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- 06/07/18--04:07: _Who is "Mr. Blue Sh...
- 06/11/18--04:17: _Missouri Deputy Jer...
- 06/12/18--04:06: _By accident, Missou...
- 06/13/18--04:05: _How can my wife, Ca...
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- 06/19/18--05:55: _When Fultondale att...
- 06/20/18--04:05: _Missouri "law thugs...
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- 06/26/18--04:04: _Missouri judge's se...
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|Jerry Harmison Jr.|
Here is the scary part: Deputy Scott Harrison apparently works evictions on a regular basis, but his testimony in Carol's case shows he has no clue about tenant-landlord law that governs such cases. Even scarier, Associate Circuit Judge Jerry A. Harmison Jr. apparently is just as ignorant as Harrison about the relevant law in Carol's case. Let's consider these words from page 1 of Harmison's judgment: (The full judgment is embedded at the end of this post.)
Scott Harrison of the Greene County Sheriff's Office, Civil Division, testified on behalf of the state. He served a summons by posting on August 11, 2015, at Carol and Roger Shuler's residence of 4070 South Fort, Springfield, MO. On August 27, 2015, an interlocutory judgment for possession was entered against the Shulers, with a future trial date established on the issue of damages. Deputy Harrison testified he posted an eviction notice on September 1, 2015, which indicated tenants must vacate the premises by September 9, 2015, at 9:00 a.m. The court file indicates the Shulers subsequently filed a Motion to Quash Execution and a Notice of Appeal on September 8, 2015.
The docket in our rent-and-possession case (1531-AC04535 -- TRENT COWHERD V ROGER SHULER ET AL) shows in two places that the judgment was interlocutory (non-final), partial, or both. The docket also showed that a hearing was set for Oct. 1, 2015 -- "ISSUE AS TO DAMAGES SET ON 10/1/15 AT 9:00 AM IN DIVISION 25 ON BOTH PETITION AND COUNTER PETITION." In other words, Harrison's assertion that the future hearing was only about the landlord's damages was false; it also was about our counterclaim for breach of contract and any damages that might have accrued from that.
Let's go back to the section highlighted in yellow above. Harrison claims he posted an eviction notice on Sept. 1, 2015. But his own words show this could not have been a court-approved notice because the judgment was interlocutory. This guy just isn't very bright, but he has been assigned to help throw people out of their homes -- even when their is no court order giving him such authority.
Missouri law is clear that there can be no execution on any judgment that is not final. That certainly applies to evictions, where a court ruling regarding possession pretty much means nothing. A landlord can only move forward with a writ of execution, signed and authorized by a judge. And such authorization can come only on a final judgment.
Even Scott Harrison admits the judgment in our underlying rent-and-possession was interlocutory. A semi-trained lowland gorilla would have known an eviction could not move forward on a non-final judgment. But Harrison did not know that, and Judge Harmison either was too ignorant to know it or too lazy to look it up.
Harrison's cluelessness does not end there. On page 2 of the Harmison judgment, we find this:
Deputy Harrison confirmed the judgment for possession had not been set aside. He went to the residence with Captain Lynn. Lieutenant Wade, Lieutenant Conrad, and Sheriff Arnott. Lynn and Conrad were in full uniform and approached the front door. . . .
Harrison -- and apparently none of the other goons -- could figure out that the judgment for possession had not been set aside because it wasn't final. Under Missouri law, such a judgment -- even if it is final -- does not authorize an eviction. The landlord must obtain a writ of execution, signed by a judge, to move forward with eviction -- and that cannot happen unless the judgment is final.
Harrison, by the way, is the deputy who burst into our home -- with no lawful grounds for doing so -- and pointed an assault rifle at my head. He and several of his buddies appeared to be dressed in full SWAT regalia that day, including bullet-proof vests. At trial, Harrison reportedly claimed he did not have an assault weapon that day, and he was wearing a blue short-sleeve shirt, as if he was about to go out for a round of golf. Yeah, right!
What does all of this mean?
(1) The guilty verdict against Carol is due to be set aside or vacated, replaced with a judgment of acquittal.
(2) That the underlying rent-and-possession judgment was non-final means the trial judge in that matter could not possibly have signed an eviction order. Landlord Trent Cowherd, Attorney Craig Lowther, and the deputies (Under Sheriff Jim Arnott) all moved forward with an unlawful "self eviction," one conducted without the authority of a court.
(3) That means their civil liability, in light of Carol's broken arm and the theft of almost all our possessions, is substantial.
(4) The cop witnesses are liars of monstrous proportions, even under oath, on a witness stand.
(To be continued)
Judge Jerry A. Harmison Jr., however, was looking out for his cop friends. He unlawfully excluded the Probable Cause (PC) Statement, Misdemeanor Information, and written incident reports in the case, depriving Carol of the opportunity to impeach witnesses and show that their credibility was near zero. [See Davis v. Alaska, 415 U.S. 308 S. Ct. (1974) and State v. Armbruster, 641 S.W. 2d 763 (Mo. banc, 1982).]
And yet, Harmsion stated in his judgment that he found the prosecution witnesses (the four deputies) more "credible" than the defense witnesses (Carol and me). That's because Carol was not allowed to show the cop-witnesses repeatedly lied on the stand -- or, at the least, made statements wildly inconsistent with what they had written earlier.
Let's consider the written statements of Officer Debi Wade, compared to what she testified under oath at trial. Wade wrote the PC Statement, and here are her words from that document:
I was once again able to calm (Carol) down, and I talked her into loading her packed items into the car. She and I placed all of the bags . . . into the back seat and trunk of the car. Just as (Carol) appeared to be getting into the passenger side door to the car, she started screaming that she needed her cat's litter box. I was trying to tell her that I would go back into the residence for it, when she suddenly took off in a dead run toward the front door to the residence. Knowing that Deputy (Scott) Harrison would be exiting that door at any moment, I feared that she would catch him off guard, so I jogged up behind Carol and attempted to tell her that I would get the litter box for her. Just as I caught up to her she suddenly pivoted and barreled into me head first. I was caught off guard, and as my left arm automatically came up to block my face in a reactive manner, I automatically turned my body to my right in an attempt to blade my gun side away from her while I regained my footing. At this time, both Lt. (Christian) Conrad and Deputy Harrison came in from either side to secure Carol's arm and place her in handcuffs.
Wade's account is pure fantasy; hardly a word of it is true. Consider:
* Wade did not help Carol put items in our car, and neither did any other cop. I was sitting in the passenger side of the car, inches away, and Carol put our stuff in the car herself. Wade was on the front porch of the residence.
* Carol didn't appear to get in the passenger seat, she did get in the passenger seat briefly -- just as I testified at trial. We looked at each other, not saying a word, but I could tell Carol had a "light bulb moment" go off over her head. She didn't tell me what it was, but I learned later that she had realized we didn't have Baxter's litter box.
* I've known Carol for more than 30 years, and I've never seen her take off on a dead run for anything, and she did not do that in this instance. She walked at a normal pace down the sidewalk toward the front porch, where she encountered Wade and Harrison. They apparently refused to let Carol retrieve the litter box, even though Carol and I both had been told we could get our personal belongings. As Carol discussed the matter with Wade and Harrison, an unknown cop in a blue shirt grabbed her from behind, slammed her butt-first to the ground, and then violently yanked on both arms, in an upward and backward position, causing a comminuted fracture in the left arm and severe bruising in the right arm.
What's the main point of Wade's written account? Wade says she came up from behind, without Carol knowing she was there, and Carol turned around, into her. In other words, it was an accident -- and not a crime. Wade says she was "caught off guard' when Carol turned around. Well, it only stands to reason that Carol was "caught off guard" when she turned to find Wade in her face. Again, Wade's own words show this was an accident, not a crime -- and prosecutors must have agreed because they did not bring this charge against Carol. (Probable Cause Statement and Misdemeanor Information are embedded at the end of this post.)
|Jerry Harmison Jr.|
Carol Shuler got upset a second time and started yelling "just shoot me."Carol Shuler then charged Wade like a bull since she wanted in the residence but the doors were being locked.
Wade's statement under oath at trial was wildly inconsistent with what she wrote (also under oath) in her PC Statement. Before, Wade came up from behind Carol, and Carol accidentally turned around into her. On her second crack at it, Wade says she was in front of Carol, who intentionally charged her "like a bull."
What's going on here? First, it's important to note that none of this actually happened. Second, by law, Debi Wade should not have been allowed to testify about alleged conduct with which Carol was not charged. (See State v. Bernard, 849 S.W.2d 10 (Mo. Sup. Ct., 1993.)
The reality? Both of Wade's accounts are products of her fertile imagination. Carol and I both stated at trial that she and Debi Wade never made contact with each other, and that is the truth. But even if you believe there is some truthfulness in Wade's account, it simply does not hold up.
Wade changes her story completely -- meaning she either lied under oath at trial or submitted a false police report (an affidavit, where "false statements are punishable by law"). Either of those is a crime.
And Wade hardly was the only cop-witness at Carol's trial to make statements that were wildly inconsistent with what they stated before.
(To be continued)
Why all the inconsistent statements, which likely amount to perjury? Well, it's obvious Carol's arm was broken for two reasons:
(1) She was seated on the ground, on her butt, where an unknown individual wearing a blue shirt and reflective sun glasses had slammed her;
(2) "Mr. Blue Shirt" then reached down to grab both of Carol's arms just above the elbows, while she still was seated on the ground, and violently yanked on them in an upward and backward motion.
Carol and I both testified to that, under oath, at trial -- and while Carol likely was in a state of shock and might have had a concussion from being slammed to the ground on the day cops beat her-- I saw the whole thing from about 15 feet away, while sitting in the driver's seat of our car. Unlike Carol, I did not have my brains scrambled by having cops slam my head against a wall multiple times after they unlawfully burst into our apartment. And certainly, no one slammed me butt-first to the ground.
Carol's arm likely was broken because she had been slammed into an awkward position, sitting butt-first on the ground, when an ignorant animal in a blue shirt started yanking on both arms as hard as he could.
How vicious was this? From my sportswriting days I've been on the sidelines at numerous college football games -- including pretty fair teams like Alalbama, Auburn, Georgia, Kanasas State, LSU, Tennessee, UAB, Florida, North Carolina, and many more. I've seen some frightening hits from a few feet away, but I've never seen a level of violence inflicted on anyone that tops what was done to Carol during our unlawful eviction in September 2015.
The cops' combination of written and spoken words not only are false and nonsensical, they defy the laws of physics. (The judgment and written incident reports are embedded at the end of this post.) Let's examine the cops written statements:
Lt. Conrad came around my right side and grabbed [Carol's] left arm, and Deputy Harrison came up from behind and grabbed her right arm. Capt. Lynn rushed in to place her in handcuffs. She resisted them by jerking her arms in an attempt to free herself from their hold. (If Carol had been placed in handcuffs, how could be attempting to free herself from their hold?) I had stepped away once I knew they had her under control. As soon as she stopped resisting and the cuffs were checked for comfort, and I heard one of the male deputies advise her that she was under arrest and read her Miranda. Carol sunk down on the ground in a sitting position in a defeated manner, on her own accord. She waited quietly on the ground. (Sounds like someone coached Wade to avoid saying anything that might suggest Carol was slammed to the ground, against her will.)
The reality: A "male officer" did not advise Carol that she was under arrest. Sheriff Jim Arnott, after watching "Mr. Blue Shirt" slam Carol and break her arm, pointed at her and falsely said, "You assaulted a police officer." Arnott clearly knew Carol was injured, and he would need an excuse, in a hurry. Wade falsely stated that Carol "sunk down to the ground,""of her own accord." Carol and I both testified that "Blue Shirt" slammed her to the ground, and it had nothing to do with "her own accord." Wade was correct that Carol wound up on the ground, but she lied about how Carol got there and what happened once she was there.
(2) Scott Harrison
I approached Carol from behind and placed a hold on Carol's right arm and Lt. Conrad took a hold of Carol's left arm. We were able to detain Carol in handcuffs once she stopped resisting. (Where was Capt. Lynn, who according to Wade, applied the handcuffs? They can't keep their stories straight. That happens when you are lying.) I ensured the handcuffs were not too tight and made sure that they were double-locked so that they would not cinch down any further on her wrists. Carol then willfully sat down on the ground, with my assistance.
|An inside view of the hardware required|
to repair Carol's arm via trauma surgery
The reality: Like Wade, Harrison correctly stated that Carol wound up on the ground, but he lied about how she got there and what happened once she was there. He claims he assisted Carol in sitting on the ground, which is a complete crock.
(3) Jeremy Lynn
Lt. Conrad and Deputy Harrison then attempted to restrain Mrs. Shuler, however, she continued to resist and pull away from them. I grabbed Lt. Conrad's handcuffs and handcuffed her while Deputy Harrison and Lt. Conrad held her. Mrs. Shuler then sunk to the ground and sat. Lt. Conrad then retrieved Deputy Harrison's car. He pulled it up in the driveway, and Deputy Harrison escorted her to the vehicle. She continued to pull away and resist walking to the car.
The reality: Lynn continues the pattern of admitting Carol wound up on the ground, but he lies about how she got there and what happened once she was there. Like the others, he leaves "Mr. Blue Shirt" out of the story entirely
(4) Christian Conrad
At this point, I informed her she was under arrest for assault. (A lie; Arnott pulled the arrest out of his ass.) Carol fought against us until she was handcuffed. Once hancuffed, she sat down on the grass and said she was done fighting. I asked her if she was OK, and she said her shoulders were sore from being hancuffed the first time.
The reality: Sound familiar? Like the others, Conrad admits Carol wound up on the ground, but lies about how she got there and what happened once she was there. No word about Mr. Blue Shirt slamming her to ground and yanking so violently on her arms that he broke one of them.
What is a consistent theme through all four of these accounts? They have Carol sitting on the ground -- on her own -- while wearing handcuffs. I've had handcuffs on, so I know what the experience is like. One of the last things you want to do is sit yourself on the ground because: (A) The natural tendency is to use both arms to guide yourself down and cushion yourself once you approach the ground. With handcuffs on, you can't do that, and you realize it right away. Knowing that you are likely to fall directly on your ass, with nothing to support you, you are not likely to even attempt sitting on the ground of "your own accord."; (2) If you do manage to sit down, you have almost no way to get back up. Try sitting on the ground and getting up without using your arms. I'm betting you can't do it. And I know from experience that the handcuffed person realizes his arms are incapacitated and isn't even thinking of attempting an act that requires his arms to start or to finish.
I was never a star student in physics class, but I learned enough to know the cops' stories are bullshit.
They must have known their stories were bullshit because they changed them at trial. Only one of the four cops mentioned anything about Carol and the ground at trial. It came from Debi Wade, who seems to have a dysfunctional relationship with the truth:
Wade also confirmed Carol Shuler was handcuffed while in a standing position after charging Wade like a bull.
What baloney. This is the same Debi Wade who wrote that Carol wound up on the ground while being surrounded by multiple cops, but now Wade makes a special point of saying Carol was handcuffed while standing. Why the change? Well, these cops aren't very bright, but even they realize an injury is more likely to happen when a subject is placed in handcuffs while seated on the ground, with a thug yanking on her arms. So, they try to take the ground and the thug out of the equation.
Pretty much all of the cops' fairy tales fall apart on closer inspection, and another will do that shortly.
(To be continued)
The individual who slammed my wife, Carol, to the ground and broke her arm during an unlawful eviction in September 2015 -- we call him "Mr. Blue Shirt" -- was not present at her recent "assault" trial. That raises these puzzling questions:
(1) Who is he?
(2) Does he work for someone other than the Greene County Sheriff's Department (GCSO)?
(3) If the answer to No. 2 is yes -- and I'm starting to think it is -- who does he work for?
(4) Why was he there?
(5) Why is the GCSO going to considerable lengths to protect his identity?
During the discovery process, Carol asked for his identity multiple times, in multiple ways. She asked for the names and addresses of all GCSO personnel who were on our rented property that day. The prosecution first responded by giving only the names of the three cop-witnesses (Christian Conrad, Jeremy Lynn, Scott Harrison) they intended to call, essentially claiming that any other names were irrelevant.
Carol then asked for the names of everyone who was on the premises that day, other than us, and she got five names -- with Sheriff Jim Arnott and Lt. Debi Wade, author of the Probable Cause Statement, added as a fourth witness. That answer still didn't cut it because there clearly were more than five law-enforcement types there that day; our estimate is 6-8.
We have not considered this possibility until recently, but perhaps the prosecution answered Carol's first query in a certain way because "Blue Shirt" (and perhaps others) did not work for the GCSO.
Perhaps the prosecution answered the second query in an evasive manner because . . . well, they were determined to protect "Blue Shirt's" identity, and prosecutors didn't care if they had to violate Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963) to do it. After all, enough prosecutors violate Brady that some analysts have said the legal landscape is plagued with "an epidemic of Brady violations."
Bottom line: We increasingly see reasons to believe "Mr. Blue Shirt" did not work for the GCSO? That leaves these questions: Who did he work for, and why was he there?
So far, we have two theories, but we certainly are open to other ideas:
(1) The Alabama Bingo Trial Theory -- This comes from a regular reader who is most clever and insightful. In late July 2015, I wrote a series of posts about documents that had been released related to the Alabama Bingo Trial. The documents mostly involved transcripts of closed-door meetings about alleged sexual misconduct involving FBI agent Keith Baker and various women connected to various court proceedings. Also at issue were some 8,000 missing text messages sent to, and received by, Baker. The reader's theory is that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) thought I possessed documents that might prove damaging or embarrassing to their efforts in the bingo matter. Under this theory, "Blue Shirt," was a DOJ operative -- perhaps an FBI agent or trainee -- who was sent to conduct a bogus eviction that really was designed to intimidate us and examine any documents we might have.
Part of this theory is that "Blue Shirt's" actions indicate he is not a real law-enforcement officer or he is inexperienced at such work. According to the reader, no real cop would have yanked on Carol's arms, while she was seated on the ground, in an effort to handcuff her. A real, experienced cop would have known such an act was likely to cause an injury. In fact, the reader suggests, Sheriff Jim Arnott (standing just a few feet away) knew instantly that Carol was injured, so he created the bogus criminal charges on the spot.
(2) The "Luv Guv" Bentley Theory -- This is my theory, and it arises from the fact that -- contrary to what you might have heard on The Rachel Maddow Show -- I broke the story of Gov. Robert Bentley's affair with senior aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason on Aug. 31, 2015, nine days before our eviction. We later learned from the Alabama House Judiciary Committee Impeachment Report that Bentley knew by May 7, 2014, that his wife had taped him in a lovey-dovey phone conversation with Mason. On August 5, 2014, two members of Bentley's staff -- Spencer Collier and Wendell Lewis -- confronted Bentley about the tapes and tried to nip the affair in the bud.
|"Luv Guv" Bentley and|
It's certainly not a stretch to think Bentley might have sent "Blue Shirt" (and maybe others) to Missouri to rough up Carol and me and see if we had copies of his "Luv Guv" tapes.
That suggests "Blue Shirt" might have been a member of Bentley's security detail or an employee of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA).
Either way, "Blue Shirt's" presence, his "bull in a china shop" actions, and the apparent determination of Missouri types to hide his identity suggests our eviction wasn't about any of the issues you normally associate with such a proceeding. It increasingly looks like someone thought I had damning information, and they wanted to make sure I was not able to publish it.
The statement came from Greene County deputy Jeremy Lynn, who claimed under oath that Carol had pushed him as he burst into our apartment for an unlawful eviction in September 2015. This is the same Jeremy Lynn who made no mention of Carol pushing him in written incident reports -- and admitted, both in court and in written reports, that he grabbed Carol immediately upon entering our home. The key question under Missouri's "assault on a law enforcement officer (LEO) statute" (RSMo 565.083) is "who caused or attempted to cause physical contact?" Missouri case law has held that the key issue is "who initiated physical contact?" (See State v. Armstrong, 968 SW 2d 154 - Mo: Court of Appeals, Southern Dist., 1st Div. 1998.)
Who, then, initiated physical contact in this instance? Jeremy Lynn admits, twice, that he did. That means Carol, as a matter of law, is not guilty. That Judge Harmison ruled otherwise suggests he is ignorant, incompetent, compromised -- or some combination of all three.
As for Lynn, he said one thing in writing and then changed his story, under oath, on the stand to ensure Carol's wrongful conviction. That suggests he committed perjury or falsified a police report. Either is a crime, meaning Carol's case was decided on fraud, and her conviction is due to be overturned on post-judgment motions.
What do we learn from Lynn's claim that I am an "anti-government blogger"? Here are a few things that come to mind:
* Lynn has mostly horse feces between his ears;
* We live in a dysfunctional era where -- if you don't toe the corrupt Bush, Trump, Rove, Sessions line of corrupt thinking -- certain white people (probably driven by their own race-based fears) think you must be "anti-government."
* Lynn's reading-comprehension skills are so limited that he can't grasp this is an "anti-corruption blog" -- it focuses on actual law, and how judges routinely butcher it, and that's about as far from being "anti-government" as you can get. More than anything, our blog promotes honest government and the rule of law, a concept with which Jeremy Lynn likely is not familiar. Legal Schnauzer has been ranked among the top 50 law blogs (No. 37) in North America, by a Chicago-based Web research and marketing firm called Cision. Ours was the only blog on the list not affiliated with a law firm, law school, legal society, media conglomerate, or social-welfare organization -- the only truly independent blog so honored.. That makes Legal Schnauzer the No. 1 law blog of its kind in North America. That kind of recognition likely does not come for a wild-eyed blogger who churns out anti-government screeds (whatever those are). It comes from being a real journalist, with a degree from one of the top journalism schools in the world. It comes from producing the kind of accurate, hard-nosed reporting and analysis that is found hardly anywhere else on the Web.
* Why did Judge Harmison allow such an improper statement into the record? It suggests he was not even trying to be fair. While I was on the stand, I repeatedly was not allowed to make legal conclusions -- even though they were correct -- because, as a non-lawyer, I'm not considered an expert in the field. I understand those rulings, but why was Lynn allowed to make a conclusion about the nature of a blog, even though he clearly has no expertise on the subject?
What exactly did Lynn say. It comes straight from page 3 of Harmison's judgment. (The judgment is embedded at the end of this post.):
Captain Jeremy Lynn testified on behalf of the state. He was assisting the civil division with the eviction because of concerns about Roger Shuler. Lynn was made aware that calls had been made to the Sheriff's Office from Shuler's family members, expressing concerns for the safety of law enforcement, and he was aware of anti-government blogs posted by Roger Shuler.
Did I ever say a threatening word about law enforcement to a family member -- or anyone else? Nope. This fable apparently was the work of my lawyer-brother, David Shuler, in an attempt to get Carol and me unlawfully evicted, hurt, killed -- or all three. As for Lynn, his ignorance does not stop there. Let's examine it from a broader view:
(1) I'm a liberal; anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that. Liberals, by definition, are for a strong central government -- and that describes me, the opposite of a "states' rights" Reaganite. I'm "pro government."
(2) My late father worked for 26 years as a clerk for the U.S. Post Office. That's a federal government job, one that fed, clothed, and housed, our family of six for a long time. Am I "pro government?" Absolutely.
(3) My dad's job came with federal government benefits, which gave us health insurance, access to a credit union, paid vacation (where we actually could see him from time to time; his working hours mostly were in the evenings), and union protection that kept him from being fired on someone's whim. Me, pro government? Darned tootin'.
(4) During World War II, my dad (Bill Shuler) arrived on Normandy Beach three days after the D-Day invasion. One can only imagine the horrible sights he must have seen and the danger he and his company were in. He put his life (and my life) on the line to help save democracy as we know it. My dad was in the U.S. Army, serving the government in perhaps the most dangerous way possible. A puss like Jeremy Lynn likely can't comprehend making that kind of sacrifice. I can because my family is filled with individuals who honorably served their "government" via the military.
(5) One of my uncles (Carl Stamps), after serving in the WWII, worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, helping to design dams and locks and such. He worked for the government and was a wonderful uncle. Through his example, I'm pro-government.
(6) One of my aunts (Imogene Stamps) served both in WWII and the Korean conflict, and worked for the U.S. Veterans Administration in Little Rock, AR, for 33 years. Her work focused mostly on rehabilitation of disabled veterans. She worked for the government and was a wonderful aunt. Through her example, I'm pro-government.
(7) Before corrupt political forces cheated me out of my job at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) (because I dared write about corruption on this blog), I worked 20 years at an institution that long has been the No. 1 economic driver in Alabama and one of the great education success stories in the Deep South. UAB is a state institution, which means I was a state-government employee -- and a darned good one. It was not unusual for me to do the work of two or three people in our understaffed, underpaid, and unappreciated editorial office. I routinely got a heavy workload completed in a timely and a high-quality fashion -- and I've got the strong performance reviews to prove it. I was one helluva bargain for the State of Alabama, and until the cheat job kicked into high gear in my final six months on the job, I enjoyed my work and was proud to call myself a UAB employee -- a state employee; a government employee; a loyal, "pro-government" employee.
Here is the difference between me and Jeremy Lynn, a marshmallow with a badge who lied under oath and claimed a 58-year-old woman pushed him and hurt his wittle feelings. A term like "pro government" is an empty phrase to a puss like Jeremy Lynn; he likely uses it only to lick the ass crack of his corrupt boss, Sheriff Jim Arnott.
It's not an empty phrase to me. I've come from a long line of individuals who actually have stood up for their government -- and gave us the democracy we know today, at least until Donald Trump is able to destroy it.
Jeremy Lynn wouldn't know an "anti-government blogger" if one kicked him in the crotch. He's too stupid to know any better than to make statements on topics about which he is clueless. That Judge Jerry Harmison Jr. allowed such an absurd statement into a court record suggest he's not much smarter than Lynn. After all, Harmison was appointed by Eric Greitens, perhaps the most corrupt governor in Missouri history -- and Harmison is doing his best to live up to Greitens high "ethical standards."
And yes, I'm against having scum bags like Greitens in elective office -- as my reporting here has shown. And yes, that makes me "pro government."
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|The cage area where Carol was handcuffed and|
seat-belted in a patrol car
That blows to hell the cops' story that Carol broke her own arm by flailing about in the back seat of the patrol car before transport. (Never mind that a comminuted fracture -- a break in more than two places -- is caused by trauma, as in a car crash and likely is impossible to inflict on one's self, especially while handcuffed and seat belted.) It adds credence to Carol's testimony that she was seat-belted in the back seat from the get-go and could not have flailed about -- even if she had wanted to, and she didn't.
Harrison's slip-up on the stand is proof that telling the truth makes sense -- if for no other reason than it's hard to keep lies straight. This is straight from page 2-3 of Judge Jerry Hamison Jr.'s judgment:
Harrison placed [Carol] in the back seat of the patrol car, and he returned to the residence. He saw her thrusting back and forth, as well as forward and backward while she was in the patrol car with her hands cuffed behind her back. . . . Carol Shuler . . . was transported to the Greene County Jail wearing a seat belt. Upon arriving at the jail, she said for the first time that her arm hurt. A series of photos of her arm were taken over the course of 90 minutes, showing progressive swelling and bruising. On cross-examination, Harrison testified he was wearing a blue polo shirt with GCSO insignia. (False: He was wearing a dark uniform, with bullet-proof vest, and pointed an assault rifle at my head.)
He affirmed Carol Shuler was transported wearing a seat belt. but she may not have been belted when detained in the caged area of the patrol car initially.
A few obvious questions come to mind:
* Harrison left an un-belted individual in the back of a patrol car and "returned to the residence"? Is that in line with departmental policy? Wouldn't it have been possible for Carol to open the door with her foot and walk away? What if someone who was actually dangerous did that? Cops in Missouri are really that careless?
* Was Harrison inside the residence when he claims to have seen Carol thrusting about, etc? How far away was he? Were the car windows tinted? How could he tell what she was doing from that distance?
* If Carol was, in fact, flailing about, why didn't Harrison do something about it? Is it departmental policy to do nothing when a person in custody could be injuring herself?
* Aren't Harrison, the Sheriff's Department, and the county civilly liable if they do nothing to protect someone who was in their custody?
* Oh, wait . . . Harrison admits Carol "may not have been belted when" initially detained in the patrol car. That means -- in Harrison's own words -- Carol may HAVE been belted from the outset, just as she testified. Speaking of Carol's testimony, here it is, in relevant part:
[Carol] remembered she needed Baxter's litter box and started to go back toward the residence. She said she was surrounded by officers. She never barreled into Wade. (I, too, testified to this.) She was then grabbed and thrown to the ground by an unidentified officer. (We call him "Mr. Blue Shirt.") She was handcuffed while on the wet ground. She was led to the police car. She sat in the car quietly. She was seat-belted in the car, and she told Harrison her "arm hurts so bad." She was eventually taken to Cox North for an examination (where X-rays revealed a comminuted fracture of her left arm).
What do we learn here?
(1) Various cop-witnesses stated that Carol showed no signs of being injured and never complained of being hurt. But she testified that she told Harrison her arm "hurt so bad." That sound you hear is cop credibility being shattered.
(2) Carol says she was seat-belted in the car from the outset, and Harrison essentially admits she might be right. Again, cop credibility melts away.
We've shown that cops started concocting a false story about Carol breaking her own arm, and they did it the morning after they learned her arm was broken (if not sooner). Isn't it fun to see Scott Harrison -- because he's too stupid to keep lies straight -- blow the whole story to high heaven?
The first issue can be found on page 1 of the judgment in Carol's case. (The judgment is embedded at the end of this post.) In the second paragraph is the following language:
On August 27, 2015, an interlocutory judgment for possession was entered against the Shulers, with a future trial date established on the issue of damages.
(Note: This is false on multiple grounds: The interlocutory judgment was issued in court on August 27, but it was not entered with the court -- making it somewhat authoritative -- until August 31. This clearly is shown on the docket, and means the eviction (set for Sept. 9) was scheduled inside the 10-day window when no execution can take place. Second, the future proceeding was set mainly for our breach-of-contract counterclaim. That is not clear on the docket, but it was made clear in court. The interlocutory judgment issued no amount of money damages against us, so it's not clear why that issue would need to be addressed at a later date.)
Bottom line: The rent-and-possession matter produced an interlocutory (non-final) judgment, which cannot be the basis for execution, such as an eviction. Missouri law, per State ex rel Turner v. Sloan, 595 S.W.2d 778 (MO, 1980), holds: "An enforcement of judgment by execution supposes a judgment not merely interlocutory but become final.”
In other words, thug-cops could not lawfully be on our property, much less breaking into our home for an eviction, based on a non-final judgment. Because the judgment was interlocutory, that means the cops did not -- and could not -- have a court-authorized (signed and approved by a judge) writ of execution. In fact, the "writ of execution" the prosecution produced at trial had no judge's signature and provided no authorization for the eviction, which ended with cops breaking Carol's arm. The "writ" was signed only by attorney Craig Lowther, which suggests he and landlord Trent Cowherd conspired on an unlawful self-eviction -- with assistance from the GCSO and likely from my brother-lawyer David Shuler.
|X-ray of Carol's arm, broken by a|
Missouri cop who had no grounds to
be on our rented property.
The tenant should be served with, or the property posted with, a summons and petition notifying them that a lawsuit has been filed and will have the opportunity to be heard in court before any eviction. Upon the Landlord receiving a judgment for possession and filing for a Writ to Execute on the judgment for possession, the GCSO will schedule a date and time with the plaintiff/Landlord within five business days to stand by while the Landlord evicts the Tenant and regains possession of the property. The Landlord has the responsibility of scheduling for a locksmith and staff required for moving of property if needed.
Missouri State Statutes reference Landlord/Tenant Law RSMo. Chapters 441, 534 and 535.
In other words, under Greene County policy, it is the landlord's duty to evict -- with a deputy on hand usually for stand-by purposes. Carol should have been dealing with the landlord Trent Cowherd, or his representative, and not heavily armed cops who threw her and me in handcuffs (which is an arrest), with no grounds for doing so. We were minding our own business in our own home -- knowing we had filed a Notice of Appeal, which stayed the execution by operation of law.
In fact, the docket shows the Missouri Court of Appeals had received our Notice of Appeal, meaning it had jurisdiction over the case at that point -- and not the trial court, which had issued the interlocutory judgment.
The Greene County Sheriff's thugs did the following:
(1) They unlawfully acted on a non-final judgment, upon which any form of execution (including an eviction) cannot be based;
(2) They acted contrary to the county's own procedures, which call for a landlord to conduct an eviction, while a deputy (usually one, and he often does not even leave the car) is on hand to make sure a potentially volatile situation stays peaceful;
(3) They acted without a judge's signature, from a trial court that did not even have jurisdiction over the case at that point. The docket includes a letter from the Missouri Court of Appeals, stating it had received our Notice of Appeal, and that took matters out of the trial court's hands.
The GCSO, in essence, would have to improve to be a clown car.
|Jerry Harmison Jr.|
To examine that question, let's look at Judge Jerry Hamison Jr.'s judgment in Carol's case. (The judgment is embedded at the end of this post.) We invite you to check out Harmison's first paragraph. Does it say one word about what Carol is charged with? Nope.
Harmison spends the better part of six pages regurgitating the testimony of various witnesses (including Carol and me) and begins his analysis in the final paragraph on page 7. Best we can tell, this includes his primary reasons for reaching a guilty verdict:
The relevant evidence in this case is that the Greene County Deputies evicting Roger and Carol Shuler were acting in good faith. . . . [Note: Harmison is citing the so-called "good-faith exception," which defense lawyers routinely use in lawsuits alleging excessive force and Fourth Amendment violations against cops. Harmison cites civil law, which has nothing to do with this criminal case.] Captain Lynn keyed the door and started to push it open, announcing the identity of officers again. Carol Shuler resisted the door, but it was pushed open. Lieutenant [Christian] Conrad announced the identity of the deputies again. Regardless, Carol Shuler continued to push Lynn multiple times and tried to pull away from him to resist detention. Lynn eventually handcuffed Carol Shuler. Consequently, the court finds the defendant guilty of Count I beyond a reasonable doubt. Sentencing is scheduled for June 11, 2018 at 10:30 a.m. [Note: Sentencing, and the hearing of post-judgment motions has been continued to 10:30 a.m. on June 19.]
So, Harmison pronounces Carol guilty, but of what? He doesn't say. He makes no mention of the governing statute -- RSMo 565.083 (Assault of a law enforcement officer . . . in the third degree.) He doesn't even describe the offense with which Carol was charged. So, we will do it for him:
A person commits the offense if:
Such person knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical contact with a law enforcement officer . . . without the consent of the law enforcement officer.
Harmison also does not bother to address Missouri case law, which has held that the key question is: Who initiated contact? (See State v. Armstrong, 968 SW 2d 154, Mo. Court of Appeals, 1998.) Jeremy Lynn stated twice -- in his written incident report and under oath on the courtroom stand -- that he caused and initiated contact with Carol, by grabbing her as he burst through the front door of our rented duplex apartment.
From reading the final paragraph of Harmison's judgment, you would think the central element of the offense was: Did the subject push the officer? But neither the statute nor the case law says a word about pushing someone. It's all about who "knowingly caused -- or initiated -- physical contact."
Well, Jeremy Lynn admits that he knowingly grabbed Carol, and in his written report, never said a word about her pushing him. In fact, he said she tried to pull away from him. Last time I checked, it is impossible to push someone and try to pull away from them at the same time.
So, we are left with this question: Is it a crime to push a police officer -- which Carol testified she did not do -- especially in this situation?
We will examine that in an upcoming post.
(To be continued)
Newly obtained evidence shows that David's deceit goes much deeper than we originally understood. He launched the bogus story about a threat to shoot law-enforcement -- a threat that I never made, on a subject I never discussed with him.
David's role in concocting the 911 ruse, which almost got Carol and me killed and led directly to her broken arm, comes from two pieces of evidence -- my medical records and the 911 call itself.
Let's first consider my medical records. Here is an entry dated 8/5/15, from psychiatric nurse Matt Charles, who was my caregiver at the time for Burrell:
Update 8/5/15 -- Allegedly, patient's brother has contacted the case-management supervisor regarding Roger. Roger's brother states that Roger has threatened to shoot anyone who tries to evict him. After discussing this with the CSS and case-management supervisor, a plan was made to hotline these concerns regarding Roger.
What does it mean to "hotline" these concerns? We're not sure, but we believe a message was sent to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
What do we learn from this note in my medical file? There is no evidence that I threatened to shoot anyone, cop or otherwise -- and I did not, in fact, make such a threat. Also, I've never discussed anything of substance with David since I've been back in Missouri; it became clear early on that he was not to be trusted, so I've shared almost nothing with him.
In short, attorney David Shuler made up the threat and my role in the 911 call -- pulling both from some deep, dark crevice with which many lawyers seem equipped.
As for evidence of David's deceit in the 911 call itself, we will address that in an upcoming post.
(To be continued)
Who made the statements that point to improper, maybe criminal, interference in our case? That remains unclear, but it was one of three assistant general counsels in the bar's "Center for Professional Responsibility" -- Jeremy McIntire, Tripp Vickers, and Mark Moody.
Morris states that he is "75 to 80 percent" sure he spoke with McIntire. Douglas McElvy, who was acting general counsel at the time, told me in a phone conversation that ethics questions almost always to go to him or Vickers -- and he suggested that Morris almost certainly spoke to Vickers.
The bar recently announced that Judge Roman Shaul has been named full-time general counsel, so McElvy likely will be hitting the exits soon and never will conduct the investigation he promised. We intend to give Shaul an opportunity to examine the ugliness that resides in the office he inherited -- and probably has been there for years.
It's not clear Morris had an ethics question, and I'm still not sure why Morris even called the state bar about a straightforward affidavit that was to show we had asked him to represent us at a Rule 26 meeting in "The Jail Case" -- and neither he, nor Carol or I, had done anything to violate U.S. Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins orders. In fact, all three of us had been the victims of Hopkins' unlawful rulings and/or verbal abuse. Had Hopkins not berated Morris when he appeared at the meeting -- and then threatened us with sanctions -- Morris never would have had a reason to prepare an affidavit or call the state bar.
* Do not file an affidavit in the Shuler case;
* If you do file an affidavit, it's likely to make matters worse;
* Tell Roger, "No, you do not have permission to proceed.You stay away from that";
* If the judge wants to hear from you, she will let you know;
* Do not get any further involved. You are not helping yourself, and you likely are not helping Mr. Shuler.
That last one sounds an awful lot like a threat, to harm Morris or his law practice. We assume that would be harm in a professional sense, but given the nastiness at the heart of Alabama's "justice" system -- and sources tell us that the hideously corrupt Jeff Sessions and Riley Inc. (former Gov. Bob Riley, son Rob "Uday" Riley and Co.) have unusual sway at the state bar -- who knows what form such a threat could take?
This much is certain: We have Greg Morris' statement in a word-for-word format, and it clearly suggests unlawful behavior that could point to a RICO case -- civil, criminal, or both.
It's almost as if obstruction of justice has become the new favored pastime in Alabama, surpassing even college football.
(To be continued)
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|Judge Jerry A. Harmison Jr.|
Why did Missouri "law men" bring a bogus assault of a law enforcement officer charge against my wife, Carol, when even their own "victim" admits in an incident report (and under oath in court) that she committed no such offense? The answer can be summed up in one word: preclusion.
We will define preclusion more fully in a moment, but in essence, it means that a criminal conviction in one court can "preclude" a federal civil-rights claim in another court. The record shows that the whole "assault" charge was brought some 20 months ago in order to save Greene County and its corrupt sheriff's department from being held accountable for brutalizing Carol and breaking her arm during an unlawful eviction in September 2015.
But here is the enormous kicker (it's going to require several posts to explain and could induce a number of guffaws): The Missouri law thugs might have succeeded only in shooting themselves in the proverbial foot, while leaving Carol with no punishment and no judgment at all.
No kidding. (Please follow us for this post and followups over the next several days, into early next weeks, as we try to explain what appears to be a courtroom version of what happened when the Titanic collided with an iceberg. The happy news is that it looks like Carol will not be one of the victims in this calamity -- other than having her reputation smeared and dealing with baseless criminal charges for 20 months. But for now, she seems to be snuggled in a rescue boat as some evil SOBs are about to slide into freezing water that might suck away their life forces -- or at least we can hope that's what happens to them.)
This all hits home now because yesterday Carol was sentenced for a "crime" that Judge Jerry Harmison's own judgment shows -- in multiple places -- she did not commit. Carol filed six post-judgment motions, showing that Harmison is a judicial buffoon who got just about everything in the case wrong. But like a lot of judges, Harmison is too arrogant, stupid, or crooked (maybe all three) to correct himself. So he dismissed Carol's motions out of hand, upheld her guilty verdict, and sentenced her to -- get this -- what amounts to a $10 fine.
(They really think she assaulted a cop, but her punishment essentially is a $10 fine? We'll get back to that question in future posts.)
But here is the delicious part: In acting like a smug, corrupt smart-ass, Harmison might have let Carol off the hook entirely, while leaving the Greene County legal machinery with a significant mess to clean up -- and it could be costly. [A notation about Harmison's findings yesterday can be found at case.net (State v. Carol Shuler, No. 1631-CR07731), and we will explain its implications in upcoming posts. For now, we will focus on preclusion -- while saying it appears Harmison screwed up big time, or in a rare show of integrity, he intentionally let Carol off the hook. I think that last possibility is extremely unlikely.)
Now, back to the preclusion issue? How stupid were the Missouri thugs to bring bogus criminal charges in order to impede Carol's efforts to achieve civil justice? The answer requires two words: very stupid (and that was before Harmison's antics of yesterday). That's because the law on preclusion -- we'll call it "The P Word" -- does not accomplish what the thugs thought it would. That means they wasted their time and ours, while significantly enhancing their potential liability in a federal civil-rights lawsuit that Carol and I will file shortly.
Preclusion essentially means that, under certain circumstances, an issue that has been raised and litigated in one forum cannot be re-litigated in another -- in a case involving the same parties. For example, an issue litigated in a state criminal proceeding might not be raised in a subsequent federal civil proceeding.
|Prof. Sheldon H. Nahmod|
This post addresses the important practical topic of claim preclusion (res judicata, which concerns claims that were or could have been raised), and issue preclusion (collateral estoppel, which concerns issues that were raised and adjudicated) in section 1983 cases. Preclusion concerns arise in section 1983 federal court litigation when there is a prior final state judicial or administrative proceeding that involved the same parties (or their privies) and implicated (or could have implicated) the same issues.
To what extent may those claims or issues be relitigated in a subsequent section 1983 federal court proceeding? As it turns out, the answer in each case depends, as a matter of federal law, on the forum state’s preclusion law.
That means we need to examine Missouri's preclusion law to determine its possible impact on our civil-rights claims that will be raised in Missouri federal court. For now, we learn two things:
(1) Missouri preclusion law involves qualifiers that "law man" thugs in Carol's case likely have not considered;
(2) When we go beneath the surface to research the relevant law in some detail, we find that Carol's federal claims will not be precluded at all. And that does not even include my civil-rights claims, which are significant -- even though I was not wrongfully arrested and brutalized the way Carol was.
Bottom line: Missouri thugs brought a bogus criminal charge against Carol in an effort to "preclude" her federal claims arising from excessive force and a severely broken arm that required trauma surgery. We've called the assault claim a "cover charge" because that's exactly what it is -- an effort to abuse the criminal-court process to cover up police misconduct and ensure no one is held accountable for the abuse heaped on Carol and me.
Unfortunately for the thugs, they are relying on law that does not work the way they think it does. Even more unfortunate for them, Judge Harmison appears to have messed up by mistakenly letting Carol off the hook altogether, perhaps enhancing the civil liability that Greene County is trying so hard to avoid.
We've shown over and over on this blog that corrupt cops, lawyers, prosecutors, and judges aren't too smart. This is another example of a "justice system" that is infested with individuals who have little or no integrity and even fewer functioning brain cells. In this instance, it appears they've created a courtroom train wreck that could correctly be described as comical -- if it didn't involve such serious issues, if it had not caused Carol's reputation to be smeared for months.
As an example, consider this question: In the highlighted section above (shaded in green), preclusion is described as being limited to final state judgments or administrative proceedings. But what if there is no final state judgment? Hmmm . . .
(To be continued)
|Jerry Harmison Jr.|
brought a false assault of a law enforcement officer charge against my wife, Carol, so they could attempt to "preclude" her from bringing a federal lawsuit for excessive force, police brutality, and related claims. We've shown that Judge Jerry Harmison Jr., in essentially sentencing Carol this week to a $10 fine, apparently committed a legal blunder of epic proportions. Where might this tale of crookedness and corruption lead? Let's take a look:
Our justice system has become so diseased that cops, prosecutors, lawyers, and judges actually conspired to bring baseless criminal charges against Carol because thuggish deputies broke her arm during our unlawful eviction in September 2015. In other words, our experience shows that if cops brutalize you and break your bones -- causing you to land in the hospital for trauma surgery -- they are more likely to bring false criminal charges against you to avoid accountability for gross civil-rights violations.
The pattern goes something like this: Cops abuse a citizen physically (and we've seen that repeatedly across the country since the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri -- most recently with the abuse of NBA player Sterling Brown, who has filed a lawsuit in Milwaukee.); cops and prosecutors abuse the victim in state criminal court (and judges let them get away with it); then, they all try to cheat the victim in federal court.
As Muhammad Ali might have said, particularly when he was a young Cassius Clay: "The more they abuse you, the more they screw you."
Will it work in Carol's case? Not if a federal judge can be found who follows the law. But since when in postmodern America has a judge been known to follow the law -- in Alabama, Missouri, state, court, federal court?
As we showed in our previous post in this series, our federal claims (I have civil-rights claims, along with Carol) will be governed by preclusion law -- also known as res judicata or collateral estoppel -- at the state level. And Missouri preclusion law is not complicated.
Dozens of cases spell out the basics of preclusion law in Missouri, and we will borrow them from a case styled Stacy v. Massa (W.D., Missouri, 2013). From the Stacy opinion:
In Missouri, issue preclusion applies when:
(1) the issue in the present action is identical to the issue decided in the prior adjudication; (2) the prior adjudication resulted in judgment on the merits; (3) the party against whom issue preclusion is asserted was a party or is in privity with a party to the prior adjudication; and (4) the party against whom collateral estoppel is asserted had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue in the prior suit.
Much is happening in Carol's case at the moment -- including an apparent attempt to cheat her that might blow up in the faces of midwest "law thugs," with possible comical consequences -- and we will go into details in upcoming posts. But we already can make a reasonable analysis on the four issues cited above in Massa:
(1) Will the issue in the criminal action be identical to that in the federal civil-rights action? No, not even close. The issue in the criminal case: Did Carol "knowingly cause, or attempt to cause, physical contact with Officer Jeremy Lynn?" We have not yet filed the federal case -- Missouri has a five-year statute of limitations -- so all of the claims have not been set. But the central issue will be this: Who broke Carol's arm, who caused that to happen via an unlawful eviction, and was the forcedused reasonable? None of those issues was decided in the criminal case.
(2) Did the prior adjudication result in a judgment on the merits? No.In fact, I'm not sure you could say it was adjudicated at all. Jerry Harmison Jr., the third judge assigned to the case (Becky Borthwick recused for unspecified reasons after two days), followed in the footsteps of his predecessor (Margaret Palmietto) and allowed the prosecution to get away with stonewalling on discovery. In essence, Carol was not allowed to gather evidence central to her defense, so it's hard to see how anyone could claim the case was decided on its merits. The prosecution's case had no merit, as we've shown repeatedly on this blog -- and we will show in upcoming posts. On top of that, it appears that one result of Judge Harmison's screw-up is that there is no final judgment at all in Carol's case, much less one based on the merits..
(3) Was the party against whom issue preclusion is asserted a party in the criminal matter? Carol was a party in the criminal matter, and she will be a party in the civil matter. I was not a party in the criminal matter, and I will be a party in the civil matter. So, the answer is no.
(4) Did Carol have a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue in the prior case? This question is so ridiculous it almost makes me laugh. How can you have a "full and fair opportunity to litigate" when the prosecution is not forced to turn over discovery, and multiple motions to compel are ignored? I could write dozens of paragraphs on this question, but for now, we can narrow it down to one issue: Harmison was required by Missouri law to rehear Carol's Motion to Suppress Evidence, and that's because Palmietto's earlier denials were interlocutory and not conclusive or binding on future proceedings. [See State v. Pippenger, 741 S.W.2d 710 (Mo. App. W.D. 1987)]. Did Harmison fulfill his obligation to address suppression issues? Nope. He avoided them -- twice. If he had followed the law, and ruled according to law, there would have been no trial. So, the answer to our question is no, not even close.
We are just getting started in our analysis that shows the scheme to preclude Carol's federal claims is due to fail. Missouri state law. Eighth Circuit federal law, federal law from other circuits, and U.S. Supreme Court all show Carol's civil-rights claims are not precluded, as a matter of law. And we soon will show how the outlandish nature of Carol's sentencing could add significantly to Greene County's civil liability for its inability to police its police force.
(To be continued)
|Jerry Harmison Jr.|
Judge Jerry A. Harmison Jr. sentenced Carol last week to . . . well, nothing. I'm not kidding. She stands with no lawful punishment against her, and the "sentence" involves provisions that cannot be imposed on her -- under both Missouri law and findings of the U.S. Supreme Court.
As we've covered Carol's case, month after month, we've shown the Missouri "justice" system -- including judges, public defenders, prosecutors, and sheriff' officials -- is an abominable sewer of incompetence and corruption. Nothing tops that off quite like Harmison's sentencing, which would be laughable if it did not involve serious issues of liberty, constitutional violations, Carol's broken arm (courtesy of cops), and an unjust "guilty" finding that, in theory, could hang over Carol's life like a cloud the rest of her days.
That, however, will not happen -- by law -- because a of peculiar provision of Missouri law -- one Judge Harmison apparently has no clue about how to administer. Please follow us for an explanation of the nuttiest outcome we've seen in any legal case, anywhere.
We showed last week that Harmison's punishment, in essence, was a $10 fine. But that's where the zaniness only begins. Let's start by looking at the judge's sentencing notation on the docket at case.net.:
STATE BY APA BERGEON. DEFENDANT IN PERSON FOR SENTENCING HEARING. COURT CONSIDERS DEFENDANT'S SIX POST-TRIAL MOTIONS AND DENIES ALL SIX POST-TRIAL MOTIONS. SENTENCE ON COUNT I: SIS, 2 YEARS UNSUPERVISED PROBATION. DEFENDANT MUST CONTINUE COUNSELING AT BURRELL MENTAL HEALTH DURING PROBATION WHILE RESIDING IN MISSOURI. $10.00 CVCF, SOE TO 29 DAYS. COURT COSTS WAIVED. JAH/mks
What do we learn here?
(1) Carol filed six post-trial motions -- showing there was insufficient evidence for a conviction; the probable cause statement was insufficient for a warrant, much less a prosecution; and cop-witnesses admitted they had no lawful grounds to be on our property, which means their search and seizure violated the Fourth Amendment, and all evidence obtained unlawfully had to be suppressed. (Motion for Acquittal is embedded at the end of this post.) In fact, Harmison had a duty under the law to hear Carol's Motion to Suppress, but there is no indication he even looked at it. The result? Carol was found guilty on illegally obtained "evidence," and even without that reality, there was no evidence to show she assaulted anyone.
|X-ray of comminuted fracture|
in Carol Shuler's left arm,
courtesy of Missouri cops.
(3) As for punishment, the court imposed:
a. An SIS (Suspended Imposition of Sentence), involving two years of unsupervised probation;
b. She must continue counseling at Burrell Behavioral Health as long as she is residing in Missouri. She's been attending counseling sessions for months at Burrell, long before her encounter with Officer Jeremy Lynn and other thugs from the Greene County Sheriff's Office (GCSO), So, this really is no punishment at all;
c. Pay $10 to the Missouri Crime Victim Compensation Fund (CVCF), which Harmison said cannot be waived. Language in Missouri Sec. 25.9 (Sentence and Judgment) indicates those costs can be waived, so I suspect Harmison either is lying or ill-informed on that point.
d. Court costs were waived.
The Greene County Prosecutor's Office filed charges against Carol in September 2016 -- with her arrest on the last day of January 2017 -- which means they spent 21 months worth of taxpayer funds on an "offense" even the "victim" admits Carol did not commit. The sum punishment -- $10 to a Crime Victim Compensation Fund, and even that probably should have been waived.
Remember that line in the second paragraph above where we said Carol's punishment amounted to "nothing"? Well, we're not joking. And we invite you to join us on a Magical Mystery Tour that will prove our courts are screwed up beyond comprehension -- and not just in Alabama.
(To be continued)
|Severe bruising shows on Carol Shuler's left arm,|
just moments before X-rays revealed a comminuted
fracture that was caused by police brutality in Missouri.
If Missouri judge Jerry Harmison Jr. believed my wife, Carol, actually had assaulted a law-enforcement officer, wouldn't he have imposed a sentence that amounted to more than a $10 fine? Of course. Wouldn't Harmison have handled Carol's sentencing in a way that imposed a final judgment on her? Naturally.
Harmison did neither, and that suggests -- at least to my eyes -- that he is a nincompoop, he is a raging incompetent, or he is playing games, for some reason. If he is playing games, it probably has to do with an underhanded effort to keep Carol from appealing her case. If deceit is at the heart of Harmison's ruling on sentencing, our research indicates it could blow up in his face.
It might be as simple as this: Considering the voluminous number of errors Harmison made in Carol's case, he simply might not want an appellate court to review his handiwork. He even seemed to buy the state's cop-witnesses' preposterous story that Carol broke her own arm by flailing about in the back seat of a patrol car, even though she was seat-belted and handcuffed. (Motion regarding trial errors is embedded at the end of this post.)
So, where does Carol stand because of Harmison's quirkiness? She has been found guilty of assault on a law enforcement officer, but there is no final judgment to support that finding. As humorist Dave Barry used to say, "I'm not making this up."
The case against Carol has been shaky from the outset -- with no named accuser and no corroboration or verification (meaning there was no probable cause for arrest, much less prosecution), and with a "victim" (Officer Jeremy Lynn) who admitted in writing and on the witness stand that Carol did not commit the alleged offense, as described in Missouri statutory and case law.
But the state's "case" really turned zany last week when Carol was sentenced to a suspended imposition of sentence (SIS), with two years of unsupervised probation, and a $10 payment to a crime victim's fund.
What does a suspended imposition of sentence (SIS) mean in Missouri? Here is one definition:
Suspended imposition of sentence or SIS is a sentencing option available to the trial court. In SIS, usually the defendant is placed on probation. If the defendant violates probation and faces revocation, the Judge may order any sentence within the full range of punishment for the crime convicted. If the defendant successfully completes probation, no sentence is actually ordered. Therefore normally an SIS is not considered a ‘conviction’ for anything other than law enforcement purposes.
For example, Suspended Imposition of Sentence (SIS) probation is generally available for Class B Misdemeanor DWI / BAC offenses in many counties in Missouri. This means that if the defendant pleads guilty, s/he will be given a sentence that is "suspended," and will be placed on probation for two years by law. If the probationary period, is completed successfully the conviction will not show on the permanent record. However, it will be recorded in the courts internal records and therefore in case of similar violation in the future the courts will treat it as a prior offense.
As a case styled State v. Lynch, 679 S.W.2d 858 (1984) spells out, an SIS adds a significant level of complication to a court case. Here is the question for us: Is Harmison ignorant of the implications that come with an SIS, or is he intentionally using an inappropriate sentencing scheme to suit his own purposes? Here is background on the Lynch case:
In a court tried case, defendant was convicted of second degree burglary, a violation of § 569.170, RSMo 1978. Imposition of sentence was suspended by the trial judge, and defendant was placed on probation for one year. Defendant sought to appeal his conviction, but on the state's motion defendant's appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeals for the reason that there was no final judgment. Thus, the controversy centers on whether a suspended imposition of sentence is a final judgment. It is not. This seems simple enough, but the facts of this case and the dilemma in which defendant finds himself give cause to ponder the controlling legal rubric.
Three things jump out at us here:
(1) The defendant in Lynch was convicted of second-degree burglary and received one year of probation. In Carol's case, the "victim" admitted Carol did not commit the offense, as defined by Missouri statutory and case law, yet she wound up with two years' probation. That seems a tad excessive, when compared to Lynch.
(2) Lynch was not able to appeal his case because the SIS meant there was no final judgment in his case;
(3) An SIS is not a final judgment. And you know any issue must be perplexing when a judge breaks out a word like "rubric."
The Lynch justices go on to essentially say their finding makes no sense, but they are powerless to change it because the Missouri General Assembly (a fancy term for a legislature) is, well . . . grossly incompetent. The opinion was written in 1984, and it appears nothing has changed much in the Show-Me State since then. From Lynch:
The next basic premise is that judgment in a criminal case does not become final for purposes of appeal until sentence is entered. Imposition of sentence must occur before the appellate process can begin. State v. Murphy, 626 S.W.2d 649, 650 (Mo.App.1981).
State ex rel. Wagner v. Ruddy, 582 S.W.2d 692 (Mo. banc 1979) states that "[t]he very term `sentence' has been defined to mean `judgment or final judgment,' and a criminal case is not ripe for appeal if no sentence has been pronounced." Id. at 694. This statement is congruent with the following holding of State v. Harris, 486 S.W.2d 227 (Mo.1972):
For purposes of this provision [§ 547.070], final judgment requires the imposition of sentence. State v. Jaeger, Mo. Sup., 394 S.W.2d 347, 352; State v. Kelley, 206 Mo. 685, 105 S.W. 606, 608. When a defendant has been found guilty by a jury verdict which assesses the punishment, an appeal by the defendant prior to the pronouncement of sentence and entry of judgment is premature.
Does this seem head-scratching? It should because it's goofy, by any definition. The downside, for Carol, is that she cannot appeal the guilty verdict against her -- at least (it appears) until her probation is over in two years. The upside is that there is no final judgment -- and virtually no punishment -- against her.
Whether Harmison knows it or not, there are several other upsides for Carol, which have the promise of turning the finding against her into a virtual nullity.
(To be continued)
|The Philando Castille shooting, which was captured on video|
and spread via Facebook.
Russian trolls used the 2016 police-shooting death of Philando Castille to help sew racial unrest in the United States, according to a new CNN report. It provides perhaps the strongest evidence yet that Russian meddling efforts are not limited to politics, but attempt to disrupt American society at large.
The report also raises a question that hits close to home: Is the abuse that has been directed at my wife, Carol, and me, because of my reporting on sensitive topics at this blog, driven in part by Russian interests? At first, that question might seem a tad over the edge. But when you consider the political environments in the two states where we have lived -- Alabama and Missouri (not to mention the ongoing investigation of a Russian scandal tied to the current occupant of the White House) -- the question does not seem quite so far-fetched.
Some readers' initial reaction likely will go something like this: "Schnauzer you are a relative nobody. Why would powerful and wealthy interests in Russia have any interest in you?" My response? "Philando Castille was a nobody, too, until a Minnesota cop shot him seven times during a traffic stop, creating an opportunity for Russian trolls to take disruptive actions."
Evidence suggests that Russian interest is not driven by a person's fame or notoriety; it's more about potentially explosive issues that person represents. In the case of Philando Castille, the issue involved the intersection of police brutality, racial unrest, and the Black Lives Matter movement. In my case, perhaps, the issue involves the new world of digital, non-traditional journalism, where a reporter such as yours truly can break stories without restrictions from editors and obligations to advertisers.
If there is one hatred that Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and their supporters share it is for a free press. Wikipedia keeps a list of journalists who have been killed in Russia, and it includes at least a dozen names -- while some sources believe the true number is closer to 200. Donald Trump has called freedom of the press "disgusting." The ACLU reports:
Trump the candidate also blacklisted reporters and entire news outlets from campaign events, referred to journalists as “scum” and “slime,” and mocked a reporter for having a disability. He vowed to sue women who reported incidents of sexual harassment and assault, along with the outlets that covered their accounts, and threatened a lawsuit against a Hispanic journalist group for calling out his bigoted remarks.
"I would never kill them but I do hate them,” he said of reporters. “And some of them are such lying, disgusting people.”
Gee, its comforting to know the U.S. "president" does not plan to kill any journalists -- at least not yet. One of Trump's most prominent surrogates -- Attorney General and former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) -- already has established an environment of terror toward journalists in his native Alabama. I know because I was arrested and thrown in jail for five months because of content on this blog. Let's consider the abuse that has been sent our way over roughly the past 10 years:
* Carol and I were cheated out of our jobs -- her at Infinity Insurance, me at UAB;
* I became the first U.S. journalist since 2006 to be incarcerated -- and apparently the only one in U.S. history to be jailed due to a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that both have been unlawful under the First Amendment for more than 230 years;
* Our home of 25 years in Birmingham was stolen via a wrongful foreclosure;
* After being forced to move to Missouri, where I grew up, we were hit with an eviction that was unlawful on at least 10-12 grounds;
* During the eviction, Missouri deputies brutalized Carol and shattered her left arm so severely that it required trauma surgery and roughly six months of physical therapy. The violence was such that it put Carol's overall health, even her life at risk. Medical records show she was treated for blood loss, shock, nerve damage, kidney damage, elevated pressures, and more.
|Mugshot of U.S. journalist Roger Shuler after cops |
in Jeff Sessions' Alabama beat and arrested him
inside his own home -- for blogging.
A CNN investigation found at least two apparent American protest groups -- "Don't Shoot" and "Blacktivist" -- that proved to be driven by Russian trolls. Less than 10 hours after the Castille shooting, on July 6, 2016, "Don't Shoot" began to promote an event called "Justice for Philando Castille." But no one in the tight-knit Minneapolis activist community had heard of the group or the people behind it. That's because it all was a Russian creation. And the subterfuge did not stop there. Reports CNN:
In September 2017, CNN uncovered a sham organization called "Blacktivist." The group described itself as a black American activist campaign and had been active on social media for years. It even had a bigger following than the official Black Lives Matter Facebook page.
CNN confirmed Blacktivist was not a real American group, however. It was a troll operation run from 4,000 miles away in St. Petersburg, Russia, by a Kremlin-linked group known as the Internet Research Agency.
The revelations helped to show Russia's use of social media to interfere in American life extended beyond the presidential election, and into efforts to exacerbate existing divisions in the U.S.
The investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller has addressed the issue of Russian trolls:
In February, [Mueller's] team indicted 13 Russian nationals involved in the Internet Research Agency troll group, saying it had sought to exacerbate existing divisions in American society.
By the time of Castile's death in July 2016, the troll group, operating out of a St Petersburg office, was allegedly a multi-million-dollar effort, with dozens of people working night and day running a network of thousands of fake American social media accounts, posing as activists on everything from Black Lives Matter to Texas secession.
By 2016, American prosecutors allege, the Internet Research Agency was "primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton."
The Philando Castille story now shows that Russian tricksters did not just want to harm Hillary Clinton's presidential operations. Their meddling went way beyond that, possibly to include attacks on a journalist who reported uncomfortable truths about crooked conservatives in two states -- Alabama and Missouri -- where connections to Russian interests are not hard to find.
(To be continued)
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|Bill Pryor, with and without robe|
Anthony Kennedy yesterday announced his retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS), and that means Birmingham's Bill Pryor, who currently sits on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, again is being floated as a possible Donald Trump nominee to the nation's highest court.
Pryor widely was seen as the favorite when Antonin Scalia's seat opened up, but Trump wound up picking Neil Gorsuch of Colorado -- with Pryor finishing a distant third. A number of knowledgeable observers noted then that Pryor fell out of favor because of our reporting on his background as a closeted gay, who appeared nude in photographs that wound up at badpuppy.com. (See four nude images of Pryor that have surfaced so far, at the end of this post.)
We also reported that Pryor and Attorney General/former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Pryor's most ardent advocate, had a gay affair that featured numerous late-night visits by Sessions to Pryor's apartment in Montgomery -- many of them captured on Alabama law-enforcement surveillance.
|From Metro Weekly|
Mother Jones (MJ)has included Pryor in its list of possible Trump picks to replace Kennedy. From the MJ report:
With Wednesday’s announcement that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will be retiring, President Donald Trump has the opportunity to appoint the second justice of his presidency. His choice will likely shift the court farther to the right—and for decades to come. As the court’s frequent swing voter, Kennedy sided with the court’s liberals more often than any of his conservative colleagues. That’s not likely to be true of his replacement. In November, Trump released his shortlist of 25 potential Supreme Court nominees, an updated version of the list he had produced during the presidential campaign. They’re a very conservative bunch.
Here are some of the likeliest candidates for the next Supreme Court justice . . . :
William Pryor Jr. (age 56), 11th Circuit Court of Appeals: If Trump really wanted to make liberals apoplectic, he could choose Pryor to replace Kennedy. Pryor previously succeeded Attorney General Jeff Sessions as Alabama’s attorney general, and he has been an outspoken conservative on the appellate court.
Pryor was such a toxic nominee when President George W. Bush chose him for a federal judgeship in 2003 that Senate Democrats initially filibustered him. Pryor has referred to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision making abortion legal, as the “worst abomination of constitutional law in our history” creating “a constitutional right to murder an unborn child.” As Alabama’s attorney general, he filed a brief to the Supreme Court supporting Texas’s anti-gay sodomy law—he was the only state attorney general to do so—and defended a ban on the sale of sex toys in the state, writing that “the commerce in sexual stimulation and auto-eroticism, for its own sake, unrelated to marriage, procreation, or familial relations is an evil, an obscenity…detrimental to the health and morality of the state.” In 2014, he was on a panel of judges that barred the Obama administration from enforcing the contraceptive mandate against EWTN, a Catholic TV network. While on the court, he voted to continue a ban on volunteers feeding homeless people near Orlando’s city hall; upheld a restrictive Georgia voter ID law; and refused to block the use of opening prayers at government meetings in Cobb County, Georgia.
With support from Sessions, Pryor was an early favorite to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia but was ultimately rejected in favor of Neil Gorsuch. Pryor’s stock in the White House has likely plummeted along with that of Sessions, who has been at odds with Trump for months over his decision to recuse himself from the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
We, of course, don't know what impact, if any, our reporting on the gay porn in Pryor's past might have had on Trump's decision to go with Gorsuch the last time around. But this is from a Legal Schnauzer report the day after the Gorsuch selection was announced, and it includes what others think about the issue:
Alabama federal judge Bill Pryor came in no better than third last night in the race to become Donald Trump's first (and, hopefully, only) nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. That was quite a fall for a candidate who widely was considered the front-runner just a few weeks ago. And that raises this question: Did our reporting here at Legal Schnauzer about Pryor's ties to 1990s gay pornography cost him a lifetime appointment on the nation's highest court?
I don't know the answer to that question, and I admit that even raising it sounds like I'm tooting my own horn. (Perhaps that's because I am tooting my own horn.) But a number of intelligent people I like and admire -- a doctor, a retired lawyer, my wife -- have told me in recent days they thought Pryor's fading prospects were directly related to our reports about his nudie photos that appeared at badpuppy.com in the 1990s. The hypocrisy, my friends and loved ones said, of an ardently anti-gay rights judge appearing at a gay-porn Web site (in photos taken during his college days in the 1980s), would be too much for the Trump administration to stomach.
So why did the nod go to Neil Gorsuch, from Colorado and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, and not Pryor, who sits on the Eleventh Circuit (based in Atlanta), holds a duty station at the Hugo Black Courthouse in downtown Birmingham, and lives in the suburb of Vestavia Hills (at 2474 Tyler Road, to be precise)?
We proceeded to address issues, which have little to do with gay porn or the nature of Pryor's "endowment," that make Pryor a horrible choice:
. . . let's set this straight: I like the idea of having cost Bill Pryor a SCOTUS seat -- I really, really like that idea. Check that -- I love the idea, I relish it. Why? Bill Pryor might be the single most over-rated individual in U.S. public life. He also might be the most evil, although Donald Trump threatens to swipe that "honor" and run away with it. George W. Bush appointed Pryor to the Eleventh Circuit because, it's been widely reported, Karl Rove wanted to reward Pryor for launching (while Alabama attorney general) a bogus investigation that led to two innocent men -- former Alabama governor Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy -- winding up in federal prison.
It is widely known in the Alabama legal community that Pryor was a mediocre lawyer, at best, and he's done nothing to distinguish himself as a judge -- unless you consider voicing antipathy toward gay rights to be a distinguishing characteristic. That's ironic, not only because of Pryor's gay-porn photos, but also because of our recent report that Alabama law enforcement conducted surveillance on Pryor's residence in the 1990s (prompted by the badpuppy.com photos and the likelihood of blackmail) that caught U.S. Senator and Trump attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions frequently coming and going at curiously late hours.
Sessions has championed Pryor's cause at seemingly every opportunity, and it now appears that might have its genesis in something other than Pryor's professional qualifications, which are thinner than thin.
|From The Sword|
Does it sound like I have a personal animus toward Bill Pryor? If so, that's good -- because I do. For one, I know Don Siegelman, and I've written more about his case than anyone on the planet, and I despise Pryor for what he has done to an imperfect, but good, man. I also know Richard Scrushy, and I despise Pryor for what he has done to him. Whatever his faults may be, Scrushy did a whole lot to create jobs and build prestige for Birmingham. Pryor has done nothing in Birmingham, except feather his own filthy nest.
Two, I'm convinced Pryor has engineered multiple cheat jobs against my wife and me in federal court. We've seen signs that he is doing it now and might plan to do it in the future. Pryor apparently is arrogant enough to think he can get away with such criminality. But he might want to think twice about that. Karma has a way of biting right through your robes and leaving serious scars on your ass.
That's especially true if more stories related to badpuppy.com pop up. And that is very close to happening. We've already published four gay-porn photos of Pryor -- and more photos (and/or information) might be on the way.
|Bill Pryor nude No. 1|
|Bill Pryor nude No. 2|
|Bill Pryor nude No. 3|
|Bill Pryor nude No. 4|
|Police brutality comes with heavy financial costs.|
Twelve U.S. cities and counties borrowed almost $878 million to pay for the costs of police brutality and misconduct, according to a new report from a Chicago-based research and strategy group. The report, titled "Police Brutality Bonds: How Wall Street Profits from Police Violence," comes from the Action Center On Race and the Economy (ACRE).
The borrowing figure cited above does not include more than $1.03 billion paid to investors. When that is included, the total reaches $1.87 billion.
This issue hits close to home here at Legal Schnauzer, given that deputies in Greene County, Missouri, brutalized my wife, Carol, during an unlawful eviction in September 2015, leaving her with a comminuted fracture (broken in more than two places) in her left arm that required trauma surgery and put her overall health at risk -- requiring treatment for blood loss, shock, nerve damage, kidney damage, and elevated pressures.
To help cover up such brutality, Missouri prosecutors brought a "cover charge" against Carol, in the form of an "assault of a law enforcement officer" criminal case, in which the alleged police "victim" admitted he grabbed Carol first, meaning she could not be guilty of the offense as described by state statute. From the ACRE report:
As the costs of police misconduct rise, cities and counties across the United States are going into debt to pay for it. Often this debt is in the form of bond borrowing. When cities or counties issue bonds to pay these costs, banks and other firms collect fees for the services they provide, and investors collect interest. The use of bonds to pay for settlements and judgments greatly increases the burden of policing costs on taxpayers, while producing a profit for banks and investors. Using bonds to pay for settlements or judgments can nearly double the costs of the original settlement. All of this is paid for by taxpayers.
We call the bonds used to cover police related settlement and judgment costs “police brutality bonds”, because they quite literally allow banks and wealthy investors to profit from police violence. This is a transfer of wealth from communities—especially over-policed communities of color—to Wall Street and wealthy investors. The companies profiting from police brutality bonds include well known institutions like Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America, as well as smaller regional banks and other firms.
In our research into the use of police brutality bonds, we found that cities and counties across the United States issue bonds to pay for police brutality settlements and judgments. The cities range from giant metropolises such as Los Angeles to smaller cities like Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Our report includes details on police brutality bonds in twelve cities and counties, including five in-depth case studies: Chicago, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Lake County, Indiana.
All of this spending, the study finds, does not appear to curb police violence. Reports ACRE:
While the legal system assumes that hefty financial consequences for police violence serve as a deterrent to abusive policing, this does not appear to be the case. Instead, settlements and judgments—including those a city or county can’t pay without going into debt—appear to be an acceptable cost of the business of policing for cities and counties across the country. We have identified several factors contributing to this broken system.
* Violent Police Officers and Their Departments Are Shielded from Financial Consequences.Research has found that police officers are “virtually always” indemnified by their employers, meaning that the cities will cover the costs of defending officers in court cases, and will pay for any judgments or settlements that result from actions officers take in the course of their employment. Furthermore, most police departments are also insulated from the financial consequences of excessive settlement and judgment costs and are not subject to budget cuts when their settlement and judgment costs rise. Those cuts come from elsewhere in the city budget.
|Comminuted fracture of Carol Shuler's left|
arm, courtesy of police brutality in Missouri.
* There is a striking lack of transparency and disclosure around cities’ reliance on borrowing, and in each of our case studies, there is a lack of full, accessible accounting of the costs.Most cities in our sample were unable, or unwilling, to provide a full accounting of how much they are spending on borrowing for settlements and judgments. Accountability and change are impossible without transparency.
What needs to be done? ACRE has some ideas:
As we fight to hold violent officers and police departments accountable to our communities and to curb abusive policing, we must also work to hold banks and investors accountable for their role in perpetuating and profiting from our existing system. Police violence should never be a source of profit for banks or investors, or a reason we do not have the resources we need to invest in the infrastructure and services that make our communities safer and more livable. We need to dismantle this system of policing and build a justice system that prioritizes the needs and well-being of all people. While we work toward that, here are our key recommendations:
1. If cities must borrow to pay for settlements and judgments, banks and investors should not be allowed to profit from that.
2. Police officers must be forced to take out individual liability insurance policies to cover the costs of settlements and judgments caused by their misconduct.
3. Governmental bodies at the local, state, and federal levels must account for and provide full transparency about which officers are behaving in ways that lead to settlements and judgments, how they are or are not being held accountable, who is paying for their misconduct and how, and who is profiting from these payments.
|Donald Trump, Neil Gorsuch, and Anthony Kennedy|
Gorsuch, from Colorado, was Trump's first appointee to SCOTUS, and he combined with Kennedy's sons and Trump to force an opening on the Supreme Court via the elder Kennedy's exit, reports Wayne Madsen. The mainstream media, led by The New York Times, also reports that Anthony Kennedy was pressured to resign, but it's story is much more cautious than the one Madsen produced.
Madsen's report suggests the No. 1 characteristic Trump will look for in a nominee is one who might side with him in any case that comes before the court regarding the Mueller probe.
Meanwhile, some Democrats -- in a rare showing of spine -- say a president who is under criminal investigation should not be allowed to make a nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to HuffPost.
The Times makes no mention that the pressure was designed to possibly give Trump an upper hand in the Mueller investigation. And the newspaper portrays such pressure to create a high-court opening as standard political theater. Madsen, however, says such collusion to influence SCOTUS could be criminal. From the Wayne Madsen Report (WMR):
There are multiple reports coming out of congressional and media circles in Washington, DC that Donald Trump colluded with Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch and the sons of Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy to convince Justice Kennedy to retire. Kennedy's announcement that he is retiring sent shock waves through the country, with fears that Trump's replacement will provide a solid 5-4 court majority that will help Trump roll back several fundamental constitutional rights.
More importantly, a 5-4 Republican majority on the court is seen by Trump as protecting him from any indictment or recommendation for impeachment arising from the Justice Department investigation of Trump and his associates being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller.
If Trump colluded with Gorsuch and Kennedy to "pack the court" in Trump's favor, that would represent impeachable offenses by both Trump and Gorsuch. The Supreme Court's independence from interference by the other two branches of the federal government -- executive and legislative -- is sacrosanct under the Constitution.
The 81-year old Kennedy was not only pressured to retire by his Trump-appointed court colleague, Gorsuch, but also by his son, Justin Kennedy, a personal friend of Donald Trump, Jr.
Justice Kennedy also saw pressure to step down from his other son, Gregory Kennedy, a Stanford Law School classmate of Peter Thiel, Donald Trump's high-tech adviser. Thiel's Palantir Technology, which has several U.S. intelligence and law enforcement contracts -- including one with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for identifying immigrants in the United States for deportation -- is partnered with Gregory Kennedy's former firm, which is ominously called Disruptive Technology Advisers, LLC and which is billed as a "merchant bank" in Los Angeles.
Trump and Gorsuch were particularly forceful in encouraging Anthony Kennedy to step aside, reports Madsen:
Reportedly, Trump personally pressed Gorsuch, who once clerked for Kennedy, to ask the associate justice to retire. Whether or not Trump told Gorsuch that the move was to ensure that the president would remain immune to the court upholding any moves by Mueller, Gorsuch, as a constitutional expert with experience working at the court, would have known what the request meant. Gorsuch would have also known that by cajoling him to pressure a Supreme Court justice to retire, Trump's actions were not only unconstitutional and illegal, but also exposed himself to charges of judicial malfeasance and potential impeachment.
Compared to Madsen's report, The New York Times article has a "let's shrug our shoulders" feel to it. From The Times:
There were no direct efforts to pressure or lobby Kennedy to announce his resignation Wednesday, and it was hardly the first time a president had done his best to create a court opening.“In the past half-century, presidents have repeatedly been dying to take advantage of timely vacancies,” said Laura Kalman, a historian at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
But in subtle and not so subtle ways, the Trump administration waged a quiet campaign to ensure that the president had a second opportunity in his administration’s first 18 months to fulfill one of his most important campaign promises to his conservative followers: that he would change the complexion and direction of the Supreme Court. . . .
There is nothing unusual in urging older justices to retire for partisan reasons. During the Obama administration, prominent liberals called for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to retire so that Obama could name her successor.
Kennedy’s departure is a triumph for Trump, who has taken particular satisfaction in his judicial appointments. Naming justices and judges is easier than forging legislative compromises, and Trump understands that his judicial appointments represent a legacy that will long outlast his presidency.
Meanwhile, a few Democrats were making a rare display of toughness regarding the SCOTUS opening. From Amanda Terkel, of HuffPost:
Some Democratic senators and their allies are starting to make the argument that not only should there be no Supreme Court pick until after the November elections, but that there shouldn’t be one at all while the president remains under criminal investigation.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating President Donald Trump as part of his probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election to defeat Hillary Clinton. Trump is not, however, a criminal target of Mueller’s.
During a judiciary committee hearing Thursday, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) noted that a challenge to the investigation could very well end up before the Supreme Court at some point ― potentially creating a conflict of interest for a president who has asked nonpartisan officials for their loyalty.
“If we’re not going to thoroughly discuss what it means to have a president with this ongoing investigation happening, who is now going to interview Supreme Court justices, and potentially continue with his tradition of doing litmus tests, loyalty tests, for that person, we could be participating in a process that could undermine that criminal investigation,” Booker said.“I do not believe this committee should or can in good conscience consider a nominee put forward by this president until that investigation is concluded.”
Booker was not alone in speaking out:
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) also mentioned the Russia investigation Wednesday in his statement on Justice Anthony Kennedy’s upcoming retirement, saying Republicans will be “conveniently ignoring the serious investigation into Russia’s pro-Trump campaign interference in our democracy” if they try to rush a nominee through.
According to HuffPo, the Russian investigation is likely to hang over the Trump nomination, for a variety of reasons:
The Russia investigation is likely to come up more if Trump chooses Brett Kavanaugh, a circuit court judge who is on the president’s shortlist of potential nominees. Kavanaugh is one of the most outspoken champions of unitary executive theory ― essentially, unchecked presidential power over the executive branch ― on the bench, and Democrats would no doubt press him about his views on the constitutionality of the special counsel and other matters regarding the probe.
Trump and his GOP allies in the Senate have said they want to have a nominee confirmed by the midterm elections in November. Democrats have argued that they are being hypocrites, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused to give a hearing or a vote to Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, in March 2016. McConnell argued at the time that a Supreme Court confirmation should not happen until after the election.
Trump, of course, won that election, and he nominated Gorsuch for the bench, stealing the seat away from liberals and securing a 5-4 conservative majority.
That's ironic because we've written 10 years worth of posts here at Legal Schnauzer about solid citizens, from all walks of life, who courts greeted with unlawful rulings, even hostility. (See Don Siegelman, Sherry Carroll Rollins, Paul Minor, Linda Upton, and Carol Tovich Shuler, for examples.)
Ramos sued the Capital Gazette for its coverage of a 2011 criminal harassment case, where he pleaded guilty and received a 90-day suspended jail sentence, with 18 months of supervised probation. The charge stemmed from Ramos' vulgar and threatening behavior toward a former high school classmate, a young woman, he encountered on Facebook.
Staff writer Nick Hartley wrote a story for the Gazette about the harassment case, titled "Jarrod wants to be your friend," and Ramos responded by suing Hartley, editor and publisher Thomas L. Marquardt, and the newspaper's parent company.
Ramos represented himself, pro se, and one problem with his lawsuit should have been readily apparent to anyone with the slightest knowledge of defamation law -- or the ability to look up central elements of the tort at a library, or on the Web. Journalists generally are legally "privileged" to report on official proceedings and public documents -- upon which many of our Legal Schnauzer posts are based.
That means, even if false information is presented in a court case or other official proceeding, a journalist is privileged to report it, as long as he does so accurately and with fairness -- in other words, if he reports both sides of the case, as presented in court.
In Alabama, the privilege is spelled out statutorily at Code of Alabama 13A-11-161. At case law, Wilson v. Birmingham Post-Herald, 482 So. 2d 1209 (1986) spells out the privilege:
It is undisputed in the instant case that the Post-Herald news report at issue constitutes a fair and accurate report of the statements made by two Cuban refugees to the Birmingham Police Department in the course of an official investigation and summarized in the official police incident report. [Reporter Kathy] Biele was present during the interrogation. According to the sworn affidavits of two police officers present, the news report at issue accurately reflects the investigation and the police incident report. There is no suggestion in the evidence to the contrary. The news report, therefore, is conditionally privileged under § 13A-11-161 and the common law.
Not only did Ramos ignore the journalist's privilege to report on public and official proceedings, he brought a case that, overall, was preposterously weak. How weak was it? That question can be answered by examining the appellate case, Ramos v. Hartley, et al (MD Court of Special Appeals, 2015). Consider some of the issues raised in the appellate opinion:
(1) Ramos failed to serve defendants with the complaint, filed an amended complaint after the statute of limitations had expired, and provided the court with almost no information:
On July 23, 2012, just one week before the expiration of the one-year statute of limitations, the appellant filed his initial complaint, charging the appellees with defamation, in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County ("the July Complaint"). The appellant failed to serve a copy of the complaint on the appellees. . .
There was no supporting documentation or affidavit submitted with the complaint. On October 9, 2012, and over two months after the statute of limitations for a defamation claim had expired, the appellant filed a fuller complaint ("the October complaint"). Instead of four bare-bones paragraphs, the October complaint was one of 22 pages. The October complaint also added the charge of invasion of privacy.
(2) Due to the service and statute-of-limitations issues, the appellate court expressed doubt that Ramos had any case at all, much less a viable defamation claim:
Although we have serious reservations over whether the October complaint can be found to relate back to the July complaint and is, therefore, even cognizable, it is completely unnecessary to anguish over this nuance in the filing chronology. But see, Crowe v. Houseworth, 272 Md. 481, 485-86 (1974); Fischer v. Longest, 99 Md. App. 368 (1994). Even the fuller October complaint, assuming its viability, palpably fails to state, as the hearing judge found and ruled, a chargeable offense. One solid reason for affirming the trial court is enough. Scott v. Jenkins, 345 Md. 21, 28 (1997) ("Plaintiff must allege sufficient facts that, if prove true, would support every element of the asserted claim.")
(3) Despite the weakness of Ramos' case, trial judge Maureen M. Lamasney gave him a hearing and listened respectfully to his arguments. We've seen signs for years that many citizens, who come to court with valid claims or defenses, often are not treated in such fashion:
On November 26, 2012, the appellees filed a Motion by Defendants to Dismiss with Prejudice the Complaint and a Request for Hearing. A full hearing was conducted by Judge Maureen M. Lamasney on March 29, 2013. The appellant's complaint was that he had been defamed in a newspaper article about his having pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal harassment. At the motion hearing, Judge Lamasney probed the appellant to point out a single statement in the article that was actually false or to give a single example of how he had been harmed by the article. He could not do so. Judge Lamasney's ruling was clear.
(4) Ramos could not point to any false information in the Capital Gazette article. No kidding. Here is a colloquy between the court and Ramos:
"THE COURT: "All right. Mr. Ramos, I'm going to grant the defendant's motion to dismiss this case. And it will be dismissed with prejudice. And I'm going to grant it for the following reasons: You are required in your complaint to state a claim with sufficient specificity.
"MR. RAMOS: Your Honor —
"THE COURT: I'm talking now.
"MR. RAMOS: Yes, I'm sorry.
"THE COURT: And dismissal is proper only if the facts and inferences, even if proven, would not entitle the plaintiff to relief. And that is what I am finding in your case, that you do not lay out a prima facie case for defamation or for invasion of privacy, or being placed in the false light.
"And the reason I'm finding that is that there is absolutely not one piece of evidence, or an assertion by you that the statement was false. . . .
"You know, I understand exactly how you feel. I think people who are the subject of newspaper articles, whoever they may be, feel that there is a requirement that they be placed in the best light, or they have an opportunity to have the story reported to their satisfaction, or have the opportunity to have however much input they believe is appropriate.
"But that's simply not true. There is nothing in those complaints that prove that anything that was published about you is, in fact, false. "It all came from a public record. It was of the result of a criminal conviction. And it cannot give rise to a defamation suit.
(5) The court explained, fully and succinctly, why Ramos' lawsuit was dismissed -- and the explanation was on point with the law:
"MR. RAMOS: If I understand correctly, then the basis is that there's not a showing of falsity?
"THE COURT: Correct.
"MR. RAMOS: And rather that there is an application of privilege.
"THE COURT: Correct, both that the article was simply not defamatory, that it was based on public record, that you haven't alleged that it was false, and that the article appears to be substantially accurate, and it would fall into the privilege which would make any complaint unsustainable, because they reported a criminal case. They reported a matter of public interest."
(6) The appellate court summarized the reasons that Ramos' claim was a clunker from the outset:
A discussion of defamation law would be an exercise in futility, because the appellant fails to come close to alleging a case of defamation. In his five-page brief, the appellant devotes two and one-half pages to legal argument. He never alleges that any basic fact contained in the article about his guilty plea is actually false. He claims only that "Hartley's column fails the test of fairness because he editorialized on the story's meaning." There is no allegation of any specific harm that he suffered as a result of the article. He simply described the harm as "incalculable, unforeseen, and potentially unknowable." That does not do it.
The appellant is pro se. A lawyer would almost certainly have told him not to proceed with this case. It reveals a fundamental failure to understand what defamation law is and, more particularly, what defamation law is not. The appellant is aggrieved because the newspaper story about his guilty plea assumed that he was guilty and that the guilty plea was, therefore, properly accepted. He is aggrieved because the story was sympathetic toward the harassment victim and was not equally understanding of the harassment perpetrator. The appellant wanted equal coverage of his side of the story. He wanted a chance to put the victim in a bad light, in order to justify and explain why he did what he did. That, however, is not the function of defamation law.
The appellant was charged with a criminal act. The appellant perpetrated a criminal act. The appellant plead guilty to having perpetrated a criminal act. The appellant was punished for his criminal act. He is not entitled to equal sympathy with his victim and may not blithely dismiss her as a "bipolar drunkard." He does not appear to have learned his lesson.
|Steve and Bridget Marshall|
Ms. Marshall, the wife of Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, died on June 24 in Murfreesboro, TN, reportedly from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. But the case still is open, with no official finding of suicide and no mention in police reports that a firearm was recovered, reports APR's Josh Moon. From the article:
The investigation into the death of Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s wife remains an open case in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and police officials there would not answer on Monday whether Bridgette Marshall’s death has officially been ruled a suicide.
Additionally, Murfreesboro Police will not disclose basic details about the firearm used in Marshall’s death, and the official police report omitted any mention of the recovery of the weapon.
What to make of the report's failure to mention that a firearm was recovered? That's hard to figure, and Moon writes:
APR was told by multiple current law enforcement officials who viewed the MPD report that leaving the recovery of the firearm — along with at least a general description of the weapon recovered — off the police report was odd. In light of those statements, APR contacted MPD to inquire about the weapon and why it wasn’t listed on the report.
MPD spokeswoman Officer Amy Norville told APR on Monday that a firearm was recovered by police at the scene, but she said, “we are not releasing the information about it because the investigation is still ongoing.”
When asked to clarify whether MPD had officially listed the cause of death as suicide, Norville responded: “According to the Detective on the case he has not closed the file, so it is still listed as an open investigation.”
How did such confusion enter the picture on the Marshall death? Moon explains:
On that initial report, the first officer on the scene, Eric Deleon, wrote that after discovering Marshall’s body on the couch inside an apartment on Puckett Creek Crossing, he contacted MPD’s Criminal Investigations Division, which took over the scene. Deleon listed “suicide” underneath a section of the report entitled “Description of Offense.”
According to law enforcement sources, that is likely not MPD’s official determination on the case, but was how officers initially viewed the incident. Additional evidence may or may not change that evaluation prior to an official designation.
APR requested to speak with an MPD official, and also asked specifically if the department still viewed Marshall’s death as a suicide, but neither question was answered.
According to the Tennessee Medical Examiner’s Office, an autopsy was performed early last week, but the results will not be available for several weeks.
Steve Marshall, who was appointed by scandal-plagued former Gov. Robert Bentley, faces a July 17 runoff against former AG Troy King. The winner will take on Democrat Joseph Siegelman in the Nov. 6 general election.
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