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

older | 1 | .... | 45 | 46 | (Page 47) | 48 | 49 | .... | 84 | newer

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    Craig Lowell
    An attorney at Alabama's largest employment-discrimination firm is among paying customers at the Ashley Madison (AM) extramarital-affairs Web site, records show.

    Craig Lowell, of the Wiggins Childs Pantazis Fisher and Goldfarb firm, appears on the Alabama list for AM. Lowell graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1990 and earned a law degree from Washington and Lee in 1993.

    Wiggins Childs, probably the best-known firm in Alabama for representing plaintiffs in employment-discrimination case, was the firm for Gadsden resident Lilly Ledbetter in her historic case against Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. in Gadsden. Evidence showed Ledbetter and other women at the plant consistently were paid less than their male counterparts.

    Ledbetter won a $4-million judgment at the trial-court level, but the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that decision on a procedural issue, drawing outrage from many women's-rights and equal-pay advocates. Significant evidence indicates Ledbetter's lawyers from Wiggins Childs screwed up her case on appeal.

    Ledbetter might have won in the end because her case led to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in January 2009. In fact, that was one of Obama's first acts as president.

    While Wiggins Childs is known for employment-discrimination cases, its work is not limited to that area. Lowell's specialties include class-action cases, dangerous and defective products, environmental law, mass torts, personal injury/wrongful death, and whistleblower/qui tam.

    Lowell's marital status is unclear, based on the records available to us. He lives at 930 31st St. South in Birmingham, and property records show he and Allison W. Lowell jointly owned that property from at least 2007 until 2013. Starting in 2014, her name disappears from the property records. The home has an appraised value of $426,300.

    Were they married and got divorced in 2013-14? That appears to be the case, but we are not certain about it. Allison W. Lowell is an attorney, and information on the Web indicates she worked at one point for Maynard Cooper and Gale in Birmingham. She no longer appears as a member of the Alabama State Bar, and her whereabouts are unknown to us at the moment.

    We sought comment from Craig Lowell for this article, but he has not responded.

    Previously:

    Article with links to 1-20 in Ashley Madison series

    (21) Craig Oliver, attorney, Springfield, MO (1/24/17)

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    X-ray of Carol Shuler's arm, broken
    by a Missouri deputy, before
    any repairs 
    A Missouri prosecuting attorney has filed criminal charges against my wife, Carol, related to an incident where a deputy broke HER arm during an unlawful eviction in September 2015. At least four officers appeared on Friday evening at our residence in Springfield, Missouri, apparently seeking to arrest Carol, whose left arm was broken so severely that it required trauma surgery for repair, and she is expected to regain no more than 75 to 80 percent usage.

    Greene County PA Dan Patterson has charged Carol with -- get this -- misdemeanor assault of a law-enforcement officer (RSMo: 565.083) and first-degree trespass (Misdemeanor B RSMo: 569.140). Carol failed to appear at an arraignment on October 28, 2016 -- that's because we received no notice -- and Greene County Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto issued a failure-to-appear warrant for her arrest five days later. No one acted on the warrant until last Friday night.

    Why did we not receive notice of the arraignment? The county, in all its brilliance, sent the notice to the address where the sheriff conducted an unlawful eviction. We can only assume county officials were stunned to learn we no longer live at that address.

    If anyone doubts we are living in a "post-truth world," seemingly ushered in by President Donald Trump and his followers, this case should resolve that. If anyone doubts the capacity of law enforcement to not only abuse citizens, but also lie and cheat to cover it up, this case should resolve that, too.

    We had no clue about the criminal charges until we heard knocking on our door about 6:30 p.m. last Friday. At the pay-by-the-week hotel where we currently live, it's not unusual to have individuals mistakenly knock on your door, so we didn't think much of it. We looked out the peephole and didn't see anyone, so we figured it was a person who was extremely short or extremely drunk (or both) and decided to ignore it.

    When the knocking persisted, off and on, for about 20 minutes, we looked outside and saw two sheriff's vehicles drive by.

    If they, in fact, were looking for one (or both) of us, what had we done to warrant such a visit? The answer, under the law, was nothing. But we had consulted a lawyer in late November 2015 about the eviction and Carol's injuries, and he warned that Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott might pursue criminal charges against Carol.

    We were stunned to think something so unethical and criminal actually could happen. But the lawyer said he had seen it before, especially in a case where a sheriff or police department was likely to be facing a lawsuit over civil-rights violations for which they had no defense.

    Well, the lawyer proved to be right on target -- law-enforcement thugs really can stoop so low as to file charges they know are false, against a victim of police abuse.

    When the knocking continued on Friday evening, Carol reminded me of the lawyer's words and wondered if she -- the victim of an assault -- had been charged with "assault" on a police officer. I guffawed when the words came out of her mouth and said, "That's impossible. Even here, they surely wouldn't do something that stupid."

    X-rayof Carol Shuler's arm, showing
    multiple fracture lines after trauma
    surgery that required at least nine screws
    and multiple titanium plates for repair.
    Just in case, I called up the case.net site that includes information about Missouri court cases and . . . there were the charges against Carol. Even after all the court-related lying and cheating we have experienced, I almost fell off my chair.

    We first reported on the eviction and Carol's injuries on September 15, 2015, in a post titled "Missouri deputies break my wife's arm and aim an assault rifle at me during violent, terrifying 'eviction'" From that post:

    Sheriff deputies broke my wife's arm and aimed what appeared to be an assault weapon at me during an "eviction" last Wednesday at the apartment where we've been living for the past year in Springfield, Mo.

    Doctors told my wife, Carol, that the large bone in her upper left arm was broken when Greene County deputies assaulted her as she tried to retrieve some of our belongings from inside the apartment. She is scheduled for surgery tomorrow morning -- and we are told it will be a five- or six-hour procedure -- although it already has been postponed twice.

    Damage to Carol's arm apparently is so severe that a trauma surgeon has been scheduled to operate. The procedure probably would have already been completed if doctors felt an orthopedic surgeon could handle it.

    What was Carol's condition after the incident? From the post:

    How severe are Carol's injuries? That's unclear at this point, but she was given oxygen, possibly because she was in danger of going into shock, and doctors treated her for possible blood clots. Her neck and shoulders are sore from apparent whiplash, and she shows signs of having a concussion from being thrown violently to the ground. At least three officers surrounded Carol during the assault, and I saw one officer yank both of her arms in an outward and upward motion. Her left arm, the broken one, is so badly bruised that doctors asked if she had been on blood thinners. Her right arm also is extensively bruised, and I'm still not sure how it wasn't broken, too.

    Why was Sheriff Arnott on the premises? We don't know. Our understanding is the landlord's staff usually carries out an eviction, with maybe one officer on hand to make sure a potentially volatile situation does not ignite. Arnott's flagrant dishonesty -- it's really more than that; causing false charges to be brought against someone is a crime -- was apparent at the scene, as I reported in the post:

    As officers mauled Carol on the ground, handcuffing her and breaking her arm, Arnott stood a few feet away and pointed at the violent scene and said, "She assaulted a police officer." That's a classic example of how far some law-enforcement officers will go to lie and cover up wrongdoing.

    We're not aware of any charges filed against Carol, although she was taken to the Greene County Jail before someone finally realized that her complaints about soreness in her arm might be serious. She apparently was not booked into the jail, and she was transported to one hospital for X-rays that revealed the break and then to another, where the surgery is scheduled.

    I witnessed the assault on Carol, and I feel certain none of the officers involved has a scratch on him (or her)--one of the officers was a woman. I was seated in our car in the driveway and could hear Carol say, "I'm trying to . . . . " I lost track of her words after that, but she told me that she was trying to get our cat's litter box. The notion that she assaulted anyone is preposterous.

    To be clear, I saw the entire incident from about 15 feet away, and Carol did not assault, or initiate contact, with anyone. As three officers surrounded her -- one of them is named Scott Harrison, another was female -- an unknown male officer grabbed her, slammed her to the ground, and yanked viciously on her arms, breaking one of them. As noted above, I distinctly heard her say, "I'm trying to . . .," and I heard other less distinct statements from her. Carol says she yelled, "Do not touch me," and I believe I heard a garbled version of that. If that is confirmed, it would show that officers initiated contact with Carol, and not the other way around.

    Regardless of what was said, Carol and I know (from what we saw with our own eyes) that she did not initiate contact with anyone. We also know the sheriff's department has violated its own policy by failing to interview us as witnesses -- and apparently failing to conduct any investigation at all.

    What are some of the legal and factual issues surrounding this latest turn of events? There are quite a few, and we will address them shortly.

    (Note: To see the charges against Carol click here for case.net, click on "Litigant Name Search," key in her last name and first name, and it is case number 1631-CR07731. She also is listed on the Greene County Sheriff's Office list of active warrants, under the letter "S.")


    (To be continued)


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    "Luv Guv" and Rebekah Mason, out
    on the town.
    Many Alabamians were stunned last week that Gov. Robert Bentley had taken his mistress -- and her husband -- aboard a state aircraft to the inauguration of Donald Trump. In the history of clod-headed moves by Alabama politicians, this one might be No. 1, with a bullet -- and there is a lot of competition for that "honor."

    Does this cause you to do a "face palm"? Well, it's the latest in a story we broke here at Legal Schnauzer on August 31, 2015, way ahead of anyone else -- and roughly seven months before the mainstream media (MSM) took it seriously. Alabama's MSM, in fact, only stuck its feet in the water after repeatedly trashing me for breaking a story that was "only smoke," at a news site that had "dubious credibility."

    When the press started asking last week about the passengers on Bentley's voyage to Washington, D.C., officials initially went into a four-corners stall. After much feet shuffling, the Bentley administration admitted that Rebekah Caldwell Mason and Jon Mason accompanied the governor on a state plane bound for the Trump ceremonies. Aside from the slightly kinky sound of things, how stupid is this?

    Bentley already is under threat of impeachment, in part, for allegedly using state funds and property to facilitate his affair with Mason (Rebekah, not Jon, we think). He supposedly is under a federal investigation, headed by the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, on a similar set of allegations. He reportedly is under investigation for unlawfully using state and federal resources to target journalists -- including yours truly -- who reported early on the Mason affair. And he faces at least two lawsuits from former state employees who claim they were forced out of their jobs because they knew about the affair and tried to intervene. God only knows how many more lawsuits will surface in the future.

    How did "Luv Guv" Bentley's latest surge of stupidity become public? From a report at al.com:

    Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley released the names of four of the five people who accompanied him on state aircraft to last week's inauguration of President Donald Trump.

    Those names include Jon Mason, director of Serve Alabama, and Mason's wife, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, who was Bentley's suspected former mistress and an ex-adviser to the governor.

    Also on the aircraft were legislative director Wesley Helton; Zach Lee, the governor's liaison to cities and counties; and an unnamed special guest, Bentley said.

    What's this about an unidentified "special guest"? Can this story get more strange? Bentley called it a "working trip." If that's the case, why was Rebekah Caldwell Mason along? She officially resigned as his adviser months ago, so what "work" was she there to perform? Are Alabama taxpayers suppose to be on the hook for the governor's girlfriend and her air travel and other expenses? (According to an al.com report this morning, the state won't pay for Rebekah Mason's expenses.)

    It's not clear how many, if any, ethics laws Bentley might have broken with this "charade" (to borrow a term from one of our favorite M*A*S*H characters, Dr. Charles Emerson Winchester III, especially since his pronunciation rhymes, sort of, with "tripod."). But this much seems clear: The whole unseemly episode, which already has led to "Home Wrecky Becky's" ouster, and could lead to impeachment and even prison time for Bentley, likely would have never been known without our reporting at Legal Schnauzer.

    I'm convinced the MSM never would have written about the story if our coverage had not broken it into the open. The only other "early arrival" on the scene was attorney Donald Watkins, via reports on his Facebook page. But Watkins, who wrote about Rebekah Mason after I reported her name, had spent weeks hinting that Bentley was having a homosexual affair with his security chief, Wendell Ray Lewis. In other words, Watkins did not even have his genders straight, so it's not clear if he had solid sources at the time or not.

    This much seems clear: Bentley and one or more Masons have engaged in serious abuse of the public trust, the kind that should lead to prison time if our "justice mechanism" isn't broken beyond repair. That's powerful stuff, and the Bentley Gang almost surely would have gotten away, without any public knowledge, had our blog not latched onto the story -- accurately and forcefully -- long before anyone else did.

    I've had two lawsuits filed against me -- neither of which proved, as a matter of law, that my reporting was false or defamatory -- I've been thrown in jail for five months because of my reporting; and my wife currently has an arrest warrant for "assault" on a deputy in Missouri (an incident which ended with HER arm being broken). We even lost our home of 25 years in Birmingham to a wrongful foreclosure that was an attempt to shut down my reporting.

    Carol and I have paid one hell of a price for my accurate reporting on corruption in Alabama and elsewhere. We essentially stepped into a breech left by Alabama's lazy, timid, and ethically compromised MSM. The public knows about Robert Bentley's shenanigans because of this one-man blog, which has been ranked among the top 50 law blogs in North America. The public also knows about corrupt acts of Jeff Sessions, Bill Pryor, Rob Riley, Liberty Duke, Bob Riley, Luther Strange -- to name just a few -- because of this blog.

    No matter how goofy the Bentley story becomes, it is a serious matter. We hope the public remembers that. And we hope the public remembers who is responsible for the whole sordid mess becoming known.


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    Carol Tovich Shuler: The face
    of a "cop assaulter"
    My wife, Carol, was arrested yesterday in Greene County, Missouri, for "failure to appear," even though the public record shows she never was notified that she had a court date.

    We found out last Friday that Carol had been charged with "assaulting a law enforcement officer" and trespass, based on an incident where she was surrounded by three deputies, and one of them grabbed her, slammed her to the ground, and viciously yanked on her arms -- breaking her left arm so severely that it required trauma surgery. What are the take-home lessons from our experiences of yesterday?

    (1) You can be arrested for failure to appear, even though the court admits it never notified you.

    (2) The victim of an assault can be charged with assault, as long as the actual perpetrator is a "law-enforcement professional."

    (3) Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott, who saw his deputies brutalize Carol from five feet away and then declared, "She assaulted a police officer,"is a lying, cheating, crooked criminal son of a bitch, and we intend to prove it. (Oh, did we forget to mention that he's a bastard, too?)

    (4) Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson, who filed charges against Carol on the last possible day to do so, is just as bad as Arnott.

    This is the state of America's "justice system" and a classic example of so-called fiscal conservatives (Arnott and Patterson both are Republicans) who waste taxpayer money on outrageous scams like this.

    Carol spent about six hours in custody, but she never was actually incarcerated, and never changed into jail clothes etc. The fine folks at Hilton Bail Bonding arranged for her release, the cost was $100, and Carol received a court date -- yes, she actually was notified this time.

    We soon will go into more details about the facts, law, and curious timing of this whole charade. But for now, let's focus on the official record at case.net. If you go to case number 1631-CR07731, you will find this notation on 9/21/2016:

    09/21/2016 -- Returned Mail--Undeliverable

    Document ID - 16-CRSU-6650; Served To - SHULER, CAROL T; Server - ; Served Date - 19-SEP-16; Served Time - 00:00:00; Service Type - First Class Mail; Reason Description - Other; Service Text - Attempted - not known; unable to forward./jar

    Once you wade through the administrative gibberish, it's pretty clear what this says: The court -- apparently unable to afford a process server -- sent notice of the court date via first-class mail, and it came back as "undeliverable" and "unable to forward."

    If you click on "Parties and Attorneys," it becomes clear why the notice was undeliverable. Her address is listed as:

    SHULER , CAROL T , Defendant
    4070 S FORT AVE
    SPRINGFIELD, MO 65802

    That was our address when we were unlawfully evicted on August 31, 2015, by . . . the Greene County Sheriff, with Jim Arnott (his own bastard self) on the scene. It's the place where one of Arnott's deputies broke Carol's arm. And yet, "justice officials" could not figure out that we likely did not live at a place where we, and our belongings, were thrown on the street -- and Carol was beaten up. We haven't lived at that address for roughly 16 months.

    An X-ray of Carol Shuler's arm after
    trauma surgery, showing multiple
    fracture lines and hardware she will
    live with for the rest of her life.
    (X-ray from Cox South Medical Center, Springfield, MO,
    from the staff of trauma surgeon Dr. Brian Buck.)
    We are talking here about incompetence (and corruption) that is so gross it's almost comical. But let's drive home this serious point; Carol Tovich Shuler -- who does not even have a traffic ticket on her record, who has been about as close to a model citizen as you can be -- spent six hours yesterday being treated like a criminal. She was finger printed, had her mugshot taken, even had her eyes scanned.

    This all was ordered, best we can tell, by white conservative Christians, mostly men. And yet, many Americans are concerned about the possibility of Syrian refugees coming  to our shores? Heck, refugees from anywhere could only help this cesspool of a country that no longer even merits being called a "democracy," where our supposedly cherished constitution means absolutely nothing in court rooms, law firms, and police/sheriff departments, from sea to shining sea.

    By the way, the judge who actually issued the warrant is a woman, Margaret Holden-Palmietto, who apparently needs to be checked for any signs of brain-wave activity. Holden-Palmietto was appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon, which means she probably is a Democrat. That means she will get her butt kicked when she runs for election someday against a Republican who presumably will have a pulse -- although a pulse is optional for a Republican candidate in southwest Missouri.

    But this should be scary for anyone who cares about justice. As an avowed liberal, I tend to hold female Democrats in high regard. Heck, I married one. And you would think that Margaret Holden-Palmietto, who probably is no dummy, would be strong enough to stand up to the entrenched corruption in Missouri's third largest metro area. But she clearly is too weak, too timid, or too distracted to actually stand firm against the rot that is going on all around her.

    Her job, I guess, is to protect the citizenry from the Carol Tovich Shulers of the world.


    (To be continued)

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    Rob Riley
    Alabama GOP operative Rob Riley and lobbyist Liberty Duke likely included my wife, Carol, in their lawsuit against Legal Schnauzer because they also were planning to launch a wrongful foreclosure on our house.

    How did we reach that conclusion? It comes from our recent in-depth research on Alabama law regarding judgment liens and real property. That yields some fairly complex legalese, but here is the simple explanation: Carol and I were joint owners of the property we called home in Birmingham for 25 years, and getting a judgment against me would not have helped Riley and Duke much.

    If they knew, well in advance, that we were going to be the victims of a wrongful foreclosure and forced to flee Alabama -- while also helping Duke get her hands on more than $7,000 of our surplus foreclosure funds -- they needed something more. They needed a judgment against Carol also. And that's probably why they sued her and me, even though there was zero evidence that she was involved in any way with Legal Schnauzer at the time.

    We've already shown that my reporting on the Riley/Duke relationship, the filing of their lawsuit, and a letter from a Huntsville law firm indicating our house was at risk of foreclosure, all came in the same time frame -- indicating my unlawful incarceration from the lawsuit, and the foreclosure on our house, were connected, with Rob Riley and Liberty Duke at the center of both.

    Joint ownership presents a problem for those hoping to benefit from a judgment lien -- even though Duke's judgment was bogus and invalid on multiple grounds -- via a foreclosure. That is spelled out in Code of Alabama 6-9-85. Its language is murky, but we will present it first, and then try to clear the fog with language from an article on the subject:

    Section 6-9-85

    Levy and sale on undivided interest in property.

    When a defendant in execution shall own, or be entitled to, an undivided interest in any property not exclusively in his own possession, such interest may be levied on and sold by the sheriff without taking the property into actual possession, and such sale shall vest in the purchaser all the interest of the defendant in such property.

    Don't feel alone if that leaves you scratching your head. Law on liens, levies, foreclosures etc. often is hard to decipher for a couple of reasons; (1) The law itself is written in a form that hardly is a model of clarity; (2) Judges often do what they want anyway, so the actual law doesn't matter much.

    This much does seem clear: It's hard to get a lien that is worth much on jointly owned property if you have a judgment against only one owner. That's probably why Riley and Duke included Carol in their lawsuit, even though they had zero grounds to sue her. They already were thinking ahead to a foreclosure and a judgment lien, and that points to the kind of ulterior motive that is at the heart of a wrongful foreclosure. Someone wanted Liberty Duke to get her money fairly quickly -- and that could only happen if Duke and Riley knew we were headed for a foreclosure and they had a judgment lien against both of us.

    The legal issues involved are explained with some clarity in an article from the Fullerton and Knowles law firm of Clifton, Virginia. It appears the law of judgment liens in Virginia and Alabama are similar. From the article, titled "Enforcement of Judgment":

    When property has multiple owners, there are various types of joint ownership. The deed conveying the property into the current owners will normally dictates the type of ownership. The deed or bill of sale will normally say "seller grants and conveys the described real estate to Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones as tenants in common," or "as tenants by the entirety," or "as joint tenants." The normal or default manner of multiple ownership is "tenancy in common." If two people own a property and no legal papers say how they hold title, then they are tenants in common.

    Tenants in common each own one half of the property, unless the deed describes some other percentage of ownership or there is some type of outside agreement. Each tenant owns one half "undivided interest" in the property. If you obtain a judgment against just one of the property owners, your judgment will attach to the one half undivided interest of your judgment debtor. You could then foreclose on your judgment lien and sell the one half undivided interest at a foreclosure auction. The purchaser at the auction would then own a one half undivided interest in the property, together with the other non-debtor owner. If one tenant in common dies, then that one half undivided interest passes to their heirs. Those heirs are then tenants in common with the remaining non-deceased tenant in common.

    A 2011 federal case from the Southern District of Alabama touches on the same principle. It involved $2,038.68 in non-exempt equity on the property. From the ruling:

    Further, the Debtor’s portion of that nonexempt equity is $1,019.34 because the Debtor holds the property with his wife as a tenant in common with rights of survivorship. A tenancy in common with a right of survivorship is “a form of concurrent ownership in property as tenants in common during the respective lives of the grantees with cross-contingent remainders in fee to the survivor.”Durant v. Hamrick, 409 So. 2d 731, 738 (Ala. 1982). Under a typical two-person tenancy in common, each tenant would hold a 50% interest in the property with each having a right to possession of the whole.

    A judgment against only one owner of jointly owned property, against only one "tenant in common," comes with limitations. That's almost certainly why Riley and Duke unlawfully added Carol to their lawsuit; they already were looking forward with an ulterior motive -- to run us out of our home, likely forcing an end to Legal Schnauzer and helping Liberty Duke unjustly enrich herself. That's a fancy way of saying, "She stole our money." You might call the whole scheme an "end around" against the First Amendment.

    Liberty Duke
    As you can see, it hasn't worked; Legal Schnauzer still is up and humming. But it has come at a huge price for us -- we have lost a home that we treasured, along with most of the personal belongings that once went with it, plus excess foreclosure funds to which Liberty Duke had no lawful claim.

    Were Riley and Duke at the heart of a wrongful foreclosure, one driven not to collect a debt but by an ulterior motive? In my view, there is no doubt about it.

    That issue is at the heart of federal lawsuit -- we call it "The House Case" -- which is pending in the Northern District of Alabama before Judge R. David Proctor.

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    Bill Pryor, with and without a robe
    Alabama federal judge Bill Pryor came in no better than third last night in the race to become Donald Trump's first (and, hopefully, only) nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. That was quite a fall for a candidate who widely was considered the front-runner just a few weeks ago. And that raises this question: Did our reporting here at Legal Schnauzer about Pryor's ties to 1990s gay pornography cost him a lifetime appointment on the nation's highest court?

    I don't know the answer to that question, and I admit that even raising it sounds like I'm tooting my own horn. (Perhaps that's because I am tooting my own horn.) But a number of intelligent people I like and admire -- a doctor, a retired lawyer, my wife -- have told me in recent days they thought Pryor's fading prospects were directly related to our reports about his nudie photos that appeared at badpuppy.com in the 1990s. The hypocrisy, my friends and loved ones said, of an ardently anti-gay rights judge appearing at a gay-porn Web site (in photos taken during his college days in the 1980s), would be too much for the Trump administration to stomach.

    So why did the nod go to Neil Gorsuch, from Colorado and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, and not Pryor, who sits on the Eleventh Circuit (based in Atlanta), holds a duty station at the Hugo Black Courthouse in downtown Birmingham, and lives in the suburb of Vestavia Hills (at 2474 Tyler Road, to be precise)?

    Before we address that question, let's set this straight: I like the idea of having cost Bill Pryor a SCOTUS seat -- I really, really like that idea. Check that -- I love the idea, I relish it. Why? Bill Pryor might be the single most over-rated individual in U.S. public life. He also might be the most evil, although Donald Trump threatens to swipe that "honor" and run away with it. George W. Bush appointed Pryor to the Eleventh Circuit because, it's been widely reported, Karl Rove wanted to reward Pryor for launching (while Alabama attorney general) a bogus investigation that led to two innocent men -- former Alabama governor Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy -- winding up in federal prison.

    It is widely known in the Alabama legal community that Pryor was a mediocre lawyer, at best, and he's done nothing to distinguish himself as a judge -- unless you consider voicing antipathy toward gay rights to be a distinguishing characteristic. That's ironic, not only because of Pryor's gay-porn photos, but also because of our recent report that Alabama law enforcement conducted surveillance on Pryor's residence in the 1990s (prompted by the badpuppy.com photos and the likelihood of blackmail) that caught U.S. Senator and Trump attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions frequently coming and going at curiously late hours.

    Sessions has championed Pryor's cause at seemingly every opportunity, and it now appears that might have its genesis in something other than Pryor's professional qualifications, which are thinner than thin.

    Besides that, Bill Pryor simply is an awful human being. He helped send two innocent people to prison -- one of them, Siegelman, still is there -- and we've heard no reports that Pryor has any problems sleeping at night. It takes a special kind of warped individual to do that. Also, it has been reported at several media outlets (including this one) that Pryor's gay-porn past actually has helped his career. It has, in fact, made him vulnerable to blackmail, and GOP corporate interests have used that to make sure Pryor nudges certain cases to turn out in certain ways.

    Does it sound like I have a personal animus toward Bill Pryor? If so, that's good -- because I do. For one, I know Don Siegelman, and I've written more about his case than anyone on the planet, and I despise Pryor for what he has done to an imperfect, but good, man. I also know Richard Scrushy, and I despise Pryor for what he has done to him. Whatever his faults may be, Scrushy did a whole lot to create jobs and build prestige for Birmingham. Pryor has done nothing in Birmingham, except feather his own filthy nest.

    Two, I'm convinced Pryor has engineered multiple cheat jobs against my wife and me in federal court. We've seen signs that he is doing it now and might plan to do it in the future. Pryor apparently is arrogant enough to think he can get away with such criminality. But he might want to think twice about that. Karma has a way of biting right through your robes and leaving serious scars on your ass.

    How badly did Pryor slide in the race to fill the late Antonin Scalia's seat on the Supreme Court? This is from a report at The New York Times:

    There had been some speculation that Mr. Trump would choose someone with a less elite background for the court. The other finalist for the post, Judge Thomas M. Hardiman, was the first person in his family to graduate from college, and helped pay for his education by driving a taxi.

    The White House stoked suspense over Mr. Trump’s court choice in the hours before announcing it. A senior Trump administration official said both Judge Gorsuch and Judge Hardiman were summoned to Washington for the nomination ceremony. But only Judge Gorsuch appeared at the White House gathering shortly after 8 p.m.

    Translation: Pryor was expected, until recently, to be the life of the party, but he wound up not even being invited. Ouch!

    The conventional wisdom holds that Pryor's star fell because Team Trump was concerned his controversial statements about abortion rights, gay rights, privacy, and other hot-button cultural issues would make it difficult to get him confirmed. That might be the case, but such a scenario suggests reasonable, rational, and deliberate thought -- and we've seen no sign that exists in the Trump White House.

    So, did Legal Schnauzer cause Pryor's downfall? (Hah! Sorry, couldn't contain myself.) Well, my friends and loved ones say they've seen signs that our reports about Pryor's BadPuppy days have made their way into conservative circles. And that, they say, spelled doom for Pryor, especially in the homophobic environment of the modern GOP.

    We've seen some evidence to support that. Consider a discussion today at The Unz Review, a Webzine started by Ron Unz, a businessman, activist, and Republican politician. This is the introduction to a forum discussion yesterday on Trump's impending SCOTUS announcement:

    Trump's Supreme Court Nominee

    What do you think?

    Contenders are said to include Neil Gorsuch, Thomas M. Hardiman, and William H. Pryor. Jr.

    All three are healthy-looking white guys between their late 40s and middle 50s, so expect a lot of vapors over the prospect of one of them being on the court until about the middle of the 21st Century.

    This is from a commenter in the thread who goes by the handle "snorlax":

    Democrats were hoping for Pryor because there’s been a ready-made nomination-derailing scandal around for years (he posed nude for a gay porno mag as a college student in the 80′s). It’s weird that he still appears on GOP shortlists, but I guess we can chalk that up to being the Stupid Party.

    Even ignoring that, he’s at 54 the oldest of the 3 finalists, he’s not the brightest bulb by SC standards (especially as a replacement for the brilliant Scalia), and he’s controversial enough that the RINOs might not agree to go nuclear for him. Bad choice.

    I certainly hope "snorlax" is right, especially since he was kind enough to include a link to my blog. Plus, his line about "the brilliant Scalia" made me laugh out loud. Conservatives fall for horse feces so easily.

    Here's an interesting thought: Pryor could get back in the running for a future vacancy, but what if this proves to be Trump's one and only nomination to the Supreme Court? What if Trump is impeached or indicted (or both) before he gets a chance to make a second nomination? What if Bill Pryor had one chance to snatch his dream job, and Legal Schnauzer caused it to blow up in his face?

    Gee, wouldn't that be a shame?

    If anyone wants to give me credit for keeping Bill Pryor off the Supreme Court, I am more than happy to accept it. I will consider it a true service to our country, perhaps saving us from the latest in a string of phony religious whack jobs who have enriched and empowered themselves while chipping away at the foundations of our democracy.


    Update: Early this morning "snorlax" added this in a separate comment:

    As for Pryor, I heard about it (when he started getting GOP shortlist buzz, before Trump entered the race in 2015) from a friend who’s very clued in to the top echelons of the national Democratic Party (she doesn’t know I’m a Deplorable).

    According to her the photo is 100% legit, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg with the amount of material they have on him.

    Considering that Snopes is a very partisan Democrat outfit, I’d be very wary of a (far from definitive) “debunking” that superficially appears to benefit the GOP; smells an awful lot like a trap, especially given it really is a trap if what I was told is true. (Note: Snopes did not "debunk" the Pryor story; it labeled it "unproven," using some seriously flawed analysis.)

    I think the model and Pryor look a lot more similar than different. Your nose gets bigger as you age. The ears, hair and stubble pattern look the same, and more importantly note how they’re both slightly cross-eyed.

    If you look at the oldest clear picture of Pryor I could find, he has a less prominent nose, a weaker jaw and is even more obviously cross-eyed than in current photos.

    The anecdotal evidence is pretty strong too: The model is named “Bill Pryor,” is the same age, and bears a very strong resemblance (many people’s appearances change a lot more from their late teens/early 20′s to their 50′s). And the site that originally posted the photo (in 1997, when he was running for Alabama AG) took it down after only one day.

    Anyway, probably moot point now. He’ll be on the old side next time there’s a vacancy.

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    Carol Tovich Shuler
    What grounds does the State of Missouri have to bring criminal charges against my wife, Carol, for "assault of a law-enforcement officer"? The first step in answering that question is to look at the relevant law. When you do, it becomes clear that the state's case would have to improve to be absurd.

    The law is found at RSMo 565.083, which might have the most ridiculous title in the history of jurisprudence -- and key parts of the law probably would be found unconstitutional if anyone ever challenged it on those grounds. Here is the full title of the law:

    Section 565.083 Assault of a law enforcement officer, corrections officer, emergency personnel, highway worker, utility worker, cable worker, or probation and parole officer in the third degree, definition, penalty.

    Why didn't they include street-walkers and hot-dog vendors in that? Not enough room?

    Let's make one important point right off the bat. I've had several people say things like, "Oh my God, Carol was charged with a felony" or "Your wife is charged with a serious offense." Please note the highlighted words "third degree" above. That means this is a third-degree misdemeanor, which is one of the lowest-level charges in most jurisdictions. About the only charge lower would be a "violation," which often applies to a crime like trespassing. (And that, by the way, is the second "serious" charge against Carol; we will address that in an upcoming post.)

    Based on the information we have from case.net (Case No. 1631-CR07731), it appears Carol is alleged to have brushed against the sheriff's deputy who broke her arm so severely that it required trauma surgery -- much like you might brush up against someone in the vegetable aisle at Wal-Mart. It's also possible that Carol is alleged to be so tough and bruising that she caused the officer "apprehension."

    I'm not making this stuff up, folks. Here are the elements of this so-called crime:

    1. A person commits the crime of assault of a law enforcement officer, corrections officer, emergency personnel, highway worker in a construction zone or work zone, utility worker, cable worker, or probation and parole officer in the third degree if:

    (1) Such person recklessly causes physical injury to a law enforcement officer, corrections officer, emergency personnel, highway worker in a construction zone or work zone, utility worker, cable worker, or probation and parole officer;

    (2) Such person purposely places a law enforcement officer, corrections officer, emergency personnel, highway worker in a construction zone or work zone, utility worker, cable worker, or probation and parole officer in apprehension of immediate physical injury;

    (3) Such person knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical contact with a law enforcement officer, corrections officer, emergency personnel, highway worker in a construction zone or work zone, utility worker, cable worker, or probation and parole officer without the consent of the law enforcement officer, corrections officer, emergency personnel, highway worker in a construction zone or work zone, utility worker, cable worker, or probation and parole officer. . . .

    7. Assault of a law enforcement officer, corrections officer, emergency personnel, highway worker in a construction zone or work zone, utility worker, cable worker, or probation and parole officer in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor.

    Between items (3) and (7), the statute provides definitions of the various "public servants" the law covers. But we don't need to go into that. We know we are dealing with a law-enforcement officer, and we know what that is.

    First, (7) confirms -- in the highlighted section above -- that we are talking here about a third-degree misdemeanor. Second, (1) can be excluded because we have no evidence that the law-enforcement officer in question suffered even the slightest injury.

    Let's go first to (3), which states it is a crime if a person "knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical contact with a law-enforcement officer. The word "knowingly," frequently found in criminal codes across the country, is critical here. Missouri law states the following:

    a person is not guilty of an offense unless he or she acts with a culpable mental state, that is, unless he or she acts purposely or knowingly or recklessly or with criminal negligence, as the statute defining the offense may require with respect to the conduct, the result thereof or the attendant circumstances which constitute the material elements of the crime.

    Missouri law goes on to describe "knowingly":

    3. A person "acts knowingly", or with knowledge:

    (1) With respect to his or her conduct or to attendant circumstances when he or she is aware of the nature of his or her conduct or that those circumstances exist; or

    (2) With respect to a result of his or her conduct when he or she is aware that his or her conduct is practically certain to cause that result.

    I witnessed the incident from about 15-20 feet away and saw three officers surround Carol, grabbing at her. I did not see her initiate contact with anyone, and she says she told them, "Don't touch me." She was trying to go into our apartment to retrieve personal belongings during an unlawful eviction, as she had been given permission to do, from one or more sheriff officials on site. Did she "knowingly" cause, or attempt to cause, contact with a law-enforcement officer? I don't see how any reasonable person, under the law, could answer with anything but, "No." (By the way, what is this about "attempting to cause contact"? Don't you either cause contact or you don't? I suppose it's possible to throw a punch at an officer and miss. But it's a crime to be a poor puncher?)

    Now, let's look at (2), which introduces mind-reading into the equation by making it a crime to cause an officer "apprehension of immediate physical injury." Carol wasn't armed, and the officers knew that, so how could she cause apprehension about anything, much less immediate physical injury. The answer: She couldn't.

    If someone were convicted on the "apprehension" prong of this statute, I don't see how it could meet constitutional muster. We possibly convict someone of a crime because of what the alleged victim is thinking or feeling? That's not only absurd, it suggests the Missouri law was written by legislators with the constitutional insight of a gnat.

    It reminds me of a an old joke about a basketball coach and a referee:

    Coach: Can you hit me with a technical foul for what I'm thinking?

    Referee: Of course not.

    Coach: Well then, I think you suck.

    We will close for now on that attempt at sports-related humor. But we know for now that the case against Carol is nuttier than a Donald Trump press briefing. And we only have begun to learn its details.


    (To be continued)


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    Dr. Mark Hayden
    Dr. Mark Hayden, the Wetumpka physician who was incarcerated for 25 days near the end of 2016, has been re-arrested. Hayden is being held at the Jefferson County Jail on civil-contempt charges.

    Our access to records in the case is limited, but it appears Circuit Judge Mike Graffeo has ordered Hayden to turn over certain business documents, and Hayden contends he does not have them. In fact, Hayden claims that at least one key document does not even exist, and no evidence of its existence has been presented in court.

    At issue is a stock certificate allegedly belonging to William B. Cashion, Hayden's wealthy and elderly uncle who is co-founder of Western Steel Inc. in Bessemer. Hayden states in a recent court filing that he turned over all Cashion-related documents in his possession roughly four years ago. But Cashion's attorneys from Maynard Cooper and Gale apparently contend a key stock certificate has not been produced. (Filing is embedded at the end of this post.)

    Hayden says he has not seen even a copy of the certificate, much less the original. Graffeo recently ordered Hayden's re-arrest, and the physician was taken into custody at a hearing on January 23. Hayden's second jail stay now is in its 10th day.

    How long will this last? That is not clear, but Hayden says Cashion's attorneys have not produced copies that would suggest the stock certificate exists. According to Hayden, he is being held because he can't produce a document he does not have, with little or no evidence that it exists. It sounds like what we used to call as kids a "snipe hunt."

    We described the gist of the of Cashion case in an earlier post:

    At the heart of the controversy is William B. Cashion, an 84-year-old businessman (he probably is 87 now) who is co-founder of Bessemer-based Western Steel Inc. (WSI) and a shareholder in several other Alabama corporate entities. In 2007, while in the midst of a divorce, Cashion executed a durable power of attorney, designating his nephew, Dr. Steven Mark Hayden, as his agent and attorney-in-fact.

    Cashion remarried in 2008, and his new wife, Frankie B. Cashion, states in court documents that her husband became obsessed with investments in Alabama gold mines that supposedly were to generate large sums of revenue. Mrs. Cashion states in an affidavit that her husband invested almost $7 million in the gold-mining project before she was able to stop him. "He is at risk of selling interest in his fraudulent gold mine to other investors which would be based on fraudulent assays. . . . , " Mrs. Cashion states. "His family, friends, and business are being harmed by his poor judgment."

    In 2011, Dr. Steven Hayden used his authority as power of attorney to form the William B. Cashion Nevada Spendthrift Trust (WBC Trust), and all of Cashion's stock in WSI was transferred to the Trust. Angela Rae Hayden, Steven Hayden's wife, serves as trustee of the WBC Trust, and the Haydens live in Wetumpka, Alabama, where he practices family and emergency medicine.

    Is Hayden being held on lawful grounds? Well, we've described Judge Graffeo's actions as "dubious" -- and with Hayden seemingly being ordered to produce a document he does not have -- it doesn't smell any better now.

    On top of that, this is more than just a legal case. The longer it goes on, it becomes a public-health issue. Hayden has several thousand patients in the Elmore County area, and Alabama has experienced a shortage of rural physicians for decades. Hayden's first arrest happened while he was on duty at the Bullock County Hospital emergency room, with patients waiting to see him.

    Is Graffeo taking orders from the party with the most money in this proceeding? Is he taking orders from members of the powerful Maynard Cooper law firm? Does he care about people who might suffer because their doctor is in jail on grounds that seem flimsy, at best? Is he playing with people's lives?

    We will keep an eye on this case and the troubling questions it presents.

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    Carol Tovich Shuler
    The case against my wife, Carol, for trespass might be even weaker than the one for "assault on a law enforcement officer" -- and that is saying something.

    To grasp the absurdity of this charge, we will examine the relevant Missouri law on the subject -- Trespass, First Degree ( Misdemeanor B RSMo: 569.140). Here's how the statute reads:

    Trespass in the first degree--penalty

    569.140. 1. A person commits the offense of trespass in the first degree if he or she knowingly enters unlawfully or knowingly remains unlawfully in a building or inhabitable structure or upon real property.

    2. A person does not commit the offense of trespass in the first degree by entering or remaining upon real property unless the real property is fenced or otherwise enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders or as to which notice against trespass is given by:

    (1) Actual communication to the actor; or

    (2) Posting in a manner reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders.

    3. The offense of trespass in the first degree is a class B misdemeanor.

    What about item No. 1? We were scheduled for eviction when landlord Trent Cowherd tried to kick us out by violating the lease. A trial court ruled in Cowherd's favor, but we timely filed a notice of appeal, within the 10-day window allowed under Missouri tenant/landlord law. That puts an automatic stay on execution of the eviction. I'm not aware of anyone who has seriously tried to dispute that these are the facts and law of the situation.

    Even Jim Arnott, sheriff of Greene County, did not dispute it when I tried to explain the law to him on the day of our unlawful eviction. Arnott repeatedly turned his palms upward and shrugged his shoulders as I talked. But he never said a word to dispute what I was saying.

    This means Carol lawfully was on the property and lawfully remained on the property, until she was carted off to the Greene County Jail when a deputy shattered her arm, and Arnott falsely claimed she had assaulted said officer.

    We also encounter the word "knowingly" here, which we addressed in yesterday's post about the assault charge. Did Carol know she unlawfully was entering, or remaining on, the property? Absolutely not. She knew we had timely filed a notice of appeal and paid the proper fees because she was with me. She knew how the law read about a stay of execution because I showed it to her.

    Bottom line: The state has no case under prong No. 1 of the law.

    What about prong No. 2. This doesn't apply for several reasons: (1) The property was not fenced or enclosed in any manner; (2) This section appears to apply to non-residents who, for whatever reason, accidentally wander onto a piece of land where they don't belong.

    This was not about a "trespass" on land. Carol lived there, inside the building. Her rent had been paid until Cowherd's people essentially told me to stop paying it because we were being kicked out regardless. Carol had been a model tenant -- even Cowherd's representatives never stated otherwise -- and any planned eviction had been stayed, by law, with notice provided to all lawyers involved.

    So, prong No. 2 is a complete washout for the state.

    Back to the bottom line: The State of Missouri has not even a sniff of a case, for assault or trespass, against Carol Tovich Shuler. And yet, she is having to waste her time and energy going to court to defend against charges that, just on the surface, have no basis in fact or law.

    In fact, the state had no grounds to arrest Carol for alleged "failure to appear" either, adding to the gross abuse that is present in this matter. We will address that in an upcoming post.

    (To be continued)


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    Rob Riley
    If you own a home with a mortgage, you are in a trustee relationship with the mortgage company. Under Alabama law, that means the mortgage company is charged with the "duty of fairness and good faith in its execution to the end that the mortgagor's property may be disposed of to his pecuniary advantage in the satisfaction of his debt." (See Springer v. Baldwin Cty. Fed. Sav. Bank, 562 So. 2d 138 [Ala. Sup. Ct., 1989].)

    In brief, the mortgagee (the company) must deal with the mortgagor (you, the homeowner) with fairness and good faith. That is generic language, and we have not been able to find any case law that provides specifics. So, that raises this question, which we've been wrestling with since our home of 25 years in Birmingham went through a dubious foreclosure in summer 2014: Did our mortgage company (Chase Mortgage), as part of its duty to deal in fairness and good faith, have an obligation to make sure any judgment liens on our property were legitimate and asserted according to law?

    The language of Springer suggests the answer is yes. If that is the case, Chase Mortgage failed miserably in its duty to us. That's because Alabama lobbyist Liberty Duke apparently filed a judgment lien on our property and wound up with $7,112 in surplus foreclosure funds that otherwise would have been ours. (The actual surplus was $9,615.82, but it appears bankers and lawyers sucked off more than $2,500 in "fees.")

    Duke's lien grew from a "judgment" against me in the defamation case she and GOP thug Rob "Uday" Riley brought. But a cursory review of the record reveals all kinds of problems with Duke's "judgment." We will focus, for now, on three major flaws. Did Chase Mortgage and its representative, Robert Wermuth from the Huntsville law firm of Stephens Millirons, make any effort to discover these flaws, which would have invalidated Duke's lien? Sure doesn't look like it.

    Here are the three glaring flaws in question:

    (1) Final judgment? What final judgment?

    A judgment lien, such as Duke's, must be based on a final judgment. But Judge Claud Neilson never issued a final judgment in the Riley/Duke lawsuit. Here is how we explained it in an earlier post:

    "Neilson didn't issue a final judgment, one that could be appealed at all. After all, there was no trial, no jury, no discovery -- nothing that generally is associated with a trial on the merits. After a hearing on November 14, 2013 -- and the document setting the event called it a "hearing," not a "trial"-- Neilson issued a piece of paper titled "Final Order." But here is what Alabama case law says about such matters: (See Civil Appeals 101, Christian and Small.) (Document setting the Nov. 14 "hearing" is embedded at the end of this post.)

    "With limited exceptions, an appeal can be taken only from the entry of a final judgment. Ala. Code § 12-22-2. What constitutes a final judgment may seem simple, but in fact it can be difficult to determine. As you might expect, an order adjudicating fewer than all of the claims is not a final judgment. Lloyd v. Cook, --- So. 3d ----, 2010 WL 3075280 (Ala. Civ. App. Aug. 6, 2010). The title of the order is not important. If a trial court enters an order labeled as a final judgment, but the order does not fully dispose of all claims or fully declare the rights of the parties, the judgment is not a final judgment from which an appeal may be taken. Alfa Mutual Ins. Co. v. Bone, 13 So. 3d 369 (Ala. 2009); Hall v. Reynolds, --- So. 3d ----, 2009 WL 1716912 (Ala. June 19, 2009). By the same token, a judgment that conclusively determines the issues before the trial court, even if not labeled “Final Judgment,” will support an appeal."

    Did Neilson "fully dispose of all claims or fully declare the rights of the parties"? Not even close, as we explained in our earlier post:

    In the Riley matter, Neilson gave my wife, Carol, and me no opportunity to bring claims, much less have them heard and fully disposed. And he certainly did not declare the rights of the parties because we were treated as if we had no rights. (See Neilson's "final order" at the end of this post.) I was in the midst of a five-month stay at the "Shelby County Sheraton" (the jail), thanks to Riley and Duke's unlawful efforts to seek a preliminary injunction that has been prohibited by more than 200 years of First Amendment law, and the time for appeal lapsed during my incarceration. I had no access to a piece of paper or a functioning writing implement, but even if I'd had the basics for preparing an appeal, there was nothing to appeal -- because Neilson issued no final judgment.

    Without a final judgment, there could be no judgment lien on our property. Did Chase Mortgage and its lawyers have a duty to check for that? If they were to deal with us in "fairness and good faith," the answer seems to be yes.


    (2) As a matter of law, there was no finding of defamation

    Under decades of First Amendment law, a finding on alleged defamation only can be made via a trial, usually a jury trial. A case styled Balboa Island Village Inn v. Lemen, (Cal., 2007) spells it out clearly:

    Defendant in the present case objects to the imposition of an injunction prohibiting her from repeating statements the trial court determined were slanderous, asserting the injunction constitutes an impermissible prior restraint.   We disagree. As explained below, an injunction issued following a trial that determined that the defendant defamed the plaintiff that does no more than prohibit the defendant from repeating the defamation, is not a prior restraint and does not offend the First Amendment.

    In the Riley/Duke case, Judge Neilson acted as a one-man censor, which is prohibited by a case styled Bernard v. Gulf Oil, 619 F.2d 459, 460 (5th Cir. 1980). A finding of defamation can be made only at trial, by a jury (and not a one-man censor), and that never happened in the Riley/Duke case. As a matter of law, my posts were not false nor defamatory, meaning Duke had no legal grounds for her judgment lien. Chase Mortgage and its attorneys, who had a trustee relationship with us, apparently never bothered to see if there was any legal basis for Duke's lien.


    (3) There was no monetary judgment against me, only an unlawful award of attorney fees

    Contrary to what Riley and Duke would like you to believe, Neilson issued no monetary judgment against me. Instead he granted $33,875 in attorney fees ($24,425 for Riley, $9,450 for Duke).
    However, Alabama law prohibits an award of attorney fees against pro se parties, such as Carol and me. (The "final order" is embedded at the end of this post.) From an earlier post on the subject:

    Alabama law prohibits the awarding of attorney fees against pro se litigants. Here is how Code of Alabama 12-19-272 (Alabama Litigation Accountability Act) addresses the subject:

    "No party, except an attorney licensed to practice law in this state, who is appearing without an attorney shall be assessed attorneys' fees unless the court finds that the party clearly knew or reasonably should have known that his action, claim or defense or any part thereof was without substantial justification."

    Did the court find that I had brought a claim or defense without substantial justification? Nope. In fact, I brought no claim at all -- Riley and Duke sued me (and Carol), not the other way around. And we were given no opportunity to even bring a defense.

    We are left with a lien that had no basis in law. There was no final judgment upon which a judgment lien could be based, no finding at trial of defamation, and no monetary damages (only unlawful award of attorney fees) that would support a lien.

    Under the law, I've never owed Liberty Duke a penny, but Chase Mortgage and its representatives allowed her to abscond with more than $7,000 of our surplus mortgage funds.








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    Liberty Duke
    Alabama law requires a person seeking  a judgment lien on real property to give notice of the lien to the property owner. Lobbyist Liberty Duke gave no notice after having a lien placed on our home of 25 years in Birmingham.

    Alabama law states that the filing of a notice of appeal and appeal bond destroys any lien growing from the challenged judgment. My wife, Carol, and I had no opportunity to file an appeal and destroy Duke's judgment because Duke and GOP thug Rob "Uday" Riley had caused me to be unlawfully incarcerated for five months in Shelby County, during which the time for appeal ran. It's hard to imagine a more grotesque violation of due-process rights.

    Alabama law requires a certificate of judgment, which helps produce a lien, to include certain information. A check on court records in Shelby County shows that Duke's certificate does not include much of the required information. Alabama law has held that the required information is necessary to create a lien; it is clear that merely filing a copy of the judgment does not meet statutory requirements. That means Duke's lien, which she used to abscond with $7,112 of surplus foreclosure funds that otherwise belonged to us, was invalid.

    We've already shown that Duke's judgment lien contained a number of flaws, and Chase Mortgage (which held the mortgage on our home) had an obligation as our trustee to ensure that we were treated fairly and in good faith.

    The flaws mentioned previously derive mainly from case law. The flaws mentioned above come from statutory law. The bottom line? Liberty Duke's judgment lien misses the mark on multiple legal platforms. (Documents embedded at the end of this post provide specifics on some of the numbers involved with Duke's lien and our efforts to save our house from foreclosure.)

    Let's take a close look at the issues that indicate Liberty Duke had no legal right to more than $7,000 of our funds. The record suggests she tried to benefit financially from having me kidnapped (arrested with no apparent warrant) and thrown in jail for five months. In my book, it's hard for an alleged "human" to stoop much lower than that:

    (1) We don't notice the receipt of notice

    The requirement of notice can be found at Code of Alabama 6-9-82. Here is how it reads:

    Section 6-9-82

    Notice where levy on real estate.

    When the levy is on real estate, personal notice thereof must be given to the defendant or a notice thereof in writing left at his residence, if resident in the county; if not resident in the county, then by putting up a written notice at the courthouse door, and the manner of giving notice must be stated in the return.

    Notice that the law requires personal notice; you can't just stick it in the regular mail and hope it gets there. There is no question that Duke and her lawyer, Christina Crow of Union Springs, failed to meet this relatively simple requirement. Why did they drop the ball here? Our guess is that notice would have given us the opportunity to challenge both the lien and the judgment, and they knew both had no basis in law.


    (2)  Jail is unappealing

    If there is a way to file an appeal while in jail, I don't know what it would be. You likely would have a better chance if you were in a prison, which is designed to hold people for lengthy periods of time and generally includes access to some research materials and writing implements. Jails are holding facilities, for short-term stays, and I did not have even a functioning pencil or a decent sheet of paper while I was incarcerated. Filing an appeal is challenging under normal circumstances -- I know because I've filed several -- but it's darned near impossible to file one from jail. Even if it were possible, it's highly prejudicial (not to mention a violation of due process) for someone to be forced to file an appeal from jail.

    Under Rule 4 of the Alabama Rules of Appellate Procedure (ARAP), I had 42 days to appeal Judge Claud Neilson's bogus "final order" in the Riley/Duke lawsuit. That time period elapsed while I was locked up, depriving Carol and me of an opportunity to extinguish Duke's lien. State law on this subject can be found at Code of Alabama 6-9-61:

    Section 6-9-61

    Destruction of lien upon execution of bond for appeal, etc.

    The execution of a bond for an appeal by which the judgment is suspended or the execution of a bond by the defendant upon the proper officer granting an injunction, stay of execution, or restraining order destroys the lien created by the recording of the certificate of the judgment or the levy of the execution upon personal property. The clerk of the court in which such bond, injunction, stay, or restraining order is granted shall, at the request of the party filing such bond or obtaining such order, note such fact on the margin of the record where the certificate of judgment is recorded in the event such certificate has been filed in the probate office.

    You never know what to expect from Alabama's hideously corrupt appellate courts. But assuming someone actually reviewed our appeal before stamping it "Affirmed, No Opinion," there is no way, under the law, that Judge Neilson's judgment could hold up -- and no way for Duke's lien to escape the trash bin.


    (3) A certificate of judgment that comes up short

    An article titled "Alabama Collection Law" spells out the information that must be present in a certificate of judgment in order to create a lien. From the article, which includes citation to Code of Alabama 6-9-210:

    A Judicial Lien is created by filing a certificate of judgment with the Office of the Judge of Probate. Recording the certificate of judgment creates a lien on all the debtor's property in that county. The certificate of judgment should contain the following information: 1. style of the case including the name of the court entering judgment; 2. amount of judgment; 3. judgment date; 4. amount of cost; 5. name of parties; 6. name of plaintiff’s attorney; 7. address of each defendant or respondent as shown in the court proceedings; 8. clerk's signature. Ala. Code § 6-9-210 (1975)

    Of the eight items that must be present for a certificate of judgment to create a lien, at least two are missing on Liberty Duke's certificate -- No. 5, name of parties, and No. 7, address of defendants. (A copy of the certificate of judgment is embedded at the end of this post. We invite readers to check it for missing items.)

    In fact, the name of my wife, Carol, who was sued as a defendant (just like me) is nowhere to be found on the certificate of judgment. How can Carol be forced out of a house she jointly owned because of a certificate of judgment that does not name her? How can either of us be forced out of property that is not identified by address on the certificate of judgment?

    Do these missing items matter? Consider this from the "Alabama Collection Law: article:

    Prior case decisions indicated that all the statutory requirements must be met to create a lien. The most recent cases regarding this issue have held that the requirements must be viewed in relation to the purpose of the requirement, to impart notice of a judgment lien to title searchers. Bowman v. SouthTrust, 551 So. 2d 984 (Ala. 1989); John Deere Co. v. Blevins, 696 So. 2d 1080 (Ala. Civ. App. 1996), but see AmSouth Bank v. Holberg, 789 So.2d 833 (Ala. 2001) for the proposition that merely filing a copy of the judgment does not meet statutory requirements.

    The law apparently is murky on this subject, but Liberty Duke's certificate of judgment clearly does not meet all statutory requirements. That means she likely never had a valid lien at all. Our guess is that our addresses were not included on the certificate because someone did not want us to have notice of the lien, as required by law.

    -----------------------------

    Speaking of surplus foreclosure funds, we recently discovered documents that show the exact amount involved, plus other correspondence leading up to the foreclosure on our home. Some of those documents are embedded below.

    Christina Crow
    The exact debt remaining on our Birmingham property was $64,793.18. It was sold at foreclosure for $74,358.00. By subtracting the first number from the second number, you get $9,615.82. That's the amount of excess foreclosure funds that were due to us.

    If you check Liberty Duke's certificate of judgment below, the amount listed is $9,450. Isn't it interesting that the amount owed to us, and the amount "owed to her" would wind up being almost identical. It's almost as if Judge Claud Neilson, when he unlawfully awarded attorney fees for Duke (and against a pro se parties, Carol and me) knew the amount someone wanted Duke to receive -- no matter how unlawful it might be.

    Why did the figure dip to $7,112 when it went to Liberty Duke. I can only assume that Chase and its lawyers subtracted more than $2,500 in "fees." Mortgage companies and their law firms seem to extract such fees throughout the foreclosure process. Had the money gone to us, as it should have by law, it's not clear if those fees would have been applicable. But I'm guessing Stephens Millirons would have found a way to attach them anyway.

    How does the law firm justify those fees? They certainly did not exert any energy to fulfill their trustee obligations to us.












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    Jessica Medeiros Garrison and Luther Strange
    (From marieclaire.com)
    A $3.5-million award for Alabama GOP operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison against yours truly and the Legal Schnauzer blog, according to court documents, is based on sworn testimony from Garrison and Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange at a default-judgment damages hearing, for which I did not receive notice.

    We recently received a copy of the docket in Garrison's defamation case as part of the proceedings in our ongoing federal lawsuit over the wrongful foreclosure on our home of 25 years in Birmingham -- we call that "The House Case," along with a second pending federal case we call "The Jail Case," related to my unlawful five-month incarceration in Shelby County and related issues.

    Guess what the docket shows in the Garrison defamation case? It shows that the testimony from her and Strange never took place. Yep, the docket makes no mention of a damages hearing, upon which Jefferson County Circuit Judge Don Blankenship based his multimillion-dollar award, and it makes no mention of testimony from Garrison or Strange at all -- that I can find. In other words, according to the docket, Garrison's hefty award is based on . . . well, absolutely nothing.

    To be clear, this doesn't even include the fact that Garrison's judgment is void because I did not receive three days' notice of her default application and hearing, as required by Alabama law. I know, for a fact, that I never received such notice, and the docket indicates Garrison never even sent it. As a nullity, Garrison's judgment violates principles of due process and can be attacked and declared void at any time. You can rest assured that it will be attacked as such quite soon. (The docket and transcript from the Strange/Garrison testimony is embedded at the end of this post.)

    Yes, you can view the Strange/Garrison transcript at the end of this point, but we are left with this glaring question: Is the transcript real? Did such a hearing take place?

    Strange and Garrison claim that my reporting on their extramarital affair is false and defamatory. But it never has been found false and defamatory by a jury, as required by decades of First Amendment law, because there was no trial (jury or otherwise) in the Garrison case.

    I'm hardly alone in reporting, or speaking out publicly, about the Strange/Garrison affair. Former Alabama Senate President Lowell Barron spoke about it last year on a Web-radio broadcast and said the subject is so sensitive that it affects the way Strange can do his job. Is Jessica Garrison going to sue Lowell Barron? Doesn't look like it. Is that because she knows Barron's statements are true? A reasonable person certainly could answer yes.

    As for the transcript of the damages hearing, it is dated March 19, 2015. When you check that date in the docket, you find . . . nothing. According to the docket, nothing took place in the action on that date. In fact, I can't find a reference to a damages hearing, or testimony from Strange and Garrison, anywhere.

    Lowell Barron
    I'm not a lawyer, of course, but I think it's pretty well understood among "The Great Unwashed" that court dockets are important documents. They are supposed to provide an accurate record of everything that takes place in a court case.

    The records below seem to show two versions of what could have happened: (1) No damages hearing took place, and Strange and Garrison did not testify, meaning there are no grounds for the judgment against me; (2) Someone made a mistake, suggesting the Jefferson County Courthouse staff can't keep track of their own cases. I've had a $3.5-million judgment hanging over my head, issued by a court that apparently is infected with gross incompetence.

    How can such a judgment stand? My answer is, "It can't, especially when it's void anyway."

    That's one of numerous questions that the docket and Strange/Garrison transcript raise. We will be addressing others in upcoming posts.


    (To be continued)









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    Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto
    My wife, Carol, appeared before a Missouri judge yesterday and -- get this -- the judge seemed dubious of the assaulting-a-law-enforcement-officer and trespassing charges against Carol.

    At least that's my interpretation. Could I be wrong? Sure. But something the judge said -- and the way she said it -- surprised us, in a positive way. We're not used to getting positive vibes in a courtroom, so maybe I just don't know how to handle (or interpret) them.

    Here is a report on Carol's brief appearance, which was in a "cattle call" format, with maybe 15 defendants there while we were present. By the way, it was in the smallest court room I've ever seen. Maybe it's considered a hearing room, and not a court room; not sure about that one, but some people have walk-in closets that are bigger than this room. Jurors in this room probably would have to sit on each other's laps.

    The event for Carol was advertised at case.net (Case Number 1631--CRO7731, State v. Carol T. Shuler) as a "bond appearance hearing." We thought that odd because Carol already had made bond, and that was reflected in the docket. We discovered yesterday afternoon that the record had been updated to say yesterday's hearing included an arraignment.

    Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto, an appointee of Democratic Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, read the charges to Carol, gave her information about the Greene County Public Defender's Office, and set another appearance for 9 a.m. on March 15.

    Along the way, Palmietto said the following: "I assume you plead not guilty?" Carol answered yes, but the question caught both of us off guard. Maybe that's because we thought it was only a bond hearing, and it would not involve any questions of such substance.

    Palmietto did not actually roll her eyes, but given the tone of her voice, one could imagine her doing that. It was if she was saying, "Dumb-ass deputies and cops bring these kinds of bogus claims against people they abuse all of the time, and the dumb-ass prosecuting attorney lets them slide through every time. Listen, honey, you and I both know these charges are bullshit. You don't look anything like the kind of person who would 'assault' a cop. I knew there was no way you were pleading guilty to this pile of feces."

    Is that interpretation wishful thinking on my part? It could be. Did Palmietto use the "I assume" phrase because almost everyone who comes before her pleads not guilty, and her mind has become trained to expect that? That could be, too.

    But is it possible we actually have a judge with more than a few brain cells -- one who doesn't automatically buy everything cops or prosecutors put in front of her? Maybe the judge read the probable-cause statement, looked at Carol, and noticed the obvious incongruity?

    My amateur psychology on a judge can only go so far, so I will leave it at that for now. But we learned enough about the charges yesterday to leave with a revised version of what might have been going through Judge Palmietto's mind: These charges are worse than bullshit; they are a fraud on the court system and the public -- and they would have to improve drastically to reach the level of bullshit.


    (To be continued) 

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    Jessica Garrison and Luther Strange
    A transcript of a hearing in Jessica Medeiros Garrison's defamation lawsuit against me shows she lied under oath, falsely stating that I reported Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange was the father of her son.

    Garrison has made similar comments in the press, for an article in the fashion magazine Marie Claire and related stories at al.com and Yellowhammer News. But this is the first time we've been able to show that she, an attorney, lied under oath in a court of law.

    The transcript recently came into our possession due to proceedings in one of two federal lawsuits we have filed related to my unlawful incarceration ("The Jail Case") and the wrongful foreclosure on our home of 25 years in Birmingham ("The House Case"). A defendant in "The House Case" filed a transcript of testimony from Garrison and Strange in her defamation suit, which resulted in a $3.5-million default judgment in her favor -- even though I never received notice of her default application or hearing, meaning the judgment is void and can be attacked as such at any time.

    In his testimony, Strange did not mention the parentage of Garrison's child. But Garrison mentioned it and claimed I had reported Strange was the biological father of her son. A review of all relevant posts here at Legal Schnauzer shows I never made any such claim. In fact, I interviewed Garrison's ex husband, Tuscaloosa City School Board president Lee Garrison, and quoted him saying the child is his. (The transcript, dated March 19, 2015, is embedded at the the end of this post.)

    On pages 56-57 of the transcript is this exchange between Garrison and her attorney, Bill Baxley:

    Q. Did [Shuler] write -- did he make innuendos about you being paid when you were giving birth to your son?

    A. Yeah, that -- there was a blog post at some point where I remember walking away thinking he is trying to make people believe that the birth of my son -- that the payment, that lump sum lieutenant governor's campaign payment that I told [Strange] to hold and just pay when all the bills -- he tried to make it sound like that was some type of payment tied to the birth of my son.

    Q. Did he make innuendos about who the father of your child was?

    A. Right, right, as if that were Luther's son and that was some type of -- I don't know how you phrase it, but something to do with -

    Q. Was that true?

    A. No, no, no, not true at all.

    There you have it: With Bill Baxley's help, Jessica Garrison  perjured herself regarding my reporting on her relationship with Luther Strange and the birth of her son. Why does that matter? An order from Judge Don Blankenship in the defamation case suggests almost all of Garrison's $3.5-million award was based on alleged posts about Luther Strange being the biological father of her son. Except there are no such posts at Legal Schnauzer.

    The post Garrison had in mind probably was this one, dated May 29, 2013 and titled "Strange's 2006 Payments To Former Campaign Aide Coincided With Pregnancy And Birth Of Her Son." From the post:

    Luther Strange paid almost $19,000 to a former campaign aide after he lost the 2006 lieutenant governor's race in Alabama. The payments appear to mirror those that Strange, as attorney general, now claims constitute a crime by former state senator Lowell Barron and his former campaign aide.

    Strange's payments to Jessica Medeiros Garrison coincide with her pregnancy and the birth of her child in early 2007. . . .

    The indictment against Barron indicates the attorney general's office built its case against Lowell Barron on three theories related to Alabama's campaign-finance and ethics law: (1) Barron made the payments to Rhonda Jill Johnson after a losing campaign in 2010; (2) Barron, therefore, could not claim the payments were reasonably related to performance of his official duties; (3) The payments were personal in nature.

    Public records show the attorney general himself made payments to Jessica Medeiros Garrison after a losing campaign in 2006. That means the payments could not have been "reasonably related to performing the duties of the office held," and therefore must have been personal in nature.

    Let's review: The post says Strange's payments to Garrison, after a losing campaign, coincided with her pregnancy and the birth of her child in early 2007. All of that is true, and Garrison does not deny it in her defamation-case testimony. I note that Strange's payments after a losing campaign suggest the payments were "personal in nature" -- and that is a legal phrase taken directly from the Lowell Barron indictment, prepared by Strange and his staff.

    Nowhere does the post state, or even suggest, that Strange is the biological father of Garrison's child.

    Here is how the post in question ends:

    Were the 2006 payments to Jessica Medeiros Garrison and her company personal in nature? Well, she was pregnant at the time the payments were made -- and she gave birth to Michael Lee Garrison on March 27, 2007.

    Again, the legal question is this: Were the Strange payments to Garrison personal in nature? That's the very issue Strange's office raised against Lowell Barron, and that's why my post is written the way it is.

    This is, after all, a blog about legal issues -- and that's what this post is about. It says nothing about, directly or indirectly, the parentage of her son. But Jessica Garrison later would lie under oath and claim that it did.

    The Strange-Garrison transcript includes a lot of interesting information, and we will address that in upcoming posts.


    (To be continued)






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    Jeff Sessions
    The arrest of my wife in Missouri coincides with a recent report here at Legal Schnauzer about U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) being caught by a law-enforcement surveillance team making frequent late-night visits to the residence in Montgomery of then Alabama attorney general (and current federal judge) Bill Pryor. The arrest also came close on the heels of our report that Sessions is a closeted homosexual, and the Obama administration was prepared to drop the "G bomb" on him if he attempted to block Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Is that a coincidence? I don't think so, and it's not the only case of "curious timing" connected to Carol's arrest.

    The question becomes even more profound when you consider Sessions is Donald Trump's nominee to be U.S. attorney general, and the Senate today is scheduled to vote on the Sessions nomination. So, as Sessions is poised to become this nation's chief law-enforcement officer, we see signs that he (or someone associated with him) ordered a bogus arrest on the wife of a blogger who had written a post that is unflattering -- and alarmingly true.

    Does Jeff Sessions act like an organized-crime thug against those who might dare to report on his sketchy past? Americans had better be asking themselves that question before it is too late. In fact, it might already be too late -- unless a law-enforcement agency is able and willing to prove that Sessions essentially ordered a law-enforcement hit, which would be a felony, on the wife of a journalist.

    Here are the basics on a possible tie between Sessions (and perhaps other political forces in Alabama) and Carol's arrest:

    * January 11, 2017 -- We publish a post that Sessions is a closeted homosexual, and it so widely known that the Obama administration was prepared to out him if he tried to block the SCOTUS nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. Once that threat became known to Sessions, Sotomayor was confirmed with relative ease.

    * January 26 -- We publish a post about Sessions' late-night visits to see Bill Pryor, who appeared nude at the gay-porn Web site badpuppy.com in 1997. Pryor has gone on to become a notoriously homophobic and anti-LGBT judge on the U.S. Eleventh Circuit and was considered a favorite to receive Trump's nomination to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. That nod went to Neil Gorsuch, of Colorado, and there is evidence to suggest our reporting on Pryor's gay-porn past sent his chances into a death spiral.

    * January 27 -- Around 6 p.m., we start receiving persistent knocks on our door. We aren't aware of anyone who is needing to see us, so we ignore the knocking. Finally, we realize Greene County deputies are on the premises, and they likely are the knockers. We can't figure out why they would be there until I check Missouri online court records and see Carol has been charged with "assault on a law enforcement officer" and "trespass" related to the unlawful eviction (on September 9, 2015) that left her with a shattered left arm, requiring trauma surgery to repair.

    * January 30 -- Cops return and arrest Carol. She is released on $1,000 bond that evening and appeared in court to plead not guilty on Monday (February 6).

    Bill Pryor, with and without robe
    Did Jeff Sessions, or someone connected to him, order a bogus arrest against Carol? Were conservative forces in heavily Republican southwest Missouri more than willing to go along with it? Have Alabama GOP political operatives been in touch with individuals in Missouri (including an alleged "friend," even relatives) to enlist their assistance in harming us? The answer to all three questions, in my mind, is a resounding yes.

    If that's the case, it would mean Sessions is a criminal, likely surrounded by criminals. And by the time you read this, Jeff Sessions might already be attorney general of the United States.

    God help our country.


    (To be continued)

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    Jessica Medeiros Garrison
    Alabama Republican operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison claims my reporting about her extramarital affair with Attorney General Luther Strange cost her about $10 million, according to a transcript of testimony in her defamation case against Legal Schnauzer and me.

    In fact, Garrison tosses around copious amounts of curious numbers, all suggesting she has a high opinion of her value as a political consultant/campaign manager. What has she actually accomplished? Well, she got a Republican appointed to statewide office in Alabama. But how hard is that? I probably could scoop up a dead armadillo off the highway and get him elected attorney general if he had an "R" by his name -- unless he had been caught fondling Rebekah Caldwell Mason's boobs.

    Heck, Garrison doesn't even have a particularly impressive won-loss record. She helped Strange win in 2010, but she also was on board when he lost the lieutenant governor's race to Jim Folsom in 2006. So she's 1-1 in getting a Republican elected in Alabama? Whoa, let's print out some money for that girl -- she's special!

    Keep in mind that this is the same woman who told fashion magazine Marie Claire that she offered to forgo a $3.5-million default judgment if I would pay $1 and remove the offending posts -- even though none of them have been proven false or defamatory, as a matter of law, because there was no trial in the case, much less a jury trial as required under decades of First Amendment law.

    Let's take a closer look at some of the eye-raising numbers Garrison pulls seemingly out of thin air. (The transcript is embedded at the end of this post.)

    Meet Jessica Garrison, the $10-million gal

    Garrison suggests that she has been close to being hired by a high-profile business or organization. Does she name the outfit or provide any other details? Nope. But we have this, from page 68, when lawyer Bill Baxley asks her to quantify her damages:

    There are more things I want to do in life and I feel like -- I mean, I have some pretty big goals for myself and I feel like -- like there's one opportunity that I would like to try to pursue now and I can't really seem to get their attention and I can't -- if you look me up, if I were -- this would be a high-profile thing. I wouldn't hire me because even if it's not true, I'm tainted. I've got this thing over my head that she could -- well, maybe there's a little truth to it, maybe. So I just can't help but think that this particular opportunity that I would like -- they were going to meet with me and they haven't. They haven't called and I just can't -- you know, if I were them, I would do all my due diligence and look me up and it's not pretty.

    Garrison barely can speak a coherent sentence in this court snippet, but she's supposed to be worth millions? Garrison then proceeds, on pages 69-70, to explain how valuable she would be to this unknown outfit. Asking the questions this time is Judge Don Blankenship, otherwise known as "The Court":

    THE COURT: Ms. Garrison, let me ask you a question and let's just go back for a second to what your counsel just asked you about, the amount of money you've had to expend coming to court, traveling and the like to prosecute this lawsuit. Also taking into account the mental anguish that you've gone through and what you think you'll go through, how much of a dollar value would you put on that?

    THE WITNESS: I would put a lot.

    THE COURT: What's a lot?

    THE WITNESS: I would put $10 million.

    THE COURT: What do you think you base that on?

    THE WITNESS: I think that I could ultimately be in a position where I would be compensated a million dollars a year and I think I've got at least a good ten years of whatever -- that new opportunity I hope eventually I get to. I think I've got at least ten years of work under my belt still to go.

    So, we have a mythical organization that is itching to pay Jessica Garrison $10 million over 10 years, but she gives us no details about it -- what does it do, where is it located, who are its leaders, how is she to handle the job, given the restrictions regarding location from her child-custody case?

    That's a lot to swallow for now. But we will return shortly with another episode of Jessica Garrison's Wide World of Cash.


    (To be continued)






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    Don Siegelman arrives at the Birmingham airport.
    (From wbrc.com)
    How ironic is it that former Alabama governor Don Siegelman was released from federal prison and returned to Birmingham on the same day former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) was confirmed as our nation's attorney general and chief law-enforcement officer? The juxtaposition illustrates the rot in our "justice system" -- and with Sessions elevated to a position of huge influence, the situation is not likely to improve any time soon.

    Siegelman's return to Birmingham had to be bittersweet. His release was a rare positive development in a case that is widely known as the most outrageous political prosecution in U.S. history -- and supporters greeted him downtown with waves and cheers. That he was in prison for a "crime" that does not exist is, well . . . "American tragedy" is not too strong a term. That we've seen no sign that Siegelman and his family ever will be compensated for the wrongs committed against them -- or that the criminals responsible ever will spend a minute behind bars -- makes the tragedy even more stark.

    No wonder our country allowed Vladimir Putin to put a baboon like Donald Trump in our White House. (Sorry for the insult to baboons; one of them would make a much better president  than Trump.)

    As if Siegelman's mind and body have not been assaulted enough already, his release on home detention came as Jeff Sessions took a position for which he is not remotely qualified. (A baboon certainly would be smart enough not to appoint him.) On top of that, Sessions played a major role in the prosecution that unlawfully sent Siegelman to prison.

    It was Sessions, after all, who helped push President George W. Bush to nominate Mark Fuller to the federal bench. And it was Fuller who, despite his well-known animus toward Siegelman that required his recusal, presided over the case and repeatedly made pro-prosecution rulings that in many cases were wildly contrary to law.

    The dozens of butchered rulings that led to the Siegelman conviction have been laid bare at news outlets, large and small -- none more so than here, where we undoubtedly have covered the case more extensively than anyone else. In fact, we posted a multi-part series titled "The Cheating of Don Siegelman," which might be the most fact-filled indictment of our court system ever written.

    (Of course, the "honorable" Judge Fuller was forced off the bench following his arrest on charges that he beat his wife in an Atlanta hotel room in summer 2014. This came after allegations surfaced in the divorce from his first wife that he had abused her and their children, while regularly ingesting copious amounts of alcohol and prescription painkillers, and engaging in extramarital affairs -- and that's a story we broke at Legal Schnauzer. So much for Jeff Sessions' ability to make wise personnel decisions. He wouldn't know a competent, ethical person if they landed on his little gay crotch.)

    With all of that in mind, there is no need to recount today the many ways Siegelman was railroaded and cheated.

    All any semi-coherent citizen needs to know is this: The case against Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy (former CEO of HealthSouth) was brought almost one full year after the five-year statute of limitations (SOL) had expired. Prosecutors wrote the indictment in such vague fashion, the defendants didn't know what they supposedly had done wrong.

    Defense lawyers sought a bill of particulars, which would have forced the prosecution to provide specifics on the charges. Fuller, who published reports have concluded was assigned to be "hanging judge" in the case, denied the motion. Even child rapist Jerry Sandusky was granted such a motion during his criminal case in Pennsylvania. Nothing goes to Fuller's crookedness like denial of a bill of particulars.

    When it became clear during the trial that the alleged wrongdoing had occurred way outside the SOL, defense lawyers moved for the case to be dismissed on those grounds. Fuller denied that motion, too, meaning a prosecution that, by law, could not begin would go to a dazed and confused jury that somehow ignored the complete lack of evidence regarding a quid pro quo and voted to convict anyway.

    How could all of this nutty stuff happen in a court system that supposedly guarantees due process and equal protection? The public needs to know, but the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has been stonewalling on turning over records that could reveal uncomfortable truths about the Siegelman case.

    Efforts to seek documents via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) have been ongoing for almost 10 years. So far, hardly any relevant records have been produced. Joseph Siegelman, Don's son and an attorney at the Cochran Firm in Birmingham, is seeking information about the apparent failure of then U.S. Attorney Leura Canary to abide by her recusal.

    If even a sliver of justice is to come for Don Siegelman, the best bet might be via his son's FOIA activities.

    For now, Siegelman has said that he feels like a "refugee," and his adjustment to life outside of prison likely will take a while. (I know. I spent five months in jail for the "crime" of blogging, in a case driven by some of the same GOP thugs present in the Siegelman case. I also lost my job at UAB for reporting, on my own time and with my own resources, about the Siegelman case. Journalism is dangerous in Alabama, folks.)

    The public, however, should not give up on the possibility that the criminals behind the Siegelman prosecution will someday be unmasked -- even if Jeff Sessions, for now, is in charge of the DOJ.

    Is there still hope for the U.S. justice system? It looks bleak at the moment, but maybe Joseph Siegelman will prove to be the guy to change the complexion of things.

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    "Luv Guv" Bentley and his girlfriend
    Gov. Robert Bentley's appointment of Attorney General Luther Strange to replace U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is being portrayed in the press as perhaps the most flagrantly corrupt act in modern Alabama history. Considering our state's history of political corruption, that's quite an "achievement" for Bentley. Heck, even U.S. News and World Report had to hold its nose while covering the story.

    But Legal Schnauzer readers should not be surprised by any of this. We broke stories that first showed Bentley and Strange are ethically challenged. We even broke the story that Cooper Shattuck, a Bentley sycophant and possible replacement for Strange as AG, has the moral underpinnings of a gila monster. (Our apologies to gila monster lovers around the globe.)

    All three of these "gentlemen" have engaged in extramarital affairs while serving in prominent public positions. "Luv Guv" Bentley is known for groping the nether regions and massaging the boobs of his married adviser, Rebekah Caldwell Mason. Mason and her husband accompanied the governor to the Donald Trump inauguration on state aircraft, along with an unidentified "special guest." I'm a pretty square guy, but even I can't ignore the kinky fumes put off by that arrangement.

    Strange had a well-publicized affair with Jessica Medeiros Garrison, his one-time campaign manager. We are hearing reports that Strange also sunk his claws into another young female staffer who, like Garrison, went through a curious divorce just as she was getting comfortable in LutherLand. (We intend to apply a full-court press to crack that story; when and if we do, you will be reading about it here.)

    Our guess is that Garrison is desperate to land some kind of Senate job under Strange, even though her child-custody order requires her to stay within 60 miles of ex-husband Lee Garrison, who resides in Tuscaloosa. Maybe Lee Garrison, who recently announced he would not seek re-election to the Tuscaloosa City School Board, can get a job with Strange and they all can move to the northern Virginia suburbs as one big dysfunctional family. I write that last sentence only slightly in jest. I would not be at all surprised if it happens. After all, Luther Strange has a lot of reasons to make sure the Garrisons keep their power-hungry tastes sated -- and their mouths shut.

    As for Shattuck, Bentley's former legal adviser and former general counsel at the University of Alabama, he had an affair with Lisa Waldrop, assistant director of media and communication at Shelton State Community College. Shattuck also was known for boosting the career of young staff lawyer Katie Osburne, elevating her over much more experienced UA attorneys for reasons that were hard to decipher.

    How's this for irony? Bentley and Strange ran for public office as "Christian, family values" conservatives of exceptional moral fabric. Shattuck used to be an assistant pastor at First United Methodist Church in Tuscaloosa until he and Waldrop apparently were booted when their affair became widely known. All three have proven to be "men of the flesh" -- quite literally.

    Luther Strange and his girlfriend
    As for Bentley's appointment of Luther Strange to replace Jeff Sessions, here is how U.S. News reported the foul odor coming from the Deep South:
    Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has appointed his state’s attorney general, Luther Strange, to fill just-confirmed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat, apparently ignoring widespread concern about the appearance of a corrupt trade.

    The Alabama attorney general’s office is conducting an investigation related to Bentley, against whom Strange requested impeachment efforts be stalled in November, citing “related work” by his office. Now, Bentley will be able to pick Strange’s replacement, too.

    “I have learned you can’t be surprised in politics, and especially in Alabama politics,” says state Rep. Allen Farley, a fellow Republican who serves on the Alabama House Judiciary Committee, which Strange asked to delay impeachment work.

    “If you think something can’t happen, you haven’t been here long,” Farley says. “There are a lot of meetings that aren’t public.”

    U.S. News provided details about the deep doo-doo in which Bentley and his paramour, Ms. Mason, reside:

    Bentley is caught in a complex web of scandals involving an alleged affair with a now-former senior aide whose husband is an appointee and the alleged retaliatory firing of a state official who cooperated in the corruption prosecution of a state legislature leader later sentenced to prison.

    Farley says he’s willing to give Strange – who will be up for re-election in 2018 – the benefit of the doubt that “it’s just one of those things where it appears there could have been collusion."

    He recalls the committee being “right in the middle” of its impeachment probe when “all the sudden we get a letter from the attorney general asking us to step down. And shortly after that, this occurs, where Luther is going to put his hat in the ring.”

    Farley says he’s also trying to remain optimistic that impeachment work will move forward, though he’s concerned Bentley’s pick for the new state attorney general will slow-walk or nix that office’s probe.

    None of this should be a surprise. Why should the public trust Bentley and Strange when we showed long ago that their spouses should not trust them?


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    R. David Proctor
    Did Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions, or someone affiliated with him, commit a federal crime in the days before Sessions was sworn in? A recent ruling from U.S. Judge R. David Proctor in our wrongful foreclosure/defamation lawsuit -- we call it "The House Case" -- suggests the answer is yes. We have filed a motion to have Proctor's unlawful handiwork overturned. If Proctor persists in cheating my wife, Carol, and me, we intend to take any action necessary against him -- and that would include filing a criminal complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice.

    We use the term "criminal complaint" because Proctor's 45-page memorandum opinion of January 13 is so filled with lawless findings it suggests someone -- Proctor, Sessions, someone connected to Sessions -- is engaging in obstruction of justice and perhaps other crimes. (Dismissal Order and Memorandum Opinion are embedded at the end of this post.)

    How ugly is this? We know Proctor and Sessions have engaged in unethical conduct that goes back at least 20 years, when Proctor (while in private practice) helped get black federal judge U.W. Clemon removed from USX Corp. v. Tieco Inc., a case where Sessions (as Alabama's attorney general) had been named as a defendant. We also know that at least four individuals with strong ties to Sessions -- GOP operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Trump communications assistant Cliff Sims, U.S. Judge Bill Pryor, and GOP lawyer/operative Rob Riley -- are defendants in our two pending federal lawsuits. Those would be "The House Case" and "The Jail Case," which focuses mainly on my unlawful five-month incarceration in Shelby County and currently is under appeal before the Eleventh Circuit.

    Both cases, somehow, wound up before Proctor at the trial level. What are the chances of that happening? So small it suggests that they were not randomly assigned, meaning we were deprived of our constitutional right to have the cases heard by an impartial arbiter. Proctor is anything but impartial -- in fact, by law he must recuse himself -- and evidence suggests the cases were unlawfully assigned to him so that he could protect Sessions' associates, and maybe Sessions himself.

    Jeff Sessions
    We filed a Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59 (also known as a Motion to Reconsider) last Friday, and it shows that Proctor's findings are incorrect on every major point at this stage in the proceedings. Many of his findings are incorrect, regardless of the stage in the proceedings. (Motion to Alter or Amend is embedded at the end of this post.)

    How corrupt is R. David Proctor? We will be undressing him in a series of upcoming posts. I am more than a little fed up with being the victim of judicial cheat jobs, and I intend to make sure Proctor is held accountable, one way or another.

    The case at the center of this post involves the unlawful theft of our home of 25 years in Birmingham. "The Jail Case" involves my kidnapping and loss of freedom for five months. If Proctor thinks we take these matters lightly -- if he thinks we are too stupid to recognize his corrupt rulings -- he is in need of a serious reawakening.


    (To be continued)









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    X-ray of Carol Shuler's broken arm,
    shattered by Missouri deputy
    We have presented evidence that the arrest of my wife, Carol, in Missouri might have been an act of retaliation for our reporting on Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions and his closeted homosexuality. That, however, is not the only instance of curious timing regarding Carol's arrest on bogus charges of trespass and "assault on a law enforcement officer."

    Their is no probable cause to support the charges in the first place. I know because I've read the probable-cause statement from Deputy Debi Wade, who supposedly was present when we were unlawfully evicted on September 9, 2015, and a male deputy shattered Carol's left arm so severely that it required trauma surgery for repair -- and she is expected to regain only 75 to 80 percent usage.

    I say Officer Wade "supposedly" was present because her probable-cause statement is pure fantasy. I'm not sure there is a single truthful statement in it, and it says right at the top that false statements are "punishable by law." One female office was present that day, and I suppose that was Debi Wade. But it's curious that Wade created the probable-cause statement because I saw the whole event where Carol was brutalized and had her arm broken -- and she and Wade never made contact with each other. At least two male deputies -- Scott Harrison and the unknown officer who broke her arm -- made contact with Carol. Why didn't one of them make the probable-cause statement?

    Sheriff Jim Arnott pointed at Carol after she had been slammed to the ground and beaten and claimed she had "assaulted a police officer." He ordered her taken to jail, where someone finally noticed she was in severe pain and both of her arms were purple and had her taken to a nearby emergency room. That's where X-rays showed her arm had been broken, the bone snapped in two and completely displaced. Why didn't Arnott make the probable-cause statement? Evidence is overwhelming that Arnott committed a federal crime by ordering a baseless arrest, and that evidence only is getting stronger now that Carol, the victim of an assault, has been arrested for an assault.

    Deputy Debi Wade
    (From facebook.com)
    We will examine the probable-cause statement in a series of upcoming posts. But for now, let's look at procedural oddities connected to Carol's arrest:

    * The statute of limitations for bringing misdemeanor criminal charges in Missouri is one year, and the incident was on September 9, 2015. A review of the docket at case.net (Case number 1631-CR07731) shows Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson did not file the charges until Sept. 8, 2016. In other words, he waited until the last possible day to bring charges. If this were a case of true assault on an officer, even of the misdemeanor variety, why would a PA let the alleged perpetrator remain free for almost one year?

    * Carol failed to appear at an arraignment because, as the court docket shows, she never received notice of the hearing. That prompted someone, probably Greene County Circuit Clerk Thomas Barr, to order her arrest, on October 31, 2016. Deputies did not attempt to make the arrest until January 27 of this year and actually made it on Jan. 30. Why would officers wait almost three months to make an arrest that had been ordered last October? Did those who swear to "serve and protect" wait until our Legal Schnauzer reports on Jeff Sessions (and federal judge Bill Pryor) to take action? Was there collusion between corrupt individuals in Alabama and their brethren in Missouri? Was Carol's arrest, in fact, an act of retaliation?


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