show claims it is known for "“Plain Talk, Easily Understood with NO Political Correctness.”

    Is Fisher well connected in conservative circles? In addition to Bentley and Merrill, consider just a few prominent figures who appear on Fisher's Facebook friends list:

    * Jessica Mederios Garrison -- lawyer, GOP operative, closely aligned with AG Luther Strange and U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer. (Palmer has spent a significant amount of cash for Garrison's consulting services. More on that in an upcoming post.)

    * Lee Garrison -- Jessica's former husband and president of the Tuscaloosa City School Board

    * Cliff Sims -- publisher of Yellowhammer News

    * Leland Whaley -- right-wing talk host

    * Matt Murphy -- right-wing talk host

    * Chip Beeker -- Alabama Public Service Commission

    * Gary Palmer -- member of U.S. House of Representatives

    * Brandon Falls -- district attorney, Jefferson County (appointed by former Gov. Bob Riley)

    * Cam Parsons -- attorney for real-estate magnate Stan Pate

    * Allen May -- veterinarian and director at Paul Bryant Jr.'s Greene Group

    Fisher's friends list also includes a number of individuals who appear to be from Russia or Ukraine. Since the above report was published on August 22, Fisher's Facebook page was taken down for a few days, but now is back up.


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    From al.com
    How sleazy are Alabama judges? That question can be hard to answer because most judges operate with little or no oversight, and they usually get away with unsavory acts.

    Paul Stribling Conger, Jr., a former Social Security Administration judge in Tuscaloosa, has proven to be the exception -- he was stupid enough to get caught.

    Conger, age 73 of Akron, Alabama, could wind up in prison for giving a woman SSI benefits in exchange for sex. Conger has pleaded guilty to federal charges of obstructing justice, theft of government property, and accepting a gratuity. This sounds like a classic case of bribery, based on a quid pro quo ("something for something") agreement. Why is Conger not facing that charge? It isn't clear, but perhaps the government agreed to forego that whopper charge in exchange for guilty pleas on lesser offenses.

    Here is the official U.S. Department of Justice press release on the case.

    Federal agents had been investigating Conger for trading Social-Security benefits for sex. According to court documents, Conger initially denied having sex with the woman. But that proved to be a lie. (Another question: Why isn't Conger charged with lying to federal agents? Is the judge getting a sweetheart deal here?)

    A report from wtva.com provides details, based on charges and Conger's plea agreement:

    In July 2013, Conger presided over the claims hearing of a woman identified in court documents as T.M., who subsequently was approved for SSI benefits, including future monthly payments and retroactive benefits. In November 2013, T.M. discussed Conger with a mutual acquaintance of theirs and was given information that led her to approach the judge about receiving her retroactive SSI benefits in a lump sum of about $10,000.

    On Nov. 19, 2013, T.M. met Conger in his chambers at the Tuscaloosa federal courthouse, seeking the lump sum benefits payment. There, the two engaged in sexual activity. Over ensuing weeks, they remained in contact through phone calls and text messages. Conger is charged with illegal receipt of a gratuity for his conduct with T.M.

    He is charged with theft of government property for using T.M.’s records from the SSA database to learn more about her. The information included medical records and identifiers such as her Social Security number.

    Conger is charged with obstruction for attempting to obtain T.M.’s cell phone and destroy it after learning that he was the subject of a workplace complaint and an OIG investigation. According to the court records, Conger paid someone, “Individual B,” to obtain the phone and provided the individual with material from T.M.’s SSA file to help that person find her.

    As further alleged, Conger falsely told federal agents that he never had any physical or sexual contact with a claimant, including T.M., even after being notified that he was the target of a federal grand jury investigation.

    The maximum penalty for obstruction is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for the gratuity charge is two years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and the maximum penalty for the theft of government property charge is one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

    Speaking of sleaze, get a load of this quote from Conger's attorney, Mark White, of the Birmingham firm White Arnold Dowd:

    "This unfortunate situation represents an anomaly in the long, distinguished career of an excellent judge and a good person. Judge Conger has accepted responsibility for his actions and is prepared to face the consequences."

    White wants us to believe that Conger was a noble and honorable guy until he woke up one morning, while in his 70s, and suddenly decided to trade SSI benefits for sex? My guess is that Conger has been getting away with such behavior for years. If that doesn't test your gag reflex, I'm not sure anything will.

    Judge Conger apparently kept a low profile online, but this appears to be his son, Paul Stribling Conger III.

    Here is a record of Judge Conger's SSI rulings over the past six years. Looks like he approved roughly 75 percent of his cases, which I suspect is an extremely high approval rating for an SSI judge. Does that mean a lot of people appearing before Conger were willing to "put out" for the judge?

    And what about judges who have been close to Conger over the years? Did his sleaze rub off on them? It's hard to say at this time, but one of his proteges is U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler who clerked under Conger.

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    The Missouri sheriff's deputy who broke my wife's arm during an unlawful eviction last September violated departmental policy on use of force. Also, the Greene County Sheriff's Office has failed to follow its own procedures for investigating such incidents.

    Is that a sign an attempted cover-up is under way? As a witness, who is married to the victim, that's how it looks from here.

    How do we know the officer involved, whose name remains unknown to us (although we now can make a pretty educated guess at his identity), violated policy? The Greene County Sheriff's Office Policies and Procedures Manual is online -- and it makes clear how such incidents should be handled. Let's just say quite a gap exists between words in the manual and the reality of how my wife, Carol, was treated -- both before and after her arm was snapped in two, just above the elbow.

    The manual spells out how such "critical incidents" are to be investigated. We know for sure certain elements of those procedures have not been followed -- and God only knows if any of the investigative procedures called for have been taken.

    As for the brutality used against Carol, can any justification for it be found in Greene County policy? Absolutely not. Consider these words from page 60 of the manual, under "Subject Resistance and Control":

    It is the policy of the Sheriff’s Office to provide its employees with proper training and guidance on the permissible use of force. This policy will ensure that the level of force used was reasonable, and required to subdue an individual offender or restore order to a disruptive group

    That makes it clear an officer can use only a reasonable level of force required to "subdue an individual offender" or restore order to a "disruptive group."

    Carol's "group" consisted of me (I was sitting in the driver's seat of our car) and our late kitty kat, Baxter (who was in a pet carrier on the hood of the car, where an officer had placed him, much to my chagrin). Neither Baxter nor I made a peep as Carol walked to the front door of our apartment in an effort to retrieve his litter box. Translation: She was not part of a "disruptive group."

    As Carol approached the front steps, three officers surrounded her, and one slammed her, rear-end first, to the ground. She was thrown with such force, and came to such a sudden stop, that I believe she probably suffered a concussion. An officer then yanked on both of her arms -- in an upward and backward motion -- badly bruising both arms and breaking the left one so badly that it required trauma surgery and the implantation of numerous screws and titanium plates.

    Carol had to undergo physical therapy several times a week for approximately four months -- with the best likely outcome that she will have 75-percent usage of her arm restored. (By the way, Missouri Medicaid covered Carol's surgery, but it does not cover the therapy, so that was on us, and we can't afford to pay it. Now, we are getting regular debt-collector calls, asking about the $7,500 apparently owed. Maybe we should refer them to the Greene County Sheriff's Department. It's nice to know that politicians in Missouri are just as stupid as the ones who have driven Alabama into the ditch. To have trauma surgery, without physical therapy, pretty much ensures the surgery will be a failure, and the patient likely will become permanently disabled for the rest of his or her life. To cover surgery, but not therapy . . . well, it's hard to imagine a more ignorant approach than that.)

    What offense did Carol commit that required such a violent response? Let's see . . . she didn't resist arrest because no one said she was under arrest -- and she did nothing for which she could be arrested. (Does Missouri have a statute that prohibits the "unlawful retrieval of a kitty kat's litter box"? I haven't found such a statute.) Carol did engage in some verbal sparring with one of the officers, and I heard her say, "I'm only trying to . . ." -- and then I couldn't make out the rest, but I think that sentence ended with "get our cat's litter box." Did she threaten or curse anyone? She says she didn't, and I didn't hear anything like that.

    Carol did not initiate physical contact with anyone, even though Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott, who was standing about five feet away, immediately pointed at her and said, "She assaulted a police officer." She was handcuffed -- with her broken arm yanked behind her back -- and placed in the back of a squad car. The transporting deputy said she likely was looking at a $100,000 bond, which meant a felony charge.

    X-ray of Carol Shuler's broken arm, before
    repair via trauma surgeon.
    Only when a woman at the jail paid attention to Carol's cries of help for her arm did it start to become clear that something was wrong. She was sent for X-rays to a nearby hospital, which revealed the severe break. Suddenly, it seems, sheriff's officials realized Carol was the victim of an assault, not the perpetrator of one -- and she still has not been charged with anything. Translation: Force, of a reasonable nature, can be used only to subdue an "individual offender." But the actions of Greene County officials show Carol committed no offense, so any amount of force used against her was unreasonable -- according to the sheriff department's own words.

    As for investigation of the incident, consider these words from page 116 of the manual, which states that a criminal investigator will be will appointed and . . .

    Shall ensure interviews of witnesses, victims, Involved Deputy(s), and when applicable suspect(s), including providing Miranda warnings, even to the Involved Deputy. The investigator should attempt an interview as soon as possible with the Involved Deputy, but should take into account the Involved Deputy’s post incident demeanor and understand the investigator’s role is to obtain an accurate account of the event.

    Carol was the victim, and I was a witness, and no one from the sheriff's department has interviewed us in almost 12 months' time. That means this step is incomplete, or has been skipped altogether.

    What else is supposed to be done in the wake of a "critical incident," and has any of it been done in the brutality case against Carol?

    We will look at that in an upcoming post.


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    John Fisher Jr.
    A Tuscaloosa attorney who recently was arrested on meth-trafficking charges has been arrested again. This time, John Fisher Jr. faces a felony charge of receiving stolen property, according to a report today from The Tuscaloosa News.

    Fisher turned himself in at noon today at the Tuscaloosa County Jail and was released within the hour. The new charge apparently is unrelated to the meth-trafficking charges, which came about two weeks ago. From an article by reporter Stephanie Taylor:

    Tuscaloosa attorney John Fisher is accused of being in possession of a stolen Harley Davidson motorcycle.

    Fisher, 48, turned himself in at the Tuscaloosa County Jail at noon Friday and was released within the hour. The arrest comes two weeks after he was charged with meth trafficking.

    Investigators say that Fisher was in possession of a 2000 Harley Davidson motorcycle worth $5,000 that had been stolen from a victim in Fayette County on April 12, 2013.

    The suspect in the case sold the motorcycle in August, said Tuscaloosa Police spokeswoman Lt. Teena Richardson.

    It's been an interesting couple of weeks for Fisher. Reports Taylor:

    Agents in Tuscaloosa who were investigating Fisher on the meth charge obtained a warrant to charge him with receiving stolen property, she said. Fisher was arrested Friday and later released on $30,000 bond.

    Fisher was first arrested Aug. 19, after a bail bondsman called West Alabama Narcotics Task Force officers to report that a man named Christopher Shane Rushing had left a suspicious bag at his office.

    The bondsman suspected that the bag contained a meth lab, and suspected that he was being set up to be arrested, according to court documents. The ensuing investigation led to Fisher and Rushing's arrest on meth trafficking charges.

    Firefighters were called to the bonding company early Sunday morning after a suspicious fire was set at the rear of the bondsman's office. Results of the investigation haven't yet been released.

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    Jessica Medeiros Garrison
    Was it smart of GOP operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison to crow to the Marie Claire fashion magazine about her $3.5-million default judgment in a defamation case against yours truly? I would say no, especially given the ruling represents a classic violation of due-process rights, where I was deprived of the "fair play" that is supposed to be present in American courts.

    The Marie Claire article last fall is particularly nonsensical when you consider that Garrison is a lawyer. She should have known that Judge Don Blankenship's ruling was contrary to Alabama law that frowns on default judgments, in part because they tend to short-circuit due process. Garrison should have known that, as we've shown in recent posts, she failed to give proper notice of her default application, making Blankenship's order void. She should have known that gives me unlimited time to attack the order as a nullity.

    Even the antiquated Alabama Constitution of 1901 shows Garrison's default judgment was on shaky ground from the outset. This is from Kirtland v. Fort Morgan Authority Sewer Service, 524 So. 2d 600 (Ala. Sup. Ct., 1988):

    Article 1, §§ 6 and 13, Alabama Constitution of 1901, by guaranteeing the due process rights of citizens, and Article 1, § 10, by holding inviolate a person's right to defend himself in a civil action to which he is a party, elucidates this state's commitment to protect an individual's right to attain an adjudication on the merits and to afford litigants an opportunity to defend. We, therefore, emphatically hold that a trial court, in determining whether to grant or to deny a motion to set aside a default judgment, should exercise its broad discretionary powers with liberality and should balance the equities of the case with a strong bias toward allowing the defendant to have his day in court.

    In other words, I was supposed to have my "day in court," but Blankenship unlawfully trampled my right to defend myself. It's a sad day when the unwieldy, racist Alabama Constitution of yesteryear shows more respect for due process than does a black Democratic judge like Blankenship.

    Jessica Garrison, to no one's surprise, is excited about a court acting corruptly in her favor? That speaks volumes about her "ethics." It also shows she has a massive sense of entitlement, a condition that seems to run rampant through the Republican population.

    As for Garrison's judgment being void, a case styled Cornelius v. Browning, (AL Sup. Ct., 2011helps drive home that point. (See also Abernathy v. Green Tree Servicing, Ala. Civ. App., 2010.) The Cornelius case revolved around plaintiffs who received a default judgment on several investment-related claims against a Blountsville man named Jeff Cornelius, among others. Cornelius claimed he had never received notice of the default motion. The trial court refused to overturn the default, but the Alabama Supreme Court took a different view:

    On March 11, 2010, the plaintiffs initiated a garnishment proceeding in an attempt to collect the judgment against Cornelius. . . . On March 23, 2010, Cornelius moved the trial court to set aside its October 28 judgment and the subsequent garnishment proceeding. . . . Cornelius argued in his motion that he did not receive a copy of the plaintiffs' default-judgment motion and that allowing the default judgment to stand would be “a miscarriage of justice” and would violate principles of due process.

    The state's high court agreed with Cornelius. From the ruling:

    [w]hen the grant or denial of relief [from a default judgment] turns on the validity of the judgment, as under Rule 60(b)(4)[, Ala. R. Civ. P.], discretion has no place. If the judgment is valid, it must stand; if it is void, it must be set aside. A judgment is void only if the court rendering it lacked jurisdiction of the subject matter or of the parties, or if it acted in a manner inconsistent with due process. . . .

    Procedural due process, as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, § 6, of the Alabama Constitution of 1901, broadly speaking, contemplates the rudimentary requirements of fair play, which include a fair and open hearing before a legally constituted court or other authority, with notice and the opportunity to present evidence and argument, representation by counsel, if desired, and information as to the claims of the opposing party, with reasonable opportunity to controvert them. It is generally understood that an opportunity for a hearing before a competent and impartial tribunal upon proper notice is one of the essential elements of due process. (citations omitted).

    On paper, at least, Alabama courts take due process and fair play seriously. How seriously? Consider this from a case styled McConico v. Patterson (Ala. Court of Civil Appeals 2016). It addresses post-judgment motions, which normally are subject to time constraints. That is not the case when the motion seeks to overturn a void default judgment:

    [A]s a nullity, a void judgment has no effect and is subject to attack at any time. . . . [A] motion for relief from a void judgment is not governed by the reasonable-time requirement of Rule 60(b)[, Ala. R. Civ. P.].

    A case styled Ex parte Full Circle Distribution, L.L.C., 883 So. 2d 638, 643 (Ala. 2003). helps drive home the point:

    The rationale for being able to vacate a void judgment at any time is that "a void court order is a complete nullity." Hodges v. Archer, 286 Ala. 457, 459, 241 So.2d 324, 326 (1970). As a nullity, a void judgment has no effect and is subject to attack at any time.

    Jessica Garrison is the lawyer here, not me, so you might expert her to know the judgment is a "nullity" which "has no effect." You might also expect her to know about this law regarding fair play. I can only conclude that Garrison isn't interested in fair play -- and she probably made sure I had no notice, and could not appear, because she didn't want anyone to controvert her story in court. As I've noted before, an attorney who reviewed the file -- I haven't seen it since being forced to leave Alabama -- said the record showed that notice of the default application and hearing was not sent, much less received.

    On a final note, consider Garrison's attorney, the "estimable" (maybe that should be "excremental") Bill Baxley. Just yesterday, Alabama Political Reporter editor Bill Britt published a piece that portrayed Baxley as an utter doofus in the courtroom during post-trial hearings in the Mike Hubbard case. But Baxley has been a courtroom clod-head long before the Hubbard case came along. In representing Garrison, he allowed a corrupt judge to issue an order that was void before the ink had dried on paper, and then foolishly let his client crow about the order to an international audience, ignoring this inconvenient truth -- the order is a nullity that has no effect; it's worth equals zero, not $3.5 million.

    If Garrison isn't interested in fair play, what does "float her boat"? She seems to be interested in getting something for nothing, whether she deserves it or not. That brings us back to entitlement, and she seems to have a massive sense for that.

    Perhaps Garrison knew, from the get-go, that she did not have a legitimate defamation claim, but she had the "connections" to make sure she got a favorable outcome anyway. That's how shallow, morally bereft individuals view our court system -- as a plaything to pull con games on the rest of us.

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    Officer Eric Parker
    (From whnt.com)
    Less than two weeks ago, we completed a six-part series about the role judicial corruption played in the dismissal of criminal charges against an Alabama police officer whose brutal take-down left a grandfather from India partially paralyzed. Yesterday we learned the officer, Eric Parker, is returning from administrative leave and is set to rejoin the force in the Huntsville suburb of Madison.

    Does a rogue judiciary have repercussions? It sure does. In this instance, it makes Alabama look like a slimy backwater -- the kind of place where a cop can use a leg sweep on a man with dark skin, whose "crime" apparently was walking down the sidewalk while not bothering a soul, and get away with it. Where two juries can deadlock along race and gender lines. leading U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala to conclude that protecting Sureshbhai Patel's civil rights, and holding Officer Parker criminally accountable, was not worth the trouble.

    Gee, and some people wonder why San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick might feel the need to take a stand against the kind of police brutality that has become a front-page staple over the past two years or so? With Parker returning to the force, and Patel's roots in India making this an international embarrassment for the United States, far more people -- not just NFL football players -- should be joining Kaepernick in protest.

    In a final insult to the public, acting Madison police chief Jim Cooke cited Haikala's 92-page opinion as grounds for finding that Parker did not violate departmental policy. If you actually read Haikala's ruling and educate yourself about the relevant law -- and Cooke obviously did neither -- here's part of what you find:

    (1) A recent study found that 97 percent of police officers in violence cases never face criminal charges -- and it's little wonder given Haikala's butchery of the Parker case;

    (2) For the few cops who do face charges, judges like Haikala are likely to cut them favors;

    (3) Haikala threw out the charges against Parker based on a case that does not come close to supporting her finding. That's the kind of thing judges get away with when the public isn't paying attention;

    (4) Documents show that Parker lied about three key issues in the Patel case -- and still Haikala threw out the charges;

    (5) A third jury would have had ample grounds to find Parker guilty;

    (6) Alabama surely is a more enlightened place than it was 50 years ago, but it's hard to tell that from the Parker case. It makes the state smell of judicial corruption, juror racism, and flaming injustice for which "Bull" Connor once stood.

    Of course, those characteristics hardly are limited to Alabama. Perhaps that's why a second-string quarterback in San Francisco felt the need to do something, even if certain "patriots" took offense at his decision not to stand for the national anthem.

    Colin Kaepernick
    (From theguardian,com)
    For those who are paying attention, Colin Kaepernick has taught an invaluable lesson. He has shown that concerns about law enforcement should go way beyond issues of brutality. My wife and I both have been the targets of rogue cops in the past 2-3 years, so we have some first-hand experience with these issues.

    Once cops have committed violence against a citizen, they tend to immediately go into cover-up mode. This usually takes the form of piling one lie on top of another. We've seen cops do it in Birmingham, Alabama, and Springfield, Missouri. Court records show that Eric Parker did it in Huntsville, Alabama. And now, we have the police union in Santa Clara, California, sending a letter stating that cops are threatening to bail out on their security positions at 49ers football games unless the team takes action to silence Kaepernick.

    How many of these cops have stood up to admit that a frightening number of citizens have been the victims of unjustified police violence? I don't recall any officers showing such courage. How many cops spoke out and admitted that Eric Parker's actions against Sureshbhai Patel, caught on video, violated general police policy and likely constituted criminal behavior? The silence has been overwhelming. (See video at the end of this post.)

    Eric Parker's return to police duty should help create a groundswell of outrage against a tin-eared police community that . . . well, has just been asking for major blow back. With the kind of arrogance cops have shown, no one should be surprised that assassins in Dallas and Baton Rouge took matters into their own hands.

    I would love to be president of the San Francisco 49ers right now. I would tell the police union to take their letter and jam it up their asses, and I would tell them they do not need to bother resigning from their paid, on-the-side security jobs. They are fired, and they should not let the door -- the one with the 49ers insignia on it -- hit them on the butt on their way out.

    Why is the Eric Parker case so disturbing? It's not just about rogue cops or corrupt judges; it's about both -- and it shows that our "justice system" is rotten at every level. Its members do a fine job of protecting each other, but they sure do not protect the public.





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    Missouri attorney David Shuler
    Have you ever had an assault rifle pointed at your head? I have, and please take it from me, it's an unsettling experience. In my situation, I had an assault rifle pointed right between my eyes, with five or six other law-enforcement types drawing and waving pistols in various directions.

    It happened when my wife, Carol, and I were evicted from our apartment in Springfield, Missouri, almost exactly one year ago, on September 9, 2015. Evidence suggests that my brother, Missouri lawyer David Shuler, is at least partly responsible for allowing the unlawful eviction to take place. If I had made one wrong move and got my head blown off -- and Carol easily could have been shot, too -- well, I guess Missouri lawyers aren't supposed to concern themselves with such things, even when they know they are about to happen and the possible victims are family members.

    What did David Shuler know, and when did he know it? Well, let's consider an e-mail he wrote to me on September 2, 2015, exactly one week before we were evicted. Right off the bat, he says I had asked him to stay out of our business, and I had threatened to sue him. I don't recall asking him to stay out of our business, although I might have noted that in instances where he supposedly was trying to help us, things did not turn out so well. I also don't recall threatening to sue him, although I think I made a reference in a legal document that, according to his own e-mail, he had contacted our landlord in a way that could be construed as tortious interference.

    The e-mail centers around some bizarre claims by a deputy named Scott Harrison, who apparently placed a notice to vacate on the door of our apartment, owned by landlord Trent Cowherd. (By the way, this suggests Harrison had experience working eviction cases, so he should have known the relevant law. He should have known that the filing of a notice of appeal, which we filed within the lawful 10-day window and paid the required fees, puts a stay on execution of an eviction. But Harrison burst through our door -- I'm pretty sure he was the one pointing the assault rifle at me -- even though every attorney in the matter [including David Shuler] had been notified of the notice of appeal and stay. Sounds to me like Dep. Harrison and his band of thugs were instructed to ignore the law on this one. I wonder why?)

    But let's examine the more important issue: Numerous readers and friends have asked me, "Why did the Missouri cops enter your apartment like a SWAT team, and with an attitude that led to Carol's arm being broken?" David's e-mail, I think, helps explain that. Here it is:

    Roger: Per your request and your threat to sue me, I am doing my best to stay out of your business. As a good faith effort to stay out of your business, I would appreciate it if you would not respond to this e-mail. A deputy called me today and asked me to have you contact him. He said he posted the notice to vacate on the Cowherd property. He also said he was concerned because his dispatch contacted him and said you had called 911 and threatened to shoot anyone coming on the premises to get you out. I certainly hope that you did not really do that, but he asked me to make you aware that they take such threats seriously and that you are setting up a potentially dangerous situation. He stressed to me that he would like to help you find housing and that he did not want you or anyone else to get hurt. His name is deputy Harrison and his phone number is 501-6092. He is very concerned and stressed to me that he did not wish for you or anyone else to get hurt.

    Let's note a few oddities about this e-mail, at least to me:

    (1) David does not want me to respond to an e-mail in which he makes, or at least informs me of, an outlandish allegation against me?

    (2) Why would a deputy contact him about an eviction involving Carol and me? David, on the surface, was involved only because landlord Trent Cowherd had sued our mother, with zero grounds for doing so?

    (3) Is it normal for a deputy to post an eviction notice on an apartment door? I thought the landlord, or his staff, usually did that.

    (4) Is it normal for a sheriff's deputy to help someone find housing? Unless, of course, that housing is the Greene County Jail. (No thanks on that one, bud; I think I'll find my own housing.)

    (4) Neither David, nor Deputy (Scott) Harrison, seems to have the slightest idea that a tenant has 10 days to file a notice of appeal regarding an eviction order. Carol and I, of course, did just that, and by law, it put an automatic stay on the eviction. In other words, there was no "dangerous situation," other than the one caused by the determination of Sheriff Jim Arnott and Co. to ignore our notice of appeal -- of which every lawyer involved, including David Shuler, received notice.

    (5) It's ironic to hear that Deputy Harrison did not want me to get hurt, but it appears he was the officer who burst through the door, with an assault rifle pointed at my head. If one of the other officers had jostled Harrison as he barged through our door, causing him to pull the trigger . . . well, I guess that would have sprayed my brain matter all over the place. But it's nice to know Deputy Harrison was concerned about my safety.

    Missouri sheriff Jim Arnott
    Given the untrue cow feces in David's e-mail, I was not about to let that go without responding. So here is my reply, sent on September 2. It references a blatantly prejudicial letter he had written to the judge prior to our eviction case, and I feel certain he didn't think I knew about that. It also references some legal sleight of hand the landlord's law firm, Lowther and Johnson, pulled to make sure we could not prove landlord Trent Cowherd was trying to violate our lease:

    David: 
    Would you please ask Deputy Harrison to procure a copy of any 911 call that allegedly was from me. My understanding is that such calls automatically are recorded. I also would like for Deputy Harrison to provide the name of any dispatcher who gave him the information you describe. Maybe Deputy Harrison can cite any law that allows for an eviction when the tenant still has time to file an appeal.

    On another brief note, are you going to allow this to move forward even though the "judgment" in question is void, by law, due to lack of service. As a lawyer, I assume you know that, but you seem to have no interest in doing anything about it. I assume you also know that Cowherd's lawsuit against our mother is 100 percent bogus, but you aren't going to do anything about that either. Did you ask them to sue her just so you would have an excuse to be involved? That's how it looks from here.

    Your letter to the court said you would do anything possible to help Cowherd regain possession of their property. Does that include helping Cowherd and their law firm cheat? Does that include poisoning the judge's mindset with a flagrantly ex parte and unlawful communication. The judgment is void, and we have a lawful period of time to appeal it, but we've already received an eviction notice on our door.

    I also find it interesting that the Lowther lawyer intentionally didn't have the woman I talked with show up, so the hearsay rule could be invoked, and I couldn't prove how they have violated our lease. Again, I guess you either were in on that or just sat there and let it happen. But your letter makes it clear what your intentions have been all along, and this is my third request for you to serve me with a copy (of the letter). If you were brave enough to write it, why aren't you brave enough to serve it, as required by law, on parties in the case? I shouldn't have to ask for a copy. This so-called judge (Kelly Halford Rose), by law, was disqualified from the case due to your letter, and that's another reason the judgment is void. Why don't you tell that to Deputy Harrison?

    You obviously have some deep-seated hatred for me that apparently goes back years, and I guess this is your big opportunity to stab me in the back. How you developed into such a morally bankrupt individual is beyond me. But your credibility level with me at the moment is zero. And this is just the latest example of you taking blatantly false information and throwing it in my face.

    But regardless of the vindictiveness you have towards me, and regardless of what disturbance in your soul has caused it, the judgment in question is void as a matter of law on multiple grounds, and we have a right to appeal it, so I would suggest that you instruct Deputy Harrison to chill out and abide by the law.

    Did David ever provide any of the information I requested about the alleged threatening phone call I made? Nope. Did David have any answers to his flagrantly improper, and vicious, letter to the judge? Nope. Did David ever serve me with a copy of said letter? Nope, although I have a copy of it, and we will be taking a look at it in an upcoming post? Did David advise Deputy Harrison to chill out and abide by the law? Given Harrison's behavior with an assault weapon, it sure doesn't look like it.

    Here is the key point: I never made a call to 911, threatening or otherwise, but multiple deputies on the scene referenced such a call as grounds for their SWAT-team tactics. Here is another response I sent to David:

    One other point: Missouri law says that in a rent-possession case, a tenant can pay the allegedly owed rent and fees and the case is over. My understanding is that we still have time to do that, but I guess you are going to allow a SWAT team to come in and shoot us before we even have a chance to pay. Did you completely check your conscience at the door when you entered law school, or was your conscience warped to begin with?

    Even if we had paid the rent -- and we hadn't paid it because the landlord told us not to; we were going to be evicted anyway, on grounds not in the lease -- I guess I still was looking at possibly getting my head blown off. Here is one other thought I had for a brother I once thought was a great guy -- but who now appears bereft of any ethics whatsoever:

    Making a false report to 911 . . . isn't that a crime? I can tell you for sure I did not place such a call. Therefore, I suggest you and Deputy Harrison initiate a criminal investigation to identify and prosecute the caller. Please let me know how the investigation is going, and I would be glad to assist in any way that I can. If such a call was made and my name was falsely used, I would like to see the person responsible behind bars. In fact, it sounds like I might need to file a police report. And if the cops won't take it seriously I probably need to contact news outlets.

    After deputies had broken Carol's arm and were taking her to jail for allegedly "assaulting a police officer" (per Sheriff Arnott's instructions) a deputy Carol believed to be Harrison told her he had heard the 911 tape, that it was traced to our phone and to our apartment, and he was convinced it was me.

    Well, it wasn't me, and it could not have been made by anyone at our residence, or from our phone. That means someone pulled off a fraudulent 911 call -- or the whole thing is a creation of Harrison's imagination.

    You can bet that will be a subject for future inquiry.


    0 0


    The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has dropped its criminal case against former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, after the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year overturned his convictions on public corruption charges.

    That means McDonnell, who (along with his wife) received more than $175,000 in loans and gifts from a supporter, is a free man -- while former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, who records show did not receive a penny in a similar case -- remains housed at a federal prison in Oakdale, Louisiana.

    What are the differences in the two cases? There aren't many; the most important one might be this -- McDonnell is a Republican, and Siegelman is a Democrat.

    In legal terms, the major difference involves context -- Siegelman took a campaign donation that the government claimed was a bribe, while McDonnell took . . . well, bribes that the government claimed were bribes. The Supreme Court has decided that's OK, while it has refused several times to even hear the Siegelman case. Here is how we explained such nonsense in a previous post:

    America's federal bribery laws are a confusing mishmash, covered under several different statutes, written in language that is largely unintelligible. In fact, the statutes are so confusing that courts often turn to case law to determine what is, and is not, illegal.

    The Siegelman case, for example, largely was governed by McCormick v. United States, 500 U.S. 257 (1991). He and (Richard) Scrushy were prosecuted under 18 U.S. Code 666, which is known as the "federal funds bribery" statute and generally applies to cases involving campaign contributions. (Scrushy's donation to help pay down debt for the Alabama Democratic Party, after Siegelman's lottery proposal had been defeated, was considered a campaign contribution.)

    McDonnell, however, was prosecuted under 18 U.S. Code 201, a general bribery statute that usually does not involve campaign contributions. On the case-law side, McDonnell invoked Evans v. United States, 504 U.S. 255 (1992), which tends to involve bribery outside the context of a campaign contribution.

    The bottom line: In Siegelman, Scrushy gave a campaign contribution. In McDonnell, constituent Jonny Williams showered McDonnell and his wife with gifts, which went directly to them, but he apparently did not make a campaign contribution. That means the two cases are covered by different law -- Siegelman is covered by the 666 statute and the McCormick case; McDonnell is covered by the 201 statute and the Evans case.

    Who are the losers in all of this? Obviously, Don Siegelman is on the losing side. I would submit that the U.S. Supreme Court is a loser. Along with Bush v. Gore in 2000, McDonnell gives Americans an additional reason not to trust their high court.

    The biggest losers, however, are the American people. The South has produced numerous substantive Democrats over the years, and our country needs those voices to be heard. But will they, and their financial supporters, go into hiding in the wake of what happened to Don Siegelman and Richard Scrushy? Has that process already started?

    Karl Rove, and others who engineered the Siegelman prosecution, don't mind a few black Democrats who represent heavily black Congressional districts. But they are terrified of a white Democrat who might succeed on a statewide level, become a national star, and present a challenge to the GOP's stranglehold on the South. Don Siegelman fit that description perfectly, and that's probably the No. 1 reason he had to be stopped. Robert McDonnell, while from a Southern state, is a Republican and did not fit that description. That's probably the No. 1 reason he is a free man.

    What does that mean for our country? It's not good, even if you are a Republican. We need two healthy parties who can govern, and the GOP already appears to be in free fall with the rise of Donald Trump.

    When is the last time you heard of a really promising white Democrat from the South? Perhaps that is why Bernie Sanders, well into his 70s and from Vermont, was Hillary Clinton's only serious challenger in the 2016 primaries? After all, the Siegelman case sends this message: "If you are a white Democrat in the South -- or a financial supporter of a white Democrat in the South -- you risk personal destruction. Even a Democratic president, like Barack Obama, won't lift a finger to free you. And even a DOJ under a Democratic president will do nothing to investigate and prosecute those who wrongfully sent you to prison."

    Democrats might feel secure in thinking that Hillary Clinton will win the White House this year. But who will come after her? It probably won't be a Democrat from the South because their numbers likely will keep dwindling.

    That could be the "legacy" of the Siegelman case, and Barack Obama helped cut his party's throat in a region where presidential races often are won or lost.


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