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

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    Virginia Emerson Hopkins
    (From al.com)
    Trump SCOTUS appointee Neil Gorsuch stated during his confirmation hearings that he had participated in 2,700 appellate cases, and 97 percent of those resulted in unanimous rulings. “I was in the majority in 99% of the cases,” he added.

    Gorsuch meant this to sound good. But a leading judicial critic says it actually is bad for the public, "Gorsuch values getting along with his 'brothers and sisters in the robe' higher than getting justice done," says Dr. Richard Cordero, Esq., founder and director of New York-based Judicial Discipline Reform (JDR). The Web site is described as "A study of judges' unaccountability and consequent riskless wrongdoing; how to expose it and bring about judicial reform."

    We now are seeing behavior in the Northern District of Alabama that suggests Cordero is on target -- and the self-protective behavior he describes goes way beyond the 10th Circuit, where Neil Gorsuch once resided.

    Consider what has happened in our "House Case," involving wrongful foreclosure on our home of 25 years in Birmingham, multiple constitutional violations, and state-law claims such as defamation and tortious interference. District Judge R. David Proctor, with documented and long-standing ties to perjurious Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions, summarily dismissed our case (meaning no discovery was conducted) in a memorandum opinion that includes violations of black-letter law on roughly a dozen key issues. Proctor's ruling, at least for now, has given a free pass to a number of Alabama's right-wing political operatives, several of them, like Proctor, closely tied to Sessions -- plus a number of deep-pocketed corporate entities, including Chase Mortgage and Hearst Corporation.

    After issuing his dismissal order, Proctor admitted that he had a conflict. (One of his sons had worked for new U.S. Senator Luther Strange, a defendant in the case; the same son also had worked for Sessions, the man Strange replaced.)  But Proctor claimed, contrary to available evidence, that the conflict arose only after he had dismissed our case.

    "The House Case," a term we use to distinguish it from "The Jail Case" (re: my wrongful arrest and five-month incarceration in Shelby County, Alabama, because of my reporting on uncomfortable truths about the state's GOP political machine), wound up in the lap of a Proctor colleague, U.S. District Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins.

    In the few weeks she's had the case, Hopkins has proven to be a female version of Neil Gorsuch -- her interests clearly are in protecting R. David Proctor, and they have nothing to do with justice. We had filed a Rule 59 Motion to Alter or Amend Proctor's dismissal, and Hopkins dismissed it with virtually no explanation. We filed a Rule 60 Motion to Vacate Proctor's orders because evidence shows he had conflicts that disqualified him from hearing our case, from the outset. Hopkins dismissed that, with a ruling that was as sloppy as it was void of any legal reasoning.

    How alarming is this judicial back-scratching behavior? How does it harm the public? Dr. Richard Cordero answers those questions, and much more, with a recent article titled "How Judge Neil Gorsuch and his peers dismiss 99.83% of complaints against them and dispose of 93% of appeals with reasonless decisions." (The full article can be read via a link at the end of this post; also, Cordero participated in a 2015 international symposium on justice issues, and a related video can be viewed at the end of this post.)

    Dr. Richard Cordero
    (From linkedin.com)
    Gorsuch, Cordero writes, confirms Administrative Office of U.S. Courts (AO) statistics "that show that circuit judges dispose of 93% of appeals in decisions “on procedural grounds [e.g., “for lack of jurisdiction or jurisdictional defect”], by consolidation, unsigned, unpublished, without comment.”

    We've experienced this in the Eleventh Circuit, where both "The House Case" and "The Jail Case" are pending on appeal. We've also experienced what tends to happen with cases that wind up in appellate courts. Writes Cordero:

    The majority of these decisions are reasonless, fiat-like summary orders. They fit the front side of a 5¢ form, with one rubber stamped operative word, mostly ‘the decision below is Affirmed or the motion is Denied’. They express the morphed judges’ pro-forma justice: 'However things were, we leave them so. Next!'

    The rest of those 93% decisions have an opinion so arbitrary, ad-hoc to reach a convenient result, or unlawful that they may not be relied upon in other cases; so they too are marked “not-precedential,” which is anathema to our system of common law based on precedent. Only the remaining 7% of decisions are signed, published, and intended to pass the scrutiny of the media, be discussed in law journals, and included in law school casebooks to establish the author’s reputation.

    How does this affect human beings, especially those parties who go before the courts without being connected to corporate, institutional, or other moneyed/powerful interests? They get cheated -- and many of them probably don't even know it. Writes Cordero, of Gorsuch's behavior on the bench:

    What criteria does Gorsuch use to treat parties so unequally: dumping their appeals with a meaningless decision or sweating it out on a meaningful one?

    In fact, he also bragged that in 99% of his cases he had been in the majority. This means that in only 1% of them he felt so strongly about the issues or the parties to go to the trouble of dissenting, thus being in the minority. Nevertheless, he remained a typical judge within the norm, for the 2% of cases where it was one of the other two panel members who dissented can be distributed equally by allocating 1% to each of them.

    For him and his peers getting along with each other and taking it easy with 93% of appeals are more appealing attitudes than a principled discharge of their duty. The latter requires reading the briefs, doing legal research, and coming to the panel conference prepared to advocate “a result compelled by the law”, which he said a good judge pursues.

    No wonder he shied away from the exacting and socially lethal action of denouncing any of his peers or even protesting publicly their systematic dismissal of complaints against them, which would have entailed a lot of controversy and led to his peers outcasting him as a traitor.

    The U.S. Senate proceedings that led to Gorsuch being seated on the nation's highest court mostly involved philosophical questions that the nominee neatly sidestepped. Senators asked almost nothing about "back scratching" issues that rob the public of judges' honest services. Writes Cordero:

    The Senate’s debate should concentrate on the pro-forma justice that Gorsuch and his friends provide to parties and the rest of We the People.

    So the question for the senators to ask before voting on Gorsuch is not whether what got under his skin in that 1% of cases in which he stood up for something other than his camaraderie with his peers was a big corporation or a little guy.

    Rather, it is how he could claim commitment to rule of law results, never mind integrity, although during the past 11.5 years on the bench he has seen his peers dismiss on average one complaint a week of those 573 against them, but has simply looked the other way or even joined the other bullies in abusing their judicial power to silence complainants by resorting to false pretenses to dump their complaints.

    Why did he tolerate, or participate in, the cheating of parties out of the meaningful appellate service to which their payment of the filing fee entitled them contractually?

    By ensuring his and his peers’ unaccountability, they have abused their independence to provide themselves an irresistibly tempting and impenetrable cover for their riskless wrongdoing.

    Close to home, here are the questions: Were we deprived of Judge Proctor's "honest services"? Absolutely. Is Judge Hopkins covering for her colleague's corrupt actions, with no regard for justice? There is no doubt about it.

    We will show you in upcoming posts exactly how she is doing it.


    (To be continued)


    Full article: How Judge Neil Gorsuch and his peers dismiss 99.83% of complaints against them and dispose of 93% of appeals with reasonless decisions




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    "Luv Guv" Bentley and Patti Austin
    (From Inside Alabama Politics)
    We recently reported on Patti Jackson Austin, the Baldwin County real-estate agent and "mystery woman" who accompanied former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley on a state airplane to the Trump Inauguration in January. Now, we have photographic evidence that Ms. Austin and the "Luv Guv" were mighty chummy while in Washington, D.C.

    Unlike John Archibald of al.com, we don't take credit for breaking stories that others actually broke. On the Austin story, we were the first to identify her as Bentley's "guest" -- so I guess we deserve partial credit for breaking it. But we were not the first to report on the gist of the story. And we certainly were not the first to provide photographic evidence of the pair at a Washington gala.

    That honor belongs to Inside Alabama Politics (IAP), the venerable subscription-based newsletter that has been dishing dirt and landing scoops on state politics for years. As you can see from images above and below, the nosy folks at IAP (I like nosy folks) landed proof that Bentley had a lovely guest on his arm. And it wasn't Rebekah Caldwell Mason -- although she and husband Jon also were on the state plane, and surely were in the immediate vicinity when these photos were snapped.

    Here is one problem with the photos: A guy who seems to have a serious drinking problem is caught guzzling beer in both shots. We don't know if this was an intentional "photo bomb" or he just happens to be the "Forrest Gump of the Washington social scene."

    Either way, the photo at top catches Ms. Austin looking back over Bentley's right shoulder toward the photographer. One senses that she is not thrilled to see a photographer nearby. One also senses the photographer is trying to take the snaps on the down low, perhaps explaining why he didn't tell "Drinking Guy" to get the hell out of the way.

    Austin, Bentley, and "Drinking Guy"
    From Inside Alabama Politics
    In the second photo, Ms. Austin barely can be seen behind Bentley's left shoulder. It's as if she's doing her best to hide from the photographer. Meanwhile, "Drinking Guy" is in the foreground, apparently determined to wind up in a gutter by 2 a.m. (Maybe he's a liberal who was trying to get blotto in an effort to forget who was being inaugurated; can't blame him there.)

    Here is the IAP news item that accompanied the photographs:

    Last week Inside Alabama Politics broke the story Governor Robert Bentley had a date accompany him to Washington D.C. for the inauguration festivities of President Donald Trump. Also along on the flight to D.C. was the Governor’s 44-year-old alleged mistress Rebekah Mason and her husband Jon. When questioned by the media Bentley has only referred to his mystery date as an unnamed special guest and has declined to release her name. IAP has since learned she is a 54-year-old real estate agent from Orange Beach, we have decided not to identify her by name. She is pictured below (looking strikingly similar to Rebekah) at one of the inaugural parties with the Governor along with an unknown beer guzzling photo bomber.

    What's with this idea of not identifying Ms. Austin, by name? IAP obviously knew who she was, name and all. What's the fun in not naming her?

    We have to consider that a journalistic fumble on IAP's part, so we were happy to pick up the loose ball and run with it. But we give props to our colleagues for being the first to get the general story out there -- especially with photos.

    For now, we only can hope someone has helped lift "Drinking Guy" out of the gutter.


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    Deputy Debi Wade
    A Missouri deputy claims in a Probable Cause (PC) Statement that I had threatened to shoot any officer that attempted to evict my wife, Carol, and me. How did Deputy Debi Wade know that when you consider that I've never spoken with her, and prior to our eviction on Sept. 9, 2015, I had never spoken with anyone from the Greene County Sheriff's Office?

    Maybe Wade was advised of this "fact" by the same unnamed party -- we've called him a ghost, an entity from the spirit world -- who advised her that my wife, Carol, had pushed Deputy Jeremy Lynn as he burst into our apartment to begin an eviction that was unlawful on at least four grounds.

    Either way, Wade's statement raises the specter of a mythical 911 call, which I never made, but it keeps popping up in this matter anyway.

    Wade's PC Statement was the basis for Carol's arrest in January on charges of trespass and assault of a law enforcement officer. Wade's account of actions regarding Carol are mostly fantasy and don't even make sense. But the deputy was not content to stop there; she also had to make false statements about me.

    That raises more questions about Wade's credibility than already were present -- and it means I might have grounds for civil claims against her -- and anyone else responsible for perpetuating the myth of a 911 call. This is from Wade's PC Statement:

    We were there to execute on an eviction for Roger Shuler at this address. After the initial service, Shuler made threats to shoot any officer that attempted to evict him from his residence, so we took more officer than normal to execute on the writ.

    Notice that Wade seemingly pulls this statement out of the sky, from the ether, if you will. It isn't attributed to anyone, but she states it as fact, in a sworn document that plainly shows false statements are "punishable by law." A few obvious questions:

    * The only way Wade could accurately testify about such a statement would be if I made it directly to her. But I didn't, and she makes no attempt to claim I did. So where did it come from?

    * Is Wade claiming I said this to another officer, who then "advised" her on the matter? If so, that would be both false and hearsay?

    * Is Wade saying a third party claimed to have heard me make such a statement and passed word to deputies or other authorities? Again, this would be both false and hearsay. I don't claim to be an expert on the law in this area, but I would think the lawful definition of a threat would require that the statement be communicated directly to the person or entity being threatened. If a third party -- a "friend," family member, a bus boy at a restaurant -- claims to have heard something . . . well, that does not seem to constitute a threat; it's just hearsay. In this instance, the sheriff's department took no action to investigate, never checked with me about anything, indicating they knew there was no threat or they didn't take it seriously.

    As for a third party reporting such a "threat," they might be at risk of a civil claim for defamation or invasion of privacy -- or both.

    We touched on the threat issue in Carol's Motion to Dismiss Charges, filed on March 14. (The motion and the PC statement are embedded at the end of this post.)

    Roger Shuler states as follows: “Prior to 9/9/15, I never had been in Debi Wade’s presence, so she could not have heard such a statement from me. I’ve never owned a firearm and have no recollection of ever threatening to unlawfully shoot anyone, much less an officer. In the days leading to our eviction date, I received an email from my brother, David Shuler, a lawyer in Springfield. He stated that a Deputy Scott Harrison had contacted him and said dispatch informed him that I had placed a call to 911 and threatened to shoot anyone who tried to evict us, or words to that effect. On 9/9/15, after I had been handcuffed and led outside, several officers referenced such a 911 call. I’ve never called 911 in my life, and I certainly did not place such a call, as described by David Shuler to me. If such a call actually was made to 911, it was made by someone else, from a phone other than the one Carol and I share. I would be glad to provide an affidavit on this matter, if the court deems that necessary.”

    There is the mythical 911 call again. That is where my alleged threat supposedly originated. But I never made a 911 call, and Debi Wade makes no claim that I did.

    Do I have a defamation claim against Debi Wade -- and anyone else who contributed to publication of information about a threat I did not make? I'm studying Missouri law on that issue now, but I've found case law that indicates the answer is yes. In some circumstances, testimony related to court proceedings is privileged and cannot be the basis of a defamation claim. But a probable cause statement is not the same as court testimony or statements made in court documents.

    Wade's statements are particularly dubious since they were made about someone who was not the subject of the PC statement. Cops were seeking to bring bogus charges against Carol, so there was no reason to mention me at all. The PC statement says I did nothing wrong during the eviction, and the only wrongful conduct alleged against Carol came from Debi Wade's fertile imagination.

    We will continue our research, but I suspect Debi Wade has left herself open to a defamation charge -- as has anyone who passed false information along to her.









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    D. Paterson and Jennifer Miree Cope
    (From facebook.com)
    A Birmingham wealth manager who is pretty darned wealthy himself -- he lives in a Mountain Brook house with an appraised value of $755,000 -- appears as a paying customer at the Ashley Madison (AM) extramarital-affairs Web site, records show.

    D. Paterson Cope heads a wealth-management firm that bears his name and is located on Cahaba Road, just off Highway 280 and near Colonial Brookwood Village. Quite a few wealthy Over-the-Mountain types apparently trust D. Paterson Cope Wealth Management with their money.

    Should Jennifer Miree Cope, the money man's wife and mother of his two sons, trust him? Publicly available records from AM indicate the answer is no.

    How does D. Paterson Cope Wealth Management help the rich get richer? He's a certified financial planner, by golly -- and he goes to church, tool! From the firm's Web site:

    Pat has been providing comprehensive financial planning for his clients for more than 30 years. He has expertise in customizing financial plans designed to manage and preserve wealth consistently over the long term. He has earned the professional designation of Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner.

    By being certified by the CFP® Board, Pat has taken the extra step to demonstrate his professionalism by voluntarily submitting to the rigorous CFP® certification process that includes highly demanding education, examination, experience and ethical requirements.

    Pat is a graduate of the University of Alabama and a member of the Independent Presbyterian Church. Originally from Montgomery, he lives in Mountain Brook with his wife, Jennifer. They have two sons, Bobby and Charlie.

    Here is more about Cope from his Facebook page:

    D. Paterson Cope is a CFP and has had a great career as a financial consultant. His primarily focus has always been on Comprehensive Financial Planning. He is originally from Montgomery, Alabama and he graduated from the University of Alabama. When it comes to his career achievements, then he attained CFP designation in 1997. He always loves to provide financial consultancy, and he loves his career as a financial planner and consultant.

    When it comes to his professional career, then there are a countless number of great events, and he has over 30 years of experience in the field. He has served approximately 45 families, and he is planning to serve 60 families, and that is the point when he will stop taking clients. At a glance, his professional career was a total success. D. Paterson Cope has over 30 years of experience in the brokerage industry, and he opened his practice in May of 2015. Before that, he spent over 20 years as First Vice President for Morgan Keegan and its successor, Raymond James.

    He has a lot of work experiences, and presently, he is broker-dealer at Prospera Financial Services, and he is also an independent contractor with them and his own company named D. Paterson Cope Wealth Management.

    That's some interesting information highlighted in yellow. Cope made his rep mainly from working for Morgan Keegan and Raymond James before striking out on his own in 2015. And get this: He has made enough to live in a house that probably would sell for close to $1 million, and yet he's only served 45 families -- with a goal of reaching 60 families, and that's the cut-off point.

    I'm guessing D. Paterson Cope is a millionaire, maybe several times over, and he did it by handling the money for only 45 families. Who knew you could do that? I sure didn't. Something tells me Mr. Cope is highly selective about who he represents. I'm guessing Mrs. Schnauzer and I would not qualify. (In fact, Cope probably would take one look at our financial statements and spew water across the room; he might also break into an hours-long laughing fit.) I'm guessing most of our readers wouldn't qualify for Mr. Cope's services either.

    Here is more professional and personal info about our financial hero, from Facebook:

    D. Paterson Cope also worked with multiple giants of the financial world, and the few names included Lehman Brothers INC. New York, NY, the Robinson-Humphrey Company INC. Atlanta, GA, and J.C. Bradford & Co. New York, NY. He also has multiple certifications and state registrations. He has passed State Securities Law Exam and General Industry/Products Exam. He has multiple Licenses, and state registrations include Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

    When it comes to the personal life of D. Paterson Cope, then he loves to spend time with his family. He is married to Jennifer Miree Cope, and he has two sons, Charlie and Bobby. They both are on their educational path and studying in different universities. He is also an active member of Independent Presbyterian Church. He also loves to read about the politics, and he is an avid sports fan as well.

    Hmm, let's see: He loves to spend time with his family? The AM records suggest he's trying to spend time with a member of someone else's family. He loves to read about politics? Maybe he favors a certain political party. As a big-time financial planner who focuses on Birmingham's uber wealthy, I can't imagine which party that would be. And he's an avid sports fan? Is trolling for tail on Ashley Madison considered a sport now?

    Here is the Facebook page for Jennifer Miree Cope, filled with family pictures and such. I'm guessing she has no idea about the "sports" her hubby engages in when he isn't trying to find new tax shelters for Mountain Brook elites.

    We sought comment from D. Paterson Cope for this post, but he has not responded to our queries.

    Previously:

    Article with links to 1-20 in Ashley Madison series

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

    (22) Craig Lowell, attorney, Wiggins Childs, Birmingham (1/26/17)

    (23) Thomas Mancuso, tax attorney, Montgomery, AL (2/16/17)

    (24) Nicholas Arciniegas, attorney, Washington, D.C. (2/21/17)

    (25) Griffin McGahey, vice president, High Cotton USA, Birmingham (3/16/17)

    (26) Matthew Couch, attorney, Cabaniss Johnson, Birmingham (3/23/17)

    (27) Dr. Keron Vickers, chiropractor, Birmingham (4/4/17)



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    Christian Conrad
    (From ozarksfirst.com)
    Was Lt. Christian Conrad the Missouri deputy who brutalized my wife, Carol, and yanked so violently on her limbs that he shattered her left arm -- all during an eviction on Sept. 9, 2015, that was unlawful on at least four grounds?

    A Probable Cause (PC) Statement from Deputy Debi Wade, which was used to bring bogus "cover charges" against Carol, suggests Conrad used such force against Carol that her broken arm required trauma surgery for repair. Given all the inaccurate information in Wade's PC Statement, we're not ready to take her Conrad information to the bank. Plus, we've found photos in the press of Conrad, and we are not sure he's the same guy who assaulted Carol and broke her arm.

    That raises this question: Was someone, not named in Wade's PC Statement, actually responsible for Carol's injuries? Is the Greene County Sheriff's Office (GCSO) trying to protect someone, perhaps because he occupies a relatively high position in the department's chain of command?

    We don't have answers to those questions at the moment, but we do have this, from the last sentence of Wade's PC Statement. This comes right after Wade had described her fantasy of Carol "barreling" into her and causing her to lose her balance. I was a witness to the event, and nothing like that happened. But something like the following did happen:

    At this time, both Lt. Conrad and Deputy Harrison came in from either side to secure Carol's arms and place her in handcuffs.

    This, and the preceding sentences, are peculiar for a number of reasons:

    (1) Wade conveniently leaves out that one of the officers slammed Carol, butt-first, to the ground so violently that it likely caused (or added to) a concussion;

    X-ray of Carol Shuler's broken arm

    (2) Wade fails to mention that, upon bursting into our apartment, officers threw open the door, causing Carol to be slammed head-first against a wall. While putting handcuffs on her then, one or more officers banged her head against the wall multiple times. She might have sustained a concussion then, with the body slam outside, adding to it. But Wade claims Carol was the perpetrator of an assault, not the victim of one. Is it any wonder many people have zero trust in law-enforcement?

    (3) Lt. Conrad doesn't have a first name, based on Wade's account. Every other person she mentions -- other than the "adviser," who has no name at all -- has both a first and last name. Why is Lt. Conrad's first name left out?

    Wade does get one thing right in her PC statement: Carol's encounter with the cop thugs ended with her surrounded by three officers -- Wade, Scott Harrison, and (maybe) Christian Conrad. Here's our rundown on these three "public servants":

    * Wade was the only female officer on the scene, we've run her photo several times, and we know she did not body slam Carol and break her arm;

    * Harrison is the guy who apparently concocted the scenario that I had called 911 to threaten any cops who might try to evict us. He also was the one who, upon bursting into our apartment, pointed an assault rifle right at my head. He was the one who, after Carol had been placed in handcuffs (broken arm and all), drove her to the county jail. He was the one who, once someone at the jail noticed Carol was in agonizing pain, drove her to nearby Cox North Medical Center, where X-rays showed the bone in her upper left arm had been snapped in two, just above the elbow. Finally, Harrison gave Carol his card and said he was releasing her. That's how we know Harrison has sandy/reddish hair, and while he did bend down to help put her in handcuffs, he did not body slam her and yank on her arms.

    Scott Harrison
    (From facebook.com)
    (Note: Harrison is a lying sack of feces. While Carol was in jail, he told her that he had heard the mythical 911, and it had been traced to our phone and our residence. That's impossible because Carol and I are the only ones who used our phone, and neither of us made such a call. I look forward to Harrison's response when he and his department are ordered to turn over tapes of said 911 call and any documents related to it.)

    * Via Web research, we learned the GCSO has a Christian Conrad, apparently the only "Lt. Conrad" in the outfit. He is in the Springfield-area news fairly frequently. (See here, here, here, and here.) In every image we've found of Conrad, he is wearing a hat. The officer who broke Carol's arm was not wearing a hat that day, but he was wearing dark/reflective sunglasses, which made it impossible to see his eyes.

    Bottom line: Conrad might be the guy who brutalized Carol, but we aren't 100 percent sure about that. We are dealing here with a thoroughly corrupt department, so it would not beyond them to put Conrad out as a straw man to protect a higher-ranking officer. We will need extensive discovery to sort all of that out.

    The following is from Carol's Motion to Dismiss, which (with the PC Statement) is embedded at the end of this post:

    Who is the real criminal here, the one who really did assault someone. It’s the unknown male officer who brutalized Carol. In the last sentence of her PC Statement, Wade mentions a “Lt. Conrad” and “Deputy Harrison,” who “came in from either side to secure Carol’s arms and place her in handcuffs. (“Secure” her arms? That must be copspeak for breaking someone’s arm.) The Shulers know Harrison has sandy/redish air, and he was not the one who yanked on Carol’s arm. Based on Wade’s fantastic version of events, that leaves only Lt. Conrad.

    Published reports show a Christian Conrad with the GCSO. Is he the one who broke Carol’s arm? The Shulers aren’t certain. Conrad is wearing a hat in all the photos the Shulers have seen. The guy who broke Carol’s arm was not wearing a hat, but he was wearing sunglasses (ones that either were real dark or reflective; you could not see his eyes) and a light blue shirt. (Other officers were wearing black uniforms or civilian clothes.) At this point, it’s unclear to the Shulers if the officer was Conrad or someone else, perhaps someone Debi Wade has been told to protect in her PC Statement.








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    Shawn and Sarah Vickery Baker
    (From facebook.com)
    A member of perhaps Birmingham's "first family" of shopping-center development appears as a paying member of the Ashley Madison (AM) extramarital-affairs Web site, records show.

    Shawn D. Baker, a developer at Blackwater Resources, appears on the Alabama list for AM. Blackwater spun off from AIG Baker in 2010, as the latter's partnership with AIG cratered amid the Wall Street crash and the imploding Bush-era economy. Blackwater, headed by president and CEO Alex Baker, has its headquarters at 700 Montgomery Highway, while AIG Baker remains in business, based at The Village at Lee Branch, which it developed.

    Based on the limited Alabama public records available to us here in Springfield, Missouri, it appears Shawn Baker is Alex Baker's son. And Alex Baker is one of the major figures in the history of shopping-center development in Alabama -- plus some 20 other states. From a bio of Alex Baker:

    In 1993, Mr. Baker and AIG Global Real Estate Investment Corp. (AIG Global) founded AIG Baker, then A.B. Shopping Center Properties, Inc. Mr. Baker has served as President and CEO of the company since its founding. Mr. Baker previously held the office of CEO for Polar-BEK and Baker, which is the predecessor firm of AIG Baker. He has also served as Senior Vice President for Aronov Realty Company. Mr. Baker has twenty-five years experience in the real estate industry and has been responsible for the development of over 22,000,000 square feet of retail space.

    Thanks largely to Alex Baker's history, it did not take Blackwater long to become a major player in the development game. From the company's Web site:

    Blackwater Resources was formed in 2010 by former executives of AIG Baker Shopping Center Properties, L.L.C. During their real estate careers, the executives of Blackwater Resources, LLC developed, leased and managed in excess of 25 million square feet of property in 36 different states. Borrowing on the experience of these seasoned professionals and their unique perspective on the market, the company was founded on the principle of seeking solid investments, opportunities and partnerships that produce enduring value and relevance, firm relationship, and optimal returns and outcomes for all parties.

    Upon its formation, the company immediately procured leasing and management opportunities for over 1.6 million square feet of retail property, including several properties Blackwater Resources executives originally developed. The properties include regional power centers, grocery-anchored shopping centers and neighborhood centers. It additionally added to its portfolio recreational and residential properties, and continues to add to its portfolio by actively seeking investment, development, brokerage and management opportunities.

    What does Shawn Baker do? It appears he mostly rides daddy's coattails -- and those coattails apparently are strong enough that Shawn felt secure in screwing around on Ashley Madison, even though he's married and appears to have at least two children.


    Shawn Baker is married to Sarah Vickery Baker, who describes herself on Facebookas "Research Associate in Child Development and Human Relations at Baker Household." Sounds like she focuses on the domestic front. They live in a house at 7061 North Highfield Drive in the exclusive Greystone section of Birmingham. According to Zillow, the house has an estimated value of $650,099.

    Based on published reports, Blackwater Resources does not appear to be out of the financial woods. According to a 4/6/16 article at The Auburn Plainsman, Blackwater is planning a 700-space parking garage, a 30,000-square-foot urban grocery and a 90–130-room boutique hotel. But Susan Hunnicutt, public-relations officer for the grassroots organization Keep Auburn Lovely, questions whether the company can pull it off:

    "Five years ago they had a real string of bankruptcy projects, all of which were shopping center developments throughout the Southeast," Hunnicutt said.

    According to Blackwater's website, Chairman Alex Baker founded Blackwater Resources from a previous company, AIG Baker Shopping Center Properties, along with several other former executives from the company.

    Blackwater was built from what was left of AIG Baker after several bankruptcy filings in 2009 and 2010 following the Great Recession and the collapse of its equity partner and backer, the American International Group Inc., or AIG.

    After over a year of untangling, Baker separated his company from AIG in spring 2010, according to an AL.com article.

    But that was not before AIG Baker nearly lost two shopping centers in the Birmingham area to foreclosure: the Patton Creek shopping center — which was later sold by AIG Baker to a Miami-based real estate developer — and the Vestavia Hills City Center shopping center, which was put into bankruptcy protection in 2010 to prevent foreclosure.

    The Chapter 11 bankruptcy was filed after the principal holder of the debt, Huntsville's Propst Properties, attempted to foreclose on the property, according to the article.

    Alex Baker's image has taken a blow, and that has followed him to his new firm. From The Plainsman:

    Chapter 11 bankruptcy often forces debt holders to renegotiate and restructure the debt of the filer, according to the article.

    "If he's going to run out on his employees and his lenders, he might have no qualms about running out on the City of Auburn," Hunnicutt said.

    AIG Baker also put two more shopping center properties in Deptford, New Jersey, and another called Fallschase in Tallahassee, Florida, into Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, according to public records.

    The predecessor to Blackwater Resources lost one of its largest properties, The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama, after defaulting on a loan with JP Morgan Chase Bank, according to public records.

    "Once that land is gone, they can sell it to any New York or out-of-state real estate development trust," Hunnicutt said. "Those guys, they're not going to care about what's going on in Auburn. They'll put anything they want to as long as it makes money for their line-item on their investment spreadsheet."

    With the family business struggling to gain footing on rocky ground, you might think Shawn Baker would be too focused on financial matters to step in personal doo-doo. But he wound up fooling around on Ashley Madison, and one can only wonder how he was stupid enough to do that.

    We sought comment from Shawn Baker for this article, but he has not responded to our queries.


    Previously:

    Article with links to 1-20 in Ashley Madison series

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

    (22) Craig Lowell, attorney, Wiggins Childs, Birmingham (1/26/17)

    (23) Thomas Mancuso, tax attorney, Montgomery, AL (2/16/17)

    (24) Nicholas Arciniegas, attorney, Washington, D.C. (2/21/17)

    (25) Griffin McGahey, vice president, High Cotton USA, Birmingham (3/16/17)

    (26) Matthew Couch, attorney, Cabaniss Johnson, Birmingham (3/23/17)

    (27) Dr. Keron Vickers, chiropractor, Birmingham (4/4/17)

    (28) D. Paterson Cope, president, wealth management, Birmingham (4/20/17)



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    Robert Bentley mugshot
    One of the penalties for former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley in the plea agreement that led to his resignation turns out to be . . . well, no penalty at all. That makes the plea deal, which emitted a foul odor from the outset, smell even worse now.

    A provision in the agreement was that Bentley would not receive his pension, under Code of Alabama 36-13-11. But Bentley was not entitled to receive a pension, according to a new report from Inside Alabama Politics (IAP), a subscription-based newsletter that long has dished in an entertaining and informative fashion on politics in the "Heart of Dixie."

    Supernumerary District Attorney Ellen Brooks implied at a press conference after the plea deal was reached that the loss of pension benefits would be a blow to Bentley -- and would produce significant savings for the public. Neither is true, according to IAP:

    One of the penalties for former Gov. Robert Bentley as detailed in the plea agreement with the State was that he would not receive his pension under section 36-13-11. In a press conference held immediately after Bentley’s guilty plea Supernumerary District Attorney Ellen Brooks told the press that rescinding Bentley’s retirement benefits saved the state more than $1 million.

    “An important factor that you may not realize is that he gave up his retirement benefits. Based on a life expectancy chart we believe we have saved the state over $1 million that he could have been paid on a monthly basis for his retirement,” Brooks said.

    Was Brooks blowing copious amounts of smoke up Alabama fannies? The answer is yes, and you'd think Alabama citizens would be used to that from Republicans, by now:

    However, a quick reading of the footnotes by a learned lawyer would reveal that Bentley was never entitled to a pension in the first place. The Alabama Supreme Court ruled in 1977, two years after the law allowing former governors to a pension was passed, that the statute violated Alabama’s Constitution.

    Bentley could ask the state for back pay and turn back on his campaign promise not to take a salary, especially since there are no political consequences anymore. But even if that were possible it is doubtful such a judgment call would fall in Bentley’s favor.

    That 1977 case was styled Zeigler v. Baker, 344 So. 2d 761 (Ala. Sup. Ct., 1977). The case started with a pro se citizen complaint from a man named John Baker -- and it shows that pro se parties do not always get whacked in Alabama courts. Baker had been elected to the Alabama Senate, which almost certainly helped him get treated with a modicum of respect in court. In fact, he prevailed when the case was heard in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

    John Baker, of Rainsville
    (From ebay.com)
    The defendants, which included Comptroller Fred Zeigler and former Governors James E. Folsom and John Patterson, appealed -- and here is how the Alabama Supreme Court summarized the case:

    This is an appeal from an order of the Circuit Court of Montgomery County enjoining the Comptroller, acting Finance Director and Treasurer of the State of Alabama from making payments from public funds under the authority of Act No. 343 of the Regular Session of the Legislature, 1975. We affirm.

    It's hard to imagine today's Alabama Supreme Court siding with regular citizens over powerful interests. So why did the 1977 high court affirm the lower court's ruling? Here is the gist of the issues:

    The plaintiff's original complaint, which he filed in the capacity of a citizen and taxpayer, sought declaratory and injunctive relief against the state's fiscal authorities on the ground that the Act contravened Section 98 of the Alabama Constitution of 1901, which provides:

    "The legislature shall not retire any officer on pay, or part pay, or make any grant to such retiring officer."

    Thereafter, the complaint was amended to allege that Act 343 also violated Section 68 of the Alabama Constitution of 1901 "and also on the general constitutional principle that legislatures can not [sic] appropriate money for gratuities for private purposes."

    As a state senator, John Baker could not be called a "common man." But he stood up for the common men (and women) of Alabama and won resounding court victories that likely would not be possible in our corruption-saturated environment of today. (Can you imagine the Alabama Supreme Court of 2017 issuing any ruling that would deny state funds to Bob Riley and his son, Rob "Uday" Riley?)

    Citizens should start a petition to get schools and other buildings named for John Baker. He reminds us that the rule of law -- and the notion that taxpayer dollars should be spent with care -- once mattered in Alabama.

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    Robed Bill Pryor and disrobed Bill Pryor
    Whenever we publish a post about the gay-porn days of U.S. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor, you can count on it happening: Several commenters will question whether the individual in the nude photographs is Pryor. I've written extensively about the background on how the photos surfaced -- and the sources who said the nude "Bill Pryor" is the same one George W. Bush appointed to the federal bench. Still, some folks refuse to get it -- they apparently assume I stumbled upon a nude photo of someone who looked like a young Judge Pryor and published our reports based only on that.

    The young fellow in the photo does look like Judge Bill Pryor (because it is him), but that's only a small chunk of the foundation upon which our posts have been built. I interviewed about a half dozen people connected to the Pryor/BadPuppy story before ever running the first post, in September 2015. Since then, I've talked to about a half dozen more sources, including three who say they knew Pryor when he was at Northeast Louisiana University (now Louisiana Monroe). One of those individuals, a male, said he had a brief sexual encounter with Pryor. One other said he played in the university band with Pryor, and that Pryor's homosexuality was well known throughout the band.

    A key source was a former Alabama law-enforcement official who became aware of the photos shortly after Pryor was appointed state attorney general in the 1990s. Concerned the new AG might be subject to blackmail because of the photos, our source opened an investigation on the matter. When I interviewed the former law-enforcement official, this is part of what he told me: (A video with a recorded segment of the interview is embedded at the end of this post.)

    I was working at ABI criminal intelligence at the time. An informant called and said,"You're not going to believe this: Bill Pryor was being displayed on a gay Web site out of Florida. I looked it up and there he was, with his name on it . . . It was about '94 or '95 maybe. It was an old photograph, but it was gay porn. A coworker and I made some copies of it, and (a source) presented it to one of the Republican (state) senators . . . I don't remember who it was, but it was someone he trusted, and (the senator) went to Pryor who expressed surprise, of course.
    He was saying, "That's not me," but Bill Pryor is hard to fake a photo of, and it had his name on it. I don't know where the photographs originated or who made them. He was AG at the time, before he made federal judge, and he was lobbying for (a judgeship), however. Even though being homosexual isn't illegal, it could conceivably result in him being blackmailed as a judge.
    The Web site went down (after Pryor was shown the photo). Matter of fact, I showed it to a reporter who worked for The Birmingham News . . . I showed it to her to get an opinion. She was in shock over it. No, she did not have doubt, nor did we (about who it was).

    Why would it be hard to fake a photo of Bill Pryor? For one, Pryor has strabismus (crossed eyes), a fairly rare eye condition, and it clearly is present in the photo of "young Bill Pryor." As for origins of the photos, another source said they had been traced to Monroe, Louisiana, where Pryor went to college. More from our law-enforcement source:

    It had his face, and his name was on the photograph. It looked like he was in his late teens or early 20s. The only thing he had on in one of them was an old-style soft motorcycle hat. It was hilarious when we saw them.

    They were black and white, with a sepia tone. I think there were 8 to 10 of those. One of our analysts found them on a gay web site out of Florida.

    As soon as Pryor found out they were out there, the Web site vanished.

    How did that happen? Our source has some insights on that, and we will explain in an upcoming post.


    (To be continued)






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    Judge R. David Proctor (center), with family members who
    have benefited from ties to corrupt Trump AG Jeff Sessions
    (From facebook.com)
    How many ways can a federal judge screw up one relatively straightforward case? If you are talking about U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor (Northern District of Alabama) he has a toolkit full of goodies for cheating disfavored litigants. And he can do it by brazenly issuing an opinion that runs contrary to law at the beginning, middle and end -- sort of like a bad three-act play.

    We will focus, in this post, on the third act because it provides as clear-cut an example as you will ever see of a judge simply refusing to follow black-letter law. We've written about a lot of judicial cheat jobs, but this is one of the most brazen we've seen -- in a case involving my wife, Carol, and me, or in a case involving other parties.

    That Proctor would prove to be a crooked, dishonest sack of feces should surprise no one. He and his family have benefited to stunning degrees from their ties to former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). While in private practice, Proctor helped Sessions (perhaps the best-known racist in American public life) get a black judge removed from a case in which he, as Alabama's attorney general, was a defendant. One of Proctor's sons, Jake, has worked for Sessions -- and now works for Sessions' Senate replacement, the abominable Luther Strange. Proctor's other son, Luke, attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, almost certainly with the assistance and recommendation of . . . Jeff Sessions.

    On top of that, the Proctors are members of Briarwood Presbyterian Church (PCA), Birmingham's nutty right-wing congregation that thinks it needs its own police department. In fact, the church is trying to cover up for future drug busts at Briarwood Christian School, like the one that made it into the news in 2015 and prompted the move for a police force. Briarwood is built on a history of racism and homophobia, as superbly reported last week by Michael Harriot at theroot.com.

    Sessions, of course, now is Trump Attorney General and faces a criminal complaint alleging perjury, false statements, and obstruction of justice related to false testimony in his confirmation hearing about meetings with a Russian ambassador.

    Proctor's handling ("butchering" would be a better word) of our "House Case" shows that he is a cheat and a con man of Sessionsian proportions. We've already shown that Proctor cheated us at the beginning of his memorandum opinion by holding us to a heightened pleading standard that no longer exists in the Eleventh Circuit. (Proctor's opinion and our Rule 59 response to it are embedded at the end of this post.)

    That infected the entire case, causing it to be improperly reviewed on every point of law and wrongfully granting defendants' Motions to Dismiss -- and that, if upheld on appeal, means they won't have to face discovery that likely would unearth deep and widespread misconduct.

    Proctor's cheat job, however, did not end there. How outrageous can a compromised federal judge get when he is strongly motivated to cheat a party? In this case, Proctor had ample motivation because at least four defendants -- Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Rob Riley, Cliff Sims, and Yellowhammer News -- have documented ties, like Proctor, to Jeff Sessions.

    Let's jump ahead to the end of the opinion, where Proctor dispenses with any notion that he might be an objective arbiter. By this point, Proctor has already ruled that our complaint failed to state a plausible claim for wrongful foreclosure, constitutional violations, defamation, and more. (Never mind that the "plausible" hurdle is from the heightened pleading standard that no longer exists in the Eleventh Circuit -- and Proctor even cites the case, Randall v. Scott, 610 F. 3d 701 (11th Cir., 2010), that send the heightened pleading standards of Bell Atlantic v. Twombly to the exits.)

    If Proctor had followed the proper standard of review, an amended complaint would not be needed in our case. But if our complaint is dismissed for any reason, lawful or otherwise, we are entitled, under the law, to file an amended complaint. Proctor, however, is determined to keep that from happening -- and he resorts to blatant falsehoods to do it. From his memorandum opinion:

    “Where a more carefully drafted complaint might state a claim, a plaintiff must be given at least one chance to amend the complaint before the district judge dismisses the action with prejudice.” Cornelius v. Bank of Am., NA, 585 F. App'x 996, 1000 (11th Cir. 2014) (citing Bank v. Pitt, 928 F.2d 1108, 1112 (11th Cir.1991)). Here, the court is addressing Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint. And “[w]hile a pro se litigant generally must be given at least one opportunity to amend his complaint, a district judge need not allow an amendment where amendment would be futile.” Id. (citing Cockrell v. Sparks, 510 F.3d 1307, 1310 (11th Cir.2007) (per curiam)). This case is one of the rare few in which any further amendment of Plaintiffs’ complaint would be futile, and accordingly is due to be dismissed without leave to further amend. See Cockrell v. Sparks, 510 F.3d at 1310 (“Leave to amend a complaint is futile when the complaint as amended would still be properly dismissed or be immediately subject to summary judgment for the defendant.”).

    This is a classic example of a compromised judge being duplicitous. Proctor claims, in so many words, that we had already amended our complaint, and thus, were not entitled to a second amendment. He fails to mention that our first amendment was simply to correct a couple of defendant names in the header of the complaint; it had nothing to do with substantive amendment of the complaint. Notice also that Proctor makes a simple conclusory statement that amendment "would be futile," without presenting any grounds to support it. Proctor continues along this deceitful line of thought:

    Plaintiffs have already amended their complaint once in this action. Having reviewed the claims made by Plaintiffs, the court finds that any additional attempt to amend the complaint would be futile. Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint does not fail to state a claim because it is was pled inartfully. To the contrary, Plaintiffs have presented twenty pages of allegations and sought to allege a grand scheme between twenty-nine separate persons and entities. Plaintiffs are notoriously litigious in the Northern District of Alabama. The court mentions this not to because it holds Plaintiffs to a higher pleading standard than any other pro se litigant or to express any prejudice against Plaintiffs. Instead, the court merely notes that Plaintiffs have tried in at least one other case to bring similar claims against a number of the same defendants, arising out of a similarly alleged factual scenario. Ultimately, no matter how many times Plaintiffs’ complaint is amended or re-packaged, it is clear that they are unable to assert a right to relief based on an attempt to change (or condemn as unlawful) the results of state court foreclosure proceedings or other judgments of the state courts. See District of Columbia Court of Appeals, 460 U.S. 462. And having considered the allegedly defamatory articles attached to Defendants’ motions to dismiss, the court determines that amendment of Plaintiffs’ defamation claim would similarly be futile. Finally, the court finds that it would be futile to allow any further amendment of Plaintiffs’ remaining tort claims based on the foreclosure of their former home. Having reviewed the claims alleged by Plaintiffs, the court finds that it would be futile to allow Plaintiffs continued bites at the apple of re-pleading given the nature of the facts they allege and the relief they seek as a result.

    Proctor's first sentence here is a lie, and garbage only gets stacked higher as the paragraph moves along. Proctor claims amendment of our wrongful foreclosure and defamation claims would be "futile," but he offers nothing to support that. For the third or fourth time in the case, Proctor displays prejudice by referring to us as "notoriously litigious" (he usually calls us "frequent fliers") and essentially admits that he dismissed the "House Case" based on something in another case, which he does not even identify. He cites no law that shows it is proper to decide one case based on elements from another case.

    Trump communications specialist Cliff Sims
    and wife, Megan, with perjurious AG
    Jeff Sessions
    (From facebook.com)
    Finally, Proctor is utterly full of feces in his statements regarding the wrongful foreclosure on our home of 25 years in Birmingham. Proctor tries to sweep this issue under the courthouse rug by claiming that was a state-court matter that he can't consider under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. Here is our response from a Rule 59 Motion to Alter or Amendment Judgment:

    On page 44 of its opinion, this court makes the peculiar claim that the Shulers cannot "assert a right to relief based on an attempt to change the results of state-court foreclosure proceedings or other judgments of the state court." To support this, the court cites District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, which involves bar admissions rules and nothing else. This is preposterous for a variety of reasons. One, Alabama is a non-judicial foreclosure state, so the Shulers foreclosure claims had nothing to do with state-court proceedings. 
    We go on to make a rather lengthy argument about the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, but here is the key point: Proctor tries to get out of dealing with our wrongful-foreclosure count by claiming it is tied to state-court proceedings. But it wasn't. As we state in the highlighted section above, Alabama is a non-judicial foreclosure state. Our foreclosure involved no lawsuit, no court order, no state-court proceedings of any kind. That means Proctor has jurisdiction to hear the claim in federal court.

    Here is an even more blatant example of Proctor trying to cheat us. As already noted, an amended complaint should not be necessary in this case. That's because the 11th Circuit held in Randall v. Scott, 610 F.3d 701, 710 (11th Cir., 2010) as follows: “We conclude that the district court erred in applying a heightened pleading standard to Randall's complaint. After Iqbal it is clear that there is no “heightened pleading standard” as it relates to cases governed by Rule 8(a)(2), including civil rights complaints.”

    Ours is a civil-right complaint, and the Rule 8 standard has been in place for decades. The U.S. Supreme Court provided back-up for the Randall holding in Johnson v. City of Shelby, 135 S. Ct. 346 (2014), the nation’s highest court held: “We summarily reverse. Federal pleading rules call for "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8(a)(2)."

    Our complaint easily meets the "short and plain statement" requirement of Rule 8. If anything, our complaint provides too much detail. But even if one assumes Proctor got it right in his dismissal, he gets it wrong in failing to allow us an amended complaint. Proctor cites Cockrell v. Sparks 510 F. 3d 1307 (11 th Cir., 2007) to support his claim that amendment would be futile. But he conveniently ignores the fact Cockrell involved discovery and summary judgment. It had nothing to do with dismissal, and the requirement that the Shulers be allowed to amend, at the Motion to Dismiss stage.

    This is straight from the Cockrell opinion:

    “Cockrell filed a complaint asserting, among other state and federal claims, a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 excessive force claim against the Sheriff of Polk County and Deputy Kevin Redden, whom he believed to be the deputy who shoved him, in their official and individual capacities. During discovery, Cockrell realized that Deputy King, not Redden, had shoved him. . . .
    The defendants then moved for summary judgment on various grounds, including that the complaint failed to state a claim against Deputy King because it still alleged that the excessive force had been used by Deputy Redden, not by King. In response, Cockrell moved for leave to amend his complaint. . . . Cockrell's motion to amend was futile, and therefore properly denied, only if King would be entitled to summary judgment on the merits of the claim if the amendment were allowed. Because we conclude below that King would be entitled to summary judgment on the merits, the district court correctly held that Cockrell's motion to amend was futile.”

    Cockrell obviously involves consideration of summary judgment, after discovery has been conducted. It has nothing to do with a case like ours, where defendants seek to avoid discovery by filing Motions to Dismiss. But Proctor's buffoonery does not end there.

    He refuses to acknowledge that we are pro se plaintiffs, and that gives us an absolute right to file an amended complaint. The Eleventh Circuit has held in Carter v. HSBC Mortgage (11th Cir., 2015): "A pro se plaintiff, however, “must be given at least one chance to amend the complaint before the district court dismisses the action with prejudice,” at least where a more carefully drafted complaint might state a claim. Bank v. Pitt, 928 F.2d 1108, 1112 (11th Cir. 1991)."

    Here is another key holding from the Eleventh Circuit: “As to the second exception, where the issue of futility is close, we err on the side of generosity to the plaintiff."O’Halloran v. First Union Natl Bank of Fla., 350 F.3d 1197, 1206 (11th Cir. 2003).

    David Proctor is a dreadful judge, but he's not stupid. He knows our foreclosure -- and many foreclosures in Alabama, involve no state-court proceedings. And he knows Eleventh Circuit precedent requires him to allow amendment of our complaint. We've caught a federal judge, who took an oath to uphold the law, engaging in skulduggery that likely is designed to protect Jeff Sessions' cronies in our "House Case."

    We will have more illustrations of Judge Proctor's "cheating heart" in upcoming posts.


    (To be continued)








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    David and Meaghan Deusner, with their children
    (From facebook.com)
    An attorney who specializes in forensics and e-discovery appears as a paying customer at the Ashley Madison (AM) extramarital-affairs Web sit.

    David Deusner (his full name is Philip David Deusner) worked for roughly six years at Birmingham's Bradley Arant law firm, first as director of litigation support and eDiscovery Services and then as senior eDiscovery counsel in the litigation and construction group. He now is managing director of compliance forensics intelligence for Control Risks, working out of Birmingham and Washington, D.C.

    The following is from Deusner's bio at Control Risks:

    David Deusner Esq. is a principal within Control Risks’ Compliance Forensics and Intelligence practice in the Americas region. David brings his years of experience as a practicing e-discovery attorney to work extensively across multiple engagements to provide high level consulting services to clients on e-discovery issues. David has advised clients and leveraged technologies in the e-discovery space across highly regulated industries and time sensitive regulatory matters. Through his work, he has overseen discovery matters involving data in Taiwan, Russia, Canada, Panama, and China, to name a few. While his practice primarily dealt with e-discovery, David also regularly advised national and multi-national clients on issues related to litigation hold implementation and process, data mapping, email archiving initiatives, and best practices for BYOD and other information governance issues. Prior to his role as senior e-discovery counsel, David was the director of litigation support and e-discovery services at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings.

    He is married to Meaghan Collins Deusner, and they have two children. Here isher Facebook page. Public records indicate they live at 3579 Valley Circle, Birmingham, in a home with an appraised value of $239,000.

    David Deusner obviously is a bright fellow, earning a bachelor's degree in business administration/music business and artist management at Belmont University in Nashville and a law degree at DePaul University in Chicago.

    His story presents deep irony. How could a guy who is smart enough to be an expert in eDiscovery and forensic intelligence be stupid enough to sign up with an obvious con outfit like Ashley Madison? We sought to pose that and other questions, but Duesner has not responded to our queries.


    Previously:

    Article with links to 1-20 in Ashley Madison series

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

    (22) Craig Lowell, attorney, Wiggins Childs, Birmingham (1/26/17)

    (23) Thomas Mancuso, tax attorney, Montgomery, AL (2/16/17)

    (24) Nicholas Arciniegas, attorney, Washington, D.C. (2/21/17)

    (25) Griffin McGahey, vice president, High Cotton USA, Birmingham (3/16/17)

    (26) Matthew Couch, attorney, Cabaniss Johnson, Birmingham (3/23/17)

    (27) Dr. Keron Vickers, chiropractor, Birmingham (4/4/17)

    (28) D. Paterson Cope, president, wealth management, Birmingham (4/20/17)

    (29) Shawn Baker, developer, Blackwater Resources, Birmingham (4/24/17)






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    0 0


    (From ammoland.com)
    My wife, Carol, has been arrested in Missouri, twice, for "assault on a law enforcement officer." We've shown that Carol committed no such crime during our unlawful eviction on Sept. 9, 2015, but get this: Even if she had engaged in the alleged conduct, it would have been legal.

    To borrow a phrase from Dave Barry, "I'm not making this up."

    How do we know that: (A) Carol did not engage in the alleged conduct; and (B) Even if she had, it would have been lawful? Well, it's all right there in Missouri's "Castle Doctrine" Law, which is not much different from the Indiana law that specifically allows a citizen to shoot a "public servant" (including a cop) he believes is unlawfully entering his residence.

    Our research on the Indiana and Missouri laws shows that , while the language varies between the two, the main difference is this: The Indiana law specifically includes public servants (law-enforcement officers, etc.) among those against whom physical force can be used when they appear to unlawfully be entering a residence. The Missouri law, on the other hand, does not exclude law enforcement types from being the targets of physical force under such circumstances.

    Both laws also allow for the use of deadly force against cops who appear to be making unlawful intrusions into a residence. Bottom line: It's a bad idea for cops in Indiana or Missouri to enter a residence without knowing for sure they have lawful grounds to be there.

    That's where Carol's alleged actions, which she did not actually do, are legal. That means Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott and Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson concocted a set of "facts" that, even though they are false, still do not amount to unlawful conduct.

    How do we know? As we have shown in a previous post, the eviction was unlawful on at least four grounds. Here's how we've summarized them:

    (1) Breach of contract -- Cowherd was trying to boot us because my mother wanted out as cosigner, and they claimed we had to qualify on our own to continue on a month-to-month basis. Our lease, however, contained no such provision, so Cowherd was violating his own contract.

    (2) Eviction was unlawfully scheduled -- The Sept. 9 date was inside the 10-day window, from the date judgment was entered, when execution cannot take place.

    (3) Eviction ignored our timely filed notice of appeal -- A notice of appeal, with proper payment of fees, puts a stay on eviction, under Missouri law. We filed our notice on Sept. 8 and notified all lawyers for parties in the case on that same day. The eviction was stayed, as a matter of law, but it took place the next day anyway.

    (4) Eviction was unlawful because rent was not late for one month -- Eviction proceedings could not have started until Sept. 1, the date we would have been behind on rent by one month (although we would have timely paid if we had not been told we were being booted out regardless). Cowherd started eviction proceedings on Aug. 5, 25 days too early.

    Carol knew about grounds 1-3 when cops stormed through our door on 9/9/15 -- armed with assault rifles and waving more pistols than we could count. We learned about ground No. 4 later. But I had shown her the law on the first three grounds, and she knew the filing of our notice of appeal (with payment of fees) -- filed the day before, on Sept. 8 --  put an automatic stay on the eviction.

    Why does that matter under Missouri law? Well, it's spelled out under the state's Castle Doctrine Law, which was enacted in 2007, amended in 2010, and again in 2016. (The 2016 amendment mostly involved "stand your ground" provisions, which likely were not a factor in our situation. Plus, that amendment was adopted after our incident, so it does not appear to be in play.)

    Two key provisions of Missouri's Castle Doctrine Law, which can be found at RSMo 563, apply in our eviction. The first involves use of physical force:

    Use of force in defense of persons.

    563.031. 1. A person may, subject to the provisions of subsection 2 of this section, use physical force upon another person when and to the extent he or she reasonably believes such force to be necessary to defend himself or herself or a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful force by such other person, unless:

    (1) The actor was the initial aggressor; except that in such case his or her use of force is nevertheless justifiable provided:

    (a) He or she has withdrawn from the encounter and effectively communicated such withdrawal to such other person but the latter persists in continuing the incident by the use or threatened use of unlawful force; or

    (b) He or she is a law enforcement officer and as such is an aggressor pursuant to section 563.046; or

    (c) The aggressor is justified under some other provision of this chapter or other provision of law;

    A few quick questions and answers:

    * Did Carol "reasonably believe" physical force was necessary to defend herself from "imminent use of unlawful force"? Answer: Yes.

    * Does the law exclude use of physical force against law-enforcement officers? Answer: No.

    * Does the law make any reference to law-enforcement officers? Answer: Yes. In section (1)(b), it states that officers are, by definition, aggressors in castle-doctrine cases, and thus, are limited in their use of force.


    In a Probable Cause (PC) Statement, Officer Debi Wade claimed (while admitting she did not witness it) Carol "pushed" and "got physical with" Jeremy Lynn, who was one of the first officers through our door. (The PC Statement is embedded at the end of this post, along with Carol's Motion to Dismiss Charges.) Carol did not push or get physical with anyone. But if she had, such force would have been lawful under Missouri's Castle Doctrine.

    The second key provision involves use of deadly force:

    2. A person shall not use deadly force upon another person under the circumstances specified in subsection 1 of this section unless:

    (1) He or she reasonably believes that such deadly force is necessary to protect himself, or herself or her unborn child, or another against death, serious physical injury, or any forcible felony;

    (2) Such force is used against a person who unlawfully enters, remains after unlawfully entering, or attempts to unlawfully enter a dwelling, residence, or vehicle lawfully occupied by such person; or

    (3) Such force is used against a person who unlawfully enters, remains after unlawfully entering, or attempts to unlawfully enter private property that is owned or leased by an individual, or is occupied by an individual who has been given specific authority by the property owner to occupy the property, claiming a justification of using protective force under this section.

    A few quick questions and answers:

    * Did Carol "reasonably believe" she needed to protect herself from "serious physical injury" or a "forcible felony"? Answer: Given that she actually sustained serious physical injury (a broken arm) and was victim of two forcible felonies -- assault and deprivation of rights under color of law -- the answer clearly is yes.

    * Did officers "unlawfully enter,""remain after unlawfully entering," or "attempt to unlawfully enter" a dwelling or residence? Answer: Yes, they did all three. (Note that the Missouri law also includes efforts to unlawfully enter a vehicle.)

    * Do officers get a free pass if they try to unlawfully enter leased property? Answer: No. We were leasing a duplex apartment, and the law protects both renters and owners.


    A key point: At the time of our eviction, we knew nothing about Missouri's Castle Doctrine Law, and in fact, we didn't even know, or care, if the state had one. We did know that our filing of a notice of appeal, put a stay on our eviction, and we naively thought a Missouri landlord and sheriff would feel compelled, at least a little bit, to follow state law.

    We were wrong about that. But it's interesting to learn, after the fact, that a police officer who barges into a residence with no grounds for being there is acting very stupidly -- and putting his life at risk. Missouri, like Indiana, takes a dim view of anyone (including cops) who might unlawfully violate the sanctity of your "castle."

    Here, though, is the hard reality: Carol and I were the ones who had our lives at risk -- from officers who, by law, had no grounds to be on the premises. I was sitting in a chair with my hands folded when officers burst through our door, one of them aiming an assault rifle at my head. Carol, meanwhile, was having her brain scrambled as officers repeatedly banged her head against the wall while applying handcuffs. If either of us had made the slightest move indicating we might be reaching for anything -- we didn't have a gun -- I would not be typing this post right now. I would have been riddled with enough bullets to render me unrecognizable.

    (Note: It's not out of the question, in my mind, that the plan was to murder us. Why else would cops, with help from my lawyer brother David, concoct a fantasy about me placing a threatening 911 call? It gave them an excuse to act like a SWAT team and bring high-powered weaponry, and I'm guessing they were planning to use those weapons. That I was sitting stock still in a chair, hands folded -- and Carol was having her brain scrambled -- might have been all that saved us.)

    How dangerous was the situation? Our kitty kat, Baxter, wisely ran for the bedroom and hid under the bed during all the commotion. But what if he had stayed in the living room? What if he had jumped toward my lap, and I had reached to catch him. What if I had bent down to pick him up? We both likely would have been splattered.

    In my view, this all likely was because rogue political forces in Alabama wanted rogue legal forces in Missouri to punish us, or control us, because of my blog -- and if lives were lost . . . well, they really didn't care.

    On that sobering thought, let's close with this: Missouri's Castle Doctrine Law does not apply just to charges against Carol. It also applies to bogus allegations that have been made against me -- even though I've not been hit with any criminal charges.


    (To be continued)








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    Bill Pryor No. 1, with special guest
    Donald Trump
    (From Metro Weekly)
    Bill Pryor, the fiercely anti-LGBT federal judge who almost became Donald Trump's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS), has a gay-porn past that keeps on giving.

    We broke the story in September 2013 of Pryor's appearance at badpuppy.com, a Cocoa, Florida-based site that has grown to become a "super store" of gay-porn images. Less than one week after the story broke, and became somewhat of a viral Web sensation, deputies from Shelby County, Alabama, started making regular appearances (in twos and threes, with multiple vehicles) on our property. Less than a month after that, Deputy Chris Blevins entered our basement garage (without showing a warrant, stating he had a warrant, or stating his purpose for being on the premises) and beat me up, doused me with pepper spray, and hauled me to the Shelby County Jail for a five-month stay.

    That's the price you pay for reporting accurately and forcefully about judicial and political corruption -- most of it Republican based -- in a Deep Red state. And you thought the First Amendment protected your rights to free speech and a free press.

    I unearthed gay-porn photo No. 1 and broke the original story with old-fashioned, shoe-leather journalism. But the story has not ended there. We are blessed with a bunch of dedicated and sharp-eyed readers, and they have found other nudie photos of Pryor, part of a gallery that reportedly included eight to 12 images.

    Bill Pryor No. 2
    Readers helped us publish gay-porn photo No. 2 on March 22, 2017. That's the one featuring a youthful Pryor, then an undergraduate at Northeast Louisiana University (now the University of Louisiana Monroe, ULM), straddling a block of wood -- he's got wood, get it?

    Photo No. 3, again dug up by enterprising readers, ran on April 5, 2017. It featured Pryor holding what we thought was a gourd, with a male face drawn on it. This seemed to mark a major step forward in artistic expression for the future federal judge. A helpful reader informed us that Pryor actually was holding a coconut, not a gourd. (See, I told you we had smart readers.)

    Now, Legal Schnauzer readers have struck again, helping ensure that gay-porn photo No. 4 would land in our laps. (Isn't teamwork fun?) I never dreamed that we would wind up with a full, or almost full, gallery to Bill Pryor's nudie oeuvre. But at the rate our readers are digging things up, I think we might just make it -- and it might not take too much longer.

    (Note: Redacted versions of photos 1-3 are published within this post. Links to NSFW versions of the photos, plus an amusing meme about Trump's one-time infatuation with Pryor, are at the end of this post.)

    Photo No. 4 has appeared at three tumblr sites, that we know of: (Warning: All three links contain explicit images.)

    * Oldies But Hotties!

    * Vintage Gay

    * Who's a Big Boy?

    Our plans are to run photo No. 4 later this week. While this story undeniably has titillating qualities -- or perhaps "prickly qualities" would be a more accurate term -- there is serious junk going on beneath the surface. (He said "junk" . . . uh huh . . . uh huh.)

    Multiple press reports during the 2016 presidential campaign indicated Pryor was the favorite to be Trump's choice for SCOTUS. Those reports picked up steam when U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), long a champion of Pryor's career (perhaps because of the pair's deeply personal attachment), became the first major political figure to jump on the Trump Train -- eventually being named attorney general and lying during his confirmation hearings about meetings with a Russian ambassador.

    Bill Pryor No. 3, with special guest
    "Mr. Coconut"
    Why did Pryor's SCOTUS hopes sink into the depths, with the seat eventually going to Neil Gorsuch, of Colorado? We addressed that issue in a recent post, titled "Did Legal Schnauzer reporting on his nude photos at the badpuppy.com gay-pornography Web site cost Alabama's Bill Pryor a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court?" From that post:

    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.

    Here's more:

    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.

    For now, we don't know for sure what caused Pryor's slide, even though Jeff Sessions surely was whispering sweet nothings about his "boy toy" into the head Cheeto's ears. Heck, Pryor might even be resurrected for a future SCOTUS seat if Trump and Sessions can avoid being indicted long enough.

    But here's the key point: At the rate our readers are digging up gay-porn photos of Pryor, we might have a full set before long. You can't say much positive about the Trump administration in its first 100 days, but there is this: The "Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight" does appear to be somewhat Web savvy. Mr. Orange himself is the diabolical prince of Twitter, so it's hard to imagine that word of Pryor's adventures in homo-erotica have not reached 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue -- assuming Trump is ever there.

    Will our readers ensure that Bill Pryor's judicial career goes into a deep, quiet slumber? Looks to me like they are well on their way.


    From The Sword

    Bill Pryor No. 1 (NSFW)


    Bill Pryor No. 2 (NSFW)


    Bill Pryor No. 3 (NSFW)



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    (From theroot.com)

    How ugly can white privilege get in the Age of Trump? When it morphs into white arrogance and sheer rudeness, as it did last fall at Briarwood Christian School in Birmingham, the answer is "real darned ugly."

    The school is part of Briarwood Presbyterian Church (PCA), the large suburban congregation that has decided in recent years that it needs its own police force for "protection." The truth is that Briarwood wants to "manage" news coverage of any future drug busts at the school, like the one that made it into the press in 2015. Those kinds of events tend to make white, suburban parents keep tuition dollars in their pockets -- or, Dear God, send their kids to public schools, for which they already are paying via tax dollars.

    Ironically, our personal travelogue through legal hell involves Briarwood. It started with an under-the-table real-estate deal that allowed the school's football coach (and our former neighbor), Fred Yancey to live for free on school property, leaving us with a career criminal named Mike McGarity for our next-door neighbor. McGarity works at a reputable company (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama), but his bullying, threatening tendencies -- well illustrated in his extensive criminal record -- have turned our lives upside down. One can only wonder how someone with at least eight criminal convictions in his background could get a job at a place like BC/BS, which supposedly is required to have heightened security procedures because it deals in mega doses of federal tax dollars. Perhaps Koko Mackin, the company's PR mouthpiece, knows about such lapses, but has been instructed to keep her mouth shut about them.

    On the legal front, many of the most loathsome characters in our Legal Schnauzer story -- state judge Mike Joiner, federal judge R. David Proctor, attorney Bill Swatek -- attend Briarwood, have sent kids to Briarwood, or both. Proctor, who helped Jeff Sessions (now Trump's attorney general) get a black federal judge removed from a problematic case in the 1990s, is cheating us at this moment -- in "The Jail Case" and "The House Case," both on appeal before the Eleventh Circuit.

    You might think Briarwoodians would feel a little chastened after the flock's offspring were proven to have feet of clay, like the heathens in public schools, when it comes to illegal drugs. But you would be wrong. A recent article by Michael Harriot at theroot.com suggests students at Briarwood double downed on arrogance when it became apparent that Donald Trump -- perhaps the most unGodly man ever to run for president -- had a chance to lead Republicans back to the White House.

    In an article titled "The Racist, Homophobic History of an Ala. Church Gunning for Its Own Police Force," Harriot does a splendid job of laying out the considerable baggage in Briarwood's past. He also focuses on an event last September that shows white "Christian" youngsters -- apparently with the support of teachers, administrators, and parents -- being jaw-droppingly rude to black guests in their midst.

    Before a football game last September against predominantly black Fairfield High School (and by "predominantly," I mean "pretty much entirely"), Briarwood students prepared a goalpost sign through which their team was to enter the stadium. The sign read: "Make American Great Again: Trump the Tigers."

    Briarwood, which has been rumored for years to recruit players due to its "private school" status, won the game, 27-0. But the sign makes me wish Fairfield had mopped the field with some spoiled white asses. It looks like U.S. Judge R. David Proctor comes by his racism honestly. Michael Harriot shows that such thinKKKing is woven into the fabric at Briarwood:

    The church is presented as an all-American house of worship, but at its roots, Briarwood Presbyterian has right-wing, fringe beliefs that border on frightening.

    Briarwood Presbyterian is a member of the Presbyterian Church in America. When you research the history of the PCA, you find that almost every source says that the main impetus for the church’s split from the greater Presbyterian organization was the Northern churches’ willingness to integrate, as explained by the Colorado Springs Gazette:

    "When the denomination called for open churches that did not bar blacks . . . this was seen as a sign that the denomination was departing from true Christianity. For segregationist Presbyterians in Mississippi and elsewhere, any moderate stance on integration was a sign that liberalism was taking over the church.

    "In response, segregationist Presbyterians began leaving the denomination. Some left officially. Others started movements [within] the denomination. They openly defied the denomination by refusing to allow blacks to worship in their churches or by firing pastors who wanted to do so."

    These events, Harriot quickly points out, do not date to yesteryear. And they raise this question: Should these people be trusted with their own armed forces?

    So those churches banded together to form the PCA. While this might sound like a pre-Civil War origin story, this did not take place in the antebellum South—this was 1973. And where did those churches meet to form this union of segregationist places of worship? PCA’s website proudly explains its history:

    "In December 1973, delegates, representing some 260 congregations with a combined communicant membership of over 41,000 that had left the PCUS, gathered at Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and organized the National Presbyterian Church, which later became the Presbyterian Church in America."

    Yes, the home place of a sect of fundamentalist segregationists is about to get its own army.

    Yep, "fundamentalist segregationists" started Briarwood. And the 2016 football season provided evidence that such "thinking" remains central to the church/school's culture. It even goes straight to the top, according to Harriot:

    Harry Reeder, the Briarwood Presbyterian pastor, is as problematic as the place of worship. He is a longtime advocate for the Confederate flag and speaks at ceremonies for neo-Confederate groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Although religious organizations are prohibited from taking political stances, Reeder often shills for the Republican Party, as he did in his recent broadcast “Mike Pence Places a Hedge Around His Marriage.”

    He also finds time to repudiate everything Obama, which he did April 6 in this broadcast from the church’s radio station: “Unmasking, Leaking, Lying, Obama’s Watergate?” A drug raid at the church’s high school in 2015 is still shrouded in mystery.

    The notion of Briarwood having its own police force raises all sorts of troubling questions, and Harriot lays them out in the open:

    A church official explains the church’s need for a police force by telling reporters, “After the shooting at Sandy Hook and in the wake of similar assaults at churches and schools, Briarwood recognized the need to provide qualified first responders to coordinate with local law enforcement.” The Root examined records at Birmingham’s 911 call center and scoured the archives of local news agencies and could find no emergency calls or precedent for any type of violence at Briarwood that would warrant a police force. The school does not need permission to hire armed guards or a security team, so what is really behind this bill?

    Harry Reeder (center)
    (From rootsweb.ancestry.com)
    If the bill becomes law, does that give the church its own municipal code of conduct? Will the church’s laws be enforced by officers? Are they subject to anti-discrimination laws? If Briarwood’s students are found with drugs on campus, do the church cops get to handle it themselves? Is the school’s small minority of black students safe? Can they banish LGBTQ teachers, students or parishioners? Should the taxpayers of Alabama be responsible for training a church’s private security force? If so, are they subject to the federal and state anti-discrimination hiring practices?

    If the state of Alabama gives Briarwood its own police force, it will no longer be a church. It will be a white, fundamentalist, Christian armed compound with its own army, right next to one of the blackest, most defiant cities in America.

    What could go wrong?

    As we have learned from personal experience, folks connected to Briarwood tend to lie -- a lot, as in whoppers. If they are judges, they violate black-letter law -- and constitutional basics -- with impunity.

    Consider the notion that Briarwood's desire for a police force is tied to the Sandy Hook shooting. The mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, happened in 2012. Briarwood's desire for its own police force became known after the school's drug bust in 2015.

    Should Briarwood be trusted with a heavily armed police force? Not in a million years. As Michael Harriot says, "What could go wrong?"

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    Luther Strange and Robert Bentley
    (From usnews.com)
    Former Gov. Robert Bentley, who resigned in disgrace less than one month ago, probably stands as the most corrupt politician in Alabama -- for now. But two reports yesterday suggest U.S. Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) might soon be challenging Bentley for that distinction.

    First came an article that used the word "stinks" to describe a Jefferson County prosecution that Strange launched while still Alabama attorney general. Then came news that Strange might have violated campaign-finance laws, which could be a felony with a punishment of up to 20 years in prison. Yikes!

    Both reports come from Alabama Political Reporter (APR), which suggests once again that the non-traditional press is much more likely than the mainstream media (MSM) to provide hard-hitting analysis and meaningful investigative reporting.

    APR columnist Josh Moon focused on the "perjury" case brought against duly elected Jeffco district attorney Charles Todd Henderson. The title of Moon's article is "Something stinks in Jeffco DA indictment."

    It's not hard to figure out what stinks about the Henderson case. He had the audacity last November to defeat incumbent Brandon Falls, who had been hand-picked for the position by former governor Bob Riley. One of Falls' duties likely was to protect Riley Inc.'s dubious activities, especially those involving son Rob "Uday" Riley, daughter Minda Riley Campbell, and son-in-law Rob Campbell -- who happens to be a partner at Bradley Arant, the Birmingham law firm that Bob Riley showered with millions of taxpayer dollars during his time as governor.

    When Falls hit the exits and Henderson was set to take over, it became clear that a real DA might scrutinize the Rileys. Next thing you know, a Bradley Arant product (Strange) was indicting Henderson for perjury related to his role as guardian ad litem in a divorce case. That has kept Henderson from taking office, so far, and Moon notes that the case against him would have to improve to be thin.

    Charles Todd Henderson, the county’s first Democratic DA in decades, was indicted by the Alabama Attorney General’s Office four days before taking office and blocked from becoming the new DA.

    His alleged crime: Perjury.

    Odd, right?

    Well, it gets even weirder. And a whole lot more complicated.

    But let’s lay this thing out so you have all the facts.

    The facts are as follows:

    Henderson served as the guardian ad litem for a child in a divorce case. He landed that role, which basically involves making sure the craziness of the parents’ divorce doesn’t harm the child, after being asked by the mother of the child.

    That woman, Yareima Akl, and Henderson knew one another – she had done work on his campaign for DA – and she requested that Henderson serve as guardian ad litem. He accepted and ended up working for approximately five months, January 2016 through May 2016.

    He was removed by the judge following complaints from Akl’s soon-to-be-former husband. Those complaints centered mainly on Akl’s work on Henderson’s campaign – a fact that Henderson never denied – and what the former husband felt was a lack of therapy progress.

    How weak is the case against Henderson? As Moon shows, it's thinner than cheap toilet paper:

    In July of 2016, Henderson, who is single, struck up a relationship with Akl, who was on her way to being single.

    In hindsight, it wasn’t the best move. But it’s also not illegal or improper.

    Henderson hadn’t served as the GAL in nearly two months. He wasn’t representing anyone in the case.

    And yet, this perfectly legal, no-issues-at-all act is supposed to be what Henderson lied about.

    This insignificant thing is keeping a duly elected district attorney from taking office.

    And it gets worse.

    How worse does it get? Moon provides the answer by showing he knows a thing or two about the law -- something you almost never see from an MSM journalist. Virginia Meigs, the husband's attorney, asked Henderson under oath if he had spent the night at Yareima Akl’s apartment while she was campaigning for him. Henderson answered no, and it's unclear if that response was truthful. But this is clear: Judge Patricia Stephens called a recess, and there were no more questions about sleepovers. Here's why:

    That was primarily because Stephens told Meigs that the purpose of the hearing was to determine parental custody, and she instructed Meigs to keep her questions to matters involving the child.

    That’s important for another reason – a big reason.

    You don’t commit perjury by simply lying under oath in court. The lies you tell have to be material to the issue at hand.

    In other words, in a murder case, you lies have to be told in an effort to wrongly influence the court about whether the murder took place.

    And in a child custody hearing, if Henderson lied, those lies would have to be aimed at intentionally swaying the court on the custody issue.

    Meigs never asked if the child was present when Henderson stayed the night. And Stephens even said she didn’t care about the relationship between Akl and Henderson if the child wasn’t involved.

    So, why is the AG’s office all wrapped up in a petty divorce case – the sort of case in which law enforcement never intervenes?

    The answer to that question is clear -- at least to me. The Rileys did not want a potentially unfriendly DA in Jefferson County, and Luther Strange was willing to be their water boy by bringing a bogus case against Henderson.

    Charles Todd Henderson
    (From wvtm13.com)
    If we had a real justice system, Strange would go to prison for bringing the indictment against Henderson. That's not likely to happen, but he could wind up in prison for other reasons. As Bill and Susan Britt report in an article titled "SOS: Senator Strange, this may be a problem," Big Lutha has campaign-finance issues, and they could be serious. From the report:

    Recently appointed Senator Luther Strange, only a few months into his new job, has potentially committed two major campaign finance violations, according to Secretary of State John Merrill.

    Campaign finance records show that Strange transferred campaign contributions between his US Senate campaign account and his Alabama Attorney General account, outside of the legal window. The contributions also exceeded the legal limit on account transfers.

    Each of the violations could be prosecuted as felony offenses if the State Ethics Commission takes up the case and refers charges. Former Gov. Robert Bentley faced possible felony charges for a similar transfer that took place outside of the legal time frame.

    Strange transferred $1,418.27 from his U.S. Senate campaign to his state campaign, exceeding the $1,000 limit. The transfer also came outside a 120-day post-election window allowed by state law. As a former AG, you'd think Strange might know a thing or two about Alabama's campaign finance laws. But you might be wrong, and such ignorance could cost Strange dearly. The Britts write:

    According to Strange’s FCPA and his FEC filing, he exceeded the $1000.00 limit by $418.27. Each violation could be prosecuted as a felony. Violation of the 120-day rule is a Class B Felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

    The $1000.00 statute is a Class C felony which carries up to 10 years behind bars. Transactions show that Strange for Senate “reimbursed” Alabamians for Luther Strange as reported on both the FCPA Report (Receipts from other sources) and his Senate report.

    Asked about the transfers by The Alabama Political Reporter, Merrill responded to a request for comment.

    “That is not a permissible expense and it exceeds the amount that could be given even if it were within the correct time frame,” Merill said of the transfers. “There are two violations there.”

    Many Alabamians were outraged when Strange reached an apparent quid pro quo with Bentley to be appointed to a Senate seat vacated when Jeff Sessions became Trump attorney general. Wouldn't it be ironic if Big Lutha's power grab helped cause him to wind up in the slammer?

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    Bill Pryor: Gay-porn photo No. 4
    (Box expertly applied by Carol T. Shuler,
     aka Mrs. Schnauzer)
    A few months ago, it looked like federal judge Bill Pryor would become known as the guy who replaced conservative icon Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. Now, it looks as though Pryor might go down merely as one of the most hypocritical public figures in the first 16-plus years of the 2000s.

    As evidence of that, we present the photo at right. It is the fourth gay-porn photo of a young Bill Pryor, three of them found by dedicated Legal Schnauzer readers, that appeared in a gallery of eight to 12 images. (Even Schnauzer readers, it turns out, are diggers.) Taken when Pryor was an undergraduate at Northeast Louisiana University (now University of Louisiana Monroe, ULM), the photos first surfaced in one or more print publications during the 1980s, made a brief appearance in the digital age at badpuppy.com in 1997, and now have spread to any number of  Web sites near you, especially Europe-based tumblr sites.

    (Note: An NSFW version of the photo can be viewed by clicking on a link at the end of this post.)

    And yes, it's the same Bill Pryor who grew up to become George W. Bush's pick to sit on the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, mainly because of support from right-wing zealots like Karl Rove and Jeff Sessions. It's the same Bill Pryor who, because of Sessions' never-failing support/affection and powerful perch as Donald Trump's attorney general, once was the favorite to replace Scalia -- only to finish no higher than No. 3, with the nomination and appointment going to Neil Gorsuch, of Colorado. It's also the same Bill Pryor who has been virulently anti-LGBT in public statements, even though evidence of his past ties to homosexual activity continues to grow.

    That is where rank hypocrisy enters the picture. And as our readers dig up more Pryor nudie pics at a rapid pace, the hypocrisy will only grow. At this rate, we might have a complete set of photos by the end of summer, even earlier.

    Such a prospect comes with a certain level of titillation, of course. But it entails a number of serious issues, including the fact that Pryor is subject to blackmail because powerful Republicans know of his gay-porn past and pushed him for a spot on the federal bench because they knew he could be controlled.

    According to multiple reports, Pryor is a "gatekeeper" or "fixer" for conservative interests on the court -- he does their bidding or risks being outed, even though we already have outed him. I've seen evidence during my own legal travails that suggests Pryor does, in fact, dictate the outcome of certain cases from his "duty station" at the Hugo Black Courthouse in downtown Birmingham. That rises (or lowers?) to a level of corruption most vile.

    Am I just sitting back and taking it? No, I am not. I'm collecting that evidence into a nice, organized format that will be presented to the proper federal authorities in the near future. If Jeff Sessions goes down in the KremlinGate scandal, we suspect Pryor could be vulnerable. Our intent is to strike when the time is ripe. God willing, we will help Pryor exit the federal bench and enter federal prison, where he belongs.

    In fact, Pryor and Sessions might make a nice matched set in the slammer. We already know Sessions has lied to Congress about his communications with Russian officials during the 2016 election. And there is little doubt Pryor lied to Congress during his confirmation hearings. Consider this from one of our first posts on the gay-porn subject:

    Pryor has known the photos were public since at least September 1997, and our sources say it's unlikely he disclosed their existence to FBI and U.S. Senate investigators during the pre-confirmation process for the federal judgeship.

    Could Pryor face serious consequences if it is shown he made false statements to officials looking into his background? Based on the impeachment and removal of Louisiana federal judge Thomas Porteous in 2010, the answer might be yes.

    One of the articles of impeachment against Porteous involved his failure to disclose information to investigators--and his false statements during pre-confirmation regarding any background information that might prove embarrassing to him and the president who nominated him, Bill Clinton.

    We addressed the subject again, along with allegations that Pryor is a court fixer, in a March 2015 post:

    How many cases have received unlawful interference from Bill Pryor? Could they include the high-profile case of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman? God only knows at this point, but if proven, such conduct would point to obstruction of justice, racketeering, conspiracy, and probably other crimes.

    That brings us to Pryor's Senate confirmation hearing. It is standard for a federal nominee to be asked, under oath, if there is anything in his background that might embarrass him or the president who nominated him. Pryor has known the nude photos were public since at least September 1997, and our sources say he likely did not disclose their existence to FBI and Senate investigators.

    Is Bill Pryor fit to serve as a federal judge? Absolutely not. Based on allegations that he lied to Congress and has engaged in obstruction of justice/racketeering/conspiracy, does he belong in federal prison? The answer, most likely, is yes. We intend to do everything in our power to put him there.


    Bill Pryor No. 4 (NSFW)


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    Robed and disrobed Bill Pryor
    When a former Alabama state senator confronted then-Attorney General Bill Pryor with nude photographs that had the name "Bill Pryor" attached to them, Pryor immediately claimed the young man in the photos was not him. But the next day, the photos -- a set of about eight to 12 -- disappeared from badpuppy.com, which since has become a veritable "super store" of gay-porn images.

    Who took action to make sure the photos would vanish from badpuppy.com. One of our sources, a former Alabama law-enforcement official, said it probably was an attorney from the Montgomery law firm Capell Howard.

    That firm is known for providing Karl Rove's base of operations when "Bush's Brain" visits Alabama. It also once was home to George Beck, the attorney who allowed federal prosecutors to browbeat his client, Nick Bailey, into providing false testimony against former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. Beck went on to become U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama under Barack Obama, a period when the Montgomery area was awash in corruption -- which Beck largely ignored.

    For good measure, Capell Howard is home to Christopher Weller, whom sources say is Bill Pryor's personal attorney.

    As for Pryor and the gay-porn photographs, our source points specifically to Richard Allen, a Capell Howard lawyer who once was commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections. Allen, our source says, is the man to whom Pryor turns when a problem needs to be solved -- and badpuppy.com definitely presented a problem to be solved, quickly.

    Richard Allen
    (From capellhoward.com)
    Speaking of problem solving, our reports about Pryor and gay porn started on September 17, 2013, and they might have presented the biggest problem yet for Pryor. Roughly one month after our reporting began, I was beaten in our Birmingham home and thrown in the Shelby County Jail for a five-month stay, ostensibly because of a baseless defamation brought by GOP thug and Pryor associate Rob Riley.

    We now know that Richard Allen is Bill Pryor's fixer, and Allen has a history with the Alabama prison system, and the punishment chosen for me was to be thrown in jail . . . well, we can't help but wonder if Allen was behind my false arrest and imprisonment (a kidnapping, really, because no warrant ever has surfaced)

    Richard Allen's possible ties to my incarceration will be an in-depth subject for another day. For now, here's what our source says about Allen's likely intervention with badpuppy.com: (Video of the interview is embedded at the end of this post.)

    Richard Allen likely handled that, from Capell Howard. They have been very heavy backroom hitter in Republican politics for a very long time. They are an old, wealthy law firm. They were responsible for the confirmation of federal judge Myron Thompson. One of their number was president of Alabama bar when he was appointed; they spent some money on that appointment. As to Pryor, his handler while he was in office was of Capell Howard. . . . One of their partners (Richard Allen) went to be deputy AG with Pryor. . . . We had a file on him. He left as managing partner of Capell Howard to go to the AG's office.

    That Allen would make such a move, plus his actions while in the AG's office with Pryor, was highly suspicious, our source says:

    Allen had himself placed in charge of the branch of AG's office that manages corporate affairs and licensing. We ran a clock on him. When he got to the office, there was a whole floor of analysts that would analyze corporations for statutes. The Public Service Commission is what he ran. Two years later, there were two analysts -- the rest had been fired.

    The ones represented by Capell Howard, which became a large number of them . . . Richard earned his money there.

    I had a friend in the (Capell Howard) firm, and he told me Richard Allen was making $300,000 a year as managing partner, and needless to say, the AG's office couldn't pay him that. There had to be a reason for him to go. The only thing we could find that would compute was the number of Capell Howard clients that sought representation with the Public Service Commission. . . . 

    Did Richard Allen, with Bill Pryor's assistance, set up a scam in the AG's office to benefit the Capell Howard law firm? Our source saw quite a bit of evidence that pointed in that direction.




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    (From documentary.org)
    A documentary about the political prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman will premiere tomorrow night at the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham.

    Atticus v. The Architect: The Political Assassination of Don Siegelman will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday (5/10/17). Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the full event runs until 10 p.m. (The film's trailer is embedded at the end of this post.)

    The film, directed by Steve Wimberly, was three years in the making and includes interviews with many of the central players in the Siegelman case. From a press release about the premiere:

    The film exposes the dark underbelly of political corruption that led to what legal experts call the malicious prosecution and wrongful conviction of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. Insiders, both Republicans and Democrats alike, have come together to tell the world about this horrible injustice, and reveal the overwhelming evidence of judicial misconduct that has remained hidden from the public for far too long.

    We have published several hundred posts here at Legal Schnauzer, far more reports than any other news outlet. We also have provided more details about judicial misconduct in the case, including a five-part series titled "The Cheating of Don Siegelman."

    Considerable evidence points to Karl Rove, "the architect" of George W. Bush's political ascension, as the driving force behind the Siegelman prosecution. The documentary reportedly includes an interview with GOP felon Jack Abramoff, who describes the reasons Republicans were determined to take down Siegelman, a rare Democrat who maintained political clout in the conservative South. The motivation, according to the Abramoff interview, largely involved Indian gaming money.

    The documentary reportedly shines unflattering light on a number of prominent Alabama political and legal figures, including Bill Canary, Leura Canary, Bob Riley, Rob Riley, and Alice Martin.

    As we have reported multiple times, Siegelman and Scrushy were convicted of a "crime" that does not exist under U.S. law.  That is one of the reasons many legal analysts consider the Siegelman case the most egregious political prosecution in U.S. history. Several of those experts are interviewed in the documentary:

    The prosecutor that indicted Siegelman for bribery was married to the campaign manager of Siegelman’s opponent in an upcoming election. Prosecutors were allowed to get away with a staggering degree of prosecutorial misconduct. Siegelman political foe, Mark Fuller, was selected to preside over the trial, and has since been forced off the bench for ethics violations.

    The judicial abuse and malfeasance ran so deep, that for the first time in American history, 113 former States Attorneys General from both parties united together to protest the deliberate injustice that was directed at Don Siegelman.

    Tickets for the premiere are available through Ticketmaster or at the Alabama Theatre box office, which opens at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.


    Atticus v. The Architect Trailer from Peppertree Films LLC on Vimeo.



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    Paul Alan Levy
    (From rcfp.org)
    How did I cross paths again with Paul Alan Levy after the Public Citizen lawyer had proven he was a detestable, disrespectful, lying asshole? Well, Levy actually had the gall to use Legal Schnauzer to promote his work in a case involving an outfit called Public Defender. After Levy earlier had insulted me repeatedly, and shown he did not remotely care that I had spent five months in jail "for blogging" in Alabama, I was none too please to realize he was trying to use my blog to promote himself.

    Public Defender is a "reputation management" company that claims it can have unflattering posts about CEOs and the like removed from the Web -- even if the posts are 100 percent accurate and never have been found in court to be false or defamatory. On its Web site, Public Defender cited Legal Schnauzer as a big, bad blog against whom it could protect helpless elites. I wrote a post about Public Defender, including evidence that suggests the company is a sham.

    That apparently is something upon which Paul Alan Levy and I can agree. At 4 p.m. on October 11, 2016, Levy sent a comment to Legal Schnauzer, touting his work against Public Defender. One day earlier, I had heard from Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor who had co-authored a Washington Post article with Levy about their work related to Public Defender. Volokh is author of The Volokh Conspiracy, which once was one of the nations' most widely read legal blogs before moving to a new platform at The Washington Post in 2014.

    Volokh was touting his recent article with Levy, apparently welcoming any coverage I might provide at Legal Schnauzer. Best I can tell, Volokh is a highly regarded scholar and probably a dandy fellow; I don't mean to diss him by putting him in the same boat with Paul Alan Levy. I think Levy is in a boat all his own when it comes to being a prick and a jackass. And did I mention he's a liar?

    Here's how I responded to Levy regarding his blatant effort to use my blog to feather his own nest -- after treating me with utter disdain. This is from an e-mail I sent on October 11, 2016:

    Mr. Levy:

    I have heard from both you and Mr. Volokh, in various forms, over the past two days re: Profile Defenders (PD) and Richart Ruddie. I gather you are responding to my recent report about Public Defenders essentially using my blog, Legal Schnauzer, to help advertise their "services."

    While I share your concerns about Profile Defenders, a previous encounter with you gives me pause. Alabama deputies beat me up inside my own home (with no apparent warrant), doused me with pepper spray, and threw me in jail for five months over the very issue present in the PD story -- the use of unlawful preliminary injunctions to silence free speech and a free press.

    Here is what I wrote to you on 3/27/14, the day after I was released from jail: For some reason, I was under the impression that Public Citizen actually cared about the sort of abuse I had suffered.

    "Mr. Levy:
    I am a journalist/blogger in Alabama, and I was released from jail yesterday after being incarcerated for five months because of a preliminary injunction in a defamation case. It's all very similar to Dietz v. Perez, and I thought it might be of interest to you. I need legal representation and wanted to see if we could talk. My case has been widely covered in the NY Times, Al Jazeera, Huffington Post and many other news outlets, and even right-wing commenters seem to acknowledge that the injunction without a trial (in fact, without any discovery at all) is wildly unconstitutional. I would appreciate any insights or guidance you can offer.

    Best regards,

    Roger Shuler"


    Don't know how I could have been any more courteous to you, but this is the response I received later that day: 

    "From what you say, you must be the guy who was enjoined and simply refused to comply with the injunction, and, from what I have heard from others, you were also too pigheaded to accept sound advice. Not a very attractive client for pro bono work!"


    At the time, I was amazed that someone in your position could be so rude and thoughtless to someone who had just been released from a wrongful incarceration over First Amendment issues that you claim to champion. In fact, it made me wonder what Public Citizen really is all about -- if it is mostly for show, not attacking injustice.

    Imagine my surprise to discover today that you had left a comment at my blog to more or less promote the recent article Mr. Volokh and you wrote on the PD case at The Washington Post.

    That takes some audacity on your part, given the way you've treated me in the past, showing that you don't really give a flip about victims of injustice related to the First Amendment -- especially if they have been victimized by members of America's "legal tribe." I guess if I had gotten blow back from a review at Yelp, you would have jumped right on it. But a journalist beaten and incarcerated, on behalf of corrupt lawyers, because of an unlawful injunction in a defamation case? Nah, we don't care about that.

    In your communication to me in 2014, you came across as one of the biggest jerks I've ever encountered, almost making light or sport of what had been done to me.

    You are welcome to respond or explain yourself in any way that you care to, but I'm having a hard time figuring why I should want to have anything to do with you or your organization.

    In a case of "a tiger does not change his stripes," here is how Levy responded:

    I stand by what I said to you two and a half years ago.

    You came to me on March 27, 2014, seeking free legal representation after having defied an injunction because you thought it was wrongfully issued, which you are simply not entitled to do. As it happened, I had previously been in touch with another First Amendment litigator who thought you difficult to work with and impervious to sound legal advice. Wholly apart from the fact that the legal representation you were seeking fell outside the normal limits of what sort of case we take on (as I explained to you in a part of my email that you have omitted here) I also concluded that it would not be a sound use of Public Citizen’s very scarce resources to represent you. I gave you a direct response that was not sugar coated. Perhaps you are not used to that.

    Well, by golly, we learn that in LevyWorld, being an asshole is just another form of "being direct." What a convenient excuse that is. And notice in the highlighted section that Levy provides more evidence that he and some other lawyer (David Gespass, of Birmingham?) had trampled my right to attorney-client confidentiality.

    Realizing that Levy was an even larger steaming pile of feces than I thought possible, I responded thusly:

    No, I'm fine with directness. My problem is with jerks and phonies like you. I am, however, used to liars, which you seem to be since I have seen cases where you and Public Citizen represented individuals prior to appellate stage. Your Web site says, "Our attorneys litigate cases at all levels of the federal and state court systems." Is that a lie? That doesn't apply to cases of alleged defamation?

    For sure, you are lying about me. I didn't "defy" an injunction, I challenged service on it and was waiting on a ruling when brown shirts entered our home and hauled me to jail. (I suppose you think it's fine for a cop to serve court papers during a bogus traffic stop, and such chicanery should not be challenged?) An Alabama lawyer who reviewed the file said we never were summoned to court in the first place, and that a preliminary injunction was issued before we even were served. (See letter at link below.)

    Here's the truth: You jump on easy cases involving Yelp and such, but if lawyers are behind abuse of free speech, you have no interest in the case and essentially engage in a cover up. Corrupt lawyers like Rob Riley and Christina Crow caused me to be incarcerated, and you are their protector -- screw the First Amendment. You and Public Citizen are dishonest to the core -- and I see you still are a rude, thoughtless twit.

    Here are a few questions for you:

    (1) Who was the First Amendment litigator who told you I was difficult to work with? What specific examples did he give? Did he tell you this via phone, email? If by email, would you please send me a copy of the communication? Did you make any effort to get my side of the story, or you just take one lawyer's word for it.

    (2) To what sound legal advice was I supposedly impervious? Please share some examples?

    https://www.scribd.com/document/264877919/David-Gespass-Letter

    No wonder so many people despise lawyers.

    First, I corrected Levy on a few key points, noting that a lawyer who reviewed the file (Gespass) acknowledged we never had been summoned to court or lawfully served. I then challenged Levy to identify the "First Amendment litigator" who had trashed me and to describe the supposedly sound advice to which I was "impervious." Boxed into a corner, Levy apparently decided he didn't want to sass me anymore. His reply:

    I have no interest in engaging in further dialogue with you about this.

    I saw that as an opportunity to have the last word, so I let him have it again:

    No, I'm sure you don't. But you want to use my blog to help promote your worthless activities at Public Citizen, and you strongly suggest that a First Amendment lawyer defamed me. If I were in your shoes, I wouldn't want to "further the dialogue" either. But you and PC may be hearing from me again real soon. Insulting victims of injustice and helping corrupt lawyers cover up their crimes, that's what Public Citizen is all about. Ralph Nader must be very proud. Should be fun to pull the mask off his bogus "advocacy group."

    By the way, I thought of another lie from you. I never asked you for "free legal representation." I had no idea how PC conducted its fee arrangements.

    This should be your motto: "Public Citizen: We might advocate for you if your case is easy and doesn't involve much effort on our part. But if your First Amendment rights have been abused by a pack of thieving lawyers and a hideously corrupt judge . . . well you are on your own, Bub. Our No. 1 goal is to protect the legal tribe at all costs. If they caused your problems, we will lie about you, insult you, help defame you, and blame you Our strategy in such cases is to 'blame the victim.' That's what Naderism has come to mean."

    Did I mention that Levy is a lying sack of shit? Well, we have more evidence of that in an upcoming post.


    (To be continued)

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    Lori Klausutis
    (From reddit.com)
    The engagement of Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski is the hot celebrity-media story of the moment. But a related story -- the unearthing of a photograph of Lori Klausutis -- might prove to be of much greater significance.

    Who is Lori Klausutis, and how does she connect to the co-stars of MSNBC's Morning Joe?  Klausutis was the 28-year-old staff member who was found dead in Scarborough's office in summer 2001, when he was a Republican Congressman from Florida. Klausutis' death was classified as accidental, the result of an undiagnosed heart defect that caused her to fall and hit her head on a desk. But we have researched a number of articles that have been written, and evidence strongly suggests that Lori Klausutis' death was not an accident.

    The story largely was ignored by the national press -- "covered up" might be a better term -- and that is a major reason no photograph of Klausutis could be found on the Web, until recently.

    It's not clear how the photograph surfaced, but it appears to have come from a post at reddit.com, possibly via a yearbook at the University of Georgia, where Klausuitis (then Lori Bolterstein) went to college. The reddit post is titled "My name is Lori Klausutis -- I was an Intern for Joe Scarborough but I was found dead in his office and nobody remembers."

    Ironically, the post is based largely on a piece we published in September 2012 -- "Autopsy in Joe Scarborough Country Leaves Out Key Detail About the Mysterious Death of Lori Klausutis." From our post:

    The autopsy of Lori Klausutis makes no reference to a time of death. That raises new questions about an investigation that started when the 28-year-old woman's body was found in the office of then U.S. Representative Joe Scarborough in summer 2001.

    Accidental death was the official finding in the Klausutis case, with a cardiac arrhythmia causing her to fall and hit her head on a desk. But the recent discovery of human remains at a storage unit in Pensacola, Florida, casts doubt on that ruling. That's because the storage unit was rented by Dr. Michael Berkland, the man who conducted the Klausutis autopsy 11 years earlier.

    Berkland now faces a felony charge of improper storage of hazardous waste, and the grisly nature of the discovery calls his competence--and perhaps his sanity--into question.

    Was the Lori Klausutis autopsy conducted in a professional manner? Was foul play prematurely ruled out? Should the investigation be reopened, perhaps with renewed scrutiny for Scarborough and others who might have had access to his office at the time?

    Why does time of death matter in a case like this? From our post:

    Many Morning Joe viewers probably have forgotten, or never knew, that the body of a female aide once was found in Scarborough's Congressional office. Investigators quickly saw that a blow to the head, delivered accidentally or intentionally, was involved in Lori Klausutis' death. So it's hard to figure why the autopsy makes no reference to time of death. . . .


    Why is that a key omission? Consider this from an online document titled "Determining Time of Death (TOD)":

    Why is it important to know the time of death?

    •TOD can set the time of murder

    •Eliminate or suggest suspects

    •Confirm or disprove alibis

    Why did Berkland not include this critical detail? It's not as if his report does not provide plenty of other details. He tells us that Klausutis was wearing a white thong on the day of her death. (Page 7.) He tells us that she had a "shaved genital region." (Page 8.) But no time of death?

    Mika Brzezinski is a big girl, and she does not need our advice. But I would not want to be in her shoes. Is she about to marry a murderer? We don't know that, but we do know that Lori Klausutis' death almost certainly was not an accident -- and there is no sign that anyone with the slightest bit of competence has investigated her death.

    Joe and Mika
    (From salon.com)
    If Joe Scarborough did not kill Klausutis, the odds are strong that he knows who did. That would make "Morning Joe" an accomplice. Also, we know this about Scarborough:

    * He's from the southeast Alabama/northwest Florida area, which we have called America's "Corridor of Corruption";

    * He went to the University of Alabama, which might be the sleaziest campus in the country, driven by its infamous "Machine" politics;

    * He is best buds with Rob "Uday" Riley, who might be the nastiest political snake ever created. And if Rob doesn't hold that title, his father, Bob Riley, almost certainly does;

    * Alabama was a beset with a series of peculiar political deaths during Bob Riley's time as governor. There is much evidence to suggest the Rileys see murder as a possible solution to a political problem. And Joe Scarborough once pushed Bob Riley as a presidential candidate?

    Makes you wonder.

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    James Comey
    (From businessinsider.com)
    Many Americans were stunned yesterday at news that President Donald Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey. Many were further stunned upon learning that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recommended the firing to Trump.

    The disbelief likely was driven by two overriding factors: (1) Trump's firing of Comey smacks of Richard Nixon's Watergate-era firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox. That became known as "The Saturday Night Massacre," led to the release of White House tapes, and hastened Nixon's exit from the presidency. History tells us this might be the strongest indicator yet that Trump is headed for a fall; (2) Sessions had announced his recusal on all matters connected to the Trump-Russian investigation, which Comey was heading. (Note: Sessions also had recused himself from any matters related to the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation, and Comey's clumsy handling of that matter is the reason a Sessions deputy gave for the firing.) So how did Sessions think it was his duty to recommend Comey be fired?

    This kind of behavior is not new for Jeff Sessions, and it dates to his time as U.S. attorney and attorney general in Alabama. Sessions has a history of taking underhanded steps to remove people he sees as threats. Knowing that history might help the public better understand how yesterday's drama came to unfold.

    Perhaps the best example of Sessions' back-stabbing tendencies came in a mid-1990s case styled USX v. Tieco. The case started with USX (United States Steel) alleging that Tieco had engaged in a fraudulent billing scheme, with Tieco allegedly providing kickbacks to compromised USX employees. Tieco responded with a counterclaim, alleging civil-rights violations, conspiracy, and other wrongs. From an opinion in the matter:

    [Tieco has] also filed a counterclaim against the plaintiffs, the Attorney General of the State of Alabama, and two others in the Office of the Attorney General ("AG"). In their counterclaim, the defendants allege civil rights violations and conspiracy . . . , violations of § 36-25-8 of the Code of Alabama of 1975 (regarding non-disclosure of confidential information by a public official) . . . , intentional interference with business relationships, negligence, wantonness, conversion, and conspiracy.

    The attorney general in question was Jeff Sessions. The gist of Tieco's allegations against Sessions and others in his office involve a search warrant for the company's business records. From the court opinion:

    The seizure by the AG's office included virtually all of the business records of these two defendants, as well as some of the records of another corporation, House of Threads, Inc.

    Some of the records seized by the AG's office were later turned over to USX. After USX received these records, it filed this lawsuit in December 1995.

    If that smells funny to you, Tieco executives had the same reaction. Here was the state's AG seizing the company's business records and then turning them over to USX so that firm could sue Tieco. No wonder Tieco included Sessions and others from the AG's office in its counterclaim.

    The opinion referenced above was written by U.W. Clemon, the first black federal judge in Alabama history and a noted civil-rights lawyer before President Jimmy Carter nominated him to the federal bench. Sessions must have sensed he was in serious trouble because he took underhanded steps to get Clemon removed from the case. Here's how we explained it in a previous post:

    At the time, a relatively new law firm had formed in Birmingham called Lehr Middlebrooks Price and Proctor. The last name in that lineup stood for R. David Proctor, now a federal judge handling our cases. The third name stood for Terry Price, who just happened to be Judge Clemon's nephew (the middle son of the judge's oldest sister).

    Did Sessions and his chief investigator, Edward F. McFadden, hire Lehr Middlebrooks to defend them to create a conflict that would force Clemon off the case?

    The answer to that question almost certainly is yes. In fact, hiring Terry Price and his firm to get Judge Clemon off cases -- supposedly to be replaced by a white, conservative, business-friendly judge -- became almost a sport in the Birmingham legal community. In fact, it became so blatant that The Wall Street Journal reported on the subject. From that article:

    Court rulings say it's a breach of ethics to hire a lawyer "solely or primarily for the purpose of disqualifying the judge." Though deciphering motive is usually difficult, lawyers found to have engaged in such practices could face professional disciplinary proceedings.

    So, courts found that hiring a certain lawyer to force Judge Clemon off cases was grossly unethical. And Jeff Sessions helped pioneer the use of that tactic -- as did current U.S. Judge R. David Proctor. Is it any surprise that Sessions now finds himself at the heart of the KremlinGate scandal?

    At the heart of Sessions' actions in the Comey firing -- and in USX v. Tieco -- is stunning dishonesty and disregard for the rule of law. Consider that a letter from the Department of Justice, pushing for Comey's firing, cited his mishandling of the Clinton e-mail investigation. Trump and Sessions previously had praised Comey's conduct of that matter, so we are supposed to believe they now are using it to justify firing Comey.

    It's hard to see how anyone with three functioning brain cells would fall for that one. The New York Times certainly isn't. From its editorial page yesterday:

    The explanation for this shocking move — that Mr. Comey’s bungling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server violated longstanding Justice Department policy and profoundly damaged public trust in the agency — is impossible to take at face value. Certainly Mr. Comey deserves all the criticism heaped upon him for his repeated missteps in that case, but just as certainly, that’s not the reason Mr. Trump fired him.

    Mr. Trump had nothing but praise for Mr. Comey when, in the final days of the presidential campaign, he informed Congress that the bureau was reopening the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s emails. “He brought back his reputation,” Mr. Trump said at the time. “It took a lot of guts.”

    Of course, if Mr. Trump truly believed, as he said in his letter of dismissal, that Mr. Comey had undermined “public trust and confidence” in the agency, he could just as well have fired him on his first day in office.

    The Times then gets to the heart of the matter:

    Mr. Comey was fired because he was leading an active investigation that could bring down a president. Though compromised by his own poor judgment, Mr. Comey’s agency has been pursuing ties between the Russian government and Mr. Trump and his associates, with potentially ruinous consequences for the administration.

    With congressional Republicans continuing to resist any serious investigation, Mr. Comey’s inquiry was the only aggressive effort to get to the bottom of Russia’s ties to the Trump campaign. So far, the scandal has engulfed Paul Manafort, one of Mr. Trump’s campaign managers; Roger Stone, a longtime confidant; Carter Page, one of the campaign’s early foreign-policy advisers; Michael Flynn, who was forced out as national security adviser; and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself in March from the Russia inquiry after failing to disclose during his confirmation hearings that he had met twice during the campaign with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

    There is that name again -- Jeff Sessions. His actions in the firing of James Comey probably will go down as one of the most corrupt acts in U.S. history. If so, it won't be a surprise to those of us in Alabama, who have seen him get away with underhanded actions for decades. Perhaps he's finally gone a "bridge too far."

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