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

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    Jessica Garrison and Luther Strange
    The Case of the Severed Penis has taught us a legal principle that, on paper, should be of bedrock importance. In reality, lawyers of all stripes ignore the principle, and we've seen little sign that the Alabama State Bar makes it a priority to discipline those who violate it.

    The principle is this: A lawyer should investigate a client's claims, making sure there is "good cause" to support them, before filing a complaint. A lawyer never should bring a lawsuit he knows is baseless.

    What is the official wording of this principle. It can be found at Rule 3.1 Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct, which reads, in part:

    In his representation of a client, a lawyer shall not file a suit, assert a position, conduct a defense, delay a trial, or take other action on behalf of the lawyer's client when the lawyer knows or when it is obvious that such action would serve merely to harass or maliciously injure another.

    That sounds like a relatively simple rule to follow. But my wife, Carol, and I have been the targets of multiple lawsuits that were not based in truth and had no purpose but to maliciously injure us. In fact, they have maliciously injured us, costing us our home of 25 years in Birmingham, causing me to be unlawfully incarcerated for five months in Shelby County, causing us to be unlawfully evicted in Missouri (leading Carol to have her arm shattered by rogue cops and to be falsely arrested and imprisoned twice). I've reported on multiple other Alabama residents who have been the targets of bogus claims.

    Pelham, Alabama, lawyer Bill Swatek was the first lawyer to target Carol and me, bringing a malicious-prosecution claim on behalf of Mike McGarity, our criminally inclined neighbor who had admitted to trespass, as charged, in a criminal proceeding. Perhaps that should not be a surprise, given that Swatek has been disciplined at least three times by the Alabama State Bar, including a suspension of his license for lying about hiding a tape recorder to capture "private" discussions of opposing counsel during depositions. That led to a criminal charge of perjury, for which Swatek was acquitted, even though tape-recorded evidence presented at trial showed he was guilty as charged.

    Swatek is a proven dirt bag and a solo practitioner, so the public pretty much should expect sleazy acts from him. But Carol and I have been targeted for baseless lawsuits by attorneys who have been connected to sizable law firms, the type of practitioner one would expect to know better. We are talking about lawyers who are well known, attached to politicians who have held statewide office. Specifically, we are talking about Rob Riley (son of former Gov. Bob Riley), who now has his own Riley Jackson firm and used to work for Hare Wynn Newell and Newton. We're also talking about
    Jessica Medeiros Garrison (one-time campaign manager and mistress for U.S. Sen. Luther Strange), who until May 2017, worked for Balch and Bingham.

    I reported here at Legal Schnauzer that Rob Riley had an extramarital affair with lobbyist Liberty Duke, and Garrison had an extramarital affair with Strange. Both Rob Riley and Garrison sued me for defamation, but neither even attempted to prove my reporting was false. That's because my reporting was not false, and we have filed pending federal lawsuits -- Shuler v. Duke, et al and Shuler v. Garrison, et al -- that are designed to show that.

    Did Riley or Garrison believe they had a legitimate defamation case against me? Their own actions suggest the answer is no. Let's look first at the Riley case; it's clear his goal was to have me falsely arrested and incarcerated, and his complaint had nothing to do with defamation:

    * The normal remedy in a defamation case, by law, is to seek money damages. But Riley did not seek money damages, and none were issued in the case. Instead, Riley sought an improper equitable remedy -- a preliminary injunction that has been prohibited under more than 200 years of First Amendment law. The injunction was a set-up to cause my unlawful arrest -- a kidnapping, really, given that no warrant ever has appeared.

    Rob and Bob Riley
    * Under long-standing First Amendment law, a defamation claim must be determined at a jury trial. That's because the First Amendment holds an exalted place in American law, and the notion that a judge could act as a one-man censor at a bench trial is considered abhorrent.

    * Central to a jury trial, of course, is discovery, which establishes the facts upon which the case is to be argued. Riley did not seek a trial, a jury trial, or discovery. Why is that? I can think of only one reason: He wasn't interested in proving defamation because he knew my reporting about his affair with Liberty Duke was not false. Discovery -- producing e-mails, text messages, phone records, etc. -- would have proven my reporting was on target. Rob Riley wanted no part of that process.

    * Judge Claud Neilson, brought out of retirement to hear the case by special assignment, acted as a one-man censor -- declaring my reporting defamatory, even though he had no facts, via discovery, to support that finding. And it was a determination that only a jury, not a judge, could make. In fact, I had one hearing before Neilson, but there never was anything approaching a trial in the case.

    * Neilson imposed monetary sanctions against me, acting pro se, in the amount of about $33,000. But Alabama law is clear that a self-represented party cannot be hit with sanctions or attorney fees. They have not, and will not be paid, because they are unlawful. Still, Liberty Duke used her portion of the bogus sanctions to place a lien on our Birmingham home. If Duke and her lawyer, Christina Crow, don't know that monetary sanctions cannot be imposed against a self-represented party . . . well, Liberty Duke should stay out of courtrooms and Ms. Crow should find another profession. In essence, Liberty Duke stole more than $7,000 of excess foreclosure funds that lawfully belonged to Carol and me. So far, Duke has gotten away with the theft, but we intend to make sure that changes. That is one of many issues raised in our pending federal lawsuit. Anyone thinking of doing business with Liberty Duke in her role as a lobbyist should know that we have indisputable facts that show she is a thief -- and that should cause a few second thoughts.

    * Liberty Duke used her portion of the unlawful sanctions to have a bogus lien placed on our property. Duke and her lawyer, Christina Crow of Union Springs, had to know this was contrary to law. But did it serve to harass and maliciously injure Carol and me? It sure did -- cheating us out of more than $7,000 -- and inflicting such injury was the whole point of the Riley/Duke lawsuit.

    What about the Garrison case? Well, it's every bit as bad:

    * Garrison did not seek a jury trial -- at least not in her initial filing. In my response, I demanded a jury trial -- and Garrison lawyer Bill Baxley promptly responded with a motion that more or less said, "Oh yeah, we want a jury trial, too." The truth? Garrison, like Riley, never intended to have a trial (jury or otherwise), suggesting she knew my reporting was accurate.

    * Evidence indicates Garrison was a key figure in our wrongful foreclosure, which forced us out of state (to Missouri), where I could not defend myself against her defamation claim, which wound up with a $3.5-million default judgment. That judgment is void, as a matter of law, because I never received notice of the default-judgment application or hearing. Garrison must like to catch fish in a barrel because she clearly likes to bring a bogus lawsuit and then help ensure the target can't defend himself. That kind of chicanery must give her a sense of "power." By the way, Riley's lawsuit that caused me to be unlawfully incarcerated for five months also played a key role in the loss of our home, suggesting that he and Garrison worked together on their little courtroom scams.

    * Garrison likely never had any intention of having her case tried, but she did try it in the press. She arranged for an "as told to" article in Marie Claire, a women's fashion magazine published by Hearst Corp. The article only proved that Garrison can't keep her facts straight and defamed me in at least three ways: (1) Falsely claiming I had reported that Luther Strange was the biological father of Garrison's child; (2) Falsely claiming I had stalked Garrison; (3) Falsely claiming there was a trial in her underlying defamation case.

    * Former State Rep. Lowell Barron has stated in a radio interview with Marcus Echols that Strange and Garrison had an extramarital affair and said it compromised Strange so badly that he could not do his job -- Alabama attorney general, at the time.

    * Barron also shined light on why Garrison and Strange helped launch our wrongful foreclosure, forcing us out of state and making sure I would not receive notice of key events in the case. Strange tried to prosecute Barron for alleged violations of the state ethics law, but that changed when Barron filed a motion seeking to have Strange give testimony under oath. The judge had not ruled on the motion, but in the interim, Strange dropped the case. Said Barron, from an earlier post:

    Luther Strange is so compromised that he cannot go after the governor. What happened in my case . . . my attorney asked the judge to allow us to get Luther Strange to testify in my case. The judge left that open and didn't rule on it. Once the judge didn't rule on whether we could put Luther Strange on the stand, my case went away.

    Luther Strange cannot stand to be deposed or be put on the stand because his shenanigans with Ms. Garrison would come out in the open. This whole bunch is compromised. You can't have clean government when you are dirty.

    * Has Jessica Garrison filed a defamation case against Lowell Barron? Nope. Why? Probably because she knows his statement is true, and truth is an absolute defense to a defamation case. Instead, Garrison made her social-media profile mostly go dark after a report that Strange was tied to the ongoing Birmingham Superfund bribery scandal. Why would Jessica Garrison go underground right now? Hmmm . . .

    The Case of the Severed Penis teaches us that the Alabama State Bar is more likely to go after solo practitioners, or lawyers from small firms, while letting the big fish go free. But our experience shows that lawyers with histories of working at large firms -- like Rob Riley and Jessica Garrison -- can be every bit as dirty as the smaller guys.

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    Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump
    (From washingtonpost.com)
    Donald Trump nominated one of the most corrupt individuals in public life to be U.S. attorney general, but we now learn that Jeff Sessions is not corrupt enough to suit Trump.

    In an administration that has been filled with job-dropping moments, this one might have moved to the top of the list. From a CNN report, based on a Trump interview with The New York Times:

    President Donald Trump said in an interview published Wednesday that he would not have chosen Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general had he known Sessions would recuse himself over matters related to the 2016 presidential campaign.

    Trump's remarks, in a 50-minute interview with The New York Times, represent an extraordinary rebuke from the President toward the nation's top law enforcement official who happens to be one of his earliest political allies.

    "Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the President," Trump said, referring to himself. "How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, 'Thanks, Jeff, but I'm not going to take you.' It's extremely unfair -- and that's a mild word -- to the President."

    We know Sessions has no problem taking corrupt actions. As U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, he made it a practice to prosecute political opponents. As Alabama attorney general, Sessions hired the nephew of a black federal judge to force the judge's recusal in a case where the AG's office was accused of gross prosecutorial misconduct. That move adds to Sessions' already dubious record on matters of race, and a federal court has described the hiring of an attorney simply to force a judge's recusal  as a "breach of ethics."

    Trump now is having "buyer's remorse" about Sessions. It seems Trump didn't want an attorney general who merely was corrupt -- he wanted one who was really corrupt, one who would take unlawful steps to protect a crime-infested administration.

    Has Trump forgotten that Sessions got caught lying in his confirmation hearings about meetings with Russian officials? Has Trump forgotten that Sessions' false answer to a question from U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) pretty much forced the AG to recuse himself from all matters connected to various investigations of Trump's ties to Russia? No, Trump has not forgotten; but he views the Sessions quagmire in his usual twisted, self-interested way. From CNN:

    Before Trump had a lock on the Republican nomination last year, Sessions became the first sitting senator to back the real estate mogul's presidential bid.

    But several months into the job, Trump's warm feelings for Sessions have clearly cooled. In the interview, Trump scolded Sessions for telling the Senate judiciary committee that he had not met with any Russians during the campaign. It was later revealed he had met with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US, at least two times.

    Sessions later amended his testimony.

    "Jeff Sessions gave some bad answers," the President said. "He gave some answers that were simple questions and should have been simple answers, but they weren't."

    To have Donald Trump scold you for telling lies? That makes the mind swirl.

    Trump's statements reveal a level of narcissism and dishonesty that is almost painful to contemplate. What do his statements suggest?

    (1) That Trump knew an investigation was coming of his campaign's interactions with Russian interests;

    (2) That Trump knew such an investigation could spell big trouble, so he needed someone to protect him and his inner circle;

    (3) That Trump expected the AG to serve as his protector, not as "the people's lawyer."

    (4) That Trump has no clue about the independence of the Department of Justice, that the DOJ is not supposed to take instructions from the White House on the handling of investigations or prosecutions.

    Item No. 4 is particularly profound. In November 2016, the United States "elected" a man of commerce to be president, supposedly to "run the country like a business." We now are learning that such an outcome presents significant danger, especially when the businessman has no idea how government is supposed to work. From a February 2017 article on the subject at lawfareblog.com:

    After Watergate, Jimmy Carter campaigned on the promise to establish "as far as constitutionally possible, an independent Department of Justice,” and in 1978 his attorney general, Griffin Bell, sought to make good on that pledge by instituting procedures to insulate the Justice Department from political pressures. But what became the customary rules governing interaction between the White House and Justice were relaxed most recently under the George W. Bush administration, in a set of episodes the administration came to regret. As recounted by Politico in January, Bush's first attorney general, John Ashcroft, expanded the number of White House officials permitted to contact the Justice Department on non-national security members from four to 417; his second attorney general, Alberto Gonzalez, further increased the number to 895 (according to findings by Senate Judiciary Committee member Sheldon Whitehouse, a former U.S. attorney). These changes ended in scandal: among other things, under Gonzalez, seven U.S. attorney generals were abruptly fired in 2006 for political reasons that, according to a subsequent report by the Justice Department Inspector General, "raised doubts about the integrity of Department prosecution decisions." Michael Mukasey reinstituted more traditional guidelines in 2007, and Eric Holder replaced them with his own substantively similar variant in 2009.

    The heart of the [Holder] memo is a set of prescriptions limiting the Justice Department’s communications with the White House and Congress regarding pending or potential criminal or civil investigations or cases. The Department will advise the President on such investigations or cases “when—but only when—it is important for the performance of the President's duties and appropriate from a law enforcement perspective.”

    The lawfareblog.com author apparently could see that Trump's AG had a tough future ahead of him:

    All of this suggests it may not be not enough for Attorney General Sessions to keep the 2009 policy guidance in place, or to issue his own—just as it wasn’t enough for him to assert at his confirmation hearings, as any Justice Department nominee must, that he intends to head an independent department capable of standing up to the President. If the White House persists in interfering with Justice Department strategy in general or investigations in particular, to maintain outside confidence in the Justice Department’s impartiality, it may be on Sessions to publicly—and as needed, repeatedly—reaffirm his Department’s continuing commitment to remaining “impartial and insulated from political influence.”

    Jeff Sessions had every reason to know Trump is a blowhard -- and every reason to suspect Trump is a crook, especially when it comes to Russia. There was ample evidence of both, before and during the 2016 campaign. Since his lies to Congress were unveiled, Sessions probably has gone into "Dear God, please keep me out of prison" mode. In the meantime, Sessions is left to deal with a president who appears to be both ignorant and emotionally unhinged.

    In short, Jeff Sessions is in a mess. But it's largely a mess of his own making.

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    Carol Tovich Shuler
    My wife, Carol, had a court appearance yesterday and arrived to find -- get this -- the prosecutors and cops who brought the bogus "assault" case against her are stonewalling on discovery.

    Let's allow that to settle in for a moment. Prosecutors and cops deal every work day with allegedly criminal matters. They know discovery is the process where both sides gather evidence -- via interrogatories, depositions, requests for production of documents -- to make their cases. For a defendant, like Carol, it's a critical component to proving her innocence, avoiding jail time, and restoring her good name.

    Now, let's allow this to percolate a little more. Prosecutors and cops waited until the last possible day to beat the one-year statute of limitations and bring trespass and "assault on a law enforcement officer" charges against Carol, related to our unlawful eviction on September 9, 2015, in Greene County, Missouri. (Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto already has dismissed the trespass claim.) They waited another four months-plus to seek Carol's arrest -- and that came only after they knowingly had sent a summons to the wrong address, causing Carol to be hit with a failure-to-appear charge.

    In short, the "legal professionals" had 16 months to get their case prepared and have evidence ready -- knowing it likely would be requested in discovery -- and they either don't have it or are griping about turning it over. Here is a message for Nicholas Jain, the chief prosecutor in Carol's case, and his boss, Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson: If your case is so weak that you don't want to turn over discoverable information, don't bring it.

    Defendants once were not entitled to much discovery for criminal cases. That changed in 1963 with a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case styled Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. (1963), In Alabama, the right of defendants to discovery is spelled out in Rule 16, Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure (ARCP). The key passage is in the comments to Rule 16:

    Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963), requires the state to disclose any information it has which is favorable to the defendant. Requiring the disclosure of evidence in the state’s possession which is material to the preparation of a defense is an extension of this requirement of due process.

    Since the defendant may not know exactly what evidence the prosecution has, it would be difficult to know whether it would be material to his defense. The state is, therefore, required to disclose exculpatory evidence.

    Missouri law is even more straightforward, as found at Rule 25.04, Missouri Supreme Court Rules. It states, in part:

    If the court finds the request to be reasonable, the court shall order the state to disclose to the defendant that material and information requested which is found by the court to be relevant and material to the defendant's case.

    Public Defender Patty Poe, who is representing Carol, told us yesterday that she had filed discovery requests with Nicholas Jain, and he had responded to some requests, while objecting to others -- claiming we were not entitled to certain information. Poe works dozens of cases like this at a time, and she seems to know Carol is entitled to a broad range of information, anything that would be material to her defense.

    Poe intends to file a Motion to Compel, designed to force Jain to turn over discoverable information. A hearing is set on that motion for August 16. (See case.net, No. 1631-CRO7731.) If Judge Palmietto orders information be produced, and Jail fails to comply, that could be grounds for sanctions, including dismissal of the case against Carol, Poe said.

    If the case is tossed in the trash (where it belongs) on those grounds, we would be fine with that. It should be dismissed on multiple other grounds, under Missouri's Castle Doctrine Law, plus violations of Carol's constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment (unlawful search and seizure) and Sixth Amendment (failure to allow Carol to confront her accuser). Police actions in our eviction represent a Forcible Entry and Detainer under Missour law, and the case against Carol should be dismissed on those grounds, too.

    What are we seeking in discovery, and what are the likely basis for Jain's objections? We will examine that question in an upcoming post.

    For now, our primary discovery requests, and the prosecution's responses, are embedded below.

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    Donald Trump and Robert Mueller
    (From itv.com)
    The Trump White House, and a number of its conservative backers, blew a collective fuse yesterday, with reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is expanding his investigation to include a look at Trump family finances. It's unclear where the issue is headed, but it certainly unleashed a wave of Republican hypocrisy.

    According to a report at bloomberg.com, Mueller is examining a wide range of business transactions involving Trump and his associates. From Bloomberg:

    FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said.

    The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

    Trump, summoning his inner Don Corleone, issued a warning that Mueller would be wise to avoid scrutiny of family finances.  From thehill.com:

    President Trump warned special counsel Robert Mueller from investigating his family’s finances beyond the scope of the probe into ties between his administration and Russia in an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday.

    “I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia,” Trump told the Times.

    Trump during the interview said he wasn’t ruling out firing Mueller as special counsel on the probe into Russian meddling in the presidential election.

    He did not say that he would order the Justice Department to fire Mueller or under what circumstances he would fire him, but he indicated Mueller investigating his family's finances would cross a line.

    It's not like there isn't a mountain of evidence pointing to shady financial dealings involving Trump, as splendidly reported by Craig Unger in a New Republic piece titled "Trump's Russian Laundromat." Writes Unger:

    A review of the public record reveals a clear and disturbing pattern: Trump owes much of his business success, and by extension his presidency, to a flow of highly suspicious money from Russia. Over the past three decades, at least 13 people with known or alleged links to Russian mobsters or oligarchs have owned, lived in, and even run criminal activities out of Trump Tower and other Trump properties. Many used his apartments and casinos to launder untold millions in dirty money. Some ran a worldwide high-stakes gambling ring out of Trump Tower—in a unit directly below one owned by Trump. Others provided Trump with lucrative branding deals that required no investment on his part. Taken together, the flow of money from Russia provided Trump with a crucial infusion of financing that helped rescue his empire from ruin, burnish his image, and launch his career in television and politics.

    Where does hypocrisy enter the picture? Republicans who want to rein in the Mueller investigation of Trump, were more than happy when Ken Starr ran wild with his investigation of President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. From a recent CNN report, comparing the Starr and Mueller probes:

    Ken Starr had been appointed by a three-person panel of judges in 1994 to investigate a scandal involving land development deals in Arkansas from the time before Clinton became president.

    Starr, a conservative Republican who had served as Solicitor General of the United States, took over from Robert Fiske and proved to be an aggressive prosecutor. Over time, Starr broadened the scope of the investigation to include a number of issues, including accusations that had been brought against the President about sexual harassment. In the course of the investigation, Starr's team asked President Clinton about whether he had an affair with a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky who was about half his age. Clinton, seeking to protect himself and his marriage, lied under oath. He also lied to the nation when he said "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky."

    The most damaging information against Clinton came after Starr had expanded his investigation multiple times, to include issues that went way beyond the probe's original focus -- the Whitewater land deals and the death of deputy White House counsel Vince Foster.

    As the CNN report notes, Whitewater happened years before Clinton became president. In fact, Bill Clinton was not even governor of Arkansas when the Whitewater deal commenced. But Republicans, at the time, gave "thumbs up" to a probe that had nothing to do with Clinton's role as president, or even his campaign for president. And they were fine when Starr expanded the probe to include issues that were far removed from Whitewater and Vince Foster.

    So try to wrap your head around the hypocrisy present in this press release yesterday from a group called Americans For Limited Government:

    July 20, 2017, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement urging the scope of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to be limited:

    “Robert Mueller was originally tasked to investigate Russia’s supposed interference in the 2016 U.S. election campaign. His appointment was directly tied to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ original recusal on all matters related to the 2016 campaign. The Attorney General’s recusal does not include reported ongoing investigations conducted by the Department of Justice unrelated to the election. As a result, Attorney General Sessions should bind the Special Counsel to only pursuing matters for which Sessions has recused himself from overseeing as the nation’s top cop. If Robert Mueller has not found any criminal matters to investigate pursuant to Russian interference in the election, then his tenure as special counsel should end.”

    Who in the hell is Rick Manning? His bio indicates he once served in the George W. Bush administration and was an NRA lobbyist for nine years. I don't know where Rick Manning was during the Whitewater probe, but it's hard to imagine him having any problems with Ken Starr's activities going way beyond their original focus.

    One difference between the Starr and Mueller investigations should be noted: Starr was an independent counsel, and Mueller is a special counsel. The differences between the two roles is explained in this recent article by Frank Bowman at Slate.

    Still, Trump's inflammatory words about Mueller have raised concerns, even among those on the right, who are knowledgeable about government ethics. From an article at thehill.com:

    The former White House ethics lawyer to President George W. Bush on Thursday said that Congress needed to make it clear to President Trump that firing special counsel Robert Mueller would mean his impeachment.

    In a Twitter post Thursday evening, Richard Painter, who also serves as vice chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said that if Trump fires Mueller, it should be "bye-bye" Trump or "bye-bye" Congress.

    "Congress must make it very clear: Bye-bye Mueller, bye-bye Trump. Otherwise bye-bye Congress 2018. Americans are fed up," Painter tweeted Thursday.

    Painter was not the only GOPer to voice concerns about Trump:

    Others besides Painter warned Trump not to fire Mueller on Thursday. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said firing the former FBI director would be a "mistake."

    “It would be a mistake to fire Bob Mueller," Rubio told reporters Thursday.

    Rubio, of course, is the guy who raised the supposed correlation between hand size and penis size during the Republican presidential primaries of 2016. When Rubio becomes a voice of maturity and reason, Trump likely is on shaky ground.

    The notion of Republicans griping about an expansion of Robert Mueller's Trump investigation should be seen as a joke -- sort of like Marco Rubio's presidential campaign. But now it seems many GOPers are so encrusted with dishonesty and hypocrisy that they can't even get the joke.

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    Sergey Kislyak and Jeff Sessions
    (From cnn.com)
    A Russian ambassador told his superiors that he discussed campaign and policy issues with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, according to a report this evening from The Washington Post. Sergey Kislyak's statements, caught on intelligence intercepts, run contrary to public statements from Sessions, the Trump attorney general and former U.S. Senator from Alabama.

    The report adds to the already substantial evidence that Sessions lied during his confirmation hearings before Congress and on his security-clearance application. CNN and The Hill are among major news outlets to pick up on the report this evening.

    It also adds to our numerous posts about Sessions' under-handed actions while serving as U.S. attorney and attorney general in Alabama, long before he leaped onto the international stage during the Trump campaign. We've reported extensively on (1) Sessions' use of political prosecutions against Democrats in the Southern District of Alabama; (2) His hiring of a federal judge's nephew to force the judge's recusal, in a case where Session's AG office was accused of gross prosecutorial misconduct; current U.S. Judge R. David Proctor (Northern District of Alabama) assisted in that blatant form of "judge shopping," which has been described by one circuit court as a "breach of ethics"; (3) Sessions' persistent support of U.S. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor, including pushing Trump to appoint Pryor to the U.S. Supreme Court, even though Pryor has nude photographs in his background that appeared at the gay-porn Web site badpuppy.com in the 1990s -- and he almost certainly lied about it during his own confirmation process; (4) Reports from a former Alabama law-enforcement official that Sessions was caught on surveillance making frequent late-night visits to Pryor's residence in Montgomery, suggesting the two had a homosexual relationship.

    As a journalist and resident of Alabama for 35-plus years, I know of many reports that suggest Sessions has virtually no moral compass, so the latest evidence that he lied to Congress and on security-related documents is a surprise only because it is so brazen and international in scope. From the WaPo report:

    Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions — then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump — were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials both in the United States and in Russia. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign.

    One U.S. official said that Sessions — who testified that he has no recollection of an April encounter — has provided “misleading” statements that are “contradicted by other evidence.” A former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.

    Sessions has said repeatedly that he never discussed campaign-related issues with Russian officials and that it was only in his capacity as a U.S. senator that he met with Kislyak.

    The full implications of the intercept reports is difficult to gauge this evening. But it certainly suggests that America's top law-enforcement officer is a liar of monstrous proportions -- and he is willing to lie about his interactions with representatives for a foreign adversary. From CNN:

    Sessions originally never disclosed any interactions he had with Kislyak, but a meeting first came to light in March when the Post reported that he met with Kislyak at an event during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

    Sessions met with Kislyak for a second time during the presidential campaign, this time in his Senate office in Washington. This meeting, in September, also wasn't publicly known until the Post reported about it in March.

    Sessions did not disclose either meeting when he applied for his security clearance. He also did not mention it when he was asked about contact with Russians during his Senate confirmation hearings earlier this year. Sessions denied any campaign-related meetings with Russians at the confirmation hearings, saying, "I did not have communications with the Russians."

    That last statement sounds more and more like Bill Clinton's famous claim: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky." Republicans for years have howled about the Clinton statement, which was proven to be false. They might not find much amusing in the deepening Sessions quagmire. From The Hill:

    One current U.S. intelligence official told the Post that Sessions' remarks about his contacts with Kislyak were “misleading” statements that are “contradicted by other evidence.”

    Kislyak, officials told the Post, has a reputation for accurately describing his conversations with U.S. officials to his superiors in Moscow.

    The latest news on Sessions is profoundly important, a source tells Legal Schnauzer. "At this point, America's number one law enforcement official is not credible or trustworthy. What does that say about America? The Trump administration?" But it goes beyond that, says our source:

    Here's the one link I hope is not missed. And that is, I think that one of the reasons Trump appointed Sessions to be the Attorney General of the United States is his participation in pre-election campaign efforts to get Trump elected which, for Sessions, included his willingness to have contacts with Russian agents and to act in complicity with those agents in working to get Trump elected and to defeat Mrs. Clinton.

    Trump rewarded Sessions for his "loyalty" and willingness to use Session's connections with Russians to get Trump elected and Clinton defeated.

    Trump rewarded Sessions for his complicity with the Russians. Now that Trump sees that Sessions is going down, he shuns Sessions.

    Warnning: Do NOT Get Caught While Searching!!
    Your IP : - Country : - City:
    Your ISP TRACKS Your Online Activity! Hide your IP ADDRESS with a VPN!
    Before you searching always remember to change your IP adress to not be followed!
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    Officer Jeremy Lynn
    The Missouri deputy who claimed I had called 911 and threatened to shoot anyone trying to evict Carol and me back tracks from that statement in a written report dated 9/10/15, the day after our eviction that led to deputies breaking Carol's arm and bringing bogus criminal charges against her.

    What have we learned? Officers essentially admit that I never made a 911 call, as I've stated all along. Officers still claim I made some kind of threat, and they apparently used that as an excuse to act like a SWAT team, with assault rifles aimed, pistols flying, and a team of what appeared to be 6-8 cops. But it remains unclear how they knew about any "threat," who reported it, to whom I allegedly made the threat, what evidence the person presented to cops, and why such a threat (if I made it, and I didn't) would be unlawful under Missouri's Castle Doctrine Law. It also remains unclear why officers, if the "threat" was of such concern, took no action at the time it supposedly was made, showed no signs that they took it seriously.

    In an e-mail written just eight days before the deputy's written report, on September 2, 2015, my lawyer/brother David Shuler said Deputy Scott Harrison had contacted him to express concern about our upcoming eviction. This is part of David's e-mail:

    [Harrison] said he posted the notice to vacate on the Cowherd property. He also said he was concerned because his dispatch contacted him and said you had called 911 and threatened to shoot anyone coming on the premises to get you out. I certainly hope that you did not really do that, but he asked me to make you aware that they take such threats seriously and that you are setting up a potentially dangerous situation.

    What did Harrison say eight days later? Here it is, from an investigative report obtained during discovery in the pending "assault on a law enforcement officer" case against Carol:

    Extreme caution was used while attempting to serve this eviction due to information reported to law enforcement about verbal threats made by Roger Shuler"to shoot anyone who attempts to evict him from his residence." Information was broadcasted (sic) to all city and county officers by 911 Dispatch on 08/12/2015 at 11:37 a.m. regarding this threat made by Roger Shuler.

    What do we learn here:

    * Information was "broadcast" via 911, but it says nothing about me making a call to 911.

    * It claims someone reported my alleged "verbal threats," but it doesn't say who or how they knew. This appears to be hearsay to the nth degree, but cops used it to point an assault rifle at my head and wind up breaking Carol's arm?

    * The report about the alleged threat came on 8/12/15, roughly three weeks before David Shuler sent an e-mail to me about it. Why the delay?

    Harrison is not the only deputy to address the 911/threat issue in his written statements. These are the words of Officer Debi Wade, author of the Probable Cause Statement against Carol:

    The next day (08-12-15) Deputy Harrison notified me that dispatch had put out information regarding officer safety information stemming from a call that they received about Roger Shuler at 4070 S. Fort. Although not verbatim, the information given to officers was that Roger Shuler told someone that he would kill any law enforcement officer that came in an attempt to evict him from his residence.

    Notice two things here: (1) Now, we have 911 dispatch receiving a call "about Roger Shuler," not from Roger Shuler; (2) Wade claims I relayed a threat to "someone," but we don't know who. Officers brought enough weaponry for an eviction to put our lives at risk, based on this?

    A written statement from Officer Jeremy Lynn adds new elements to the cops' story:

    There was reason to believe there could be issues with the eviction due to past statements and sentiments posted by Mr. Shuler online. There was also a 911 call received in regards to Mr. Shuler, stating there would be violence with anyone who tried to evict him from his home.

    What have we here? (1) Now, I'm a threat because of "sentiments" I had expressed online. Is Lynn claiming I threatened online to shoot somebody? If that's his claim, I would sure like to know when I did that; (2) The 911 call now was "received in regards to Mr. Shuler," not from Mr. Shuler. These folks can't keep their stories straight.

    Finally, we have the words of Officer Christian Conrad: (The incident report, including all of the deputies' written statements, is embedded at the end of this post.)

    I was informed that Shuler was anti-law enforcement and had made threats to assault or kill law enforcement if they attempted to remove him from his home.

    Ah, so now, I'm sort of an anti-government terrorist, you know the kind that holes up at a cabin in Montana, while black helicopters fly overhead.

    This is laughable, but Conrad isn't the only Missouri cop who portrays me as a menace to government. We will look, in an upcoming post, at others who do the same.

    For now, here is the key point: Too many cops are blindingly stupid, especially about matters of the law. And that can put the public at risk. In written statements about our eviction case, cops give the impression that "Hey, we taped an eviction notice from the landlord or his lawyer on your door, so therefore it's valid, and you'd better get prepared to leave." They seem to have no idea that an eviction is a legal process, that it must be authorized by the court.  A landlord or his lawyer cannot unilaterally evict anybody.

    In our case, we've seen no evidence of a valid court order, signed by a judge, authorizing our eviction. In fact, the docket plainly shows the judge issued an interlocutory judgment, meaning it was not final, with additional issues, including our breach of contract counterclaim, set for hearing on Oct. 1, 2015. That suggests there could not be a valid court order, signed by a judge, because she had issued no final ruling in the case.

    Officer Scott Harrison
    Here is a critical point that seems beyond the grasp of law enforcement: If a tenant "reasonably believes" an eviction is unlawful -- and cops are about to invade his home with no grounds for doing so -- he has a right under Missouri's Castle Doctrine Law to resist, including use of deadly force. In our case, we knew of at least four grounds upon which an eviction would have been illegal, so we had every right to resist via force.

    In essence, law enforcement was getting its panties bunched over an alleged "threat" to take LAWFUL action. Under such circumstances, what law enforcement saw as a "threat" was more like a "vow" -- to respond lawfully if cops insisted on acting unlawfully.

    Experience has taught us that many cops are too stupid to think through stuff like this. Perhaps they have the brain power to patrol beats, and the brightest among them might be capable of investigating crimes that already have happened. But to be involved with a delicate civil matter, like an eviction . . . states have delegated that authority to sheriffs, but there is no way deputies or their bosses should be involved. They either aren't smart enough to grasp the law, or they are too corrupt to apply the law correctly -- and that can cause innocent civilians to be hurt; we've been hurt, and Carol has a scar of 12 inches or more on her left arm to prove it.

    How dense can cops be? We have more evidence coming up next.

    (To be continued)

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    Luke and Dana Skerry Proctor
    We know that one of Judge R. David Proctor's sons worked for Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate. But Proctor's other son also has apparently benefited from the family's ties to Sessions, who now faces a criminal complaint related to false statements, about meetings with a Russian ambassador, he made during his confirmation hearings as Trump attorney general.

    Sessions is accused in a citizen complaint of violating federal statutes regarding perjury, making false statements, and obstruction of justice. Most recently, Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak was caught on intelligence intercepts stating that he discussed campaign and policy issues with Sessions during the 2016 presidential race. The U.S. House and Senate, plus the FBI, are conducting "Kremlingate" investigations that could lead to even more serious criminal allegations against Sessions.

    The evidence is mounting that Sessions sold out his country to get Donald Trump elected. That, of course, has profound implications, it sure could throw a wrench into the resumes of Jake and Luke Proctor. Jake Proctor is a 2016 graduate of the University of Alabama, and he worked for then-U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions in summer 2015.

    Jake Proctor apparently is well on his way to becoming a political snake or whore -- or both. He posted photos to Facebook of himself at Donald Trump Inauguration events from January 2017. In roughly 180 days in office, Trump has established himself as probably the most corrupt president in U.S. history -- likely the only one to be "elected" with the help of a foreign adversary. So much for political principles. Jake Proctor's only principle, it seems, is, "I'll support whoever the perjurious Jeff Sessions supports." That path to power might crumble under young Mr. Proctor before long.

    Luke Proctor, Jake's brother, is cut from the same cloth. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2013, and that is a nice achievement, to be sure. But did Luke Proctor -- like his brother, a Briarwood Christian School graduate -- deserve to be there? Well, he almost certainly gained entrance to the academy via a Congressional nomination -- and that likely came from then-U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions?

    Was Luke Proctor truly among the most qualified cadets to enter West Point in 2009? Maybe he was. But his nomination likely did not come just from a home-state U.S. senator; it came from a senator who owed Proctor's father a nice favor -- in fact, several nice favors. After all, David Proctor (while in private practice) helped Sessions get black federal judge U.W. Clemon removed from a 1990s case in which Sessions (as Alabama attorney general) was a defendant.

    Such judge shopping has been described in a federal-court opinion as "unethical behavior." But Proctor and Sessions did it anyway. They are tied together in racism, and the public record suggests the Proctor family has been receiving favors from Sessions ever since.

    Luke Proctor, it appears, has enjoyed the fruits from a poisonous tree. This is from a newsletter for West Point parents, while he still was in school;

    Cadet Luke Proctor (‘13, Birmingham) visited Chicago in March along with other cadets in the Black and Gold Leadership Forum. While in Chicago, members of the Forum had a chance to visit CNA Financial -- the seventh largest insurance company in the world, have lunch at the prestigious Chicago Club, enjoy a guided tour of the Chicago Board of Trade, meet with the CEO of the McCormack Foundation (a nonprofit organization dedicated to philanthropy), eat breakfast at the Union League Club, talk with both the CFO of Navistar International Corporation and CEO of Morris Communications, and visit with several members of the West Point Society of Chicago.

    Looks like Cadet Proctor wasn't interested in visiting any social-justice or civil-rights organizations. I'm sure Chicago has a few, but those must be for people who don't have special ties to Jeff Sessions.

    Our research indicates Luke Proctor currently is stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas. In fact, 1st Lt. Luke Proctor (5th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery) appears as a reporter for the Fort Bliss Bugle. Gee, do we have a budding journalist on our hands? If so, Luke Proctor isn't likely to learn about the pursuit of truth from his father -- or from his political benefactor, the perjurious Jeff Sessions. And he certainly isn't going to learn about it from Sessions' boss, Donald Trump.

    Luke Proctor isn't the only family member who leans toward the writing life. His wife, Dana Skerry Proctor, has worked and studied at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP), where she has been in the M.A.T. in Teaching English program. She holds a B.A. in English and American Literature from New York University and has served editorial internships at HarperCollins and St. Martin's Press.

    That's a pretty impressive resume, and such internships in Manhattan certainly do not come easily. Did Mrs. Proctor have a certain U.S. senator among her references, and did that help her land such snazzy positions?

    If Jeff Sessions has not helped her yet, he almost certainly will in the future -- unless, of course, Sessions winds up in federal prison first. That might take some of the shine off any references he might give.

    We sought comment from Judge Proctor for this story, and asked for copies of documents where Jeff Sessions assisted his family members. Proctor has not responded to our queries.

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    Paul Bryant Jr.
    Reporting on the Megan Rondini story, so far, has largely steered clear of the vaunted University of Alabama football program. But our research indicates the connections between the alleged rape and eventual suicide of Rondini and the UA football team might be closer than many Crimson Tide fans would find comfortable.

    For one, the family of alleged rapist T.J. "Sweet Tea" Bunn Jr. was among the earliest donors to a fund-raising effort that helped launch a 14-year era of dominance for the Crimson Tide, mostly under Coach Nick Saban. Second, UA football "godfather" Paul Bryant Jr. -- the son of the late Hall of Fame coach, Bear Bryant -- was out front in an effort that led to massive enrollment gains via heavy recruitment of non-resident students, such as Megan Rondini.

    In fact, the ties between the Bunn family and Bryant appear close enough to raise this question: Did the Bunns seek Bryant's help -- he holds the state's most famous name, after all -- to help quash a possible criminal case against "Sweet Tea"?

    How close are the Bunns and Bryant? When UA launched in March 2002 a $100-million fund-raising campaign for athletic-facility improvements, chairman of the Crimson Tradition Fund (CTF) was Paul Bryant Jr. Among the original 27 donors who formed the foundation of the CTF were Terry and Sonny Bunn -- the heads of ST Bunn Construction and the father and uncle, respectively, of "Sweet Tea" Bunn Jr. From a press release about the CTF's founding:

    The Crimson Tradition Fund Committee, chaired by Paul Bryant, Jr., is comprised of the following University of Alabama supporters: Owen W. Arnonov, Montgomery, Ala.; Randy Billingsley, Mobile, Ala.; Paul W. Bryant, Jr., Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Sonny Bunn, Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Terry Bunn, Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Angus Cooper, II, Mobile, Ala.; Gary Neill Drummond, Birmingham, Ala.; Elise Durbin, Birmingham, Ala.; Melissa Durbin, Birmingham, Ala.; William E. Ezell, Fairhope, Ala.; Wayne H. Gillis, Birmingham, Ala.; Joe Kelley, Nashville, Tenn.; John J. McMahon, Jr.; Birmingham, Ala.; Robert W. (Bud) Moore, Catherine, Ala.; Ozzie Newsome, Baltimore, Md.; Thomas L. Patterson, Birmingham, Ala.; Johnny Plott, Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Farid Rafiee, Huntsville, Ala.; Ambassador Joseph M. Rodgers, Nashville, Tenn.; Richard Scrushy, Birmingham, Ala.; Britt Sexton, Decatur, Ala.; Bart Starr, Birmingham, Ala.; Ted Taylor, Prattville, Ala.; Michael D. Thompson, Birmingham, Ala.; Stanley Verciglio, Birmingham, Ala.; Duncan Williams, Memphis, Tenn., and James W. Wilson, III, Montgomery, Ala.

    One year after forming the Crimson Tradition Fund, UA hired Robert Witt as president. Bryant was on the Board of Trustees then, and chaired the committee to hire a new leader for the Tuscaloosa campus. From a 2013 article at bamainsider.com:

    Before the football resurgence, the University of Alabama also began a growth period that started with the hiring of Robert Witt as president in 2003. Bryant, in his role on the board of trustees, was part of the process in luring Witt from the University of Texas at Arlington.

    Megan Rondini
    "The trip that I was involved in was when they took our plane and hired Dr. Witt," Bryant said. "I was president of the committee, went to Fort Worth to meet Dr. Witt and it just happened that his then-wife (Anne C. Witt) had graduated from high school with me, her parents were here in town and had both been on the faculty, and her mother was and still is a good friend of mine.

    "That was a good coincidence. I don't think it had anything to do with our ability to get him."

    When Witt arrived in Tuscaloosa, one of his primary objectives was clear:

    Witt began an aggressive growth campaign, building new student housing and increasing enrollment. In the 10 years since Witt, who became chancellor of the UA system last March, became president, Alabama has increased enrollment from 19,600 to 34,800, added more than 300 new faculty (a 22 percent increase) and added more than 600 new staff employees (a 17 percent increase), all while seeing state funding decrease $58 million in the last five years. In the last 10 years, UA has added 5,000 new beds in on-campus housing with the construction of new dormitories funded by bond issues.

    According to documents obtained from open-record requests, UA's revenues have grown from almost $600 million in 2007 to more than $782 million in 2012.

    The idea of greatly enhancing enrollment, which eventually focused heavily on out-of-state students, did not originate with Witt. It came from Bryant. As the bamainsider.com article put it, "Witt's vision fit Bryant's mission":

    "We had a period of time before Dr. Witt where we were losing students to other schools, to Auburn in particular," Bryant said. "I'm not talking athletics, I'm just talking about students.

    "A lot of my friends' children weren't coming to Alabama, (friends) that had been to Alabama. And the one, I won't call it a charge, but the one suggestion I had for Dr. Witt that I wanted to see, when he was hired, was that my friends would send their children to Alabama, and that the leaders in the state would come from the University of Alabama.

    "That's what he set out to do with recruiting, first off particularly recruiting in-state -- you have to do that first -- and then he broadened it."

    That effort to "broaden" student recruitment eventually reached Austin, Texas, where it attracted a promising young student named Megan Rondini. Megan's experience at UA appears to have been mostly positive until she encountered T.J. Bunn Jr. one evening at Innisfree Irish Pub. That led to a sexual encounter that Megan insisted was not consensual, and when she sought justice, her efforts were met mostly with a stonewall from university officials and local law enforcement.

    Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide
    In frustration and despair, she returned to her home state and eventually took her own life. UA will go into the 2017 football season as the most powerful program in the country. But some of its most influential boosters have ties to the tragic story of Megan Rondini. Her parents have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit that likely will be pending for all of the 2017 season and beyond. That might create a shadow that could hang over Crimson Tide football for quite a while.

    Could the lawsuit help uncover uncomfortable truths, much like the Jerry Sandusky scandal did at Penn State? It certainly might. The Rondini story already is closer to UA football than many fans might want to think.

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    Jeff Sessions
    Some Republicans are trying to rally around Jeff Sessions after Donald Trump directed withering criticism at his attorney general for recusing himself in the Russia investigation, opening the door for the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Support for Sessions in far-right circles perhaps has grown amid reports that Trump referred to his AG as "beleaguered"and is considering Rudy Guiliani as a replacement.

    This morning, Trump even blasted his AG for having a "very weak position" on prosecuting Hillary Clinton's "crimes." CNN responded with an article saying Trump's public bullying of Sessions was embarrassing.

    If you are thinking about extending your sympathy to Sessions, don't bother, says Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin -- and she's a conservative. In an op-ed piece titled "Don't Waste Your Sympathy On Sessions," Rubin says Sessions entered the Trump hornet's nest with his eyes wide open. And besides, the two are a lot alike. Writes Rubin:

    Republicans are rallying around Sessions, whispering that he has been humiliated and suggesting that Trump is undeserving of such a loyal adviser. Sorry, but this is a pair who deserve one another. Sessions knew exactly what he was getting into when he teamed up with a candidate who insulted Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and POWs and attacked a federal court judge on the grounds that his ethnicity prevented him from doing his job. Sessions apparently didn’t think anything was amiss when Trump invited the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails. Sessions was willing to stick by him after the “Access Hollywood” tape revelation. Once in office, Sessions did not flinch when Trump impugned our intelligence services, gave code-word classified information to the Russian foreign minister and fired the FBI director. Sessions violated the broad language of his recusal to participate in James B. Comey’s firing and incorporated by reference Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein’s absurd, pretextual memo saying that Comey treated Clinton unfairly. Sessions isn’t motivated to quit or sound the alarm bell when Trump threatens Comey, lies about tapes or attempts to intimidate the special counsel.

    Ouch! As you can tell, Rubin is not one to pull punches. She proceeds to land a few more solid blows, which tend to hit right in the solar plexus:

    Sessions is the last person who deserves our sympathy. He was willing to sell his political soul to enable Trump, and he has enabled him every step of the way. Unlike Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who plays a vital role in insulating the military from Trump and literally preventing nuclear war, Sessions is not maintaining the integrity of the Justice Department. He has normalized and rationalized conduct that flies in face of the rule of law.

    As Bob Bauer put it in commenting on the interview in which Trump degraded Sessions, “The President displays an ethical posture defined by a narrow and intense concern with his own interests. This is an ethics that may have served him well in business. However, it will have disastrous consequences when carried over into the exercise of his public responsibility as President—a duty to act on behalf of others.” And Sessions sees nothing is amiss? He thinks it is appropriate to lay down a “red line” with a special counsel, threatening to fire him if he (as is essential) explores Trump’s finances to determine illegality and/or ways in which Trump might have been compromised?

    That sound you hear is me, grinning from ear to ear. I like this woman, Ms. Rubin. She sees Sessions for what he is -- a con artist, with the kind of misguided "moral compass" that has given Alabama one of the nation's most corrupt justice systems. Now, Sessions is on his way to doing the same thing for the entire country. From Rubin:

    Sessions, precisely because he was close to Trump and the darling of the far right, at any point along the way could have taken a principled stand, refused to participate in Trump’s efforts to shut down the Russia investigation and decried efforts to bully the special counsel — who was appointed by his own department (by Rosenstein in the wake of Sessions’s recusal). No, we have zero sympathy for Sessions. He is no victim; he’s a perpetrator.

    Jeff Sessions take a principled stand? He wouldn't begin to know how. His whole career has been built on one flim-flam after another. He is Alabama's gifted flim-flam man, and the whole country is getting to "enjoy" him -- hopefully, for only a little while longer. Then, perhaps, we can look forward to his indictment.

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    Blake M. Shuler
    How did my nephew, Blake M. Shuler, manage to get in trouble with the law, in the tiny burg of Clever, Missouri (pop., 2,400; and it seems smaller than that)? The answer reminds me of perhaps the No. 1 lesson I drew from my unlawful five-month incarceration in Shelby County, Alabama.

    Blake's story, however, has a twist, suggesting he might have been the target of an unlawful -- and not so clever search -- in Clever, MO. (Feel free to groan; it's a bad joke.)

    What about my own lesson from life behind bars? Well, inmates have a lot of time on their hands, so they tend to sit around and ask each other, "Why are you in here?" My answer -- that I was "arrested for blogging" -- never failed to bring howls of laughter. "Oh, you're the blogger guy," a newbie invariably would say. "I've already heard about you. You're famous." I never knew I was all that funny, or famous, until I went to jail.

    Time and again, inmates would answer the "Why are you in here?" question with a story that had at least two components: (1) They were driving, or riding in, a vehicle that somehow attracted the attention of cops; (2) Somebody had a "chemical substance" in the vehicle, and cops found it when they searched the car.

    That usually drew this response from me: "Well, did the cops have grounds under the Fourth Amendment to search the vehicle?" (I'm a law geek, even in jail.) That usually put looks of "Hell if I know" on the faces of assembled inmates. Their attitude tended to be: "The cops searched my vehicle, whether they had a right or not, and now I'm in here, so what difference does it make?" Good point. Even inmates -- maybe especially inmates -- understand that our rights are being eroded, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it in many jurisdictions.

    What, you're going to find a lawyer to fight for your rights? Hah, don't make me laugh. Heck, I was arrested for blogging, which only violated more than 200 years of First Amendment law, and I couldn't find a lawyer to fight for me.

    Anyway, Blake M. Shuler ran afoul of the law because of the two factors noted above. This is from a Clever PD (not be confused with a clever PD) incident report: (The report is embedded at the end of this post; BTW, my apologies for using the same bad joke twice.)

    On 3/17/2016 at approximately 2330 hours I, Officer Thompson (DSN 1803) was patrolling south bound on State Highway P when I observed the white Toyota Avalon driving in front of my patrol car cross the yellow line of the Highway on two separate occasions. I activated my emergency lights and sounded my siren to perform a traffic stop. The Avalon stopped south of Highway 14, on Highway P.

    I exited my patrol car and made contact with the driver, Blake Shuler, and the front-seat passenger, Chelsea Cox. Upon contacting the occupants of the Avalon, I smelled the odor of what, based on my training and experience, to be consumed alcohol. I informed Shuler the reason for the stop and asked if he had been drinking. He said, yes, one beer. I asked what they were doing out tonight. He said we have been downtown and I am dropping my girlfriend off. I told the occupants to stay in the vehicle and I would return.

    When reading this, my first reaction was, "Ah, c'mon Blake, you can make up a better story than that. How many drivers in human history, upon being pulled over, have told cops, 'I had one beer.'" But wait, it might have been true in this case, and that raises this question: Was my nephew the victim of an unlawful search? Here's more from the incident report:

    I walked to my patrol car and requested Officer Bennett (DSN 1804) to respond to my location with a preliminary breath tester. While he was en route I requested Christian County Dispatch to run a record check on Shuler and Cox. They returned with a valid license and no [warrants].

    Officer Bennett arrive on scene and we approached the driver's door of the Avalon. I instructed Shuler to step out. I told him I had reason to believe he was operating a motor vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant and requested he take a preliminary breath test; he agreed to take the test. The test returned positive for the presence of alcohol. I informed Shuler of the results and advised him of Missouri implied consent. He agreed to take Standardized Field Sobriety Test. Shuler and I went to the paved area of Bumper to Bumper Auto Parks, where he performed the sobriety testing. He failed three portions of the test. I placed Shuler under arrest for suspicion of driving while impaired. I transported him to the Clever Police Station while Officer Bennett remained on scene with Cox and the vehicle.

    OK, things don't look so good for Blake at this point. But here is where it gets interesting, raising constitutional questions:

    We drove to City Hall, where Sergeant Stoops (DSN 1802) administered a breathalyzer test on Shuler. The test returned negative for alcohol.

    Well, what do you know? My nephew wasn't drunk. And he might have been the first driver in history to tell the truth about having only one beer. This story has a happy ending, right, with Blake and his girlfriend being sent on their merry way -- Blake having been proven innocent of the "offense" for which he was arrested? Not exactly. The report continues:

    I transported Shuler back to his vehicle, where Officer Bennett informed me he had located what he believed to be marijuana and paraphernalia inside the Avalon. I informed Shuler that I had 364 days to charge him with a crime for the recovered contraband. I told Schuler (sic) he was free to leave and he exited the scene.

    Now, wait a minute. How does that happen? My nephew was arrested for "driving while impaired," and the official breathalyzer proved that he was not impaired -- at least not by alcohol. In fact, that test came back "negative for alcohol"; it didn't even prove he'd had one beer.

    So, get this: While Blake M. Shuler was proving his innocence of the charge for which he was arrested, an officer from the Clever PD -- a different officer from the one who stopped Blake and found probable cause to arrest him -- was going through Blake's vehicle and found what he "believed" to be marijuana and paraphernalia.

    Let's review what these cops did: One of them took Blake away from his vehicle, to administer a breathalyzer test that proved Blake was innocent. Meanwhile, a second cop -- who apparently never smelled the "consumed alcohol" that caused Blake's problems in the first place -- took it upon himself to search the vehicle. What happened? While one cop was learning that Blake was innocent of the charge in question, a second cop was finding evidence to hit him with another charge.

    Does that sound fair to you? It doesn't to me. Does it sound like cop No. 2 sort of jumped the gun on his vehicle search? I would say he sure as hell did. Here's more from the report:

    I returned to Clever City Hall and logged the recovered contraband into evidence. On 3/23/16, I issued Schuler (sic) citation # 150535206 for possession of marijuana and citation #150535207 for possession of paraphernalia. I sent him the citations via the United States Postal Service.

    End of report.

    What happened next? What constitutional issues might have been in play? Did anyone stand up for Blake M. Shuler's constitutional rights?

    Stay tuned.

    (To be continued)

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    Justine Ruszczyk
    (From abcnews.com)
    Carol and I are saying extra prayers of thanks -- for being alive -- after reports this week that cops in Minneapolis shot and killed a woman after . . . she slapped their patrol car, apparently trying to get their attention.

    The shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk on July 15 was a stunner, even with the dozens of high-profile cases of police brutality around the country in the past three years or so. Ruszczyk, who was from Australia and had been using the name Justine Damond in anticipation of her upcoming marriage, was a victim of police stupidity and brutality.

    Such cases never seem to end. Just yesterday, we had reports that cops in Mississippi shot and killed a man while trying to serve a warrant . . . at the wrong house.

    In the Ruszczyk case, she called 911 twice to report what sounded like an assault in an alley behind her home. After seeing a patrol car arrive, Ruszczyk went outside in her pajamas to speak with the cops. Officer Mohammed Noor, sitting in the passenger seat, apparently was startled by a noise and shot across his partner in the driver's seat -- striking and killing Ruszczyk, who was standing beside the vehicle.

    According to a search warrant discovered this week, the noise came when Ruszczyk slapped the car, apparently trying to get the officers' attention. How can a woman in pajamas, who had alerted cops to a possible crime, come across as such a threat that she winds up dead?

    That is one of many questions that has been racing through our minds as we think back to Sept. 9, 2015, and a potentially deadly encounter with cops. We had been targeted for an unlawful eviction that day -- even though a judge had issued only an interlocutory (non-final) order, and we had filed a notice of appeal that, by law, put a stay on the eviction. Roughly a week before the eviction, cops claimed (via my lawyer/brother, David Shuler) that I had called 911 threatening to shoot anyone who tried to evict us. Cops now admit I never made such a call, and court documents present zero evidence that I made such a threat. Even if I had, any forceful action to protect our property from unlawful intrusion would have been proper under Missouri's Castle Doctrine Law.

    The 911 call attributed to me, which we now know never happened, caused a virtual SWAT team of cops to arrive at our duplex apartment -- bursting through the front door, with assault weapons and pistols flying in all directions. I was sitting in a chair, with my hands folded in my lap, as Officer Scott Harrison pointed an assault rifle at my cranium.

    Carol and I knew at the time we were just a flick of a trigger finger away from being killed. But that understanding has been driven home further by the Justine Ruszczyk story.

    Here's the scary part: We've seen, from firsthand experience, that a lot of cops are not very bright -- but we entrust them with all kinds of lethal weaponry. In the Ruszczyk case, a reasonable person can understand that it's jarring to be sitting in a vehicle and hear a loud, unfamiliar noise. But how can your first reaction be to fire a weapon in the general direction of the sound -- across your partner's body, for criminey's sake? The officers knew someone had reported a possible crime, and they should have known it was a woman. Didn't it make sense that the woman would be trying to contact them at the scene? Didn't it make sense to be on the lookout for her, so maybe she wouldn't have to slap your vehicle to get your attention.  This is from a St. Paul Pioneer-Press story:

    A woman approached the back of a Minneapolis police car and “slapped” it shortly before an Australian woman was shot and killed by an officer, according to a search warrant filed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

    The search warrant obtained by Minnesota Public Radio doesn’t specifically say that the woman was Justine Damond, but: “Upon police arrival, a female ‘slaps’ the back of the patrol squad … After that, it is unknown to BCA agents what exactly happened, but the female became deceased in the alley.”

    Gotta love that cold, clinical language. The female became deceased in the alley? No kidding. I wonder how that happened. Notice there is no mention that she "became deceased" after a cop fired a gun in her direction. You can almost sense the warrant applicant trying to phrase this so that Ruszczyk herself could be blamed, at least a little bit, for "becoming deceased."

    We've come across similar nonsense in records about our eviction. Consider this narrative from Officer Jeremy Lynn, describing what he saw as he burst into our home:

    Once inside I observed a white male wearing a gray T-shirt and green shorts, sitting in a chair in the living room. The chair was approximately 15 feet from the front door. I also observed that the male was sitting very still and deliberate. His posture was very stoic as he started at me, emotionless. It was also very obvious that he was sitting in such a manner to make himself a threat.

    Geez, the guy sounds disappointed that I didn't give him a reason to shoot me. He also makes every effort, in his last sentence, to place a supposed threat at my feet, even though officers now admit (and they had every reason to know then) I had directed no such threat toward them.

    How much danger were Carol and I in that day? We've talked often of this very possible scenario: Baxter, our little boy kitty kat, was alive then and typically was prancing around somewhere near our feet. What if I had instinctively tried to reach for him, to protect him, as thugs were crashing into our home? What if he had been on my lap, and I tried to grab him as he jumped down? Would Carol and I be dead now because of such a sudden move?

    Here is our policy: A lot of Americans (especially white ones) tend to view police favorably because they think cops offer protection against street thugs (usually viewed as someone with dark skin). Experience has taught us a couple of things:

    (1) We will take our chances any day with a street thug over a stupid, heavily armed, and possibly corrupt cop. I've never had a street thug cause me harm. Cops have brutalized both Carol and me, inside and around our homes.

    (2) Cops almost always take a sticky situation and make it worse. I've yet to see an instance where a cop has helped solve a problem. They seem much more likely to cause a problem -- or make one worse.

    I'm guessing Justine Ruszczyk would have similar sentiments -- if she were able to share them with us now.

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    Debi Wade
    A Missouri deputy admits in an investigative report that we had filed a notice of appeal, and under state law, that put a stay on our eviction -- as I've argued all along. That's just one of roughly a half dozen grounds upon which the eviction was unlawful, meaning deputies pointed an assault rifle at my head, caused most of our belongings to be stolen, and shattered Carol's left arm -- all with no grounds to be on our rented property.

    Officer Debi Wade apparently was too ignorant of the law to get it correct in her statement. But she essentially admits that I was right -- the eviction was stayed. Here are her words, and we will straighten things out after that:

    Mr. Shuler was being very argumentative and was adamant that there was a court ordered stay on the case but otherwise appeared to be following the deputies' directives once outside of the residence.

    Although I had checked Case.net for any changes in the case earlier that morning,I told [Mr. Shuler] that I would check on it again to ensure nothing had changed. I looked up the case on Case.net and found no change to the case since I had last looked. Mr. Shuler had made a motion to stay, but the judge had not ruled on it yet. therefore there was no court ordered stay at that time. I called into the office and asked our paralegal to contact our attorney's office to verify that they were not aware of any changes to the case and was told to proceed with the execution. I came back and attempted to tell Mr. Shuler my findings, but he did not want to listen to reason, only to argue with us.

    This is a textbook example of police ignorance and incompetence, so let's briefly address each highlighted section above:

    (1) Wade confirms what I've reported on this blog multiple times -- that I stated repeatedly the execution was stayed because we had filed a Notice of Appeal;

    (2)  Wade must have checked case.net while wearing a blind fold. Anyone can click on case.net, key in my name, and click on case number 1531-AC04535 (Trent Cowherd v. Roger Shuler). There is a docket entry on 9/8/15, the day BEFORE Wade checked, saying "Notice of Appeal Filed." There was an entry on 9/9/15,  "Correspondence Filed" -- stating the Missouri Court of Appeals had filed correspondence to acknowledge receipt of our notice of appeal. Based on Wade's statement and the docket, both of those items were present when she looked, clearly showing there WAS a significant change in the case. Debi Wade either didn't see it, or she never looked and is lying about that.

    (3) I don't recall ever exchanging a word with Debi Wade. I communicated about the stay with Sheriff Jim Arnott, who repeatedly turned his palms upward and shrugged his shoulders -- doing a nice imitation of a baboon, although most baboons are smarter and better looking than he is.

    (4) Wade says she found no changes when she double checked, but as we show in Item No. 2 above, two key changes were in the record. Jose Feliciano could have seen them.

    (5) Wade claims "Mr. Shuler had filed a motion to stay," but that's not what I had done; I had filed a Notice of Appeal, and under Missouri law, such a notice (with a bond) stays execution. In our case, there was no money judgment, so there was no bond. This is a sickening lie on Wade's part, the kind that should put her behind bars. She couched it as a motion, upon which a judge typically must rule. But it was a notice of appeal, requiring no action from a judge. Once it's filed, execution is stayed, and no court order is required. Wade has proven she is a dim bulb, but I doubt this was an innocent mistake. It's an intentional effort to misstate Missouri law.

    (6) Wade states she called a paralegal to check with an attorney in the office. No one made me aware of this, and I doubt it is true. All the attorney or paralegal had to do was look up RSMo. 534.350. Anyone who deals with evictions regularly should know that law by heart. Wade's own words indicate no one in the office was smart enough to even look up the correct law. And it's mind blowing that deputies who apparently work evictions regularly had to ask about the relevant law, and I had to make them aware that execution was stayed.

    (7) Wade says someone in her office told her to proceed with the execution, even though the record at the time clearly showed we had filed a Notice of Appeal. Not only that, the record showed the Missouri Court of Appeals had received our notice and placed it on the docket. It's going to be fun to find out who instructed Wade to go ahead with the eviction; that person is going to have some splainin' to do.

    (8) This last nugget tells us that many cops not only are stupid, they aren't very good people. Wade resorts to smart-aleck mode, claiming I didn't "want to listen to reason." It wasn't a matter for "reason" or "debate." I just wanted the facts (that we had filed a notice of appeal) and the law (that the notice had put a stay on execution) to be applied correctly. Debi Wade takes her own ignorance and frames it as my unwillingness to reason. Here we are, almost two years later, and Wade's own words prove I was right.

    Other documents in the record show that we timely filed a Notice of Appeal, and Missouri deputies had every reason to know the eviction was stayed. We will examine them next.

    (To be continued)

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    Jeff Sessions and Sergey Kislyak
    Are you likely to catch a break from the mainstream media (MSM) in the Deep South if you are a far-right, white Republican? Few semi-conscious Americans will be surprised to learn the answer is a resounding and disturbing "Hell, yes." But more than a few Americans should be disturbed by the brazenness and myopia with which an Alabama newspaper yesterday reported on an individual who might soon be known as one of the most unpatriotic political figures in U.S. history.

    The newspaper in question is The Birmingham News (al.com), and the politician is Trump attorney general and former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). Not content to write one favorable article about the sleazy Sessions, al.com wrote two. Both were nonsensical puff pieces, indicating the Alabama MSM is nothing more than a water boy for the ugliest, most racist tendencies of the GOP.

    First, al.com published a story with the following headline: "What's next for Jeff Sessions? Senate, governor runs suggested." Someone apparently wrote that headline with a straight face, ignoring mountains of evidence that Sessions has committed federal crimes in the six months-plus that he has served as AG -- and possibly while during the 2016 presidential campaign. In other words, the obvious answer to "What's next for Jeff Sessions?" is "prison." At the very least, the answer should be "indictment."

    If you are a white conservative with racist tendencies -- and such tendencies have been reported for decades about Jeff Sessions -- the Southern MSM thinks you are incapable of committing crimes. If you are a Democrat, especially one with dark skin, the MSM can barely contain its glee when you step in legal doo-doo -- and Southern prosecutors are likely to ignore similar crimes committed by white folks.

    Just consider the case of former State Rep. Oliver Robinson (D-Birmingham), who already has been indicted and entered a guilty plea for accepting bribes in the Birmingham Superfund scandal. Various news reports point to Drummond Co. VP David Robertson, Balch Bingham partner Joel Gilbert and U.S. Sen. Luther Strange (Jeff Sessions' replacement) being involved in the Superfund scandal. Strange's one-time campaign manager and mistress, Jessica Medeiros Garrison, left her "of counsel" position at Balch and wiped out most of her social-media presence when "Big Lutha's" name surfaced in connection to the Superfund case. Have any of them been indicted? Nope. But Oliver Robinson, the former basketball star at UAB, is headed to the slammer.

    On top of all that, Sessions himself is closely tied to the Balch firm, indicating he might be connected to the scandal -- or, at the very least, he is disqualified from taking part in the investigation.

    Here is something curious about the al.com article,which says Senate and governor runs are "suggested" for Jeff Sessions: It doesn't quote anyone who suggests Sessions should run for either job -- unless you count Mo Brooks, who is nuttier than a truckload of Snickers bars. The one political-science expert quoted, from Athens State University, says he doubts Sessions would run for either post. So this is a classic case of a story "with no 'there' there." Why run it then? The only conceivable answer is that al.com is fulfilling its duty as a toady for the right wing, probably running the story at the request of Sessions or one of his associates -- perhaps Jessica Garrison or someone else with ties to the felonious Balch Bingham firm.

    Is al.com reporter Paul Gattis forgetting a few events regarding Sessions? As a matter of fact, yes:

    * Sessions lied to Congress, in response to a question from U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) about meetings with Russian officials;

    * Sessions revised his statement to Congress, and still lied about it;

    * Sessions lied on his security-clearance application about meetings with Russians;

    * Sessions' Department of Justice approved a dubious settlement in a money-laundering case, a deal that was overwhelmingly favorable to Russian interests;

    * U.S. intelligence intercepts captured Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak telling superiors that he had discussed policy and campaign issues with Sessions in 2016.

    Al.com has forgotten all of that, which came to light in the past six months? This is the same "news organization" that repeatedly trumpeted the conviction of former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman for "crimes" that do not exist, in a case that was brought well after the statute of limitations had expired?

    What about yesterday's second article favorable to Sessions? It's by the esteemed John Archibald, with the title, "Jeff Sessions makes America find its backbone again." Get a load of this, from Archibald:

    Sessions, for those who thought he was just Alabama's Hermey the Misfit Elf, this week became the guy who allowed Republicans to see through the pea-soup fog of Trump town. He might just have helped his country find its backbone.

    Who woulda thought?

    Last week was a watershed week. Not just for the beleaguered attorney general who has been bullied by the president like a math club kid in gym class, but for the country.

    Given the choice between the bully and the bullied, a lot of Americans -- big and small -- sided with Sessions.

    That Jeff Sessions.

    He may not be the hero America needs right now, but he's the hero America deserves.

    Sessions didn't faint when Donald Trump went "boo," and that makes Sessions a hero? It means Sessions helped America "find its backbone"? Sheesh, can a story be any more overwrought and off target than this?

    Luther Strange and Jessica Garrison
    Let's interject a little reality here: By taking verbal abuse from Trump, and not stepping down (yet), Sessions has essentially said, "I went to the trouble of selling out my country to become America's 'top law enforcement officer,' and I'm not going to give up the job without pushing for a few more 'reforms' that take us back to the 1970s."

    That gets us down to the heart of the matter. Polls consistently show the South is the most patriotic region in the country. But here you have a Southern newspaper supporting a politician who apparently sold out his country to -- not Paraguay or Denmark -- but Russia. He might have helped engineer the theft of an American election -- by foreign interests. If that proves to be true, one word to fit Jeff Sessions would be "traitor."

    It's enough to suggest that Southern patriotism, in many cases, is phony. And the phoniest Southerner of all might be Jeff Sessions.

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    Jeff Foxworthy
    Jeff Foxworthy has made a nice living out of a comedy routine based on this premise: "You might be a redneck if . . . " For example, "If there are more than five McDonald's bags in your car . . . you might be a redneck."

    Well, we've borrowed (OK, stolen) from Mr. Foxworthy to develop our own comedy routine. We'll admit it probably doesn't tickle the ribs quite the way ole Jeff's does, but we think it has potential. And it certainly fits with the theme of this blog.

    Here is our premise: "You might be a cop if . . . "

    For example, "If you can talk tough, but still sound like a dumb ass . . . you might be a cop."

    Exhibit A is Greene County, Missouri, deputy Jeremy Lynn, who was on the scene for the unlawful eviction that left my wife, Carol, with a shattered left arm. Let's consider Lynn's words from his written statement about the eviction. We'll start with his version of what happened once officers burst through the front door of our duplex apartment:

    The male was being verbally confrontational and resisting by non compliance to commands. Based on his actions, he was secured in handcuffs and removed from the home. He was identified as Robert (sic) Shuler.

    Once outside, both parties [Carol and me] continued to scream and yell at us uncontrollably. Once we were able to calm them down, we advised them they were being evicted per a court order. Both parties continued to debate the legalities and justification of our actions. It was then explained that they were leaving per the court order, and if they wanted any property from in the home, they would need to calm down, then they would be allowed to get it.

    The home had been posted before the eviction and neither party had made any effort to pack the home.

    We will ignore, for now, all of the false material in these three short paragraphs, material that does not even agree with the accounts of three other officers. But let's zero in on Deputy Lynn's tough-guy routine:

    * He "advised" us that we were "being evicted per a court order";

    * He says Carol and I "continued to debate the legalities and justification of our actions" (With each other? With the cops?);

    * He suggests cops had little interest in discussion about actual Missouri law, so it was explained that we "were leaving per the court order."

    Jeremy Lynn
    As you can see, Lynn's tough-guy routine consists mostly of tossing around heavy lingo about a court order. But he winds up looking like a dumb ass because . . . well, there was no court order. We've shown that in two previous posts. (See here and here.) In fact, there could not be a valid court order because the judge in the rent-and-possession claim brought by landlord Trent Cowherd had issued only an interlocutory judgment. That means it was not final, was not appealable, and could not support execution of an eviction.

    Lynn only adds to his dumbassery by acting aghast -- even verklempt -- that we had made no effort to pack the home.

    Uh, officer, maybe that's because there had been no court order, signed by a judge, instructing us to leave. The Notice of Appeal we had filed the day before -- placing a stay on execution -- also might have had something to do with it.

    If Jeremy Lynn had three brain cells to rub together, he might have looked at the court docket and seen the judgment was labeled "interlocutory," and a hearing was set for 10/1/15 to hear additional issues in the case. That meant no final judgment would be forthcoming until sometime after 10/1/15.

    If Jeremy Lynn could figure stuff like that out, he wouldn't be a dumb ass. If he weren't a dumb ass, he probably wouldn't be a cop -- and he'd have no need for the tough-guy routine.

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    Luther Strange
    (From politico.com)
    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tonight is co-hosting a Capitol Hill reception and dinner to benefit the campaign of U.S. Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL). That should be enough to cause any sentient Alabama voter to check a box other than the one beside Strange's name when the state conducts its special-election primary on August 15.

    If that's not reason enough to vote against Strange as the successor to Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions, consider this: Karl Rove is trying to get Strange elected.

    Yep, "Bush's Brain" has turned Alabama into a political sewer since he showed up in the mid 1990s to help Perry Hooper get "elected" chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. That race likely was stolen, serving as a precursor to Bush v. Gore (2000) and Bush v. Kerry (2004) at the presidential election -- not to mention Riley v. Siegelman (2002) in the Alabama governor's race.

    Now, we've advanced to an era where a foreign adversary (Russia) likely stole the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Donald Trump. But the electoral sleaze dates to the 1994 Alabama Supreme Court race -- and the collusion between Rove and Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to switch state courts in the Deep South from Democrat to Republican.

    The Rove/Donaohue scheme worked, and Alabama now has one of the most hideously corrupt judicial systems in the country -- and the string of dubious elections has emboldened a foreign despot (Vladimir Putin) to meddle in our presidential politics, with the likely expectation that he will get away with it.

    Haven't we had enough of Karl Rove in Alabama politics, not to mention the national stage?

    An article yesterday at Politico shows that McConnell and Co. are pulling out all the stops to help Strange keep the Sessions seat for establishment Republicans. From the article, by Alex Isenstadt:

    McConnell will put his formidable fundraising operation to work this week. On Tuesday evening (8/1/17), he's slated to co-host a Capitol Hill reception and dinner benefiting Strange. Attendees are being asked to give up to $10,000, according to an invitation.

    Isenstadt then drops this pearl on us:

    Much of the Republican leader's effort in the race is being overseen by the pro-McConnell Senate Leadership Fund. In April, the super PAC held an event in Birmingham, Alabama, to outline its plans to defend Strange, who made an appearance for part of the gathering. Also present was former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove, who knows Strange, a former state attorney general, from his past work on Alabama judicial races.

    “We’re in for Luther — money, marbles or chalk,” Rove told the crowd, according to one attendee.

    Luther Strange already is a dismal option, with ethical brush fires sprouting around his smelly appointment by corrupt former Gov. Robert Bentley, Strange's apparent ties to the Birmingham Superfund scandal, plus possible campaign-finance violations. Do we really need Karl Rove, with his mountains of ethical baggage, making a return engagement to Alabama politics, supporting an ethically challenged candidate?

    Karl Rove and Mitch McConnell
    (From dailykos.com)
    With the primary elections roughly two weeks away, the field of candidates (for both parties) might be the worst ever assembled for a major U.S. campaign. On the GOP side, Strange, Roy Moore, and Mo Brooks are the "Larry, Moe, and Curly" of political possibilities. On the Democratic side, apparent leader Doug Jones is just as bad as that crowd. In fact, Jones might be one of the biggest phonies ever to run for office in Alabama -- and that is saying something.

    Jones has accomplished zero to move Alabama forward, so he touts a "civil-rights" record that is as shallow as it is bogus. As we've shown in a series of posts, here is the ugly truth about Doug Jones:

    * He is closely aligned with GOPer Rob "Uday" Riley, one of the sleaziest figures in modern U.S. political history;

    * He represented Don Siegelman for a while and screwed the former governor over, charging him $300,000 while accomplishing almost nothing -- other than extending the statute of limitations to benefit the prosecution;

    * He has wildly praised former Alabama Attorney General and Jeff Sessions acolyte Bill Pryor -- the virulently anti-LGBT federal judge who has a history of posing nude for photographs that ended up at multiple gay-porn Web sites;

    * He has helped cover up insurance fraud connected to University of Alabama and Crimson Tide Foundation honcho Paul Bryant Jr. By doing so, Jones helped create the toxic Tuscaloosa culture that allowed the alleged rape and suicide of Megan Rondini to happen and protected the family behind ST Bunn Construction.

    We have more coming about the real Doug Jones, with ample evidence to show that he does not merit support among Democrats.

    I can't begin to recommend a candidate in the sorry U.S. Senate field. But Luther Strange and Doug Jones are horrible choices. And it's way past time for Alabamians to develop a spine to show Karl Rove the exit and kick him in the ass until he's out the door.

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    Ismael Lopez and his wife
    (From cnn.com)
    In a speech last week to law-enforcement officials, Donald Trump seemed to encourage police brutality. In the same speech, Trump made a reference to the Second Amendment, apparently suggesting that cops should feel free to open fire  on suspects at will.

    It would be interesting to ask Ismael Lopez, of Southaven, Mississippi, what he thinks about these developments. Unfortunately, Lopez is not available for comment. Just a few days before Trump's speech, he was shot and killed by police trying to serve a warrant . . . at the wrong house.

    Yep, some of the cops we entrust with mega doses of lethal weaponry are not capable of reading house addresses correctly. And the Lopez shooting appears to be another case of cops trying to blame a victim of their brutality. It also shows that it often is futile to attempt rational communication with a cop. Carol and I know that from firsthand experience.

    According to initial reports, Lopez answered the door and pointed a gun out the crack, prompting officers to yell at him to drop the gun, firing when he did not immediately do so. That, of course, is the law-enforcement version of events. Family members and witnesses now are saying Lopez had no gun, and that police fired through a closed door, not one that was open, as Desoto County District Attorney John Champion had claimed. From a report at CBS News:

    Wednesday, however, Lopez family attorney Murray Wells painted a starkly different picture of the events leading up to Lopez's death. Speaking to reporters, Wells said Lopez's wife was in the bedroom with Lopez and insists her husband did not have a gun when he walked towards the door.

    Wells said Lopez's wife never heard any verbal commands or instructions before the officer opened fire, and Lopez's body fell "many feet" from the door.

    Wells shared pictures with WREG-TV of the home's door marred with bullet holes. He said investigators he hired concluded that the door was closed when three shots were fired through it, not open as Champion said.

    "You can track the trace of the bullets. Three bullets went into that door and the door was shut when those bullets went into the door," Wells said. "My investigative team has concluded it was direct line. ... There is no way the door was cracked open and someone was there."

    According to a report at the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, police shot Lopez in the back of the head:

    An attorney for the family of Ismael Lopez, the auto mechanic fatally shot by police in Southaven, says he was killed by a single gunshot to the back of the head.

    The attorney, Murray Wells, said Friday that the lawyers got permission from family members and from the coroner's office to view the body at the morgue. There, a lawyer for the firm discovered an obvious gunshot wound to the back of the head, Wells said.

    Wells wouldn't say which of the firm's lawyers went to the morgue, but said it wasn't him, and that there are only four attorneys at the law firm, Horne and Wells.

    The family attorneys and a close friend of the family had previously raised concerns about bullet holes in the front door of the home and drew the conclusion that Lopez had been shot through the closed door.

    Wells called for the resignations of Southaven officials involved, as well as a Department of Justice inquiry.

    Wells told The Los Angeles Times that officers involved in the shooting should face criminal charges. From The Times report:

    "We think it was an execution," Wells said at a news conference Friday at his Memphis office. "Now, when you're firing through a door, we think it complicates things. Physical evidence says their story isn't true. . . .

    "This man died running away from people who were trespassing on his premises."

    A reasonable citizen might ask, "Couldn't this have been avoided if Lopez had tried to talk with police and explain that they were at the wrong house?" Experience has taught me that such an effort almost surely would have failed.  No. 1, a lot of cops aren't very bright and don't seem capable of rational discussion or any form of reason. No. 2, many cops are ignorant of the facts and law surrounding a case, and they like it that way. They aren't about to listen to anyone who tries to interject reality into a situation.

    Consider our experience with Missouri deputies who conducted an unlawful eviction that led to Carol's broken arm. I repeatedly tried to explain to them that we had filed a Notice of Appeal, and under Missouri law, that placed a stay on the eviction. In essence, I said: "You're at the right house, but you've got the facts and the law all wrong -- and with the eviction stayed -- you have no lawful grounds to be here."

    Statements from cops in an investigative report show that they knew I was right -- I had filed a Notice of Appeal. Unfortunately, the cops' own words show they were clueless about Missouri law on the subject. Here are the words of Officer Debi Wade:

    Mr. Shuler was being very argumentative and was adamant that there was a court ordered stay on the case but otherwise appeared to be following the deputies' directives once outside of the residence.

    Although I had checked case.net for any changes in the case earlier that morning, I told [Mr. Shuler] that I would check on it again to ensure nothing had changed. I looked up the case on case.net and found no change to the case since I had last looked. Mr. Shuler had made a motion to stay, but the judge had not ruled on it yet. therefore there was no court ordered stay at that time. I called into the office and asked our paralegal to contact our attorney's office to verify that they were not aware of any changes to the case and was told to proceed with the execution. I came back and attempted to tell Mr. Shuler my findings, but he did not want to listen to reason, only to argue with us.

    First, I should note that much of what Wade says is a lie. She never said a word to me about checking with her office. I suspect her claim about contacting a paralegal is false. I repeatedly raised the issue with Sheriff Jim Arnott on the scene, and his response was to turn his palms upward and shrug his shoulders. I'm not sure he ever uttered a word about it, and certainly no other officer did.

    Most importantly, Wade got the law wrong, on multiple grounds. Under RSMo 534.350, the eviction was unlawfully scheduled inside the 10-day window for filing an appeal. And the filing of a Notice of Appeal, plus payment of an appeal bond, puts an automatic stay on execution. (Our case did not involve an appeal bond because there were no money damages, and we paid appropriate appellate fees. We have documents that show the Missouri Court of Appeals had received our Notice of Appeal, and all attorneys in the case had electronic access to that information -- in addition to the notice I had provided to opposing lawyers.)

    By law, a stay does not have to be "court ordered." It is in place when the Notice of Appeal is filed. Wade admits I filed the notice, but she is too stupid to know the law. Then she claims I didn't "want to listen to reason, only to argue" with her. She didn't provide any "reason"; she only proved that, like all other officers on the scene that day, she is dumb as a frickin' post.

    Officer Jeremy Lynn fits into the same category. Here are his words about what happened after he and 6-8 other officers burst into our home:

    The male was being verbally confrontational and resisting by non compliance to commands. Based on his actions, he was secured in handcuffs and removed from the home. He was identified as Robert (sic) Shuler.

    Once outside, both parties [Carol and me] continued to scream and yell at us uncontrollably. Once we were able to calm them down, we advised them they were being evicted per a court order. Both parties continued to debate the legalities and justification of our actions. It was then explained that they were leaving per the court order, and if they wanted any property from in the home, they would need to calm down, then they would be allowed to get it.

    The home had been posted before the eviction and neither party had made any effort to pack the home.

    How stupid is Lynn? One, there is zero evidence that he or anyone else had a valid court order to evict us. Two, the court docket shows judgment in the case clearly is labeled "interlocutory" (non-final), with a followup hearing set for 10/1/15. There could be no valid court order, authorized by a judge, based on a non-final order. Of course, Jeremy Lynn is too stupid to know that.

    Then, note his tough-guy language, highlighted in yellow. This is classic "copspeak" -- you are going to do what we say, regardless of the facts and the law and whether we have a valid court order or not. Notice Lynn's last sentence: He claims the home "had been posted," but were the postings lawful? No, they were not -- and given the judge's non-final order -- they couldn't have been.

    This is almost certainly the kind of response Ismael Lopez would have gotten if he had tried to explain to cops that they were at the wrong house. Consider the words of Lopez' lawyer; they apply to his case and to ours. This from a report at The Washington Post:

    The family’s attorney, Murray Wells told reporters the house officers should have gone to, had a large ‘P’ on the door. [According to the arrest warrant, cops were looking for a man named Samuel Pearman -- hence, the 'P' on his house. Did the cops bother to ask Ismael Lopez if his name was Samuel Pearman? Did the cops wonder why a man with a Europe-based name like Pearman looked Hispanic? The answers apparently are nope and nope. It's easier to shoot first and ponder such issues later.]

    “They should have never been on the [Lopez] property in the first place,” he told the Commercial Appeal.

    The lawyer nails it with this: "[Police] should have never been on the property in the first place." The same applies to our case, and cops admit I tried to tell them they had no lawful grounds to be on our property -- and it did absolutely no good because they are resistant to listening. In fact, cops seem to be resistant to thought, period.

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    Carol Tovich Shuler
    Why is Missouri prosecutor Nicholas Jain dragging his feet on producing discovery in the bogus "assault on a law enforcement officer" case brought against my wife, Carol?

    I have three guesses: (1) Jain knows he doesn't have a case, and he doesn't want to produce information that will prove that; (2) Jain knows the case was brought only to intimidate and harass us, and he doesn't want to produce information that will prove that; (3) Jain knows the case likely involves criminal actions by prominent individuals -- including his boss, Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson, and Sheriff Jim Arnott, plus Springfield lawyer Craig Lowther and landlord Trent Cowherd -- so he doesn't want to produce information that might prove that.

    Regardless of which guess proves correct -- and all three might be correct -- this is certain: Jain is conducting a deceptive dance to avoid providing, at all costs, certain discoverable information. And that likely means his No. 1 goal at the moment, related to Carol's case, is to cover ass -- both his own, plus asses belonging to others.

    Jain is resorting to one of the crooked lawyer's favorite tricks -- making citations to law that are not remotely in line with what the law actually says. This is apparent from checking Carol's "Motion for Disclosure . . . " and Jain's "State's Response . . . ", plus Carol's "Motion to Compel . . . " and Jain's "Opposition to Motion to Dismiss . . . ", plus Carol's "Motion to Dismiss . . . . All five documents are embedded at the end of this post.

    Let's examine several components of Jain's con game, followed by Carol's responses, based on actual law:

    (1) Attacking the state's evidence

    Jain: He claims a motion to dismiss is not the proper vehicle for attacking the sufficiency of evidence in a criminal case, citing State v. Halliburton, 11 S.W. 3d 602 (Mo. App. E.D., 1999).

    Carol: She claims Halliburton doesn't say that. From her Motion to Dismiss Charges: "The Halliburton case . . . simply finds that the trial court prematurely dismissed the charge without giving the state an opportunity to present its evidence. Here, the state has had ample opportunity to present evidence, and it has failed to do so. The issue in Halliburton is not before this court."

    The Verdict: Carol is right, and Jain is selling the court a load of horse feces.

    (2) A Probable Cause Statement based on hearsay

    Jain: He claims hearsay is fine in a Probable Cause Statement, citing State v. Turner, 471 S.W. 3d 405 (Mo. App., E.D., 2015).

    Carol: She claims Turner doesn't say that. From her motion: "The Turner case . . . holds that hearsay can be proper in an affidavit for a search warrant. It does not say hearsay is proper in an affidavit for an arrest warrant, which is the issue in the instant case."

    The Verdict: Carol is right, and Jain is selling the court a load of horse feces.

    (3) A matter of prejudice

    Jain: He claims a defective Probable Cause Statement is fine as long as it does not prejudice the substantial rights of the Defendant. He also says the state must only advise the Defendant of charges, and there is no prejudice if such notice is given, citing State v. Book, 436 S.W. 3d 671 (Mo. App., S.D., 2014).

    Carol: She says, in so many words, "Bullshit!" From her motion: "The Book case makes no holding that mere notice is sufficient to ensure that a defendant is not prejudiced. Rather, the Book court found as follows: "Failure to allege an essential element in the information does not automatically require reversal. . . . Rule 24.04(b)(2) provides 'defenses and objections based on defects . . . in the indictment or information . . . may be raised only by motion before trial. . . . Failure to present such defense or objection constitutes a waiver.' There is nothing in the record before this Court indicating Book raised an objection to the sufficiency of the probable cause statement making the misdemeanor information fatally defective by motion before trial. While Book failed to timely raise objections regarding a defective PC statement, that is exactly what Shuler is doing here."

    The Verdict: Carol is right, and Jain . . . well, you know about his habits with horse feces.

    (4) Defendants have no right to discovery?

    Jain: He claims, under Missouri law, there is "no 'general right of discovery' in criminal cases," citing State v. Aubuchon, 381 S.W. 2d 807 (Mo., 1964).

    Carol and Roger say: This is so off the charts that Carol doesn't even address it in her documents, but I will address it here. As you will note, the Aubuchon case is more than 50 years old, and it once was an accurate statement of Missouri law. But it hasn't been accurate for a long time. This is from State v. Smothers, 605 SW 2d 128 (Mo: Supreme Court, 1980): "On October 9, 1973, this Court, as part of its Rules of Criminal Procedure, provided for pretrial discovery in criminal cases. See present Rule 25. Rule 25 represents an attempt to provide the process due the people of Missouri (the public, the victims, and the accused) in the administration of criminal justice. Mo.Const., art. I, §§ 2 and 10. See ABA Standards Relating to Discovery and Procedure Before Trial (1970)."

    The Verdict: There has been a right to pretrial discovery in Missouri criminal cases for more than 40 years, and for Jain to hint otherwise suggests he is desperate. It also suggests he is a world-class distributor of horse feces.

    The evidence is clear that Jain is trying to pull a con game on the court. Why? In an upcoming post, we will look at several of our discovery requests that might be particularly sensitive.

    (To be continued)

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    Richard and Cheryl Barsness
    (From news-leader.com)
    The CEO and co-owner/founder of a Springfield, MO-based pizza chain appears as a paying customer at the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site, according to publicly available documents.

    Richard Barsness helped start America's Incredible Pizza Company, which combines the restaurant and entertainment worlds. In an ironic twist, from an Ashley Madison angle, joint owner of the company is Cheryl Barsness, Richard's wife. Based on Cheryl's Facebook page, the couple appears to have at least three children and five grandchildren. Richard's Facebook page doesn't provide much information beyond life in the pizza world.

    Incredible Pizza has a major presence in Springfield, with a large location on S. Campbell, one of the city's prime commercial thoroughfares. The company is successful, but it hasn't grown as rapidly as Barsness had intended. From a recent report at the Springfield News-Leader:

    America's Incredible Pizza Company once thought it would have dozens of locations by now.

    In 2005, just three years after the Springfield-based company opened its first buffet-and-carnival mashup on South Campbell Avenue, owner Rick Barsness told the News-Leader he had sold the rights to nearly 50 franchise stores. A year later, that number was up to 73 — and Incredible Pizza also envisioned 30 company-owned stores.

    This January, Incredible Pizza opened a location in a suburb of Oklahoma City. It's the sixth company-owned store. Four others are franchises.

    “We’re not growing as fast now as we originally may have intended," Barsness said in a recent interview. "We’re growing much slower, but every one of our stores is profitable."

    This summer, the company will be shifting its headquarters to a new, larger facility in Springfield. The Barsnesses ideas for Incredible Pizza grew from their experiences with the Gatti's Pizza chain:

    Incredible Pizza doesn't open multiple stores in a single metro area, so the company's expansion since 2002 has happened far from its home base. This summer, however, it will be making one change locally, shifting its central office operations to a new location in Springfield that offers 50 percent more space.

    Before they opened the first Incredible Pizza at 2850 S. Campbell Ave. — which won't be affected by the headquarters move — Rick and Cheryl Barsness lived in Texas, where they were a franchisee with Gatti's Pizza.

    The pizza buffet chain developed a concept with games at the back of its restaurants — but the couple didn't think the plan went far enough. “We wanted to do attractions like go-karts and bumper carts and laser tags, and they had no interest in doing that at all," Rick Barsness said. "They just kind of wanted a small game room.”

    The couple ultimately sold their 12 Texas restaurants and moved to Rogersville, MO. Cheryl Barsness said she and her husband became familiar with southwest Missouri when they sent their children to Kanakuk, a Christian camp near Branson. They thought Springfield's demographics seemed similar to Amarillo, a Texas city where they had a successful restaurant.

    Incredible Pizza could be described as "Chuck E. Cheese's meets the State Fair":

    The South Campbell Incredible Pizza location was 40,000 square feet when it opened.

    "People thought we were crazy," Rick Barsness said.

    Like all subsequent locations since, it offers a pizza buffet and a mix of arcade and carnival-style games, as well as rides. Private rooms often play host to multiple birthday parties at a time. There's no alcohol on site.

    It hasn't been all smooth sailing in the pizza world. The Barsnesses have been wrapped up in litigation several times, including one case where a franchisee claimed to have lost almost $47 million in six years with the company. Ouch! Litigation might be the No. 1 reason Incredible Pizza has not expanded more than expected.

    Now, we have Richard Barsness' appearance on Ashley Madison. We sought to ask him what, if any, effect that might have on the pizza business he jointly owns with his wife. So far, he has not responded to our queries.


    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)

    (30) David Deusner, attorney/forensics, Control Risks, Birmingham/Washington, D.C. (4/26/17)

    (31) David J. Harrison, attorney, Geneva, AL (6/8/17)

    (32) Michael Mullis, managing partner, Kelley and Mullis, Birmingham (4/12/17)

    (33) David Healy, attorney, Ozark, MO (6/15/17)

    (34) Tom Layfield, executive director of ALRBA, Montgonery, AL (6/19/17)

    (35) Thomas T. Lamberth Jr., mortgage banker, BBVA Compass, Birmingham (6/20/17)

    (36) Ron Ten Berge, exec. partner, Frontenac Private Equity, Chicago/Birmingham (6/28/17)

    (37) Andy Schroeder, president, South Central Steel, Harpersville, AL (7/12/17)

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    Jeff Sessions, at "leaks" press conference
    (From politico.com)
    The journalism world is in a state of anxiety after Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions hinted last Friday that he might begin issuing subpoenas to reporters in an effort to shut down leaks. If journalists failed to respond properly to such subpoenas, it could put them at risk for being arrested and incarcerated.

    Most reporting on the subject so far has treated Sessions' words as radical and overreaching.   In fact, the notion isn't new at all in Alabama -- where Sessions served as U.S. attorney, attorney general, and U.S. senator over more than 35 years.

    Less than four years ago, law-enforcement officers beat up a journalist in his own home near Birmingham, doused him with pepper spray, made an arrest (after threatening to break the journalist's arms) and hauled him to the Shelby County Jail for a five-month stay. Cops also made multiple attempts to arrest the journalist's wife. Chris Blevins, the primary Shelby County deputy involved in the arrest, never stated why he was on the journalist's property, never showed an arrest warrant, and never said he had an arrest warrant. A judge later ordered Blevins and a prosecutor to produce copies of any warrants in the case, and they responded that they didn't have any. The lack of any apparent warrant makes the case sound more like a kidnapping than an arrest.

    How do I know so much about the case -- and the threats to press freedom in Jeff Sessions' Alabama? I was the journalist in question. I know what it's like to be stripped and placed in what might be called a "haz mat" shower to remove pepper spray before being issued jail garb. I know what it's like to have a fellow inmate jump about 25 feet to his death and land 10 feet or so from me. I know what sound a human head makes when it cracks on a concrete floor during a suicide. I know what it's like to see fights and near-fights break out regularly -- usually over issues related to use of a jail block's television or phones.

    My experience has Jeff Sessions' fingerprints -- or those of his associates -- all over it. I know, from firsthand experience, that journalists had better take Sessions seriously when he threatens police action against them. Sessions has no respect for the rule of law, in general -- or the First Amendment in particular. And his focus on leaks appears mainly to be an effort to get back in Trump's good graces, after being the target of stinging criticism for recusing from the Russia investigation. In other words, Sessions is trying to save his own job by going after the press -- and he and Trump might figure this is their last, best hope to throw a wrench in Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation.

    What is the primary lesson from my incarceration -- which has its own Wikipedia entry, by the way? In early 2013, I wrote several unflattering stories about individuals connected to Jeff Sessions (See herehere, and here.) Next thing I knew, cops were swarming our property on a regular basis -- with one finally breaking in and arresting me.

    Was Jeff Sessions directly involved in using the police state to attack a free press? We have two pending federal lawsuits designed to help answer that question -- and many others. But there is no question that Sessions was indirectly involved; at least five defendants in the two lawsuits -- Rob Riley, U.S. Judge Bill Pryor, U.S. Senator Luther Strange, political operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Trump "communications specialist" Cliff Sims and the Web site he founded, Yellowhammer News -- are closely aligned with Sessions. (Complaints in both lawsuits are embedded at the end of this post.)

    Bottom line? Jeff Sessions and his acolytes see the threat of jail time as a legitimate way to control the press, and they have a history of using such tactics. I know, from personal experience.

    In short, I was the only U.S. journalist to be incarcerated in 2013 (from Oct. 23, 2013, to March 26, 2014) -- the only journalist arrested in the western hemisphere that year. I'm the only U.S. journalist to be arrested since 2006 -- more than a decade -- and my incarceration is the third longest for a journalist in American history. Before me, was San Francisco-based free-lance videographer Joshua Wolf (2006), New York Times reporter Judith Miller (2005), and true-crime writer Vanessa Leggett (2001).

    I am the only American journalist to be arrested in the 2000s for a case that had no criminal implications. Our research indicates I am the only journalist to be incarcerated because of an unlawful preliminary injunction, which has been an improper prior restraint under more than 200 years of First Amendment law. In other words, my case might represent the worst abuse of a journalist on American soil.

    In essence, I was arrested because of this blog, Legal Schnauzer. I wasn't trying to protect sources; I wasn't ordered to turn over documents from my reporting about a possible crime. My reporting had nothing to do with national security. Those are the kinds of cases for which journalists lawfully can be hit with subpoenas and the threat of jail time.

    In my case, someone decided this blog had to be shut down, and they figured the best way to do it was to arrest me -- and to try to arrest my wife, Carol, even though she had nothing to do with the blog at the time. (Note: Carol played a key role by managing to escape capture and get word out to the press about my arrest. She also kept the blog alive by writing regular reports about my situation. If she had not managed to do that, I might still be in jail, or more likely, be dead. If cops had abducted her, too, we both probably would be dead.)

    When fellow inmates asked me why I was in jail -- and noted that I didn't look like most of the other prisoners -- I answered truthfully and directly: "I was arrested for blogging." That inevitably drew howls of laughter. Newbies often said, "Oh, you're the blogger guy. I've already heard about you. You're famous in here."

    Some of the more thoughtful inmates would say something like, "Hey, wait, they can't do that. You can't arrest someone for blogging." The only response I could muster was, "Well, here I am."

    How did I -- a guy with hardly even a traffic ticket on my record at the time -- wind up in jail? The short answer: I wrote accurate, hard-hitting posts about some of Jeff Sessions' cronies -- and I learned that you can go to jail for that in Alabama. (Note: I've been sued twice by Sessions' cronies; in both instances, my reporting was found -- as a matter of law -- to be neither false nor defamatory.)

    Here is a little longer answer about how I wound up in jail:

    * In January 2013, I began to publish a series of posts about an extramarital affair involving Homewood attorney Rob Riley (son of former GOP governor Bob Riley) and lobbyist Liberty Duke. The Rileys are closely aligned with Jeff Sessions;

    * In July 2013, I began to publish a series of posts about an extramarital affair involving then Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (he is now U.S. senator, replacing Jeff Sessions) and his one-time campaign manager, Jessica Medeiros Garrison. As noted, Strange replaced Sessions in the U.S. Senate, via appointment by former Gov. Robert "Luv Guv" Bentley, and now faces a special election, with the primaries on August 15. Garrison used to work for Sessions.

    * In September 2013, I began to publish a series of posts about nude photographs of U.S. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor that had appeared in the 1990s at the badpuppy.com gay-porn Web site. Sessions and Pryor are so close that the AG pushed Trump to appoint Pryor to the U.S. Supreme Court seat that went to Neil Gorsuch.

    My mugshot, as the only American ever arrested
    for blogging.
    Riley and Duke eventually filed a lawsuit against me, claiming defamation and seeking a preliminary injunction, which has been an unlawful prior restraint under 200 years of First Amendment law, as set out in Near v. Minnesota and related cases. I had filed a motion to quash service as unlawful and was preparing to challenge the preliminary injunction when cops broke into our home and arrested me. Interestingly, Riley and Duke made no effort to prove my reporting was false or defamatory -- and the burden of proof was on them. They sought no discovery, no trial, no jury -- none of the procedures that, by law, go with a legitimate defamation case.

    The record indicates the lawsuit had no purpose other than to provide a (bogus) excuse to have me thrown in jail. Since Riley/Duke asked to have the record sealed -- and corrupt, retired Judge Claud Neilson granted anything they asked -- it's never been clear when their lawsuit actually was filed. But I did not become aware of it until after I had written about Bill Pryor and his ties to gay pornography. And Pryor is a long-time acolyte of . . . Jeff Sessions -- with Sessions hiring Pryor in the Alabama AG's office and pushing for Pryor to be appointed as his successor as AG.

    At least one national-security expert clearly finds Sessions' language to be troubling. Politico's Kel McClanahan, executive director of a Maryland-based public interest law firm, wrote a piece titled "Jeff Sessions' Attack on the Media Is Worse Than You Think." McClanahan says Sessions is equating journalists with spies:

    Don’t get me wrong; leaking classified information to the media is illegal, and it can result in harm to our national security. But recognizing that fact is a far cry from saying that leaking to a reporter is anything close to selling secrets to China: The two deserve to be treated differently. While it is true that the courts might decide to draw a line in the sand if the DOJ moves too far in this direction, they also might not, and even the courts’ hands are tied if new laws go into effect. Sessions is playing a long game here, and this is just him setting the public opinion foundation before he starts asking for more authorities to combat leaks. When he starts asking for those authorities, we the public need to be able to voice an informed opinion as to whether the threat of leakers is as great as he says it is, without confusing leakers with spies.

    Do U.S. journalists grasp the threat that Jeff Sessions poses? This is from a report by Michael Calderone, at Huffington Post:

    Journalists were alarmed Friday after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Department of Justice was revisiting guidelines for handling media subpoenas in leak investigations and said there needed to be limits on press freedom.

    “Are you saying you will jail journalists, Mr. Attorney General?” a reporter asked as Sessions exited the room. “Do you plan to prosecute journalists?”

    Sessions didn’t answer that question, or any, at the press conference. He “tells room of reporters he may make it easier to jail them if they don’t reveal sources,” MSNBC host and attorney Ari Melber tweeted, and “leaves without taking any press questions.”

    Ari Melber provides an interesting tweet, but he hasn't lived in my shoes. I've been a journalist for 30-plus years in Jeff Sessions' Alabama, and I know what a toxic culture he and his brethren have created. They have built what I call "The New Confederacy," where the U.S. Constitution is ignored and "laws" are pulled out of thin air to favor white, conservative elites.

    When a reporter asks, "Are you saying you will jail journalists, Mr. Attorney General?" I can provide this clear-eyed answer: "You can bet your press pass that's what he's saying. And you can bet he will try it, in an effort to protect himself and Trump from repercussions of the Russiagate scandal." Here's one of the central tenets of "The New Confederacy": White, conservative elites are not to be held accountable -- for anything.

    That sounds warped, but hard-earned experience has taught me just how warped Jeff Sessions can be. No other journalist in the country has the perspective on Trump's AG that I do. And I absolutely expect him to try jailing journalists, whether there is any support for it, under the law, or not.

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    Sheriff Jim Arnott
    Two mysteries have hung over our unlawful eviction in Springfield, Missouri: (1) Why did law enforcement, apparently with assistance from my lawyer/brother David Shuler, concoct a story about me making a threatening call to 911, when officers' own written statements now show that to be false? (2) Why was Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott on the scene? Everyone with whom we've discussed the case has done a "you must be kidding" double take when informed that the sheriff himself was present for an eviction.

    We might be close to resolving both mysteries -- and questions surrounding both of them, it appears, can be resolved with the same set of facts.

    What are those facts? Well, we've established that evidence strongly suggests our eviction was conducted without a valid court order. We've seen no sign of a court order that was authorized by a judge, as required by state law. (See here and here.)

    How does that solve our mysteries? Let's consider item No. 1 first. What did law enforcement accomplish by creating a bogus story about me calling 911? It gave Arnott an excuse to be present at the eviction. Without that excuse, his own deputies probably would have been thinking, "What in the hell is he doing here?" One can almost imagine Arnott stating something ridiculous, to the effect: "Men, this could be a dangerous mission. Everyone knows Roger Shuler is an anti-government and anti-law enforcement nut job, and worst of all, he's a Democrat. He might have stockpiled weapons, because we all know how much liberals love to shoot cops. So I will be there with you -- and in my magical way -- will make sure all of you are safe."

    Now, let's consider item No. 2. With Arnott riding tall in his saddle, he could say to his troops: "We're off, men! I have the court order with me, so let's go make Greene County safe from mentally ill Democrats who threaten our way of life by filling the InterWebs with liberal blogs. If we don't stop this now, next thing you know, blacks and whites soon will be going to school together. So, the court order will be inside my squad car, giving us the authority to make this so-called blogger (did I mention he's a liberal?) and his nutty wife homeless -- and to rough them up a little, if we get the chance -- huh, huh."

    One can imagine Arnott making this little speech, too -- ensuring his troops that he has the court order authorizing our eviction, except (oops) there was no court order -- not a real one, anyway.

    That's why Arnott had to be present. In a normal eviction, where one deputy sits in a squad car on the street -- scratching his nuts and munching on a donut while the landlord removes the tenant -- the court order is given to the deputy. Under Missouri law, that's how it's supposed to happen -- although the "scratching his nuts and munching on a donut" part is optional.

    But in our case, that could not happen because there was no court order; there could not have been a court order because Judge Kelly Halford Rose had issued only an interlocutory judgment in Trent Cowherd v. Roger Shuler. That means the judgment was not final (it would not be final until after a hearing that clearly was scheduled on the docket for 10/1/15), it was not appealable yet, and it could not support execution of the eviction.

    That's why the 911 story was concocted, giving Arnott an excuse to be present. And he had to be present so he could con his own troops into believing they were acting under a court order -- when they weren't.

    That adds to the evidence suggesting that Arnott was acting in cahoots with landlord Trent Cowherd and Cowherd's lowlife attorney, Craig Lowther -- of the lowlife law firm, Lowther and Johnson.

    I have to admit that their con game worked, more or less, for more than a year. I didn't start to put the pieces together until about two months ago, when I finally noticed that Judge Rose's judgment clearly was labeled "interlocutory." Until then, I also thought we had been ordered out of our apartment -- although I knew we had timely filed a Notice of Appeal that put a stay on execution.

    As it turns out, there was no court order to stay, and any Notice of Appeal should not have been filed until after 10/1/15.

    At least we know that Arnott is an equal-opportunity fraud; he will lie to us and to his own troops. Among those troops is a deputy -- we are not certain of his name yet, although documents make it appear to be Christian Conrad -- who knows he broke Carol's arm. And he soon will learn -- if he doesn't already know -- that he did it without having the authority to even be on our rented property. Such a realization is likely to leave him not feeling so well -- assuming he has a conscience, and that seems to be a big "if" with many cops.

    Warnning: Do NOT Get Caught While Searching!!
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