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- 08/23/17--04:05: _My nephew got legal...
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- 08/25/17--15:40: _Don Siegelman's pus...
- 08/28/17--06:16: _Recent SCOTUS rulin...
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- 08/30/17--04:18: _My nephew was victi...
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|Mo Brooks, Roy Moore, Luther Strange|
Kyle Whitmire, of al.com, wrote a piece yesterday, titled "What's Wrong With Alabama's Political Pipeline?" Whitmire's been around long enough to know the answer to that question is easy; it can be summed up in two words -- "Karl Rove."
If you want to go beyond a two-word explanation, you can add these phrases: (1) "Jack Abramoff"; and (2) "Complicity of the lazy, compromised, right-wing media."
Yes, Kyle Whitmire belongs in category No. 2; he's part of the problem that leads him to whine.
Whitmire is correct that the field is dreadful. The GOP field is led by the "Three Stooges" -- Roy Moore, Luther Strange, and Mo Brooks. Perhaps Donald Trump could join them to form a Mount Rushmore of the dysfunctional political right. A new poll shows that Strange -- the darling of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (and yes, Karl Rove) -- might not even make a runoff. Wouldn't that be a hoot?
On the Democratic side, recent polls show that an unknown from Mobile is leading, only because he has a familiar name -- Robert Kennedy Jr. The best-known candidate among the Democrats is Birmingham lawyer Doug Jones, who happens to be one of the biggest political phonies of the modern era. Jones tries to con black voters with his supposed civil-rights bona fides, but the reality is that he sucked up to the Riley Political Machine to make money off a HealthSouth civil case, and he helped cover up insurance fraud involving University of Alabama honcho Paul Bryant Jr., creating a toxic Tuscaloosa culture that would eventually fuel the Megan Rondini rape case.
If there is a candidate of competence and hope in the field, it probably is Democrat Michael Hansen, who is running as "an unapologetic progressive." Good for him. I just wish he was running as an unapologetic liberal because I get tired to seeing the "L word" used as a pejorative.
Says Hansen: "Democrats in Alabama have a clear choice this election. They can select a centrist that’s indistinguishable from the pack, or rally behind a candidate with real energy. As an unapologetic progressive, I’m talking about pocketbook issues that cross party lines. health care, wages, and the environment resonate with real voters and that’s how I’m winning.”
I like the sound of that, partly because it's a clear shot at Jones. Unfortunately, Hansen is openly gay, and that's generally not part of a winning recipe in Alabama. Still, I would like to see him make a runoff, with those races set for Sept. 16 -- and the general election on Dec. 12.
As for Rove, he ushered in what I call "The Modern Era of U.S. political corruption" by joining with Tom Donohue and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to turn state courts in the Deep South from Democrat to Republican. That started in 1994 with the race for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme court, between Democrat Sonny Hornsby and Republican Perry Hooper. The race, brilliantly chronicled in a 2004 Joshua Green article at The Atlantic, served as a precursor to the Bush v. Gore presidential race of 2000. In both, the Rove candidate first appeared to have lost, setting off a chain of recounts, challenges, and dubious machinations that led to the Rove candidate being declared the winner.
An even more disturbing scenario came in 2002 when votes for Democratic incumbent governor Don Siegelman disappeared overnight in heavily Republican Baldwin County, turning the race in favor of Rove's candidate, Bob Riley. Jim Gundlach, an election expert from Auburn University, said it was virtually impossible for the Siegelman votes to disappear without human tampering. In other words, substantial evidence pointed to the election being stolen -- a Rove-related scenario that also was present in Hornsby v. Hooper (1994), Bush v. Gore (2000), and Bush v. John Kerry (2004).
The 2002 Siegelman-Riley fiasco was the race where GOP felon Jack Abramoff admitted to spending $20 million in an attempt to beat Siegelman because Mississippi Choctaws feared gaming competition from a possible Siegelman-supported lottery in Alabama.
When it appeared Siegelman likely would beat Riley in a 2006 rematch, the Bush Justice Department -- with Rove's fingerprints in all sorts of unlikely places -- decided to prosecute the Democrat in a "bribery" case that was brought more than a year after the five-year statute of limitations had expired. The trial, which by law could not happen, wound up with a conviction, largely thanks to bogus jury instructions from former U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, who went on to be forced from the bench after facing assault charges for beating his wife in an Atlanta hotel room.
What three lessons has Karl Rove, over roughly 23 years, taught candidates who might run for office in Alabama?
(1) If you are a Democrat, or non-Rove Republican, the race likely will be stolen from you;
(2) If that doesn't dissuade you from competing, you likely will face trumped-up criminal charges that could ruin your career and your life; and
(3) If that doesn't work, your financial backers are likely to face prosecution, too.
Kyle Whitmire is surprised that Alabama has a lousy field of candidates for the upcoming special Senate election? Gee, why would any semi-competent candidate choose to run for public office in that environment. It's obvious the "political pipeline" is clogged with raw sewage, and who wants to swim around in that?
As for Alabama's MSM, it has trumpeted political prosecutions at every turn. Just consider the esteemed Mr. Whitmire. He has written multiple times that the Siegelman case was properly decided, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. In making such assessments, Whitmire has shown no indication that he has any knowledge about relevant law that was supposed to govern the case.
A strong argument could be made that Alabama corruption, starting in the mid 1990s, has infected our national political culture. In fact, it likely led to Russia's meddling in the 2016 election, leaving us with an unqualified and unstable Donald Trump in the White House, at a time when tensions with North Korea could lead to nuclear war. One must not forget that Trump's presidential campaign seemed to pick up steam when he received the endorsement of former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions via a major rally in . . . Mobile, Alabama.
We long have referred to Alabama as "Ground Zero" for GOP-related political skulduggery. One reason involves geography; the state is smack in the middle of the band of Southern states (from Texas to North Carolina) that consistently vote "red" in presidential elections. Insiders like Rove know that if the Republican Party ever lost Alabama, the rest of the South likely would follow, leaving GOP prospects extraordinarily dim. That's one reason a Democrat like Don Siegelman, who consistently beat GOP opponents at the ballot box, was such a threat.
Now, we have Trump and North Korea tossing threats back and forth -- and one could argue we reached this point via a trail of political corruption that runs right through Alabama.
|Carol Tovich Shuler|
Our guess is that certain discovery requests from Carol are particularly sensitive for Jain and Co. Which ones are they? Let's a take a look at several, with Carol's requests and Jain's responses embedded at the end of this post, in "State's Response to Defendant's Motion for Disclosure . . . ": (Numbers correspond to those in Carol's discovery requests; Carol's requests and the State's responses also are summarized in Carol's "Motion to Compel . . . , " embedded below.)
(1) Carol's Request: All documents related to an investigation of a “critical incident” involving use of force. (Such an investigation is required by the Greene County Sheriff’s Office Policy and Procedure Manual,)
State's Response: The State has provided law enforcement reports to Defendant . . . pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 25.03. These items do not need to be ordered to be disclosed pursuant to Rule 25.04.
What's Up With That Response? The point of Carol's request is to determine if Greene County Sheriff's Office (GCSO) personnel followed their own procedures. Jain conveniently ignores that and claims it is enough to provide incident reports, which have nothing to do with the department's policies or procedures.
(2) Carol's Request: A list of all GCSO personnel, with full names and addresses, who were on the scene during the eviction at 4070 South Fort Ave., in Springfield, MO, on 9/9/15.
State's Response: The names and last known addresses of persons the state intends to call as witnesses have been disclosed to the defendant in the witness endorsements on the Misdemeanor Information filed herein. . . .
What's Up With That? Once again, Carol asks for one thing, and Jain provides something else. Jain provides the names of four officers he intends to call as witnesses. But Carol asks for the identity of all GCSO personnel on the premises that day, and there appeared to be 6-8 officers, maybe twice the number Jain is identifying. Jain's response obviously is ridiculous because the defense (Carol) might want to call anyone who was present as a witness. Seeking testimony is a two-sided affair, so it's hard to see how Jain can argue with a straight face that Carol is not entitled to the names of all GSCO personnel involved in the eviction. That he's dragging his feet suggests he does not want the defense, or the public, to know everyone who was present that day.
(4) Carol's Request: A list of Human Resources records for all GCSO personnel involved in the South Fort eviction on 9/9/15, including all officers on the scene and any other employees who were involved in other capacities.
State's Response: Pretty much the same as for No. 2 above.
What's Up With That? We've been told that law-enforcement offices hate this kind of request. They don't want defendants, or the public, to know about various screw-ups that officers have been involved with in the past, which likely have resulted in complaints or even lawsuits. Carol's request goes to the credibility of officers on the scene, some of whom beat her up and left her with a shattered left arm.
(8) Carol's Request: Copies of all communications, in any format, between or among GCSO officers re: the Shulers or their eviction prior to, during, or after 9/9/15.
State's Response: The State has provided law enforcement reports . . . (and) any information beyond this is not material.
What's Up With That? Carol has stated in court documents, correctly, "This case is not about a crime she committed; it's about crimes committed against her." This request goes directly to Carol’s innocence, that she was the victim of a frame-up, and the police had ill motives. It seeks e-mails, text messages, phone records, and other information that will show cops acted with ill (and probably criminal) intent.
(15) Carol's Request: All documents regarding any new information the GCSO received . . . between Carol's release from jail on 9/9/15 and the filing of an indictment against her on 9/8/16, followed by her re-arrest on 1/30/17.
State's Response: Any information in this time period has no legal or logical relevance to the immediate case and pending charges. This is not not material the court should find . . . relevant.
What's Up With That? Jain seems to be playing stupid here. Carol was released from jail, with no charges against her, on 9/9/15. Then an indictment was brought against her on the last day possible under the one-year statute of limitations. That implies new information was discovered in the interim to cause Carol's second arrest. Unless, of course, there were no grounds for either arrest, and it was done for purposes of harassment and malicious injury.
(16) Carol's Request: All communications between GCSO personnel and Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson regarding the Shulers' eviction, Carol's indictment, and re-arrest.
State's Response: This is not material that the court should find relevant. . . .
What's Up With That? Not relevant? Jain must be joking. It goes to the process that caused a defendant who had been wrongfully arrested once and released with no charges to be indicted and re-arrested again. Carol has raised the issue of ill motives and corrupt conduct by cops and prosecutors, and this request goes directly to that issue.
(25) Carol's Request: Copies of all documents related to evictions during the tenure of Sheriff Jim Arnott -- including personnel and weapons used during the evictions.
State's Response: Essentially the same as No. 2 above.
What's Up With That? This goes to information about the way the GCSO normally handles evictions. Did Carol receive "equal protection under the law," as required by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? This request goes directly to that question.
(28) Carol's Request: Copies of all communications between GCSO personnel and external parties about the Shulers and/or their eviction . . . including (but not limited to) Springfield attorney Craig Lowther (or anyone from his firm), Springfield attorney David Shuler, Springfield resident Don Schlueter, Springfield landlord/businessman Trent Cowherd -- plus any legal/political figures or other individuals from Alabama.
State's Response: Essentially the same as No. 2 above.
What's Up With That? Again, Carol has alleged in court documents that she is the victim of a crime, not the perpetrator of one. This is designed to seek information about individuals who appear to be connected to her wrongful arrest and imprisonment. (Note: I've written previously about all the individuals in this request, except one. That would be Don Schlueter, a one-time friend of mine from college who made multiple trips to Birmingham after my incarceration in Shelby County and the wrongful foreclosure on our house. Schlueter played a major role in causing us to leave our home in Alabama, under duress, and wind up in Missouri. Almost from the moment we got here, he has acted with such belligerence and antagonism toward Carol and me that we no longer want anything to do with him. His behavior turned particularly ugly once I picked up blogging again after getting settled in Missouri. Why would Schlueter, who has a doctorate and is not a stupid guy, think it's any of his business whether I write a blog or not? I've known him for roughly 40 years and never found him to be a particularly controlling or nasty guy. But he's been both since we made the mistake of moving to Missouri. What are his motivations? That's why his name is in this request.)
(30) Carol's Request: Copies of all communications regarding preparation of the probable-cause statement filed by Deputy Debi Wade, leading to Carol Shuler's arrest.
State's Response: Essentially the same as for No. 2 above.
What's Up With That? Carol has shown in court documents that Waid's PC Statement is filled with false information. This goes directly to ill motives among cops and prosecutors, which led to Carol being unlawfully arrested -- twice.
(31) Carol's Request: All records or documents about the whereabouts and actions of GCSO Lt. Phil Corcoran on the day of our eviction.
State's Response: Essentially the same as No. 2.
What's Up With That? Prosecutors clearly are trying not to produce the names of all officers who were on the premises during our eviction. The likely reason is that they want to protect someone who engaged in serious misconduct. Our research indicates Corcoran is the No. 2 guy in the GCSO, and Carol wants to know if he was present on 9/9/15 and if he was among those who laid hands on her, for no lawful reason, and caused her arm to be shattered.
To summarize, here are issues that seem to be sensitive to the prosecution in Carol's case, to the point that the State clearly is stonewalling on discovery:
* Information designed to show whether GCSO personnel did or did not follow their own procedures;
* Information designed to show all GCSO personnel who were present for, or involved with, our eviction;
* Information designed to show the Human Resources records of all GCSO personnel who were involved with our eviction:
* Information designed to show all communications (including e-mails, text messages, phone records, etc.) between or among GCSO personnel regarding the Shulers or their eviction;
* Information regarding documents that point to any new evidence received from the time of Carol's release from jail (with no charges) and her re-arrest in January 2017;
* Information designed to show improper motives involving GCSO personnel and the office of PA Dan Patterson;
* Information designed to show GCSO handling of other evictions under Sheriff Jim Arnott;
* Information designed to provide evidence of communications between GCSO personnel and external parties, including any parties from Alabama;
* Information designed to reveal improper motives behind the preparation of the Probable Cause Statement that led to Carol's re-arrest.
|Car crash at Charlottesville, VA, rally, leading to at least one|
death and more than a dozen injuries, many of them critical.
(By Ryan M. Kelly, Charlottesville Daily Progress via AP)
Public records in Greene County, Missouri suggest certain deputies here think a "terrorist" is someone who writes a blog about legal, political, and police-related corruption. In other words, they think I am a terrorist.
Perhaps deputies should take a look at the photo, above right. It shows a driver plowing a vehicle into a crowd of counter-demonstrators -- people who oppose the message of racism, Nazism, and white supremacy at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville. These are people who take the words of our U.S. Constitution seriously -- especially the 14th Amendment, the one about "equal protection -- and one of them gave her life, and given the number of critically injured, more fatalities might follow.
For you Missouri deputies out there, the guy driving that car . . . he's a domestic terrorist. Even Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions, who has practiced or supported domestic terrorism for years in Alabama, agrees with that. (More about Sessions' ties to domestic terrorism in an upcoming post.)
Why do we need this little lesson? Well, cops seem to have a problem understanding who is, and is not, a domestic terrorist.
For example, if you have been a long-time reader of this blog, I bet you didn't know you were drinking in the words of an "anti-government" terrorist. Just take the word of Missouri deputies who were responsible for the unlawful eviction that left my wife, Carol, with a shattered left arm and bogus criminal charges ("assault on a law enforcement officer") against her.
As we noted in a previous post, Officer Christian Conrad stated in a written report about our eviction that I was "anti-law enforcement." But he wasn't alone. Let's consider these words from Officer Debi Wade, who authored the Probable Cause Statement against Carol:
Recognizing the name and address, Deputy Harrison started looking into Roger Shuler's past; knowing that we would be tasked with the court-ordered eviction if and when it came to that. When [Harrison] 'Googled' his name we found multiple pictures and links to stories about Shuler and learned that he is a very well known anti-government blogger out of the state of Alabama. We also learned that he has been ordered to pay a $3.5 million judgment and was sent to serve time in jail by an Alabama judge for defamation, as well.
How ignorant is this? Let's count the ways:
(1) Anyone who reads and comprehends this blog knows that I am a Democrat, a progressive, a liberal. (See, I don't even consider "liberal" a dirty word.) I'm a white guy from Alabama who voted twice for Barack Obama. By definition, a liberal is pro-government, supporting reasonable regulation and intervention to level a playing field that can get wildly out of whack under conservatives;
(2) Wade knows about a $3.5-million judgment in the Jessica Medeiros Garrison case, but isn't capable of understanding the judgment is void, as a matter of law, because I never was notified of Garrison's default-judgment application or the hearing on said application. (Isn't it interesting that Missouri cops seem to know about a court case involving Jessica Garrison, in Alabama? Hmmm . . . )
(3) Wade notes that an Alabama judge threw me in jail over a defamation case, but doesn't seem to understand that defamation is a civil matter, where the remedy is a money judgment, not throwing the alleged offender in jail. Wade didn't bother to learn that the preliminary injunction leading to my incarceration has been prohibited by more than 200 years of First Amendment law. Ironically, she cites a classic example of my reporting on corruption . . . but, wait, I'm an "anti-government" blogger. In Wade's world, if you support honest government, you are "against" the government. Don't bother trying to make sense out of that because it's impossible.
Domestic terrorism, of course, did not start over the weekend in Charlottesville. It's been around for quite a while, much of it driven by racism. Let's think about a few legitimate anti-government terrorists over the past couple of decades. There is Timothy McVeigh, who blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injuring more than 600. There is Randy Weaver, who instigated the Ruby Ridge standoff in Montana that led to the deaths of three people. There is Cliven Bundy, the rancher whose supporters launched a confrontation with law enforcement in Oregon. Then, there is Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, who killed three people and injured 23 others in a nationwide bombing campaign.
What do all of these domestic terrorists have in common. They all are, or were, right-wing loons. In other words, "anti-government" types are far more likely to be conservatives than liberals -- and no one has accused me of being a conservative in a long time, if ever. Conservatives are the ones always babbling about "keeping the government out of our lives." Liberals tend to welcome government in our lives.
Are these Missouri cops disingenuous, retarded (apologies for using a politically incorrect term), or both. My answer is "both." In their shallow world, standing up to corruption is the equivalent of being anti-government; unmasking the corrupt actions of corrupt actions is being anti-law enforcement.
I know there must be intelligent cops out there, but I don't recall meeting one. In my experience, they consistently have been among the most stupid and useless people I've ever met. These statements from Missouri cops drive that point home -- especially in light of the disturbing and very real terrorism in Charlottesville, VA.
|"Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, VA|
For eight years (2003-2011), such groups had a friendly ear in Alabama, thanks to former GOP governor Bob Riley, who has family ties to the KKK. In fact, an issue that reared its ugly head multiple times during Riley's tenure, when seen in light of the recent violence in Charlottesville, provides a classic example of the dishonesty at the heart of white hate groups.
It should be no surprise that Alabama was well represented at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville. A racist gathering wouldn't be complete without Alabama representatives front and center. That would be like a wiener roast without the wienies.
The purpose of the Charlottesville rally supposedly was the protect a statute of Confederate general Robert E. Lee in a public park. In other words, the white nationalists portrayed themselves as preservationists, trying to ensure that Confederate history did not fade from view.
But for a significant chunk of the 2000s, at least, such groups in Alabama have tried to go way beyond that role; they actively have tried to block efforts to preserve civil-rights history in Alabama and other Southern states. They weren't just trying to preserve Confederate history, they were trying to destroy civil-rights history; they essentially sought to re-write history in a way that would wipe out the efforts of those who fought against hate and racism -- and for equal justice.
The thugs who sparked the violent rally in Charlottesville apparently did not spotlight that part of their ugly past. That's what we mean about dishonesty. In Alabama, Bob Riley was the perfect dishonest, neo-Confederate governor. And the racists held Riley's ugly family history over his head.
This is from a previous Legal Schnauzer post, titled "Former Alabama governor Bob Riley has family ties to KKK, CCC, and other prominent hate groups":
Former Alabama governor Bob Riley has family connections to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), and other extremist groups, sources tell Legal Schnauzer.While governor, Riley backed down from a plan to merge two holidays when angry neo-Confederate groups threatened to go public with his family history.
Riley's father, Eustace Riley Jr. (grandfather of Birmingham attorneys Rob Riley and Minda Riley Campbell), was a KKK Grand Dragon in the small Clay County community of Ashland, according to our sources. The Rileys also have long-standing ties to the CCC, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and United Daughters of the Confederacy.
The CCC's Web site reportedly inspired Dylann Roof to enter a historically black church in June 2015 and shoot and kill nine people. Bob Riley has tried to steer clear of his ties to such ugliness. It hasn't always worked. From our previous post:
Riley now heads a lobbying firm called Bob Riley and Associates, with offices in Birmingham and Montgomery. He has started a Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO), which provides money for students to attend private schools. Riley's SGO is one of a dozen created under the Alabama Accountability Act, a controversial school-choice law passed by the Legislature in 2013.
Why would Riley favor the use of tax credits from public-school revenues to help send kids to private schools? One answer might be money. The law allows an SGO to keep 5 percent of the maximum $25 million in tax-credited donations. Critics say more than $1 million could wind up in Riley's pocket each year.
Riley also might favor private schools because of his family's ties to white-supremacist groups. This was an issue several times while Riley was governor. It was widely reported in fall 2006 that Riley was a member of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Alabama, a secret society governed by documents that forbid membership to "negroes or other inferior races." Birmingham radio hosts Russ and Dee Fine were fired after reporting on Riley's ties to a racist group.
In one report, Riley claimed he had not attended a lodge meeting since he was in his 20s, and he did not know the head of the masons in Alabama. That doesn't make much sense in light of a widely circulated photo of Riley with Grand Master Frank W. Little.
What about white nationalists' efforts to whitewash Alabama history. Riley was in the middle of that, consistently siding with the racists:
In 2004, the executive director of the Alabama Historical Commission resigned because of differences with his board of directors and Gov. Riley over his support for civil-rights preservation projects. Here is how the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) described the resignation of Lee Warner in a winter 2004 report:
|Bob Riley and Masonic leader|
Frank W. Little
The episode was only the latest of the last several years in which museum professionals and preservation officials from around the South have come under sometimes severe pressure from neo-Confederate activists and their sympathizers, occasionally including harassment and various kinds of threats.
In case after case, members of groups like the League of the South and the Sons of Confederate Veterans have agitated against these professionals in a bid to push versions of history that mainstream curators and historians agree are bunk. . . .
And in Alabama, Lee Warner, the former Alabama Historical Commission executive director, told a reporter that many of Riley's appointees to the commission had opposed his plans to create a museum at the old Greyhound bus station, where Freedom Riders were badly beaten in 1961, and to memorialize the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march."
With such "leadership" at the executive level, Alabama provided fertile soil for white supremacy to take root. One of the featured speakers at the Charlottesville rally was Michael Hill, co-founder and president of the Killen, AL-based League of the South. In the days leading up to the Charlottesville event, Hill rattled on about the need of Southern nationalists to secede from the Union. From an Associated Press article on the subject:
The League of the South's longtime president, retired university professor Michael Hill of Killen, Alabama, posted a message in July that began, "Fight or die white man" and went on to say Southern nationalists seek "nothing less than the complete reconquest and restoration of our patrimony -- the whole, entire South."
"And that means the South will once again be in name and in actuality White Man's Land. A place where we and our progeny can enjoy Christian liberty and the fruits of our own labor, unhindered by parasitical 'out groups,'" said Hill's message, posted on the group's Facebook page a day after a rally in support of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Gee, that doesn't sound the least bit racist, does it? And remember, where you find racism, you almost certainly will find dishonesty. Some seemingly have decided that the combination of those two factors makes Southern secession not such a bad idea:
Perhaps the United States should just let the South leave, said author Chuck Thompson.
Thompson's 2012 book "Better Off Without 'Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession" argued that both the United States and the South might both be best served if Southern nationalists won the argument and succeeded in forming a new nation.
The South has been at odds with the rest of the nation for generations over issues including education, race, politics, shared history and religion, Thompson said in a telephone interview, and some things just don't change.
"It's not that just the rest of the country would be better off without them," he said. "It's that everyone would be better off without them, both sides."
The problem, of course, is that Southern thinking no longer is limited to the South. I currently reside in Springfield, MO, where I grew up, and I think racism here has come to equal or exceed that found in Alabama. Voting patterns show that racist, Southern thinking has come to hold sway in large sections of the Midwest, Great Plains, Southwest, and Pacific Northwest.
What is the only state, in the 2008 presidential election, that did not have a single county go for Barack Obama? Answer: Oklahoma.
If the South is going to secede, we need to make sure the region takes with it Southern "thinkers" from non-Southern states. As we have written here several times, white elites in Alabama have formed an under-the-radar "New Confederacy." It's likely that similar schemes have infected public institutions -- courts, police forces, law firms, financial systems, and more -- in other states.
Southern elites will tell you they are trying to preserve a "way of life." In fact, they are creating a rigged system that benefits them, to the detriment of everyone else.
We don't need their racism, and we don't need their dishonesty.
Perhaps the best way to answer that question -- and to illustrate how lawyers of dubious character can act -- is to follow a brief timeline:
(1) On August 25, 2015 -- two days before our court hearing in the eviction case -- David sent me an e-mail in which he made a number of false statements regarding matters involving Carol and me. He said the opposing party, Trent Cowherd, had asked him for assistance in serving us with legal documents. Aside from that, David stated that he did not want to be involved in our business, that he had no hard feelings toward me, and he wished me the best.
(2) I responded the same day, correcting a couple of false assertions he had made and asking him about a document, his letter to Judge Kelly Halford Rose, that I had seen in the court file. (See letter at the end of this post.) From my e-mail:
One final point: On the subject of serving documents, would you please serve me a copy of the letter you wrote to the judge in the Cowherd case? I've only been able to scan it at this point, but I would like to have a copy -- and I believe I'm due to be served with a copy. Again, I haven't digested it fully, but my initial reaction was that it was one of the nastiest, most vile pieces of correspondence I've ever read. In fact, I can't imagine what would possess an attorney to write such an improper and prejudicial ex parte letter at any point, much less the day before a case is to be heard. It should be grounds for the judge's recusal, but I'm sure she will ignore any calls for that. If my memory is correct, there is a line in there stating that your intent (and I'm paraphrasing) is to do everything possible to ensure that Cowherd regains possession. That sounds like your goal is not to represent Mom, but to help Cowherd and hurt me and Carol -- no matter what wrongdoing Cowherd has committed in this matter. I'll be blunt with you, David -- that letter, based on a quick reading, wreaks of spite, meanness, ill will, backstabbing, vindictiveness, and more. And it appears that these feelings toward me have been present in you for a long time. I don't think they suddenly arose when you sat down to write that letter. Why do you have such feelings toward a brother who has tried to treat you with respect and kindness and support? Only you can answer that question. But if I had written a letter like that about anyone -- much less my brother -- I would hope someone would encourage me to set aside a little time for self-reflection and maybe professional help. That letter tells me something is not right in your heart and mind. If I could help you with it, I would, but it's probably not my place -- especially since the vitriol is directed at me.
Just in case David could not grasp all that was revealed in his letter, I decided to spell it out for him:
I've written way too much, but I will conclude with this: You state that you don't want to be involved in my business, that you have no hard feelings. But your letter to the court says something altogether different. It says that you have extremely hard feelings -- for reasons I can't comprehend -- and it says you do intend to stay involved in my business. You are correct, it seems, when you say you no longer want to be involved with efforts to help me. But your letter makes it clear that you intend to go out of your way to help people who want to hurt me. You have encouraged me to seek professional help regarding psychological and emotional issues. The content and tone of your letter suggests that you might need such intervention more than I ever have.
BTW, please serve me with a copy of your letter to the judge. My understanding is that I'm due that under the law.
Did David serve me with a copy of the letter, even after I had asked him at least three times? Nope. Did he have any substantive response to my message? Nope. Here is his only reply:
I acknowledge receipt of your e-mail. Thank you.
Just to make sure David understood that he had an obligation to Carol and me, as parties in a case where he had written an ex parte letter to the judge, I added this, acknowledging that I was aware he had copied my other siblings and sisters-in-law with his e-mail -- and I had copied them with information about his letter:
Are you going to forward me a copy of the letter you filed with the court, as requested in my e-mail reply to you, copied below? As far as I'm concerned, you certainly are welcome to share it with any family members you've copied here. In fact, I think they should see it.
David's response? Crickets . . .
How many ways did Missouri attorney David Shuler lie to me, his brother? Let's count the ways:
(1) He says he does not want to be involved in our business. The letter below shows he very much is involving himself in our business.
(2) He says he holds no hard feelings toward me. The letter below shows he is riddled with hard feelings for me, none of which are justified.
(3) He says he wishes me the best. Apparently, one way he wishes me the best is by doing his best to ensure that I am homeless.
(4) Finally, David says in his e-mail that "unless absolutely necessary, you will have no further contact from me."
David stayed true to his word on the that last one -- if you don't count the 10 e-mails he sent me since that date, plus the petition he helped my other brother file, seeking to have Carol and I declared wards of the state.
Does law school cause brain damage in some people? I swear, I used to think David was a wonderful brother and an all-around good guy -- and Carol and I never have done anything to cause him to hold such ill will toward us. So, why does he clearly have it in for us?
I have no idea. But I sure don't recognize the author of that letter -- and I would say the author has something haywire in his attic.
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The film, Atticus v. the Architect: The Political Assassination of Don Siegelman (directed by Steve Wimberly), had been scheduled for a showing at the Capri Theatre in Montgomery. But former federal prosecutor Leura Canary, who helped ramrod the Siegelman case, serves on the Capri's board of directors and objected to the screening. The board voted to renege on its agreement to rent the theater for a group to show the Siegelman film.
That act of not-so-subtle censorship, however, has not kept the film under wraps. After its premiere on May 10 at the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham, the film has had screenings in Atlanta (two shows, including one at Netroots Nation) and Tuscaloosa, with upcoming shows in Decatur, AL (8/18, Princess Theatre) and Leesburg, VA (8/23, Cobb Village 12).
Josh Moon, of APR, says the documentary makes for a powerful viewing experience. He calls it "scorching." From his review:
No wonder Leura Canary didn’t want people to see the Siegelman documentary.
“Atticus v. The Architect: The Political Assassination of Don Siegelman” is a scorching documentary, particularly if you’re one of the many Republican officials who played a role in the prosecution of Alabama’s former Governor.
The film does not offer much in the way of new information about the Siegelman case, Moon writes. But it takes a complex story and presents it in a solid, professional, understandable package for a mainstream audience:
For all of the local attention this film has received – thanks in large part to Canary’s pushback against allowing the film to be shown in Montgomery — “Atticus” doesn’t really reveal much in the way of new information. What it does – and it’s the first medium to do so – is put the whole sordid ordeal in one tidy package that’s easy for the common person to digest.
That alone would be reason enough for Canary and others to want it stopped. Because it’s only through that perspective, with all of the facts and the sequence of events laid out before you, that you understand the grandness of the scheme against Siegelman. And it is only through that perspective that the impossibility of such a grand conspiracy can be removed, and the lengths and depths to which some will go to gain a political advantage can be exposed.
Some of the most prominent conservative political figures of the 2000s receive withering treatment as underhanded operatives who helped create, and benefit from, the Siegelman case:
Starting with the 2002 gubernatorial race between Siegelman and Bob Riley, “Atticus,” written and directed by Steve Wimberly, travels a course of corruption, much of which it lays at the feet of Riley, Republican operative Karl Rove, Billy and Leura Canary and Eric Holder.
By the end, you walk away with two thoughts: Alabama politics is dirtier than I imagined (which is saying something) and Don Siegelman shouldn’t have been indicted, much less convicted.
It is well worth your time, and your anger.
As for future showings, Moon reports that APR and its affiliated The V television program plan to assist:
APR and “The V” hope to help with that, at least in the Montgomery area. We should have news soon on a new Montgomery screening location and date for the film.
|Luther Strange and Roy Moore|
Some recent polls had Strange missing the runoff, despite the endorsement of Donald Trump. That's because Strange has enough ethical baggage hanging over him to sink the Lusitania.
The spotlight already is shining on that baggage, especially Strange's temporary appointment to the Sessions seat by Robert "Luv Guv" Bentley, the disgraced ousted governor who apparently gave the position to "Big Lutha" in exchange for soft-peddling an investigation on Bentley's sex- and finance-related wrongdoing.
But the spotlight figures to get even hotter between now and Sept. 16, especially since Strange's baggage appears to go way beyond the Bentley deal. In fact, Strange's biggest ethical problem might, appropriately enough, involve dirt -- lots of real dirt. Strange's ties to that scandal might be in the early stages, but we've seen reports that "Lutha" has dirt under his fingernails, and federal investigators are poking around. For good measure, the scandal appears to have some connection to Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Strange's one-time campaign manager and mistress.
As for Doug Jones, he received a high enough percentage of votes yesterday to avoid a runoff and advance directly to the general election. As a staunch liberal, I generally support just about any Democrat with a pulse and three or more brain cells. But Jones is a dismal candidate and an even worse human being, as I will be showing in a series of posts between now and general-election day.
Jones is little more than a whore for the GOP's Riley Political Machine. Jones teamed with Rob "Uday" Riley (son of former Gov. Bob Riley) to help gather more than $50 million in attorney fees from a civil case against Richard Scrushy (codefendant in the Don Siegelman criminal case), HealthSouth, and related entities.
Rob Riley became part of the plaintiffs' team, even though he had blatant conflicts of interest, according to a 2008 report from Huffington Post's Sam Stein. In fact, Stein quoted two sources who suggested that Riley's insider knowledge from the Siegelman/Scrushy criminal case helped force HealthSouth's decision to pay $445 million, one of the largest settlements in securities-litigation history.
We picked up on that theme in a piece that showed Jones is happy to ignore right-wing conflicts if there is enough money on the table. From our 2011 post:
The other co-liaison counsel in the HealthSouth case -- Jones' chief local assistant -- was Rob Riley, the son of former Republican Governor Bob Riley. Why did Doug Jones need Rob Riley on the lawsuit team? Probably because Riley had inside information about former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. And that information probably came from Riley's involvement in a Republican conspiracy to conduct a political prosecution against Siegelman and Scrushy, a scheme that Alabama attorney and whistleblower Dana Jill Simpson revealed to the world.That's enough, for now, about Doug Jones. Even if he were a good Democratic candidate, Jones likely wouldn't stand a chance in the general election. Given that he's mostly a phony and a con artist -- touting his "civil rights" bona fides while the record shows he has little regard for the rule of law and equal justice -- Jones surely will get swamped by Moore or Strange in December.
Should progressives be concerned about Doug Jones' willingness to make money by jumping in bed with a member of the Riley clan? What about Jones' apparent determination to now push tainted nominees to [the] Democratic [Obama] administration?
Regular readers know that Bob Riley has ties to GOP felons Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon. And yet Doug Jones, who now seems to have the Obama administration's ear, is comfortably aligned with Bob Riley's son.
If it came down to Strange or Jones, I wouldn't vote for either one. I'd write in the name of a dead armadillo. We have reason to hope that, regardless of what happens in the Senate race, a "dirty" scandal will finally chop "Big Lutha" down to size.
We've seen signs that the "dirty" scandal hits real close to home for Mrs. Schnauzer and me. We will spell that out in an upcoming post.
Meanwhile, folks who voted yesterday for Luther Strange should think twice about how much dirt they are willing to stomach.
|Birmingham Superfund cleanup|
The No. 1 sign of that baggage is the deal Strange made with Robert "Luv Guv" Bentley, the state's ousted and disgraced governor who temporarily appointed Strange to Jeff Sessions' seat, apparently in exchange for soft treatment from the Strange attorney general's office on an investigation into Bentley's sex- and finance-related misadventures.
But the No. 2 sign of ethical baggage might prove to be even more troublesome for Big Lutha, whether he gets past Roy Moore or not. That would involve Strange's apparent ties to the Superfund scandal on Birmingham's Northside. Federal investigators reportedly are sniffing in several directions, including Strange's, and the case already has yielded one indictment and guilty plea.
If I have my way, Strange also will be facing deposition questions from me or my attorneys in two pending federal lawsuits -- "The Jail Case" and "The House Case"-- involving my unlawful arrest and five-month incarceration in the Shelby County Jail, plus the wrongful foreclosure on our home of 25 years in Birmingham that forced us to move to Missouri. Strange already is a defendant in "The House Case," and he likely will be added as a defendant to "The Jail Case," assuming the U.S. Eleventh Circuit actually follows the law and reinstates both cases, which were wrongfully dismissed by U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor, a Jeff Sessions acolyte. Proctor has recused himself after admitting he had a conflict in "The House Case," and we are moving to have him forced off "The Jail Case" as well.
If the cases are re-assigned to a real judge -- assuming their is one in the Northern District of Alabama -- Luther Strange could be looking at deposition questions on a host of issues that he almost certainly would rather avoid. Those issues would include his personal and financial relationship with former campaign manager Jessica Medeiros Garrison.
How does all of this tie into the Birmingham Superfund scandal? Let's take a look:
Many citizens might understandably think the Superfund scandal started with the indictment and guilty plea of former State Rep. Oliver Robinson on bribery, fraud, and conspiracy charges. Many might also understandably think the scandal -- involving five industrial companies that might be forced to pay $20 million to clean up pollution on the city's north side -- shouldn't be all that big a deal. After all, $20 million, divided by five, is $4 million -- a relatively paltry sum for outfits like Drummond Company, U.S. Pipe, Walter Energy, KMAC, and Alabama Gas.
As it turns out, the Superfund controversy has been going on longer than many of us (including me) realize. And for reasons that are not fully understood yet, it appears to be a much bigger threat to Birmingham's corporate interests -- read that, "Luther Strange supporters" -- than one might think.
That raises this question, which hits pretty close to home: Did the Superfund issue reach a boiling point that made it a factor in my false arrest and incarceration in October 2013 and the wrongful foreclosure that forced Carol and me to leave our Birmingham home of 25 years and flee to Springfield, Missouri, where we still (to our chagrin) reside? To what degree might Luther Strange have been involved in both of those events?
It's been clear to me for some time that Carol and I were attacked -- literally, I was beaten up and doused with pepper spray inside my own home; Carol eventually was beaten by Missouri deputies and left with a shattered left arm that required trauma surgery -- because of (a) something I had written on this blog, or (b) something powerful interests feared I would write on this blog.
Under category (a), several stories could have prompted retaliation -- my coverage of U.S. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor and his ties to 1990s gay pornography; my coverage of an extramarital affair involving GOP operative Rob Riley and lobbyist Liberty Duke; my coverage of an extramarital affair involving Luther Strange and former campaign manager Jessica Medeiros Garrison; my coverage of the Rollins v. Rollins divorce case and related skulduggery involving the family behind Orkin Pest Control; and my coverage of the Upton v. Upton divorce case and related skulduggery involving the family behind Alabama Threaded Products.
|Luther Strange and Jessica Garrison|
With that as a backdrop, let's look at a timeline of the Superfund story -- and we will find it produces some curious results. This information is taken mostly from a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) press release about Oliver Robinson's indictment and guilty plea and from an al.com article titled "North Birmingham's 35th Ave EPA Superfund site explained":
From al.com: "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) arrives on scene in 2011, responding to testing results conducted the previous year by Walter Energy that showed contamination in the neighborhoods around the Walter Coke plant. Some early EPA documents refer to the area as the Walter Coke Site, though it was renamed the 35th Avenue Site to indicate that multiple parties likely contributed to the pollution."
From the DOJ: "In September 2013, EPA notified five companies, including ABC Coke, a division of Drummond Company, that they could potentially be responsible for the pollution. A company determined to be responsible for pollution within the site, known as the 35th Avenue Superfund Site, “could have faced tens of millions of dollars in cleanup costs and fines,” the information states."
From the DOJ: "In July 2014, EPA began considering the petition of a Birmingham environmental advocacy group, GASP, to expand the Superfund site to the Tarrant and Inglenook neighborhoods. EPA granted that petition in October 2014 and contracted with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to perform the preliminary assessment."
From the DOJ: "In September 2014, EPA proposed adding the Superfund site to its National Priorities List, signaling that it required priority attention. Placement on the priorities list would allow EPA to use the federal Superfund Trust Fund to conduct long-term cleanup at the site, provided the State of Alabama agreed to pay 10 percent of the costs, which could equal millions of dollars, according to the charges. EPA’s decision on priority listing for the site remained pending throughout the scheme.
From al.com: "The pollution in the north Birmingham neighborhoods of Collegeville, Harriman Park and Fairmont has been around for more than 100 years. The controversy surrounding the cleanup of that pollution is much newer. . . . Sandwiched between two coking plants, and surrounded by other industrial facilities and heavy rail lines, these neighborhoods have long borne the environmental brunt of the city's steel-making success, but since 2014, a legal battle is being waged between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the state of Alabama and the five nearby industries identified as "potentially responsible parties" to the pollution over who should pay to clean up 100 years of industrial residue."
Why is this timeline curious? Well, let's look first at item (B). September 2013 was a key moment in the Superfund controversy, as the EPA notified five Birmingham companies that they could be held responsible for the pollution, to the tune of "tens of millions of dollars in cleanup costs and fines." What happened in October 2013? Deputies from Shelby County entered our home -- without showing a warrant or stating their reasons for being there -- and beat me up and hauled me to jail for a five-month incarceration that had zero basis in law. Landing in jail makes it difficult to report on a certain subject, any subject. Hmmm . . .
Now, let's look at item (C). It says that July 2014 was another "hot point" in the Superfund controversy, as EPA received a petition to expand the Superfund site to the Inglenook and Tarrant neighborhoods, a request the agency eventually approved. What else happened in July 2014? Carol and I were forced from our home via a wrongful foreclosure and wound up fleeing to Missouri, where it was less likely that I would be able to cover the Superfund story -- or any Alabama story.
One of our pending federal lawsuits, "The House Case," alleges Luther Strange, then Alabama attorney general, and Jessica Medeiros Garrison, his former campaign manager, were part of a coordinated effort to force us out of Alabama. Garrison worked in an "of counsel" role at Balch and Bingham, the Birmingham law firm at the heart of the Superfund scandal, but she mysteriously left that position in May 2017, and her Facebook and Twitter accounts recently went dark.
Strange has opposed the EPA's actions in North Birmingham, as described by al.com:
The state of Alabama also opposed the NPL listing. Then-Attorney General Luther Strange wrote a letter in 2014 to the EPA's regional administrator stating that Alabama did not agree with the proposal to list the site on the NPL and that "no State money will be expended to assist in any cleanup effort at the 35th Avenue Superfund site."
Alabama Political Reporter since has reported that Strange was present when a Drummond representative offered a bribe to State Rep. John Rogers. Al.com has reported that Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions is closely aligned with Balch and Bingham and could be part of efforts to thwart the EPA investigation.
Do we have ironclad proof that my arrest and our wrongful foreclosure were tied to the Superfund controversy? Not yet. Does the timing of the controversy suggest we were attacked to help ensure that I would not report on the subject? Absolutely.
|Ted Von Nukem (left), from southwest Missouri|
The answer to both questions is "yes." And it's a sign that the First Amendment does not provide the kind of expansive free-speech coverage that many Americans think it does.
Gillian B. White. of The Atlantic, addressed the issue in an article titled "Is Being a White Supremacist Grounds for Firing?" White explains how activists on the left got the outing movement rolling:
After white nationalists descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia, a Twitter account with the handle @YesYoureRacist began soliciting the identities of rally goers based on photographs. “If you recognize any of the Nazis marching in #Charlottesville, send me their names/profiles and I'll make them famous,” the account tweeted. And by famous, the user of course meant infamous.
The strategy of exposing the faces of rally attendees to hundreds of thousands of people on Twitter worked, and many were identified. By Sunday, one of those whose name and place of residence had been revealed had reportedly been fired from his job at Top Dog, a hot dog restaurant in Berkeley, California, according to Berkleyside. (A call to Top Dog went unanswered.)
The strategy that ultimately got Cole White, the man who lost his job after being identified via social media, fired directed a mix of public shaming and economic pressure not at him, per se, but toward his employer. It took only a few hours for internet users to come up with an identification, where he was from, and where he worked and then to start calling on Top Dog to let him go. That’s certainly not a brand new tactic, but it’s a variety of vigilantism to which social media is particularly well suited, finding and disseminating information and amplifying calls to action far beyond what would be possible within a single geographic community. After the news broke that White had been fired, many who had participated tweeted delighted responses. ”Awesome! We must shame them into oblivion,” wrote one user.
The left-leaning folks might not find it so awesome if such tactics are used against them someday. For example, what if a pro choice counter-protester at an abortion clinic were photographed, and the picture made its way to his boss, who happens to be pro life? It might not end well for the pro-choicer, as The Atlantic's White explains:
Of course, the consequence of this dynamic is that taboo political ideas of all stripes can lead to workplace sanctions. While many on the political left are now lauding firings as a way to hold white supremacists accountable, it’s also worth remembering that pressuring employers to sever ties based on political activities, or social and racial beliefs, has historically been targeted in the other direction. McCarthyism involved reporting Communists and Communist sympathizers and pushing them out of the workforce, and Hollywood in particular. And as Walter Greason, a historian and professor at Monmouth University said in an interview, “Historically it's more dangerous as an employee to be associated with racial justice and the NAACP, than it was to be affiliated with the KKK.”
What about the First Amendment, what about free-speech protections? Well, White writes, they aren't all that strong, especially when it comes to protecting jobs:
In many cases, firing someone for their political ideas raises few legal issues. Though public-sector workers can’t be terminated for their political views, and many union contracts require that an employer demonstrate “just cause” for firing someone, federal law doesn’t offer any protections for expressing political views or participating in political activities for those who work in the private sector and don’t have a contract stating otherwise, according to Katherine Stone, a law professor at UCLA who focuses on labor law. (There are a few caveats for those in states or municipalities with laws that go beyond the federal mandate.) But more to the point, Stone says, it’s not at all uncommon—or illegal—for private-sector workers to get fired for what they do in their free time if it reflects poorly on their employer. In cases such as this, an employer in the private sector simply isn’t required to employ someone who exercises their right to free speech, Stone says.
Tom Spiggle, of The Spiggle Law Firm in Arlington, VA, drives home a similar point:
First Amendment protections only apply to government workers. So, if you work for the federal government, or, for instance, a sheriff's office, you have First Amendment rights. If you work in the private sector, you don't have any constitutional free-speech rights. In many, perhaps most, instances, a private employer can legally fire an employee for his or her speech, no matter the content. It is, however, a double-edged sword. In most states, you can be legally fired for attending a white supremacist rally or for attending a civil rights march. Four states, California, Colorado, North Dakota and New York, have laws that disallow employers from firing employees for lawful off-duty conduct. Arguably these laws would not protect an employer from participating in a violent rally. Another national and broad protection is speech that involves "concerted workplace activity," for instance, speech about pay or workplace conditions. This includes speech outside of the workplace and on social media. This protection is fairly broad and has been held by the National Labor Relations Board to protect even profane speech as long as it involves a commentary about workplace conditions.
Here are the far-right rally participants known to have lost their jobs:
* Cole White -- worked at Top Dog, a hot-dog eatery in Berkeley, CA;
* Ryan Roy -- worked at Uno Pizzeria and Grill in Burlington, VT;
* Nigel Krofta -- worked as a welder and mechanic at Limehouse and Sons Inc. in Ridgeville, SC.
For the record, a man from my current neck of the woods (southwest Missouri) has been identified as a white-nationalist participant at Charlottesville. His name is Ted Von Nukem, who reportedly lives "somewhere between Springfield and Joplin." No word yet that he has lost a job. A video of Von Nukem can be viewed at the end of this post.
Meanwhile, best-selling author and former Sports Illustrated reporter Jeff Pearlman is contributing to the outing effort. From a Pearlman blog post titled "Dear White Supremacist Marchers . . . ," which references the photo, below left:
… it’s me—John Stevens. I’m the boss at the feed warehouse where that guy on the left works.
… and it’s me—Randy Ott. I’m the boss at the accounting firm where that guy in the middle works.
… and it’s me—Candace Cohen. I’m the boss at the AT and T store where that guy with the mustache works.
… and it’s me—Hillary Chen. I’m the dean at the college where that kid in the plaid shirt attends.
Yup, it’s us. And, as a group, we’d like to say: You’re fired. Expelled. Dumped. Kicked to the curb, like a bunch of low-level racist asswipes.
Did you not think we’d recognize your faces? Did you not think this would get out? You know we have black customers, right? Oh, and Jewish ones, too. A couple of Asians even. Soooo … you’d probably have to agree they don’t really want to frequent businesses staffed by white supremacists. It’s funny how that works.
Say what you want about the pre-Donald Trump KKK—at least they were smart enough to wear hoods. You guys … look at you, marching around like you’re living in 1928 Virginia. You know we have iPhones, right? And TVs? Your faces are everywhere. You’re embarrassments to the world.
So, again, you’re fired.
Go sell your bullshit elsewhere.
We recently discovered a document that suggests the answer is (B). That's disturbing, especially when you consider that I once held David in brotherly, high esteem. But 17 years of legal travails have taught me that sometimes you have to reach harsh conclusions in life, ones you would rather not reach. This seems to be one of those occasions, where truth can't be ignored.
Ever since Carol and I made the mistake of moving to Springfield, Missouri, under duress in summer 2014, David has uttered numerous comments that made me wonder if he knew squat about the law. (See here, here, and here.) Heck, at times, it seemed as if I was the lawyer in the family.
Via multiple communiques in summer 2015, David essentially sent me this message: "You are about to be evicted, and I see nothing unlawful about it." Given that I, a non-lawyer, knew of at least four grounds upon which it was unlawful, I was left to think, "Gee, my brother's dumb as a stump when it comes to knowledge of tenant-landlord law."
Consider the following portion of an e-mail from David, dated 8/11/15, involving a guy named Daniel Smith, who apparently was a housing specialist with some state or local agency:
Just FYI, your landlord has posted notice on your door because you will not answer the door. They are also serving Mom and suing her because she was willing to be a co-signor on your lease. It is my understanding that you have a court date on 8/25. If you aren't able to pay the rent, your landlord can have you forcibly removed from the premises. I don't want to see that happen.
Roger, I am asking you to speak with Dan Smith. I think he can prevent all of the ugliness and upsetting things that are about to happen to you and Carol. Please call him or talk to him if he comes to your door.
I'm not sure if Dan Smith ever came to our door. But I was more interested in the information in yellow above. David says that he knew "ugliness and upsetting things" were about to happen to Carol and me, and he gave no indication he saw anything improper about that. That told me that he considered the impending "ugliness" to be lawful.
Well, we now know that David knew the planned eviction was unlawful, and he chose to do nothing about it -- he didn't even have the decency to mention a key provision of Missouri tenant/landlord law, an item with which I was unfamiliar at the time.
We're talking about RSMo 535.120, which reads as follows:
Whenever one month's rent or more is in arrears from a tenant, the landlord, if he has a subsisting right by law to reenter for the nonpayment of such rent, may bring an action to recover the possession of the demised premises.
Let's back up for a moment and consider this e-mail from David, dated 6/2/15:
Mom asked me to contact you regarding the lease on your duplex. She said she tried to talk to you about it when she recently stopped by to visit, but was unable to do so. She talked to the people at Cowherd Construction and they are willing to extend your lease without a co-signor in that the rent has always been paid in full and on time. The lady suggested that you meet Mom at their office on 6/29 and they would allow you to execute a new lease. This lease would be in your name and would be your responsibility. I do not know if they would require Carol to be on the lease. I would think that they would also want her to sign since she would be living there. I also do not know how they would handle the deposit and pet deposit since those were paid by Mom.
Mom will make the last rent payment on 6/29 which will cover the month of July. You have the option to renew and stay there or of course, you could vacate and pick some place else to live.
This provides two key pieces of information, highlighted in yellow. In the first, David seems to be playing dumb, taking sides with a corrupt landlord over his own brother and sister-in-law. In the second, David confirms key information that helps show he knows the impending eviction is unlawful.
Regarding the first item, David conveniently ignores that I already had a lease in my name, it was due to go month to month, and it was to be the responsibility of Carol and me. There was nothing in the rental agreement that even hinted that we were due to execute a new lease, which would have tied us to Missouri for at least another 13 months.
As for the second item, David confirms that our rent had been paid through July 2015, so we were due to pick up payments on August 1, as the lease went month-to-month.
Now, back to RSMo 535.120. At the time, I thought maybe David was ignorant of its holding that eviction proceedings cannot begin until a tenant is behind on rent by at least one month. But it's now clear that's not the case. How do I know?
On May 19, 2017, David and his wife, Gina Hayes Shuler, filed a Rent and Possession Petition (R and P) against William Earl Snow Jr., a tenant in property they own at 2001 N. Boonville in Springfield. (Seecase.net, No. 1731-AC03525.) The petition seeks payment of back rent and possession of the premises -- and here is revelatory language from the document:
3. Defendant [Snow] entered into a rent agreement with Plaintiffs in which Defendant was to pay rent in the amount of Three Hundred Fifty Dollars and no/100 ($350.00) per month from approximately February 7, 2013, payable the third day of each month.
4. Defendant has failed to make said monthly rental payments in the full amount due and owing in a timely period since March 2017, as agreed upon by the Plaintiffs and Defendant. Plaintiffs have made due demand of the Defendant to pay said sum on a timely basis, and Defendant has wholly failed, refused, and neglected to do same.
This claims Mr. Snow had not paid rent -- at least in the full amount, on a timely basis -- since March 3, 2017. That David and Gina Shuler waited until May 19, 2017, to initiate eviction proceedings indicates they know Missouri law on the matter -- that a tenant must be in arrears by at least one month before a landlord can seek to recover possession of the premises. (The petition is embedded at the end of this post.)
What does this say about my communications with David regarding our rental situation. It means he knew that eviction proceedings begun on August 5, 2015 -- when our rent was only five days late -- were unlawful. He knew all the "ugliness and upsetting things" that were about to happen to Carol and me could not happen, under the law. But he said nothing.
Someone with a modicum of integrity might have said, "Roger, I don't know about some of the grounds upon which you think this planned eviction is unlawful. But I can tell you for sure that the landlord, Cowherd, is violating Missouri law by initiating these proceedings while your rent is not even close to being one month late. I'm not in a position to handle a case such as yours, but I can refer you to RSMo 535.120, which will tell you all you need to know. You can contest the eviction yourself, or I might be able to refer you to a local attorney who works in that area of the law."
How hard would that have been? It would have been easy, but David Shuler lacks that kind of integrity. Most evil pricks do.
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|Andy and Monica Johnson Schroeder|
In a post dated July 12, 2017, we reported that Schroeder -- a graduate of Briarwood Christian High School and Auburn University, and now president/owner of South Central Steel Inc. (SCS) in Harpersville -- appears on the list of paying customers at Ashley Madison. He is married to Monica Johnson Schroeder, a vice president at Capital One who has held several positions in real-estate finance. The couple has two sons -- Chase, who played football at Briarwood and is president of Mountain Top Events in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Drew, who is a current Briarwood student (class of 2019) and a member of the golf team.
All of that is undeniably true, but attorney Tommy B. Majors -- of the Majors Law Firm in Eagle Point -- fired off a "cease and desist" letter (dated August 7, 2017), instructing me that I was about to face a lawsuit if I did not take corrective action regarding defamatory reports about Andy Schroeder. Did Majors point to any specific information in my reports that was false? Nope, but I was to remove it anyway.
Majors invited me, or my attorney, to direct questions to him. When I took him up on that, he provided one of the strangest replies I've ever seen. Here is a portion of the "cease and desist" letter. (The full letter is embedded at the end of this post.)
Andy Schroeder is an accomplished and respected professional in the community who leads South Central Steel Inc., with integrity and hard work. Mr. Schroeder has spent years in the community building his and the company's reputation.
It has come to our attention that you have engaged in spreading false, damaging, insensitive, and defamatory rumors about Mr. Schroeder on your Legal Schnauzer blog. . . . .
The false and defamatory statements published in your blog post on 12 July 2017 and resulting harm to Mr. Schroeder and his family is a perfect example of defamation under Alabama law. Further, the absolute failure to make any attempt to substantiate or verify your allegations in the published blog post indicates a wanton and reckless disregard in posting such false, damaging statements. Due to the extreme nature of your publication, we demand that you:
(2) Immediately cease and desist your unlawful defamation of Mr. Andy Schroeder; and
(3) Provide us with proper written assurance within three (3) days.
Failure to comply with the cease and desist demand within 3 days shall result in the filing of a complaint against you and any other interested parties. Such a suit shall be seeking equitable relief from your defamation, including permanent injunctive relief and appropriate restraining orders, monetary damages, court costs, and attorney fees.
I recommend that you consult with an attorney regarding this matter. If you or your attorney have any questions, please contact me directly.
When I did contact Majors directly, as instructed, the result was . . . well, peculiar, to say the least.
(To be continued)
Blake has an uncle who is a lawyer -- my brother, David Shuler, of Springfield, Missouri. David stepped into the breach to provide representation after Blake pleaded guilty, on his own, to possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after a highly questionable search of his vehicle.
According to court records, David wanted to get Blake's guilty plea withdrawn and the judgment set aside out of concern that the plea would have a negative effect on Blake's future employment prospects. David's plan worked, to an extent, because the court did dismiss Blake's guilty plea on the drug-related charges. But if part of the plan was to ensure that Blake did not come away with a criminal record . . . well, that didn't work so well.
Instead of a guilty plea for drug possession, Blake now has a guilty plea on his record for "peace disturbance" -- and the incident report in the case indicates Blake did not remotely disturb the peace. There is no indication that he was loud, rude, or disrespectful to the police or that he caused alarm to anyone else.
(Note: The incident report, plus David's Entry of Appearance and Motion to Withdraw Plea of Guilty, are embedded at the end of this post.)
It appears David negotiated with Municipal Judge Matthew B. Owen to get the plea down from drug possession to peace disturbance, perhaps thinking it's better to have the latter on your record than the former. But Blake winds up with a blotch on his record for something he did not do. Some potential employers might see this "peace disturbance" on Blake's record and think, "This guy must be a disrespectful, belligerent hothead, and we don't want anything to do with him."
Here is the big question about Blake's case, and it's one David apparently did not want to deal with: Did officers have lawful grounds to search Blake's vehicle? Officers stopped Blake after they observed him drive over the center line twice while in Clever city limits. An officer reported smelling alcohol on Blake, and Blake admitted to drinking one beer. The officer conducted field-sobriety tests, which Blake agreed to take, and claimed on the incident report that Blake failed three portions of the test.
Based on that, the officer placed Blake under arrest for "suspicion of driving while impaired." (Note: The incident report does not say under what statute Blake was arrested. Was it a state law, a municipal ordinance? We don't know. Did David try to find out? We don't know that either. He has chosen not to answer any of our questions.)
Blake was taken to city hall, where he was administered a breathalyzer test, which came back negative for alcohol. (Hark! Blake might be the first driver in history who actually told the truth about the "one beer" bit.) Blake was returned to his vehicle and his passenger/girlfriend Chelsea Cox, where the pair likely thought they would be sent on their way with no charges -- and perhaps an apology from cops for the inconvenience they had caused. (Snort! Cops don't apologize for anything do they? They certainly haven't apologized for breaking my wife Carol's arm during an unlawful eviction in September 2015. In fact, they've lied their asses off in various narratives to make it sound like Carol must have broken her own arm.)
Upon returning to his car, Blake got some disconcerting news -- the kind cops seem to specialize in delivering. A second cop had been called to the scene -- and while Blake was away proving his innocence on DUI -- Cop No. 2 took it upon himself to search the vehicle, apparently without consent. That search turned up the marijuana and paraphernalia, leading to the drug-related charges to which Blake pleaded guilty while representing himself.
Does that scenario smell funny to you? It sure smells funny to me. David Shuler, Blake's lawyer, apparently thought it smelled fine. I see no sign that David questioned either the field-sobriety tests -- which often are administered improperly and produce false results -- or the vehicle search. Those are the two key events that caused Blake's arrest, and David apparently did not question either one.
Why? David is part of the legal/law-enforcement tribe, and perhaps his main objective was to keep them happy -- even if it meant his client wound up with a criminal record he doesn't deserve. For the record, David and Clever Municipal Judge Matthew B. Owen are Facebook friends. What does that tell us? We're not certain, but it suggests Judge Owen did David a favor by withdrawing the drug-related guilty plea, and David did the judge a favor by not making noise about a search that likely was unlawful, violating the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Perhaps David charged Blake nothing -- or very little -- and decided, "I don't have much invested in this case, so I'm not going to put in much work." If his nephew gets a bogus criminal conviction on his record -- for something he did not do -- well, so be it.
The record is clear that there were grounds to challenge the field-sobriety tests and the vehicle search -- but David Shuler apparently did neither, and he has shown no inclination to respond to our questions on the subject.
(To be continued)
|Andy and Monica Schroeder Johnson|
Majors represents Andy Schroeder, president and owner of South Central Steel in Harpersville. We reported in a July 12 post that Schroeder's name appears on the Alabama list of paying customers for the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site. In a letter dated August 7, Taylor demanded that I "cease and desist" from defaming Schroeder's character and remove the offending post from Legal Schnauzer. (A copy of the cease and desist letter is embedded at the end of this post.)
Majors asserts multiple times in his letter that my post about Schroeder is "false," he invites me to direct any questions to him -- and he notes that if I don't remove the post within three days, I will face a lawsuit, seeking money damages, costs, attorney fees, etc. I did, in fact, have a question or two, so I followed instructions and sent my queries to Majors. The No. 1 question: What specifically is false in my report about Schroeder?
The lawyer had a hard time with that question; I had a hard time getting a straight answer from him about anything. In the end, we had a brief e-mail chain that left me wondering, "Why in the hell did this guy send a 'cease and desist' letter, threatening a lawsuit, when he can't articulate anything that is false in my post?" The exchange began with this e-mail from Majors, with his cease and desist letter attached:
Please be advised that The Majors Law Firm represents Andy Schroeder. I am writing you with specific regard to the defamatory statements made in your 12 July 2017 blog post about Andy Schroeder. Please see attached Cease and Desist Letter requesting the immediate removal of the posting and further assurance that you will cease further defamation.
Please email me with any questions and for further information on how to supply the written assurance.
Tommy B. Majors IV
As you can see, I was instructed to address questions to attorney Majors; so, I did:
You allege my blog post re: Andy Schroeder contains false and defamatory statements, but you provide no specifics. What specifically do you claim to be false in the post? Are you claiming that Mr. Schroeder's name does not appear on the list of paying customers at Ashley Madison?
You might think that would be an easy question for a lawyer to answer. But you would be wrong, and it prompted Majors to take the e-conversation in a peculiar direction:
In all sincerity, I assure you that Mr. Schroeder was not nor was ever a paying or otherwise subscribed member to Ashley Madison. Mr. Schroeder is a good man, a loving husband and father. Whatever information you based the post on, it is not true.
In the kindest way possible, please remove the post. We ask with kind regards, but if we are forced to we will take the appropriate action to clear his good name.
Wow, a lawyer wants me to take his claim "in all sincerity." Good thing I didn't have a mouthful of food when I read that. Mr. Taylor probably would be surprised to learn that when a lawyer "assures" me of something . . . it's not all that assuring. When a lawyer asks me to do something with "kind regards," accompanied by a threat, I don't take it so kindly. So, I tried to clarify things:
You didn't answer my question, which is this: Are you claiming that Andrew R. Schroeder's name does not appear on the list of paying Ashley Madisoncustomers in Alabama?
How did Majors reply to that? He didn't. But I still had questions, so as instructed, I directed them to him -- and I decided that two can play the threat game:
I have another question: Are you saying you have checked the list of Ashley Madison paying customers in Alabama, which is widely available, and the name Andrew R. Schroeder isn't on there? As an attorney, I'm sure you are aware of your Rule 11 obligations to investigate claims before filing suit. You likely are aware that an Alabama lawyer recently was disciplined for failing to adequately investigate a client's claims before filing suit. You should have completed an investigation before dashing off a threatening letter to me. That you apparently didn't suggests you and your client know you have no case, and your letter was sent only for purposes of intimidation and harassment. Such reckless acts can have serious consequences for you and Mr. Schroeder.
Bottom line: If you haven't investigated your client's claims, I would suggest you do so. If you have checked the Ashley Madison list and can't find the name of Andrew R. Schroeder, with an address in Greystone, I would suggest you look a little harder.
You should know that I have 35 years of experience as a professional journalist, and I don't take kindly to threatening letters from lawyers, who don't know what they are talking about. I take my rights and responsibilities under the First Amendment seriously, and any baseless lawsuit filed against me will be met with counterclaims, motions for sanctions, bar complaints, and any other appropriate actions.
My post re: Mr. Schroeder is 100 percent factual and is not defamatory in the slightest. It will not be removed. I attempted to reach him via Facebook before publication, giving him every opportunity to comment or answer questions, and he did not respond. Contrary to allegations in your letter, I did my due diligence. Unlike you, I did the research necessary to know that Mr. Schroeder's name is on the list.
If you proceed with a baseless lawsuit, you should know that you will have a fight on your hands. If your client has a problem with his name appearing at Ashley Madison, I would suggest he contact Ashley Madison.
What was Majors' response? Nothing, crickets. Apparently, you can ask him questions, but that doesn't mean he's going to answer them. That last e-mail was dated Aug. 9, and I've heard nothing since then from Schroeder or his lawyer. The lawsuit that was promised within three days has not materialized.
What were Majors and Schroeder trying to pull with their threatening letter? I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing they knew they had no defamation case, but they thought I might be an easy mark and would remove the post anyway. It apparently never occurred to them that I might have a spine, I might know a thing or two about communications law, and I might have thoroughly researched my article before posting it.
Will they still take some sort of action? Too early to say, but we will keep you posted.
First came reports that a news Web site had arranged for a showing in Montgomery of the documentary Atticus v. The Architect: The Political Assassination of Don Siegelman. Then came a mostly favorable interview yesterday with Neil Cavuto, of Fox News, in which Siegelman argued that President Donald Trump should pardon him.
A screening of the Siegelman documentary is set for 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 1 at the Davis Theatre for the Performing Arts on Troy University's Montgomery campus. (Note: Mrs. Schnauzer and I were fortunate to catch a concert by Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham in March 2007 at the Davis Theatre. As a long-time fan of Buckingham's work, I consider this perhaps the finest concert I've ever attended. And we give the Davis Theatre two thumbs up as a venue. It should be a fine place to view the Siegelman film.)
Prattville-based Alabama Political Reporter (APR) is sponsoring the showing, after the Capri Theatre canceled a scheduled screening because of complaints from board member Leura Canary, who was U.S. attorney for the Siegelman prosecution. From a report by APR's Josh Moon:
“Atticus v. The Architect: The Political Assassination of Don Siegelman,” as the documentary is officially named, was originally set to be shown at the Capri Theater in Montgomery in July. But former Federal Prosecutor Leura Canary, who serves on the Capri board, convinced her fellow board members in June to rescind that rental agreement.
Montgomery residents were outraged, and a heated Capri board meeting a few days later ended in nasty exchanges but no change in the vote.
That’s when APR owners Bill and Susan Britt decided to step in.
“When we heard that the documentary showing in Montgomery had been cancelled because of pressure from the so-called political elites, it wasn’t surprising,” Bill Britt said. “We don’t like censorship at APR, and we decided we’d do whatever we could to give Montgomery residents an opportunity to see the film, to judge for themselves the contents of it.”
It only makes sense that the film be shown in Montgomery. But Moon reports it was a challenge to make the screening a reality, and it might not have happened without a push from Dr. Jack Hawkins, president of Troy University:
Much of that story took place in Montgomery, and the city served as a backdrop for much of the documentary.
Siegelman served as governor in this city. He was tried in this city and found guilty by a jury that resides in this city. Many of the people featured in the documentary reside in Montgomery.
And yet, time and again, APR ran into fear and bureaucracy when trying to find a location to show the film. Every venue was surprisingly busy or uninterested in accepting their usual rental fees to show “Atticus.” Some never returned calls. Others had exorbitant insurance demands.
Enter: Troy president Dr. Jack Hawkins. . . .
“We are committed to freedom of speech and transparency,” Hawkins wrote. “Within the Academy and within a free society there is little room for censorship.”
That did the trick. A contract was prepared and signed within days.
Many props to Hawkins, the Britts, APR, and Troy University for making this happen. How is this for irony? The Davis Theatre has a seating capacity of 1,200 (compared to 700 at Capri) and almost certainly is nicer and more spacious than the film house. Our message to Leura Canary and the cowards on the Capri's board: Stick it up your collective ass.
|Davis Theatre, in Montgomery|
Cavuto did note the dubious nature of the Siegelman case, which also ensnared former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy:
Cavuto stated with amazement that "Normally you look for a big ole suitcase of cash but there was no suitcase and no cash [in your case.]"
He warned "this could happen to Republican or Democrat, anyone in power, because . . . [in] campaigns you get money. . . they could be perfectly innocent but all of a sudden it looks like a 'Pay to Play' deal."
The interview can be viewed at the link below:
Don Siegelman interview with Neil Cavuto of Fox News
The case is Rodriguez v. United States (Sup. Ct., 2015), which involved a driver and his passenger who were stopped for a traffic violation -- driving on the shoulder of the highway. Instead of simply dealing with the traffic issue, a police officer conducted a dog-sniff search of the vehicle, which turned up methamphetamine. Rodriguez was hit with federal drug charges and a magistrate judge refused to suppress evidence from the search. Rodriguez entered a conditional guilty plea and was sentenced to five years in prison. On appeal, the case went to SCOTUS, which found the search violated the Fourth Amendment and vacated the judgment.
My nephew, Blake Shuler, went through a similar unlawful search (minus the dog sniff) in Clever, MO, but he wound up with a criminal record anyway -- for "peace disturbance." We will have more on the Rodriquez case shortly. But first, I would like to drive home why this case matters to me, and why it should matter to you.
I have a criminal record in Alabama for an offense -- resisting arrest -- that I did not commit and should not be on my record, for several reasons. One, it came as the result of an unlawful traffic stop. Two, it came as the result of an unlawful entry to our home -- without an apparent warrant, without the cop stating his purpose for being on our property, and with no allegation of a crime. (It involved an alleged contempt of court over a preliminary injunction in a defamation lawsuit, with such injunctions having been prohibited by more than 200 years of First Amendment law. In other words, the officer had no criminal issues to tend to at my home; it was a 100 percent civil matter.)
Both the traffic stop and the entry to our home of 25 years in Birmingham are violations of the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Still, I wound up with a resisting arrest charge, even though Officer Chris Blevins admits in his incident report that I never initiated contact with him -- while he pushed me to the concrete floor in our basement three times, doused me with pepper spray, and one of his associates threatened to break my arms.
Bottom line: I know what it feels like to have a bogus criminal mark on my record, and it sucks. It makes you ask, "Where do I go to get my reputation back?" I didn't like it when it happened to me -- and we have two pending federal lawsuits in an effort to resolve the violation of civil rights -- and I don't like it now that cops concocted bogus "assault on a law enforcement officer" charges against my wife, Carol, in the wake of our unlawful eviction in Springfield, Missouri on Sept. 9, 2015. That also was the result of gross Fourth Amendment violations.
Records now suggest another member of my family, nephew Blake Shuler, also has a bogus criminal blotch on his record. Blake's issues started with a traffic stop in Clever, MO, for alleged DUI and involved a field-sobriety test that he supposedly failed -- followed by a breathalyzer test, which came back negative for alcohol. While Blake was proving his innocence of the alleged offense at Clever City Hall, a second officer who had been called to the scene, decided to conduct a search of Blake's vehicle, apparently without bothering to ask for consent. That turned up marijuana and drug paraphernalia, so police hit him with those charges -- even though he had proven innocent on the charge for which he was stopped.
Blake pleaded guilty to the drug-related charges, while representing himself. His lawyer-uncle, David Shuler (my brother) made an appearance in the case and got the drug-related guilty plea withdrawn. But Blake still wound up pleading guilty to "peace disturbance," even though there is nothing in the public record to suggest he disturbed the peace in any way. (Incident report is embedded at the end of this post.)
I was convicted of a bogus charge largely because I was dealing with a corrupt court system in Shelby County, AL -- but it didn't help that my resisting-arrest trial came while I already was unlawfully incarcerated in the defamation matter, and I had no opportunity to prepare a defense and no ability to hire a lawyer, even if a good one had been available. Blake had a lawyer, but his uncle David apparently was not willing to fight for him. David probably was interested mainly in catering to Clever Municipal Judge Matthew B. Owen (who is one of his Facebook friends) and placating the keystone cops who apparently populate the city's police department. It also is possible David didn't charge Blake anything, so he put forth minimal effort. If that's the case, our review suggests Blake got what he paid for -- nothing.
This much is clear: David doesn't want to answer questions about the case. We've given him multiple opportunities, and he has not responded to our queries.
At least three aspects of Blake's case were ripe for challenge from a competent lawyer. It appears David didn't challenge any of them one. We will look at two of the issues today and examine the third one (the most important one, by far) tomorrow.
(1) Field-sobriety tests -- The police narrative claims Blake was administered field-sobriety tests and failed three of them. But the report provides no details on what tests were administered, how they were administered, and how police determined that Blake failed them. That Blake allegedly failed the field tests but then passed the breathalyzer test raises all kinds of questions about how the field tests were conducted. But David Shuler apparently didn't bother to ask such questions. Blake was arrested based on the outcome of the field tests, but they are known for questionable reliability. From an article at the Web site for Ward and Associates, a St. Louis, MO, law firm:
Many times, police officers have inadequate training, and the field sobriety tests are not properly administered. The average police officer learned about the exercises/tests at the police academy, and has had no training since that time. The result is that the required testing conditions and scoring procedures are never learned, or they are forgotten or modified.
Police officers have also been known to create their own tests, such as having the subject recite the alphabet backwards, starting from the letter M, and then fail the subject because he or she could not do so. Having to recite the alphabet backwards is not a recognized field sobriety test in Missouri or anywhere else.
The research conducted by NHTSA attributing a likelihood of impairment assumed that the police officer properly administered, interpreted and scored the standardized field sobriety tests. If the officer does not properly administer the tests, NHTSA states that their “validity is compromised.” In such case, they should not have been relied on.
Were Blake Shuler's field tests reliable? It appears David Shuler didn't bother to find out.
Section 210.200. Peace Disturbance. A. A person commits the offense of peace disturbance if: 1. He/she unreasonably and knowingly disturbs or alarms another person or persons by: a. Loud noise; b. Offensive language addressed in a face-to-face manner to a specific individual and uttered under circumstances which are likely to produce an immediate violent response from a reasonable recipient; c. Threatening to commit a felonious act against any person under circumstances which are likely to cause a reasonable person to fear that such threat may be carried out; d. Fighting; or e. Creating a noxious and offensive odor. 2. He/she is in a public place or on private property of another without consent and purposely causes inconvenience to another person or persons by unreasonably and physically obstructing: a. Vehicular or pedestrian traffic; or b. The free ingress or egress to or from a public or private place.
The offense essentially involves making a loud noise, using offensive language, making a threat, or fighting. There is nothing in the police narrative to suggest Blake did any of those things. So why did David Shuler allow his nephew to plead guilty to something he didn't do?
Again, David isn't answering questions, but we will show the questions posed to him in an upcoming post, after we take a closer look at Rodriguez v. U.S.
(Previously in this series)
Blake M. Shuler, my nephew, pleads guilty to possession of marijuana and paraphernalia . . . (6/29/17)
My nephew, Blake M. Shuler, faced a harsh lesson of American life . . . (7/26/17)
My nephew got legal help from Missouri lawyer David Shuler . . . (8/23/17)
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|Trent and Sharon Cowherd|
The humor can be found in Cowherd's Petition for a Rent-and-Possession (R and P) order that would remove us from rental property at 4070 S. Fort in Springfield, Missouri. Cowherd is not content to simply get his rental unit back, he has his undies bunched because he somehow is convinced that someone -- namely, my wife, Carol -- had been living unlawfully in the unit with yours truly.
Never mind that on the day I signed the Rental Agreement in Missouri, I told Cowherd's leasing agent that my spouse of 25 years was in Birmingham gathering our belongings and would be joining me to live at the rental unit in Springfield -- and the leasing agent said that would be A-OK. The agent filled out the document, based on what I told her, but she neglected to write down Carol's name as a tenant or lessee. Was that on purpose? Probably so. Was it at the direction of one or more members of my family? Given how they have dumped on Carol and me since we got married, the answer probably is yes. (The Petition and Rental Agreement are embedded at the end of this post.)
If anyone ever doubts that Trent Cowherd is a crooked, dishonest, lying bully, just consider these foreboding, tough-guy words from his Petition, prepared by "attorney" Craig Lowther:
7. Upon information and belief, there is a person or persons not lawfully occupying the above described premises as either a tenant or lessee.
8. Pursuant to RSMo. 441.760, [Cowherd] requests the court order any person not lawfully occupying the dwelling unit as either a tenant or lessee be immediately removed.
Wow, sounds like I was hiding an ISIS cell in that rental unit. The humor comes when you check out page 7 of our eight-page rental agreement. That page is titled "Rental House Pet Agreement," and they must have let me fill that out because it appears to be in my squiggly hand writing -- which was more squiggly than unusual, given that I had just spent five months in an Alabama jail and was going through a bogus foreclosure on our home of almost 25 years in Birmingham.
It wasn't until almost one year later, when our 13-month lease was almost up, that I realized the woman had neglected to put Carol's name on the lease. Was that an accident? I doubt it, especially considering that we recently discovered the R and P Petition to learn that Cowherd was making a big deal about the presence of an "outlaw" at our unit.
Let's consider what Cowherd/Lowther wanted a court to believe: That I remembered Chloe and Baxter, our cats, were going to be living with me in Springfield, and I put down all kinds of specifics about them -- but I didn't remember that I had a wife, she had been my one and only wife for 25 years, and she was going to be living with me, too.
Now, I love our pets. This blog is named in honor of our first pet -- the original Legal Schnauzer, Murphy Abigail Shuler. And I loved our cats just as much as I loved our dog. But I'm going to remember our cats and not say a word about my wife? I don't think so.
This might not be the kind of humor that appears on SNL and goes viral on the Web. But it's pretty darned funny to me, almost like an old Henny Youngman routine. "Oh yes, my cats will be with me at all times. My wife? Gee, I forgot I even had one. Who is this wife person of whom you speak? Take my wife, please!"
Shouldn't the not-so-clever cops in Clever keep up with U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decisions? Yes, they should, but Blake's experience indicates they do not. Clever Municipal Judge Matthew B. Owen certainly should keep up with high-court rulings -- as should any attorney who practices before him, such as Blake's "counsel," David Shuler (my brother) But alas, they don't seem to keep up with them either. Perhaps the cops, the lawyers, and judge simply don't care what the nation's highest court rules -- especially if it runs contrary to their personal beliefs or instincts.
Such stupidity and/or callousness has repercussions for the public. In Blake Shuler's case, it left him with a criminal record he does not deserve. How do we know? A SCOTUS ruling that is barely two years old -- focusing like a laser on the law of traffic stops and vehicle searches -- makes it clear.
First, let me note that this case goes way beyond a family member's experience in a tiny midwestern town. Issues related to traffic are probably the No. 1 reason many Americans come in contact with our "justice system." And what often starts out as an incident that appears likely to end in a ticket or a warning, can suddenly turn much more serious. In fact, Americans probably are most vulnerable to abuse of ignorant or reckless law-enforcement officers when they are driving, or riding in, a vehicle.
Here is some advice from the Legal Schnauzer: Next time you get pulled over by a cop, remember one word: Rodriguez. It tells you much of what you need to know about search of a vehicle.
SCOTUS found in Rodriguez v. U.S. (2015) that "a police stop exceeding the time needed to handle the matter for which the stop was made violates the Constitution’s shield against unreasonable seizures. A seizure justified only by a police-observed traffic violation, therefore, “become[s] unlawful if it is prolonged beyond the time reasonably required to complete th[e] mission” of issuing a ticket for the violation."
The Rodriguez court goes on to hold that extension of the stop beyond its traffic-violation purpose is lawful only if officers have a "reasonable suspicion" that additional criminal activity is associated with the vehicle. From the opinion:
We granted certiorari to resolve a division among lower courts on the question whether police routinely may extend an otherwise-completed traffic stop, absent reasonable suspicion, in order to conduct a dog sniff. . . . [W]ithout additional reasonable suspicion, the officer must allow the seized person to depart once the purpose of the stop has concluded.”
The dog sniff in Rodriguez produced more than 50 grams of methamphetamine, and the driver faced federal drug charges that had him staring at a five-year prison sentence. But SCOTUS found the purpose of the stop involved an officer's observation that Rodriguez had driven on the shoulder of the road. Did the officer have reasonable suspicion of any other criminal activity, beyond the traffic violation? In other words, was there any reason to suspect there were drugs in the vehicle, justifying extension of the stop and a search of the vehicle via a dog sniff?
An officer, in other words, may conduct certain unrelated checks during an otherwise lawful traffic stop. But contrary to JUSTICE ALITO’s suggestion . . . he may not do so in a way that prolongs the stop, absent the reasonable suspicion ordinarily demanded to justify detaining an individual.
What about Blake Shuler and his passenger, once a breathalyzer test proved he was innocent of DUI? Should they have been allowed to depart, instead of being subjected to a vehicle search? There is nothing in the incident report suggesting police suspected the presence of drugs in the car, or suspected any other criminal activity associated with the car or its passengers. In light of the 2015 Rodriguez case, the cops narrative (see below) strongly suggests they had no "reasonable suspicion," meaning the vehicle search was unlawful.
Did David Shuler pursue that line of defense for Blake? The record indicates he did not, and David is not responding to questions about the matter. But we next will present the questions that were posed to him.
(Previously in this series)
Blake M. Shuler, my nephew, pleads guilty to possession of marijuana and paraphernalia . . . (6/29/17)
My nephew, Blake M. Shuler, faced a harsh lesson of American life . . . (7/26/17)
My nephew got legal help from Missouri lawyer David Shuler . . . (8/23/17)
Recent SCOTUS ruling indicates . . . (8/28/17)
All three documents are embedded at the end of this post, and we also link to them in the text of this post. Let's briefly examine each one, knowing that together, they provide a mountain of evidence that the eviction leading to Carol's broken arm was unlawful:
(1) Notice of Appeal -- This shows that we timely filed the Notice of Appeal, inside the 10-day window allowed by Missouri law. It was filed at 11:56 a.m. on Sept. 8, 2015, roughly 27 hours before cops arrived to evict us. It also shows we paid the $70 filing fee -- and a copy of the court order we were appealing shows there was no money judgment, so no bond was required. This one document shows the eviction was unlawful, and Wade admits she saw it. So how did we get thrown out of our home? I can think of only one explanation -- cops are stupid, incompetent, and dishonest.
(2) Case.net Retrieval Notice -- The date on this document is not clear, but it apparently was filed on Sept. 8, 2015. The notice states: "Notice of Appeal saved and attached in PDF format for Attorney(s) to retrieve from secure case.net. Notice of Appeal sent electronically to Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District." I sent notice via e-mail to all lawyers involved in the eviction case -- Gregory Lulich, of Johnson Lowther firm, and my own corrupt brother, David Shuler. So they had two forms of notice -- the one I sent, and the one noted in this document via secure case.net. Is there any excuse for two attorneys to allow a clearly unlawful eviction to proceed? I can't think of one.
(3) Missouri Court of Appeals Correspondence -- This document, dated Sept. 9, 2015, shows that not only had we filed a Notice of Appeal, but the Missouri Court of Appeals had received it.
Debi Wade stated that she could find nothing that stayed our eviction, and no one in the sheriff's legal office could find it either. These documents show she was lying or was blazingly incompetent.
The U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in a "Do Not Publish" opinion dated August 23, 2017, overturned the dismissal by District Judge R. David Proctor in the Northern District of Alabama. The Eleventh Circuit, based in Atlanta, covers Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. The case is styled Roger Shuler, et al v. Liberty Duke, et al. (The opinion can be viewed at the link above and is embedded at the end of this post.)
We have referred to this as "The Jail Case,"to distinguish it from "The House Case" (involving a wrongful foreclosure on our home of 25 years in Birmingham). An appeal on "The House Case" is pending in the Eleventh Circuit.
Our complaint in "The Jail Case" was filed on March 26, 2016, and the court issued its final dismissal order on September 14, 2016. We timely filed a notice of appeal, and the case had been sitting in the Eleventh Circuit for almost a year. Courts can be slow, but that is a ridiculously long time for an appeal that involved a clear and simple issue -- in a case that hasn't really gotten started yet. I happened to check the Eleventh Circuit Web site late Tuesday night and was shocked to see an opinion finally had been issued. I was even more shocked when I read the two-page ruling and realized the court had found in our favor.
Under the law, that's the only ruling the court could make. But we've had similarly clear-cut rulings go against us before, so I was braced for the worst. In fact, I hardly knew how to react to a federal-court victory -- even a small one. It's the first time in our 17-year legal sojourn that a federal court has gotten the facts and law correct, ruling in our favor.
Defendants in "The Jail Case" include Homewood attorney Rob Riley (son of former Gov. Bob Riley) and members of his Riley Jackson law firm; lobbyist Liberty Duke and her attorney, Christina Crow; former Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry and three of his deputies, including Chris Blevins, the officer/thug who entered our home without a warrant, beat me up, and doused me with pepper spray; federal judge Bill Pryor; businessman Ted Rollins (and Campus Crest Communities), his stepmother Michele Rollins (and Rollins Jamaica), his former stepson Zac Parrish (and McMichael and Parrish Homes); and Google.
|Rob and Bob Riley|
In his dismissal order, Proctor claimed we were granted only "partial IFP" status and were not entitled to have the clerk's office in Birmingham's Hugo Black Courthouse effectuate service. We argued there is no such thing as "partial IFP" status under the law, and in so many words, the Eleventh Circuit agreed with us. From the opinion:
We review a district court’s sua sponte dismissal for failure to effect service under Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(m) for an abuse of discretion. Richardson v. Johnson, 598 F.3d 734, 738 (11th Cir. 2010) (per curiam). “We affirm unless we find that the district court has made a clear error of judgment, or has applied the wrong legal standard.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).
Without addressing the merits of the appeal, we reverse the district court’s dismissal because it should have effectuated service for the Shulers, who had IFP status. Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(c)(3), the district court must order that service be made by either a United States marshal, a deputy marshal, or by any person specially appointed by the court when the litigant is proceeding under IFP status.
I was starting to think I might never live to read such words from a federal court -- words that nailed it on the facts and law, words that found in our favor. I keep rereading the opinion to make sure it's true.
How simple are the issues at this point in the proceedings? We spelled that out in the primary section of our appellate brief:
The district court has granted the Shulers in forma pauperis (IFP) status in two pending cases – the instant case and a related case styled Shuler, et al v. Garrison et. al (Case no. 2:16-CV- 695-VEH). The court in Garrison, without interference from a judge (it was under a different judge from Proctor at the time), issued summonses and executed service for the Shulers, as required under statutory and case law. Garrison, which was filed after the instant case, has moved along at a normal pace. But Proctor, in the instant case (Duke), unlawfully interfered and prevented court-conducted service, meaning Duke has been stuck in limbo, with no service on defendants.
This is not just a matter of Proctor getting the law wrong in Duke– although he clearly has. It’s also a matter of gross inconsistency. The Northern District of Alabama has followed the law regarding court-conducted service for IFP parties in one case, while ignoring it in another. . . .
Here are more on specifics of the relevant law:
The foundational law is found at 28 U.S.C. 1915 (“Proceedings in forma pauperis"), which holds at section (d):“The officers of the court shall issue and serve all process, and perform all duties in such cases. Witnesses shall attend as in other cases, and the same remedies shall be available as are provided by law in other cases.”
FRCP 4 (c)(3) drives the point home further: “By a Marshal or Someone Specially Appointed. At the plaintiff's request, the court may order that service be made by a United States marshal or deputy marshal or by a person specially appointed by the court. The court must so order if the plaintiff is authorized to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. 1915.
The three-judge panel that issued the reversal included Charles R. Wilson (Clinton appointee), Julie E. Carnes (Obama appointee), Jill A. Pryor (Obama).
What happens next? We will address that in an upcoming post. But the main thing is this: The court will issue summonses and complaints to defendants, as required by law, and a case that should have been well under way -- maybe near the finish line -- finally will get rolling.
Many questions lie ahead, but this much is certain: "The Jail Case" lives!
|Cops arresting Utah nurse Alex Wubbels|
“I’m not here to police the police,” Alex Wubbels said on NBC‘s TODAY Show. ”The police need to do that if they’re going to regain any kind of trust by me or the public.” (Video is embedded at the end of this post.)
It's understandable that Wubbels did not want to risk being the target of blow back from powerful law-enforcement organizations. But Wubbels is dreaming if she thinks police are capable of policing themselves. My wife, Carol, knows that from firsthand experience -- and Carol was roughed up much worse by cops during our unlawful eviction in Springfield, Missouri, than was Wubbels in Salt Lake City. I've seen no reports that Wubbels received any injuries; Carol has a foot-long scar, plus all kinds of internal hardware that was required to surgically piece her arm back together after deputies shattered it. (See X-rays below.)
That's not to downplay Wubbels' experience. It was an example of gross police abuse, which has sparked national outrage, mainly because most of the incident was caught on video. This is from a report at the Salt Lake Tribune:
On July 26, Salt Lake City police detective Jeff Payne wanted Wubbels to draw the blood of 43-year-old William Gray, who was unconscious after being involved in a fiery crash earlier in the day in Logan. Wubbels refused, citing hospital policy against drawing the blood of someone without their consent or without a warrant for arrest. [Last] Thursday, body camera video was released of Payne shouting at Wubbels and handcuffing and arresting her on suspicion of obstruction of justice. Police released her after about 20 minutes.
A protest was conducted on Saturday evening in Salt Lake City:
|X-ray of Carol Shuler's broken arm|
before seven hours of trauma surgery
Those who gathered at a Utah Against Police Brutality rally on Saturday evening asked for the detective’s immediate firing and called for more transparency from government officials.
“This was an egregious act of police violence against one of the most important people in our community — a nurse,” organizer David Newlin told the crowd. “Someone who gives her life, gives her time to heal the most vulnerable among us.”
Protesters chanted, “Acts of police brutality, not in our community,” and called for justice for Wubbels as they held signs declaring, “Hands off our nurses” and “Fire Detective Payne.”
Can police be trusted to handle this matter? Based on our experience, the answer is, "Hell, no!" Consider what cops have done in the aftermath of breaking Carol's arm:
* Carol was trying to retrieve our cat's litter box during the eviction, when a Greene County deputy grabbed her from behind, slammed her butt-first to the ground, and yanked on both of her arms (in an upward and backward motion, while she still was seated), breaking her left arm so badly that it required trauma surgery for repair.
* Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott was standing about five feet away when Carol was brutalized, and in classic cover-your-ass mode, he immediately pointed at her and said, "She assaulted a police officer."
* Carol was handcuffed (behind her back, while her arm was broken), tossed in the back seat of a squad car, and taken to jail, where a deputy claimed she would be hit with a felony charge and likely $100,000 bond. When Carol complained of pain in her left arm, she was taken to a nearby hospital emergency room, where X-rays revealed multiple breaks. She was released without charges and taken to Cox Medical Center, where she eventually underwent more than seven hours of surgery, which involved numerous possible complications.
* On the last day before the one-year statute of limitations ran out, Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson filed misdemeanor "assault on a law enforcement officer" charges against Carol -- the victim of a cop assault -- and she was arrested a second time. This is a classic "cover charge," which rogue cops are known to bring against victims who have strong civil cases against them.
* The Probable Cause Statement and Misdemeanor Information in the case show there is not the slightest piece of admissible evidence to support Carol's arrest, much less a prosecution. A trespass charge against her has been dismissed, but the "assault" charge remains -- even though it must be dismissed, by law, on multiple grounds. Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto has not gotten around to doing that yet, and Public Defender Patty Poe apparently is not going to push for it.
|X-ray of hardware required to repair|
Carol Shuler's broken arm
Alex Wubbels is doing a public service by speaking out on the Today Show, and hopefully, she and attorney Karra Porter will make other national appearances. They each made important points in the interview yesterday:
Wubbels told TODAY much of what she told Salt Lake City’s KUTV on Friday. She did not say what should happen to Payne and instead focused on how police expect nurse’s to do what they say.
The video “resonates with people all over” she said.
Wubbels’ attorney, Karra Porter, appeared with her Monday on TODAY. While a lawsuit is not out of the question, Porter said, her client most wants changes so no other nurses are arrested.
“Most people that this happens to don’t have this kind of evidence,” Porter said.
Porter obtained the police video through a public-records request. The video has turned what would have been a local or regional story into national news. In Carol's case, we don't know if video or audio exists of cops breaking her arm. We have sought such material during discovery in her criminal case, but prosecutors are stonewalling on turning over information.
There you have it, more evidence that police can't be trusted to police themselves. They must be hit in the teeth with a federal lawsuit, and hopefully Alex Wubbels' case will turn in that direction shortly. Carol's case definitely is headed in that direction.
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