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

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    Al Franken and Jeff Sessions
    (From politicaldig.com)
    The most widely covered moment in Attorney General Jeff Sessions' testimony this week before the Senate Intelligence Committee involved a testy exchange between Sessions and U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). But the most newsworthy moment, for those of us who care about the First Amendment, came when Sessions refused to say that his Justice Department would not arrest journalists for doing their jobs.

    Sessions tried to apply some soft edges to his answer, but we don't have to guess about how this can play out on his watch. Journalists already are subject to arrest in Alabama, where Sessions served as a U.S. senator for 20 years before joining the Trump administration in early 2017. I know because I was unlawfully arrested and incarcerated in Shelby County, AL, in October 2013, part of the fallout from a defamation lawsuit brought by GOP operative Rob Riley and his one-time mistress, lobbyist Liberty Duke.

    That made me the only journalist in the western hemisphere to be arrested in 2013, the first U.S. journalist to be arrested since 2006, and apparently the only journalist in U.S. history to be arrested because of a preliminary injunction that has been prohibited in defamation cases by more than 230 years of First Amendment law. Does Jeff Sessions respect the First Amendment or the rule of law? My experience indicates the answer is a resounding no. And my five-month stay in jail was smeared with the fingerprints of Sessions' allies -- including Rob Riley (son of former Gov. Bob Riley), former Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (who was appointed to fill Sessions' Senate seat on an interim basis), U.S. Circuit Judge and former Alabama AG Bill Pryor, and Jessica Medeiros Garrison, one-time mistress and campaign manager for Luther Strange.

    A prominent Alabama opposition researcher, activist, and whistle blower warns that Sessions has several tools he can use against those who speak out against him or the Trump administration. Jill Simpson, who played a major role in bringing the Don Siegelman political prosecution to light, says asset-forfeiture laws could, under Sessions, become little more than a license for law enforcement to steal.

    The good news is that Simpson predicts Sessions will be indicted, convicted, and imprisoned for his role in the Trump-Russia scandal -- and hopefully, that will happen before Sessions can turn the United States into a greatly expanded version of Alabama.

    As for Sessions' thoughts on a free press, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) asked if he would commit to not jailing journalists for doing their jobs. Here is Sessions' reply:

    Well, I don't know that I can make a blanket commitment to that effect. But I would say this: We have not taken any aggressive action against the media at this point. But we have matters that involve the most serious national security issues, that put our country at risk, and we will utilize the authorities that we have, legally and constitutionally, if we have to.

    Is this answer mostly horse manure? Well, let's look at the environment that Jeff Sessions helped create in Alabama. Was aggressive action taken against the media there? It sure as heck was. I had a cop enter our home -- without showing a warrant, stating he had a warrant, or stating his reasons for being there (all violations of state and federal law) -- knock me to a concrete floor three times, douse me with pepper spray, and drag me to my driveway, where one of his colleagues threatened to break my arms.

    Oleg Deripaska and Paul Manfort
    If that sounds aggressive to you, it sure felt aggressive to me. And consider this: One day before my arrest, I posted about an apparent sweetheart deal where Jessica Medeiros Garrison took ownership rights to a Mountain Brook house appraised at more than $400,000 after paying $30,000 at a foreclosure auction? For whom did Garrison once work? Jeff Sessions. Was my arrest sparked by reporting here that was getting too close to the truth about Garrison's house deal -- and did she solicit the help of Sessions, or one of his compadres, to make sure I was beaten and tossed in the slammer? My answer to both parts of that question is yes.

    Sessions' statement on press freedom this week should not be a surprise. He hinted in early August that the jailing of journalists could be coming. Like me, Jill Simpson knows enough about Sessions to take his "out there" statements seriously. From her Facebook post yesterday about asset forfeiture (with editing for clarity and brevity):

    Most people have no idea what can happen in Alabama when you cross the Alabama Gang. People around the nation need to be very worried of this asset-forfeiture deal, as Sessions and his gang take his road show from Alabama to nationwide. I suspect this will be used as a weapon against activists. . . .  I know during the days of fascism and oligarchs retaking Russia, this kind of thing happened, as it is designed to scare activists and make them fear speaking out. 
    I don't think many people understand yet what is taking over our country.  Each day, we are moving further from being a democracy. . . . Sessions' crew may use this asset-forfeiture tool nationwide to take everything from folks who speak out against them. . . . . When you run the courts and police like the Sessions bunch does, you can do anything.

    Is there hope for saving our democracy from a serious internal threat? Simpson suggests a major source of hope is Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation of the Trump-Russia scandal. It should show, Simpson says, that Sessions and others from Alabama (Bob Riley, Bill Canary) long have engaged in unsavory dealings with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of Vladimir Putin. In the end, Simpson predicts, Sessions will wind up in "The Big House." From Simpson's Facebook post earlier this week about Russia-Alabama connections:

    Jeff Sessions is a lying Russian-ass-kissing traitor, and Al Franken proved it. He called him on all his lies, and Jeff lied again, pushing the goal post further. When I came forward in the Siegelman case, I gave a detailed account to the press and a bunch of lawyers, showing that these Republican idiots connected to Riley and Canary's Alabama Gang (including Sessions) were wheeling and dealing with Oleg Deripaska, Vladimir Putin's top business spy on the EADS tanker deal. The U.S. Military knows it as well. (Also, Deripaska has $60 million worth of connections to former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort.)

    If Mueller checks, he will find that Sessions got in bed with Deripaska when the Republicans were making money off Oleg. He is the sugar daddy for the Alabama Gang. Oleg is very powerful. His father-in-law was Boris Yeltsin 's KGB/FSB handler, and when they retired, Oleg became Putin's top FSB handler. It was passed on to him by his father-in-law.

    Over the years, Putin has gained the upper hand but, they are a tag team. Oleg first started working years ago trying to get a visa to be able to come to the states, but the Clinton administration fought him and his lawyer, Bob Dole. Oleg next hired the head of the Republicans, Haley Barbour, who introduced him to the Alabama Gang (Canary, Riley, and  Sessions). Their representatives would meet Oleg at the Paris air show, where he . . . got Sessions to try to help them steal the tanker deal from Boeing and give it to the EADS/Airbus team, which had Russia as a minority shareholder. Since then, Sessions has been the go-to guy for Deripaska and the Russian government.

    That is why Sessions meets with the Russians so much. Intel folks in every agency know Russia thinks Sessions is their guy, and they have been all over him for years. . . . It is well known in D.C. that Russia has a mole in the DOJ -- and it is Jeff Sessions. Yep, the evil elf of Alabama has really "elfed" up by lying so much in D.C.

    He is caught, but the question remains: Does he realize they know what he has done for Russia, on behalf of his Alabama Gang? It is all going to come out, and the Keebler elf of Alabama is going to prison -- it is just a matter of time.

    (Note: I was reminded of my time in the Shelby County Jail, with yesterday's reports about the FBI's annual nationwide human-trafficking sting. Operation Cross Country X1 rescued 84 children and netted the arrests of 120 suspected adult traffickers.

    Antonio Key
    One of the arrestees, Antonio Key, was apprehended in Shelby County, AL, and landed in the same jail where I spent five months. Let that sink in for a moment: I was arrested for blogging, and Key was arrested for human trafficking -- yet we wound up in the same place. I was held for five months, with no bail, and it's possible Key will spend less time there than I did. The Web site for the Shelby County Sheriff's office shows Key is being held on $20,000 bond, which probably means he can be released by paying $2,000.

    (I was in an Alabama jail for five months because I was a blogger; Antonio Key likely will spend less time in the same jail, and he is accused of human trafficking. Is that what postmodern American justice has come to?)

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    Charles Todd Henderson hugs his wife, Yareima,
    after Friday's guilty verdict was announced.
    (From al.com)
    Just when it seemed the Don Siegelman political prosecution would go down as the smelliest court case in Alabama history, along comes the Charles Todd Henderson case to emit an odor almost as foul. Evidence strongly suggests -- surprise! -- the Riley GOP Political Machine is at the heart of both cases.

    Henderson, the duly elected Democratic district attorney of Jefferson County, was convicted last Friday of first-degree perjury in a case that would have to improve significantly to reach the level of "putrid." The case against Henderson reeked from the moment his indictment was announced on Jan. 13 of this year. That's because it came roughly two months after Henderson had the audacity to beat Republican Brandon Falls, who held the position for nine years, after Gov. Bob Riley appointed him in 2008.

    As long as Falls was in office, ex-Gov. Riley -- along with children Rob ("Uday") and Minda -- did not have to worry about anyone in law enforcement taking a critical glance at their unsavory activities. But that changed with Henderson's unexpected victory, suggesting an unfriendly DA might investigate the Rileys, leading to possible prosecution, conviction, and prison time.

    Modern Alabama history tells us that when an election does not go the Rileys' way, they resort to underhanded tactics to steal it. In the Siegelman matter, that meant overnight vote manipulation in the 2002 governor's race -- followed by a Karl Rove-driven federal prosecution to ensure Siegelman would not beat an unpopular Bob Riley in 2006. In the Henderson case, it meant turning to a political ally -- former Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange -- to bring a bogus perjury case that would keep Henderson from taking office. And with a conviction, Henderson is precluded by state law from serving in an office that he won fair and square.

    Why do we say the case against Henderson was bogus? Well, it was clear at the time of indictment the case was driven by politics; after all, the indictment did not even specify the false statement Henderson allegedly made under oath in a divorce case involving his campaign worker, Yareima Akl. The role of politics in the case is even more clear now that Henderson has been convicted. That's because a review of the trial plainly shows the prosecution was not driven by facts or law. That leaves only one driving factor -- Riley-based politics.

    First, two hideously corrupt political figures ramrodded the proceedings. Luther Strange, who brought the case, has so many ethics complaints pending against him that investigators can't keep up with them all. Sibley Reynolds, the Chilton County judge who was assigned after Jefferson County judges recused, has a documented history of making wildly unlawful rulings. (See here, here, and here.) My record on predictions is so-so, but I knew when the Alabama Supreme Court appointed Reynolds -- likely with the assistance of Riley bot Jim Main -- that Henderson would be convicted.

    That, in fact, happened -- even though the conviction has zero support in fact or law. And that turns our attention to political chicanery, which is easy to detect in the Henderson matter because Alabama perjury law is so simple. Here is how it's defined at Code of Alabama 13A-10-101:

    A person commits the crime of perjury in the first degree when in any official proceeding he swears falsely and his false statement is material to the proceeding in which it is made.

    What about specifics in the Henderson case? It presented two straightforward questions:

    (1) Did Henderson falsely reply "no" when asked under oath if there had been a time when he "spent the night" at Ms. Akl's apartment"? and

    (2) Was that answer "material" to the proceeding in which it was held -- the divorce case involving Ms. Akl and her now ex-husband, Charbel Akl?

    What does it mean for a statement to be "material" under Alabama law? Here is the definition under Code of Alabama 13A-10-100:

    MATERIAL. A statement is "material," regardless of the admissibility of the statement under the rules of evidence, if it could have affected the course or outcome of the official proceeding. It is no defense that the declarant mistakenly believed the falsification to be immaterial. Whether a falsification is material in a given factual situation is a question of law.

    The question in No. 1 above is the only issue of fact in the Henderson case. Question No. 2 is the only issue of law. Sounds simple, right? So, how did an Alabama jury reach a verdict that is so palpably wrong and unjust?

    We can think of numerous possible answers to that last question. But even al.com columnist John Archibald, whose analysis of the trial was comically wrong-headed, suggested potential jurors showed the combined curiosity and intelligence of a week-old burrito, during the voir dire process.

    Perhaps that's why they fell for bogus contentions from prosecutors and the press that Henderson had lied under oath about a romantic relationship with Ms. Akl? (The couple now is married.)

    In fact, Henderson was not asked, in the question where he was alleged to have committed perjury, about a romantic relationship with Ms. Akl. And he was not asked throughout the relevant proceeding about such a relationship.

    In other words, jurors apparently convicted Henderson of lying about a romantic relationship when he was not even asked about one.

    That's what serves as "Alabama justice" in an age of crooked Republicans, such as Bob Riley.

    How does Charles Todd Henderson stand convicted of perjury when the facts plainly show he did not "swear falsely" to the question put to him? We will address that question in an upcoming post.

    (To be continued)

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    Jeremy Lynn
    The Missouri public defender's office that is handling my wife Carol's "assault of a law enforcement officer" case says it is too busy to take on a recent Greene County murder case.

    Rod Hackathorn, head of the public defender's office in Springfield, sent a letter to the court last week, saying his staff is handling such heavy caseloads that they cannot take on the case of Dameon Clinghan, who has been charged with first-degree murder in the Oct. 7 killing of Tyler Rambo. The public defender's office has sent several such letters recently, stating that its office is violating Missouri Supreme Court rules because of excessive caseloads.

    How does that make us feel about the quality of Carol's representation? Not very good. Missouri has the second most poorly funded public defender's system in the country, which is one reason Carol was not anxious to have the system represent her. In fact, Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto pretty much forced Carol to fill out a PD application.

    Funding woes certainly are a major factor behind the overwhelming caseloads. But our experiences suggest other factors are in play:

    (1) Corrupt cops and prosecutors don't help -- Carol's case is a classic "cover charge," designed to thwart her efforts to achieve civil justice for the police brutality that left her with a shattered left arm. The case never should have been brought because even the alleged "victim," Officer Jeremy Lynn, admits he caused contact with Carol, not the other way around -- meaning she could not have assaulted him, under Missouri law. But Sheriff Jim Arnott, who was on the scene for our eviction, stood five feet away as his officers body slammed Carol butt-first to the ground, yanking viciously on her arms, and verbally stated, "She assaulted a police officer." In other words, the police brutality was so obvious and disturbing that Arnott felt the need to concoct a "cover charge" on the spot.

    Prosecutor Dan Patterson waited until the last day before the one-year statute of limitations ran out, to file charges based on Arnott's bogus claims. Talk about collusion.

    A reasonable assumption would be that Arnott and Patterson are aware the public defender's office is overwhelmed. And a citizen might think, knowing that, the sheriff and PA would bring only cases that had at least a whiff of merit. But dumping bogus cases like Carol's on a system that already is struggling to stay afloat, just makes the situation worse -- and it is a disservice to Missouri taxpayers.

    (2) Calcified judges don't help -- As we've reported previously, Judge Palmietto has made correct rulings and asked probing questions that indicate she has the integrity and intellect to handle Carol's case properly. But we don't understand why the judge is acting so slowly. If the public defender's caseload is excessive, one can assume judges' dockets also are overloaded. You'd think that might motivate Palmietto to dismiss the charges -- especially since Carol, while acting pro se,  filed documents in March, April, and May that, by law, should have forced the charges to be dropped months ago. Palmietto has stated in court that she is aware those motions have been filed, but we've seen no sign that she has considered them. Since Carol's injuries were disclosed in court about a month ago, Palmietto has made statements indicating she suspects the charges against Carol are bogus. So, why hasn't she considered motions that are on the docket, make the lawful ruling to dismiss the charges, and do everyone in a swamped system (including herself) a favor?

    (3) Public defenders themselves sometimes don't help -- Patty Poe, Carol's attorney, is one of those overwhelmed public defenders. So why does Poe seem reluctant to have Carol's case dismiss. She repeatedly has discussed with us various options for the case going to trial. But the case, by law, can't go to trial. Carol has spelled out for her five or six grounds upon which the charges must be dropped, but Poe seems reluctant to take action on them.

    Poe does seem willing to do at least a limited amount of discovery, which we appreciate, and it has yielded some valuable information. But discovery, which is for producing facts, should not be necessary because this case must be dismissed as a matter of law. Poe, in her own self interest, should want Carol's case booted ASAP. So, why hasn't she taken action?

    It should not be hard. As already noted, the so-called "victim" has made statements in writing to show that Carol did not assault him -- as the offense is defined under Missouri law. Will Poe file the appropriate motion? She hasn't yet, but she soon will receive pressure from us to do just that.

    Bottom line: Inadequate funding is a major cause of what has been described as a "constitutional crisis" with Missouri's PD system. But members of the "justice system" contribute to the problem by bringing bogus cases and allowing them to linger much longer than they should on the docket -- even when facts and law plainly show they mist be dismissed.

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    Charles Todd Henderson and Yareima Akl
    (From al.com)
    How does Charles Todd Henderson stand convicted of swearing falsely about a romantic relationship with Yareima Akl when he wasn't even asked about such a relationship during the proceeding in question? That apparently is what can happen when a corrupt attorney general brings criminal charges, a crooked judge oversees the case, and a jury with the collective intelligence of a tree stump reaches the verdict.

    As we've shown for 10-plus years on this blog, such outcomes happen with disturbing regularity in Alabama courts -- both state and federal. The Henderson outcome is particularly disturbing because it effectively overrides the will of Jefferson County voters, who elected him last November in an upset over nine-year incumbent (and Bob Riley appointee) Brandon Falls. Of course, we've seen this story before with the Riley Political Machine. In 2002, the will of Alabama voters determined that Don Siegelman (like Henderson, a Democrat) had won a second term over Riley -- only to have overnight vote manipulation change the outcome.

    In the Henderson matter, Riley Inc. apparently got caught napping -- convinced Falls would prevail over the little-known Henderson. When that didn't happen -- and they were faced with the possibility of an unfriendly DA in their home county -- members of Team Riley apparently turned to a political ally, former Attorney General Luther Strange, to bring bogus charges that now will keep Henderson from ever taking office. For good measure, the Alabama Supreme Court appointed corrupt Chilton County Judge Sibley Reynolds to hear the case.

    How bogus were the charges against Henderson, and how unjust is his conviction? Well, a transcript from a hearing in the Akl divorce case shows Henderson was not asked about a romantic relationship with Ms. Akl? A private investigator's report that supposedly showed Henderson had "spent the night" at Ms. Akl's apartment did nothing of the sort. And based on press reports of the trial, no witness presented a shred of evidence that Henderson swore falsely in the divorce hearing; in fact, most witnesses reportedly testified to issues that had zero relevance to the perjury charge.

    Upon what was the perjury charge based? A transcript of the hearing shows the following exchange between Henderson and Virginia Meigs, attorney for Charbel Akl, who was Ms. Akl's husband:

    Q Okay. Now, since she has been campaigning for you, has there been a time where you have spent the night at her apartment?

    A No.

    Q No?

    A No.

    We must remember that this was a criminal case, where the standard is guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt." Also, language in court cases generally is held to its "plain and ordinary" meaning.

    What is the plain and ordinary meaning of the question Meigs put to Henderson? That is simple: During the time Ms. Akl had been campaigning for him, had Henderson ever spent the night at her apartment? According to press reports, no evidence was presented at trial to show Henderson's answer ("No") was false.

    In fact, Henderson's attorneys argued the question was "fuzzy," and evidence shows that to be the case; even Meigs was confused about what she was asking. This is from later in the transcript, during an exchange between Meigs and Judge Patricia Stephens:

    MS. MEIGS: And as a result, we need to evaluate both parents.

    THE COURT: Absolutely.

    MS. MEIGS: Their character and fitness as a parent. And if one parent is acting in an adulterous way with the child present at times, then --

    THE COURT: Ask that question then. . . .

    This shows Meigs meant to ask Henderson about adulterous behavior, but that's not what she asked. She didn't ask, "Did you have an adulterous and sexual relationship with Ms. Akl?" Even when the judge told her to ask that question, Meigs didn't ask it. Instead, she left the earlier question on the table: Did Henderson, during the time of  his campaign, ever spend the night at Ms. Akl's apartment?

    Can someone spend the night at someone's home without engaging in sexual or adulterous behavior? The answer, obviously, is yes. Could Henderson have slept on the couch, in a chair, on the floor? Of course. Is it any wonder Henderson might have been confused by Meigs'"fuzzy" question? Does this exchange, or anything else presented at trial, provide proof that Henderson answered Meigs' question falsely? Based on press accounts, the answer is no.

    Let's consider the private-investigator's report that reportedly was entered as evidence. (A summary of the surveillance report, prepared by J. Hammock of Comprehensive Investigative Group, can be viewed here.) In a synopsis on page 2, the PI states, "I find activities consistent with an extra-marital relationship between Yareima Akl and Charles Todd Henderson." Does evidence in the report support that finding, beyond a reasonable doubt? Not even close. Consider:

    (1) The PI states, on July 23, 2016, he began surveillance at 5:45 p.m. and observed Henderson's vehicle at Akl's apartment complex, terminating surveillance at 10 p.m. During this time, the PI does not report seeing Henderson, just his vehicle.

    The PI reports that surveillance continued at 9 a.m. the next day (July 24), and about 1:25 later, Henderson was spotted leaving Akl's apartment, with Akl and two other people. The PI followed them to a function at a church and then at a restaurant, following them back to Akl's apartment Surveillance was terminated at 5 p.m.

    The Skinny: There is more than a 15-hour gap from when the PI saw Henderson's vehicle and when the PI saw Henderson himself. This is supposed to prove Henderson spent the night? The question is absurd on its face.

    (2) Surveillance continued on Aug. 6, 2016, from 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., with Henderson's vehicle observed in the parking lot of Akl's apartment, and Henderson driving Akl's vehicle, and entering and exiting the residence.

    Surveillance continued at 4:15 a.m. the next day (Aug. 7), with both vehicles observed in the same positions as the night before, both covered in dew. Surveillance ended at 11 a.m.

    The Skinny: There is almost a four-hour gap between the end of the Aug. 6 surveillance and the beginning of observations on Aug. 7. Does this prove Henderson spent the night? Does it preclude the possibility that he went home and returned the next morning, with or without dew on his car? Of course not.

    (3) Observations continued at 6:30 a.m. the next day (Aug. 8), with the PI noting the same parking positions as presented at 11 a.m. the day before.

    The Skinny: There is a gap of more than 19 hours in the surveillance. But this is supposed to prove Henderson spent the night? Did we mention this case is absurd?

    (4) Observations continued at 7 p.m. on Sept. 2, with Henderson and Akl arriving in his vehicle at about 9:20 p.m. Akl enters her apartment, and Henderson leaves the area.

    Surveillance continued from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. the next day (Sept. 3), with no observations reported.

    The Skinny: Why did the PI even include this entry? It plainly shows Henderson did not spend the night. This entry should be an embarrassment to PIs everywhere? Somebody actually paid money for this? (BTW, who did pay for the surveillance? I see no explanation of that.)

    (5) Observations continued from 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Sept. 16, showing no activity involving Henderson and Akl.

    The next day (Sept. 17) surveillance and "activity checks" are conducted throughout the day, with Akl observed exiting a truck and entering the residence (closing blinds and turning off interior lighting) at 8:25 p.m. Simultaneously, Henderson exited the truck and entered the apartment, with lighting turned back on. Surveillance was terminated at 1 a.m.

    At 7:15 a.m. the next day (Sept. 18), Henderson is observed leaving the apartment in the truck.

    The Skinny: There is more than a six-hour gap in surveillance. Did Henderson have plenty of time to leave the residence and return? Of course. Does this entry prove he spent the night? Of course not.

    (6) On the morning of Sept. 23, Akl is observed dropping her minor child at school and returning home. A "sweep" of the apartment parking lot showed Henderson's vehicle was present at 9:20 a.m.

    The Skinny: What does this prove about the issue at hand -- spending the night? Nothing that we can discern.

    (7) Observations are continued at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 23, Henderson's truck is spotted, but Henderson is not seen -- and neither is Akl, nor her vehicle.

    Surveillance continues at 5:30 a.m. the next day (Nov. 24). Akl and her child are observed taking out trash, watering plants, and leaving the area in Henderson's vehicle. They are tracked to apartments in Hoover and return at 9:08 p.m., with an additional juvenile female. Henderson is not observed.

    The Skinny: Henderson is not seen, so this clearly provides no evidence of spending the night.

    What do we learn from these seven surveillance entries? Mainly, we learn that PIs must lead a pretty boring existence. We don't learn of any proof that Henderson spent the night at Akl's apartment. And we certainly receive no evidence of a romantic relationship. Were Henderson and Akl reported holding hands, kissing, hugging? No, no, and no.

    Finally, we look briefly at witnesses who testified at trial.

    Tom Coram, an investigator for the attorney general's office, testified about phone records he analyzed between Henderson and Akl. If anything, this testimony suggests the two did NOT spend much time together at her apartment. Why would they be talking on the phone if they were together, under the same roof?

    Two expert witnesses, Gary Lee Bloom and Jacqueline Morette, testified about the duties of a guardian ad litem (GAL) in a divorce case. Both essentially stated that Henderson did a poor job as GAL in the Akl divorce matter. Being a bad GAL, however, is not a crime. Even if it were, Henderson was not charged with it. Did Bloom or Morette present any testimony about the matter at hand -- Henderson's alleged perjury? Based on press reports, the answer is no.

    Patricia Stephens, judge in the Akl divorce case, testified that she would not have appointed Henderson as GAL if she had known he and Ms. Akl were friends. Did she say anything about Henderson's supposedly false statement about spending the night? Based on press reports the answer is no. Is it possible, Henderson was less-than-forthcoming regarding his GAL appointment? Yes. Is that a crime? Nope.

    That prosecutors called these witnesses is a sign of how weak a case they had.

    What does our review of the facts show in the Henderson case?

    (1) He was not asked about a romantic or sexual relationship with Ms. Akl, so he could not have lied about it.

    (2) A private investigator's report did not come close to proving that Henderson lied about the real matter at hand -- whether he spent the night at Ms. Akl's residence. Based on the PI's report, there is overwhelming doubt that Henderson lied about the one factual issue in the case.

    (3) Based on press reports, no witness produced the slightest evidence that Henderson swore falsely on the question at the heart of the prosecution. In fact, it appears no witness testimony was connected to perjury at all.

    What about the relevant law in the Henderson case? That brings us to the question of whether Henderson's supposedly false statement was material to the underlying divorce case. We will examine that issue next.

    (To be continued)

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    Doug Jones
    Major Republican political figures -- including Karl Rove, Tom Donohue, and Bill Canary -- are working behind the scenes to help get Alabama Democrat Doug Jones elected to the U.S. Senate, according to a prominent activist and opposition researcher.

    Jones will face Republican Roy Moore in a Dec. 12 special election to fill Jeff Sessions' old seat. Jill Simpson, who helped bring the Don Siegelman political prosecution to light, says pro-business Republicans have made it clear they do not support Moore, who appeals mainly to the religious right/culture war wing of the party. The corporatists are throwing their support behind Jones, in part because he helped them in both the Siegelman and the Alabama bingo prosecutions, via his cozy relationship with GOP operative Rob Riley.

    We've already reported that Rove helped funnel government-assignment jobs to Jones during the George W. Bush administration. Now, Simpson says, the Jones-GOP ties go much deeper than that. She also says the Jones-Rob Riley alliance is much tighter and disturbing than most progressives realize. From a Simpson Facebook post yesterday: (With editing for clarity and brevity.)

    What a hoot, I have never seen anything like this -- the Karl Rove, Tom Donohue, and Bill Canary Chamber of Commerce types claim they are staying out of the Moore/Jones race, when secretly they have all hands on deck helping Doug Jones. Doug is the Chamber of Commerce candidate in Alabama. Many progressives in Alabama have been viciously mistreated by the chamber, so that will not bode well for Doug. Many progressives have even been investigated by the chamber for working against Republicans, but by golly, the corporate guys are not helping Roy the Republican this time. Right now, it is all out war between Rove Republican elites -- Doug Jones is their guy -- and the Bannon Religious Right/White Republicans, and Roy Moore is their guy from the South and Heartland.

    Rove owes Jones, Simpson says, for the Alabamian's help in working with the Eric Holder DOJ to ensure that Rove would not have to testify under oath about the Siegelman case. Writes Simpson:

    The Rove Republicans behind the scenes are doing everything they can to help Doug Jones, and if he gets elected, he will owe them, just like they owe him for saving Rove from having to testify under oath -- by cooking the deal between the Riley/Sessions crowd and Holder. 
    I might add Holder helped them go after progressives, creating Team Themis while at the DOJ. Even this article shows they are doing stuff with the press to say that not supporting Roy is a way they are supporting Doug for helping them keep Siegelman in prison. 
    They might fool some DNC folks, but they won't fool true progressives, who fought in the trenches to keep an innocent man out of prison. As y'all know, I am not a Roy Moore fan either, but I want our progressives in Alabama to know Doug is going to be the Chamber/Rove guy, so don't expect anything out of him for us. If you want to vote for a DNC/Republican candidate, go for it. But don't expect him to do anything for Progressives.

    Jones is so ethically challenged that he even has undercut his own law clients. Writes Simpson, in an Oct. 12 Facebook post:

    Jones recently appeared on The Tavis Smiley Show and mentioned that he had worked with federal prosecutors. You might want to ask who he worked with, and when he worked with them. It was during the Siegelman and Scrushy case, plus he helped some on the Eric Rudolph and 16th Street Baptist Church bombing cases. Doug has a history of yapping and whispering to the feds.
    Karl Rove
    (From onwardstate.com)
    It might be fun for reporters to start pulling contracts of all the work he did for the U.S. Government, from when he left his U.S. attorney job. You might just be surprised at who employed him. He hinted at it on the Smiley show, as he has to know every detail will come out. Republicans know he was a snitch to the Bush prosecutors and FBI guys he hung out with. He was Mr. Law and Order, even when representing his own criminal defendants. Bless their hearts, they had no idea he had work with the feds.
    This is going to be fun to watch play out. My question has always been: Isn't it a conflict to represent the U.S. Government and to be helping the FBI, while also representing criminal defendants faced with federal charges? No wonder his clients got in so much trouble; their lawyer, Doug Jones, was working both sides. If you doubt me. look at the timelines of his biggest cases, plus the Scrushy/Siegelman case.

    How ugly is Doug Jones' alliance with Rob Riley? It's real ugly, writes Simpson, filled with Democrats who have knives left between their shoulder blades. From her Oct. 23 Facebook post:

    Jones went to work for the top political Republican firm in the state, Haskell Slaughter,  and while yapping about his firm's clients to the Riley Gang, the firm went belly up. Rob Riley wanted to replace Haskell Slaughter with his own outfit as top Republican firm in the state -- and Rob is the behind-the-scenes puppet master of the Jones campaign. The Rileys want the lobbyist funds Jones can provide for connections to his Senate office. Plus, Haskell Slaughter's biggest client, Milton McGregor, almost went to prison, thanks to Doug and Rob yapping to the feds about Milton. The Rileys were angry with Milton because he would not pay them under the table by hiring Rob -- Doug Jones' big buddy --  to do nothing, while Rob's daddy was governor. Milton has said time and again that the Rileys tried to get him to pay Rob bribe money and he refused.

    Jones and Rob Riley went to considerable lengths to undermine Montgomery lawyer Tommy Gallion (a longtime McGregor ally) as a power player and take away his business. Jones and Riley also undercut Ronnie Gilley in the Alabama bingo case. Writes Simpson:

    I knew Doug and Rob were setting up Milton, in order to help the Poarch Creek Indians and the Holder DOJ in the bingo case. I warned Tommy Gallion, after some of Doug Jones' e-mails got back to me through local reporters. 
    Doug and Rob were planning to get rid of Gallion, the most power political handler in the state at the time, as they wanted his clients and business. I told Gallion about it, as he had helped me in the Siegelman matter. Gallion talked to Doug, who denied everything I was saying and even called me; I heard Doug denying it, but I knew he was lying, as my sources were reliable, and I had folks at DOJ and John Conyers' office confirming what Doug and Rob were up to. 
    Within a couple of months, it came out out Holder's investigators were listening in on Gallion's line to every word he and Milton McGregor were saying. Milton was charged exactly as I had warned Tommy. Plus, Doug Jones apparently got Ronnie Gilley to confess to a bunch of bullshit, and then Doug was removed as his lawyer when Ronnie learned Doug and Rob were behind the deal in the first place. A woman Ronnie trusted contacted me, as she heard I had warned Gallion, and he didn't listen because Doug was such a good bullshit artist. 
    I got contacted by the FBI in south Alabama, who told me to be careful, as I might get hurt for telling what I knew. It was a very scary time for me. Doug Jones and Rob Riley were taking their power trip, as they wanted to run our state with the Riley Gang -- and for whatever reason, felt they needed rid of Gallion. 
    That my friends is a bad deal. So I write about it now, as Doug Jones and Rob Riley really are a tag team from hell.

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    Charles Todd Henderson and Yareima Akl
    We have shown there were no facts presented at trial to support a conviction of elected Jefferson County District Attorney Charles Todd Henderson. At the heart of the first-degree perjury charge was an exchange in a divorce proceeding, where Henderson was asked if he had ever "spent the night" at the home of campaign worker Yareima Carmen Vallecillos Akl. (Henderson and Akl now are married.) Our review of the proceeding transcript, a private investigator's report, and witness statements at trial show there was no proof Henderson swore falsely when he answered "no."

    If there were no facts to support the conviction, what about matters of law? That is simple because there was only one issue of law in the case: Was Henderson's statement, if false, material to the divorce proceeding in question? Under Alabama law, a statement is "material" if it could "have affected the course or outcome of the official proceeding?"

    In the Henderson case, it was not proven that he swore falsely, so the material issue should not have come into play. But since a jury wrongly determined that Henderson did swear falsely, let's examine the issue of law -- whether his statement was material. Based on the timing of the divorce lawsuit and statements from Patricia Stephens, judge in the Akl v. Akl divorce case, Henderson's statement was not material.

    One troubling question: Why was Stephens' testimony at the Henderson criminal trial so radically different from her statements during the Akl divorce proceeding? We will address that question in a moment.

    First, let's look at the timing of the divorce lawsuit -- which the husband (Charbel Akl) filed against the wife (Yareima Akl) -- compared to the timing of the Henderson/Mr. Akl friendship, which developed over the course of his political campaign.

    According to press reports, the Akls separated in 2014, and Mr. Akl filed for divorce in May 2015. Was concern about an adulterous relationship between Henderson and Ms. Akl a driving force behind the divorce complaint? It's hard to see how. Evidence at trial showed Henderson and Ms. Akl did not meet, did not know each other, until August 2015 -- three months after the divorce complaint had been filed.

    How, then, could a question about adulterous behavior involving Henderson and Ms. Akl -- even though it wasn't asked -- be material to the court proceeding? After all, they didn't know each other when the divorce complaint was filed. It's hard to see how such a question, even one inartfully asked, could be material. Mr. Akl's actions make it clear he wanted a divorce before his wife came to know Henderson.

    Another question: Why did Mr. Akl wait roughly 14 months after filing for divorce to pursue surveillance on Henderson and Ms. Akl. If infidelity were an issue in the marriage, why didn't he seek a PI's services before the separation, or at least before filing for divorce?

    A PI didn't enter the picture until roughly three months before the 2016 election. Does that mean surveillance was driven more by political concerns, rather than anything related to the divorce case? Was the surveillance ordered, and paid for, by someone other than Mr. Akl?

    (Here is a question of legal construction: Alabama law says a statement is material if it "could have affected the outcome or course of the official proceeding?" Does the term "official proceeding," in this case, mean the Akl divorce as a whole or just the hearing in which Henderson is alleged to have sworn falsely? We haven't been able to find case law that answers that question. Either way, it doesn't appear to us that the Henderson statement was material.)

    What about the statements of Patricia Stephens, who was judge in the Akl divorce case. A transcript of the hearing in question makes it clear Stephens considered questions about the relationship between Henderson and Ms. Akl to not be material. When Virginia Meigs (attorney for Mr. Akl) started asking off-the-radar questions, Stephens seemed baffled. From the transcript (p. 13):

    THE COURT: We're here today to get testimony to divorce these parties and to make a determination on who is going to be the primary custodian. So I'm just not sure where we're going with all of this testimony from Attorney Henderson.

    MS. MEIGS: Well, Your Honor, I'm leading up to foundation, and I can't just -- the rules of procedure require that I lay the proper foundation.

    THE COURT: For what, though? For their divorce? For child custody? Foundation for what?

    MS. MEIGS: The relationship between the two parties, Your Honor.

    THE COURT: A relationship -- I'm just not sure where you're going.

    Meigs proceeded to ask the "spend the night" question, and Stephens seemed to become more baffled:

    THE COURT: We're back on the record. I don't know where Attorney Meigs is going with this line of questioning. If the child wasn't present, I don't care who spent the night at her house on Friday night, Saturday night. I need to know who is a better parent, and we already know that these two folks want a divorce. So I'm just not sure where you're going with this line of questioning.

    Here, Stephens all but says she does not consider the line of questioning to be material. She says it's already established that the parties want a divorce -- and if the child was not present, she doesn't care who might have spent the night with whom. Still, the judge gave Meigs some rope:

    MS. MEIGS: I would say, Your Honor, that the best interest of the child is at issue today.

    THE COURT: It is.

    MS. MEIGS: And as a result, we need to evaluate both parents.

    THE COURT: Absolutely.

    MS. MEIGS: Their character and fitness as a parent. And if one parent is acting in an adulterous way with the child present at times, then --

    THE COURT: Ask that question, then. If that's what we need to know, get it out.

    Strangely, Meigs never asks the question, even after being told by the judge to ask it. So, we are left with the "spend the night" question, and Stephens flatly stated that she did not care about that, unless the child was present. It appears she did not care because she did not consider the question to be material.

    Stephens' testimony at the Henderson trial took a different tone. Why? That is hard to figure, unless someone made it worth her while to change her tone. Why did Henderson's defense attorneys seemingly let her get away with it? That also is hard to figure. From an al.com report about Stephens' trial testimony:

    In her testimony, Stephens said that "there would not have been a [guardian ad litem] appointment" for Henderson if she knew of his relationship with Mrs. Akl. Mrs. Akl's attorneys requested Henderson be appointed as GAL, and Stephens granted their order in January 2016. He was removed from the position in May.

    According to Stephens, Mr. Akl's attorney Virginia Meigs opposed a GAL being appointed at all because the couple did not have the money to pay for one.

    What do we learn here? Stephens thought Henderson should not have been appointed GAL because he and the mother in the divorce case knew each other. But Stephens apparently had no quarrel with Henderson because she acknowledges the mother's attorneys had asked for him to be appointed. And we see no signs that Henderson deceived the court; perhaps Stephens did not ask enough questions. Then we have this from al.com:

    Stephens said before appointing Henderson as the Akls' child's GAL, she did not know of any relationship, or acquaintanceship, between Henderson and Mrs. Akl. If she knew that the two knew each other, she would not have appointed him.

    "I need a [GAL] who will tell me the good, the bad, and the ugly about each parent," she said.

    Stephens said she was in "stunned disbelief" after she learned of Henderson's and Mrs. Akl's relationship at the September 26, 2016 hearing, where he denied staying the night with her.

    Again, Stephens says Henderson should not have been appointed GAL in the Akl's divorce. But is it a crime to be an inappropriate choice as GAL? No. Does Stephens point to anything that goes to perjury, the point of the criminal case? No.

    Judge Patricia Stephens
    What about Stephens' claim that she was in "stunned disbelief" after learning at the Sept. 26 hearing that Henderson and Ms. Akl were friends? According to an account at al.com, Stephens already knew, long before Sept. 26, 2016, that the two were friends. In fact, the judge removed Henderson as GAL because she knew Ms. Akl had campaigned for Henderson.

    So, why was Judge Stephens in "stunned disbelief" after learning about a friendship she already knew about? Is this the same judge who, when the "spend the night question" was posed at a hearing, said she didn't care about that, as long as the child was not present?

    How is this for an ironic question: Did Judge Stephens, in fact, commit perjury at the criminal trial by claiming to be in "stunned disbelief" over a friendship she already knew about?

    It appears she came closer to perjury than Henderson did.

    (To be continued)

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    A Web site known for its "have an affair" logo threatened to send paperwork to users homes if they disputed their bills. The threats, which the company admitted to using for years, obviously meant customers were at risk of having their spouses find out about efforts to seek affairs.

    Ashley Madison, based in Toronto, Canada, claims the practice has been discontinued. But would anyone want to trust a company that has made millions from promoting marital cheating -- and been ordered to pay $11.2 million to settle federal class-action lawsuits from a 2015 data breach?

    As the journalist who has written more about Ashley Madison (AM) customers than anyone else in the news world, I frequently receive comments critical of Legal Schnauzer for reporting on those whose poor judgment caused them to associate with a sleazy business. The criticism generally comes under three or four headings: (1) These are private individuals, so their efforts to seek affairs should not be uncovered; (2) Such journalism causes harm to innocent wives and children; (3) Customers aren't hurting anyone, so it isn't fair to identify them; (4) The only purpose of such reporting is to embarrass or harass customers.

    Those arguments were hollow all along, but now they are shredded as we learn Ashley Madison itself harassed and threatened to embarrass its own customers, especially those who raised disputes about billing.

    Many of the criticisms we've received appear to come from ISPs in Canada, and we have come to sense that they are bots -- either automated or human -- who are programmed or assigned to attack the one journalist in North America who has dared to report on the customers AM has abused. Now, we learn that AM's customer abuse went much deeper than we realized. From a report at CNN:

    For years, the "have an affair" website Ashley Madison threatened to send paperwork to users' homes if they disputed their bills -- potentially revealing cheaters to their spouses.

    Avid Life Media (now known as Ruby Corp.), the company that runs the website, has confirmed to CNNMoney that these tactics were employed by Ashley Madison until recently."That past practice stopped when our new CEO Rob Segal and new President James Millership took the helm," company spokeswoman Debra Quinn said.

    In other words, "Now that we've been caught, we're going to stop threatening our customers." Reminds me of my nephew when he was a toddler. When his mother (my sister) told him to stop doing something, he would keep right on doing it . . . until she stood up and approached him with a displeased glint in her eye. "Me be good boy now," he would say.

    AM pledges to "be a good boy now," but threats to customers were not the only dubious strategy for which the company has been known. From CNN:

    Segal and Millership took charge of the company in April. On Monday, those executives revealed another questionable Ashley Madison tactic that they had ended: Many of the "women" on the site had actually been "fembots" -- computer programs imitating women.Avid Life Media said it has been trying to turn itself around ever since a hack last year revealed its users' identities and damaged the company's reputation.

    How did the threats to customers come to life? CNN provides the answer:

    CNNMoney received a tip from one former Ashley Madison user. He shared two emails he got from customer service representatives when he disputed credit card charges back in 2012.

    This former customer, now a 29-year-old lawyer living in Iowa, shared his story but asked to remain anonymous. He said he started a free profile on Ashley Madison -- and immediately got attention.

    "I was constantly bombarded with messages from what appeared to be real women," he said. "I purchased about $40 in credits so that I'd have the ability to respond to about a dozen messages in my inbox."

    "However, no one responded back. Not one person," he said.

    He found that strange. Then he discovered complaints from fellow Ashley Madison customers who all figured out they had been duped by computer programs posing as women.

    Suspecting he was fooled too, he complained to Ashley Madison and demanded a refund. But the company gave him a stern response. "If you initiate a charge back, all records will be mailed to your home. We do fight all charge backs," it said in an email. (See copy of such an e-mail at the end of this post.)

    How did things turn out for the duped lawyer. Being single, he seemed to weather the storm. It's likely things did not turn out so well for some of his married brethren:

    "At the time, I was a single male and wasn't cowed by the threat, but I'm sure others were silenced by it," the man told CNNMoney. He said he filed a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

    The FTC is investigating the company, according to Reuters -- but it's unclear what aspect of the company is under scrutiny.

    Other Ashley Madison users have complained about this policy for years on anonymous online forums.

    One person, writing as "Shadowman," posted this on DatingSiteReviews.com in 2012: "They automatically opt you in to recurring charges when your credits expire, and don't make it clear where to opt out. Even though they bill you anonymously, they will . . .  mail (!) you correspondence if you dispute charges. I'm guessing that would suck."

    Others complained about similar situations.

    "I was not successful with bank dispute because they said they would have to call me at home to ask more questions," one anonymous user posted on a Yahoo Answers forum in 2012. "Yeah right. So that when I talk on phone about it, my family can know. I had to close the dispute."

    How far have AM bots gone in harassing me -- apparently trying to thwart my reporting? Well, I'm pretty sure they played a major role in causing hundreds of my documents at Scribd to be wiped out and essentially stolen. My wife and I frequently are targets of bogus spam reports to Facebook, and that likely comes, in part, from AM bots.

    Both Scribd and Ashley Madison might soon be facing lawsuits over my stolen intellectual property. I plan on getting that material back and making the thieves wish they had not stolen it in the first place.

    That Ashley Madison has a documented history of harassing its own clients for complaining about bills should be useful in a lawsuit that will essentially claim they harassed me for reporting on their sleazy activities.

    (From cnn.com)

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    Charles Todd Henderson and Yareima Akl
    One reason Alabama has such a toxic political/legal environment is that its mainstream media (MSM) tends to provide cover for white conservative elites who cheat citizens and sully public institutions. A classic example is coverage of last week's Charles Todd Henderson trial, which ended with Jefferson County's elected Democratic district attorney being convicted of perjury and blocked from taking office.

    That means Gov. Kay Ivey will appoint Henderson's replacement, who surely will be someone more palatable to former Gov. Bob Riley and members of his political machine. Don't be surprised if Brandon Falls -- a Riley favorite who lost to Henderson in last November's election -- gets the nod. That would effectively overturn the will of Jefferson County voters -- many of them black Democrats -- who clearly favored the relatively unknown Henderson. But those voters did not count on this: The Rileys and their allies are terrified of a real prosecutor, one who might scrutinize financial shenanigans from their home base in Jefferson County.

    The whole point of the Henderson prosecution, which was brought just days before he was to take office after beating Brandon Falls, was to ensure the Rileys stood protected. But you would never know that from reading coverage at the state's primary MSM news site, al.com.

    How corrupt are the Riley's actions? Imagine if last Saturday the Alabama Crimson Tide laid a beating on the Tennessee Vols, only to discover that the scoreboard operator was a UT grad who reversed the score as time wound down, giving Tennessee the victory. Can you imagine the howls of outrage?

    That's essentially what happened to Henderson, but you hardly hear a peep about it. And that is largely thanks to al.com. Both their reporter who provided daily coverage (Ivana Hrynkiw) and their columnist who provided "analysis" (John Archibald) were utterly lacking in accuracy, inquisitiveness, and critical thinking. In other words, they were in the hip pockets of the conservative elites who lord over their "news organization."

    Let's consider a few pearls from Hrynkiw:

    (1) In an Oct. 20 article about Henderson's conviction, Hrynkiw wrote:

    Transcripts show Henderson twice denied staying with Mrs. Akl at her apartment, but surveillance evidence showed Henderson had stayed at the apartment on several occasions.

    Hrynkiw apparently is referring to a private investigator's report from the divorce case involving Henderson campaign aide Yareima Akl. Prosecutors alleged that Henderson lied under oath when asked at a divorce-case hearing if he ever had spent the night at Akl's residence -- and he answered no. But a simple reading of the PI report shows the surveillance report is filled with huge time gaps, and it does not prove Henderson ever spent a night at Akl's home.

    (2) In an Oct. 17 article as testimony began, Hrynkiw wrote:

    In September 2016 at the Akls' trial, Henderson testified and told Mr. Akl's attorney he had not spent the night at Mrs. Akl's home. Evidence had surfaced that he and Mrs. Akl were in a romantic relationship, according to court records, and photographs had been taken by a private investigator of the two outside Mrs. Akl's apartment.

    First, the Sept. 26 proceeding has been described in the press as a hearing. A transcript of the proceeding describes it as a deposition. I've seen nothing to suggest it was a trial. More importantly, Hrynkiw writes that evidence had surfaced of a romantic relationship, but Henderson was not even asked about such a relationship at the hearing. He was asked if he had ever spent the night at Ms. Akl's home, nothing more.

    John Archibald
    As for evidence, Hrynkiw apparently is referring to the PI report, which provided no proof that Henderson had spent the night or that he had a romantic relationship with Ms. Akl. The report describes Ms. Akl carrying campaign signs (surprise, she worked on his campaign!), watering plants, taking out trash. Does it describe Henderson and Akl holding hands, hugging, kissing, whispering sweet nothings in each other's ears. No, no, no, and no. It all sounds about as romantic as a trip to the proctologist.

    Finally, Hrynkiw hints that a photo of the two outside Ms. Akl's apartment proves something. What, pray tell does it prove -- that they can stand upright?

    Now, let's turn to Archibald, who always can be counted on to pick up his pom-poms and don a cheerleader's skirt whenever right-wing prosecutors are chasing individuals who are white, black, or Democrats -- or some combination of the above.

    (1) In an Oct. 20 column, Archibald does his best cheerleading routine under the title "Jeffco DA guilty of perjury, but that's just the tip of the slimeberg." Under that subtle headline, we find the following:

    Henderson began a relationship with Akl while the woman was embroiled in a heated divorce. She worked on his campaign and they became close. They began to date and spend the night together and call each other girlfriend and boyfriend.

    They began to spend the night together? Where does Archibald get this? A PI report certainly does not prove it.

    (2) In the same column, Archibald writes as follows:

    And in the midst of it, acting as if he did not know Akl or her 10-year-old child, Henderson asked a judge to appoint him as the child's guardian ad litem in the divorce. He was supposed to look out for the child's interests as the parents fought it out. It's a position that must be unbiased, that cannot be tied to a parent.

    Uhhhh . . . it's been reported in multiple places -- and a transcript clearly shows -- that Ms. Akl's attorney (Daniel Chambers), not Henderson, asked Judge Patricia Stephens to appoint Henderson as guardian ad litem.

    (3) Still in the same column, Archibald writes:

    Stephens was a devastating witness. She cried as she recounted a closed-door meeting with lawyers after Henderson testified that he and Akl never spent the night together. She was shown evidence then that it was a lie.

    What evidence was she shown that it was a lie? Archibald doesn't say. But it couldn't have been the PI report because it doesn't come close to proving a lie. Maybe Archibald, and others, were "assuming facts not in evidence." That's not how a criminal trial is supposed to work, and Archibald should know that.

    Meanwhile, Archibald hints that a witness crying on the stand was the deciding factor in a criminal prosecution? Really, that's how court cases are decided now?

    (4) Finally, Archibald cackles at the notion Henderson was the victim of a political prosecution:

    So forgive me if I give short shrift to the chorus of Democrats who swore in the last few weeks that Henderson, himself a Democrat, was a victim of some kind of political prosecution.

    Here are questions a commenter raised at this blog the other day, and perhaps Archibald should ponder them: Would Charles Todd Henderson have been prosecuted for perjury if he had not run for DA as a Democrat in Jefferson County? Would Henderson have been prosecuted if he had not beaten Bob Riley-favorite Brandon Falls in last November's election?

    Readers of "The Great Archie" should pose those questions to him. Does he have the integrity to answer honestly? I doubt it. But anyone with the slightest integrity and knowledge of Alabama's toxic political scene knows the answers. They are "no" and "no."

    And that means Henderson was, in fact, the victim of a political prosecution -- even if John Archibald has his pigtails in a knot and his mind set in concrete.

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    William and Christine House
    The controller and regional vice president for HealthSouth Corporation appears as a paying customer at the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site.

    William B. House has been with HealthSouth since 2005. Before that, he was director of finance at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. House earned a bachelor's degree in management and finance from the University of Louisville and an MBA from Georgia State University.

    After going through an accounting scandal in the late 1990s and early 2000s, HealthSouth has emerged again as a major player in rehabilitation medicine. From the company Web site:

    HealthSouth is one of the nation’s largest providers of post-acute healthcare services and through the acquisition of Encompass Home Health and Hospice, an industry leader in home-based patient care. Our priority is to deliver high quality patient care and our team of experts has extensive experience in today’s most advanced therapeutic methods and technologies. HealthSouth leads the way, consistently outperforming peers with a unique, intensive approach to rehabilitation, returning patients to full strength in less than average time.

    From the company's Wikipedia page:

    HealthSouth Corporation, based in Birmingham, Alabama, is one of the United States' largest providers of post-acute healthcare services, offering both facility-based and home-based post-acute services in 36 states and Puerto Rico through its network of inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, home health agencies, and hospice agencies. . . . HealthSouth states that its "hospitals provide a higher level of rehabilitative care to patients who are recovering from conditions such as stroke and other neurological disorders, cardiac and pulmonary conditions, brain and spinal cord injuries, complex orthopedic conditions, and amputations"; and that subsidiary Encompass "provides a comprehensive range of Medicare-certified home nursing services to adult patients and, in some markets, in-home hospice services and home care services for pediatric patients with severe medical conditions".

    HealthSouth was involved in a corporate accounting scandal in which its founder, chairman, and chief executive officer, Richard M. Scrushy, was accused of directing company employees to falsely report grossly exaggerated company earnings in order to meet stockholder expectations.

    At the company's height in 2003, it recorded nearly $4.5 billion in revenue, dominated the rehabilitation, surgery and diagnostic services market and employed more than 60,000 people at 2,000 facilities in every state of the U.S. along with its facilities in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Puerto Rico and Saudi Arabia. The company was the largest publicly listed healthcare company in the United States based on the number of locations and . . . revenue.

    By mid- to late 2006, HealthSouth, which never had to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection, completed its recovery and relisted its stock on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol HLS. The company currently operates one division: inpatient rehabilitation. The company formerly operated an outpatient rehabilitation, surgery center and diagnostics division. The company also previously owned and operated several acute care hospitals that specialized in orthopedics, but sold all of those hospitals by 2006. The former outpatient division also operated an occupational medicine division until 2001, when it was sold. HealthSouth also sold its Long-term acute care facilities in May 2011. The long-term hospitals contributed around $200 million in revenue.

    Bill House appears to be one of the executives who helped HealthSouth get back on its feet. He is married to Christine M. House, and they live at 1739 Lake Cyrus Club Drive in Hoover -- in a house that has an appraised market value of $502,300.

    If House is smart enough to help save HealthSouth, why was he dumb enough to sign up with a scam outfit like Ashley Madison? We wanted to pose that, and other, questions to House, but he has not responded to our queries.


    Article with links to 1-40 in Ashley Madison series

    (41) David Armistead, director of enterprise sales, TekLinks, Birmingham (10/19/17)

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    The Superfund amigos: Jeff Sessions, Luther Strange,
    and Richard Shelby
    (From wkrg.com)
    Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby lead a cavalcade of Alabama politicians with ties to the North Birmingham Superfund scandal, according to a new report from Mother Jones (MoJo).

    Joining Sessions and Shelby on the list of ignominy are U.S. Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), former Gov. Robert Bentley, State Sen. Jabo Waggoner, U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL), and Strange's one-time mistress and campaign manager Jessica Garrison. Notice a pattern? Yes, we're looking here at all white, conservative Republicans.

    Could this bunch have Superfund ties that are close enough to raise questions about criminal conduct? Could they join former State Rep. Oliver Robinson (a black Democrat) on the list of public officials to be indicted? Could they join Balch Bingham lawyers Joel Gilbert and Steven McKinney, plus Drummond Co. executive David Roberson, on the list of four indictees so far?

    Are any white public officials going to be held accountable? Are we supposed to believe that the black guy, Oliver Robinson, acted as a lone wolf, with none of these white politicos being aware of bribes that were paid to him? Is U.S. Attorney Jay Town, who has said he does not expect more indictments, protecting certain individuals based on race -- perhaps under instructions from his boss, Trump AG Jeff Sessions? Will the racism that has tracked Sessions career like a second coat of point rear its ugly ahead again?

    We don't have answers to all of those questions, but the MoJo article makes it clear that the involvement of Alabama GOP politicians is broader and deeper than was widely suspected. Here is a brief look at the role of each known player, as described by MoJo:

    Jeff Sessions

    During his 20 years as a U.S. senator, Sessions pocketed hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars from both Drummond Company, the corporation at the heart of this scandal, and its Birmingham-based law firm, Balch Bingham. But his ties to Drummond and Balch extend beyond the usual political contributions. Last year, according to documents obtained by Mother Jones and the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight, Sessions intervened to oppose the Environmental Protection Agency action at issue in the bribery case, and he did so just weeks after conferring with Balch lawyers.

    Robert Bentley and Jabo Waggoner

    Drummond was a major political benefactor of former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, who resigned in April amid an embarrassing sex scandal. Bentley’s administration fiercely battled the EPA’s Superfund push in North Birmingham, yet he was hardly alone. Among the state officials who assisted Drummond and Balch was one of the longest-serving members of the state Legislature, Republican Sen. J.T. “Jabo” Waggoner, who in 2015 successfully introduced a resolution opposing the EPA actions at the 35th Avenue Superfund site. According to the Justice Department, the measure was in fact authored by Balch’s Joel Gilbert.

    Luther Strange

    Then-Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, who in September lost a Republican Senate primary runoff to former state Supreme Court Judge Roy Moore, sent detailed letters to the EPA in October 2014 and January 2015 opposing its efforts in North Birmingham. Drummond gave Strange a $25,000 campaign contribution less than a week before the first letter and another $25,000 donation a month after the second. Strange’s Senate office did not respond to requests for comment.

    Strange’s ties go deeper still. The head of his Senate campaign’s finance team, Mike Thompson, was one of two directors of the Alliance for Jobs and the Economy, the outfit that made payments to Robinson’s nonprofit. The other was Drummond’s David Roberson. US Attorney Jay Town recently told the Birmingham News that Thompson “is not the subject or target of any investigation run out of my office.”

    Richard Shelby and Gary Palmer

    [From Balch newsletter]: “Balch has worked on a multitude of strategy options for congressional engagement concerning EPA’s latest Superfund actions,” the item boasts. “Recently, Balch has met with Senator Jeff Sessions and presented to the National Mining Association on the emerging issues in Superfund, including the aerial emission deposition theory.” The firm informed its clients that “key members of the Alabama congressional delegation will issue a letter on this topic shortly.” The newsletter directed clients with questions to contact Steve McKinney, one of the now indicted Balch attorneys. 
    True to Balch’s word, in February 2016, weeks after the newsletter’s publication, Sessions, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), and Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) sent a letter to the EPA condemning the use of the “air deposition theory” at the 35th Avenue site. Attached to the letter was a copy of Waggoner’s ghostwritten resolution. In July 2016, according to an EPA spokesman, officials from the agency briefed staffers for Sessions, Shelby, and Palmers’ regarding the status of the 35th Avenue site.

    Jessica Medeiros Garrison

    [Jeffrey] Wood, [Ed] Haden, and other Balch lawyers spearheaded high-profile legal fights with the Obama-era EPA. Wood and Haden represented Republican members of Congress in a 2016 court filing siding with West Virginia as it fought EPA carbon emission standards at coal power plants. The lawsuit appeared to be coordinated by coal behemoth Murray Energy and the fossil fuel industry-funded Republican Attorneys General Association. RAGA’s executive director at the time, Jessica Medeiros Garrison, was simultaneously an attorney at Balch from 2011 through 2016. She has also worked for Sessions.

    If it's proven that any of these actions were coordinated with bribes paid to Oliver Robinson, could that mean criminal action on the part of the above politicos? It sure looks that way.

    The bigger question might be this: Is an effort under way in the highest reaches of the U.S. Department of Justice to make sure white politicians skate, while the black guy takes the heat? That's  called a race-based cover-up, and it's exactly the kind of thing Jeff Sessions might find attractive? Could he wind up taking a bunch of Alabama's "finest" down with him?

    Stay tuned.

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    Jeff Sessions leads a Trump campaign foreign-policy meeting in 2016,
    with George Papadopoulos two chairs to his left.
    (From nbcnews.com)

    "Mueller Monday" produced indictments against two Trump campaign officials, and a plea deal for a third. But the biggest loser might be a Trumpista who was not named in yesterday's criminal unveilings.

    Trump attorney general and former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) might have had the worst day of all -- even though he is not facing criminal charges, yet. That's because the most damaging news for Team Trump was the guilty plea of campaign adviser George Papadopoulos. And his direct supervisor during the Trump campaign was . . . Jeff Sessions.

    Multiple legal experts noted that Papadopoulos was described in legal documents as a "proactive cooperator" and suggest he likely has been helping gather evidence for Special Counsel Robert Mueller. A former Watergate prosecutor "guaranteed" Papadopoulos has been wearing a wire and playing "dial-a-crook" for months. CNN's Jeffrey Toobin said Papadopoulous has been wearing a wire since his arrest in July, through October.

    Legal journalist Marcy Wheeler writes that Papadopoulos could help prove that Sessions lied to Congress. And Jill Simpson, a prominent activist and opposition researcher, says that could shine a dreadful light on Alabama's toxic legal and political environment.

    It all starts with close ties between Sessions and Papadopoulos, which are reflected in the photo at the top of this post -- showing Papadopoulos two seats to Sessions left. From an article by Lucia Brawley at verifiedpolitics.com:

    Attorney General Jefferson “Jeff” Beauregard Sessions III swore up and down Congress that he did “not recall” having meetings with agents of the Russian government during Trump’s campaign, but his story just broke down completely.

    Convicted Trump foreign policy advisor, George Papadopoulos, who pled guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about his dealings with Kremlin agents during the 2016 election, reported directly to Sessions — along with willing Russian spy asset, Carter Page, and other suspicious characters on the campaign’s foreign policy team.

    During a press conference today, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pretended that the Trump campaign barely had any dealings with “volunteer” Papadopoulos. The evidence that Papadopoulos reported to Sessions instantaneously put the lie to her assertions.

    Gee, Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied to the public? Who saw that coming? Lucia Brawley apparently did:

    Sessions testified before the Senate in June, but as far back as March, The Washington Post had revealed that Sessions was Papadopoulos’ direct supervisor, as well as that of the rest of Trump’s bumbling foreign policy team:

    For the first time, Trump also listed members of a team chaired by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) that is counseling him on foreign affairs and helping to shape his policies: Keith Kellogg, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Walid Phares and Joseph E. Schmitz.

    Marcy Wheeler takes a deep dive into the Sessions-Papadopoulos muck. She comes up with an Intercept article titled "George Papadopoulos's plea deal spells very, very bad news for Attorney General Jeff Sessions":

    Sessions has repeatedly testified to the Senate that he knows nothing about any collusion with the Russians. . . .

    But the Papadopoulos plea shows that Sessions — then acting as Trump’s top foreign policy adviser — was in a March 31, 2016, meeting with Trump, at which Papadopoulos explained “he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin.” It also shows that Papadopoulos kept a number of campaign officials in the loop on his efforts to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin, though they secretly determined that the meeting “should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal,” itself a sign the campaign was trying to hide its efforts to make nice with the Russians.

    Papadopoulos also learned, on April 26, that the Russians “have dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.” A key part of Papadopoulos’s cooperation must pertain to what he told the Trump campaign about these emails. According to his complaint, he originally claimed he hadn’t told anyone on the campaign about the dirt on Clinton because he didn’t know if it was real. But as his plea makes clear, after being arrested, he “met with the Government on numerous occasions to provide information and answer questions.” There would be no reason for Papadopoulos to lie about the significance of the emails in January unless he did so to hide his discussions of them with the rest of the campaign.

    That suggests the campaign knew, a month before Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. took a meeting with a Russian lawyer to get dirt on Clinton, that the Russians had already told Papadopoulos about dirt in thousands of stolen emails.

    That appears to put Sessions in an uncomfortable spot -- at the heart of RussiaGate, tied to a former underling who likely has been wearing a wire. Writes Wheeler:

    Sessions’s claims about such meetings came in sworn testimony to the Senate. During his confirmation process, Sessions was asked a key question by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.: “If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?”

    “Senator Franken, I’m not aware of any of those activities,” Sessions responded. “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn’t have — did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.”

    The question, however, was about Sessions’s knowledge of such communications, and we now know he was in a meeting in which they were discussed.

    In Jill Simpson's view -- and she has followed Sessions for years in Alabama -- the former senator deserves any typhoon that might be headed his way. From a post yesterday on Simpson's Facebook page:

    Maybe all those conversations Jeff had with and about Russians helping with the campaign will come back to him. If not I am quite certain the young man who plead guilty has told Mueller everything Jeff did.

    Simpson then points out that Sessions and his influence on the Alabama State Bar are big reasons the state's court system is monstrously corrupt:

    The Alabama Bar needs to clean out Jeff's good old boys at the state bar office. They aided him in staying in office for months, doing large amounts of damage to our country,  when they knew he committed perjury -- not just once, not just twice, but three times. 
    The Alabama State Bar members should throw Jeff's ethics folks out on their asses; to not do so, makes our state bar look like a bunch of idiots. Y'all know they are the same weasels who screwed with me and placed me on disability for missing a hearing while awaiting surgery. These creeps need to be brought before the Alabama Bar themselves for protecting Jeff Sessions; when complaints were filed, all they have done is sit on their ass and protect a Russian traitor.

    George Papadopoulos might soon help prove that "Russian traitor" is not just a figurative term when it comes to Jeff Sessions. We might soon learn that Sessions did, in fact, sell out his country to a foreign adversary -- and then lied about it to Congress.

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    X-ray of the comminuted fracture in
    Carol Shuler's left arm
    We've been reporting here for more than two years that my wife, Carol, had to be taken to the hospital with a broken arm after an encounter with Greene County, Missouri, deputies during an unlawful eviction in September 2015. But that minor detail had not been revealed in court until a recent motion hearing (Sept. 20) in the criminal case where Carol is charged with a misdemeanor count of "assault of a law enforcement officer, third degree."

    Public Defender Patty Poe referenced Carol's injuries in a Motion to Compel Discovery, on which the prosecution has been stonewalling. Poe also noted, in oral argument before Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto, that Carol's broken arm required hospitalization and surgery. As part of her discovery request, Poe asks for notes or reports "from Deputy Scott Harrison regarding Ms. Shuler's injuries" (Item 7b.) On the evening of our eviction (Sept. 9, 2015), Harrison accompanied Carol to the emergency room at Cox North Medical Center, where X-rays of her left arm revealed a comminuted fracture, which is a break into three or more pieces.

    That means the Greene County Sheriff's Office (GCSO) knew about Carol's injuries -- because Harrison was present when her broken arm was diagnosed, and he took photographs of her arm. Deputies have hinted in incident reports that Carol must have broken her own arm by flailing about in the back seat of a patrol car. That, however, is nonsense, for two reasons: (1) Carol was handcuffed and seat-belted in the patrol car and could not have flailed about, even if she had wanted to -- and having just been brutalized by cops, I doubt she wanted to; (2) A comminuted fracture usually is the result of trauma, such as a vehicle accident, and is not consistent with any kind of alleged flailing in a tight space.

    All of this raises a troubling question about the GCSO's actions: If deputies knew about Carol's injuries, why did they fail to mention them in the Probable Cause (PC) Statement that was the basis for Carol's arrest? Under Missouri law, such an omission presents grounds to have the charges dismissed. In fact, Carol has filed a "Motion to Dismiss Based on Defective Probable Cause Statement and Gross Omission of Facts . . . " She filed it on May 30, while still acting pro so, but we've seen no signs that Judge Palmietto has considered it -- or any of Carol's other pro se motions, which should have caused the charges to be tossed at least in June, maybe earlier. (The PC Statement, Motion to Compel, and Motion to Dismiss Based on Defective Probable Cause Statement . . . are embedded at the end of this post.)

    Missouri courts have held that a PC statement can be defective both when law enforcement officers include false information or omit favorable information against the defendant. From a case styled State v. Turner, 471 S.W. 3d 405 (Mo. App., E.D., 2015), which references Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154 (1978), a U.S. Supreme Court case:

    While Franks dealt with express misrepresentation in warrant-application affidavits, the same analysis has been applied to material omissions of fact.

    Such omissions were the focus of a Missouri case styled State v. Weide, 812 S.W. 2d 866 (Mo. App. W.D., 1991). From Weide:

    No Missouri case is found applying Franks to a situation involving alleged material omissions from an affidavit in support of a search warrant. However, the Eighth Circuit has addressed this question.

    In United States v. Reivich, 793 F.2d 957 (8th Cir.1986), the court held that affidavits in support of a search warrant are subject to challenge on the basis of alleged deliberate material omissions. The challenge must show that (1) the police omitted facts with the intent to make, or in reckless disregard of whether they thereby made, the affidavit misleading; and (2) that the affidavit, if supplemented by the omitted information, would not have been sufficient to support a finding of probable cause.

    We find the position of the Eighth Circuit persuasive on the issue of alleged deliberate material omissions from an affidavit . . .

    We already have addressed expressed misrepresentations in the PC Statement, and they are spelled out in No. 12 of Carol's Motion to Dismiss Because of Defective Probable Cause Statement . . . . What about material omissions? That is spelled out in No. 13:

    13. As for omissions, the list is lengthy. Here is a brief summary of key omissions: 
    (a) The eviction was unlawfully scheduled during a 10-day window when execution could not take place; 
    (b) The Shulers timely filed a Notice of Appeal and paid fees, putting a stay on execution, which landlord Trent Cowherd and Sheriff Jim Arnott ignored; 
    (c) By law, eviction proceedings in Missouri cannot begin until rent is at least one month late. The Shulers’ rent was late by five days when eviction proceedings began; 
    (d) Under Missouri Castle Doctrine Law, Carol Shuler “reasonably believed” deputies were unlawfully forcing their way into her home and she had the right to use force, even deadly force, to protect her home. Shuler did not use such force, but she is being charged for a “crime,” based on alleged conduct that is legal, even encouraged, under Missouri law. 
    (e) The judgment in the underlying eviction case is listed in the docket as interlocutory, with the Shulers’ counterclaim and other issues, set for hearing on Oct. 1, 2015. That means the Shulers’ appeal was premature, and the window for filing an appeal could not begin until a final judgment was issued after Oct. 1. The lack of lawful grounds for an eviction was even more blatant than the Shulers originally believed. (For more details, see Shuler’s Amended Motion to Dismiss Charges Under Missouri’s Castle Doctrine Law, filed May 30, 2017.

    You will notice that list does not even include the fact deputies omitted information about Carol's injuries. All five of the listed omissions present grounds for dismissal of the case. But the most powerful ground probably involves omission of the "inconvenient truth" that cops brutalized Carol to the point that she was left with a shattered left arm. Carol likely will be filing a separate Motion to Dismiss on that omission alone.

    Let's return to State v. Weide and its analysis of material omissions:

    The challenge must show that (1) the police omitted facts with the intent to make, or in reckless disregard of whether they thereby made, the affidavit misleading; and (2) that the affidavit, if supplemented by the omitted information, would not have been sufficient to support a finding of probable cause.

    Now, we'll apply that analysis to the reality of Carol's left arm, shattered by the cops who failed to mention it in their Probable Cause Statement:

    (1) Did the cops omit information about Carol's injuries with the intent to make the affidavit misleading? Well, we've established above that the GCSO knew about Carol's injuries on the night of  our eviction, and yet they did not mention them in the PC Statement. It's hard to imagine how intent to make the affidavit misleading could be more clear.

    (2) If the affidavit had been supplemented with the omitted information, would it have supported a finding of probable cause? With the omitted information included, it turns the case on its head -- instead of a perpetrator of an assault, Carol becomes the victim of an assault -- and probable cause appears to go out the window.

    That's a legal analysis, but we also can do a "common sense" analysis. Why did deputies fail to mention Carol's broken arm in their PC Statement? Common sense tells us they knew it would hurt their case -- probably ruin it -- so they left it out. And knowing they face serious civil liability toward Carol (and me), they were determined to bring a criminal case against Carol, as a "cover charge" to discourage a civil action.

    Under Missouri law, that omission should cause dismissal of the case against Carol -- not to mention the other five omissions noted above.

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    Olin Barnes III
    (From facebook.com)
    A veteran insurance and financial-services adviser, with deep family roots in Mountain Brook, appears on the list of paying customers at the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site.

    Olin B. Barnes III currently works with One Resource Group, which is based in Roanoke, Indiana. He is senior vice president for the company's Southeast Division.

    Barnes has worked with a number of other ventures. He was managing director and co-founder of LifeServe, a national insurance and financial-services brokerage in Birmingham and Atlanta. He also has worked for Colonial Bank, Nowlin and Associates, and Wells Fargo Clearing Services.

    In 2003, Barnes joined with Pete Elliot of Los Angeles and Sinan Kinatsiz of San Clemente to form BankSwap, which he served as CEO and President. He also has served as co-host of a talk show about financial issues on WERC-AM in Birmingham.

    Barnes' mother, Mary, died in 2016, and her obituary indicated her son was not married at the time.

    Barnes lives at 4408 Corinth Drive in Mountain Brook. According to Zillow, the house has five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, and more than 6,000 square feet. It sold in 2006 for $740,000, and Zillow estimates its current sales value at $807,759. Based on my limited knowledge of the Mountain Brook real-estate market, I would say that estimate is low and would not be surprised to see the house sell for close to $900,000.

    According to his bio at Bhamwiki, Barnes enjoys salt water fishing, skiing, motorcycling, and cooking in his spare time.

    We contacted Barnes via his Facebook page, and he said he would be willing to chat. He did not provide additional contact information for him, so I invited him to call me and gave him my number. We have not received a return call.


    Article with links to 1-40 in Ashley Madison series

    (41) David Armistead, director of enterprise sales, TekLinks, Birmingham (10/19/17)

    (42) William House, VP and controller, HealthSouth, Birmingham (10/26/17)

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    T.J. "Sweet T" Bunn
    A Tuscaloosa man who is alleged to have raped a former University of Alabama student, in a case where she committed suicide after returning to her home state of Texas, appears as a paying customer at the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site, according to publicly available records.

    Terry J. Bunn Jr. -- better known as T.J. "Sweet T" Bunn -- is listed in Ashley Madison data with an address of 1570 Cedar Drive, Cottondale, AL. Spokeo shows members of the Bunn family live at that address. Hauzizshows the occupant as Terry J. Bunn, age 37.

    Bunn is a member of the powerful and wealthy family behind ST Bunn Construction, which works on projects statewide and reportedly claims to have paved every street in Tuscaloosa. Former UA student Megan Rondini accused Bunn of rape from a July 2015 encounter at Bunn's home, but she met a wall of resistance from university officials and law enforcement when she sought to bring a case against "Sweet T" Bunn.

    Rondini withdrew from UA, newly diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She returned to her hometown of Austin, TX, and eventually enrolled at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas. Missing her UA friends and unhappy at her new school, Rondini filled out an intake form at the SMU mental health center. She never turned in the form and killed herself by hanging on Feb. 26, 2016.

    We sought comment from T.J. Bunn Jr. regarding Ashley Madison -- and his attorney, Ivey Gilmore, sent the following statement:

    “T.J. Bunn has never been a subscriber to the Ashley Madison website. Examination of the full membership of Ashley Madison subscribers released when the website was hacked shows no mention of T.J. Bunn or his address. If you will share with me the basis for the accusation you are making, we will make a more informed response. But please understand clearly, that I am notifying you that the central accusation of your article is false.”

    I sent Mr. Gilmore a copy of the entry for T.J. Bunn Jr. on the AM list for Alabama. Mr. Gilmore replied that his client's statement would remain the same.

    The Rondini case came to widespread public attention when BuzzFeed News broke a story on June 22, 2017, titled "How Accusing A Powerful Man of Rape Drove A College Student To Suicide." The sub-title: "When an Alabama college student told the police she was sexually assaulted, she did everything she thought she was supposed to do. She ended up killing herself."

    In our first post on the subject, we described the culture Megan Rondini faced in Tuscaloosa:

    Why has the story generated a mixture of sympathy, disbelief, disgust, and outrage? Maybe it's because Rondini had leveled rape allegations against one of Tuscaloosa's elites -- T.J. "Sweet T" Bunn Jr., part of the family behind ST Bunn Construction. . . .  Sonny and Terry Bunn, the brothers who currently run the company, were major donors to former Gov. Robert "Luv Guv" Bentley, and Terry ("Sweet T's" father) served on the Bentley transition team. The Bunns are about as entrenched in Tuscaloosa culture as you can get.

    That includes being major boosters of UA's powerhouse Crimson Tide football program:

    The booster group in question is the Crimson Tide Foundation, founded and chaired by Paul Bryant Jr., son of the late Hall of Fame coach, Paul "Bear" Bryant. ST Bunn Construction is listed as part of the Crimson Alliance, for donors who have given from $100,000 to $499,999 to UA athletics. The foundation is closely aligned with Bryant Bank, which Bryant Jr. founded. In 2004, the Crimson Tide Foundation reported $34 million in revenue, but since has stopped reporting to the IRS in public documents.

    When Megan Rondini had a sexual encounter in July 2015 at T.J. Bunn's mansion -- Bunn claims the sex was consensual -- she unknowingly walked into a swamp of big money, white privilege, secrecy, and entitlement. The BuzzFeed article suggests that the Tuscaloosa Sheriff's Office made only a half-hearted attempt to pursue Rondini's claim. Even a therapist at the University of Alabama said she could not help because she knew the Bunn family.

    In subsequent posts, we showed:

    (1) A Tuscaloosa County Sheriff investigator gave Rondini an inaccurate statement of Alabama law regarding "earnest resistance" in a rape case;

    (2) An investigator made another inaccurate statement regarding Alabama law, claiming he could not bring a criminal charge against "Sweet T" Bunn because Rondini did not kick or hit him;

    (3) Uncorroborated testimony of a rape victim can support a conviction, under Alabama law, but investigators gave Rondini no chance to take the stand;

    Finally, we reported that UA's enrollment of out-of-state students has grown so rapidly that it appears Megan Rondini fell through the cracks in a system that is unable -- or unwilling -- to provide basic services and protections for the growing mass of students on campus.

    That might be particularly dangerous in a town where the obsession with college football seems to trump all else. That's especially true when you consider the Bunn family's close ties to Paul Bryant Jr., the Godfather of Crimson Tide football. As a member of the board of trustees, Bryant played a major role in UA's massive enrollment growth:

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

    The Bunn property at 1570 Cedar Drive
    in Cottondale, AL
    (From propertyshark.com)
    In fact, the ties between the Bunn family and Bryant appear close enough to raise this question: Did the Bunns seek Bryant's help -- he holds the state's most famous name, after all -- to help quash a possible criminal case against "Sweet T"?

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

    According to one account, "Tuscaloosa-area law enforcement officials privately refer to Sweet T as a 'dirt bag' because of his propensity for cruising local bars and clubs in search of young coeds for sexual encounters.

    The Rondini family now is seeking justice via a federal lawsuit. From our July 5 post:

    Rondini's parents have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against UA and the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office. Among the defendants is investigator Adam Jones, who based on news account, gave Rondini a inaccurate portrayal of Alabama law, apparently to support his finding that she had no rape case against "Sweet T" Bunn.

    Birmingham attorney Leroy Maxwell Jr. represents the Rondini family. Here is a link to a report about the lawsuit . . . by reporter Mary Kekatos, at UK Daily Mail.

    Bunn's appearance on the list of paying customers for Ashley Madison -- famous for its slogan "Life is short. Have an Affair" -- seems to add to his image as what some have called a "sexual predator."


    Article with links to 1-40 in Ashley Madison series

    (41) David Armistead, director of enterprise sales, TekLinks, Birmingham (10/19/17)

    (42) William House, VP and controller, HealthSouth, Birmingham (10/26/17)

    (43) Olin B. Barnes III, VP, One Resource Group, Birmingham (11/1/17)

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    Thomas V. Posey: The right-wing terrorist
    that Doug Jones defended.
    In a blatant attempt to attract black voters, Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Doug Jones incessantly touts his participation in the prosecution of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. Less touted -- perhaps because it will repel black voters -- is Jones' role in defending a paramilitary leader with ties to racist organizations and gun smuggling in Central America.

    Jones provided criminal defense for Thomas Vincent Posey, a Decatur, AL, man who founded Civilian Military Assistance (CMA, later called Civilian Material Assistance) and faced a series of weapons- and theft-related charges in the late 1980s and early 1990s. From a 1987 United Press International (UPI) story:

    A lawyer for Tom Posey, the conservative Alabama activist accused of shipping arms to the Nicaraguan rebels with the help of a White House liaison, said his client would rebut the allegations in a meeting today with the Senate staff investigating the Iran-Contra scandal.

    Posey acknowledges working with the liaison, Robert Owen, but denies any involvement in weapons shipments to the Contras at a time when U.S. military aid to them was illegal, according to his attorney Douglas Jones.

    Posey has maintained in interviews that his organization, Civilian Military Assistance of Decatur, Ala., included no weapons in shipping tons of boots, medicine and clothing to the Contras since the ban on military aid was imposed in 1984. The ban was lifted last year just before the Iran-Contra case broke.

    Jones said Wednesday that Posey kept in his house caches of weapons sent by private contributors but did not forward them to the Contras because he 'knew it was against the law.' Jones said his client would dispute the allegations against him in talking to the Senate investigators today.

    Did Jones help keep Posey out of trouble with the feds? The answer, based on published reports, is "sort of." A 2011 Newsweek article, titled "My Life as a White Supremacist," focuses on an FBI informant named John Mathews, who palled around with Posey and other anti-government types. From the Newsweek article:

    Matthews, an ardent anticommunist, had long run in extremist circles, but an event in September 1990 opened his eyes to the dangers posed by the far right. It happened at a Las Vegas conference honoring Soldier of Fortune, a magazine popular with mercenaries and weapons enthusiasts. He went as a bodyguard to a Nicaraguan commander, and like many of the gun-toting men who gathered there that weekend, loved his country but hated his government: the economy was in tatters, the first Iraq War was imminent, and President George H.W. Bush was talking about the “New World Order.”

    At the conference, Matthews spent the mornings in seminars about surviving a government collapse and the afternoons firing automatic weapons at a local range. At night, participants gathered to play blackjack and talk politics.

    One of the men Matthews hung out with that weekend was Tom Posey, the head of an American paramilitary group, once thousands strong, called the Civilian Material Assistance (CMA). In the 1980s, CMA, with encouragement from and the tacit support of the National Security Council and the CIA, had trained and armed anticommunist rebels in Nicaragua. (Ronald Reagan reportedly called Posey a “national treasure”; Oliver North, then a member of the NSC, hired a liaison to work with the network of private soldiers involved in the conflict, including the CMA.) After the war in Nicaragua ended, politics would quickly turn against Posey: as news spread that the U.S. had used networks of private soldiers to arm the contras, Posey was indicted for weapons smuggling. Though he beat the rap, he was stuck with considerable legal fees and a feeling, according to friends, that his government had hung him out to dry.

    Posey beat the rap on weapons-smuggling charges, he was not so fortunate a few years later. From Newsweek:

    At the behest of his FBI handlers, Matthews—a wire often down his pants and a pistol in his shoulder holster—traveled across the country with Posey and others, attending dance parties with the Ku Klux Klan, selling weapons at truck stops and gas stations, sitting in church pews with would-be abortion-clinic bombers, and becoming a regular at gun shows and in paramilitary compounds. Extremist leaders were his frequent guests, sometimes staying the night, and hosted him when he traveled from home. “That’s how well trusted I was. We was one big happy family,” Matthews recalls. . . .

    Doug Jones
     As Matthews was soon to learn, the FBI layered covert intrigue upon covert intrigue. In early 1992, Matthews says he and Posey traveled to Austin, Texas, to meet a former Klan leader and suspected member of a locally based paramilitary group, the Texas Reserve Militia (TRM). The FBI was investigating the TRM for allegedly laundering money through a Texas gun shop, paying off local law enforcement, purchasing stolen weapons from a military base, attempting to blow up a National Guard convoy in Alabama, and threatening to kill two FBI agents.

    The suspected TRM member brought along a Vietnam veteran called Dave, an unremarkable-looking man in a green bomber jacket, fashionable among skinheads at the time. Matthews recalls that they met in a small, musty hotel room on the outskirts of the city, and for a few hours kicked back and talked about the movement. Posey went on about the New World Order, which to extremists like him meant the threat of global takeover by an assortment of international organizations including banks, the United Nations, and other elite institutions. Dave said he was the leader of a group of armored-car robbers who were using the proceeds of their exploits to fund the movement. “We were feeling each other out,” Matthews says. “[Dave] let us know there was money available."

    "Dave" proved to be an undercover FBI agent, and that would heighten Posey's legal problems. First, Posey sold "Dave" military-issued night-vision goggles (apparently stolen). Posey boasted that he could get "Dave" several Stinger missiles, worth $40,000 apiece. And Posey revived a plan to rob the Browns Ferry armory in Alabama and take out gas and power lines nearby.

    On Sept. 9, 1993, FBI agents arrested Posey on charges related to the Browns Ferry plot. That led to a trial, with Matthews involved:

    After Posey’s arrest, the FBI had Matthews’s Social Security number changed and paid for him and his family to move to Stockton, Calif. They also flew him to Montgomery, Ala., for Posey’s trial. Despite hundreds of hours of recorded conversations, as well as video and personal surveillance, the district attorney’s office had chosen to prosecute Posey and his cohorts only for buying and selling the stolen goggles. A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in the Northern District of Alabama said there had been insufficient evidence for anything else. . . .

    The prosecutor questioned Matthews on his dealings with Posey and Dave and the sale of the goggles. He played several recordings that backed his account. And then Matthews stepped off the stand. The FBI agents escorted him out of the courtroom the same way he came in. Hours later, he was on a plane back to Arizona. In the end, Posey was sentenced to just two years in prison and fined $20,000.

    Thomas Vincent Posey died, at age 65, on July 19, 2011. He is buried at Roselawn Cemetery in  Decatur. Posey faced serious criminal charges during his life, and it's likely he would have died in prison without the assistance of Doug Jones -- who now seeks to ride the support of black voters to a seat in the U.S. Senate.

    Thomas V. Posey grave site at Roselawn Cemetery
    in Decatur, AL
    (From findagrave.com)
    How is this for irony? A recent Newsweek article about the Jones v. Roy Moore Senate race carried this headline: "Who is Doug Jones, the KKK-Fighting Democrat taking on Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race?"

    Doug Jones is a KKK-fighting Democrat? The author of that 2017 article could have looked six years back in Newsweek's archives and found that Doug Jones has a record of defending a right-wing terrorist with ties to the KKK. That case suggest Doug Jones protects KKK members and like-minded bigots.

    Does that poke a few holes in the notion that Doug Jones is a civil-rights icon, deserving of support from black voters? It sure as heck does.

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    Todd and Lori Deffenbaugh
    (From facebook.com)
    The vice president and controller for Birmingham-based Express Oil Change and Tire Engineers appears on the list of paying customers for the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site.

    Todd Deffenbaugh joined the Express Oil Change administrative team in 2017. Before that, he served for three years as controller and VP at O'Neal Industries. He also has worked in executive positions at Royal Cup Coffee and Price Waterhouse.

    Deffenbaugh has a bachelor's degree in finance from the University of Alabama and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.

    According to his Facebook page, Deffenbaugh went to Berry High School in Hoover and is married to Lori Parker Deffenbaugh. Photos on her Facebook page indicate they are big University of Alabama football fans.

    Their daughter, Abbey Deffenbaugh, is studying psychology and pre-dentistry at the University of Alabama.

    The Deffenbaughs live at 613 Founders Park Dr. W. in Hoover. According to Zillow, their house has five bedrooms, five baths, and 4,599 square feet, with an estimate sales value of $642,880.

    We sought comment from Todd Deffenbaugh for this post, but he has not responded to our queries.


    Article with links to 1-40 in Ashley Madison series

    (41) David Armistead, director of enterprise sales, TekLinks, Birmingham (10/19/17)

    (42) William House, VP and controller, HealthSouth, Birmingham (10/26/17)

    (43) Olin B. Barnes III, VP, One Resource Group, Birmingham (11/1/17)

    (44) T.J. Bunn Jr., ST Bunn Construction, Tuscaloosa (11/2/17)

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    Carol Tovich Shuler
    The Missouri assistant public defender who was assigned to represent my wife, Carol, has filed a motion to withdraw from the case. On top of that, the prosecutor in the matter has filed a notice that he will not seek jail time

    Patty Poe's effort to exit the case came after a meeting last Monday (10/30) in which she repeatedly lied to Carol about relevant law in the "assault of a law enforcement charge" at the heart of State v. Carol T. Shuler (No. 1631-CR07731) -- the docket of which can be viewed at case.net. I was present for the meeting and tried my best (not always with success) to keep my mouth shut -- but I don't think I've ever heard a lawyer tell so many lies in a relatively short sitting. And this was from someone we once held in high regard, for whom we once had high hopes.

    Carol made it clear in the meeting that we weren't buying the bullshit Poe was feverishly shoveling. So, two days later (Wed. 11/1), Jain filed State's Notice of Jail Waiver, meaning he is not seeking jail time in the matter. Poe followed up by filing her Motion for Leave to Withdraw yesterday morning. (Both documents are embedded at the end of this post.)

    Poe notified us of the filing via e-mail, saying in part:

    Additionally, the State filed a notice of jail waiver (attached). Therefore, I will be withdrawing my representation pursuant to RSMo 600.042.4(2). My motion to withdraw will be heard on November 22 at 9:00 AM, you need to be there anyway. If the judge sustains my motion to withdraw you will need to hire private counsel or represent yourself. The good news is, they can only seek a fine, community service, or some type of class instead of jail time.

    I will not be doing any further work on your case.

    It's news to us that Poe was doing any worthwhile work on Carol's case -- other than repeatedly making assertions that are contrary to relevant, and easily understood, law. The Missouri statute that Poe cites as grounds for withdrawal states:

    4. The director and defenders shall provide legal services to an eligible person:

    (2) Who is detained or charged with a misdemeanor which will probably result in confinement in the county jail upon conviction, including appeals from a conviction in such a case, unless the prosecuting or circuit attorney has waived a jail sentence;

    As you can see, Jain's waiver of jail time provided the grounds for Poe to withdraw. Was this an orchestrated effort to help give Poe and the PD office a graceful exit from a case they did not have the stomach, or the integrity, to handle? Obviously, yes.

    Is it likely that Poe's boss (Rod Hackathorn, Greene County PD) and perhaps Hackathorn's boss (Michael Barrett, State PD) were involved -- along with Jain's boss (Dan Patterson, Greene County PA). Yes, that is highly likely, especially when you consider "the director and defenders" language highlighted above.

    Is this a classic example of two groups of lawyers taking unethical actions to cover their collective asses -- while also carrying water for a sheriff, Jim Arnott, who is so corrupt he should wind up in federal prison for his actions in knowingly bringing false charges against Carol? No doubt, in my mind.

    The Poe and Jain motions are due to be heard at Carol's next hearing, at 9 a.m. on Nov. 22 before Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto.

    I see these latest developments as a case of almost all good news and very little bad news. The main bad news is that Poe, who came on board in May, cost Carol about five months of time. Also, it means Carol might have to represent herself -- a notion that does not thrill her; but in my view, it's way preferable to having an untrustworthy lawyer, one who has no problem looking you in the eye and lying to your face.

    The good news? I see a number of possibilities:

    (1) We might land a private attorney, someone who has the smarts and integrity to see this for what it is -- a meaty case that stands to make a difference in the sewer-like justice system of southwest Missouri;

    (2) It's nice that Carol no longer is facing possible jail time, but if prosecutors think that is going to encourage her to plead guilty to something she did not do, they had better think again;

    (3)  Carol's pro se motions, which should have caused the charge to be dropped months ago. might now see the light of day. Poe was blocking them because it was her "opinion" that she did not agree with legal arguments in the motions. Did Poe ever make any citations to law that pointed to problems with the motions? Nope. Will Carol, or her representative, be calling for Palmietto to hear the motions -- or ones similar to them? I sure as heck hope so;

    (4) We no longer have to listen to Poe's stale con-woman act. Carol and I have had lawyers lie to us for more than 17 years, over two regions of the country, and we are more than a little tired of it. We also catch onto it pretty quickly. I'm not sure Patty Poe is even 30 years old, so she is awfully young to have already become a sell-out. Perhaps that's the only way she sees to get ahead in the postmodern legal world -- and she might be right about that. But I want no part of her cynical, dishonest, game-playing routine.

    What drove this deal that Poe and Jain (and perhaps their superiors) cooked up? Just how gross was Poe's duplicity toward Carol in recent weeks and months? We will address those questions in upcoming posts.

    For now, let's consider this irony: Poe's office recently served notice that it is so slammed with work that it could not handle a first-degree murder case. If they are so busy, why do they have time to lie to Carol -- over and over? Why does Poe have time to tell Carol that her case likely will go to trial when, by law, it must be booted on a whole host of grounds? They want to have a trial, in a case where even the alleged "victim" admits he "caused physical contact" with Carol, not the other way around -- meaning Carol could not, under Missouri law, have "assaulted" him?

    I'm not sure why someone like Patty Poe goes into the legal profession, but her handling of Carol's case suggests it certainly is not to further the cause of justice.

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    Rand Paul and Rene Boucher
    (From therightscoop.com)
    I never expected to have much in common with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) -- I certainly do not share his politics -- but now we have this: The senator and your humble blogger both have been physically assaulted by next-door neighbors.

    Paul was getting off a riding lawn mower last Friday at his home in Bowling Green, KY, when neighbor Rene Boucher tackled him from behind, causing five broken ribs, lung bruises, and facial lacerations. Boucher is charged with misdemeanor assault, but that almost surely will be upgraded to a felony, given the severity of Paul's injuries. Ironically, both men are doctors -- Paul, an ophthalmologist, and Boucher, a anesthesiologist -- although press reports indicate neither practices medicine now.

    The men have lived next door to each other for 17 years, and the assault apparently was sparked by simmering disputes over landscaping and property lines, according to reports last night. (See here and here.) From a report at The New York Times:

    The violent altercation last week that left Senator Rand Paul nursing bruised lungs and broken ribs began over a landscaping dispute between the senator and his longtime next-door neighbor, according to neighbors and three Kentucky Republicans familiar with what transpired.

    The precise provenance of the dispute was still a matter of disagreement on Monday. But the back story of the fracas began to come into focus and with it, the realization that Mr. Paul’s injuries could keep him from Washington, where Republicans in the Senate hold only a slim majority, for some time.

    Mr. Paul had just stepped off a riding lawn mower on Friday when Rene Boucher, a retired anesthesiologist who lived next door, charged and tackled him. Because Mr. Paul was wearing sound-muting earmuffs, he did not realize Mr. Boucher was coming, according to one of the Kentucky Republicans and a friend familiar with the altercation.

    Paul's injuries are severe enough that he is having trouble breathing. It all apparently stems from landscaping issues. Reports The Times:

    Mr. Paul, 54, has long stood out in the well-to-do gated neighborhood south of Bowling Green, Ky., that he calls home. The senator grows pumpkins on his property, composts and has shown little interest for neighborhood regulations.

    But the spectacle of the incident — one former doctor attacking another in broad daylight — was altogether different. Competing explanations of the origins of the drama cited stray yard clippings, newly planted saplings and unraked leaves. . . .

    Neighbors said it was well known that the men had strongly divergent political views — Mr. Paul is a libertarian who identifies as a Republican; Mr. Boucher is a registered Democrat. But they said the dispute had more to do with long-simmering tensions over their adjacent properties than politics.

    I can identify with much of this. Mike McGarity, our former Birmingham neighbor with an extensive criminal record, once assaulted me by hitting me in the back with a roadside sign. It left a bleeding gash on my back, which likely would have been worse except it was a fairly cool fall day and I was wearing a heavy sweatshirt. Such an assault with a "dangerous instrument," under Alabama law, is a felony. But Shelby County officials insisted on treating it as a misdemeanor, so I did not file charges. I reported on the assault in a November 2007 post:

    I was the victim of a felony assault in October 2006. My troublesome neighbor, Mike McGarity, essentially stalked me and then hit me in the back with a roadside sign, leaving a bleeding abrasion. There was an eye witness to the attack.

    Mike McGarity
     As I've noted in other posts, McGarity has the trappings of a normal suburban soccer dad--wife, two kids, nice house, job at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. But after he filed a bogus lawsuit against me, I conducted a little research on his background and discovered that he has at least eight criminal convictions in his background. (How in God's name do you get and keep a job at a reputable employer like Blue Cross and Blue Shield with a record like that?)

    We will go into considerable detail later on the assault itself and actual Alabama law that governs such offenses. (We also will look into how BC/BS came to hire someone with a big-time criminal record.) But for now, suffice to say that this assault clearly was a felony
    Carol and I lived next door to McGarity for more than 15 years. I can recall often being concerned that, while doing yard work, I would be attacked by the loon next door -- much as Rand Paul was. In fact, I often would mow our yard while keeping one eye on the mower and the other on what might be lurking next door. As it turns out, McGarity did not assault me on my property. Here are more details from a June 2011 post:

    What did I do to incur McGarity's wrath? I walked to the entrance of our neighborhood to remove signs (for-sale signs, garage-sale signs, etc.) that had been unlawfully placed in the right-of-way and were obstructing the view of drivers trying to pull onto a busy highway. I was trying to keep someone from getting hurt or possibly killed. But McGarity was having none of that.

    He followed me and started putting the signs back up. When I told him why I was taking the signs down, he said, "Let's get it on, right here." I said I wasn't interested in fighting him, but the signs were going to come back down. When I turned and walked away, he swung a sign as hard as he could and hit me in the middle of the back.

    Reading about the Rand Paul incident drove home the possible danger from living next door to someone who is more than a little unhinged. It also reminded me that I haven't written all that much about what McGarity did to me, especially when you consider the serious nature of any assault. McGarity's behavior was particularly creepy because he essentially stalked me -- followed me to the entrance of our neighborhood, where he had no business.

    Much more about McGarity's assault on me needs to be told, and I intend to tell it. As noted previously, a woman who lived in our neighborhood was an eyewitness to the attack. I have her name and statement about what she saw, and I soon will be sharing that with Legal Schnauzer readers. It will make clear that I was, in fact, the victim of a felony assault.

    That raises a number of questions, including this one: Why does a reputable company like Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama have an individual who committed a felony in its employ?

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    Tommy Gallion
    A veteran Montgomery lawyer says he was invited to a meeting where Alabama Republicans were to discuss a political prosecution of former governor Don Siegelman, according to an affidavit in a pending federal lawsuit. Former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove was hoping to attend the meeting.

    Tommy Gallion, who has been involved with the Republican Party since 1972, says the late Winton Blount III invited him to a meeting, where a group of Republicans were to discuss their plan to work with newly appointed U.S. Attorney Leura Canary to indict Siegelman. Blount, a former gubernatorial candidate and chair of the Alabama Republican Party, died in February 2015. (The Gallion affidavit is embedded at the end of this post.)

    Siegelman, in fact, was indicted and was convicted (along with former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy) in what has become known as the most notorious political prosecution in U.S. history. It is the subject of a documentary titled Atticus v. The Architect: The Political Assassination of Don Siegelman, which has been shown at a number of locations around the Southeast in recent months.

    Gallion's sworn statement is entered as an exhibit in a pending federal lawsuit, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that attorney Joseph Siegelman (Don's son) brought, seeking records about Canary's supposed recusal in the Siegelman/Scrushy prosecution. Records in that lawsuit, before U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala, show the U.S. Department of Justice turned over the requested documents to the court on April 10.

    Almost seven months later, Haikala still has not made a ruling. According to the court docket, she is to conduct an in camera ("in the chamber") review of the records. Will she turn the documents over to the Siegelman team, make them public, keep them under wraps, or choose another option? That remains unknown, but the Gallion affidavit could be a key factor in her decision.

    U.S. Judge Madeline Haikala
    Gallion's sworn statement seems to support the claims of Alabama activist, opposition researcher, and retired attorney Jill Simpson, who testified before Congress about a conference call where Business Council of Alabama president Bill Canary discussed a plan for "his girls" (Leura Canary and fellow U.S. attorney Alice Martin) to "take care of" Don Siegelman. Rob Riley, son of former Gov. Bob Riley, was among other Republicans reportedly on the call.

    Gallion's affidavit is dated January 22, 2016. From the document:

    Sometime in late 2001 or early 2002, I received a telephone call from my long-time friend Winton Blount III, son of former Republican Post Master General Winton M. "Red" Blount. Winton informed me that a group of Republicans in Alabama had set up a plan, which he called "Operation 2010," Their goal was to gain control of all branches of Alabama government -- the executive. legislative, and judicial -- by 2010. He explained that, as part of this plan, a newly appointed Republican U.S. Attorney in the Middle District of Alabama, Leura Canary, would work with the group to prosecute state wide elected Democrats and their supporters. Winton further told me that Republican Congressman Bob Riley was running for governor against Governor Don Siegelman, and that they planned to indict Siegelman in the middle of the upcoming election.
    Winton said there was an upcoming meeting, which he invited me to attend. He told me that a group of Republicans would meet and that Karl Rove was hoping to attend to discuss the plan.

    Gallion quickly realized he did not want to become involved with such a scheme, and it eventually caused him to cut ties with the Republican Party:

    Stunned by what Winton had told me, I made it very clear to him that I wanted no part of the meeting and plainly stated that I would not be participating in their plan. I told Winton that this type of political prosecution was deplorable and told him as his life-long friend he should not get involved. He replied it is already moving forward and that the plan would work.
    When I read in the newspaper that Governor Don Siegelman had been indicted by a federal grand jury, I could not believe what I was reading. When Mrs. Canary continued to indict Democratic legislators, lobbyists, and large contributors, I decided I no longer desired to be involved in any political party that would carry out such a specious and unconstitutional scheme.

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    Carol Tovich Shuler
    A reader recently took me to task for stating in a comment that my wife, Carol, will not be pleading guilty to the bogus "assault" charge brought against her in Greene County, Missouri. In the process, I think the reader revealed that the case against Carol is nonexistent, but in the "prosecutorial mindset," someone should plead guilty to something she didn't do -- even if the state can't remotely prove its case.

    In my view, the comment reflects several inconvenient truths about prosecutors: (1) Many of them are lazy and want a plea, any plea, to keep real work at bay; (2) Many of them are about scoring a "win," even if it means an innocent person is pressured into admitting guilt; (3) Many of them don't care one iota about justice, and they often do their best to obscure facts that don't play into their desired outcome.

    The comments become particularly curious in the wake of public defender Patty Poe's efforts to withdraw from Carol's case and prosecutor Nicholas Jain's notice that he will not seek jail time in the matter.

    We have come to say the missives are the "work product" of one or more "clown commenters" -- frauds who have tried to twist facts and law to sow confusion about Carol's case. These legal giants seem obsessed with the notion that the term "caused contact" in the relevant Missouri statute does not mean "initiate contact," even though we've found case law that shows the two terms mean the same thing.

    We also have seen signs that these commenters have a horse in the race, suggesting they are in, or have ties to, the office of Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson. Did these comments foretell Poe's efforts to exit the case, and Jain's Waiver of Jail Time Notice? Very likely.

    The guilty-plea issue arose in an Oct. 23 post about the Greene County Public Defender's Office, which represents Carol, being so overwhelmed with work that it had to decline representation in a recent first-degree murder case. A commenter noted that in such a slammed "justice system," Carol likely will receive pressure to plead guilty. I don't disagree with the commenter on that, but my response indicated Carol isn't prone to cave in to such pressure:

    They've already offered a suspended imposition of sentence (SIS), which was rejected in about .00001 seconds. If they think Carol will plead guilty to something she didn't do -- which their own "victim" says she didn't do -- they are out of their minds. Why?

    (1) Carol is not prone to taking the blame for something she didn't do; neither am I;

    (2) If Carol were prone to plead guilty, she would have to climb over my dead body to do it;

    (3) This is Roger talking -- not Carol -- but Carol will go to jail before she cops a plea in this case. (We now know that jail is off the table, so Carol doesn't have to worry about that.)

    (4) Neither of us is prone to letting bad actors get away with abusing us. We soon will be filing a federal lawsuit for the wrongs Missouri cops, lawyers, and a landlord have committed against us.

    This must have offended someone's sensibilities because the following anonymous comment soon appeared:

    Your insistence that Carol go to jail before working out a deal where she will not only not be incarcerated but the verdict eventually vacated is the most supremely selfish thing I have ever heard you say. She has been martyr enough to your delusions. You have remarked on her occasional confusion and inabilitynt to make herself understood. I think the attorney and judge need to know about the pressure you intend to put on your wife if she should ever disagree with you, and appoint a guardian for her as well as a lawyer.

    Note the curious language highlighted above. First, the commenter seems to know the kind of plea Carol might be offered and provides specifics about it. What kind of individual, other than a prosecutor or a member of a prosecutor's staff, thinks that way? Then, the reader comes up with the loony idea that Carol needs a guardian to protect her from my "selfish interest" in making sure she doesn't plead guilty to something to she didn't do. After all, I was present for the event in question -- saw the whole thing -- and I know she didn't assault a law enforcement officer. What kind of husband (or citizen) would I be if I encouraged her to plead guilty anyway -- just so the system can chalk up another win, at her expense? Basically, I would be encouraging her to be dishonest, and I'm not going to do that.

    We know that lawyers seem to love the notion of guardians, so that suggests (at least to me) this commenter has a legal education of some sort. It must not be a very good one because the husband-wife privilege likely would prevent any court from interfering with communications between Carol and me.

    Now that we've established part of the commenter's likely identity, let's look at my response:

    You're the same clown who claims to know what "caused contact" means? Don't think I'll be taking advice from you, legal or otherwise.

    I've said multiple times here that this case can't go to trial, by law, so going to jail cannot be an issue. Of course, I know courts can be corrupt, and if someone thinks they can get away with corrupt actions by threatening Carol with jail time . . . my view is that's not going to work, and they had best rethink it. If you want to know Carol's thoughts, you can ask her; she has the same contact info as I do.

    You seem to have no concern that the system in Greene County might be corrupt, which suggests to me that you are part of it.

    I don't recall remarking on Carol having confusion or inability to make herself understood, but if I did, it probably was in the context of GCSO deputies giving her a concussion that has gone untreated. But I guess she is supposed to say it was her fault that her head was banged against a wall?

    As for your last sentence, that is so laughable to almost be off the charts. No. 1, you are putting words in my mouth I didn't say. No. 2, I think maybe the judge and attorney need to be a bit more concerned with corrupt sheriffs and prosecutors who bring bogus charges to protect their own asses. No. 3, Carol has a mind of her own, and she isn't a martyr for me or anyone else. Again, if you want to know what she thinks, you are welcome to contact her.

    Did the reader take my advice and contact Carol to see what she thinks? Of course not. That would involve courage and integrity, which the reader apparently does not have.

    He does, however, reveal a lot about his own badly broken moral compass. This is someone who apparently went to law school, we assume because he had an interest in the administration of justice. And yet, he thinks "justice" should include pressuring innocent people into pleading guilty because . . . well, that's convenient for prosecutors.

    Is it any wonder our courtrooms are dens of utter decay?

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