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- 02/22/18--18:10: _Missouri Gov. Eric ...
- 02/26/18--04:07: _Judge Sibley Reynol...
- 02/26/18--09:33: _Ashley Madison extr...
- 02/27/18--04:02: _Missouri prosecutor...
- 02/28/18--04:05: _Doug Jones was requ...
- 03/01/18--04:05: _With Harvey Weinste...
- 03/05/18--04:11: _Grand jury in Troy,...
- 03/05/18--11:15: _With indicted Balch...
- 03/06/18--04:04: _U.S. Sen. Doug Jone...
- 03/06/18--13:55: _Already under indic...
- 03/07/18--04:04: _Three Republicans d...
- 03/08/18--04:05: _Does Missouri Publi...
- 03/12/18--04:06: _Missouri Gov. Eric ...
- 03/13/18--04:03: _Charles Todd Hender...
- 03/14/18--04:10: _Clarence Thomas' SC...
- 03/15/18--04:06: _Alabama sheriff who...
- 03/19/18--04:05: _Missouri U.S. Senat...
- 03/19/18--11:52: _Luther Strange's fi...
- 03/20/18--04:08: _My nephew, Noah Hay...
- 03/21/18--04:05: _Oily Alabama operat...
|Eric Greitens mugshot|
The sitting governor of Missouri -- a "family values" Republican, with presidential ambitions, and a spectacular biography that includes a stint as a Navy SEAL -- has been indicted on charges related to an admitted extramarital affair that became public last month.
Gov. Eric Greitens was booked earlier today on a felony invasion of privacy charge for allegedly taking and transmitting a non-consensual photo of his partly-nude lover shortly before his campaign for governor started, according to a report at stltoday.com:
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner's office announced the indictment Thursday afternoon. A Post-Dispatch reporter saw Greitens being led down a hallway by several St. Louis city deputies on the first floor of the Carnahan Courthouse in downtown St. Louis at about 3:45 p.m. Officials later confirmed Greitens had been taken into custody and then booked at the St. Louis Justice Center.
Greitens, a Republican, declared his innocence in a written statement, and alleged the indictment is a "misguided political decision" by a "reckless liberal prosecutor." Gardner is a Democrat.
Greitens' legal team immediately filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, on grounds that any activity Greitens engaged in was "consensual."
Judge Rex M. Burlison allowed Greitens' release on a personal recognizance bond that permits him to travel freely throughout the United States. Greitens was scheduled to travel to Washington this weekend for an annual meeting of the nation’s governors.
Online court records indicate Greitens is due back in court on March 16.
Members of the Missouri House, which is led by Republicans, released a statement that they will conduct a joint investigation of the allegations against Greitens. The statement noted that any impeachment proceedings would begin in the House.
Circuit Attorney Gardner explained the legal grounds for the indictment. From stltoday.com:
Gardner, in her statement announcing the indictment, said the grand jury found probable cause to believe Greitens violated a Missouri statute that makes it a felony if a person transmits the image contained in the photograph or film in a manner that allows access to that image via a computer.
"As I have stated before, it is essential for residents of the city of St. Louis and our state to have confidence in their leaders," Gardner said in the statement.
Earlier reports indicated Greitens took the photo and then erased the image. But today's indictment suggests his actions went much further than that. It also suggests Greitens lied to the public:
Gardner's written statement Thursday indicates there is now an allegation that he did in fact "transmit" the image at some point.
"This statute has a provision for both a felony and misdemeanor," Gardner said in her statement. "The law makes it a felony if a person transmits the image contained in the photograph or film in a manner that allows access to that image via a computer."
Under Missouri law, the crime of “invasion of privacy” includes creating “an image of another person” by any means, “without the person’s consent, while the person is in a state of full or partial nudity and is in a place where one would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.”
That offense alone — taking a compromising photo without a person’s consent, even without disseminating it or threatening to — is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail.
Invasion of privacy becomes a felony offense in Missouri if the person taking the nonconsensual picture subsequently "distributes the image to another or transmits the image in a manner that allows access to that image via computer." In that case, the crime is a Class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.
Vox News reports that the offense could be a Class D felony, which carries a term of up to seven years in prison.
The Kansas City Star has called for Greitens to step aside, at least temporarily:
We are not yet prepared to call for the governor to resign. But he should seriously consider declaring to the legislature — as allowed by the state constitution — that he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
Lt. Gov. Mike Parson would then serve until the case is resolved.
We take no joy in writing this recommendation. But Missourians deserve a full-time governor devoted to their welfare, not one focused on a felony accusation in court.
Greitens can blame no one but himself for this problem. He must make the problem his own and figure out a way to protect Missourians from the impact of his unacceptable behavior.
|Charles Todd Henderson|
That is in keeping with Sibley Reynolds' reputation as perhaps the most corrupt state judge in Alabama -- and there is a lot of competition for that "honor." It also should force an automatic reversal of Henderson's conviction on appeal -- and it could lead to Henderson actually taking the office he earned with a victory over incumbent Brandon Falls in the November 2016 election.
It's a fundamental principle of criminal (and civil) law that a judge cannot communicate with a deliberating jury outside the presence of the defendant and counsel. How important is this principle? A 2015 case from Georgia provides insight:
Unquestionably the trial judge should not in any manner communicate with the jury about the case, in the absence of the accused and his counsel, pending the trial; and the better practice is for the judge to have no communication with the jury on any subject except through the medium of the sworn bailiff in charge of the jury; and the communication should be restricted, in the absence of the accused and his counsel, to matters relating to the comfort and convenience of the jury. There should be no communication which would tend in any manner to prejudice the accused․; and unless the character of the communication clearly shows that it could not have been prejudicial to the accused, the presumption of law would be that it was prejudicial․ We state again: “[a]ll communications with the jury are to be discouraged except in open court with all persons present․ . . .”
This Court cannot sanction communications of a substantive nature between a trial judge and a jury outside the presence of the defendant and counsel in a criminal trial, and it should not do so in a civil trial as such actions are no less a violation of a party's right to be present during trial. . . . There is a personal element to the right to be present. The right is based not only on what the party can do to the case, but on what the case will do to the party. It is the party's interests that are being determined by the jury and the judge, and it is the party's life that will be directly affected by the outcome of the case.
Why did Reynolds violate such a fundamental rule? We can only think of one reason: He is a rotten, corrupt judge, and he's been treating the rule of law with disdain for so long that he probably has no idea how to handle a case in a lawful manner. And how about this for an oddity: There was no bailiff on duty at the Henderson trial. Reynolds apparently took that to mean he could act as his own bailiff, handling communications with the jury.
Jurors in the Henderson case reportedly had been deliberating for quite some time when they sent word to the court that they were not close to a decision. Reynolds visited the jury room, over objections from Henderson's counsel, and about 30 minutes later, jurors returned (several of them in tears), with a guilty verdict.
Sentencing in the Henderson case is set for March 8, and prosecutors reportedly are seeking six months in the county jail as punishment. That's ironic because prosecutors did not come close to proving guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and chief prosecutor Matt Hart surely knows that -- unless he's as dumb as a turnip. Now we know Henderson likely would never have been convicted without unlawful intervention by Judge Sibley Reynolds.
Will the travesty of a guilty verdict in the Henderson case eventually be overturned, replaced by a lawful not-guilty verdict, so the person who actually won the DA election in Jefferson County can serve as DA? That would involve achieving justice in the Alabama court system, and that never is an easy outcome to reach.
Most of us have heard the adage "a sucker is born every minute." Based on the latest data about Ashley Madison's customer growth, that must be true.
What do we know about Ashley Madison? It has a history of failing to protect customer data, leading to a 2015 hack by a group calling itself The Impact Team. The company has displayed an utter lack of integrity, admitting it used chatbots to lure would-be cheating males and then threatened to expose them when they complained; in other words, many of the available "women" on the site aren't women at all -- they are fake bots, designed to arouse easily conned men. Finally, the company reached an $11.2 million settlement in a federal lawsuit claiming widespread damages for customers who were exposed in the Ashley Madison hack.
Here at Legal Schnauzer, we have covered the Ashley Madison story more extensively and in more depth, than any other news site -- focusing on customers with high-end financial status, as reported in an article at fusion.net.
You might think a company that coughed up $11.2 million to compensate customers it had damaged would have a hard time finding new customers. But according to a recent report at CBS News, you would be wrong; Ashley Madison, in fact, is reeling in new suckers at an astonishing rate.
Focus of the CBS story was "Infidelity: Why the oldest taboo continues to be broken." For example, we learn this:
It's a subject as old as marriage... and usually more taboo than divorce.
"It is the only commandment repeated twice in the Bible, right? Once for doing it, and once for thinking about it," said psychotherapist Esther Perel, who has been studying infidelity for more than a decade.
"Ninety-three percent of Americans think that infidelity is morally wrong -- more morally wrong than cloning, than suicide, or than domestic violence," Perel said. "It's an interesting location for something that is not criminal, that is totally consensual."
The contradictions of unfaithfulness raise a question: why do so many people cheat?
These days, there's ample chance to examine the issue. In recent weeks, we've seen President Trump deny new reports of a affair with an adult film star and a Playboy model in 2006. Meanwhile, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has acknowledged an affair with his hairdresser, and Nashville Mayor Megan Barry has apologized for sleeping with her bodyguard … which makes her part of a trend.
According to a survey by the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, female philanders (19%) are catching up with their male counterparts (23%) for the first time on record.
The story focused on a woman named Kristie, and that led to . . . Ashley Madison:
Human beings such as Kristie, a mother of two, who asked that we not use her real name or reveal where she lives.
"I can't blame him and I can't blame me -- it's 50-50," she told Dokoupil. "We just didn't like each other. We got to a point where we just didn't like each other anymore."
"I was not looking for love, was not looking to leave my husband, was just looking for companionship."
Like many women, she resolved to stay in an unhappy marriage for the sake of her kids, until one night a few years ago when she also resolved to stray.
"I was sitting on the bed, and he said something to me very disrespectful, very hurtful," said Kristie. "And I just snapped. I pulled my phone out, and I went, 'Woman looking for men to have affairs with.'"
She ended up on Ashley Madison, a website that helps men and women pursue what's known as "married dating."
Yes, married dating.
The CBS reporters seemed flummoxed by the notion of "married dating." So they went to a supposed expert on the subject:
Who came up with that term? "I think it's been around a long time," said Ruben Buell, the president of Ashley Madison's parent company, Ruby Life. "A lot of this came out of singles dating, where you're on single sites, but 30-plus percent of the people on the site were married. So somebody took a category and created Ashley Madison."
Even after a damaging leak of user names in 2015, Buell says the Ashley Madison site is booming, with 20,000 new members a day.
A reasonable person might expect the doors to Ashley Madison's Toronto headquarters to be shuttered, with cob webs hanging from windows. But hey, the place is thriving -- even though it's proven to be a fraud, conning customers and threatening them when they complain.
If The Impact Team or similar outfit is so inclined, I'm guessing there will be another hack at Ashley Madison within the next couple of years or so. Our reports on the first hack regularly attract comments that disparage our coverage and express sympathy for the customers who were stupid enough to sign up with Ashley Madison. (Note: I've seen extensive evidence that many such comments are from automated bots, so like most things related to AM, they aren't legit either.)
Will the customers still rushing to sign up with AM merit our sympathy when (and if) a future hack hits the headlines?
They won't get any from me.
When I say the charges against Carol are "bogus," I mean they were brought without probable cause -- to arrest her, much less prosecute her. Anyone can read the Probable Cause Statement in her case (embedded at the end of this post) and see that not a single named human makes any accusation of wrongdoing on Carol's part. That means there is no probable cause. Even Officer Jeremy Lynn, the alleged "victim" of a push from Carol as he launched an unlawful eviction, states in his incident report that he initiated contact with Carol, by grabbing her -- and under Missouri law, with the central element of the offense being who "caused (or initiated) physical contact" -- that means Carol is not guilty. That has been apparent since we learned about the charge in January 2017. (Incident reports from Lynn and other officers also are embedded below.)
The Greene County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, under the direction of Dan Patterson, seems to make a habit of bringing cases without probable cause. And Nicholas Jain seems to wind up in the middle of such cases. Patterson and Jain recently received an undeserved victory when the Missouri Court of Appeals overturned a trial-court ruling that a DUI case -- State v. Charles Hollis Roux -- was launched without probable cause.
We do not yet have access to the full file on the Roux case, but our preliminary research indicates the appellate court cut a huge favor for Patterson and Jain. The record before us makes it clear trial judge Margaret Holden Palmietto (who also is handling Carol's case) was correct to find the Roux charge was brought without probable cause -- and there was no probable cause to even administer a portable breath test (PBT) in the matter.
The record we have so far shows Deputy Jason Flora, while on routine patrol, stopped Roux's vehicle because it had a non-functioning tail light. After a brief discussion, Flora asked Roux to step out of the vehicle and submit to a PBT.
According to the case file, Flora reported smelling the odor of alcohol and stated Roux had watery and bloodshot eyes. Roux admitted to drinking two beers, and an occupant of the vehicle also admitted to drinking alcohol. Did the deputy notice anything else that gave him reason to believe Roux was driving while impaired? According to the record before us, the answer is no.
At a hearing on a motion to suppress, at which Roux argued all evidence was unlawfully gathered without probable cause and was due to be excluded, Judge Palmietto granted the motion and pretty much eviscerated the state's case. Here is her notation in the docket at case.net (State v. Charles Hollis Roux, Case No. 1631-CR00195.):
AFTER REVIEWING THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED AT THE HEARING, THE COURT FINDS THAT THE DEFENDANT FAILED TO TURN ON HIS TAIL LIGHTS ALTHOUGH HIS HEADLIGHTS WERE ON. THE OFFICER STOPPED HIM FOR FAILURE TO HAVE LIGHTED TAIL LIGHTS. THE OFFICER TESTIFIED THAT HE SMELLED THE ODOR OF INTOXICANTS COMING FROM THE VEHICLE AND THAT THE DEFENDANT HAD WATERY BLOOD SHOT EYES. THE DEFENDANT ADMITTED TO DRINKING TWO BEERS. AN OCCUPANT IN THE VEHICLE ALSO ADMITTED TO DRINKING ALCOHOL. THE DASH CAM VIDEO SHOWS THAT THE DEFENDANT WAS COOPERATIVE AND DID NOT STAGGER OR SLUR HIS WORDS. THE OFFICER ASKED THE DEFENDANT TO BLOW INTO A PBT BUT DID NO FURTHER INVESTIGATION AND DID NOT PERFORM ANY FIELD SOBRIETY TEST. THAT THE FACTS THAT DEFENDANT ADMITTED DRINKING, AND THE OFFICER TESTIFIED TO BLOOD SHOT WATERY EYES AND THE ODOR OF INTOXICANTS, ARE NOT SUFFICIENT TO ESTABLISH PROBABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE THE DEFENDANT WAS IMPAIRED. THE COURT FINDS THAT A POSITIVE PBT IS ALSO INSUFFICIENT IN THE ABSENCE OF OTHER EVIDENCE OF IMPAIRMENT, TO ESTABLISH PROBABLE CAUSE TO ARREST DEFENDANT FOR DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED OR TO COMPEL HIM TO SUBMIT BREATH TEST. THEREFORE, DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS IS SUSTAINED.
Is Palmietto's finding supported by Missouri law? Yes, it is. From a case styled Hinnah v. Director of Revenue, 77 SW 3d 616 (Mo. Supreme Court, 2002):
The trial court, in setting aside the revocation of Hinnah's driver's license, simply indicated that the arresting officer "did not have probable cause to arrest" Hinnah for driving while intoxicated or an alcohol-related traffic offense. "Probable cause to arrest exists when the arresting officer's knowledge of the particular facts and circumstances is sufficient to warrant a prudent person's belief that a suspect has committed an offense." State v. Tokar, 918 S.W.2d 753, 767 (Mo. banc 1996). Whether there is probable cause to arrest depends on the information in the officers' possession prior to the arrest. State v. Wiley, 522 S.W.2d 281, 287 (Mo. banc 1975). There is no precise test for determining whether probable cause exists; rather, it is based on the particular facts and circumstances of the individual case. State v. Pruitt, 479 S.W.2d 785, 788 (Mo. banc 1972).
Notice that there is no precise test for determining whether probable cause exists in a Missouri DUI case. It's left largely to the trial judge, based on the particular facts and circumstances of an individual case.
Here is additional relevant law, from a case styled York v. Director, 186 SW 3d 267 (Mo: Supreme Court, 2006):
The circuit court correctly noted that the only uncontroverted indicia of York's intoxication were the smell of alcohol, the fact that York's eyes were watery, bloodshot and glassy, and York's admission to drinking one or two beers. However, the trial court, in its discretion, was free to draw the conclusion that there was no probable cause based upon its assessment of this evidence and the officer's own equivocation of the existence of probable cause.
That's two cases -- Hinnah and York -- where Missouri appellate courts upheld a trial-court finding that probable cause did not exist in a DUI case. And the circumstances of both were very similar to those in Roux.
So, why did an appellate court overturn Judge Palmietto's finding in Roux, which clearly was supported by Missouri law? Our best guess is that the three-judge appellate panel (two of them Republican appointees) felt they owed Patterson and Jain a favor. They also probably reversed in order to earn political points, in an era where the public largely is disinterested in the facts and law surrounding a DUI -- or any other kind of case.
Given Patterson and Jain's habit of bringing cases without probable cause, they do not deserve any favors. In fact, they deserve to be investigated by the U.S. Justice Department.
|Doug Jones, with Don Siegelman and family.|
Jones charged Siegelman $300,000 in advance fees, withdrew from the case before trial (because of a scheduling conflict on Jones' end), and our research indicates Jones never returned a dime of the money -- much of which apparently was unearned. That signals Alabama's newly elected senator, supposedly a "Great White Hope" for Democrats in the South, is a glorified thief. Our investigation shows Jones essentially stole money from Siegelman, while doing almost nothing to earn it.
The theft of so much money likely crippled Siegelman's efforts to obtain legal counsel, especially when former U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller (since kicked off the bench for wife beating) ensured a crooked trial and unjust conviction -- forcing Siegelman to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on appeals that should not have been necessary.
No wonder Jones has refused to answer questions from us about his handling of the Siegelman case. Who benefited most from the convictions of Siegelman and co-defendant Richard Scrushy? That would be then-Governor Bob Riley, who was assured a second term when Siegelman went to prison, via underhanded actions of Riley benefactors, such as GOP felon Jack Abramoff and the Mississippi Choctaw gaming operations.
That points to Jones' alliance with Rob Riley (Bob Riley's son) in a lawsuit against Scrushy and HealthSouth, which generated $51 million in attorney fees. Jones' share of those fees reportedly helped bankroll his Senate run, and multiple news sites have reported that an operative close to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (who is close to Karl Rove, who is close to the Rileys) helped spread stories about sex-related misconduct regarding Jones' general-election opponent, Republican Roy Moore.
Is there any doubt Doug Jones owes Don Siegelman a lot of money? Well, this is from Rule 1.5 of the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct:
Terms of Payment
A lawyer may require advance payment of a fee, but is obliged to return any unearned portion. See Rule 1.16(d).
That seems simple enough; Jones was obligated to return any unearned portion of $300,000. But Jones seems to get a case of lockjaw when asked about the Siegelman representation. Did Jones return unearned portions of the fee? How much was that? Can Jones produce time sheets that show how much time he spent on the Siegelman case -- and at what hourly fee?
When we presented the opportunity to answer such questions, Jones was less-than-forthcoming. Here is his response, and a video of the full discussion is embedded at the end of this post, along with a video about his cozy relationship with right-wing thugs Rob Riley and Paul Bryant Jr.:
Asked about charging Don Siegelman $300,000 for a criminal defense in which he bailed out before trial -- and apparently did not return one dime of the money -- Jones responded:
Jones: I'm not going to comment one way or another on any of those matters.
LS: You're not going to comment with me on any matters.
I encourage you to read Jones comments above, and listen to his tone in the video below, and see if you think that's the voice of an honest man. It sure isn't, to me. That's especially so when we have a decent record of what Jones did on the Siegelman case. It comes from Jones' 2007 testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. Here are the sections from the 15-page document that give an idea of the "work" Jones did on the case:
From page 6-- "My partner, Jack Drake, and I traveled to Montgomery in the spring of 2003 and met in the Attorney General’s office with Attorney General Pryor, one of his assistants, Ms. Weller, and Mr. Scott. Again, this was a courtesy meeting and very little substance was discussed."
From page 7 -- "For the next year, the investigation continued. During this time we were attempting to do our own work, learn the facts and to keep up as to where we thought the investigation was headed. We had little contact with prosecutors in Montgomery during this time and my friend Bill Pryor leaves office in February following his appointment to the Court of Appeals." ("My friend Bill Pryor?" Cough . . . cough . . . Jones is not aware that Pryor was No. 1 on the hit parade of thugs who helped railroad Siegelman? Unreal.)
From page 8 -- "Other than an initial contact with the Government to make sure that they were not going to seek arrest and perp walk the Governor, I had nothing to do with the defense of the Birmingham case (involving Dr. Phillip Bobo)."
From page 8 -- "The matters in Montgomery were a different matter, and during the summer of 2004, we learned that a new team from the U.S. Attorney’s office was now in place to handle the Siegelman investigation and for the first time the Government was calling us with a request to discuss the case. There was also some sense of urgency because it was believed that the statute of limitations was about to run on a matter involving Richard Scrushy and Healthsouth, an issue which was being brought up for the first time.
"In early July 2004, my partner, Jack Drake, and I, along with another Siegelman attorney, Bobby Segall, met with the prosecutors to discuss the case. Included in the meeting was John Gibbs from the Attorney General’s office, Louis Franklin, the Criminal Chief in the U.S. Attorney’s office who was now, after Ms. Weller left the office, the Acting U.S. Attorney in the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Feaga . . . "
From page 11 -- "As the 30 day period (that extended the statute of limitations) was about to expire I had telephone discussions with the Assistant U.S. Attorneys. I can’t recall all of the specifics, but I know that we were asked to extend the statute of limitations for another 30 day period. I responded that Governor Siegelman would not do that, that the investigation had dragged out long enough, that the evidence was not going to get any better, that Nick Bailey’s credibility was not going to get any better and that it was time, as we say down South, for the prosecution to fish or cut bait. I was told that despite earlier concerns, the lawyers in Washington did not believe there was a statute of limitations problem, but that in any event they would make a decision within the month."
From page 11 -- "A month came and went. I started to call the U.S. Attorney’s office, but could not get any response. Two months, then three months went by with no substantive conversations with prosecutors. However, in October of 2004, a day or two after the trial started in Birmingham, the Government moved to dismiss all charges against Governor Siegelman after the Court made an adverse evidentiary ruling. . . ."
From page 12 -- "It was just about a month later, in late November or December, 2004, that my partner and I were able to have the first substantive conversation with prosecutors about the Montgomery investigation since our meeting in Montgomery in July. It was on a phone call that Assistant U.S. Attorney Feaga first apologized for not giving us a definitive answer any earlier as he told us he would do back in the summer. “But,” he said “we had a meeting in Washington and we were told to go back and look at everything again from top to bottom.”
From page 13 -- "In fact, as we continued to press for meetings in an attempt to dissuade prosecutors from bringing charges, we were told that any meetings would have to take place in Washington because Mr. [Noel] Hillman’s schedule did not allow time for travel to Montgomery. That summer, the summer of 2005, at least two meetings were held in Washington, D.C., at the Department of Justice. Because of a trial and other scheduling conflicts, I did not attend either of those meetings."
From page 13 -- "Some on our team, however, remained optimistic that the door was still open for us to convince prosecutors to close the investigation without charges and we felt it our duty to our client to keeping trying. So we pressed on with additional discussions in Montgomery as late as September and October.
From page 14 -- "I do not believe that discussions that took place over a series of months while sitting on a sealed indictment were in good faith. There is simply no way in my view that the Government would seek the dismissal of a sealed grand jury indictment. When a superseding indictment was finally returned and made public in October, 2005, it simply confirmed that we had not only been wasting our time . . . "
From page 14 -- "Because of a trial conflict in the spring of 2006, and the Governor’s insistence on a speedy trial before the June 2006 primary, I had no real choice but to withdraw as lead counsel. However, facing incredible challenges in sifting through mountains of discovery in a short period of time . . . "
What does this tell us? We learn that Jones engaged in at least two meetings with prosecutors -- the first with those from the state, the second with feds. Jones did not participate in two meetings that took place in Washington, D.C. Jones describes a series of phone conversations with prosecutors over a period of months, but indicates most did not produce substantive information. Jones says members of his team pressed for additional discussions in Montgomery, as late as September of October 2005, but gives no indication that such discussions actually took place. Jones eventually concludes that he and his staff had been "wasting our time" in discussions with the feds. After stating he withdrew from the case, Jones says Siegelman's new lawyers faced "mountains of discovery" to sift through -- suggesting Jones and his team did not do much discovery work.
For now, we can only guess at how much time Jones spent on these matters. But let's say the two meetings with prosecutors took 10 hours each, including travel time. It sounds like none of the phone conversations took very long, although there might have been quite a few calls, so let's give them a total of 10 hours. Jones says nothing about preparing motions or similar documents, but we'll give him credit for 10 hours of miscellaneous paper shuffling. It's not clear if anyone from Jones' staff attended the meetings in Washington, D.C., but we will assume at least one junior person did. That probably meant 12 hours of work time, plus travel and lodging, etc., so that could have gotten expensive.
Our calculations come to 42 hours, which likely is generous to Jones, plus travel and lodging expenses. Let's say Jones charged $400 an hour, which I would call an obscene figure for a lawyer of his limited skills, and a fair amount of work likely was done by subordinates who should charge less than that.
If my math is correct, 42 hours x $400 = $16,800. Travel and lodging might take the sum to about $20,000, and if you throw in a few mysterious charges that law firms are good at finding, you might reach a total of $25,000 -- and I believe that is being generous to Jones. I believe the true hours and fees involved in Jones' representation of Siegelman should be less than that. After all, Jones makes no mention of preparing motions or similar documents, he does not describe conducting legal research. His actions on Siegelman's behalf -- in Jones' own words -- were pretty darned limited.
Giving Jones the benefit of the doubt, we conclude that he used $25,000 of Siegelman's pre-paid fees -- meaning he owed the former governor a refund of about $275,000.
Could I be off in my calculations? Yes. What if Jones actually had legit expenses and fees of $100,000? I think that is very unlikely, but even if that is the case, he still owes Siegelman $200,000.
Doug Jones, as a U.S. senator, is subject to intense media scrutiny, and he should be asked about the fees he charged Don Siegelman -- and to produce documents that show he actually did $300,000 worth of work. If Jones can't produce such documents, it indicates he is more or less a thief, and he's not fit to serve in any public office.
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Two recent articles in the mainstream press suggest members of the #MeToo Movement have Thomas in their cross hairs. The momentum generated by a wave of misconduct -- from movie mogul Harvey Weinstein to Congressman John Conyers -- might make this an opportune time to revisit allegations that Thomas sexually harassed Anita Hill and others -- which turned his 1991 confirmation hearing into a firestorm.
Impeaching Thomas based on a re-examination of sexual-harassment allegations that surfaced roughly 27 years ago might be a long shot. But recent articles suggest a renewed look at Thomas' behavior could show that he lied to Congress -- and that is a crime, which could prove problematic for the most right-wing justice on the nation's high court.
As a side note, issues involving Clarence Thomas should have special resonance in the Southeast -- especially the states of Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. On a personal note, I've seen signs of court-related misconduct that could be tied to Thomas and his supporters -- and, if proven, it could point to obstruction of justice and other crimes.
The most recent article about Thomas and the #MeToo Movement came from the Charlotte Observer on Feb. 22. Its focus is Angela Wright-Shannon, who was in Washington, D.C., in 1991 to testify against Thomas. Unlike Anita Hill, Wright-Shannon was not allowed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. From the Charlotte Observer:
Wright-Shannon was an assistant metro editor of the Observer and an aspiring columnist. She’d worked for Thomas at the EEOC. When somebody leaked an unpublished column that detailed her own experiences with him there, she was subpoenaed to testify.
She told Senate investigators at the time that Thomas pressured her for dates, asked her breast size and showed up at her apartment uninvited.
Wright-Shannon has not forgotten her unpleasant experiences working under Thomas. She wrote a recent Huff Post op-ed piece titled, "Clarence Thomas Sexually Harassed Me. Yes, He Should Be Impeached." From the article:
It’s highly unlikely that Thomas will be impeached, but we can hope. The Me Too movement has underscored the depth and breadth of sexual harassment in our society. Finally, women are being heard and believed. Not only are women no longer willing to be silent, but men are being put on notice that their time is up.
We can hope that the Congressional balance of power shifts this election year, and that predators like Thomas, and even Trump, will be removed from power. Maybe it’s not just a pipe dream that two of the most powerful men in the country ― a Supreme Court justice and the president ― would have to answer for the many ways they have mistreated women.
Author Jill Abramson argues in a Feb. 18 New York Magazine article that it is time to talk seriously about impeachment for Thomas:
To my surprise, the notion of impeaching Thomas resurfaced during the 2016 campaign. In the thousands of emails made public during the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton, there was one curious document from her State Department files that caught my attention, though it went largely unremarked upon in the press. Labeled “Memo on Impeaching Clarence Thomas” and written by a close adviser, the former right-wing operative David Brock, in 2010, the seven-page document lays out the considerable evidence . . . that Thomas lied to the Judiciary Committee when he categorically denied that he had discussed pornographic films or made sexual comments in the office to Hill or any other women who worked for him. When I recently interviewed Brock, he said that Clinton “wanted to be briefed” on the evidence that Thomas lied in order to be confirmed to his lifelong seat on the Court. He said he had no idea if a President Hillary Clinton would have backed an effort to unseat Thomas.
After Anita Hill came forward, Walker told me, she pressed Montwieler about whether she planned to speak up, but Montwieler brushed her off and said no, “because he’s been my source.” During the weekend of the Hill-Thomas hearings in October 1991, Walker called Montwieler again, begging her to say something. “I told her that what she knew could have helped Anita Hill,” Walker told me, as Senate Republicans tried to label Hill a liar and erotomaniac. “But she wanted to protect her source and said that if I said anything, she’d deny the whole thing.”
Until the two recent articles, Thomas' name had largely remained underground amid a swirl of sexual-harassment revelations since last October. Writes Abramson:
Perhaps that is a reflection of the conservative movement’s reluctance, going back decades, to inspect the rot in its power structure, even as its pundits and leaders have faced allegations of sexual misconduct. (Liberals of the present era — possibly in contrast to those of, say, the Bill Clinton era — have been much more ready to cast out from power alleged offenders, like Al Franken.)
But that relative quiet about Justice Thomas was striking to me. After all, the Hill-Thomas conflagration was the first moment in American history when we collectively, truly grappled with sexual harassment. For my generation, it was the equivalent of the Hiss-Chambers case, a divisive national argument about whom to believe in a pitched political and ideological battle, this one with an overlay of sex and race. The situation has seemed un-reopenable, having been tried at the highest level and shut down with the narrow 1991 Senate vote to confirm Thomas, after hearings that focused largely on Hill.
But it’s well worth inspecting, in part as a case study, in how women’s voices were silenced at the time by both Republicans and Democrats and as an illustration of what’s changed — and hasn’t — in the past 27 years (or even the last year). After all, it’s difficult to imagine Democrats, not to mention the media, being so tentative about such claims against a nominated justice today. It’s also worth looking closely at, because, as Smith’s account and my reporting since indicates, Thomas’s inappropriate behavior — talking about porn in the office, commenting on the bodies of the women he worked with — was more wide-ranging than was apparent during the sensational Senate hearings, with their strange Coke-can details.
But, most of all, because Thomas, as a crucial vote on the Supreme Court, holds incredible power over women’s rights, workplace, reproductive, and otherwise. His worldview, with its consistent objectification of women, is the one that’s shaping the contours of what’s possible for women in America today, more than that of just about any man alive, save for his fellow justices.
Now that Thomas' name has surfaced in the press with connections to the #MeToo Movement, could he be in trouble? Abramson says the answer is yes -- largely because of what is supposed to be the sacrosanct notion of "honesty under oath," in the legal profession:
And given the evidence that’s come out in the years since, it’s also time to raise the possibility of impeachment. Not because he watched porn on his own time, of course. Not because he talked about it with a female colleague — although our understanding of the real workplace harm that kind of sexual harassment does to women has evolved dramatically in the years since, thanks in no small part to those very hearings. Nor is it even because he routinely violated the norms of good workplace behavior, in a way that seemed especially at odds with the elevated office he was seeking. It’s because of the lies he told, repeatedly and under oath, saying he had never talked to Hill about porn or to other women who worked with him about risqué subject matter.
Lying is, for lawyers, a cardinal sin. State disciplinary committees regularly institute proceedings against lawyers for knowingly lying in court, with punishments that can include disbarment. Since 1989, three federal judges have been impeached and forced from office for charges that include lying. The idea of someone so flagrantly telling untruths to ascend to the highest legal position in the U.S. remains shocking, in addition to its being illegal. (Thomas, through a spokesperson, declined to comment on a detailed list of queries.)
If Clarence Thomas is shown to have lied under oath to Congress -- a criminal act -- he could be forced from the bench. And there is precedent for such action. The #MeToo Movement could prove to be Clarence Thomas' worst nightmare.
As for Thomas' possible ties to courtroom corruption in the Southeast -- and evidence we've seen in our own cases that he contributes to a broken justice system in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida -- we will address that in an upcoming post.
(To be continued)
If you live in or near Alabama, that foul smell you are noticing likely comes from Troy, a town of about 20,000 in the southeast corner of the state. That's where a Pike County grand jury last week refused to indict four officers from the Troy Police Department in the brutal arrest of a local teen last December. The grand jury essentially found the officers acted within the law, and used reasonable force, in the arrest of 17-year-old KeAndre Wilkerson. We invite you to examine the above picture of Wilkerson, taken after his encounter with Troy cops, and ask yourself: "Did it really take four heavily armed cops to use that much force to subdue a juvenile?"
It's hard to see how a sentient being could answer yes to that question. But a Pike County grand jury, which reportedly took up the case last Wednesday and reached a decision early enough on Thursday for the outcome to make that day's news, found it's fine for cops to leave a suspect with a face swollen, bloody, and re-arranged to what appears to be Mike Tyson's specifications. The photo above suggests someone punched or kicked Wilkerson in the face -- probably more than once -- and it was enough to leave his left eye swollen shut.
Are we to believe it's actually fine for cops to inflict this kind of savagery on anyone while trying to make an arrest -- while they have a four-to-one advantage in numbers? We can hope the turnips on the Pike County grand jury will not have the final say in the matter. For one, a civil complaint -- led by Florida-based civil-rights lawyer Ben Crump and Dothan attorneys Dustin Fowler and Stephen Etheredge -- is in the works. Also, the officers might not be out of the woods criminally.
The U.S. Department of Justice is a wreck right now, under the "leadership" of Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions, but there remains the possibility of an federal civil-rights investigation. Federal charges could come under 18 U.S.C. 242 (deprivation of rights under color of law), and that statute can pack a wallop. From our post of 12/27/17:
As for federal charges, those would come under 18 U.S.C. 242 (deprivation of rights under color of law), and that could spell big trouble for the cops who beat Wilkerson. They could face up to 10 years in federal prison, and depending on the circumstances, punishment might become even more severe than that. The statute reads in part:
Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both . . .
Bodily injury obviously occurred in the Wilkerson case, but the possible punishment can go well beyond 10 years:
If a court finds the cops tried to kill Wilkerson -- and the photo above suggests that might have been the case -- the cops' problems grow exponentially. From the statute:
. . . and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.
The Wilkerson case is difficult to analyze because the public knows so little about what happened. A report last week from wsfa.com provides insights:
According to police, officers saw Wilkerson walk from behind a closed downtown business just before midnight on Dec. 23. He then allegedly fled on foot as the officers got out of their vehicle to investigate. While being apprehended, police say Wilkerson refused to put his hands behind his back and reached for his waistband, as if reaching for a weapon. That prompted officers to use physical force to restrain him.
Question: Did Wilkerson actually have a gun? If so, why didn't officers shoot him, or take cover?
Here is more about what apparently caused the confrontation to become physical -- and brutal:
[DA Michael] Jackson said the video showed the officer trying to get the second handcuff on Wilkerson and when he refused to comply, the officer struck him several times. [Supernumerary DA Tommy] Smith said a number of witnesses addressed the jury, including some who saw the incident. Smith said based on all the evidence, witness interviews, and analysis, he is "satisfied" with the decision that was reached.
Question: If an officer has trouble applying a second handcuff, that gives him and his colleagues the right to pound the suspect's face into mush? With a four-to-one advantage in numbers, they can't figure out a way to subdue the suspect without turning his face into hamburger?
The Troy Messenger adds to the confusion with this, which includes a statement from Troy Mayor Jason Reeves:
Reeves released a statement Thursday stating that a gag order has been made that prevents him from commenting further.
“Today it was announced that a Pike County grand jury determined that probable cause did not exist to charge Troy police officers with any offense related to the well-publicized arrest of a juvenile in December of 2017,” Reeves said. “The matter was independently investigated by the Alabama (State) Bureau of investigation and an outside, independent prosecutor appointed by the Attorney General, who presented the matter to the grand jury which heard the facts and reviewed the evidence and came to a decision.
“Because of a judicial order in the pending criminal case against the juvenile I can make no further statement or release any further information at this time. I appreciate the public’s patience as we continue through the judicial process.”
Question: So, there is a pending criminal case against Wilkerson? Was that why cops approached him? Is that why he ran?
Even if the answer to all of those questions is "yes," does that give cops the lawful right to inflict so much damage on Wilkerson that he winds up in a hospital?
(From Associated Press)
A reasonable person might figure that Strange, Balch Bingham partner Joel Gilbert and others connected to the Superfund scam would be in a state of high anxiety. But that doesn't seem to be the case. Makes you wonder if Trump appointee, Jay Town (U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama), is pushing the case forward in a serious manner. Perhaps he has let it be known that white, conservative corporate and legal types will be provided a soft landing -- with the one black guy involved, former State Rep. Oliver Robinson, absorbing most of the punishment.
If Gilbert is quaking in his boots, he has a funny way of showing it. From banbalch.com:
Infuriating other attorneys at the once prestigious firm, FEC filings show that Joel I. Gilbert, the indicted Balch Bingham partner who allegedly funneled $360,000 in bribes to disgraced former Alabama State Representative Oliver Robinson, is still on the payroll at Balch Bingham as of December 30, 2017.
After being indicted on September 28, 2017, Gilbert donated, what appears to be four automatic payroll withdrawals, on October 16, 2017, November 16, 2017, December 22, 2017, and December 30, 2017, to Balch Bingham’s federal political action committee. The contributions total $388.42.
When Gilbert and Balch partner Steve McKinney were indicted in September, Balch issued a public statement saying, “…the charges allege actions that, if proven to be true, are contrary to the ethical values that guide our firm’s attorneys and staff. We take these issues very seriously. Both Mr. Gilbert and Mr. McKinney are on an indefinite leave of absence.”
If Balch really took these issues seriously, you might expect indicted partners to be fired, pronto. Instead, it seems they are on paid administrative leave. The firm doesn't seem to care much about ethics -- or appearances. From banbalch:
Why would any client of Balch want to be subsidizing these alleged bribery conspirators who allegedly suppressed African-Americans from having their toxic and contaminated property tested by the EPA?
While some observers believe that Balch could be preventing Gilbert from cooperating with federal prosecutors by keeping him on the payroll, others believe this magnifies the alleged hypocritical, unethical, and unscrupulous two-sided pattern of behavior at Balch.
As for Luther Strange, reports have him present when State Rep. John Roger was offered a bribe in the Superfund case. But if Strange is shivering with fright, he's not letting it keep him from angling for various jobs in Washington, D.C. From a report at Politico:
Voters sent Luther Strange back to Alabama last year, but the former senator is quietly plotting a return to Washington.
Strange, who had been appointed to the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions but was defeated by Roy Moore in the Republican primary in September, has been on the hunt for a job in Washington over the past few weeks, according to three people familiar with his plans.
He’s been sounding out professional contacts and weighing whether he can get a job at a federal agency or set up his own consulting shop. Those close to him say he’s increasingly likely to land at a law firm, where he’ll split his time between Alabama and D.C.
Strange has been interviewing with several firms in Washington over the past couple of weeks, including Venable, according to two people familiar with the issue.
While he is not expected to land a job in the administration in the near future, some White House aides have nonetheless been eyeing him for a position, believing that, as a former senator and former Alabama attorney general, he’d have little difficulty getting confirmed.
It would figure that a half-way competent and tough-minded prosecutor would instill at least a little fear in those he has indicted, or should be investigating. If that's the case, Jay Town seems to be failing big time.
Yesterday's news tends to show Alabama opposition researcher and whistle blower Jill Simpson was remarkably prescient when she stated last October that Jones was resorting to the kind of underhanded campaign tactics widely associated with Republicans.
The campaign-finance complaint, filed by the Campaign Legal Center, focuses on the Highway 31 super PAC, which apparently was largely responsible for Jones' victory last December over Republican Roy Moore. From a report at al.com:
A nonpartisan campaign watchdog group filed a complaint Monday against a pro-Doug Jones super PAC for failing to disclose its donors before the special election.
The Campaign Legal Center is accusing the Highway 31 super PAC of engaging in a "secrecy scheme to spend $4.2 million in the race" to aid Jones, a spokesman for the center told AL.com.
Highway 31's sole report to the Federal Election Commission before the election said it spent $1.15 million but raised no money. The group, headquarted in Birmingham, claimed its vendors lent them the money on credit.
Two weeks after the Dec. 12 special election between Jones and Republican Roy Moore, Senate Majority PAC -- a Democratic super PAC based in D.C. -- told the Associated Press that it was Highway 31's main backer.
The Campaign Legal Center's complaint to the FEC accuses Highway 31 of not disclosing that fact and misrepresenting its donors.
If proven true, the allegations would suggest Jones has brought shame on the Democratic Party, which tends to hold the moral high ground over Republicans -- and that's not a hard thing to do. From al.com:
"Democrats talk the talk about supporting transparency in political money, but then national Democratic groups push aggressive new legal theories to undermine the transparency laws that are on the books," said Brendan Fischer, director, federal and FEC reform at the center. "Despite laws requiring that super PACs disclose their donors, Alabama voters went to the polls on election day without knowing who was backing Highway 31. This secrecy scheme cooked up by Highway 31 and its backers threatens to create a new disclosure loophole that will be exploited by billionaires and operatives supporting both parties, unless the FEC does its job and enforces our disclosure laws."
Perhaps this is what happens when you jump in bed with oily GOP operative Rob Riley. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) in 2008 fined Riley $10,000 for ethical violations related to campaign finance. From our post on the subject in 2010:
Rob Riley, the son of Alabama Governor Bob Riley, paid a $10,000 fine in 2008 for his role in a decade-old campaign-finance ethics case.Yep, the story proved too hot for Alabama's somnolent press, but The Washington Post took it on. From an article by reporter Derek Kravitz:
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) announced the fine in a press release dated June 20, 2008. But we can find no record that the story was reported in any of Alabama's major newspapers.
Was the story covered up by Alabama's mainstream press, and if so, why? Riley was fined for his connections to Triad Management Services, a Republican consulting firm that apparently was engaged in money laundering.
The case centered on a $3 million political advertising blitz aimed at bolstering Republican candidates in the closing weeks of the 1996 election, which was financed by donations from leading conservative contributors to a company called Triad Management Services.
Triad billed itself as a consulting firm devoted to keeping the Republican majority in Congress, according to promotional materials in 1995 and 1996. Carolyn S. Malenick, a noted Republican donor and former fundraiser for Oliver L. North's Freedom Alliance, operated the firm as its president and sole owner. Robert L. Cone, a former Pennsylvania executive of the Graco children's products company, was Triad's primary source of funding.
What was Triad's goal? Kravitz writes:
Donors' money went from Triad to two political action committees, Citizens for the Republic Education Fund and Citizens for Reform, which financed television and radio commercials and sent out mass mailings in what their officials have said was an effort to counter organized labor's efforts on behalf of Democrats, investigators said.
In other words, it was a money-laundering operation. And Rob Riley was in the middle of it, on behalf of his father, who then was running for a Congressional seat during the time period covered. Kravitz provides details about the offenders, including this one:
-- Robert Riley Jr., the son of Rep. Bob Riley (R-Ala.), and his father's campaign committee paid a $10,000 civil fine for making and accepting excessive contributions, but denied purposely flouting ethics laws.
Hah, typical Rob Riley -- couldn't tell the truth if it kicked him in the crotch. Jill Simpson has been unmasking Riley for a long time, and it's likely she's not surprised by the campaign-finance violations now lodged against Doug Jones. In fact, she more or less predicted something like this would happen, given Jones' tendency to plant his lips firmly on Rob Riley's ass -- and the asses of affiliated Republicans. Said Simpson, almost five months ago, about a Russia-based cyber attack against Jones' opponent, Roy Moore:
It appears Doug's Republican friends at the Canary and Riley camp thought they could dump a bunch of . . . Oleg Deripaska Russian spy bots on Moore's Web site and get away with it.
Well Roy has caught them and apparently reported those bots immediately. And the way he knew it was caused by Doug's sorry bunch is they had alerted the press within minutes of it happening. Everyone should watch closely as Doug Jones is not running the typical Democratic campaign in Alabama; even his ad says that he will work with Republicans to get stuff done. He does not say that about Democrats; in his ad, he specifically mentions working with Republicans.
[Jones] is the big Alabama Business Council and Chamber of Commerce candidate; they have let everyone know through the press in the past week they don't support Moore. Doug Jones is their swamp monster in the race, and both the religious right and the progressives know it -- and it is disgusting what a fast trick the Canary team has pulled on the true Democrats in Alabama, who ought to throw Canary and his gang out of Democratic headquarters. Doug has been the Riley-Canary pick all along.
The corrupt Riley-Canary bunch love Old Doug Jones, the so-called Democrat who in his ad says he will go to Washington to help Republicans get things done. Democrats in Alabama are nuts if they vote for this very corrupt Riley-Canary Democrat. Why do the Republicans like Jones so much? Because he helped them send our beloved Progressive Democratic Governor Don Siegelman to prison -- and helped them harass Milton McGregor, a person they see as an opponent to their big casino donor, the Poarch Creek Indians. And I might add Milton always funded Democrats when they were winning, but Republicans have tied him up in court messes.
On top of that, St. Louis circuit attorney Kim Gardner has procured the services of Harvard law professor Ronald S. Sullivan to assist with the Greitens prosecution, and former FBI agent Anthony Box has been hired as chief investigator.
Reports in recent weeks indicate investigators are looking at more than just the Greitens sex scandal. A recent Associated Press report shows the probe extends to campaign-finance issues. From AP:
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens used an email address for a veterans charity he founded to arrange political meetings as he prepared to launch his first bid for public office, despite a federal ban on nonprofits participating in political campaigns, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.
Greitens, who was on the board of directors of The Mission Continues at the time, sent meeting invitations from the charity's email address to three political consultants. He asked them to join him for a series of meetings over two days in January 2015 with more than a dozen state lawmakers, a lobbyist and an anti-abortion activist, according to copies of the emails obtained by the AP.
The emails indicate the meetings were hosted at the Jefferson City offices of two Republican consulting firms, less than a month before Greitens officially created a candidate exploratory committee. Participants at the meetings told the AP the topic of discussion was Greitens' impending candidacy.
How could this run afoul of the law? AP provides the details:
Federal tax law prohibits 501(c)(3) charities such as The Mission Continues from participating in any political campaign on behalf of a candidate for public office.
Greitens is facing an ongoing investigation by the St. Louis prosecutor's office after a grand jury indicted him . . . on a felony invasion-of-privacy charge. The indictment alleges Greitens took a nonconsensual photo of a partially nude woman with whom he was having an affair in March 2015.
Some people interviewed by investigators say their questions have extended to Greitens' political activities.
Missouri Boys State, a leadership program sponsored by the American Legion since 1938, also was brought into political activities on Greitens' behalf, according to stltoday.com columnist Tony Messenger. Tom Dwyer, now a law student at Notre Dame, has seen signs of that:
In 1991, after his junior year at Parkway North High School, Greitens was a Boys Stater. Twenty years later, after graduating from Duke University with a degree in ethics, becoming a Rhodes Scholar and Navy SEAL and founding the nonprofit The Mission Continues, Greitens was a keynote speaker at Boys State.
That’s when Dwyer met the man who would become the first sitting governor in the state of Missouri to be indicted on a felony charge.
“While he was speaking, we were given a postcard to fill out and asked to list our email,” Dwyer told me. Now a law student at Notre Dame University, Dwyer contacted me after reading my . . . column about a St. Louis area high school student who had ended up on Greitens' campaign email list after studying The Mission Continues and signing up to receive emails from the nonprofit organization.
The same thing happened to Dwyer.
After Boys State, Dwyer started getting emails from The Mission Continues. He was fine with that. He voluntarily gave his email to the organization after hearing Greitens speak. Then 2015 came, and Greitens kicked off what in retrospect might be a short political career.
“When he started running for governor, I kept getting campaign emails,” Dwyer said. He knew he hadn’t signed up to receive them. “I found it annoying. I thought it probably was a campaign violation. It was odd that I never gave him my email.”
Greitens political career, which once appeared to be headed for the White House, now seems to be sinking in quick sand. Writes Messenger:
How the Greitens campaign obtained an email contact list from the nonprofit he founded now appears to be part of two separate investigations. Last month, a grand jury empaneled by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner indicted Greitens on a felony invasion of privacy charge alleging that he took a photo of his half-naked lover in March 2015 without her consent.
That grand jury investigation is continuing and according to published reports has interviewed at least one Greitens campaign worker who was involved in obtaining a donor list from The Mission Continues. Greitens already paid a $100 fine to the Missouri Ethics Commission over his campaign’s use of the donor list. Last week Attorney General Josh Hawley said he, too, is opening an investigation into the nonprofit.
As for newcomers to the prosecution team, stltoday.com reports:
Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner has brought in Harvard Law School professor Ronald S. Sullivan to join the prosecution team in the invasion of privacy case against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens.
Gardner filed a motion Monday to have Sullivan, who is licensed to practice law in Washington, D.C., and Georgia to join the prosecution. Circuit Judge Rex Burlison approved Gardner's request.
According to Sullivan's Harvard Law biography, he is the university's first appointed African-American faculty dean and a "theorist in the areas of criminal law, criminal procedure, trial practice and techniques, legal ethics and race theory." His bio says he also helped develop a conviction review team for Brooklyn's prosecutor in 2014 and found more than 10 wrongful convictions.
Past clients of Sullivan include the family of 18-year-old Michael Brown who was fatally shot by a Ferguson police officer in 2014, former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez whose murder conviction was vacated after Hernandez killed himself in prison and Usaamah Abdullah Rahim, a terrorism suspect killed by police in Boston in 2015.
Details of what Gardner's office might be paying Sullivan were not immediately available Monday. The state-mandated cost paid by Gardner's office to file a motion for an out-of-state attorney is $410, court records say.
Gardner also hired former FBI agent Anthony Box as the office's chief investigator. He will not lead the investigation into Greitens but will help with it, spokeswoman Susan Ryan said.
What does Box bring to the table? Here is some insight:
Box "will be responsible for increasing the investigative skills of current staff, serve as a primary contact and coordinate activities with various law enforcement agencies including the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the FBI."
Box, 49, a native of Chicago, has more than 20 years of investigative experience, including nine years at the FBI in St. Louis from 1996 2005, he said. He also was a general counsel for two Department of Defense agencies. He will lead a team of about 30 investigators.
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|Utah Rep. Jon Stanard|
Gee, imagine how bad it would be if conservatives weren't so virtuous. Madsen dubbed them the GOP (Gross Old Perverts), and the phrase seems to fit. From the article at WMR:
Within a 24-hour news cycle, three top Republican officials in three states were mired in legal trouble stemming from sex scandals. One, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, was arrested. Rhode Island State Senator Nicholas Kettle resigned as he faced certain expulsion from the body. In Louisiana, Secretary of State Tom Schedler was accused of sexual harassment and stalking.
These three latest sex scandals follow dozens of others that have abruptly ended the careers of Republican politicians in the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislatures across the country. The party that claims to represent "family values" and "Judeo-Christian" ethics has been found to be the party of anti-gay closeted homosexuals, pedophiles, and those who engage in the "rough trade" of bondage and sadomasochism.
Madsen notes the "Party of Lincoln" has become the "Party of Marquis de Sade." Then, he provides plenty of evidence to back it up, starting with Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who has been the subject of numerous posts here at Legal Schnauzer. (See here,here, here, and here.)
Governor Greitens was indicted by a St. Louis grand jury on February 22 for felony invasion of privacy. In 2015, before being elected governor, Greitens blackmailed a woman after he took a photograph of her in his basement while she was nude and blindfolded with her hands bound. Greitens threatened the woman that he would publicize the photo if she ever spoke about their affair. Greitens was scheduled to appear at the National Governors Association meeting in Washington, DC, where it was expected he would have ample opportunity for a photo op with Donald Trump, who is facing his own multiple accusations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape.
Greitens, an ex-Navy SEAL, is Missouri's first Jewish governor and the Republican Jewish Coalition immediately came to Greitens's defense. The Israeli media began reporting on how Greitens's arrest was hard on the governor's wife Sheena and his two sons, Joshua and Jacob.
Tom Schedler, like Greitens, comes from a reliably red state:
Secretary of State Schedler is accused in a lawsuit of sexual harassing a female state employee for over ten years. Schedler is also accused of stalking the employee by going as far as buying a home across the street from her residence, sending her sex videotapes, and ordering state security employees to monitor her activities. Schedler also ordered state employees to run official state data searches on the woman's boyfriend and publicize the results.
Then, we have Nicholas Kettle, from blue-state territory:
State Senator Kettle resigned from the Rhode Island Senate a week after his arrest for twice extorting sexual favors from a male page in 2011, as well as engaging in video voyeurism by bartering nude photographs of his ex-girlfriend and a New Hampshire woman without their consent.
As for the Gross Old Pervert who fell outside the news cycle, that would be Utah Rep. Jon Stanard, who resigned his position on Feb. 6. From a Salt Lake City Tribune article on Feb. 8:
A British newspaper reported Thursday that Rep. Jon Stanard, R-St. George, resigned abruptly Tuesday after he met a Salt Lake City call girl twice for sex, and it released racy texts that it says he sent to her.
The Daily Mail of London said call girl Brie Taylor alleges Stanard paid her for sex during two business trips to Salt Lake City in 2017. Taylor asserts he paid her $250 for each of the one-hour sessions in June and August — on dates when the Legislature held interim meetings.
Stanard is married and voted for stricter laws against pornography. He also said on his website — which has since been deleted — “I am a strong advocate for conservative family values. I am pro life, as well as for traditional marriage.”
"Traditional marriage," in Stanard's world, apparently includes having a few prostitutes on the side. Here's more from the Trib:
Taylor alleges Stanard first approached her March 7, 2017 — near the end of last year’s general session of the Legislature.
He allegedly wrote: “Looking at your website. Can you meet?”
In a second text he added: ‘Would need to be tonight. Only in town a little. Anytime. Can do in or out. At hotel in downtown SL.”
They exchanged a string of messages but Taylor was unavailable because her 10-year-old son was sick.
He messaged her again the following month but she was again unavailable, and they met for the first time at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott Hotel in Downtown Salt Lake City on June 20.
Where did it go from there? The Trib tells us:
Taylor said: “I already knew who he was because I screen all my clients using a phone number service and I Googled him.
“He opened the door and he was very nice. He was a gentleman.
“We chatted just briefly and then I got changed out of what I was wearing into lingerie.
“Then the adult stuff started to happen.”
She said she had researched who he was online, and they talked about his work as a representative.
“He said he comes up to Salt Lake a lot and he would like to see me again. He said he never does this sort of stuff in St. George because it is really culturally strict down there.”
According to the newspaper, the escort of three years, who has appeared in porn films, says Stanard returned on a business trip that summer and they met at the same hotel on Aug. 22.
“He doesn’t drink so we didn’t do anything like that,” she said, “but during that session they were trying to pass medical marijuana so we talked about that.”
Those Republicans, always trying to mix business with pleasure. Stanard was so nailed that even his lawyer couldn't figure out a way to lie about it:
The Daily Mail said that Stanard’s attorney, Walter Bugden, told it, “Given the current climate in this country with misconduct allegations and the way things are happening in the media right now, there isn’t any explanation that my client could give that would overcome the shadow of these allegations.”
Madsen puts things in perspective of the long-running GOP "family values" charade -- and he notes that more scandals are brewing, involving Donald Trump and his supporters:
A sex scandal involving Kentucky Republican State Representative Dan Johnson -- who committed suicide last year after he was accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year old female teen in 2013 -- resulted in an 80-point swing to a Democrat in last week's special election to fill his vacant seat. Linda Belcher won handily over the GOP's Rebecca Johnson, the widow of the late representative. Trump won the district in 2016 with 72 percent of the vote.
In the past year, other GOP sex scandals involving underage sex saw prison sentences for former Kentucky state judge Tim Nolan and former Oklahoma State Senator Ralph Shortey for the sexual trafficking of minors. Shortey was also initially charged with possession of child pornography but that count was dropped in a plea deal with the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Both Nolan and Shortey were state-level officials of the Trump presidential campaign.
Sex scandals have also recently seen the end of other Republican political careers in Pennsylvania, Texas, Alabama, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, and Kentucky, which include the Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives.
WMR continues to pursue leads in the 1994 child rape allegations against Trump and his friend, billionaire investment banker Jeffrey Epstein. We are also investigating a story concerning a suspicious death surrounding aberrant sexual behavior and a sitting pro-Trump member of the U.S. House.
Our last in-person meeting with Poe was on Monday, Oct. 30., and Poe's statements in that meeting left us concerned enough that Carol followed up with an email two days later on Nov. 1. Carol focused on matters of law that are highly relevant to her case, especially about the unlawfulness of the eviction that led to Greene County, Missouri, deputies breaking her arm. She started with this:
This is Carol. As a brief followup to our meeting on Monday, Roger and I have found information that says a judgment in Missouri does not become final for 30 days.
We also found a law firm's landlord/tenant Web site for Missouri that says, "Any judgment, other than a default judgment, becomes final after thirty (30) days."
This seems to be another sign that someone jumped the gun on our eviction.
Here's how Poe responded:
If you send me those citations, I'd be happy to take a look.
Poe might soon have regretted making that statement because Carol dropped a payload on her, making clear and accurate citations to law that shredded bogus legal arguments Poe had been feeding us for weeks . . . months. From Carol, with links to the actual law:
(1) The part about a judgment becoming final in 30 days is at Missouri Supreme Court Rule 81.05:
(2) The part about that rule's impact on an eviction is at p. 6 (of 7) at the following Web page, from a law firm that handles evictions in MO and KS:
(3) While we're at it, we also found RSMo 535.020, which states a landlord must make a demand for rent before seeking eviction.
Cowherd never made a demand for rent. Here is the notice that was attached to our door, telling us to get out and saying nothing about a rent demand -- and that's because our rent always was timely paid. Cowherd had no rent and possession case, but they filed one anyway -- even though their own notice shows we weren't late on rent, and they made no demand for rent:
(4) Finally, you might check the date on the notice to vacate above. It is July 2, 2015, demanding we vacate by July 31. Missouri law holds that tenant must be given full one month's notice -- and our lease said the same thing. In fact, the lease said we were to be given notice on the 1st of the month, and that obviously didn't happen.
These are four more grounds upon which our eviction was unlawful, bringing the total to about 12 -- meaning Cowherd had no grounds to evict us, Lowther [Cowherd's attorney, Gerald] had no grounds to seek eviction, and cops had no grounds to be on our property at all.
These citations to law show that our eviction was wildly unlawful, and under a U.S. Supreme Court case styled Mapp v. Ohio (U.S., 1961), all evidence must be suppressed -- gutting the state's case and leaving it with . . . nothing. Poe, however, was not finished trying to con us. She responded with this:
Whether or not the eviction was unlawful is not a defense. I attached a case that spells out that it doesn't matter if the officer was performing his duties in a lawful manner consistent with the constitution at the time of assault. As we discussed on Monday, I may discuss the eviction proceedings at trial to help the judge understand Carol's state of mind at the time, or why she would be mistaken in believing that the person at her door wasn't a police officer because she thought the eviction was stayed.
The case Poe cited was State v. Summers, 43 S.W. 3d 323 (2001) For weeks, Poe's mantra had been: "The fact the cops acted unlawfully is not a defense." Carol was ready to lower the boom on that malarkey, but first, she shredded State v. Summers:
I was charged under 565.083. State v. Summers is all about 565.081 and is even referenced at that specific statute (but not at 565.083).
Also, Summers is supported by a reference to 575.150, which involves constitutionality of an officer's actions in making an arrest. In my case, the officers were not there to arrest me. I had done nothing to be arrested for -- and the officer statements reflect that. They were there for an eviction, for which there was zero legal basis. That means Roger and I are protected by the Fourth Amendment, and all evidence must be suppressed.
The officer in Summers was called to the scene by a citizen, for an apparent criminal matter. Our situation was 100 percent civil -- and Debi Wade admits in her statement that officers had doubts about validity of the eviction, so she contacted an unnamed "counsel" in the sheriff's office, who told them to go ahead, contrary to law. We need to know the identify of said "counsel," and what he told Officer Wade. Whoever it was caused gross violations of our constitutional rights.
BTW, where does Rule 24.04 say a motion to dismiss is proper only for defects in information, cases of entrapment, etc.? I don't see it.
The only issue on appeal in Summers was whether the evidence was sufficient to convict for felony assault of a law-enforcement officer. Carol isn't charged with a felony; the officers in her case (in their own words) were not there to arrest her; and there has been no trial. so sufficiency of evidence is not remotely an issue for her.
Summers proved to be Poe's last gasp at her "that officers acted unlawfully is not a defense" spiel. And Carol was about to prove that Poe's efforts to "represent" her had been a sham -- and that's what would cause Poe to bail out.
(To be continued)
The committee has been assigned to look into blackmail allegations against Greitens, and his lover's ex-husband testified behind closed doors on Friday. Al Watkins, attorney for the ex-husband, said Greitens has resorted to underhanded attacks on his lover and St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who has brought a felony invasion-of-privacy charge against the governor. From a report at krcgtv.com:
In an email announcing his press conference Friday, attorney Al Watkins, who represents the ex-husband, said he would "respond to the slut-shaming and demonizing the mother of his client's children, racially charged negative characterizations of the Circuit Attorney, and allegations of intimidation and threatening of witnesses involved in the current single criminal felony charge pending against Governor Greitens."
A motion filed Thursday by Greitens' attorneys said there's reason to believe that prosecutors enticed reluctant witnesses to testify by offering leniency or warning of possible charges or adverse actions against the witnesses if they did not.
Greitens is accused of taking a picture of his mistress while she was in a state of undress during an encounter in the spring of 2015 and threatening to distribute it if she spoke of their affair.
As for the ex-husband's testimony, the Columbia Missourian reports:
The ex-husband of a woman who had an extramarital affair with Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens testified for an hour and a half Friday before a House committee doing its own investigation into the indicted governor, the man's lawyer said.
Attorney Al Watkins told the Associated Press that the man was asked to confirm that his ex-wife had described to him her interaction with Greitens, that he had recorded their conversation and hadn't altered it before turning the recording over to investigators. . . .
Watkins said the questions posed by the committee to the ex-husband made it clear that the woman had already testified. "It is very clear that the committee is well versed in the underlying allegations such that one is left with the impression that they are not learning anything for the first time," Watkins said.
Watkins' description of the ex-husband's testimony offered a rare glimpse of the House investigatory committee's work. A committee finding critical of Greitens could lead to impeachment proceedings against him.
|Charles Todd Henderson|
Henderson, a Democrat, was elected as Jefferson County district attorney in November 2016. No one seriously disputes that he won the election fair and square. But two problems lurked beneath the surface: (1) Henderson had the audacity to defeat Republican incumbent Brandon Falls, the favored son of the crooked Riley political machine; (2) After winning, Henderson publicly stated that he intended to make public-corruption cases a top priority during his term as DA. That sounded like he had the Rileys in his cross hairs.
Three weeks later, Attorney General Luther Strange -- a Riley acolyte -- indicted Henderson for perjury related to his role as guardian ad litem in a divorce case. Prosecutors did not prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt -- not even close -- but Henderson was convicted, largely thanks to actions by Sibley Reynolds, one of the state's most corrupt judges who was specially appointed to hear the case. In fact, Reynolds clearly violated courtroom procedure, which should guarantee the Henderson conviction is overturned. But that assumes the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals has integrity, and one never can make such an assumption about an Alabama court.
Henderson received a six-month sentence late last week, and he spent a few days in the Jefferson County Jail, pending an appeal bond. Records indicate he has been released, even though his photo still appears at the jail Web site.
We've written multiple posts to show the Henderson indictment was bogus, and the trial produced a wildly wrongheaded result. (See here,here, and here.) We've also shown that coverage in the Alabama press has been wretched -- inaccurate, incomplete, one-sided -- about as bad as "journalism" can get.
For now, let's focus on one element of the case -- and our examination of this issue will show the whole proceeding was a sham. The case revolves around Henderson's role as guardian ad litem in a divorce case involving Yareima Akl, who had worked on Henderson's campaign. Here is how we set the stage in an Oct. 24, 2017 post:
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?
It has been widely reported that Henderson's conviction was based on a question about a "romantic" or "adulterous" relationship with Ms. Akl, and his answer of "no." But as you can see above, he was asked if he had "spent the night" at Ms. Akl's apartment. He never was asked about a relationship -- romantic, adulterous, or otherwise.
So when Henderson answered "no" about having "spent the night" at Ms. Akl's apartment, was that answer false, amounting to perjury? The prosecution certainly did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. First, a private investigator's surveillance report included huge gaps -- four hours, five hours, 15 hours, 19 hours -- when the PI had no clue about Henderson's whereabouts.
Let's examine the PI's evidence against Henderson:
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.
The best the prosecution could do was a statement that found "activities consistent with an extramarital relationship"? That's supposed to meet the burden of "beyond a reasonable doubt"? Don't make me laugh.
Imagine this scenario: A bank has been robbed, and Security Chief Fred Overlook is called to testify about his analysis of surveillance tapes that supposedly show the defendant, one Herman Bloakes, robbing the bank. Here is the exchange between Chief Overlook and Mr. Bloakes' defense attorney, Billem Bythehour:
Bythehour: So, Mr. Overlook, what does your analysis of the tapes show?
Overlook: I find activities consistent with Mr. Bloakes, your client, robbing the bank?
Bythehour: Did you see Mr. Bloakes using a weapon for a "stick-up"?
Bythehour: Did you see him confronting a teller or other bank official to demand money?
Bythehour: Did you see him grab cash or anything else of value and leave the bank?
Bythehour: So did my client actually rob the bank?
Overlook: I have no idea. But his actions were consistent with robbing a bank.
As you probably can tell, the Bloakes scenario is my version of a joke -- and some might consider it a pretty bad joke. But it's no more of a joke than was the Charles Todd Henderson case.
Could Thomas' history of creepy behavior toward women, plus evidence that he has helped create a culture of corruption in federal courts across a significant swath of the United States, be enough to bring him down? Knocking a justice from the nation's highest court is, without doubt, a difficult task. But Thomas might have provided enough evidence on at least two fronts to get the job done.
Precedent exists for such an outcome; three federal judges have been impeached since 1989 on charges that include lying under oath. More than 60 Supreme Court justices and federal judges have been investigated for impeachment -- and that includes former District Judge Mark Fuller (Middle District of Alabama), who was forced to resign after being arrested for beating his wife. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor, with his duty station in Birmingham, should be investigated for lying to Congress, based on his apparent failure to disclose his history of posing nude for gay-porn photos that appeared at badpuppy.com.
We've seen signs that Thomas' creepiness involves more than his predilection for discussing pornography, breast sizes, and personal sex practices with women in the workplace. It also involves signs that he has helped turn federal courts into a sewer, especially in the South.
Each SCOTUS justice has a circuit assignment, and the Eleventh Circuit (covering Alabama, Georgia, and Florida) is assigned to . . . Clarence Thomas. Is it a coincidence that the circuit over which Clarence Thomas presides happens to be perhaps the most corrupt circuit in the country -- with stiff competition from the Fifth Circuit (covering Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas). We think not.
If you ask former Alabama governor Don Siegelman, he almost certainly would say it's not a coincidence, especially when you consider Thomas has deep ties to the Bush family -- he was nominated to the high court by George H.W. Bush -- and generally is considered the most right-wing justice on the court.
We've written a five-part series titled "The Cheating of Don Siegelman," focusing on the myriad ways the Eleventh Circuit butchered the appeal and wrongfully sent Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy to prison. The most obvious cheat job? The prosecution brought the Siegelman case almost a full year after the five-year statute of limitations had expired, meaning the case could not (by law) be heard at trial, much less go to a jury. The Eleventh Circuit glossed over that issue, and court corruption does not get much more stinky than that.
You don't have to be a former governor to get cheated in the Eleventh Circuit. Mrs. Schnauzer and I have experienced such cheat jobs multiple times. And how is this for irony? The chief author of the Siegelman opinion is an evil old bastard from the Richard Nixon/Gerald Ford era named Gerald Bard Tjoflat. The chief author of the opinion in my employment-discrimination case against UAB -- where the Eleventh Circuit grossly violated its own precedent (Snook v. Trust Company of Georgia) by granting summary judgment to the university, with no discovery conducted in the case -- was none other than Gerald Bard Tjoflat.
We have two pending cases in Alabama -- we call them "The Jail Case" and "The House Case" -- and the usual Eleventh Circuit corruption recently has reared its nasty head, like a creature from the black lagoon. U.S. District Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins administered "The Jail Case" cheat job, while our "old friend" Gerald Bard Tjoflat led the way on "The House Case" cheat job.
Details on those unlawful rulings are set for upcoming posts. For now, we'll say they are so gross that they cannot stand, as a matter of law -- and as a practical matter, they had better not stand.
But what does all of this have to do with Clarence Thomas? As already noted, Thomas oversees the Eleventh Circuit. We're not sure what that entails, but it raises this dark question: Does Clarence Thomas have the power to manipulate federal court cases in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida? Is he able to make sure his moneyed friends on the right receive favorable treatment in the Heart of Dixie?
Specific defendants in our "Jail Case" include former Campus Crest Communities CEO Ted Rollins, Rollins Jamaica Ltd. chair Michele Rollins, and Birmingham-based home builder Zac Parrish (Ted Rollins' former stepson). I earned the ire of the Rollins' family by reporting accurately on Ted Rollins' grotesquely corrupt divorce from Sherry Carroll Rollins in Shelby County, Alabama.
How intense is the Rollins family's ire? This is from our complaint in "The Jail Case." (Complaint is embedded at the end of this post.)
At about the same time of Shuler’s incarceration, Campus Crest Communities CEO Ted Rollins engaged in a flagrant defamation campaign against the Shulers via two Web sites—legalschnauzerexposed.com and rogershuler.com. Rollins apparently was angry about Legal Schnauzer’s accurate reporting on his divorce from Birmingham resident Sherry Carroll Rollins. The Rollins Web sites referred to Roger Shuler as a “perv,” “liar,” and “sicko” and suggested he had sex with cats. They said Shuler had severe mental illness, that he was a physical threat to those around him and suggested multiples times that no company should hire Shuler or his wife, Carol. They referred to Mr. Shuler as a “racist” and a “homophobe.”
A witness has reported hearing Michelle Rollins (Ted’s stepmother) say that she and Ted were going to “take care of Legal Schnauzer.”
Zac Parrish, Ted Rollins’ former stepson, has been listed as founding agent for at least one of the defamatory Web sites. Ted Rollins, while married to Sherry Rollins (Zac Parrish’s biological mother), was convicted of assault against Zac Parrish, who was roughly 16 years old at the time. The state of North Carolina conducted an investigation of possible sexual abuse against Ted Rollins, based on a citizen complaint regarding his behavior toward Zac Parrish.
(Also, a witness has reported hearing Zac Parrish say, "Something bad is about to happen to Legal Schnauzer," in the days leading up to my incarceration. That suggests the Rollins family was involved with, or at least knew about, my false arrest and imprisonment. BTW, the Rollins family members likely will be added as defendants in "The House Case.")
With what major U.S. legal figure is the Rollins family tight? Why, that would be . . . Clarence Thomas. Thomas' ties to the Rollines run partially through his connections to a Texas hotel magnate named Harlan Crow. From a Legal Schnauzer post on that subject:
Mounting evidence indicates Justice Clarence Thomas is so ethically compromised that he should be removed from the U.S. Supreme Court. The latest evidence comes from a New York Times piece about Thomas' ties to a Texas real-estate baron named Harlan Crow.
We have discovered that the Thomas/Crow story, in a roundabout way, links to one of our storylines here at Legal Schnauzer. In fact, our story is about judicial chicanery in Alabama, the kind that favors the wealthy over regular citizens. That theme should sound familiar if you have been following the trail of Clarence Thomas' numerous ethical lapses. And it raises this question: How far will some wealthy Americans go to buy justice?
The answer, in the case of Harlan Crow, appears to be "pretty darned far." When you examine the actions of another wealthy titan, a man whose family has ties to Harlan Crow, you get the same answer.
The Blog of Legal Times provides details about Thomas tendency to grant favors for, and receive favors from, his wealthy corporate boosters, such as Harlan Crow:
A New York Times story Sunday detailed the friendship between Thomas and Dallas real estate magnate Harlan Crow, and the assistance Crow has given to projects of interest to Thomas -- including a planned nonprofit museum in Pin Point Georgia, where Thomas was born. After Thomas took an interest in the project, a company controlled by Crow bought the Pin Point property where the museum would be built, according to The Times. The story also describes instances in which "Justice Thomas’s travels correspond to flights taken by Mr. Crow’s planes," but Thomas reported he had been reimbursed for his travel by other entities. Neither Thomas nor Crow responded to Times requests for comment. . . .
The friendship between Thomas and Crow has triggered controversy before. We wrote about the relationship in June, 2002 after Thomas reported he had received a gift from Crow valued at $19,000.
Crow and affiliated groups have fared quite well before Thomas, according to Think Progress:
Real estate magnate Harlan Crow has been very good to Justice Clarence Thomas, lavishing gifts and other favors on Thomas and his family. Crow provided $500,000 to allow Thomas’ wife to start a Tea Party group, and he once gave Thomas a $19,000 Bible that belonged to Frederick Douglass. He also served on the board of a corporate-aligned think tank called the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which once gave Thomas a $15,000 gift.
As Think Progress reported earlier this week, AEI filed at least three briefs in the Supreme Court after giving Thomas this very expensive gift, and Thomas either sided with AEI or took a position that was much more extreme that AEI’s in all three of these cases. ThinkProgress has now learned that a second Harlan Crow-affiliated group, the Center for the Community Interest (CCI), has a perfect record in front of Justice Thomas.
Crow served on CCI’s board alongside failed Bush judicial nominee Miguel Estrada. Westlaw’s database of Supreme Court briefs reveals eight briefs filed by CCI in eight different Supreme Court cases, and Justice Thomas voted for CCI’s preferred outcome in every single one of these cases.
The Clarence Thomas-Harlan Crow story suggests the justice can be, and has been, bought -- that he accepts favors and returns them with favorable court treatment. Would he do that for members of the Rollins family. As we reported earlier, the answer appears to be yes:
The Crow and Rollins empires intersect in several ways. John Rollins built two hotels that were sold to Wyndham Hotels, which is owned by the Trammell Crow company. Both Rollins and Crow were in the Young Presidents' Organization (YPO), American Friends of Jamaica and the Horatio Alger Society.
Michele Rollins, John Rollins' widow, ran as a Republican in 2010 for a Delaware Congressional seat, narrowly losing to Glen Urquhart. Before becoming a corporate attorney and marrying John Rollins, Michele Rollins worked for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Justice Department, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Interior.
During her time in D.C., Michele Rollins got to know Clarence Thomas--and the Supreme Court justice served as master of ceremonies at John Rollins' 80th birthday party and roast at the Dupont Circle Hotel. In his opening remarks, Thomas talked extensively about his friendship with Michele and John Rollins.
Would Clarence Thomas cut the kind of court favors for Michele Rollins that he has cut for Harlan Crow? We will take a close look at that question in an upcoming post.
(To be continued)
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Todd Entrekin, Etowah County sheriff, has become a national punchline as the mainstream press has picked up on his outrageously greedy scheme. This is the same Entrekin whom the Alabama Republic Party, in 2013, named a "rising Republican star." From the ALGOP press release:
Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin is this week’s Rising Republican Star. Sheriff Entrekin has brought a wealth of experience and a vision to the Sheriff’s office of Etowah County. He became Sheriff of Etowah in 2007, when Governor Bob Riley appointed him after the passing of Sheriff James Hayes, but Todd’s career in law enforcement began long before that. . . .
Since his appointment in 2007, Sheriff Entrekin set several benchmarks for the department to reach and all of those benchmarks have already been accomplished.
It sounds like Entrekin's No. 1 benchmark was to line his own pockets -- and he certainly has accomplished that. In perhaps the finest piece of journalism to come from al.com in the 2000s, Connor Sheets reports:
In September, Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin and his wife Karen purchased an orange four-bedroom house with an in-ground pool and canal access in an upscale section of Orange Beach for $740,000.
To finance the purchase, Entrekin got a $592,000 mortgage from Peoples Bank of Alabama, according to public real estate records. The home is one of several properties with a total assessed value of more than $1.7 million that the couple own together or separately in Etowah and Baldwin counties.
Some Etowah County residents question how a county sheriff making a five-figure annual salary can afford to own multiple houses, including one worth nearly three-quarters of a million dollars.
But ethics disclosure forms Entrekin filed with the state reveal that over the past three years he has received more than $750,000 worth of additional "compensation" from a source he identified as "Food Provisions."
Entrekin did not deny that he received the money when asked about it via email last week. Ethics forms he filed in previous years do not list any income from such a source.
To prove he does not lack for audacity, Entrekin actually tried to defend his actions -- seemingly drawing even more attention from the national press. Consider this, from Fox News:
Entrekin like other Alabama sheriffs believe a pre-World War II state law allows them to keep any “excess inmate-feeding funds” for themselves. However, in counties such as Jefferson and Montgomery, any excess money is supposed to be given to the county government.
In forms filed with the Alabama Ethics Commission, Entrekin reported he made “more than $250,000 each of the past three years via the inmate-feeding funds.”
Radley Balko, at The Washington Post, wrote about the scheme with a sense of disbelief, given that Entrekin has an annual salary of $92,000:
[Entrekin's] response when contacted for the story is priceless:
“As you should be aware, Alabama law is clear as to my personal financial responsibilities in the feeding of inmates. Regardless of one’s opinion of this statute, until the legislature acts otherwise, the Sheriff must follow the current law.”
So he had no choice, you see. He didn’t want to do it, but his hands were tied! He was bound by law to use funds designated for inmate meals to purchase beach homes for he and his wife. Just part of the sacrifice one makes for a career in public service.
The New York Daily News, referring to Entrekin as a "leech," focused on the political opposition that Entrekin's sticky fingers are attracting:
"I believe the funds belong to the taxpayers and any excess funds should go toward things that benefit the taxpayer," said Rainbow City Police Chief Jonathon Horton.
A former member of the Etowah County Sheriff's Office, Horton is running against Entrekin in this year's race for sheriff.
Said Horton, "There's been a tremendous amount of money left over that shouldn't be used as a bonus check."
At Mother Jones, Kevin Drum reports that "Alabama sheriffs are living large":
Let’s tear our gaze away from the swamp in Washington DC and check in on the swamp of Etowah County in Alabama. Todd Entrekin, the sheriff there, just bought a vacation home for $740,000, bringing his total real estate empire to $1.7 million. Where did the money come from?
Ethics disclosure forms Entrekin filed with the state reveal that over the past three years he has received more than $750,000 worth of additional “compensation” from a source he identified as “Food Provisions.”
Fascinating. Can you tell us more . . . ?
Entrekin told AL.com last month that he has a personal account that he refers to as his “Food Provision” fund. And Etowah County resident Matthew Qualls said that in 2015 Entrekin paid him to mow his lawn via checks with the words “Sheriff Todd Entrekin Food Provision Account” printed in the upper-left corner. AL.com viewed a photograph of one such check.
Drum seemed just a tad incredulous at all of this:
Apparently the state of Alabama makes the sheriff personally responsible for everything related to food in the jails he operates. They give him a lump sum, and he gets to keep anything left over. You know, sort of a good ol’ boy slush fund that’s managed to survive all the way into the 21st century.
But as much as I’d like to be outraged, this kind of penny-ante corruption is actually sort of soothing compared to what’s happening in DC. It just goes to show that when rural folks complain that “the America I know” is slipping away, they’re not seeing the whole picture. In Alabama, at least, it’s still going strong.
|Paul Benton Weeks|
Josh Hawley, a Republican, is set to face incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill in one of the most-watched Senate campaigns of 2018. For now, Hawley is Missouri AG, and he recently solicited a $50,000 donation (via email) for his Senate campaign from Paul Benton Weeks, of Springfield, Missouri.
Weeks was invited to attend a fundraising reception, featuring Hawley and President Donald Trump, in St. Louis on March 14. The invitation, sent to Weeks' email address at firstname.lastname@example.org, stated that Weeks could be part of the Host Committee Roundtable for a donation of $50,000 per person. (Invitation is embedded at the end of this post.)
Why should this raise eyebrows? Hawley's AG office is prosecuting Weeks on a dubious charge of securities fraud -- but now Hawley wants the defendant to fork over $50,000 to a Senate campaign. We've written a series of posts titled "The Political Prosecution of Paul Benton Weeks" (see here and here) and we thought the case could not get more smelly. But the Hawley solicitation adds a whole new layer of corruption, incompetence, or both.
Weeks lays it out in a supplemental motion to have the AG's office disqualified from his case. (Motion is embedded at the end of this post.)
Legal Schnauzer readers probably know Paul Benton Weeks best as the Missouri lawyer who wrote a scathing affidavit about U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, the wildly conflicted judge in the Don Siegelman case. Fuller, of course, eventually was forced from the bench in the wake of charges that he had beaten his wife in an Atlanta hotel room. That was no surprise to many because Weeks, via his affidavit, had already unmasked Fuller as a morally bankrupt fraud, who had no place on the federal bench -- much less overseeing the Siegelman case.
Evidence strongly suggests the "securities fraud" prosecution is payback for Weeks' willingness to research and report unflattering facts about a sitting federal judge. It certainly is not a legitimate securities-fraud case, as we explained in a November 2017 post:
As an initial matter, you would expect a "securities fraud" case to involve a "security." But, in Missouri, you would be wrong -- especially if your name is Paul Weeks and you've made it a habit to shine light on government and court-related abuses. Investopedia describes a security as follows:
"A security is a fungible, negotiable financial instrument that holds some type of monetary value. It represents an ownership position in a publicly-traded corporation (via stock), a creditor relationship with a governmental body or a corporation (represented by owning that entity's bond), or rights to ownership as represented by an option."
Was there anything with the transaction in question that fits that description? Did it involve a stock, bond, or option? Not even close.
The securities case grew from a private-loan transaction between Weeks and a personal acquaintance, with Weeks borrowing $200,000 and delivering a personal promissory note to the lender. When Congress enacted the federal securities laws in the 1930s, lawmakers made it expressly clear that personal and commercial promissory notes were not securities. The oddities with the "securities" case do not stop there:
In Missouri, the statute of limitations for alleged "securities fraud" is three years. The charge against Weeks is based on a private loan transaction that occurred in August 2009. Therefore, simple math would indicate that the statute of limitations in the Weeks case expired in August 2012, At that point, a Missouri prosecutor is required by . . . law, not to commence a prosecution barred by the statute of limitations. . . .
But [Chris] Koster and the Missouri Attorney General's Office filed their untimely prosecution against Weeks anyway. These Missouri officials commenced their prosecution against Weeks on Dec. 24, 2014 -- some 30 months after the three-year statute of limitations had already run.
Gee, the case was brought when it was stale by only 30 months? No wonder it smells bad. And now we have Hawley's solicitation email adding to the putrid mix. Here is how Weeks sets the stage, from his supplemental motion (citations omitted):
The Missouri Attorney General is Josh Hawley, who is now running for the United States Senate. Recent news reports confirm that Hawley faces substantial pressure, from powerful people within his own political party, to raise more campaign cash.
On Monday, February 26, 2018, Josh Hawley sent an email to Defendant Paul Weeks from an email address identified as “email@example.com”. In that email, Hawley stated it was his “honor” to invite Weeks to attend an “evening reception with President Donald J. Trump." Hawley stated to Weeks that “I hope you can join me and Erin [Hawley’s wife] for this special event.” Hawley’s email to Weeks described the event as a “fundraising reception, benefiting our campaign.” Hawley’s email also stated that if Weeks paid $50,000 to Hawley’s fundraising group, Weeks would be an “attendee” of the “Host Committee Roundtable” — suggesting that for $50,000, a cash donor would obtain special access to Hawley and perhaps a quick photo with Hawley and/or Trump.
How serious could this get? Weeks spells it out:
There is absolutely no excuse for Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s direct and personal solicitation seeking substantial money from a citizen that Hawley and his state office are currently prosecuting and threatening to throw into prison. No excuse whatsoever.
This elementary procedure requires that a prosecutor's office access its files or database in order to identify all persons currently being investigated or prosecuted by that prosecutor’s office. The names and contact information of all such persons must then be cross-checked with the campaign mailing lists to ensure that no person who is being investigated or prosecuted is included on any campaign list used to solicit funds for the prosecutor.
Ethical standards for prosecutors should be particularly stringent:
In addition, campaign experts have observed that because prosecutors have the absolute discretionary power to destroy citizens’ lives, prosecutors who run for public office should not personally solicit money from anyone — out of concern that solicitations for money by prosecutors are inherently coercive and could cause people to fear the consequences if they do not make a contribution to the prosecutor. To avoid an apparent conflict of interest or appearance of impropriety, many legal ethicists and campaign experts have urged that candidates closely tied to the judicial process, including prosecutors, should not personally solicit campaign contributions.
That, however, is exactly what Josh Hawley did, and he sought the hefty contribution from an individual he is prosecuting. It all suggests the Hawley campaign is too harried and rattled to worry about ethical concerns, too incompetent to check records for individuals it should or should not solicit, or is knowingly acting like a criminal enterprise. From Weeks' motion:
A prosecutor who solicits money from a criminal defendant invites and encourages the defendant to make a “campaign contribution” that could be perceived to be in fact a bribe or, at minimum, appear to be a bribe.
Indeed, many states have enacted criminal statutes that make it a crime for a public official to solicit anyone who is subject to any current government action, regulatory matter, or prosecution.
Weeks shows how the Hawley campaign might have committed criminal acts, under Missouri law:
In this case, several Missouri criminal statutes were possibly implicated by Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s solicitation of money from a defendant who Hawley and his office are currently prosecuting and threatening with prison. For starters, a “stealing" crime in Missouri includes an attempt to coerce property from another person. In this case, Josh Hawley’s direct and personal solicitation to Weeks could plainly be perceived as an attempt to strong-arm and coerce Defendant Weeks into paying Hawley and his group up to $50,000 which, if so, would clearly constitute attempted felony “stealing” under Missouri law.
Missouri law also makes it a crime for a public servant to solicit any benefit in return for a decision or exercise of discretion favorable to the person solicited. In Missouri, the crime is known and described as “acceding to corruption” — which, in plain English, means a crime in which a public servant solicits or requests that another person pay that public servant for a favorable government decision.
These words are not just theoretical in nature. Such prosecutor-bribe cases actually have happened:
Several prosecutors have committed crimes by soliciting political contributions that were, in effect, bribes. In those cases, prosecutors solicited and collected political contributions in exchange for deciding cases in a manner favorable to a criminal defendant. For example, one prosecutor was convicted of accepting bribes in exchange for prosecutorial leniency, with some of those bribes being campaign contributions. Press Release, FBI, Former Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villallobos Sentenced to Federal Prison in Connection with South Texas Bribery Scheme (Feb. 11, 2014). Another prosecutor was convicted and disbarred for receiving a campaign contribution in exchange for supporting the early release of a convicted murderer. T. Evans, Document Reveals How Bribery of Former Marion County Deputy Prosecutor David Wyser Unfolded, CHILLICOTHE GAZETTE (Nov. 1, 2013). Finally, a New Jersey prosecutor was convicted and sent to prison for soliciting money from criminal defendants in exchange for a reduction or dismissal of the prosecutor’s charge. M. Conte, Former Fill-In Prosecutor In Bayonne, Secaucus Pleads Guilty To Bribery, THE JERSEY JOURNAL (Nov. 10, 2012).
What do Hawley's actions say about the integrity of the Missouri justice system? It isn't pretty:
All officers of the court – prosecutors in particular – must adhere to the highest standards of integrity. In view of AG Hawley’s solicitation of a cash ‘contribution’ from Defendant Weeks, it would be hard to imagine a more serious and egregious violation of Rule 4-8.4 (d). Anyone who doubts that assertion should simply imagine what the public would think if it learned that a state attorney general, in Missouri, had solicited up to $50,000 from a criminal defendant who that same state prosecutor and his office were prosecuting and threatening to throw into prison. Mindful of that objective fact, it is hard to imagine conduct by a prosecuting attorney that could be more damaging to the “integrity” of Missouri’s judicial system or the public’s confidence in the administration of justice in Missouri. If the public knew what AG Hawley solicited a big cash contribution from a defendant who prosecutor Hawley was prosecuting, and threatening with prison, the public would have absolutely zero confidence in the legal or judicial system in Missouri. Zero, zilch, nada.
Likewise, a prosecuting attorney has a sacred obligation to avoid any conduct that would create an appearance of impropriety. It ought to go without saying that a prosecutor who solicits a cash “contribution” from a criminal defendant who the prosecutor is prosecuting has created a shocking appearance of impropriety which, by any ethical standard, would be viewed as conduct by a prosecuting official that was “over the top” and completely improper.
|Luther Strange and former Balch lawyer Jessica Garrison|
Burt Newsome has built his collections practice into a lucrative enterprise, so lucrative that Balch Bingham apparently tried to steal it -- with help from Luther Strange. Newsome was hit with a sham criminal charge -- where have we heard this before? -- and evidence indicates Strange tried to make it stick.
This all grows from an al.com report last week that Strange (and Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions) pushed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) not to designate the North Birmingham Superfund site for National Priorities List (NPL) status, which would have required polluters (Drummond Co. and others) to pay millions in clean-up costs.
As for Sessions, a report at Mother Jones and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) features documents that show Sessions' office was deeply involved in trying to thwart the clean-up effort. From an article at Mother Jones:
As Alabama’s junior senator, Jeff Sessions was far more involved than previously known in helping two of his top contributors derail a federal environmental cleanup effort, according to records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Mother Jones and the Project on Government Oversight. The stalled cleanup is now at the center of a federal bribery case spearheaded by the Justice Department, posing a serious conflict of interest for Sessions, who is now attorney general. Yet there is no indication that Sessions has taken any steps to recuse himself from this matter.
Last fall, the Justice Department indicted a top executive at Drummond Coal and two partners in the influential Birmingham-based law firm of Balch Bingham, who were representing the Alabama-based company. Prosecutors allege the men paid off an Alabama state representative, Democrat Oliver Robinson, as they undertook an all-out effort to block an environmental remediation effort in an impoverished, largely African American neighborhood of North Birmingham, known as 35th Avenue. Robinson, who pleaded guilty to charges of bribery, conspiracy, and fraud, admitted signing his name to letters opposing the cleanup that were ghostwritten by the Balch Bingham attorneys and to surreptitiously recording meetings with Environmental Protection Agency officials.
Speaking of indicted Balch partners (Joel Gilbert and Steven McKinney) and ghostwritten letters, that's where Luther Strange enters the picture. In a post titled "Luther Strange Coordinated with Indicted Balch Partners,"banbalch.com reports:
We always suspected they were in cahoots.
Former State Attorney General and ex-U.S. Senator Luther Strange appears to be—unequivocally—the biggest stooge for Balch Bingham, the once prestigious, silk-stocking law firm.
Besides ghostwriting for their alleged bought-and-paid-for-politicians, Balch appears to have directly coordinated with state agencies.
How close was the coordination? Al.com spells it out:
On Oct. 23, 2014, Strange sent a formal letter to the EPA, calling the NPL listing "premature" and "futile." It has been pointed out before, this letter followed less than a week after Drummond Co. contributed $25,000 to Strange's reelection campaign, and Drummond was Strange's third largest donor in that election cycle.
What hasn't been evident before was how closely Strange's office and the Balch lawyers Gilbert and McKinney were working together.
When Strange's administrative assistant emailed the letter to the EPA, she blind carbon copied three lawyers in the Alabama Attorney General's office -- and Gilbert at Balch.
Essentially, Strange's office was letting Gilbert read their correspondence with the EPA without the EPA knowing Gilbert could see it.
And the Attorney General's office's coordination with Gilbert didn't stop there. Additional emails show that Robert Tambling, the chief of the environmental section, followed up on Nov. 4, 2014, after the EPA apparently failed to respond to Strange's first letter.
Tambling immediately forwarded a copy of his email to the EPA to Gilbert at Balch, writing to him, "Joel, Hope this helps. RT"
A few minutes later, Gilbert wrote back, "Can't hurt ... Thanks."
The Strange-Balch coordination apparently went well beyond the Superfund matter, as banbalch.com reports:
Now a can of worms has opened up, especially in relationship to Balch’s and Luther Strange’s involvement in the Newsome Conspiracy Case.
Did Balch in any way coordinate with the State Attorney General in 2016 to file a “cut and paste” brief in support of the resurrection of the bogus criminal case against Burt Newsome that had been expunged?
A public records request should be headed soon to the Office of the Attorney General.
A banbalch.com post dated Sept. 18, 2017, provides more details on Strange's ties to the Newsome case:
We have reached out to federal authorities and have asked them to investigate U.S. Senator Luther Strange’s involvement in alleged corruption and the trampling of the Civil Rights of Burt Newsome, a father of four young children who was wrongly targeted, falsely arrested, and defamed by one of Strange’s most ardent financial and political supporters, the embattled law firm Balch Bingham.
What revolts us most is as Alabama Attorney General, Strange gave a helping-hand—just a year ago—to an alleged criminal conspiracy that trampled the Civil Rights of Burt Newsome, a father of four young children who was railroaded with a capital R.
According to court filings, Newsome, a small-town attorney in Alabama, was falsely arrested and defamed by the alleged co-conspirators including Balch Bingham which allegedly had a financial objective: to obtain Newsome’s lucrative banking collections business.
In April of 2014, the criminal case against Newsome collapsed and was eventually expunged from court records. But almost a year later after the expungement, in June of 2016, another judge, with allegedly no knowledge of the details of the case, reversed the expungement and opened the contents of a case that no longer existed, declaring that the previous judge (since retired) had erred.
Incredibly, Newsome was allegedly barred by court officials from filing a brief or petitioning the court at that time.
Raising eyebrows and expanding the web of possible collusion, two months later, in August of 2016, then-Attorney General Luther Strange filed a brief in support of the resurrected expungement, citing and regurgitating the order signed by the new judge.
Observers could not understand why his office would ever get involved in a matter like this, especially since the brief looked like a simple “cut and paste job.” The reason was Balch Bingham and other co-conspirators wanted to use the false criminal accusations in a civil case that the co-conspirators looked like they were losing against Newsome.
|Noah Shuler and Aubrynne Russell|
The criminal setting in the speeding case is April 6. David Shuler is his son's attorney in that case, and he entered a plea of not guilty on Jan. 17. But they could not make it to the next hearing date before Noah was in trouble again. (Incident report is embedded at the end of this post.)
What happened? At about 8:15 p.m. on Dec. 30, 2017, Noah was a passenger in a 2013 black Cadillac driven by his girlfriend, Aubrynne Russell. A police officer in Sparta, Missouri (pop. 1,864) stopped them for speeding, and as he approached the vehicle, immediately noticed the odor of marijuana.
The officer ordered Noah and his girlfriend out of the vehicle and told them he was going to conduct a probable-cause search. An inspection of the vehicle produced the following items:
(1) A rubber pipe, with a glass bowl, including marijuana residue. It was found in a box in the back passenger seat;
(2) Two clear sandwich bags containing marijuana residue. They were found in a box in the back passenger seat;
(3) One sandwich bag with marijuana residue. It was found in the glove box.
A property report from the vehicle stop lists the owner of all four items as Noah Hayes Shuler, with an address of 3825 E. San Poppi Court in Ozark, MO 65721. That's where my brother's family of four lives.
Springfield attorney Russell Dempsey represents both Noah and Ms. Russell in the drug paraphernalia/speeding case.
Noah entered William Jewell College in Liberty, MO, in fall 2017 and played on the soccer team -- although his playing time as a freshman was limited to four minutes in one game. Noah's Facebook page recently indicated he now is enrolled at Missouri State University in his hometown of Springfield -- although that information has disappeared from the page.
Did he get kicked out of William Jewell? Did he leave because of his sparse playing time on the soccer team? Did he just want to get back home and attend the same school as his girlfriend?
We sought comment from David Shuler for this post, including several specific questions, but he provided no substantive response.
I know this for sure: I grew up in what used to be a law-abiding family, but something must have changed in the 36 years I lived in Birmingham, AL. Carol and I each have been arrested -- and I even spent five months in the Shelby County Jail as the only incarcerated journalist in the western hemisphere for 2013 -- but none of those arrests were legitimate. They were trumped up as a form of intimidation for my reporting on this blog.
Noah, on the other hand, appears to be facing charges that are legitimate. He might be found not guilty on one or both, but the arrests appear to at least be based on probable cause.
It seems safe to say that he's the first member of our family to ever face two criminal charges at the same time -- certainly in my lifetime. I'm not sure how you even manage to accomplish that -- especially when your father is a lawyer, you've gone to private schools (Greenwood Laboratory School), and you've grown up in luxury (a house in a golf-course community, with an appraised value of $621,300).
So, how did Noah manage to accumulate two criminal charges -- with both cases pending -- well before completing his freshman year of college?
We will examine that and other issues in upcoming posts.
(To be continued)
|Paul Benton Weeks|
That information about former U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, since forced from the bench in the wake of charges that he beat his wife in an Atlanta hotel room, comes from two sources -- Alabama whistle blower and opposition researcher Jill Simpson, plus the author of the affidavit, retired Missouri attorney Paul Benton Weeks.
The blackmail issue came to the surface following our post earlier this week about the political prosecution Weeks is facing for "securities fraud" in Missouri -- a case that is so dubious it did not, by law, even involve a security, and it was filed some 30 months after the statute of limitations had expired. Under the heading of "adding insult to injury," Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley recently solicited a $50,000 donation (for his U.S. Senate campaign) from Weeks -- even though Hawley is leading the prosecution against Weeks.
Yes sir, wouldn't we all jump at the chance to contribute to the political fraud who is leading a bogus prosecution against us?
Our post apparently riled Simpson and led her to note on Facebook the critical role Weeks played in the Siegelman case, via an affidavit that revealed Judge Mark Fuller never should have been on the case. From Simpson's Facebook post (with mild editing for clarity); as tends to happen, Homewood lawyer and GOP thug Rob Riley appears at the center of any post about Alabama corruption:
As many of you know I think of Paul Weeks as a hero in the Siegelman case. Paul showed up after I testified in D.C. . . . about all Rob Riley had told me about Mark Fuller. At the time Rob shared this information in 2005, I had no idea where he had gotten all of it [and how it was being used against Fuller]. Rob just said, "A friend gave it to me," and it was enough to get Fuller to do exactly what [Rob and his associates] wanted him to do."
In what should be no surprise to anyone, Rob Riley was lying. The information actually came from the Paul Weeks affidavit, which had taken a circuitous route through a major multi-state lawsuit -- winding up with lawyers from the Bradley Arant law firm in Birmingham. (More on that in an upcoming post.) Writes Simpson:
|Rob and Bob Riley|
Simpson notes the blow back Weeks and others have faced for standing up to corruption connected to the Siegelman case:
Each one of us who helped see this story told -- the ones that did not join the Doug Jones bunch -- got either criminally threatened are charged with crazy horseshit, and now it appears to be Weeks they are after. This is a never-ending saga. But all their bullshit is always met with resistance; by this, I mean we show up and out the corruption of this criminal gang. It appears to us that the Alabama Resistance needs to change its name to just Resist. As we now are way beyond Alabama, dealing with their corrupt individuals in other states. As for Paul Weeks, please hold him in your prayers. Can you believe how brazen this Missouri AG is with Paul?
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