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

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    We predicted here three months ago -- based on the insights of opposition researcher and whistle blower Jill Simpson -- that U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) would sell out the black, female, and progressive voters who put him in office. Josh Moon, of the Alabama Political Reporter (APR), now confirms that prediction was on target.

    Moon's scathing report yesterday is particularly significant because the APR columnist has tended to write favorably about Jones -- something neither Simpson nor I ever will be accused of doing. In a post titled "Doug Jones is selling out the people who elected him," Moon not only rips Jones' voting record, but even suggests the junior senator will be a one-termer in D.C. From the Moon column:

    It’s time for a reality check for Doug Jones.

    You’re not going to be re-elected to the U.S. Senate.

    Look, I’d love to think that there’s a chance, even a Lloyd Christmas “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” sort of chance. But there’s not.

    You were nearly beaten by a man who was widely loathed in this state BEFORE he was accused of molesting a couple of teens and acting like a creepy uncle with several more. The worst candidate in modern political history nearly beat you because he had the good fortune of having an R beside his name and living in a state filled with people too ignorant to understand that a senator can’t affect abortion law at this point. (And please, spare the mock outrage over the late-term abortion ban bill that Jones voted against. That thing would’ve been declared unconstitutional by the next day by any federal court it landed in.)

    So, when Del Marsh or some other Republican who didn’t allegedly molest teen girls lands on the ticket opposite you, you’re toast.

    And it’s high time you started acting like it.

    And stopped selling out the very people who put you in that office.

    To whom does Jones owe his upset victory at the polls over Republican Roy Moore? Moon makes it clear, since Jones doesn't seem to be clear about it:

    And it’s high time you started acting like it.

    And stopped selling out the very people who put you in that office.

    Without record support from the black community in Alabama (Jones’ numbers among black voters rivaled President Obama’s 2008 numbers), there’s zero chance that Jones is sitting in that office in D.C. today.

    And without monumental efforts to get progressives out to the polls, ditto.

    How has Jones rewarded those groups?

    Moon answers that question by ripping Jones a new orifice for his vote, siding with Republicans, to roll back banking regulations:

    By voting for a rollback of the Dodd-Frank banking regulations that were put in place to protect regular working folks from losing their 401ks and life savings in another financial crash, like the one that crippled America in 2008. 
    Included in the bill rolling back those protections was a particularly nasty, racist bit of language that will allow local banks to go back to the discriminatory lending practices of the past. 
    When the Dodd-Frank protections were passed a few years ago, they contained a little-known provision that required banks making mortgage loans to report additional info on borrowers they approved and denied. In addition to race and gender, the banks had to report income, credit scores, employment history and other factors that were considered in making the loans. 
    They did this because those banks, when accused of discriminatory lending practices, usually claimed that the denials of minority borrowers were related to those additional factors. 
    They weren’t denying black borrowers because they were black, the banks said, but because those black borrowers had lower credit scores, a sketchy employment history or were borrowing for homes in declining neighborhoods.

    Well, guess what?

    That wasn’t true.

    Moon did some research that apparently Doug Jones was too lazy -- or too compromised by his cozy relationship with GOP thugs like Rob Riley -- to do:

    A comprehensive report from the Center for Investigative Reporting, using the newly-required reporting info, found that minority applicants were 61 percent more likely to be denied a conventional home mortgage even when factors such as income, credit score and location were considered.

    Mobile had the absolute worst score among metro markets, with black applicants 5.6 times less likely to be approved for a loan. In Montgomery, blacks were 3 times more likely to be denied.

    Even with regulators watching, and with the possibility of fines and penalties, these banks went right ahead discriminating.

    And now, thanks to Jones and 16 other Democrats, they can do it in the dark again.

    It’s shameful.

    What does that mean in everyday language? Moon spells it out:

    No half-conscious person in Alabama doesn’t recognize the ramifications of this. Certainly not someone like Jones. He has to know Alabama’s long history of using discriminatory lending practices — especially at the community bank level — to prevent black families from moving into “breakaway” communities, and thus denying black children the ability to go to better schools. 
    In an op-ed that appeared in several Alabama newspapers, Jones defended his decision by saying that he wants to be more bipartisan and work across the aisle. 
    That’s a fine sentiment and all, but when the progressive voters of this state put Jones in office, their vision of him pushing bipartisanship was on bills that restored the rights of all people, that protected the least of us, that upheld the belief that all men are created equal. 
    Not a bill that ensures documented and provable discrimination will continue and flourish. Not a bill that makes it progressively harder for more Americans to achieve the American Dream. Not a bill that makes it easier for big banks to rob the working men and women — again.

    Now seems like a good time to revisit Jill Simpson's words from our post dated Dec. 18, 2017:

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

    The Rove Republicans behind the scenes are doing everything they can to help Doug Jones, and if he gets elected, he will owe them, just like they owe him for saving Rove from having to testify under oath -- by cooking the deal between the Riley/Sessions crowd and [Eric] Holder.

    Jill Simpson predicted it, and Josh Moon has confirmed it: Alabamians might as well have sent Roy Moore to the Senate. His vote would have been the same as Doug Jones's on the Dodd-Frank rollback, which could put our economic security at risk.


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    Noah Shuler and Aubrynne Russell
    My nephew and his girlfriend, looking at likely drug paraphernalia and speeding charges after a traffic stop in Sparta, Missouri, apparently were reluctant to be taken to jail for fingerprints and mugshots. So when a police officer offered them a proposal that would avoid that unpleasantness, they jumped at it -- almost in comical fashion.

    Noah Hayes Shuler, the son of my lawyer-brother (David Shuler), already had a pending speeding case where a state trooper clocked him driving 88 mph in a 60 zone -- and that case is set for a hearing on April 6. Noah's girlfriend, Aubrynne Russell, also has a record of traffic-related charges (more on that in upcoming posts); in fact, she's already had her mugshot taken. Perhaps that's why the two of them were reluctant to go before the jailhouse camera. So, when Sparta police officer Loren Nystrom offered them a way out of that, Noah and Aubrynne jumped on it.

    The Sparta PD's narrative report for Case No. 17-12-1722 tells the story. (The report, in full, is embedded at the end of this post.) From Officer Nystrom's narrative, with a primary crime/incident listed as Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (City Code 210.540 or RSMo 579.074) against Noah Hayes Shuler, 3825 E. San Poppi Ct., Ozark, MO:

    On Saturday, December 30, 2017, around 2015 hours, I stopped a 2013 black Cadillac for speeding, bearing MO license of WM9T8Y at State Highway 14 and [Vanilla Bean].

    Upon initial approach, I could smell the odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. After checking for warrants through dispatch, I pulled the driver and passenger out of the vehicle. I told them I could smell the odor of marijuana and that I was going to conduct a probable-cause search. I told them if they told me where the items were I would issue citations and allow them to leave the scene, pending a court date. The driver, Aubrynne Russell, asked if she could show me where it was at. I told her if she knew where they were at, she could do so.

    As you can see, it didn't take Aubrynne long to react positively to Officer Nystrom's proposal. Noah had the same reaction:

    Aubrynne went straight to a couple of boxes and opened them up and provided me with a rubber green colored marijuana pipe, with burnt residue inside it. Also with the pipe were two sandwich bags with a little marijuana residue inside them. I also located a sandwich bags with marijuana residue inside it, located in the glove box. 
    I asked Aubrynne who they belong to, and she said her boyfriend, Noah Shuler. . . . At the same time, Noah yelled out, "It's mine." I issued Noah a Sparta Police Department Uniform Citation for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia-Marijuana. I gave him the Sparta Municipal Court date of 02-08-2018 at 1330 hours. I then released both subjects and returned to the Sparta Police Department to place the evidence in the temporary evidence locker. 
    Nothing further. 
    Officer L. Nystrom 615
    Sparta Police Department

    The original court date was continued, and hearing now is set for April 12. James Randal Howell II is listed as the prosecuting attorney. Aubrynne Russell is charged with exceeding the posted speed limit by 11-15 mph.


    (To be continued)






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    Carol's arm begins to show bruising and major swelling, at the elbow.

    Fourteen months after my wife was charged with "assault on a law enforcement officer" in Greene County, Missouri, the case still has not been resolved -- even though the officer Carol allegedly pushed admits in a written statement that he initiated physical contact with her, not the other way around. Under Missouri law, that means Carol is not guilty, and there never was probable cause to arrest her in the first place.

    So, who really was the assault victim here? We recently obtained photographs that Officer Scott Harrison took at the Cox North emergency room after Carol had been taken to jail following our unlawful eviction on Sept. 9, 2015. Yes, Carol was arrested and taken to jail, even though an officer (still unknown because of prosecutorial stonewalling on discovery) had grabbed her from behind, viciously body slammed her butt-first to the ground, and violently yanked on both arms in an upward and backward motion that broke her left arm in more than two places (comminuted fracture, requiring trauma surgery), leaving her right arm bruised black and blue for its full length.

    The pictures were taken after Carol complained of pain in her arm, and a jail nurse ordered that she be taken to Cox North, just a block or two north of the jail. What does it look like in the moments after your arm nearly has been torn off at the elbow? These pictures answer that question -- and they show Carol was the victim of an assault, not the perpetrator of one.

    In the top photo, Carol's arm is just beginning to show signs of swelling and bruising. Given the internal damage revealed on X-rays, I'm amazed this first photo does not look much worse.


    A lump about the size of a baseball, maybe bigger, is forming

    Above, is a photo showing a large lump that is forming at the injury site. Based on our conversations later with the surgeon, I'm guessing it's formed by a combination of swelling, pooling blood, and broken bone pressing against skin.


    Severe bruising is starting to show, roughly 90 minutes after injury.

     
    This photo shows severe bruising starting to set in. The time stamp shows the photo was taken at 16:09 (4:09 p.m.), a little less than 90 minutes after injury. By the time Carol was transferred to Cox South, where her arm was placed in a temporary cast to set it for surgery, the arm probably was black and blue from top to bottom. When I saw her the next morning, her right arm was completely black and blue -- and it wasn't broken. "Before they put the temporary cast on, I didn't want to look at my left arm," Carol says. "So I don't remember how bad the bruising was."

    What has become of law enforcement in the United States? These photos show the victim of grotesque police brutality, and yet prosecutors charged HER with assault -- even though the officer in question (Capt. Jeremy Lynn) admits in writing that Carol "TRIED to push BACK" after he burst into our home and grabbed her -- nothing more.

    What do those words in capital letters tell us? The first one says Carol TRIED to push, but she did not actually manage to do it. That's not a crime, even when it involves precious and apparently soft, baby-like cops. The second says Carol attempted to "push BACK," meaning Lynn had grabbed and pushed her first.

    Under Missouri law, the question under the relevant statute is did the defendant "cause physical contact"? Missouri case law has interpreted that to mean did the defendant "initiate physical contact"? The answer to both questions is no; Jeremy Lynn's own words show that.

    We've received other evidence that shines light on issues related to Carol's case. We will look at that in an upcoming post.


    (To be continued)


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    Aubrynne Laine Russell
    (From whogotarrested.org)

    My nephew and his girlfriend, looking at likely drug paraphernalia and speeding charges after a traffic stop in Sparta, Missouri, jumped at an opportunity that would help them avoid a trip to jail for fingerprints and mugshots. That might be partly because the girlfriend, Aubrynne Russell, already has had her mugshot taken -- well before her 20th birthday.

    Noah Hayes Shuler, my nephew and the son of my lawyer-brother (David Shuler), faces possession of drug paraphernalia charges under City Code 210.540 and RSMo 579.074, so he's likely to go through the fingerprint, mugshot routine at some point. He already seems familiar enough with it to know it's not pleasant -- especially if you spend time behind bars until someone comes to bail you out. (Incident report is embedded at the end of this post.)

    [Note: The entry at case.net for City of Sparta v. Noah Hayes Shuler -- Case No. 17-12-1722 -- disappeared on March 8, one day after I contacted my brother, David, via email, seeking comment for this story. The "judge" listed on the case -- Republic, MO, divorce lawyer Andrew Todd Brown -- is listed as one of my brother's Facebook friends. Of course, that might have disappeared, too. A court date had been set for April 12. Why has the once public record in Noah's drug-paraphernalia case vanished? We intend to look into that.]

    Perhaps Noah's knowledge of the jail booking process comes from Aubrynne's experience with it. According to the Web site whogotarrested.org., Aubrynne Laine Russell, was arrested for driving while intoxicated (DUI) last fall in Springfield, Missouri. She was 18 years old at the time.

    Russell also was ticketed for speeding (1-5 mph over the limit) on Dec. 20, 2016. She pleaded guilty, and David Shuler represented her. She is charged with speeding (10-15 mph over limit) in the Sparta incident. That makes three charged traffic violations in roughly 15 months' time.

    Public records list Aubrynne's address as 1436 N. Glade Ave., Springfield, MO 65802. Her Facebook page says she has attended Greenwood Laboratory School (which Noah also attended) and Missouri State University (which Noah apparently now attends, after starting out last fall at William Jewell College).

    The charge in the DUI case was 106-205, and here is the technical description of the offense:

    106-205 Driving while intoxicated or driving with unlawful blood alcohol content-SPRINGFIELD

    Our unpleasant experiences with law enforcement in southwest Missouri have involved the Greene County Sheriff's Office and its monstrously corrupt chief thug, Jim Arnott. Aubrynne's case came under the Springfield Police Department. From whogotarrested.org:

    Aubrynne Laine Russell was arrested on 07 Oct, 2017 in Greene County (Missouri). She is currently 18 years old. Aubrynne Laine Russell was booked by SPRINGFIELD POL.

    Here is an oddity about Aubrynne's case. The Web site gives no disposition of the case, and the record does not appear at case.net, which is the electronic repository for case court records. The Missouri State Court Administrator is responsible for maintaining the records, and it's unclear why Aubrynne's DUI case does not appear -- or why Noah's drug-paraphernalia case has disappeared.

    TV station KRCG in Columbia/Jefferson City reports that case.net has been improperly used at times to hide public records. Jean Maneke, a Kansas City-based communications lawyers has written that state law allows courts to remove records "for good cause," and that invites chicanery by unscrupulous judges and lawyers.


    (To be continued)




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    Milton McGregor
    Milton McGregor, a titan of Alabama business and politics for 35 years, died on Sunday -- and online tributes have been pouring in from people who knew him as a shrewd businessman and a good-hearted soul, with influence that crossed racial and economic boundaries.

    I got to know McGregor through my reporting on Deep South corruption, and I found him to be sharp, insightful, tough, and charming. He also was an almost limitless source of information about the sometimes dysfunctional gears of Alabama politics.

    As the owner of VictoryLand casino, McGregor was the target of corrupt state and federal efforts to shutter his business -- most famously from former Gov. Bob Riley and his oily son, Rob, often with back-stabbing assistance from current U.S. Sen. and phony Democrat Doug Jones. In one of the most shameful episodes of the Obama years, beat federal charges in a criminal case that produced zero convictions.

    Legal Schnauzer reported on McGregor's battles in a way that could be found at no other news outlet. Over and over, via in-depth analysis (supported by court documents and case law), we showed McGregor and his business were wrongly targeted by Riley and former Attorney General Luther Strange. Years from now, our blog will serve as a repository of investigative journalism that shows Milton McGregor was on the right side of the law against some of the worst political thugs this state ever has produced.

    With its history of divisive white "leaders," favoring the land-owning and moneyed elites, McGregor was cut from a different cloth. He helped bring a sense of prosperity and hope to Macon County, with its population that is almost 83 percent black.

    The finest journalistic tribute we've seen comes from Josh Moon, of Alabama Political Reporter. It's title is "Milton McGregor lied to me," and that hints at a surprise ending, which likely will bring a tear to those who ever crossed paths with McGregor.

    Another fine tribute comes opp researcher and whistle blower Jill Simpson, who uses a post at her Facebookpage to provide considerable insight on the slimy tactics Bob and Rob Riley used against McGregor. She also shows how McGregor helped educate the public about Alabama corruption, especially in the political prosecution of Don Siegelman. From the Simpson post:

    I will miss Milton. I will never forget the day my story in the Siegelman case broke in The New York Times and Time magazine, I spent the day with Milton McGregor and Tommy Gallion, trying to figure out what was next. And by late afternoon, we had agreed 60 Minutes was next. Milton's only goal was to let folks know what crooks the Rileys really were to him, and Siegelman and Scrushy -- both of whom Milton considered friends. Milton had heard I told the Siegelman and Scrushy bunch about how Rob Riley and his old college roommate had beat Milton and his friends out of around $40 million all total -- and Milton wanted me to tell him about where it had gone in Russia, and I shared with him what I knew at the time.

    McGregor helped Simpson find her way through the brier patch of the Siegelman case, and he took an active role in trying to unmask organized criminals in the Heart of Dixie:

    It was Milton who hired Tommy Gallion to protect me back then from the Riley crooks,  and Milton who got the national press to cover the story, as he knew the Rileys were crooks who had stolen a large sum of money from him and others. I want to share it was Milton's lawyer, Tommy Gallion, who got [Karl] Rove fired for pulling the stunts he did with the Riley-Canary bunch at the time, as Tommy had known George W Bush since 1972 when he came to Montgomery to help with the Blount campaign. Everyone should know that for years Milton tried to put the crooked Alabama Gang of Crooks, which was led by the Riley folks and Billy Canary, in prison. Milton was always there to help folks who were trying to do the same thing, as he had never seen in all his time in politics a more corrupt bunch than Rob Riley and his Russian thugs.

    McGregor knew his way around a business deal, but also could be a maestro with the press:

    I will miss Milton; he was a good man who did not believe in political prosecutions. I might add it was Milton who helped see the story was told in the Siegelman case on film -- and without his help, I doubt we would have ever seen a day like now. An entire state knows pretty much what crooks we had when the Riley bunch were in office, and also when Robert Bentley. 
    So y'all all know, like Josh Moon, I learned a lot from Milton, as he was like a walking Encyclopedia of Alabama Political History; he had been right in the middle of it for most his adult life. Of all the folks I dealt with in the Siegelman case, Milton was by far the most honest of the bunch and always the brightest guy in the room. Never once did he lie to me; he delivered what he promised. In fact, he told me, "Jill tell me your story, and I will see it is told -- and he did so." 
    But for Milton, I probably never would have gotten in the position I am in today, seeing stories told. Which has led to seeing the story told that will bring down the whole Trump/ Bannon/Cambridge Analytica deal. It was Milton and Tommy who helped me see I met the right press folks over the years to see our whole Alabama Corrupt Gang was outed to start with. And that same bunch of press folks has seen the Cambridge Analytica stories are told recently.

    McGregor touched Simpson's heart, as he touched the hearts of many Alabamians:

    I just want to say one last time I am forever grateful for Milton showing up to help me. I told him several times over the years I don't know what I would have done had he not showed up to help. He always would say, "Well, Jill, I just want to see those Riley crooks go to jail for what they did to me with that money in the the Russian lottery deal and what they did to my friends" -- and then he would encourage me to continue on seeing the story was told. That said, I want to wish my friend, Milton, goodbye. Plus, say the March toward Justice for the Riley Alabama Gang continues.

    I should also share the Russians that helped the Riley Gang steal Milton and his friends' money years ago, with Rob Riley's big fraudulent Russian lottery deal, are the same folks that are all tangled into this Trump mess now in San Antonio and London. Their deal with the Russians all started when Milton's Casino competition in Mississippi went after him with Haley Barbour and Bob Riley, both of whom (along with Jeff Sessions) got tangled up with a Russian named Oleg Deripaska, plus the [Paul] and Manafort bunch that Haley was representing -- at same time Barbour was tied to the Mississippi Indian tribes that had Casinos and did not want Milton McGregor competing with them. It is the Alabama Gang, along with Haley and his Russian clients, who came up with with AmCham Russia in Atlanta -- with ties to Felix Sater. And that is the bunch who came up with the Russian lottery deal that stole $40 million from Milton and his friends.
    I am sad Milton did not live long enough to see it all come out in the press, but I know someday it will all come out. I am so thankful Milton taught me a thing or two about the national press, which he had dealt with for years as the Gaming King of Alabama. We in the Alabama Resistance will continue, along with others nationally, to make sure the whole ugly Russian story is told .

    A visitation for McGregor is set for noon today at Frazer Memorial Church in Montgomery, with a Celebration of Life service to follow at 2 p.m. If you want a seat, our advice is to get their early.

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    The ugliness of an eviction
    (From courtroom5.com)
    For months, Missouri public defender Patty Poe had been trying to con Carol and me with her mantra that "even if cops had acted unlawfully in your eviction, that was not a defense to the 'assault of a law enforcement officer' charges against Carol." As we've already shown, Poe tended to "put the cart before the horse," focusing on Carol's defense, when the first order of business was to attack the state's case.

    Given that the prosecution holds the burden of proof -- if it can't make its prima facie case, there is no reason to have a defense -- even we (as non-lawyers) knew Poe was going about things in a bass-ackwards way. Carol was about to drive that home forcefully enough that it apparently caused Poe to bail out of the case -- taking the possibility of jail time with her.

    The docket at case.net for State v. Carol T. Shuler (1631-CR07731) reveals a curious time-stamping issue -- and we will address that shortly. But evidence in our possession indicates Carol's ability to back Poe into a corner on relevant law is what caused jail time to be taken off the table.

    When we left Poe in our previous post, Carol was shredding her argument from State v. Summers, 43 S.W. 3d 323 (2001)regarding the impact of cops' unlawful actions. Poe left her claim out there that cops' unconstitutional acts provide no defense for victims of those acts, so Carol decided to jump on it -- and she apparently landed a knockout blow. From Carol's email to Poe, promptly showing the latter's claims re: Summers were so much horse feces:

    The U.S. Supreme Court disagrees with you. In Soldal v. Cook County, SCOTUS found that an illegal eviction implicates Fourth Amendment rights. From a summary of the case at Wikipedia:

    "Soldal v. Cook County, 506 U.S. 56 (1992), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that a seizure of property like that which occurs during an eviction, even absent a search or an arrest, implicates the Fourth Amendment. The Court also held that the Amendment protects property as well as privacy interests, in both criminal as well as civil contexts. Finally, saying that "certain wrongs affect more than a single right", the Court left open the possibility that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections against deprivation of property without due process of law may also be implicated."

    My Fourth Amendment rights were trampled, which means a motion to suppress should kick out all evidence collected due to an illegal eviction. That means the probable cause statement has to be kicked, leaving the prosecution with no case.

    I would call that a defense; you might call it something else. But whatever you call it, this case demands that a motion to suppress be filed -- and based on my reading of 24.04, a motion to dismiss also would be proper -- to get all evidence booted because it was the fruit of an illegal seizure/search. Even you don't make much of an argument that the search was legal. You seem to claim it doesn't matter. Well, Soldal makes it clear that it does matter. Palmietto's comments from the bench at my last hearing make it clear she knows it matters. Therefore, we need to file a motion to suppress or dismiss -- I believe either is proper under the law.

    Soldal is so on point that it even involves an eviction. Here is a summary of the issues at hand, from the opinion itself, written by the late Justice Byron "Whizzer" White:


    While eviction proceedings were pending, Terrace Properties and its manager, Margaret Hale, forcibly evicted petitioners, the Soldal family, and their mobile home from a Terrace Properties' mobile home park. At Hale's request, Cook County, Illinois, Sheriff's Department deputies were present at the eviction. Although they knew that there was no eviction order and that Terrace Properties' actions were illegal, the deputies refused to take Mr. Soldal's complaint for criminal trespass or otherwise interfere with the eviction. Subsequently, the state judge assigned to the pending eviction proceedings ruled that the eviction had been unauthorized, and the trailer, badly damaged during the eviction, was returned to the lot. Petitioners brought an action in the Federal District Court under 42 U. S. C. § 1983, claiming that Terrace Properties and Hale had conspired with the deputy sheriffs to unreasonably seize and remove their home in violation of their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. Acknowledging that what had occurred was a "seizure" in the literal sense of the word, the court reasoned that it was not a seizure as contemplated by the Fourth Amendment because, inter alia, it did not invade petitioners' privacy.

    Held: The seizure and removal of the trailer home implicated petitioners' Fourth Amendment rights.

    The similarities between Soldal and our situation are stark and stunning. Here are just a few:

    (1) Soldal involved unlawful police actions while eviction proceedings were pending. The same was true in our case. Cops had only an interlocutory order here in Missouri, with a followup hearing set for a month away to consider other issues, including our counterclaim;

    (2) Cops in Soldal knew there was no eviction order. That almost certainly was true in our case, as well. There could not have been a valid eviction order in Missouri because the judgment was not final. Plus, we've seen no evidence of a writ of execution that was signed by a judge or included the county seal, as required by law.

    (3) In Soldal, the landlord showed utter disregard for the law, moving ahead with an eviction when she knew it had not been authorized by the court. Landlord Trent Cowherd acted in much the same fashion here in Missouri.

    Here is Patty Poe's limp-wristed response to Carol's assertions about Soldal:

    Hi Carol:

    I don't find the Soldal case to be analogous to your case in many regards, especially considering there was a judgment in your case and not in the Soldal case. It goes back to what the officers reasonably believed, in Soldal they knew that there wasn't an eviction notice. Additionally, there are around 45 cases that declined to adopt Soldal or had some negative treatment.

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

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


    Best,

    -P.

    Poe's first paragraph is pure rubbish. There was no final judgment in either our case or the Soldal case, so they absolutely are analogous. Poe provides no evidence, and we have not found any, to show that Soldal is anything but good law.

    In the second paragraph, Carol learns that Poe is bailing out of the case, and jail time is off the table. Is that because of anything Poe did? I don't see how. From where I sit it's clear, Carol backed Poe into a corner by showing motions to suppress had to be filed, and Poe was too big a wuss to do it -- so she bailed out. What a profile in courage!

    As for the time-stamping issue, the docket shows prosecutor Nicholas Jain filed his Notice of Jail Waiver on 11/1/17, with Poe filing her Motion to Withdraw on 11/6/17. If that were the case, why didn't Poe tell Carol that up front? Why go through the rigmarole re: Summers and Soldal, etc.?

    Experience has taught me that courthouse clerks' offices are among the most corrupt places on earth. I suspect the Jain and Poe documents were prepared simultaneously, and someone arranged for his to have an early time stamp, covering up signs of possible collusion.

    My guess is that Jain and Poe know they can't possibly get a conviction against Carol in a court with the slightest hint of integrity. Their only hope is that Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto is corrupt and acts contrary to black-letter law by denying Carol's motions to suppress. And given evidence in recent months, it's starting to appear that Palmietto is utterly lacking in integrity -- showing my efforts to cut her slack and give her the benefit of the doubt were wildly misguided.

    Those, by the way, are the motions Poe steadfastly refused to file, costing us at least five or six months of court headaches. So, we're supposed to believe Patty Poe was acting out of the goodness of  her heart by helping get jail time off the table?

    Not for one second. I, for one, don't believe there is any goodness in her heart. And it's becoming clear the Greene County Courthouse and its environs -- judges, sheriff's office personnel, public defenders, prosecutors -- contain a virulent form of corruption that could give Shelby County, Alabama, a run for its money.

    They all are packed into a tight legal-tribe nest that needs to be fumigated. I would be happy to be involved in that project.

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    Nicholas Jain
    Missouri's drunk-driving prosecutor, who goes after regular folks for the same offense that is on his own record, is taking hypocrisy to new levels.

    Nicholas Jain, assistant prosecuting attorney in Greene County, MO, is trying to get a DUI conviction in a case where the trial judge determined there was no probable cause and suppressed all evidence. Not content with that outcome -- even though it clearly was correct under Missouri law -- Jain (and his boss, Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson) sought to have it overturned.

    In a ruling that suggests the Missouri Court of Appeals is controlled by political interests, a three-judge panel violated its own precedent and overruled the trial court. That means the driver, Charles Hollis Roux, faced a trial last week -- and he pleaded guilty to two counts, with the finding on a third count taken under advisement.

    The record at case.net indicates Roux pleaded guilty to failure to register motor vehicle and failure to equip motor vehicle with two approved red tail lamps. The DUI charge is under advisement.

    Jain and Patterson brought an "assault on a law enforcement officer" charge against my wife, Carol, without probable cause. They moved forward in the Roux case without probable cause -- and the Missouri Court of Appeals let them get away with it. That means they have a habit of ignoring the strictures of probable cause, and that should alarm everyone who lives in, or passes through, Greene County.

    Court documents show the Roux charges properly were thrown out at the trial-court level. (Documents are embedded at the end of this post.) Here are two key points that Roux's attorneys -- Dee Wampler and Scott B. Pierson -- made in their Motion to Suppress:

    1. The defendant did not violate any law, either misdemeanor or felony, in the presence of the officers that would warrant an arrest.

    2. The defendant's behavior did not give officers reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot, and therefore did not justify the subsequent search and seizure.

    Amazingly, Roux was not stopped for erratic driving; he was stopped for not having his taillights on. As the motion states, there was no sign of criminal activity that would justify the search and seizure. Trial judge Margaret Palmietto has shown in Carol's case that she can make plenty of screw-ups. But she got it right on the suppression hearing in the Roux case, finding:

    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.

    The general rule in Missouri is that appellate courts defer to trial courts on issues of probable cause in DUI cases. From York v. Dir. of Revenue, 186 S.W. 3d 267 (Mo. banc, 2006):

    The Supreme Court deferred to the circuit court's credibility determinations and found that the circuit court acted within its discretion when it ruled that the portable breathalyzer test evidence was not credible. 
    The Missouri Supreme Court in York upheld the trial court's finding of lack of probable cause to arrest for suspicion of DWI. Finding the mere fact that an individual has bloodshot, watery and/or glassy eyes, the smell of alcohol on the breath and admits to drinking does not require a finding of probable cause to arrest. 

    In other words, York and Roux were almost identical, and Palmietto's finding in Roux was in line with Missouri law. More relevant law comes from Stolle v. Dir. of Revenue, 179 S.W. 3d 470 (Mo. Ct. App., 2005):

    The mere fact that a person has consumed alcoholic beverages at some undetermined point in time cannot give rise to probable cause that the person is intoxicated.

    Finally, we have law from State v. Avent, 432 S.W. 249 (Mo. App., 2014):

    Trial court's finding, in sustaining motion to suppress evidence obtained after an arrest for driving while intoxicated (DWI), that state failed to prove by preponderance of evidence that highway patrol officer had probable cause to believe defendant was intoxicated, was not clearly erroneous; while defendant was speeding, had some alcohol on her breath as confirmed by a portable breath test, and had admitted consuming some beer on afternoon in question, defendant had stopped car in controlled reasonable fashion and had promptly provided her license and registration. 

    The driver's actions in Avent were more serious than those in Roux -- Avent was observed speeding, while Roux was not observed committing any driving infraction. And yet, Roux wound up at trial, pleading guilty to two counts, while Avent had her motion to suppress upheld.

    This goes beyond the court's failure to properly apply the law; it also shows the tendency for courts to produce results that are both unfair and inconsistent. The outcome in Roux is unjust and contrary to law on multiple levels, and we will address that in an upcoming post.


    (To be continued)













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    Noah Shuler
    My nephew, Noah Hayes Shuler, has a third court case, public records show. That gives him three alleged offenses between May 22, 2017, and Feb. 25, 2018. The kid has more court dates than "Bugs" Moran. Before long, we'll be seeing bumper stickers: "Honk if you've arrested Noah Shuler."

    The latest case is Village of Indian Point v. Noah Hayes Shuler (18SN-MU00018). Indian Point is a village near Branson, and Noah was driving there -- has anyone thought of taking this kid's car away? -- when he was stopped and ticketed for "operating a vehicle without maintaining financial responsibility. That's a fancy term for driving without insurance. (Ticket is embedded at the end of this post.)

    A court date was set for March 20 in Stone County. Like Noah's possession of drug-paraphernalia case, the insurance case has disappeared from case.net -- so it's impossible to know how it was disposed, or if it was disposed.

    This sounds like the kind of case where Noah could pay the fine via mail and be done with it. But his father -- my lawyer-brother David Shuler -- has entered a not guilty plea in a speeding case where Noah was clocked at 88 mph in a 60 zone, so maybe he will fight this one, too.

    Oddly, no traffic violation is listed in the Indian Point case. It seems an officer would have to observe a traffic violation in order to stop Noah and determine he was driving without insurance. But no such violation is listed on the ticket.

    Here is a roundup of Noah's recent cases:

    (1) Speeding (exceeded speed limit by 20-25 mph), May 22, 2017, Springfield, MO -- next court date: April 6, 2018;

    (2) Possession of drug paraphernalia, Dec., 30, 2017, Sparta, MO -- next court date: April 12, 2018;

    (3) Operating a vehicle without maintaining financial responsibility, Feb. 25, 2018 -- court date: March 20, 2018

    Funny thing . . . I grew up in about as law-abiding a family as you can imagine. I'm not aware of anyone in my immediate family who has ever had legitimate criminal charges brought against them.
    I'm not even aware of speeding tickets -- and if there have been, I'm pretty sure they were the kind where you pay a small fine via mail. None of this driving 88 in a 60 zone.

    But  here is a nephew with three court dates -- for three separate incidents -- over the next month or so.

    His father is a lawyer. Guess that's a good thing.


    (To be continued)





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    Jack Williams
    Yesterday's arrests of Alabama GOP politicos Jack Williams and Marty Connors brings to mind the old bromide "Karma is a bitch."

    Williams served in the Alabama Legislature for 14 years, and Connors was chairman of the Alabama Republican Party from 2000-05. Both face federal bribery charges; both are extremely well connected in Republican circles. And they undoubtedly have mountains of information about right-wing corruption -- which they apparently have chosen to keep under their hats.

    As for Connors, his name has popped up in the Don Siegelman case, especially because of his ties to former U.S. senator and current Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions. As for Williams . . . well, his story hits close to home on a personal level.

    I've known Jack Williams for 35 years or so. Back in the late '70s or early '80s, Jack was at Southeastern Bible College (which had a basketball team then), and he would regularly call in their basketball scores when I worked in the sports department at the Birmingham Post-Herald.

    Most members of the sports department found it less-than-thrilling to take Southeastern Bible College basketball scores. But the late Mack Shoemaker and I didn't mind doing the scut work, so Jack probably got one of us when he called -- at least if he wanted his score to get into the paper the next day.

    Jack seemed like a pleasant, enthusiastic sort, and we became pretty good "phone buds" for a number of years. At some point, we met in person -- probably because of our shared connections to UAB athletics and the late Hall of Fame coach Gene Bartow.

    I always looked forward to seeing Jack, and the fact that our politics pretty clearly weren't a match, didn't keep us from being friends. In fact, I don't remember us ever discussing politics. It was easy to get a smile out of Jack, and we shared a genuine affection for basketball, in a state known for football.

    Sadly, Jack taught me one of the grim realities of postmodern American life -- politics often trumps friendship. When I started getting cheated by Republican judges and lawyers, and then lost my job at UAB for writing about [mostly GOP] corruption on this blog, Jack was nowhere to be found. I have no doubt that he knows exactly who cheated me out of my job, who caused me to be thrown in jail (for blogging), and who cheated us out of our home of 25 years via a wrongful foreclosure.

    Did Jack contact me to help me fight back against criminals in his own political party? Did he do anything to stand up for the rule of law, to help a friend who was being abused? Did he help seek justice, as The Bible commands in numerous places? Nope. He sat silently and let Carol and me suffer, let us hang out to dry.

    From what I've heard, Marty Connors developed a pretty fair friendship, across the political aisle, with Don Siegelman. Did that prompt Connors to speak up against members of his party who politically prosecuted Siegelman? Did it bother Connors when an innocent man went to prison for roughly six years? Doesn't sound like it -- but then, Connors had to maintain a close relationship with Jeff Sessions, who might be the most corrupt political figure ever to come from the South. And Sessions played a central role in the Siegelman prosecution, which Marty Connors surely knew.

    Siegelman mentioned Connors in an interview last September with Smashing Interviews magazine:

    Don Siegelman: All I can say is Karl Rove had to vet Bill Pryor for his judgeship for the Eleventh Circuit. Interestingly enough, as soon as he was appointed, Jeff Sessions made the comment, “We would’ve gotten Bill on the bench earlier, but we needed a Republican governor in place first.” That was 2003. You will remember that Bob Riley pushed his $2 billion tax bill and his popularity sank. My popularity rose. The political surveys in 2003 showed that I was going to just beat the stew out of him in 2006.

    At that point, the state Republican Party chairman, Marty Connors, was summoned to Jeff Sessions’ office in Washington where they had a discussion about the parameters under which Jeff would run against me in 2006. Sessions told Connors, “I want a close field for the Republican primary. If Riley is out of there, I’ll leave my Senate seat. I’ll run for governor.” Maybe the discussion centered around who he’d appoint as governor to fill his unexpired term in the US Senate. At that point, Sessions was interested in running for governor in 2006.

    Williams and Connors were indicted in the Middle District of Alabama, while the North Birmingham Superfund scandal is evolving in the Northern District of Alabama. If investigators were to collaborate, and push Williams and Connors for information, they likely could bring down a load of Republican criminals -- including Jeff Sessions, Luther Strange, Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Bill Pryor, Bob Riley, Rob Riley, Jabo Waggoner, and Richard Shelby.

    Press reports suggest the feds squeezed former GOP lawmaker Mickey Hammon to help bring the charges announced yesterday -- and Hammon got a ridiculously light sentence. If the feds squeeze Williams and Connors, there is no telling how many GOP thugs might fall.

    If that were to happen, Williams and Connors would do their state and country a huge favor -- and they likely would get reduced sentences for themselves. But I'm not sure they even would recognize the importance of that opportunity, if it were to present itself. Based on my experience with Jack Williams, I suspect he's so blinded by political partisanship that he's not capable of standing up for the rule of law, the U.S. constitution, or anything outside the Grand Old Party.

    According to news reports, Williams and Connors appeared yesterday before a U.S. magistrate in Montgomery -- and they were handcuffed and shackled at the waist. That's much the way I was treated for a hearing before hideously corrupt "judge" Claud Neilson while I was in the Shelby County Jail.

    I know Jack Williams once was a good guy. But it appears politics turned him into a power-grabbing, money-hungry hustler. I know for sure he turned his back on a friend, in the name of politics.

    Now that Jack is under federal indictment, and he faces a possible 20 years in prison, I wonder if he thinks about that, about things he could have done differently..

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    Dee Wampler
    Missouri's drunk-driving prosecutor, the one with a DUI in his own background, pushed for conviction in a case that involved an 88-second traffic stop in Greene County, court documents show.

    Nicholas Jain argued, apparently with a straight face, that a stop of 88 seconds was sufficient to determine Charles Hollis Roux was impaired -- even though the arresting officer did not observe Roux driving erratically and administered no field-sobriety tests.

    You might think a prosecutor who is a drunk driver himself might be understanding of those who are charged with the same offense. But not Nicholas Jain; he is Mr. Tough Guy, even when the trial-court judge has granted the defense's Motion to Suppress and found was no probable cause for arrest.

    Perhaps this should be no surprise since Jain and his boss, Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson, brought an "assault of a law enforcement officer" charge against my wife, Carol, and it clearly lacks probable cause. Jain and Patterson seem to make a habit of bringing charges where there is no probable cause for arrest, much less prosecution.

    What does this say about Patterson's judgment? Well, he either knowingly hired Jain and his DUI conviction, or he failed to check into Jain's background for a very obvious criminal record, in a case that involved two years on probation.

    Did the arresting officer in the Roux case, Deputy Flora, conduct his 88-second query in a highly professional manner? Not exactly, according to a document styled Cases in Support of Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence, filed by Roux's attorneys, Dee Wampler and Scott S. Pierson. (Documents related to the case are embedded at the end of this post.) From the "Cases in Support" motion:

    Deputy Flora took roughly eighty-eight seconds to place Mr. Roux under arrest. During that time, Deputy Flora made contact with Mr. Roux, who admitted to drinking two beers earlier that night. Deputy Flora did not escort the Defendant back his patrol car, as he testified in the motion hearing. Instead Deputy Flora requested that Mr. Roux follow him back to his patrol car. Before Mr. Roux had fully exited his vehicle, Deputy Flora was pulling the PBT (Portable Breath Test) machine from the back seat of his car. Once at the patrol car, Deputy Flora requested that Mr. Roux provide a breath sample. 
    In administering the PBT, Deputy Flora never checked Mr. Roux's mouth or inquired if he had anything to drink within the last fifteen minutes.

    This paints a picture of a deputy who is not terribly competent. But more importantly (as shown in the highlighted section above), it's a deputy who made a false statement under oath.

    Scott B. Pierson
    Why did trial judge Margaret Palmietto grant the Motion to Suppress and find the arrest was made without probable cause? Probably because she heard the following testimony that is outlined in the motion from Roux's attorneys:

    Most concerning are the facts that Deputy Flora knows nothing as to the workings of the portable breath test machine. He testified he was unaware of when his personal PBT machine had been last calibrated. He further admitted it had been months before use in this case that his personal PBT machine had last been calibrated. He testified that he had used this PBT machine since he had switched over to a general department practice of no standardized field sobriety tests. He admits he was unsure how long that period of time had been and how many times the machine had been used before this case. He did not know how the machine worked, but did know that it will at times indicate the presence of alcohol other than ethanol alcohol. He further admitted the the PBT is only a tool for showing the presence of alcohol and is not to be used to determine a level or degree of impairment.

    The defense attorneys apparently shredded the officer's credibility and helped reveal the poor training and supervision that is present in the Greene County Sheriff's Office. Here's more from the "Case in Support" motion:

    Mr. Flora also testified that there were multiple indicators that Mr. Roux was not impaired. There were no indications of slurred speech or for that matter any issues with speech. No issues with walking, balance or evidence of swaying. The Defendant properly pulled over, and there were no driving issues.

    Missouri taxpayers have paid for an arrest that never should have been made and a trial that never should have been conducted. That's all because of Nicholas Jain, the drunk-driving prosecutor with a DUI of his own -- and boss (Dan Patterson) who was clueless enough, or negligent enough, to hire him.


    (To be continued)











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    0 0


    George Papadopoulos (right), with Simona Mangiante
    and Jason Wilson
    (From ThinkProgress)
    Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions knew about hacked Hillary Clinton emails and encouraged a campaign adviser to find out more about them from an academic with strong ties to Russia, according to a new report at ThinkProgress (TP).

    George Papadopolous, the adviser who has pleaded guilty to charges about his Russia-related activities during the Trump campaign, told an acquaintance at a Chicago nightclub that Sessions knew about the emails allegedly connected to Prof. Joseph Mifsud and encouraged Papadopolous to learn more about them. If proven true, the new information would contradict Sessions' sworn statements before Congress. From TP reporter Judd Legum:

    At a London bar in May 2016, after numerous drinks, Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos bragged to an Australian diplomat the Russians had obtained damaging information on Hillary Clinton. The diplomat reported the conversation to American officials, which prompted the FBI to launch their investigation of the Trump campaign and its connections to Russia.

    On Thursday at a Chicago nightclub, Papadopoulos had some drinks and, in a conversation with a new acquaintance, allegedly made new and explosive claims about Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

    According to TP, Papadopoulos went on to suggest that much more damaging information will be coming out about Sessions' ties to the Trump-Russia scandal. But first, Legum outlines the new information:

    Papadopoulos, according to this new acquaintance, said that Sessions was well aware of the contact between Papadopoulos and Joseph Mifsud, an academic from Malta with high-level connections in Russia. Papadopoulos’ indictment revealed that Mifsud had told Papadopoulos that the Russians had “‘dirt’ on then-candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of ‘thousands of emails.'”

    Jason Wilson, a computer engineer who lives in Chicago, told ThinkProgress that Papadopoulos said during their conversation that “Sessions encouraged me” to find out anything he could about the hacked Hillary Clinton emails that Mifsud had mentioned.

    Wilson said he recognized Papadopoulos and his wife Simona Mangiante at Hydrate, a Chicago nightclub, on Thursday night at approximately 11 p.m. Wilson sat down at their table and introduced himself. He said the couple, who were drinking vodka, were extremely friendly and a bit flattered that Wilson had recognized them.

    After some conversation about the city and their marriage, Wilson turned the topic to the Russia investigation, asking Papadopoulos whether he thought Wilson would be disappointed when all the facts came out. Papadopoulos responded that things were “just getting started” and emphasized Sessions’ role, particularly his connection to Papadopoulos’ contacts with Mifsud.

    Things are "just getting started," and Sessions has connections to contacts with the academic connected to the hacked Clinton emails? That sounds ominous for the former U.S. senator from Alabama, especially considering that he already has lied to Congress on more than one occasion. The TP article hints that Sessions lies go much deeper than previously known:

    In his confirmation hearing in January 2017, Sessions claimed that he knew of no one on the campaign, including himself, who had contact with Russian officials. Sessions later acknowledged that he had personally met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least three times, but claimed the meetings were in his capacity as a U.S. senator.

    In November 2017, Sessions acknowledged he attended a campaign meeting where George Papadopoulos said he had connections to Russian officials and offered to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin. Sessions said he did not mention that meeting earlier because he forgot about it. He emphasized that he still had “no clear recollection” of the meeting.

    After his memory was “refreshed,” however, Sessions did recall communicating with Papadopoulos. “[T]o the best of my recollection, I believe that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government, or any other foreign government, for that matter,” Sessions said.

    Reuters reported last month that three people who spoke to Robert Mueller had contradicted Sessions’ testimony about the meeting with Papadopoulos, including Sessions’ claim that “he opposed a proposal for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign team to meet with Russians.”

    Jeff Sessions house of lies might be falling apart. And it sounds like George Papadopoulos would be more than happy to help bring the "Evil Elf" down.


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    A New Jersey judge has been barred from hearing drunk-driving cases after being charged with a DUI himself. That same standard apparently does not apply in Missouri, where Greene County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Nicholas Jain merrily pursues drunk-driving cases, even though he has a DUI conviction on his own record.

    In fact, Jain pursues such cases even when the trial court properly suppresses evidence and kicks the charge for lack of probable cause. In a recent case involving a driver named Charles Hollis Roux, Jain and his boss (Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson) appealed the trial court's ruling, and the Missouri Court of Appeals ignored its own precedent to overrule the trial court. (See here, here, and here.)

    Roux, by law, could not go to trial, but he was forced to last week anyway, and he pleaded guilty to two minor charges -- failure to register vehicle and failure to equp vehicle with approved tail lamp. Judge Margaret Palmietto took the DUI charge under advisement.

    Jain and Patterson brought an "assault of a law enforcement officer" charge against my wife, Carol, without probable cause. Now, they've done it again in the Roux case. It appears Patterson has no integrity and little knowledge of the law -- and he's hired a staff of young sprouts who are as empty headed as he is.

    Consider Jain's arguments in the suppression hearing before the trial court. (Documents are embedded at the end of this post.) He relies on Chancellor v. Lohman (Director of Revenue) , 984 SW 2d 857 (Mo. App., W.D., 1998) and states: "In Chancellor, the court found a deputy was correct in arresting a Defendant based on the deputy's observations and the Defendant's admissions, even though the deputy did not perform standardized field sobriety tests. 'Such tests are not mandatory. They merely are an aide to an officer's other observations in determining whether he has probable cause for an arrest.'"

    Chancellor involved a DUI conviction at trial, not a hearing on a motion to suppress, so it is inapposite to the situation in Roux.

    Jain also cites Streicher v. Director of Revenue, 276 SW 3d 386 (Mo. App. ED, 2009), which states "field sobriety tests are not mandatory to determine probable cause."Streicher involved both an administrative-law proceeding, where Streicher's license was suspended, and a trial, where his license was reinstated. That is way out of line with the facts in Roux.

    Even if one applies the "field-sobriety tests are not mandatory" findings, that was not the only reason the trial court found lack of probable cause in Roux. From a motion filed by defense attorneys Dee Wampler and Scott B. Pierson:

    Most concerning are the facts that Deputy Flora knows nothing as to the workings of the portable breath test machine. He testified he was unaware of when his personal PBT machine had been last calibrated. He further admitted it had been months before use in this case that his personal PBT machine had last been calibrated. . . . He did not know how the machine worked, but did know that it will at times indicate the presence of alcohol other than ethanol alcohol. He further admitted the the PBT is only a tool for showing the presence of alcohol and is not to be used to determine a level or degree of impairment.

    Mr. Flora also testified that there were multiple indicators that Mr. Roux was not impaired. There were no indications of slurred speech or for that matter any issues with speech. No issues with walking, balance or evidence of swaying. The Defendant properly pulled over, and there were no driving issues.

    In addition to indicators that Roux was not impaired, the trial court likely saw signs that the deputy was not credible. Missouri law holds such findings are to be left to the trial court's discretion, absent clear error. The controlling law is stated in many cases, including York v. Dir. of Revenue, 186 S.W. 3d 267 (Mo. banc, 2006):


    The Supreme Court deferred to the circuit court's credibility determinations and found that the circuit court acted within its discretion when it ruled that the portable breathalyzer test evidence was not credible.

    The Missouri Supreme Court in York upheld the trial court's finding of lack of probable cause to arrest for suspicion of DWI. Finding the mere fact that an individual has bloodshot, watery and/or glassy eyes, the smell of alcohol on the breath and admits to drinking does not require a finding of probable cause to arrest.

    Bottom line: Nicholas Jain's argument to the Missouri Court of Appeals was watery and weak, and Charles Hollis Roux never should have gone to trial on a case where probable cause clearly was lacking.


    (To be continued)














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    The beginnings of severe bruising on Carol's broken arm,
    courtesy of Missouri cops.

    Does Facebook support police brutality? Based on our experience over the past week, the answer appears to be yes.

    Last Monday, I published this post about the injuries my wife, Carol, sustained when deputies in Greene County, Missouri, brutalized her during our unlawful eviction in September 2015. The post features photos that show in grim detail the beginnings of severe bruising on her left arm -- plus a lump likely caused by pooling blood and a bone fragment pushing against the skin -- including the photo above. All of the photos were taken at the Cox North emergency room in Springfield, just moments before X-rays revealed a comminuted fracture (broken in two or more places) that would require trauma surgery for repair.

    What happened the day after the post went up? When I tried to publish a Legal Schnauzer post on Facebook, I received a notice that my blog URL had been deemed "spam" and "unsafe." I notified Facebook at least three times that it was mistaken; the post clearly is not spam, and my blog is published from a secure URL, so it is not unsafe. A number of readers also have alerted Facebook that it is wrongfully blocking Legal Schnauzer's URL. This has been going on for nine days, as of today, and my blog URL still is blocked as being "unsafe."

    What is going on? It appears that police (or pro-police) trolls have whined to Facebook about my post that reveals their handiwork, falsely claiming it is spam. Facebook's policy evidently is to take the word of any troll who wants to attack someone who poses a threat to them -- and then to take forever to correct the mistake, or maybe neglect to correct it at all. Another blogger sees the attack as being Alabama based, and he might well be correct -- or it could be a joint Missouri/Alabama operation. (See below.)

    With this sort of ignorant policy in place, is it any wonder Facebook has lost at least $80 billion in market value from it's ongoing data scandal?

    Facebook is a big company, with more than 2 billion users, so we understand it might take awhile to fix a problem. But if the company is capable of applying a bogus block to a URL in a matter of hours (or less), why does it take more than a week to correct the error? And why can't a supposedly hip and up-to-date tech company develop a policy that at least makes a modicum of sense -- and does not reward trolls, those who abuse the FB platform?

    At this point, we can only conclude Facebook supports police brutality -- and disfavors accurate and hard-hitting journalism that unmasks certain cops as thugs.

    How did we reach that conclusion? We invite you to check out the "block notice" we received from Facebook, which still has not been corrected after nine days. It's at the end of this post.

    We invite you to contact Facebook and ask why the company supports police brutality. Please feel free to share any responses you get.

    Here is a take from Dael V. Escher, at steemit.com, in a post titled "The Foibles of Facebook censorship":

    Facebook buckles to fascist demand from Alabama blocking this blogger.

    Try posting this link on Facebook: legalschnauzer.blogspot.com it won't work no matter how you try.

    Why? Because there are fake news supporters reporting this link on Facebook who live in Alabama.

    Roger Shuler and his wife have been on the outs for years and treated like trash even though both had university jobs. (Carol's job actually was with an insurance company, and before that, she worked 18 years at Alabama Power.)

    Check out Roger's blog and story. It is a long one: https://legalschnauzer.blogspot.com/search?q=jail 
    He was arrested and jailed for almost a year without a warrant in America.

    Why? Because he blogs about Alabama corruption. Yea, that's where Jeff Sessions came from, our "new" Atty. General.

    I keep thinking about the silly insurance commercial "General" when I say it.

    Roger and his wife supported Don Siegelman when he was under attack there and because of them trying to get the truth out in every which way, they have been condemned to a life of penury and forgotten.

    Many times I have tried to bring this to the attention of contacts on social media, and it seems  to mostly fall on deaf ears.





    0 0


    Noah Shuler and Aubrynne Russell
    (From facebook.com)
    My nephew, Noah Hayes Shuler, faces a charge for possession of drug paraphernalia, in the wake of a traffic stop in Sparta, Missouri, where his girlfriend (Aubrynne Russell) was ticketed for speeding, 11-15 mph over the limit. The case involves some curious record-keeping, and facts in the matter raise questions about possible drug trafficking, but such matters likely will not be investigated in a small jurisdiction such as Sparta.

    What is the law governing the charges against Noah, and what punishment does it include for those convicted? The state statute is RSMO 579.074, and Sparta City Code 210.540 pretty much mirrors the state law. From lawserver.com, the Missouri statute, in part:

    579.074. 1. A person commits the offense of unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia if he or she knowingly uses, or possesses with intent to use, drug paraphernalia to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body, a controlled substance or an imitation controlled substance in violation of this chapter or chapter 195.

    As for Noah, the police incident report describes him as the owner of a "rubber green colored marijuana pipe with burnt residue inside it," which was found in Russell's 2013 black Cadillac. Noah also was described as the owner of three sandwich bags with marijuana residue. What about possible punishment? (Incident report is embedded at the end of this post.) This is from the statute:

    2. The offense of unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia is a class D misdemeanor, unless the person has previously been found guilty of any offense of the laws of this state related to controlled substances or of the laws of another jurisdiction related to controlled substances, in which case the violation of this section is a class A misdemeanor. Prior findings of guilt shall be pleaded and proven in the same manner as required by section 558.021.

    Noah probably will be looking at a Class D misdemeanor, but the offense can get into felony territory, under certain circumstances:

    3. The offense of unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia is a class E felony if the person uses, or possesses with intent to use, the paraphernalia in combination with each other to manufacture, compound, produce, prepare, test, or analyze amphetamine or methamphetamine or any of their analogues.

    The police report does not indicate that any form of amphetamine was involved in the Sparta case, so this likely will not involve a felony. Noah was deemed the owner of three sandwich bags, all containing marijuana residue, and the vehicle was not searched -- meaning someone could have dumped the contents of the bags in the vehicle, and it would not have been found.

    Based on our research, the presence of a pipe suggests an individual was engaging in personal use of weed. But the presence of three baggies -- which if full, probably contained one ounce of marijuana each -- suggests someone might have been involved in dealing or trafficking. Our understanding is that three ounces is a whole lot of marijuana, way more than the casual user would possess. Of course, we don't know if the bags were full at some point, but if they were, it would merit a serious investigation of possible drug trafficking. Such an investigation is not likely to occur in a jurisdiction as small as Sparta, with what appears to be a two-man police department.

    Punishment for a Class D misdemeanor in Missouri is a fine of not more than $500. Before records for Noah's case disappeared from case.net, a hearing was set for April 12 before Judge Andrew Todd Brown in Sparta Municipal Court. Brown is not a full-time judge; he spends most of his time as a divorce lawyer in Republic, MO, and he appears as a Facebook friend of my lawyer-brother, David Shuler.

    Oddly, records for Aubrynne Russell's speeding charge (160572245 - CITY OF SPARTA V AUBRYNNE LAINE RUSSELL) still appear at case.net. They show her hearing on April 12, at 1:30 p.m., also before Judge Brown. She has the same attorney, Russell Dempsey, as Noah Shuler. If I were giving Ms. Russell advice, I'd say having the same lawyer as Noah is not a good idea, especially since the charge against him is the much more serious of the two, and it's the kind of charge where someone could try to lay blame at her feet.

    Why does Ms. Russell's speeding charge still appear at case.net, while Noah Shuler's possession-of-drug-paraphernalia has disappeared into the ether? Is this a sign that someone is selling Ms. Russell down the river, and she doesn't even know it? Is this a sign of preferential treatment for Noah because he's the son of a lawyer (my brother, David Shuler), while Ms. Russell could be hung out to dry?

    The record suggests Noah's case doesn't exist anymore, that someone has taken care of him. Meanwhile, it doesn't appear anyone has taken care of Ms. Russell; her case still is very much out there, according to public records. If I were her, I would be more than a little concerned about that.


    (To be continued)






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    Noah Hayes Shuler
    Noah Hayes Shuler, my nephew and the son of my lawyer-brother David Shuler, pleaded guilty last Friday to exceeding the posted speed limit by 20-25 mph. Noah was clocked last May 22 driving up to 88 mph in a 60 zone on U.S. 65 near Springfield, Missouri. It took more than 10 months for the case to be resolved.

    Judge Jerry Harmison handed down a suspended imposition of sentence (SIS), with six months of unsupervised probation, and a requirement that Noah engage with the Missouri Driver Improvement Program (DIP) within 90 days, plus costs. Harmison also imposed a fine of $90.50. (The speeding ticket is embedded at the end of this post.)

    Is this softball treatment for the son of a lawyer? We will let you make that call. Noah pleaded guilty to a Class B misdemeanor, and here is how we described such offenses and possible punishments in an earlier post:

    Class B misdemeanors in Missouri include driving while intoxicatedand first-degree trespassing, and they carry a possible punishment of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

    So, Noah pleaded guilty to an offense that is the equivalent of a DUI, and he faced possible punishment of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 -- but he got off with six months of unsupervised probation, and a fine of $90.50. I'm not sure that even qualifies as a wrist slap.

    No wonder my brother sought a change of judge early in the case. The original judge in Noah's case was J. Ronald Carrier, and I suspect he has a history of treating drunk drivers and wild-ass speeders with less leniency than Harmison showed in Noah's case.

    As we explained in a recent post, the speeding case was one of three pending charges against Noah, age 19, and all had hearing dates within roughly a month of each other. Here is a summary of the charges Noah was facing:

    (1) Speeding (exceeded speed limit by 20-25 mph), May 22, 2017, Springfield, MO -- next court date: April 6, 2018;

    (2) Possession of drug paraphernalia, Dec., 30, 2017, Sparta, MO -- next court date: April 12, 2018;

    (3) Operating a vehicle without maintaining financial responsibility, Feb. 25, 2018 -- court date: March 20, 2018.

    Item No. 1 now has been disposed of. Items 2 and 3 have disappeared from the public records at case.net, so it's hard to know about their status. The title of the No. 3 offense is a glorified term for driving without proof of insurance. That's a relatively minor matter, and probably has been taken care of with a fine or something similar.

    As for No. 2, it's odd that Noah's drug-paraphernalia charge has disappeared from case.net, but his girlfriend (Aubrynne Russell) has a speeding charge from the same incident that still appears. It is set for hearing at 1:30 p.m. on April 12 at Sparta Municipal Court. Her lawyer is Russell Dempsey, the same lawyer Noah has for his drug-paraphernalia case. Is it wise for her to have the same lawyer as Noah, especially in a case where there could be questions about the owner of the drug-related items? I'd say no, but that decision obviously rests with Ms. Russell. One wonders if she has one or more capable parents who can help guide her through this.

    Speaking of parents, David Shuler took a number of curious actions in his son's cases that suggest he gamed the system -- one perhaps could also use the term "conned the court" -- to help Noah receive a soft landing from his legal troubles. We will examine that issue in an upcoming post.


    (To be continued)







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    One of the photos, depicting the aftermath of police brutality,
     that caused Facebook to deem our blog URL
     "spam" and "unsafe."
    After 10 days in "Facebook Jail," the URL for Legal Schnauzer has been deemed safe to return to the social-media world.

    We received notice of the decision last Friday, less than 24 hours after we published a post titled "Facebook rewards trolls by putting a block on Legal Schnauzer URL, suggesting the company supports police who beat up women and break their bones."

    Did that post prompt Facebook's decision to reverse its finding that our blog URL was "spam" and "unsafe"? We don't know, but the post raised questions that had to be unsettling to anyone at Facebook who might have seen it; for sure, the company reacted swiftly once the post went up. From the post of 4/5/18:

    Does Facebook support police brutality? Based on our experience over the past week, the answer appears to be yes.

    Last Monday, I published this post about the injuries my wife, Carol, sustained when deputies in Greene County, Missouri, brutalized her during our unlawful eviction in September 2015. The post features photos that show in grim detail the beginnings of severe bruising on her left arm -- plus a lump likely caused by pooling blood and a bone fragment pushing against the skin -- including the photo above. All of the photos were taken at the Cox North emergency room in Springfield, just moments before X-rays revealed a comminuted fracture (broken in two or more places) that would require trauma surgery for repair.

    What happened the day after the post went up? When I tried to publish a Legal Schnauzer post on Facebook, I received a notice that my blog URL had been deemed "spam" and "unsafe." I notified Facebook at least three times that it was mistaken; the post clearly is not spam, and my blog is published from a secure URL, so it is not unsafe. A number of readers also have alerted Facebook that it is wrongfully blocking Legal Schnauzer's URL. This has been going on for nine days, as of today, and my blog URL still is blocked as being "unsafe."

    What is going on? It appears that police (or pro-police) trolls have whined to Facebook about my post that reveals their handiwork, falsely claiming it is spam.Facebook's policy evidently is to take the word of any troll who wants to attack someone who poses a threat to them -- and then to take forever to correct the mistake, or maybe neglect to correct it at all. Another blogger sees the attack as being Alabama based, and he might well be correct -- or it could be a joint Missouri/Alabama operation. . . .

    With this sort of ignorant policy in place, is it any wonder Facebook has lost at least $80 billion in market value from it's ongoing data scandal?

    The block on our URL undoubtedly was the work of police-connected trolls. We suspect Facebook is not nearly as forward-thinking and progressive as it wants the world to believe. But still, the company probably did not like being depicted as a supporter of police brutality -- and if it conducted any research, it probably found that we were correct in asserting that the Schnauzer URL was blocked because of pro-police trolls -- so that might explain our quick entrance back into good graces, once our post ran on 4/5.

    For those who follow me on Facebook, I'm going to be running URLs to the 10 days' worth of Legal Schnauzer posts that were wrongfully blocked.


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    Nicholas Jain
    Nicholas Jain, the drunk-driving Missouri prosecutor who pursues others on the same DUI charges for which he has been convicted, has left the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

    A source told us late last year that Jain planned to leave his PA job and run for public office, likely in Dunklin County and his hometown of Kennett. That process apparently already is taking shape. According to his LinkedIn page, Jain left his Greene County position in January and moved to Kennett, where he is listed as self-employed.

    Along with his boss, Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson, Jain showed quite a knack for bringing criminal charges without probable cause. He did it in the "assault on a law enforcement officer" case involving my wife, Carol, and our unlawful eviction in September 2015. He did it again in a DUI case involving Springfield resident Charles Hollis Roux. In fact, trial judge Margaret Palmietto granted the defense's motion to suppress in the Roux matter, tossing the case for lack of probable cause.

    Jain and Patterson appealed, and the Missouri Court of Appeals went against its own precedent to overrule Palmietto and force Roux to trial on April 26. He pleaded guilty to two minor vehicle-related infractions, and Palmietto took the DUI matter under advisement.

    As the Roux case headed for trial, the prosecutor on the case was listed as Aaron Vinson Wynn. Defense lawyers were Dee Wampler and Scott B. Pierson, of Springfield.

    What about Jain's political ambitions? We will keep an eye on that. It seems he's counting on news of his drunk-driving conviction not reaching Kennett in the Missouri Bootheel, the southeast corner of the state, not far from Memphis. Perhaps he believes voters in his home area will be uber forgiving of a native son, supporting a drunk driver for public office because of his . . . well, his glaring brilliance as an attorney. Perhaps Dunklin County citizens just like the idea of facing criminal charges that have no basis in probable cause. Jain has lots of experience with that.

    Maybe Jain is right; postmodern voters -- the people who elect folks like Luther Strange, "Luv Guv" Bentley, and Jeff Sessions in Alabama, and who put Donald Trump in the White House (with an assist from Vladimir Putin) -- cannot be explained. But we plan to keep an eye on Jain's activities.


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    Jack Williams
    I got to know Jack Williams when he was a student in Bible college, calling in basketball scores to the sports desk at the Birmingham Post-Herald, where I worked for 11 years. I thought Jack was a good guy then, and my feelings stayed that way for about 25 years or so.

    But it started to become clear about 10 years ago that Jack Williams had turned into a sorry piece of crap. Now, he stands indicted on federal bribery charges and could face up to 20 years in prison.

    Perhaps that is what happens when you let partisanship trump friendship, when you let loyalty to political party trump loyalty to your country, when you let a lust for power trump the rule of law. It's particularly dangerous when you become enraptured with Alabama's hideously corrupt Republican Party and hitch yourself to some of the most rotten fruit to fall from the GOP's rootless tree.

    Sadly, it appears Jack Williams heart became filled with the "Gospel of Karl Rove and Jack Abramoff," replacing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Last week's news of Williams' arrest -- with him appearing in Montgomery in handcuffs and shackles before a U.S. magistrate -- should not be too much of a surprise when you consider that he has aligned himself for years with Mike Hubbard and oily Rob Riley, two of the most corrupt political figures to ever walk the earth.

    This is from a 2016 Alabama Political Reporter (APR) story titled "What's happening with Jack?"

    Few championed the cause of disgraced Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard, more than Birmingham Republican State Rep. Jack Williams. From organizing a letter to the Obama Administration’s Attorney General Loretta Lynch to pushing legislation to aid Hubbard, it has been Williams who has fought so faithfully for the convicted felon. Williams has even made calls to raise money for Hubbard’s legal defense, according to those with knowledge of his actions.

    In late 2015, Williams was reportedly active in raising funds for Hubbard’s legal defense. It was believed that he and Hubbard’s attorney Rob Riley were soliciting donations for the fund shortly after J. Mark White withdrew from the case.

    Working with oily Rob Riley to raise money for Mike Hubbard's legal defense? Geez, you can't sink much lower than that. And to fall for such a scam? You can't get more blinded by political blight than that. Is it any wonder Williams sold me out, even though I thought we had been friends for 25 years or so?

    I'm pretty sure The Bible says something along the lines of "bad company ruins good morals." You might want to look it up, Jack.

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    Steve Marshall and "Luv Guv" Bentley
    A recent article about the blatant nature of corruption in postmodern Alabama, especially among conservatives, points a glaring finger at Homewood attorney Rob Riley. That comes as no surprise, given that Riley -- ever since his father, former Gov. Bob Riley, rose to power in the U.S. House in the late 1990s -- has been tied to enough crookedness to fill several volumes of a series on modern sleaze in the Deep South.

    At one time, it seemed Riley and his brethren tried to be subtle about their oily ways. But in a recent piece at Alabama Political Reporter (APR), titled "Alabama politicians aren’t even trying to hide the corruption anymore," Josh Moon presents Rob Riley as a politician who does not give a flip if the public can see right through his shady dealings. This subject hits close to home for your humble blogger because I've seen Riley's shenanigans in an up-close-and-personal way.

    For an example, Moon turns to the 2018 race for Alabama attorney general, which might be the most interesting, underhanded, and blood-stained race on this year's docket. At the heart of Moon's saga is the sitting AG, Steve Marshall. Moon and Bill Britt reported at APR late last week that "Luv Guv" Robert Bentley appointed Marshall after receiving assurances that Marshall would investigate prosecutors Matt Hart and Van Davis in the Mike Hubbard case.

    If that sounds to you like the kind of quid pro quo ("something for something" deal) that constitutes a federal bribery charge, that's because it probably is. Moon adds another layer of chicanery with his report on Marshall and Rob Riley. From that article:

    I mean, maybe there’s an argument to be made that our people are more stupid than brazen, and they’re simply too ignorant to recognize that we all see what they’re doing. But that’s not a lot of comfort.

    Because we seem to have reached a point in this state where corruption and shadiness is the norm.

    We simply expect the crooked deals and underhanded payoffs and backroom politics. So much so that our politicians aren’t really hiding it anymore.

    Perfect example: Steve Marshall.

    Marshall's alliance with Rob Riley is enough to test anyone's wretch reflex. Writes Moon:

    Take a quick look through our interim AG’s campaign finance records sometime. And prepare to be amazed.

    Not necessarily at the amount of the donations, although that figure, at well over $1 million raised so far — for a gig that pays $168,000 annually — should be scandal enough. But look at who’s giving.

    On Feb. 26, a $2,500 donation came in from the Riley and Jackson law firm. That’s the firm of former Gov. Bob Riley’s son, Rob Riley. That firm also shares office space with Bob Riley’s consulting firm.

    But more importantly to Steve Marshall, and the attorneys working for him at the AG’s public corruption unit, Rob Riley is currently representing Mike Hubbard in his appeal against a case brought by that aforementioned AG’s public corruption unit.

    So the current AG is taking in donations from the attorneys of a convicted felon who was one of the most powerful men in the state.

    Swell.

    This isn't anything new for Rob Riley. In 2013, he and lobbyist Liberty Duke filed a lawsuit against me, my wife, and Legal Schnauzer, claiming that reporting here about the Riley-Duke (ahem) relationship was false and defamatory. Did they ask for discovery, a jury trial, and money damages -- the normal course of a defamation lawsuit?  Nope, they did not seek any of that. They went for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction, both of which have been found to be unlawful prior restraints under more than 200 years of First Amendment law.

    Rob and Bob Riley
    It all was a scam designed to have me and Carol (who was not even involved with the blog at the time) unlawfully thrown in jail for "contempt of court." Their scheme was so transparent that I disclosed exactly what they were doing, even before I was arrested. Carol managed to elude capture and get the story of my kidnapping (arrest without a warrant) for blogging into the national press.

    Anyone slightly familiar with First Amendment law, especially the seminal case of Near v. Minnesota, 283 US 697 (1931), knew Riley, Duke, and specially appointed rogue judge Claud Neilson were operating way outside the law. In essence, Riley and Duke asked Neilson to act as a one-man censor -- and that has been prohibited, by law, for decades. In fact, that's why the law requires juries to hear defamation cases.

    The Riley-Duke scam to obtain a preliminary injunction ran afoul of Alabama procedural and case law, as I explained in a post on Oct. 10, 2013. I showed that it also ran afoul of longstanding constitutional law -- and that post was written two weeks before my arrest. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court of 1931 had looked into the future and seen thugs like Rob Riley, Liberty Duke, and Claud Neilson on the horizon:

    . . . 230 years of U.S. law shows Neilson's efforts to stifle a free press are unlawful. Riley's petition is a thinly veiled attempt to threaten my wife and me with jail for practicing journalism--the publishing of information that has not been found by any court to be defamatory. 
    In Near, the U.S. Supreme Court saw that kind of thuggery coming and wrote the following: 
    "When a newspaper or periodical is found to be "malicious, scandalous and defamatory," and is suppressed as such, resumption of publication is punishable as a contempt of court by fine or imprisonment. Thus, where a newspaper or periodical has been suppressed because of the circulation of charges against public officers of official misconduct, it would seem to be clear that the renewal of the publication of such charges would constitute a contempt and that the judgment would lay a permanent restraint upon the publisher, to escape which he must satisfy the court as to the character of a new publication. Whether he would be permitted again to publish matter deemed to be derogatory to the same or other public officers would depend upon the court's ruling."

    That passage describes exactly what Rob Riley is trying to pull--he wants to suppress a free press, with the threat of a contempt finding that is punishable by imprisonment. The U.S. Supreme Court in Near found "this is of the essence of censorship."

    It was unlawful in 1931, and it's unlawful in 2013.

    It's also unlawful in 2018. Bottom line: Rob Riley did not even try to hide his corrupt acts in having me unlawfully incarcerated for daring to practice journalism in Alabama. The same thing is happening now with Riley and Steve Marshall. In fact, Marshall's skulduggery goes beyond Riley, as Josh Moon reports:

    Marshall has indirectly hauled in tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Jimmy Rane and Will Brooke — two wealthy and prominent business owners, and major political donors, who were caught up in the Hubbard conviction.

    And here’s the fun backstory there: Rane and Brooke could technically still be indicted for their roles in giving Hubbard money. Of the 12 felony counts against Hubbard, two involved in Rane and Brooke. And with a grand jury still empaneled in Lee County . . .

    But no biggie to Marshall. He’ll take their cash.

    0 0


    "Luv Guv" Bentley's mugshot, which likely never would have been taken
    without reporting here at Legal Schnauzer.


    Does a blog make a difference in your life? If you live in Alabama -- or care about Alabama-related events on the national stage -- this blog certainly does.

    Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of Gov. Robert "Luv Guv" Bentley's resignation from office. Legal Schnauzer broke the story of Bentley's affair with "adviser" Rebekah Caldwell Mason -- and its associated financial and legal implications -- roughly seven months before the mainstream media (MSM) began to take it seriously. The first story on the Bentley scandal, anywhere in any form of media, was published here at Legal Schnauzer on Aug. 31, 2015.

    We were way ahead of everybody in naming Rebekah Mason as a central figure in the scandal. Our guess is the MSM never would have touched the story if we hadn't broken it and followed up with key details. In fact, al.com (especially "reporters" John Archibald and Chuck Dean) spent months attacking my journalism on the story. They were more interested in sweeping the story under their GOP-tinted rug than actually pursuing it:

    Archibald and colleague Chuck Dean had spent part of those seven months blasting me and my reporting. Archibald claimed my reporting "offered . . . 'sources.' Not proof or fact or anything more than smoke."

    Dean, undoubtedly pissed that I had outed him as a customer of the the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site, offered this critique: "Despite no claim of infidelity in the divorce papers, the rumor traveled across platforms such as talk radio, Facebook, Twitter and in some blogs of dubious credibility purporting the unsubstantial rumor as fact." (Can someone define an "unsubstantial" rumor? I guess that is in contrast to a "substantial" rumor?)

    Archibald, of course, was happy to go on The Rachel Maddow Show in spring 2017 and take credit for "breaking" the story, even though he was seven months late to the party.

    Speaking of taking credit for the work of others, we have lawyer/businessman/Facebook"journalist" Donald Watkins, who repeatedly has taken credit for breaking the Bentley-Mason story. His most recent effort to falsely claim credit for breaking the story came three days ago. Much of Watkins' early reporting on the Bentley scandal focused on hints that the governor was having a homosexual affair with his security chief.

    Watkins didn't even have the gender issue correct, and never mentioned Mason's name until well after we had broken it. Yet, just three days ago, he took credit for breaking the story. Perhaps that kind of fundamental dishonesty is the reason Watkins is up to his neck in federal investigations. (Given that many state and federal prosecutors are utterly lacking in integrity, it's also possible Watkins is being targeted because his skin is black and is seen as a threat to Alabama's conservative establishment.)

    Did our reporting on the Bentley-Mason scandal come with risk? Absolutely, as spelled out in a post last April:

    Nine days after I broke the Bentley/Mason story, my wife, Carol, and I were subject to an unlawful eviction in Greene County, Missouri (on Sept. 9, 2015). I had an assault rifle pointed at my head, Carol's left arm was shattered, and she likely sustained a concussion from having her head banged against a wall multiple times, and being body slammed butt-first to the ground before a deputy yanked on her limbs so violently that the bone in her left arm was snapped in two above the elbow. We know Carol's arm never will be the same, and we've seen signs of jumbled thinking that suggests her brain might never be the same either. And get this: Bogus criminal charges -- for trespass and assault on a law-enforcement officer -- were filed against her.

    Are Bentley and Mason evil enough to be involved in something like that? Well, multiple reports have indicated Bentley unlawfully sought use of state and federal criminal data bases to target me (and attorney/Facebook journalist Donald Watkins) in retaliation for our reporting. Does that sound a bit like the intimidation campaign we now know Bentley conducted against Heather Hannah, a former assistant to First Lady Dianne Bentley? It sure as heck does.

    The Bentley story hardly is the only one where Legal Schnauzer has made a difference. Here is a rundown of stories where our reporting either helped bring down, or significantly weaken, a corrupt political figure:

    ( 1) Luther Strange -- By almost all accounts, Strange's political demise grew from his decision to accept an appointment to Jeff Sessions' Senate seat from hideously corrupt Alabama Gov. Robert "Luv Guv" Bentley. Strange apparently accepted the appointment in exchange for having his state attorney general's office go light on Bentley. It was such a blatant quid pro quo that it even made many Alabama conservatives want to wretch. But here is a key point to remember: Bentley would not have been radioactive if we hadn't broken the story of his extramarital affair with top adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason. It's possible the mainstream press never would have picked up on the Bentley story if we had not broken it. Without our reporting, Strange does not make a devil's deal with Bentley -- and Strange might have beaten [Roy] Moore in yesterday's runoff. Goodbye, Luther.

    (2) Robert "Luv Guv" Bentley -- How many one-man blogs (plus two staff members) have taken down a governor? I can't think of any -- and make no mistake, Legal Schnauzer took down Bentley, who resigned on April 10, 2017. We reported on both the affair with Mason -- and its financial implications -- well before anyone else. Attorney Donald Watkins picked up on the story, at his Facebook page, not long after we broke it. But it was roughly seven months before the mainstream press took serious notice.

    (3) Cooper Shattuck -- The former chief legal counsel at the University of Alabama resigned in December 2016. That came just eight days after former Bentley security chief Wendell Ray Lewis filed a lawsuit naming ACEGOV, a nonprofit that Shattuck formed, apparently to funnel money to Mason. We were among the first news outlets to report on Shattuck's role in forming ACEGOV and its central role in the Bentley scandal. We were the only news outlet to report on Shattuck's own problems with sins of the flesh, and those revelations likely weakened his position as top lawyer at the state's flagship university.

    (4) Rebekah Caldwell Mason -- Mason was the first casualty in the Bentley scandal, resigning as senior political adviser in March 2016. She left with these words: "My only plans are to focus my full attention on my precious children and my husband who I love dearly." The old "I want to spend time with my family" excuse. It never seems to go out of style.

    (5) Mike Hubbard -- The former House Speaker was convicted on 12 felony ethics charges in June 2016. Bill Britt and his team at Alabama Political Reporter played the lead role in breaking and reporting that story, but we played an important supporting role by providing analysis that readers were not likely to find in the mainstream press.

    (6) Mark Fuller -- The former U.S. district judge, who butchered the Don Siegelman case and sent two innocent men (Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy) to federal prison, resigned in August 2015 after a wife-beating incident came to light. A number of news outlets reported on the wife-beating story, but we had earlier broken a story about court records that showed Fuller's divorce from his first wife involved allegations of physical and emotional abuse. That helped establish a pattern of abusive behavior -- making it hard for the mainstream press and judicial establishment to ignore the story -- and it probably played a key role in Fuller's forced resignation.

    Finally, we have . . .

    (7) Bill Pryor -- The U.S. Circuit Judge widely was considered the front-runner as Donald Trump's choice to fill the late Antonin Scalia's seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. The seat, however, went to Neil Gorsuch, of Colorado, with Pryor fading badly to third. Several knowledgeable observers have said they believe our reporting on Pryor's ties to 1990s gay pornography via badpuppy.com cost Pryor a lifetime appointment on the nation's highest court. Who am I to argue? With the RussiaGate investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller closing in, it appears doubtful Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions (Pryor's No. 1 booster, among other things) will be around long enough for Pryor to get another chance.

    In short, our journalism has had a profound impact on the following institutions -- the Alabama Governor's Office, the Alabama House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the federal judiciary. And we are working on stories that could help bring down more crooked public figures -- in Alabama, Missouri, and beyond.

    Do blogs make a difference in your life? They sure do, especially this one. The one-year anniversary of "Luv Guv" Bentley's exit seems like a good time to remember that.


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