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The story even showed up on The Rachel Maddow Show Tuesday night, under the title "Bumbling Trump booster botches Mueller smear, implicates own mom." I told you this story was bizarre. It also hits close to home, according to an Alabama political insider. Burkman and Wohl are tied to a fringe right-wing media outfit that has been active in "The Heart of Dixie,"says Jill Simpson (retired lawyer, opposition researcher, and whistle blower) on her Facebook page.
Burkman reportedly hired a firm called Surefire Intelligence to unearth dirt on Mueller, with a press event set for today to reveal the first of Mueller's supposed victims.
|Ali (Akbar) Alexander at Grindr gay-sex app|
We have tackled that subject ourselves with posts about Akbar's criminal activities and his tendency to troll for gay sex via the Grindr geo-social app. We also have pointed to evidence that Akbar has pull with the Alabama State Bar -- via connections to Montgomery attorney Baron Coleman and Tripp Vickers (assistant general counsel with the Alabama State Bar) -- and has used those ties to help launch attacks on Alabama progressives, including Jill Simpson and yours truly.
Now Simpson says the National Bloggers Club, the group Akbar heads, is tied to the goofballs who apparently are trying to smear Robert Mueller and might now be in serious trouble with the FBI. A serious probe into the Mueller scheme could lead to Alabama, Simpson suggests:
A Trump-supporting far right-wing blogger, and the News Club bunch of idiots, have been caught trying to set up Special Counsel Robert Mueller in a phony #MeToo deal. For years Roger Shuler and I have been telling folks how nutty this right-wing National Bloggers Club is, and they run with the Bannon and Rove-Norquist crowds. Now the dumb asses are caught trying to set Mueller up. They always brag to each other about what they do and are easy to catch -- and Mueller has got them. I certainly hope Mueller yanks the National Bloggers Club's chain and destroys them.
Simpson's interactions with the right-wing crazies go back several years, to the beginnings of the Don Siegelman case:
The NBC, as we call them, came to my attention when they harassed and told false stories about Siegelman activists. The NBC is a vicious group. What is such a hoot is that is how I first learned about crazy Steve Bannon's bunch. I started getting a master's degree in philosophy and religion, and the nuts in the National Bloggers Club started following me around in D.C. and California. The idiots were making a film for Andrew Breitbart and were trying to falsely claim I was a ring leader in Anonymous, as they were friends of mine, and that I was dating a guy who they believed was in Anonymous. The dimwits offered me all kinds of things to say I was part of it, through him.
Simpson knows these creepy wingers can get both scary and personal. She also says they are behind -- at least in part -- some of the abuse (false arrest and imprisonment, theft of house) that has been directed at my wife, Carol, and me. They also likely played a role in the allegations against Roy Moore that led to Doug Jones' victory in Alabama's special election for the U.S. Senate. Says Simpson:
If the FBI gets on the trail, Simpson says, it likely will lead to Steve Bannon -- not to mention Jeff Sessions and Alabama:
If Mueller pulls the thread, I suspect he will find it leads to Bannon and the NBC, which Bannon inherited from Breitbart. . . . This NBC group and their associates target folks in false campaigns. Around 2011 is when they started a blogger war with left-wing progressive bloggers and writers. I know, as I was a target of theirs. They try to destroy people.
In winter of 2016, I went to the FBI as I had proof of what they had done to me and was told the bureau was not interested. I said, "Look, you have no idea how dangerous they are," and now they have targeted Mueller. What a hoot. The Alabama FBI should have listened but I guess they are too far up Jeff Sessions' butt. Sessions works with the NBC and Bannon to target Sessions' enemies.
That is when I figured out if the FBI won't do anything, I am still going to start daily writing about these folks, and as you know, Jim and I outed their Project Alamo election- theft operation in December 2016.
This bunch is closely tied to Jeff Sessions, as Bannon is an operative who adores Sessions; we found that out in our bloggers war. Now the FBI is investigating the NBC-connected folks we wrote about, as progressives demanded it, and now they are getting their own taste of what we have been dealing with, as the same bunch of thugs tried to set up former FBI chief Mueller.
|Ken white, of Popehat Blog|
We have developed a theory about that, and it began to form after evidence recently surfaced that the Alabama State Bar had interfered with our pending federal civil-rights lawsuit ("The Jail Case"), which grew from the Riley-Duke matter. We already had seen evidence that Ali (Akbar) Alexander, president of the right-wing National Bloggers Club (NBC) had bragged online that he had ties to the governor of Alabama and planned to call in favors with state lawyers. (Akbar has used the services of Montgomery lawyer/radio host Baron Coleman, who is tied to Tripp Vickers, assistant general counsel at the Alabama State Bar.) We knew Ken White -- who has been called a "libertarian lawyer" in some circles -- sought legal help for Akbar and Co. in a RICO lawsuit liberal activist Brett Kimberlin had brought against them. White even made a reference to the bizarre "RogerS theory," which had the Akbar crowd aflutter in the days before deputies beat me in my own home and threw me in the Shelby County Jail for five months -- making me probably the only American ever to be arrested for blogging.
You probably are starting to get the picture: White was connected to, and supportive of, the right-wing bloggers who thought I was "RogerS,"the anonymous commenter at Breitbart Unmasked who was encouraging Kimberlin to file a RICO lawsuit against them. The RogerS comments, which did not come from me, had the Akbar bloggers in a frenzied state of agitation in October 2013. And then, wham, I unlawfully get thrown in jail as an outgrowth of the Riley-Duke case.
But the right-wing scheme quickly developed a flaw. Riley and Duke had included my wife, Carol, as a defendant -- for no reason other than to have her arrested, too. But deputies failed to apprehend her on the night they nabbed me -- and they failed to get her on multiple visits to our house after I already was in jail.
Carol's ability to escape capture allowed her to get the story in the press -- where I quickly became known as the only U.S. journalist to be incarcerated in 2013. We think the plan was to extort us into silence on Legal Schnauzer, and if that didn't work, to kill us. If deputies had been able to arrest Carol, we both easily could have been murdered while in custody, and no one ever would have known what happened to us.
But Carol remained free and worked the phones and computer like a PR pro to get the story to the public. And we suspect that threw a major wrench into the plan to silence this blog -- permanently. In my only hearing before him on Nov. 14, 2013, I saw that Judge Claud Neilson was highly agitated about press coverage of my incarceration. I was shackled from head to toe, but I still could not help smile at thinking that Carol had caused a crooked Alabama judge to be so pissed off.
|Ali (Akbar) Alexander at the Grindr geo-social app|
for gay sex.
The goal? Well, White could not publicly defend the actions of Riley, Duke and their lawyers -- or Judge Claud Neilson -- so he didn't even try. But he could try to make me look like a loon, causing me to be less sympathetic in the public eye and to discourage any competent lawyer, or civil-rights organization, from helping me.
That would explain White's tendency to engage in name-calling -- labeling me "creepy, crazy, and vexatious" -- while providing little or no evidence to back it up. It also would explain why, of all the civil-rights lawyers in the United States, New York Times reporter Campbell Robertson sought analysis from White -- who was in California, talking about an Alabama case he knew little about.
Does this make sense? The Times went all the way across the country to find a lawyer who happened to be supportive of the right-wing bloggers who thought I was "RogerS" and likely wanted me jailed because of it. Of course, it makes no sense, and it shows how far "The Gray Lady" has fallen.
Donald Trump and I don't agree on much, but I share his view that The New York Times, in some respects, is failing.
How is this for duplicity? Ken White falsely wrote on multiple occasions that, while in jail, I had refused to take on a lawyer. This was an absurdity, considering I had spoken to two lawyers while in jail, and Carol made it clear to Salon that we were very interested in having a competent, determined lawyer on our side. Both of us made this clear to Campbell Robertson, but he left that out of his story.
Bottom line? We have little doubt that Ken White knows who was behind my kidnapping and incarceration -- and a possible plan to murder Carol and me. White might not know about all elements of the scheme, but he likely knows about some of them. We suspect White was enlisted by various members of the legal tribe -- probably with the Alabama State Bar in a coordinating role -- to portray me as "creepy and crazy," providing a form of cover for the real bad guys in all of this.
We've read enough of White's blog to know that he is a devoted legal tribesman -- part of the gang, the fraternity. In his reporting on my case, White repeatedly said I needed to get a lawyer -- as if that would make my problems magically disappear. White, of course, ignored that all of my problems were caused by lawyers, in the first place. And I'm just one of many Americans who has found, through unpleasant experience, that many lawyers make matters worse, without ever making them better.
If our theory about Ken White is correct, perhaps he needs to take a breather from calling me "creepy" and take a look in the mirror. He might find that is where the real creepiness resides.
And consider this: It's documented that Ali Akbar has a criminal record of a felonious nature, with a history of trolling for gay sex on the Grindr geosocial app, reportedly has engaged in a homosexual relationship with GOP strategist Karl Rove -- per a letter from Alabama oppo researcher Jill Simpson to Obama campaign counsel Robert Bauer. But Ken "Popehat" White supports Akbar? Ken White calls ME "creepy"?
If you want to view real creepiness in action, check out the video below of Ali (Akbar) Alexander, as he defends Brett Kavanaugh, philosophizes on sex, and rails against feminist lawyer Gloria Allred. In a stunning show of arrogance, Akbar declares that he is "an interpreter of energy for this period." Whoooo-hoooo.
As for Ken White, maybe he needs to clean up the company he keeps before dropping unmerited bombs on others. If he was involved in a conspiracy ("deprivation of rights"), or covering up a conspiracy, there could be criminal or RICO implications -- or both.
Senate, House, and governor's races around the country certainly will receive more attention than the race for Alabama attorney general, between Republican "incumbent" Steve Marshall and Democratic challenger Joseph Siegelman (son of former governor Don Siegelman, who spent six years in federal prison because GOP thugs orchestrated a political prosecution against him.)
Marshall already carries the baggage of being appointed to office by former "Luv Guv" Robert Bentley, who resigned from office amid a sex-tinged scandal that our reporting brought to public attention.
As voters head to the polls today, the Alabama AG's race is making headlines because of a USA Today report about a $735,000 donation to the Marshall campaign from the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), apparently in violation of state campaign-finance laws.
Joseph Siegelman has raised the possibility that Marshall, if he wins today's general election, could be removed from office for engaging in criminal acts. Perhaps that would be fitting, given the national political environment in the age of Trump. From a recent al.com report on the Siegelman-Marshall race:
Siegelman hammered the point that Marshall could be the latest state official booted from office -- preceded by former Gov. Robert Bentley, Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and Chief Justice Roy Moore -- if elected to a full term next month.
Marshall took office in February 2017 after being appointed by Bentley following Bentley's appointment of Luther Strange to the U.S. Senate.
"We are on the verge of potentially losing our attorney general," Siegelman said. "And I don't know how our state recovers from that."
Asked by AL.com following the press conference to expand on that assertion, Siegelman said, "The law is clear. If the violation takes place, then it's criminal if done intentionally. I am not attorney general. I'm in no position to act on a violation. The ethics commission is. The district attorney in Montgomery County is. If they want to take up this issue, they can.
"Under the law, if my opponent took this money knowing it was illegal or should have known it was illegal, then he can be prosecuted. If that happens, he would be removed from office and we would lose our attorney general."
A similar scenario could be unfolding on the national stage. Multiple news outlets are reporting that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is expected to roar back into the news following today's midterms. From a report on that subject at New York Magazine?
Apart from filing a report to Congress and addressing [Roger] Stone’s fate, Mueller may have some other postelection surprises up his sleeve. The week before Christmas, Michael Flynn, Trump’s first and shortest-serving national security adviser, will go before a federal judge to be sentenced for lying to the FBI about the extent of his dealings with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador. When Flynn pleaded guilty last December, the special counsel included a clause in his plea agreement promising to ask the court for leniency at sentencing. The catch: In the course of his cooperation, Flynn must provide “substantial assistance in the investigation or prosecution of another person who has committed an offense.” If Flynn truly sang for federal prosecutors, Mueller’s holiday gift to the president may just be another indictment of a person close to him.
Consider the possible implications of the infamous Trump Tower meeting. Multiple legal experts have stated the meeting could constitute criminal acts -- violation of campaign-finance laws, conspiracy to defraud the United States -- at the highest levels of the Trump campaign. From a report at USA Today:
“Don’t be fooled by word games,” Victoria Nourse, a professor at Georgetown Law, told us via email. “There is no legal term ‘collusion.’ The legal term for collusion is the crime of conspiracy. If you agree to kill someone and take a step toward that (hired the killer, or encouraged the killer, met with the killer) you are guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.
“So, if you agree to defraud the U.S. or disrupt the elections (even if it’s not with the Russians) and you take a step forward (any step….meetings, payments etc.), that’s conspiracy,” Nourse said.
Nourse's comment was for an article published in August. Let's jump ahead to today's elections and consider what we might know, say, eight months from now. Perhaps we will have learned Trump became president largely because his team violated campaign-finance laws and, in fact, engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the government. Perhaps we will have learned Trump himself was right in the middle of it.
|Steve Marshall and Robert Bentley|
* Has Trump ever been president, as a matter of law?
* If not, what happens with all of the actions he has taken, all the appointments (many of them for life) he has made?
* What about all of the campaign rallies Trump has conducted across the country in weeks leading up to today's elections? Were those the acts of an impostor, the product of fraud, a sham on the public? If Trump unlawfully affected the election outcomes, one way or another, would that invalidate the results? Would that mean Trump has tainted two elections (2016 and 2018)?
|Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions|
Less than 24 hours after Alabama voters essentially gave "two thumbs up" to corrupt politics, the man who is largely responsible for the state's toxic political culture was forced to resign as the nation's top law-enforcement official.
Now, we have news that Sessions is expected to return to state politics. From a report this morning at Alabama Political Reporter (APR):
Now-former Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reportedly eyeing a return to politics in the Yellowhammer State.
After Sessions announced his forced resignation Wednesday, two people familiar with his thinking told Politico that he is considering a run for his old seat as Alabama’s junior senator.
The seat is up for another election in 2020.
Democrat Doug Jones currently holds Sessions' old Senate seat. Here are details from the Politico report:
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering running for his old Alabama Senate seat in 2020, according to two people familiar with his thinking.
Sessions was fired as attorney general Wednesday, less than 24 hours after Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections. President Donald Trump had publicly savaged Sessions throughout his tenure, and his dismissal had long been expected.
After Sessions left the Senate in 2017, his vacated seat was won by Democrat Doug Jones in a special election upset. Jones is up for a full term in 2020, and he is widely viewed as the most vulnerable incumbent senator facing reelection given Alabama’s conservative tilt. Republicans are certain to contest the seat aggressively as they look to protect their majority.
Former Republican Sen. Luther Strange, who was temporarily appointed to Sessions’ former seat, took to Twitter on Wednesday evening to encourage a comeback bid.
“Jeff Sessions for Senate in 2020!” Strange wrote.
Would Sessions cruise back into his old Senate spot. Politico says the answer is "not necessarily":
Sessions, who spent two decades in the Senate, is practically a household name in his home state, and speculation has been simmering for weeks within Alabama political circles that he might seek a return. Yet, party officials stress that the 71-year-old Sessions wouldn’t necessarily face a clear path should he wage a comeback. Trump’s relentless attacks on the former attorney general, they say, have taken a toll on his popularity in the state.
And others are certain to be interested in running. GOP Rep. Bradley Byrne is widely talked about as a potential contender.
A small detail -- that Sessions lied multiple times to Congress about his interactions with Russian interests during the 2016 presidential campaign -- seems to be left out of the political calculus. Also ignored is evidence that the Alabama State Bar is providing cover for Sessions by ignoring bar complaints based on his false statements to Congress.
If anyone has the off-kilter moral compass to protect a glorified mobster like Donald Trump, it's Jeff Sessions. After all, he essentially created the postmodern era of political prosecutions in the "Heart of Dixie." But even Sessions could not ignore the mountain of evidence that he was connected to Russian election meddling in 2016 -- and, in fact, has been tied to the Russian mafia and its oligarchs while serving as U.S. senator -- and thus, had no choice but to recuse himself from the Trump-Russia investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
In a brazen attempt to derail the Mueller investigation, Trump had to find someone -- since Sessions could not do it -- to protect him from being held accountable for selling out his country to Vladimir Putin. In short, Sessions' No. 1 political talent is cheating, but forced to remove himself from anything involving the Mueller probe, he was useless as a cheater on Trump's behalf.
Now, THAT"S irony, but it doesn't end there. Consider the schizophrenic actions of Alabama voters in recent days: In a poll published Oct. 28, they said government corruption and ethics were their top concerns going into the midterms. So what did they do? By sizable majorities, they decided at least four statewide races by choosing candidates -- all Republicans -- with clear ties to corrupt politicians. Here is a rundown:
* Governor -- Kay Ivey swamped Democratic challenger Walt Maddox, 61 to 39 percent. Ivey has been paying the legal fees of her scandal-plagued predecessor, Robert "Luv Guv Bentley, even though state law does not require it. Ivey long has been aligned with former Gov. Bob Riley, the Big Kahuna of Alabama corruption. Does any of that bother Alabama voters, who supposedly are concerned about unethical government? Apparently not.
|Kay Ivey and Walt Maddox|
* Alabama Supreme Court, Chief Justice -- Tom Parker easily defeated Democrat Robert Vance, 58-42 percent -- and that actually was the closest of these races. Parker long has been an ally of former Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was booted from the bench for directing lower-court judges to decline to issue same-sex marriage licenses in defiance of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. In fairness to voters, they had no good choice in this race. Vance is nothing but a stooge for large corporate law firms, such as Maynard Cooper Gale, Balch Bingham, Adams and Reese/Lange Simpson.
* Alabama Supreme Court, Place 4 -- Jay Mitchell defeated Democrat Donna Smalley, 61-39 percent, even though he is directly tied to Mike Hubbard, who arguably is the poster boy for smelly political deals. As a partner at Maynard Cooper Gale, Mitchell was one of the architects of Hubbard's failed (so far) criminal appeal. Being tied to one of the most corrupt politicos in modern Alabama history did not hurt Mitchell's chances with voters.
How does a reasonable person even begin to explain all of the above? Well, some might claim large chunks of the Alabama electorate are ill-informed, backward, racist, or just plain dense -- and I would not necessarily argue with any of that.
But I think it goes deeper than any of those explanations. I think there is a more wide-ranging answer to what ails Alabama -- and many other states. We will address that in an upcoming post.
|Carol Tovich Shuler|
In fact, we learned that nature's healing process already has begun; Carol's doctor said images of her arm showed "stickiness" in the humerus (the large bone in the upper arm), near the shoulder. That means the bone is knitting itself back together.
Carol was fitted with a new sling, replacing the one she received at the Cox South Medical Center emergency room. The sling, plus a number of physical-therapy exercises, is expected to help move healing along. The bulk of that process, it appears, will take place over the next six to eight weeks, with a couple of followup visits set during that time.
The good news is that this break -- unlike the one Greene County deputies administered to the same arm, just above the elbow, during an unlawful eviction in September 2015 -- will not require surgery. The bad news is that Carol almost certainly will experience ongoing stiffness and limited motion in her left shoulder -- something surgery would not help, her doctor says.
We will provide updates as more information becomes available. Meanwhile, financial support and expressions of concern from loyal readers are keeping us afloat. They are much needed and greatly appreciated.
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Given the criminals and sketchy figures already in Trump's orbit, you might think Robert Mercer would distance himself from a character like Ali (Akbar) Alexander, who has been the subject of multiple posts at Legal Schnauzer (see here, here, and here) and appears to have launched attacks on Alabama progressives, such as Dana Jill Simpson and yours truly, perhaps via his ties to right-leaning scoundrels at the Alabama State Bar.
Mercer has made a fortune via his computer expertise and the Renaissance Technologies hedge fund, and he even played a key role in the United Kingdom's Brexit withdrawal from the European Union. But he has shown poor judgment by aligning himself with a number of sketchy individuals and entities -- including former Trump adviser and Breitbart News exec Steve Bannon, Karl Rove and his American Crossroads Super PAC, and the Koch brothers' political donor network.
Jumping in bed with Ali (Akbar) Alexander might prove to be another dubious move from Mercer. Observer.com recently reported on the alliance in an article titled "Robert Mercer Bankrolled PAC Advised By Notorious Fringe ‘Philosopher’ Ali Alexander." From the observer.com article:
Billionaire Robert Mercer gave money to a PAC advised by a self-proclaimed “interpreter of energy.”
The spiritualist in question is Ali Alexander, formerly known as Ali Akbar, a GOP political operative with a notorious reputation that allegedly includes fraud.
“On the eve of the 2016 election, Robert Mercer donated $60,000 to a PAC Alexander advises,” reported Politico . . . “Alexander, who identifies himself as black and Arab, brings a more new-age approach to the culture wars, calling himself an ‘interpreter of energy for this period.’”
Noting Alexander's "spiritual" side is only scratching the surface of the disturbing stuff that seeps from under the rock where he seemingly resides. Online reports list Baton Rouge, LA, as Alexander's current home base, and he also has ties to Forth Worth, TX. A good ole Southern boy.
|Ali Akbar mugshots|
How did Ali Akbar rise to a prominent role in the Republican media galaxy, despite his criminal record? That also is hard to figure, given the GOP's stance as the supposed "law and order" party.
According to a report at the progressive Web site Breitbart Unmasked, (BU) Akbar was convicted in 2007 of theft of property and in 2008 of credit-card abuse. Both charges, in Texas, were felonies.
Borrowing from public records, BU describes the theft case as follows:
Five MP3 Players, Twenty CD’s, Three Camcorders, Two DVD Players, One Back Massager (How ghetto is this thief?) One Clock, Four Shirts, Two Belts (WTF?) and a Piece of Luggage, which had the value of over 1500.00 USD but less than 20,000.00 USD. This theft was obtained pursuant to one scheme or a continuing course of criminal conduct which began on or about November 1st 2006, and continued until on or about November 29th 2006. In other words, he was stealing from this person more than once, and over a course of time that lasted almost a full month before it came to an end.
That's quite a crime spree--and the ugliness doesn't end there. BU reports that Akbar also was charged with burglary of a vehicle, but that charge was dropped in a plea bargain that resolved his theft and credit-card cases.
That doesn't even count Akbar's tendency to troll for gay sex on the Grindr geo-social app. From our 2015 post:
We've presented evidence that members of a right-wing bloggers club might have been involved in, or at least had knowledge of, my unlawful incarceration. Would it be a surprise if members of the group, called the National Bloggers Club (NBC), engaged in such underhanded activity? Given that the club president has a history of engaging in underhanded activity--including some that might be described as downright sleazy--the answer probably is no.
|Ali Akbar at the Grindr gay-sex app.|
Threatening baseless lawsuits is pretty underhanded in itself. But that is a mere blip on the radar compared to the other shady stuff in Akbar's background, which includes trolling for gay sex online--plus multiple criminal convictions, including felonies.
Let's start with the online trolling because that's what prompted Simpson to take a closer look at Akbar. She obtained a copy of an ad Akbar placed at Grindr, a geo-social networking application "geared toward gay, bisexual, and bi-curious men." According to Simpson's letter, Akbar's ad stated that he "was looking for bisexual sex with men who were Republican, political, and loved to discuss politics and philosophy and just wanted to hang out and chill with them."
Akbar has a substantial criminal record and a history of trolling online for gay sex, but he's supposed to be a rising "conservative" media star? Perhaps that's a sign the GOP, in the age of Trump, has given up the masquerade of portraying itself as a party of "values."
The Trump administration might be on the verge of implosion, but Ali Akbar has managed to worm his way into the action -- a fraudster drawn by a White House built on fraud? -- so maybe he will wind up in the rubble.
Want a feel for the goofiness behind the Ali Akbar charade -- the one that apparently conned Robert Mercer, Foster Friess, and other GOP money men? We invite you to check out the video below. This is what passes as deep conservative "thought" these days. Where have you gone, George Will?
The second lawyer filed a motion for a new trial, based on ineffective assistance of counsel. In a stunning development, the judge found evidence presented at the new-trial hearing so disturbing that he overturned his own guilty verdict and ordered a new trial.
The first defense lawyer, the one a court determined to have provided ineffective assistance of counsel, was my brother, Springfield attorney David Shuler. This is the first in a series of posts about a case styled State of Missouri v. Scott J. Wells (No. 31302CF5509). I've sought comment from David Shuler for these reports, but he has not responded. His silence, and certain actions he's taken since the trial, indicate he's not particularly bothered by his dreadful representation of Scott Wells. Perhaps that is more evidence that some individuals check their consciences at the door when they enter law school.
Tried in Greene County, MO, the Wells case provides frightening evidence of the danger that lurks around every bend in our broken "justice system." From child witnesses who have faulty memories or problems with honesty (or both), to overzealous and game-playing prosecutors, to inept lawyers . . . the system can swallow innocent people whole and ruin their lives, while nobody seems to notice.
As for Scott Wells, he's still not out of the legal woods. He filed a legal-malpractice lawsuit against David Shuler, and the case got past the dismissal and summary-judgment stages -- and to the edge of a trial -- when Wells' attorney bailed out on him, and the case was dismissed. I've had enough experience with legal-malpractice cases to know they are difficult to get to trial, much less to win. That Scott Wells v. David Shuler got to the point of formulating jury instructions suggests that Wells had a strong case. That Wells' lawyer would exit when he was on the verge of a victory -- and a 30-40 percent share of what likely would have been a substantial judgment -- smells of fishy, behind-the scenes maneuvering.
Deposition testimony of expert witness Daniel Dodson, a lawyer from Jefferson City, MO, was devastating regarding David Shuler's performance. (Parts 1 and 2 of Dodson's testimony, plus David Shuler's testimony at the new-trial hearing, are embedded at the end of this post.) Documents we are publishing here, plus others, indicate Scott Wells was in a strong position to hold a lawyer accountable for malpractice -- and that does not happen often in a system designed to protect many of its worst practitioners.
Scott Wells' legal problems hardly end with the civil malpractice matter. He currently faces federal charges, filed in March 2017, of receiving and distributing child pornography -- and is being detained at the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas.
Our review of the case file indicates the child-porn charges against Wells were brought with barely a whiff of probable cause. And his detention appears to run counter to federal law on the subject. Are the child-porn charges a form of payback from the legal tribe because Wells dared seek compensation from a tribe member who had performed dismally in his criminal defense? We will be examining that question in the coming weeks.
Dodson: The trial, you -- you pointed out numerous differences in the testimony of the complaining witnesses or what the complaining witnesses said in their original-taped interviews, as compared to what they said in their depositions. Do you recall that?
Dodson: Okay. What I'm trying to get at here when -- for instance Brittanie Wells [a complaining witness], do you recall that in her taped interview, that's the subject of these transcripts, that she said her father had touched her and -- basically had touched her and exposed himself to her and tried to get her to put her mouth on his genitals. Is that the gist of what she said at that time?
Shuler: And the story kept growing as time went on.
Dodson: Okay. And then in the deposition she gives testimony indicating that he turned her over and basically entered her from behind and had intercourse with her -- .
Dodson: -- is that correct? Did you consider at that point asking her why there was such a complete discrepancy between what she had said in the taped interview and what she was saying now under oath?
Shuler: I realized there was a discrepancy, but I did not ask the question.
Dodson: Did you consider asking the question?
Shuler: It's been so long, I couldn't honestly tell you if I did or not. I mean -- of course, it was something obviously noticeable that she -- and honestly at that point, I didn't see a whole lot of benefit to asking that question. I still don't see a whole lot of benefit to asking that question. What I was more concerned -- I wanted to hear what she had to say, and I -- her discrepancies were important, obviously.
Dodson: Okay. So you didn't see any benefit to pointing out to her that she'd given two different stories and, for instance, and that one of them obviously had to have been false and exploring that --
Shuler: I did not ask her that.
Dodson: -- issue with her? Did you consider asking -- asking her that question and --
Shuler: I -- can't say one way or the other, I really can't. It's been so long ago. But -- I mean, I noticed it, but I did not ask that question.
Dodson: -- Well, did you -- looking back, do you see any potential benefit in asking that kind of question?
Dodson: Okay. Could it be, as would be indicated by the Tracy Hercher [another complaining witness] transcript, that perhaps you hadn't made a recent review of the videotapes or the reports and that you were not completely aware of the --
Shuler: No. I was aware of -- that that was -- I was aware that that was new information. The from-behind penetration was new, and I was aware of that.
Dodson: All right. And so throughout the depositions, you're saying that you -- it's your testimony now that you were aware of the changes in these girls' stories, and you chose not to address them at that point, but instead, to just address those discrepancies at trial?
Shuler: Well, you'll have to address "specific." I mean, there may have been some discrepancies I did not notice. I can't say one way or the other.
(To be continued)
Trey Glenn, the Southeast regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was indicted yesterday by a Jefferson County grand jury for violating state ethics laws. Among the charges: multiple violations of Alabama’s Ethics Act, including soliciting a thing of value from a principal, lobbyist or subordinate, and receiving money in addition to that received in one’s official capacity. Scott Phillips, former member of the Alabama Environmental Management Commission (EMC), was indicted on similar charges. Both have ties to the Balch Bingham law firm.
Yesterday's indictments were shockers, since a federal jury found a Balch Bingham lawyer (Joel Gilbert), and a Drummond Co. executive (David Roberston) guilty of bribery in a July trial connected to the Superfund scandal -- and former state lawmaker Oliver Robinson pleaded guilty to accepting bribes. It seemed clear at the time that U.S. Attorney Jay Town went after only a sampling of legal, corporate, and political types who could have been subject to criminal charges.
The state indictments of Glenn and Phillips suggest Town, in fact, let a number of rogues off the hook, leaving these compelling questions: How many more white-collar types might be held criminally accountable? Could Glenn and Phillips represent a new, more wide-ranging round of indictments?
Donald Trump appointed Glenn to the EPA position (covering Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi) in August 2017. Before that, Glenn was a creature of the Alabama corporate swamps, working with the Balch Bingham law firm, Drummond Co., and the Business Council of Alabama. Along the way, Glenn acquired a reputation as an operative with shaky ethics and little concern for the environment. In a column yesterday at al.com, John Archibald declared himself "toxic shocked" by the charges against Glenn and Phillips:
Can this be happening? Really? Charges against powerful Alabamians who admittedly worked to protect the interests of powerful friends while demeaning low-income residents who must live and die with their choices?
I never dreamed they’d face the music in Alabama. I thought for sure judgment would come for Phillips and Glenn only at the Pearly Gates, where St. Peter would decide whether to send them toward a brownfield down below.
When Trump named Glenn to the EPA role, Alabama conservative honchos sang hosannas. They included U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), who said:
“As an accomplished environmental engineer from Alabama, Trey Glenn is well-prepared for this new role and challenge as the EPA Region 4 administrator. Having served as the director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, he understands the value and importance of state authority and control.”
Gov. Kay Ivey joined the happy chorus:
“His experience as director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management places him in a unique position to be prepared to work with these southern states. We are also especially glad to know someone with in-depth knowledge of Alabama will be overseeing our region.”
Shelby and Ivey obviously know, and like, "a shill for polluters" (John Archibald's term for Glenn) when they see one. But their judgment is not looking so good at the moment, and it's likely to look even worse over the coming months.
Where is all of this heading? We don't have a clear answer at the moment, but we sought insight from the banbalch.com Web site, which has led the way on reporting of the Superfund scandal. From the site's post yesterday on the Glenn and Phillips indictments:
As we wrote in August, Phillips was given the boot by the Birmingham-Jefferson County Port Authority after Balch partner Joel I. Gilbert was convicted on all six federal counts.
During the criminal trial, Glenn admitted handing off confidential work product of public charity and environmental group GASP to Balch-made millionaire Gilbert during day 7 of the criminal trial.
And we are told this is only the beginning!
Where should all of this be headed? Jeff Martin, of the Montgomery Independent, provided insight on that question in an article dated August 22, 2018, shortly after guilty verdicts had been reached in the federal Superfund trial:
Environmental organizations throughout Alabama have joined together in asking Governor Kay Ivey to hold the Alabama Environmental Management Commission (EMC) accountable for actions revealed during the recent bribery and corruption trial in Birmingham. That investigation resulted in one Alabama lawmaker pleading guilty to bribery and half-dozen guilty verdicts against a partner in a prestigious law firm and the Vice President of Drummond Company.
These organizations want to make it clear that ADEM Director Lance LeFleur is not the only one that needs to be held accountable for the inappropriate actions of the state agency and it’s governing commission, all of which was revealed during the trial. The EMC should be as accountable to the people of Alabama as they are to the regulated industries they oversee. . . .
|North Birmingham Superfund cleanup|
While three men will likely go to prison as a result of the investigation and trial, as I’ve written before, that number should probably be closer to a dozen. Everyone from Luther Strange to US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has this stench on them.
But, the man in charge of the investigation, US Attorney Jay Town serves at the pleasure of AG Sessions. (Trump, of course, fired Sessions last week, so Town might be on shaky ground.) Town was also a political advisor to Strange. So it should come as no surprise that he has announced no more charges are expected and the investigation is complete.
So with the trial concluded and most escaping retribution, it is back to business as usual in Alabama.
Jeff Martin, like many observers, expected the status quo to remain solidly in place. But yesterday's stunning news suggests an overdue shake-up among Alabama's white elites might be coming around the bend.
Specifically, the new evidence suggests our "House Case" was decided by a trial "judge" -- R. David Proctor, in the Northern District of Alabama -- who issued an unlawful dismissal against us, even though he was disqualified from hearing the case. On top of that, we recently have uncovered evidence of a massive cheat job on the "House Case" in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, driven by a Gerald Ford-appointed fossil named Gerald Bard Tjoflat and a fellow named David J. Smith, who serves as clerk of the 11th Circuit.
We will have much more on the crooked actions of Tjoflat and Smith in upcoming posts. In short, their misconduct at the appellate level -- along with Proctor's "handiwork" at the trial-court level -- likely amounts to"fraud on the court," requiring that all orders be declared void, and the case reopened.
How does Luther Strange's head start on Jeff Sessions' forced resignation play into this? First, let's look at the Washington Examiner's Nov. 7 report:
Former Sen. Luther Strange, the Alabama Republican who filled Jeff Sessions' seat when he became U.S. attorney general, suggested Alabamians elect Sessions back to the Senate just before news broke Wednesday afternoon that Sessions had resigned from the Trump administration.We've already shown that Sessions and Proctor have been scratching each other's backs in unscrupulous ways for more than 20 years. Now, we learn the Sessions and Strange camps are so close that one knows what's happening with the other before everyone else does.
“Jeff Sessions for Senate in 2020!” Strange tweeted, about two hours before Sessions resigned as attorney general at the request of President Trump.
It had been rumored for some time that Trump would push for Sessions' ouster from his position leading the Department of Justice. Trump often vented about his frustrations with Sessions after the attorney general recused himself from overseeing the Russia investigation.
Strange was defeated in the Republican primary by Roy Moore, who lost in a special election last year to Democrat Doug Jones. The Democratic senator is up for re-election in 2020.
Sessions made no mention of what his future holds in his resignation to the president.
Sessions served as a senator from 1997 to 2017, resigning from that position to be attorney general.
How does all of this connect and lead to unlawful rulings in our "House Case"? One of the primary connectors is Jake Proctor, the judge's son who seems to bounce from one U.S. Senate job to another -- which is pretty tall cotton for a guy who only completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Alabama in 2016. Here is what we know about Jake Proctor's work history, before he scrubbed most of it from his Facebook page after we challenged his father's bogus rulings in the "House Case."
(1) Jake Proctor went to work for Jeff Sessions in summer 2015.
(2) Jake Proctor, while completing his degree, worked off and on for Sessions, apparently until the latter was nominated as Trump's attorney general on Nov. 18, 2016.
|Jeff Sessions and Jae Proctor|
(4) Jake Proctor's Facebook post did not say who he would be working for in the Senate, but why would he take a job with Jeff Sessions, who already was in line to give up his seat for the AG job?
(5) Alabama Gov. Robert "Luv Guv" Bentley did not formally appoint Strange to fill Sessions' Senate seat until Feb. 9, 2017 -- roughly five weeks after the date Jake Proctor said he went to work in the Senate.
(6) We now know the Strange and Sessions camps have inside dope on each other, raising this question: Did Luther Strange know roughly five weeks in advance that he was going to be Bentley's choice for the Senate seat, and one of his first acts -- likely at Jeff Sessions' urging -- was to hire Judge R. David Proctor's son? The evidence strongly suggests the scenario, in fact, played out this way -- and Judge Proctor knew all about it.
(7) Judge Proctor dismissed our "House Case" on Jan. 13, 2017, and he followed it with an order dated Feb. 23, 2017, acknowledging that he was due to recuse due to a conflict of interest of which he had just become aware. (The order is embedded at the end of this post, along with our Motion to Recuse.) From Proctor's order, explaining his recusal:
On February 10, 2017, approximately four weeks after the court’s dismissal order was entered, Luther Strange, a party-defendant in this action before its dismissal, was sworn in as Alabama’s newest United States Senator. One of Senator Strange’s initial hires is a young staffer who worked on Senator Jeff Sessions’ staff (until then Senator Sessions’ appointment as the 84th Attorney General of the United States) and who is related to the undersigned. Based upon these events, which occurred after the court’s dismissal of this action, it is appropriate for the undersigned to RECUSE.
What are the chances that Judge Proctor is lying here? I would put them at 99 percent, given that his own son stated on Facebook that he was working in the Senate as of Jan. 3, 10 days BEFORE the "judge" dismissed our case -- and that raises the serious issue of "fraud on the court." How would Judge Proctor react to a motion for an evidentiary hearing on his son's Senate employment? Probably not very well.
Note the curious wording Judge Proctor uses in his order:
* Proctor says Strange hired "a young staffer" who is "related to the undersigned," but he does not state the staffer's name (Jake Proctor), and he does not state the nature of the relationship (father-son).
* Proctor states twice that events involving his son's hiring came after he had dismissed our case. But that runs counter to Jake Proctor's own words on Facebook, which now have been well scrubbed. It also implies that he could not know in advance about machinations involving Sessions and Strange, when Strange's tweet last week shows that is not the case. Again, how about an evidentiary hearing on this issue?
* Even if Judge Proctor's version of events is accurate, that does not preclude a conflict of interest involving Luther Strange -- one the "judge" knew about long before our case ever landed on his desk. For example, has Jake Proctor used Luther Strange as an employment reference, and has the former senator helped him get various jobs? That would mean Judge Proctor was disqualified from our case and ruled unlawfully on it, anyway.
Here's how we sized things up in a March 2017 post:
What about the curious timing of Jake Proctor's employment? Consider this:
* Jake Proctor says he went to work as a Senate staffer on Jan. 3, 2017, but Luther Strange was not appointed to the Senate until more than one month later. Was Jake Proctor working for Sessions, even though the latter already had been nominated as Trump's attorney general, and then switched to Strange? Did someone know, well in advance, that Bentley was going to appoint Strange to fill Sessions' seat, and that made Jake Proctor comfortable about getting an early start on the job?
* Judge Proctor claimed in his recusal order that he dismissed "The House Case" before the issue of his son's employment with Strange came up. But if Jake Proctor was working in the Senate on Jan. 3, and his boss was Luther Strange, that isn't true. To be precise, Judge Proctor dismissed our case on Jan. 13, 10 days after his son went to work for somebody in the Senate. The latest version we can find of Sessions' Senate staff directory does not list Jake Proctor -- and one wonders why Sessions would make a new Senate hire when he knew he had been nominated as attorney general. All of that suggests Jake Proctor went to work for Luther Strange on Jan. 3 -- before Strange formally had been announced as Sessions' successor -- and Judge Proctor flat-out lied in a court order.
Either way, a disqualified judge decided our case -- and that isn't a matter of discretion for Proctor; a disqualified judge must step down, and he didn't do it.
This much is clear: Sessions, Strange, and the Proctors swim in a world of white entitlement. And thanks to Luther Strange's recent tweet, we know that's a world where the entitled learn about events before the rest of us.
(Hat tip to Morgan County WhistleBlower)
|Trey Glenn mugshot|
Last week's indictment in Jefferson County, Alabama, of Trey Glenn, Trump Southeast director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), provides prime examples. An Alabama political insider says Glenn views black males as little more than disposable waste and used blatantly racist language in discussions about environmental matters. As for former Gov. Bob Riley, the insider says he used government contracts as a pawn in an effort to frame a former Alabama lawmaker for murder -- all because the then-state senator, a Democrat, refused to go along with Riley's political agenda.
Jill Simpson -- whistle blower, opposition researcher, and retired attorney -- saw Glenn's racist and corrupt tendencies while both were seeking an environmental contract about 12 years ago. Who was involved in Glenn's underhanded tactics? Why, our old "friend" Luther Strange, of course. From a Simpson Facebook post after the Glenn indictment was announced last week:
In 2006, I did a $16-million bid, for myself and four partners, to clean up a tire dump and caught Trey Glenn who then was head of ADEM [Alabama Department of Environmental Management] doing a bunch of corrupt things. It started with him trying to do a no-bid contract on a multi-million dollar deal. Next, I caught him offering one bidder the opportunity to use prisoners as basically free labor, without caring if they had proper clothing, training, and safety gear to take tires out of a lake, which gave the other bidder an unfair financial advantage.
Trey said, "Jill, it is black guys at St Clair prison mostly," and he did not give a shit what happened to them. Then I found out he had been working with Luther [Strange], a private attorney to give people on a state tire clean-up committee an unfair advantage in the bidding process.
As for Bob Riley (and his son, the oily Rob "Uday" Riley), he tried to have former State Sen. Lowell Barron (D-Fyffe) framed for murder. Writes Simpson:
Bob Riley, after I did not get the tire deal, said I could have the next three or four tire deals if I would agree to set Lowell Barron up on opposition research on the death of Judge Paul Thomas, by getting recorded statements from clerks at the courthouse saying Lowell -- Senate pro tem at the time -- called Paul and asked him to meet him at his house the day of Paul's death, which came after he fell off a mountain.
I told Bob I would not help him, as I knew Lowell's brother, who had been a client, and I was not getting involved in his and Rob's bullshit about Lowell. Bob said that my partners and I would not get any tire contracts if I did not start helping him get Lowell Barron, who was causing him trouble with his agenda. He then asked if I would at least help find a plaintiff for a lawsuit, in front of a judge named Bush, that they were going to bring against Lowell, supposedly for not filing some election papers right, and I said no which really pissed him off, and he said some ugly things.
Simpson says she reported the actions of Trey Glenn and the Rileys to law enforcement and civil-rights groups:
I went back to my partners, and we agreed I should report it to an FBI agent I had helped some time back solve a murder case involving a member of a Mexican Gang called La Familia .I called Danny Garnet, an FBI agent in Gadsden, and he came to my office in September of 2006, and I told him what had happened with Bob and Rob at the time Mueller was the head of the FBI -- and the FBI started investigating Trey and Bob.
Someone leaked to Bob that I had spoken to the FBI, and he sent thugs to my office to take me to a meeting with him, and I pulled away from one of those thugs and locked myself in a bathroom. I also notified Doc Barron that Bob Riley was trying to get me to help with putting Lowell in jail . . . and that I had said no, as Bob's actions were criminal. I further said, "I am afraid I am going to get hurt."
Until last week, Trey Glenn had proven slippery for law enforcement. But now that Glenn is facing criminal charges, will he help take down others -- especially those linked to the North Birmingham Superfund scandal? Writes Simpson:
Due to my meeting with the FBI, from my understanding, that is what kicked off an investigation in 2007 of the very corrupt Trey Glenn, who escaped being indicted then -- and I heard at the time Jeff Sessions intervened for him, to protect Bob Riley and Luther Strange and their corrupt Alabama Gang.
Many years later, we at the Alabama Resistance heard that Trey was involved in new corrupt deal in Birmingham -- the Superfund scandal -- and once again, Luther's name came up using his public AG office to try to stop a cleanup site in a black district, and we heard Trey was writing the letters and that Sessions was involved as well. These are some deeply corrupt folks, so I am glad to see Trey Glenn is now indicted. I know back then the FBI folks hoped to get Trey and encourage him to tell on Sessions, Strange, and Bob and Rob Riley, and it appears once again this little bunch is in the mix on a clean-up site on which they were trying to stop EPA from doing anything.
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Hart, who has served as a prosecutor at both the state and federal levels, perhaps is best known for leading the case against former House Speaker Mike Hubbard -- who was convicted in June 2016 on 12 counts of ethics violations, but has not spent one second in prison because of a curiously prolonged appeals process.
Knowledgeable observers say Hart's firing probably was in the works for several months -- likely delayed only by the need for Marshall to win election in the Nov. 6 midterms -- driven by corporate and political interests who want to make sure Hubbard stays out of prison and isn't tempted to open up to prosecutors about his moneyed and power-hungry cohorts. Writes Josh Moon, of Alabama Political Reporter (APR):
The most feared man in Alabama politics has been fired.
Alabama prosecutor Matt Hart, who until Monday headed up the special prosecutions unit at the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, was unceremoniously fired by AG Steve Marshall. A brief statement from Marshall’s office said Hart resigned and refused to comment otherwise.
However, a source told APR on Monday that Hart was informed of the decision on Monday morning and given the option of resigning instead of being fired. He was then escorted out of the building by security.
The firing of Hart was not necessarily surprising to anyone who paid attention to the recent election and Marshall’s run for AG. As APR reported in numerous stories, Marshall accepted campaign donations from several sources with interests in weakening ethics laws and seeing Hart removed.
Moon noted some of the high-profile cases where Hart has been involved:
Hart’s career spans decades in the state and includes high-profile prosecutions of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
He was a particular thorn in the side of politicians who skirted the ethics laws. He prosecuted and earned a 12-count conviction of former GOP Speaker Mike Hubbard. He negotiated a guilty plea and resignation from former Gov. Robert Bentley. And his special grand jury in Jefferson County was digging through the scheme to undermine an EPA superfund site.
That last item (highlighted in yellow) caught the eye of Alabama political insider Jill Simpson. From a post at her Facebook page:
Notice a couple of things from Josh Moon article on Matt Hart. Matt was digging into the Superfund matter, which leads directly to the folks who helped Marshall get those $735,000 in illegal funds from RAGA [Republican Attorneys General Association] to win the attorney general race. Also notice Mike Hubbard's appeal is still up, and with Hart removed, Marshall and Rob [Riley] can let Hubbard go.
Al.com's John Archibald, who long has had a man crush on Hart, called the firing "the end of an era":
Anyone who watched Alabama government in recent years saw this coming.
They saw it when Marshall took tens of thousands in contributions from the company owned by Alabama’s richest man Jimmy Rane – who invested in a Hubbard business. They saw it when Rane, who made no bones about his contempt for Hart, gave hundreds of thousands to Gov. Kay Ivey and was appointed to lead her inaugural committee. He even lent his Great Southern Wood airplane for her campaign use.
They saw it when Marshall took campaign contributions from Hubbard investors, witnesses and supporters, and they saw it when Marshall looked down as Alabama politicians tried to chip away at the very ethics law that put people like Hubbard in court.
I don’t know exactly what happened this week to force Matt Hart out of his job as head of the special prosecutions unit. Hart declined to comment, and Marshall did not respond personally to the question. . . .
But it was no shock.
I predicted in April Marshall would show Hart the door as soon as he was re-elected. He was re-elected less than two weeks ago.
It doesn’t take an investigation to figure it out. The time was right. Marshall has four years to live it down before he comes back up for election.
He’s banking that Alabama will forget.
Unlike Archibald and Moon, I have reservations about Hart, particularly from his days as a federal prosecutor under the abominably corrupt U.S. attorney Alice Martin. I applaud Hart's work on the Hubbard case, but I'm not sure he deserves the "above-reproach, good-guy" label some have placed on him.
Like a lot of folks, Hart has a history of going along to get along in the workplace. Under the right leadership -- or given a free rein -- he can be effective. Under poor leadership, not so much.
Some already are speculating that Hart might return to his previous role as a federal prosecutor. If that happens -- and with Jeff Sessions ousted from the Department of Justice -- Hart might have a chance to help clean up a state that desperately needs it.
We saw signs during the Hubbard case that Hart might be interested in dismantling the Riley Political Machine, which forms the nexus for much of Alabama's corruption. In fact, that might be the No. 1 reason Marshall fired him. If Hart is, in fact, determined to take down the Rileys -- and lands in a position to do something about it -- the days of Alabama being a justice backwater might be over.
|Trey Glenn mugshot|
BanBalch.com, which has led reporting on the North Birmingham Superfund scandal, showed in a pair of recent posts (see here and here) that the Glenn indictment might help draw attention from Congress and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to the ugly scene in the "Heart of Dixie" -- perhaps with special attention for the Birmingham law firm Balch Bingham and its many creepy-crawler associates. With Democrats now the majority in the House of Representatives, the charges against Glenn might join the scrutiny expected for myriad Trump-related scandals, banbalch.com reports:
The mugshots of Balch stooges Scott Phillips and Trey Glenn . . . are more symbolic than that of two paid consultants.
They symbolize that the fight for justice and inherent goodness are not over.
Actually, this is the start of the next, new beginning. As the Associated Press reported yesterday:
“Trey Glenn should have never made it through any serious vetting process,” said Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. “Scott Pruitt may be gone, but it’s clear the culture of corruption remains.” Pallone pledged his committee would conduct “vigorous oversight” of EPA once Democrats take control of the House in January.
Pallone could not only drag Glenn before his committee, but Balch Bingham leaders and their lackeys involved in the North Birmingham scandal.
Pallone could also subpoena Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning whose subsidiary Alabama Power donated $30,0000 to the Oliver Robinson Foundation and whose then-Balch lobbyist, Jeffrey H. Wood, was on Capitol Hill inquiring about the North Birmingham matter as the bribery scandal was at full-throttle in 2016.
Another House Democrat might be interested in the Glenn revelations, reports banbalch.com:
And just wait until Congressman Jerry Nadler as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee comes along to closely examine aspects of the last minute appointment of that ex-Balch lobbyist Jeffrey H. Wood as Principal Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General for ENRD just days before Jeff Sessions was fired.
Congressmen Nadler and Pallone simply won’t tolerate lies, fluff, or sugar-coated testimony.
With U.S. Congressional hearings, the trials of Phillips and Glenn, and possibly one or two civil RICO suits coming in 2019, Balch Bingham is facing even darker days . . .
In a post yesterday, banbalch.com publisher K.B. Forbes said the Glenn case likely will increase pressure on the DOJ to investigate widespread corruption in Alabama:
We returned late Friday from a very insightful and productive trip to New York City and Washington, D.C.
Our high-level sources tell us that with the local Jefferson County indictment of Balch Bingham stooges Scott Phillips and Trey Glenn, pressure on the U.S. Department of Justice to take a deeper look at the corrupt state of affairs in Alabama has escalated—especially now that Jeff Sessions was ousted.
The reporting to prison of bought-and-paid-for politician and former Alabama State Representative Oliver Robinson is scheduled for next week and shows how a Balch Bingham partner corrupted the legislative branch in Alabama.
Glenn and Phillips show how consultants for Balch Bingham appear to have corrupted and compromised the executive branch and its oversight agencies in Alabama. (And let us not forget the Balch ghost-written letters blindly signed by the Governor, State Attorney General, and others in power at the time.)
Finally, with the creation of a secretive Star Chamber and over $30,000 in campaign contributions funneled to Judge Carole Smitherman and her husband State Senator Rodger Smitherman [in the Burt Newsome conspiracy case], Balch Bingham appears to have allegedly manipulated the judicial branch in Alabama.
Could the Smithermans be indicted next or are they cooperating with investigators as witnesses?
All three branches of government appear to have been manipulated by Balch Bingham, and no one we met with on the East Coast has overlooked the fact that Balch and Southern Company are sister-wives, joined at the hip.
As for the racism angle to the Trey Glenn story, Alabama political insider Jill Simpson provides insight on that in a post at Facebook:
Yeah, Trey Glenn just resigned. Now it is time for him to plead guilty and start cooperating and telling his whole story on the Alabama Gang.
I will never forget the piece of shit Glenn telling me he did not give a damn about the St Clair Prison "N words" (which he said, but I won't say it) when I was warning him that Luther Strange and Rob Riley's bunch were planning on using black prisoners getting in the tire swamp to get the tires out without safety gear. That is when he admitted it was his idea and he had offered it to them.
Trey is a racist of the worst kind and was willing to put young black male prisoners from St. Clair County in a mosquito-filled swamp to get tires out without protective suits -- and that is the first thing I came forward on, but also their dealings with Saudis and [Mark] Fuller and their dealings with Russians and Oleg Deripaska.
Oh well, I got rid of Fuller being over Saudi flight stuff, now on to Trey Glenn, and next Jeff Sessions, and Oleg Deripaska on the EADS deal, and then the Rileys, who stole over $30 million from Milton McGregor and his friends.
Getting rid of the Alabama Crime Family Political Gang is what I have to do to stop this mess we have seen in this country. I might add they were right in the middle of the Mercer Bannon Sessions Cambridge Analytica deal, as well.
Baron Coleman's deal to punish me for taking out Hubbard, with the stories told of his printing stuff, was a really bad idea as it gave me full time to work on seeing all their crime-family stories were told. Just call me Jill the Alabama Gang Mafia Buster. That is who I really am.
|Steve Marshall and Anna Clark Morris|
Steve Marshall's pick to replace Matt Hart as special prosecutions chief in the Alabama attorney general's office is a political hack from the Leura Canary era. The choice of Anna Clark Morris, who had been an assistant U.S. attorney in the Middle District of Alabama, provides more evidence that the white elites who bankrolled Marshall's campaign are in a panic -- likely over the indictment of Trey Glenn, the fear that former House Speaker Mike Hubbard will go to prison and sing for prosecutors, the firing of Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general, and related issues.
Legal Schnauzer reported on Anna Clark Morris in a post from January 2009, shortly after Barack Obama became president. Titled "Are Democrats playing politics with prosecutors?" the post was based largely on analysis from a U.S. Department of Justice source who had seen Clark's work up close and was deeply unimpressed. Here is some background on Morris from the 2009 post:
At least one Alabama Democratic Party nominee for U.S. attorney would be no better than her Republican predecessor, according to a source inside the Department of Justice.
A state Democratic Party advisory council this week recommended Anna Clark Morris as U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. The Middle District, under the George W. Bush administration, was headed by Leura Canary, and her office handled the prosecution of former Democratic governor Don Siegelman.
Morris is an assistant U.S. attorney in the Montgomery-based office, with almost 11 years of experience as a federal prosecutor. She is the daughter of Alexander City trial attorney Larry Morris, a major Democratic Party contributor.
Morris might have Democratic roots, but she has worked under multiple Republican administrations, and our source says she fit right in with the dysfunctional, corrupt, and unprofessional atmosphere Leura Canary created:
The appointment of Anna Clark Morris would be "disastrous," a Department of Justice source told Legal Schnauzer.
"She currently works in the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney's Office, where she is heavily invested in the culture of gossip, support-staff abuses, and maintaining the status quo," the source said. "An appointment of Clark Morris as U.S. attorney would be disastrous -- four more years of the same."
Our earlier post suggests Morris now is likely to enhance the brazen partisanship that already plagues Alabama's "justice apparatus":
An appointment of Clark Morris would smack of the kind of partisan politics that resulted in Leura Canary's appointment, our source said. Canary was appointed after she and her husband, Business Council of Alabama head Bill Canary, made substantial contributions to the Bush campaign and the Republican Party.
Our source also noted the irony of Democrats pushing Clark Morris to lead an office that prosecuted Siegelman for an alleged "pay to play" scheme involving a political appointment in exchange for campaign support.
A Clark Morris appointment would look like a "classic quid pro quo," the source said, "what federal prosecutors call 'white-collar crime' or 'corruption,' yet when it involves a DOJ insider, it is perfectly fine. Am I missing something here?"
Meanwhile, Alabama Political Reporter (APR) publisher Bill Britt blasted Marshall in an opinion piece, saying he has neither the integrity, emotional heft, or intellectual capacity to handle his job. From Britt:
Marshall did not terminate Hart because he was an ineffective leader or an unsuccessful prosecutor, but because Hart is both those things and more.
Marshall is evil, but he’s also weak, which makes him a dangerous man.
With Hart’s forced resignation, Marshall kept his private campaign promises to his big donors that Hart would be gone after the general election. So, just 13 days after his election as attorney general and four years until the next election, Marshall moved on Hart like a coward who shoots a lawman in the back in a Hollywood Western movie.
Marshall is a spineless little man who withers in the presence of a man like Hart. It’s not just his lack of character and willingness to cut deals to achieve power, but his utter disregard for the justice system he oversees.
Hart is not likely to stroll away into the good night, Britt writes:
While Marshall may have silenced Hart’s voice in the grand jury and at criminal trials, it is doubtful that Hart as a private citizen will remain quiet.
Hart knows what Marshall is up to, as well as the intrigue of the elites who paid for his office.
When disgraced Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Marshall, he intended for the men to clash. It was part of the plan. Bentley did not select Marshall because he was the best candidate to take on the attorney general’s position, but because he had a history of compromised investigations and virtually no record of prosecuting public corruption as a district attorney. But, it was Marshall’s willingness to investigate Hart and Van Davis, who successfully prosecuted former Speaker and convicted felon Mike Hubbard, that caused Bentley and his paramour, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, to green-light his appointment.
When Hart confronted Marshall over his compromise with Bentley, there was little hope that a working relationship would be in the making between the two men.
Marshall is afraid of Hart, but he is also jealous of him. After only a few weeks at the attorney general’s office, staffers noticed how jealous he was of Hart’s success, not only as a winning prosecutor but because of the admiration he enjoyed in the press. Staffers laughed at Marshall’s man-crush on Hart behind his back, saying he should grow a beard and maybe the press would like him, too.
It was Marshall’s jealously and unwillingness to ruffle feathers that separated the men; one wanting to be admired and the other wants to fight crime.
Over the last year, the relationship continued to strain as Hart set his sights on some of Marshall’s influential donors or those close to them.
Finally, Britt has ominous words that might give Marshall and his supporters pause -- hinting that the AG has secrets that could wind up biting him in the hindquarters:
Marshall can now say to those who put him in power, “Promises made, promises kept.”
But Marshall will do well to remember that actions have consequences, and there is a cost to corrupt acts, even if they are legal. More than one unscrupulous politico has met his fate at the end of a keyboard.
Marshall is saying he will take a hit from the media for firing Hart, but not a single elected official will say a word against him, according to those in the attorney general’s office.
Marshall believes that four years is long enough for people to forget he axed one of the state’s most successful prosecutors in the middle of multiple investigations to benefit his political donors.
But not everyone forgets, and there is a lot more to know about Marshall and what he has to hide.
Legal Schnauzer is an unapologetically liberal blog, and we have been in "Facebook Jail" for more than a month, dating back to the weeks leading up to the Nov. 6 midterm elections. This marks roughly a dozen times in 2018 that the world's foremost social network has placed us in jail. We have tended to attribute our ongoing problems with Facebook to right-wing trolls -- pro-Trump, pro-law enforcement types --who file baseless complaints about our content. But a recent New York Times investigation suggests our problems -- and those of other progressive voices -- rest not with trolls, but with Facebook officials themselves.
The Times'report, published Nov. 14 (with a followup on Nov. 17), shows that -- even though tech companies have tended to align with Democrats -- Facebook is much more closely tied to right-wing forces than the public generally knows. That could explain our experiences with "Facebook Jail," along with those of other liberals on the social-media behemoth.
What exactly is "Facebook Jail"? In our case, it takes the form of notices that tell us posts from legalschnauzer.blogspot.com are "spam" and "violate community standards." That means any link from our blog will be blocked for an indefinite period of time. We can place an item on Facebook, letting followers know that the LS post exists, but we cannot provide a link that allows followers to easily click and go directly to the blog post. They have to do a Google search for "Legal Schnauzer" and take a roundabout trip to the post.
Our assignments to "Facebook Jail" have lasted from a few hours to a month or more. Messages to Facebook, informing them that our blog posts are not spam and do not violate community standards, tend to go unheard. Why is that? Well, let's consider what The New York Times teaches us about the company Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg made famous:
(1) Facebook hires right-wing attack dog to seek dirt on progressives, especially George Soros
Facebook used a Washington-based consulting firm called Definers Public Affairs to attack its perceived enemies. That includes George Soros, a billionaire philanthropist and Democratic Party patron, who has called Facebook a "menace to society." Definers, it turns out, has close ties to conservative entities, including the George W. Bush administration and Breitbart News. From The Times' followup:
Facebook initially hired Definers to monitor news about the social network. It expanded its relationship with the firm in October 2017 when scrutiny of Facebook was increasing over how Russian agents had used the site to sow discord before the 2016 United States election.
Definers began doing some general communications work, such as running conference calls for Facebook. It also undertook more covert efforts to spread the blame for the rise of the Russian disinformation, pointing fingers at other companies like Google.
A key part of Definers’ strategy was NTK Network, a website that appeared to be a run-of-the-mill news aggregator with a right-wing slant. In fact, many of NTK Network’s stories were written by employees at Definers and America Rising, a sister firm, to criticize rivals of their clients, according to one former employee not allowed to speak about it publicly. The three outfits share some staff and offices in Arlington, Va.
(2) Facebook knew about Russia's use of the site to meddle in the 2016 presidential election much longer than it let on
Facebook officials largely have downplayed their knowledge of Russian meddling, but The Times' Nov. 14 report shows company insiders -- such as former security chief Alex Stamos -- were aware of suspicious activity on the platform roughly a year longer than the public generally understood:
In the final months of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, Russian agents escalated a yearlong effort to hack and harass his Democratic opponents, culminating in the release of thousands of emails stolen from prominent Democrats and party officials.
Facebook had said nothing publicly about any problems on its own platform. But in the spring of 2016, a company expert on Russian cyberwarfare spotted something worrisome. He reached out to his boss, Mr. Stamos.
Mr. Stamos’s team discovered that Russian hackers appeared to be probing Facebook accounts for people connected to the presidential campaigns, said two employees. Months later, as Mr. Trump battled Hillary Clinton in the general election, the team also found Facebook accounts linked to Russian hackers who were messaging journalists to share information from the stolen emails.
Could Facebook face legal liability for failing to contain the Russian disinformation campaign? The answer appears to be "maybe." Does Facebook have motivation to stifle voices -- such as ours -- that speak out in support of the Robert Mueller investigation? The answer appears to be "yes."
(3) The Social Network, Jeff Sessions, and "Sweet Home Alabama"
Are we stretching to suggest Facebook might have motivations to stifle a blog with roots in Birmingham, AL? The New York Times investigation suggests the answer is "no."
|Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg|
Then Donald J. Trump ran for president. He described Muslim immigrants and refugees as a danger to America, and in December 2015 posted a statement on Facebook calling for a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslims entering the United States. Mr. Trump’s call to arms — widely condemned by Democrats and some prominent Republicans — was shared more than 15,000 times on Facebook, an illustration of the site’s power to spread racist sentiment. . . .
In the end, Mr. Trump’s statement and account remained on the site. When Mr. Trump won election the next fall, giving Republicans control of the White House as well as Congress, Mr. [Joel] Kaplan was empowered to plan accordingly. The company hired a former aide to Mr. Trump’s new attorney general, Jeff Sessions, along with lobbying firms linked to Republican lawmakers who had jurisdiction over internet companies.
Who was the former Sessions aide that Facebook went out of its way to hire? It was Sandra Luff, as reported at al.com in May 2017:
A former aide to Alabama Senator turned U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been hired by Facebook.
Axios reported Sandra Luff, who served as Sessions' Legislative Director while he was in the Senate, will be Director of Executive Branch Public Policy at the social media company. She also worked with Trump's transition team.
"Sandy's experience and understanding of the political landscape will make her an invaluable asset to our team. We are excited to have her aboard,"Facebook's vice president of U.S. public policy Greg Maurer said in a statement.
The move appears to be the latest efforts by Facebook to reach out to the Trump administration.
So, Facebook has been reaching out to Trump and Sessions flunkies, covering up its knowledge of Russian meddling, and hiring right-wing firms that deal in opposition research?
Is it any wonder Legal Schnauzer has spent much of 2018 in Facebook Jail -- and maybe it has nothing to do with trolls?
|Scott J Wells|
The key moment in the child sexual abuse case against Missouri resident Scott J. Wells came when one of four complaining witnesses -- all of roughly adolescent age or slightly younger -- stated at trial that Wells had scars on his penis. Records indicate Wells' defense attorney, David Shuler (my brother), of Springfield, did little or nothing in reaction to the statement -- and his client wound up being convicted, facing a likely punishment of five life sentences, plus 55 years.
The dire outlook for Scott Wells only changed when David Shuler withdrew, and a second defense attorney examined the case -- noticing a potential problem with the testimony about a scar on Wells' penis.
Daniel Dodson -- the second attorney, from Jefferson City -- saw the obvious question that David Shuler apparently did not: Was the testimony about Scott Wells' penis true, was there a way to prove it was false -- and if it was false, what implications did that have for the prosecution's case against Wells?
Is it any wonder that Scott Wells, after his criminal conviction was overturned, sued David Shuler for legal malpractice -- and the case got almost to trial stage, with the two sides formulating jury instructions, when Wells' attorney mysteriously bailed out on him?
But first, let's look at how the penis-scar issue arose during a hearing on a Motion for a New Trial. Following is testimony from Dodson's examination of David Shuler at the new-trial hearing. It begins on page 86 in the third document embedded at the end of this post. (The other documents are Part 1 and Part 2 of Dodson's testimony in the legal-malpractice case.):
Dodson: Okay. Do you recall an instance during the trial when -- when Tracy Hercher [a complaining witness] indicated that Scott Wells had shown her the scars on his penis? Do you recall that?
Shuler: I do recall that. I do recall her saying that.
Dodson: I will refer now to the trial transcript, page 58, line -- can you read lines 12 and 19?
Shuler:"You were -- he was showing me scars and stuff on his thing."
Dodson: Now, you did mention -- well, at some point, you did ask her if she's ever made that allegation before, is that not correct?
Shuler: I did, yes, that's what I recall.
Dodson: Okay. Did you consider any other ways to question her truthfulness in making that statement?
Shuler: I'm not sure I understand your --
Dodson: Did any other thoughts occur to you then, or do they occur to you now, as ways to -- I mean she just made a statement that Scott Wells has scars on his penis, in this transcript, is that correct?
Dodson: So anything -- did anything else occur to you or did you consider any other ways of trying to establish that that was a statement that was not true?
Dodson: Okay. Well, did you have -- did it -- what I want to ask: Did you ever even ask Scott Wells if he has scars on his penis?
Shuler: Yes, I did.
Dodson: So, if Scott indicates otherwise -- and so what did he tell you?
Shuler: At the table, he looked at me very surprised like he'd never heard that before; I had never heard it before.
Shuler: And then --
Dodson: So what did you ask him?
Shuler: I asked Scott: Do you have scars?
Dodson: And what did he say?
Shuler: He said, "No."
Dodson: And so why did you not ask him that when he was on the stand?
Shuler: I believe we did.
Dodson: The transcript will reflect --
Shuler: If we didn't, we didn't, but I thought we did.
Dodson: So if that -- if you didn't ask that question, that wouldn't have been due to trial strategy, that would have been an oversight on your part --
Dodson: -- is that correct?
Dodson: Okay. And you seem to recall that you did ask, but if the transcript reflects that you didn't ask Scott on the stand, might that be an indicator that you intended to ask Scott that question, but perhaps didn't ask him that?
Shuler: That's possible, yes.
Dodson: Okay. So it's possible you didn't even ask Scott whether he had scars on his penis --
Dodson: -- at trial?
Shuler: I thought that we did, perhaps we did not, perhaps I did not.
(To be continued)
Previously in the series:
* Court finds Missouri lawyer David Shuler provided ineffective assistance of counsel (11/13/18)
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|Cindy Hyde-Smith and Mike Espy|
How does one explain Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith's victory in yesterday's U.S. Senate election in Mississippi, even though Hyde-Smith ran a campaign that included embarrassing evocations to the state's ugly history with racism and slavery? In essence, Mississippi elected an openly white-supremacist candidate. Was the seat decided because Hyde-Smith is white and her opponent, Democrat Mike Espy, is black?
How can one explain the dominance of the Republican Party in Alabama's November midterms, even when the party is awash in corruption and puts forth preposterously weak candidates -- such as Gov. Kay Ivey, who reportedly has had a series of strokes and struggles at times to put sentences together; and Attorney General Steve Marshall, who has taken campaign donations that clearly violate Alabama law?
Perhaps the answer can be found amidst the rubble of America's recent "News week from hell." Our theory: The four events that comprise that awful seven days can be explained with one word. We suspect the same word can be used to explain voting patterns in Mississippi, Alabama, the Deep South, and other parts of the country -- with Republicans, stunningly, actually gaining seats in the U.S. Senate.
On a personal note, the abuse that has been heaped on my wife, Carol, and me over the past 10-plus years -- both in Alabama and Missouri -- probably can be explained with the same word. What is it? We'll call it "the T word" -- tribalism -- and recent reports indicate it is burgeoning in the Age of Trump, perhaps posing the single biggest threat to U.S. democracy.
Consider the horrific events in the "News week from hell":
(1) Eleven congregants at a Pittsburgh synagogue were murdered because someone with a criminal mindset viewed them as members of the wrong tribe (Jews).
(2) Two customers at a Kentucky grocery store were murdered because someone with a criminal mindset viewed them as members of the wrong tribe (black Americans) -- and the shooter apparently arrived at the store because he failed to break into a black church, where the death toll could have been frightfully high.
(3) Various individuals and organizations received suspicious packages, which generally proved to be mail bombs, because someone with a criminal mindset -- and Cesar Sayoc, the person charged with the offense, has a criminal record -- viewed them as members of the wrong tribe (critics of Donald Trump).
(4) Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi newsman who wrote for The Washington Post, was murdered and dismembered because individuals in Saudi Arabia, with a criminal mindset, viewed him as a member of the wrong tribe (journalists.)
All of this becomes particularly disturbing when viewed through the lens of tribalism. New York Times columnist Frank Bruni recently took such a view on the domestic front and reached some unsettling conclusions. His piece is titled "Donald Trump's Relentless Tribe":
It’s what some political scientists call negative partisanship. Research shows that, increasingly, Americans on one side of the political divide don’t just disagree with those on the other. They see them as threats to the country’s well-being. Their anger at the opposing party and its leaders is more pervasive. Their disagreement with its prescriptions is strict. They’re not as keen to associate with its adherents. And their unbalanced information diets and narrow ideological enclaves insulate them from its reasoning.
Forget I’m O.K., you’re O.K. This is: I have problems, you’re repulsive.
The ethos extends to the assessment and defense of Trump’s behavior. He may be an odd fit for a tribe that includes usually judgmental religious conservatives and once exuberant free traders, but he’s now their chief, and whatever his flaws, his detractors’ are worse. If they’re agitated, they’re ipso facto overreacting. Regardless, show no weakness. Admit no wrong.
For details on research about the rising tide of U.S. tribalism, we invite you to click on links above from the Bruni article.
|Alleged Kentucky shooter Gregory Bush|
More in Common, a research organization based in Europe and the United States, released a report called “Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape.” It builds on the group’s prior work in France, Germany, and Italy—an effort to understand and counteract rising populism and fragmentation in the Western democracies. Throughout the past year, the report’s four authors surveyed eight thousand randomly chosen Americans, asking questions about “core beliefs”: moral values, attitudes toward parenting and personal responsibility, perceptions of threats, approaches to group identity. . . .
More in Common found that “tribal membership predicts differences in Americans’ views on various political issues better than demographic, ideological, and partisan groupings.” In other words, whether or not you think creativity is more important than good behavior in children is a better indicator of your political views than is your gender, your race, your income, or your party affiliation.“Once we have the seven segments, their views on issues are highly correlated,” Tim Dixon, an Australian political activist and a founder of More in Common, told me. He added, “We have too much opinion research and not enough value research.”Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld examined similar issues in a piece at The Atlantic, titled "The Threat of Tribalism." It's part of a series titled "Is Democracy Dying?"
When we think of tribalism, we tend to focus on the primal pull of race, religion, or ethnicity. But partisan political loyalties can become tribal too. When they do, they can be as destructive as any other allegiance. The Founders understood this. In 1780, John Adams wrote that the “greatest political evil” to be feared under a democratic constitution was the emergence of “two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other.” George Washington, in his farewell address, described the “spirit of party” as democracy’s “worst enemy.” It “agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one party against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. . . .”
|Alleged mail bomber Cesar Sayoc|
Americans on both the left and the right now view their political opponents not as fellow Americans with differing views, but as enemies to be vanquished. And they have come to view the Constitution not as an aspirational statement of shared principles and a bulwark against tribalism, but as a cudgel with which to attack those enemies.
As for Carol ad me, our experience somewhat mirrors the Jamal Khashoggi case of being attacked as members of the journalism tribe. But our story involves some deeper undercurrents. For example, we've learned that right-wing tribalists -- especially those who wear robes and generally are found in the Deep South Midwest, and Great Plains -- tend to make up their own law, as opposed to following the codified state and federal laws they are sworn to uphold. Put another way, they have no respect for due process, equal protection, or the rule of law -- and they are traitors to the U.S. and state constitutions.
Here is how we explained it in a post about what we have come to call "The New Confederacy," focusing on the trial of former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard:
The Mike Hubbard trial, on the surface, was about 23 charges of Alabama Ethics Law violations -- with a Lee County jury finding Hubbard guilty on 12 counts. But from a big-picture view, it was about the kind of mindset that has come to hold back many areas of the Deep South, not to mention other states where Southern thinking tends to hold sway. We are thinking of Great Plains or Midwest states, such as Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah.
What is this mindset all about? We have broken it into two parts -- one called "The New Confederacy," and the other called "Conservative Tribalism." Both were on display in the Mike Hubbard trial.
"The New Confederacy" includes individuals who tend to self-identify as "patriots," even though they reject fundamental tenets of the U.S. Constitution. These modern-day confederates tend to especially reject the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees of due process and equal protection, which became part of America's constitutional landscape after the Civil War.
From 1866 to 1868, Southern states bitterly opposed ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Hubbard trial showed that many Southerners, especially elites, still despise the principles of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Consider Hubbard's lawyer, Bill Baxley. He described several of the counts against his client as "mumbo-jumbo" or "gobbledygook." Baxley made little or no attempt to dispute the prosecution's version of the facts. Instead, he argued there was no crime -- essentially claiming the law does not apply to Mike Hubbard.
Carol and I have not been murdered -- yet -- but we have been pushed to the edge of financial ruin by a form of legal tribalism that runs counter to everything our constitution supposedly stands for. In essence, we've been the victims of massive theft -- of our home, our personal belongings, our financial resources, our health-care and retirement funds, our reputations, you name it.
|Alleged Pittsburgh synagogue shooter Robert Bowers|
Right-leaning voters around the country -- especially in places like Mississippi and Alabama -- apparently do not realize that or do not care. If our theory is on target, those voters simply sniff out candidates they believe belong to their tribe -- or will support their tribe -- and pull the lever for them, even if they are not remotely qualified to do the job.
|Bill Pryor, as a drummer at Northeast Louisiana University|
After a raucous confirmation process, Brett Kavanaugh stands as Exhibit A of a federal judge who lacks the temperament, integrity, and impartiality to sit on the federal bench.
Consider Bill Pryor, who sits on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals (Alabama, Georgia, Florida) and has an office at his "duty station" in Birmingham's Hugo Black Courthouse, as Exhibit B. In essence, Pryor is a closeted-gay version of Brett Kavanaugh, perhaps even more far to the right politically -- and both were on Donald Trump's short list of U.S. Supreme Court nominees. Pryor apparently fell out of favor -- opening the door for Kavanaugh -- and that likely is because of our reporting about his forays into gay pornography, with nude photos appearing at badpuppy.com in the late 1990s.
Shane Rogers-Mauro, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, man who says Pryor sexually harassed him while the two were classmates at Northeast Louisiana University (NLU, now University of Louisiana Monroe), uses terms like "cruel" and "evil" to describe the Pryor he knew in college and read about since the judge's rise to political infamy as a closeted gay who is virulently anti-LGBT in his public statements. Rogers-Mauro says he has notes about others who have told him Pryor sexually harassed them at NLU.
|Shane Rogers in the NLU Marching Band|
I was in a band fraternity -- Kappa Kappa Psi -- when Bill discovered I was seeing someone else, and he decided to out me to the rest of the band. Back then, outing was rotten thing to do because people were pretty much in closet. In fact, I would say that outing me, alone, was a form of sexual harassment. I was ostracized in the fraternity, and it pretty much ended my time in that organization.
Bill has a self loathing outlook, with his anti-gay opinions in court and in his public statements. That is so old school and disgusting to us all.
Rogers-Mauro said Pryor was an annoying, abrasive presence on the NLU campus, especially in the close-knit band community:
I don't have a lot of dirty stories about Bill; I never had any sexual interaction with him. He's got a wife and kids, which is pretty shocking. That is him in Bad Puppy. He was known as gay -- he was in percussion, a drummer -- and he had a mouth on him, saying things, about politics and other subjects, that he shouldn't have been saying. We worked together in work-study, so we got to know each other pretty well.
I'm surprised he's an appellate-court judge. Not only is he not the right person for the job, with all of his prejudices, but I've never seen someone so conservative and cruel. We wrote Bill off as a pure radical; he was always glorifying Reagan. His views are so far right -- he was Republican this and Republican that.
This guy's evil. I've had no contact with him since college. From opinions and statements of last 20 years, I can see it's only gotten worse. How can he be a judge of others when he's so prejudiced in one direction. That goes beyond homosexuality or anything like that. He will try to get as high as he can. He's one of those power grabbers. You can't make judicial decisions in the right way when you are so far on the fringe.
As a federal judge, Pryor appears to be a successful individual -- on the surface -- and Rogers-Mauro did not see that one coming:
I never thought twice about him being successful in anything. People would walk the other way when he was coming toward them because they did not want to deal with that kind of aggressiveness. I'm 53 now, and I've never seen anyone so radical in entire life.
He's gotten higher than he ever should have. I find it hard to believe Bill could be impartial in anything. And others who know him can't believe he's a judge. He's just very aggressive, very evil.
Does that first sentence lead to the second? Not necessarily, but it does suggest Donald Watkins Sr. has a sizable ego and perhaps that contributed to the legal problems he now faces.
On the other hand, the charges against Watkins grew from the Hugo Black Courthouse in downtown Birmingham. That building houses courtrooms, federal judges' offices, the clerk's office, and the office of U.S. attorney Jay Town. I've spent more time in the Hugo Black building than I care to remember, and while it is an attractive edifice, experience has taught me that it houses some of the sleaziest, most dishonest, and contemptible people on the planet. It's a sewer of organized crime, and my guess is that 70 percent of the people in the building have committed or know about indictable offenses.
My wife, Carol, and I have been involved in at least four or five (I've lost track) cases in the Hugo Black Courthouse, and every one has been decided by crooked federal judges, issuing rulings that run wildly contrary to black-letter law. Even in the clerk's office, we've seen signs that cases routinely are doled out to specific judges -- almost certainly for corrupt reasons -- rather than assigned randomly, as required by law.
The Hugo Black crooks are so low that it would not be beneath them to bring the Watkins charges as a diversion, to deflect public attention from legal concerns that hover over Alabama's ruling white elites -- such as the evolving North Birmingham Superfund scandal, the AG Steve Marshall/RAGA scandal, the firing of state prosecutor Matt Hart, the Bellefonte nuclear plant boondoggle, possible revelations about Jeff Sessions and other Alabama dirt bags in the Trump-Russia scandal, and more.
All of this means Donald Watkins and his son are about to enter a den of "reptiles, tramps, and thieves" -- to borrow a phrase modified from Cher -- and that's not a pleasant thought for anyone. In what promises to be a nasty, legal Battle Royale, I'm pulling for the Watkinses, hands down.
That's not to say I don't have quibbles with Mr. Watkins Sr. In recent years, he has added the role of "journalist" to his professional undertakings, and he has repeatedly claimed at his Facebook and Web page that he broke the story of former Gov. Robert Bentley and his extramarital affair with senior adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason. In fact, Watkins made the claim again yesterday in his online response to the federal indictments:
Ironically, while federal prosecutors in Alabama elected to prosecute me on flimsy allegations, they forgave former Governor Robert Bentley for his many acts of public corruption in spending vast sums of tax dollars, campaign money, and dark money romancing his lover, Rebekah Caldwell Mason. As the Alabama public knows, I am the journalist who broke the “sex for power” scandal between Bentley and Ms. Mason that resulted in the governor’s resignation.
The highlighted statement above is false, and Watkins knows it is false. I have advised him of its falsity several times via response on Facebook. This blog, Legal Schnauzer, broke the Bentley-Mason story on Aug. 31, 2015 -- and that is an indisputable fact, as we spelled out in an April 2018 post:
Legal Schnauzer broke the story of Bentley's affair with "adviser" Rebekah Caldwell Mason -- and its associated financial and legal implications -- roughly seven months before the mainstream media (MSM) began to take it seriously. The first story on the Bentley scandal, anywhere in any form of media, was published here at Legal Schnauzer on Aug. 31, 2015.
We were way ahead of everybody in naming Rebekah Mason as a central figure in the scandal. Our guess is the MSM never would have touched the story if we hadn't broken it and followed up with key details. In fact, al.com (especially "reporters" John Archibald and Chuck Dean) spent months attacking my journalism on the story. They were more interested in sweeping the story under their GOP-tinted rug than actually pursuing it. . . .
Archibald, of course, was happy to go on The Rachel Maddow Show in spring 2017 and take credit for "breaking" the story, even though he was seven months late to the party.
Speaking of taking credit for the work of others, we have lawyer/businessman/Facebook"journalist" Donald Watkins, who repeatedly has taken credit for breaking the Bentley-Mason story. His most recent effort to falsely claim credit for breaking the story came three days ago. Much of Watkins' early reporting on the Bentley scandal focused on hints that the governor was having a homosexual affair with his security chief.
Watkins didn't even have the gender issue correct, and never mentioned Mason's name until well after we had broken it. Yet, just three days ago, he took credit for breaking the story. Perhaps that kind of fundamental dishonesty is the reason Watkins is up to his neck in federal investigations. (Given that many state and federal prosecutors are utterly lacking in integrity, it's also possible Watkins is being targeted because his skin is black and is seen as a threat to Alabama's conservative establishment.)
Am I displeased that Watkins has taken credit for my work? Yes. Am I so worked up about it that I've lost objectivity about his case? I hope not. Do my quibbles mean he is guilty of the charges feds now have brought against him? Of course not -- and I suspect the government's case is filled with holes.
Watkins did make important contributions on the Bentley/Mason story, and I have given him credit for that multiple times. He has broken or contributed to other important stories, such as the suicide of former University of Alabama student Megan Rondini. His journalism probably has earned him enemies in high places.
The government's efforts to charge Watkins have been percolating for years. It's a complex financial matter, and I'm still studying it to get a grip on the issues involved. But I've reached two conclusions already:
(1) I believe the charges likely were brought now to shine an ugly spotlight on a prominent black man in Alabama, diverting attention from possible criminal actions of white elites on issues noted above.
(2) Donald Watkins, without a doubt, is smarter than the prosecutors and investigators who will be trying to put him away. If he gets a reasonable judge and jury -- a big if -- I think he will kick the feds in the crotch if this thing goes to trial.
Based on what I know at the moment -- and what I've learned about the Alabama "justice system" over almost 20 years -- I hope Watkins does kick the feds in the delicates -- and may he keeps on kicking until they can squirm no more.
In one respect, the Khashoggi incident was less radical than what happened to a U.S. journalist (me) in the Deep South: At least the Saudi criminals had the decency to abduct Khashoggi in a public place; Alabama thugs broke into our house, in broad daylight -- an act unlawful on so many levels that it's hard to list all the state and federal laws it violates. And yet, U.S. Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins (Northern District of Alabama) has found sheriff's deputies under the state constitution, have immunity to commit such acts, as being within "the line and scope of their employment." (No kidding.)
On top of that, we've pointed to evidence that suggests Republican thugs who orchestrated my abduction included my wife, Carol, in the Rob Riley-Liberty Duke lawsuit because the plan was to kidnap and murder both of us. If so, Carol's ability to remain free and get word out to the press -- plus the thugs' apparent reluctance to break into our house a second time -- probably is all that saved us.
Were we slated to be beheaded and dismembered, as Khashoggi reportedly was? Likely not, but who knows, maybe the Saudis have given Alabama thugs ideas to implement in their future endeavors.
How similar were the Khashoggi murder and the Schnauzer kidnapping? Let's examine some of the underlying issues in both:
The judiciary as an "entry drug" for corruption
Over 11-plus years, this blog has provided details -- the kind that probably have never been reported before -- showing that American courts are awash in sewage. My research indicates perhaps the No. 1 indicator of a backward, third-world country is a corrupt judiciary -- specifically, the lack of due process, equal protection, and the rule of law. Our reporting shows the world's foremost democracy is becoming more and more like a banana republic.
|Mugshot of U.S. journalist Roger Shuler|
[We shouldn't] minimize the issue of judicial reform to women only, even though it is important. . . . Since the time of King Abdulaziz, they have refused codifying the laws. And they think codifying the laws is secular. . . . This is what I mean by reform, by true reform of the judiciary, is to codify the law, introduce due process in the court system and make judges [obey] --what is the word? --a codified law…. This is the reform that is needed.
Making judges obey a codified law? Heck, Khashoggi was talking about judicial reform that would be way more advanced than anything we have in the United States. We have a codified law in America, but no one makes judges obey it. We've seen multiple instances where judges clearly have not even read the applicable law and/or did not consider it in their rulings.
Attacking your job -- your ability to make a living -- as a form of retaliation
We've written numerous posts about the cheat jobs Carol and I experienced in the Alabama workplace -- her at Infinity Insurance, me at UAB -- and evidence makes it clear they were political hit jobs, payback for my reporting at Legal Schnauzer, especially about the Don Siegelman case. Khashoggi had similar experiences in Saudi Arabia. From a report at Bloomberg:
In the 2000s, [Khashoggi] was twice fired from his post as editor-in-chief of the Saudi Al-Watan daily newspaper, which under his leadership ran stories, editorials and cartoons critical of extremists.
Yet he didn’t stay long without a job. In between, he served as an adviser to the Saudi ambassador to London, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, a former long-serving intelligence chief, and stayed on as the prince’s media aide after he was appointed the Saudi envoy to the U.S.
“I got fired from my job twice because I was pushing for reform in Saudi Arabia,” Khashoggi said in a March appearance on Qatari-run Al Jazeera’s “Upfront” program as he explained the worsening environment for journalists under Prince Mohammed. “It wasn’t that easy but people were not being put in jails. There was a breathing space.”
Of thugs and jails
Alabama thugs targeted me for jailing -- essentially arresting me for blogging. Statements from the last days of his life indicate Khashoggi spent a lot of time looking over his shoulder, as any "breathing space" dissipated under the regime of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. From a report at the UK Daily Mail:
Khashoggi also criticised Prince Mohammed's lack of 'proper advisers'.
'He is moving toward a Saudi Arabia according to him, a Saudi Arabia according to Mohammed bin Salman only,' said Khashoggi, who was himself a contributor to the Washington Post newspaper.
Khashoggi described two of the prince's aides, including the since-dismissed media adviser Saud al-Qahtani, as 'very thuggish'.
'People fear them. You challenge them, you might end up in prison, and that has happened,' he said.
Lies, lies, everywhere there's lies
Almost from the moment Khashoggi's disappearance hit the press, Saudi officials produced a string of lies -- finally admitting it was a case of premeditated murder. A recent unmasking of Saudi lies came when a Turkish official said Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi consulate. So much for Saudi claims that Khashoggi was the victim of a rogue extradition mission that turned into a "brawl." Can't have much of a brawl when one of the participants already is dead from strangulation.
|Rob Riley and his daddy, former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley|
Riley said in a telephone interview he has a right to seek injunctive relief in a defamation case and there is legal precedent for doing so. He said someone who decides "to make up a lie, destroy someone's reputation, that's not journalism."
Riley told CPJ: "Shuler has a history of making up things and writing things that are outlandish lies...I am going to pursue every avenue possible to me in the courts to defend my name, my family and my business...He has no proof this is true. He has just decided to be a cyber-bully and make stuff up and I've had enough."
Is any of that true? Not one word of it. Notice that Riley does not cite any case to support his claim that the law allows for a preliminary injunction in a defamation case -- in a matter where the complained of article has not been proven to be defamatory before a jury trial, as required by law. Riley can cite no such law because there is no such law.
Notice that Riley tells a reporter that my reporting consists of "outlandish lies." Did he ever say -- under oath, in a court of law -- that my reporting on his relationship with lobbyist Liberty Duke was false. Anyone can check the public record and find the answer is "No."
Is there much difference between the oily Rob "Uday" Riley and lying royal officials in Saudi Arabia? Not that I can see.
(Note: Legal Schnauzer needs your help. Loyal readers have sustained this blog for years, and support is urgently needed now that my wife, Carol, is recovering from a fainting spell, which led to a recent broken arm. The healing process has started for Carol, but statements from her doctors indicate this likely was fallout from political thugs cheating both of us out of our jobs [and health insurance] in Birmingham -- and the stress of dealing with financial wreckage that comes from being targeted for right-wing attacks. If you are able to help along our journalism journey, please click on the yellow donate button in the upper right corner of the blog, under the "Support the Schnauzer" headline. We are deeply grateful for your support through the years.)
Public records indicate Missouri resident Scott J. Wells paid Springfield attorney David Shuler (my brother) about $17,000, plus expenses, to defend him in a child sexual abuse case. What did Wells get for his expenditure? He got a guilty verdict -- so flimsy it later fell apart before the same judge who found Wells guilty -- and was looking at five life sentences, plus 55 years. It all could have been avoided if David Shuler had thought to ask one obvious question. But Wells had to hire another lawyer, to the tune of about $60,000, to get David Shuler's "handiwork" cleaned up and the verdict overturned, due to ineffective assistance of counsel.
State of Missouri v. Scott J. Wells (No. 31302CF5509) is a horrifying story of what can happen in our "justice system" when four little girls accuse a man of sexually abusing them, it goes to trial even though their stories are repeatedly changing in discovery, a judge issues a guilty verdict -- and that collapses only when, in a post-trial hearing, one of the complaining witnesses is shown to have clearly lied. The lie had been obvious at trial, but David Shuler was too incompetent, too indifferent, too compromised (or a combination of all three) to ask the question that would have set his client free.
After the guilty verdict had been tossed, Wells asked Shuler in writing to return his money; after all, the court had found Shuler's representation fell to the level of ineffective assistance of counsel, but Shuler refused. He kept roughly $20,000 for "services" that left his client staring at five life sentences (and then some) -- for a crime he did not commit.
In preparation for this series of posts, I sent David Shuler an email asking why he had refused to return Scott Wells' money. We've shown that Mr. Shuler owns more than $1 million in Missouri real estate, so it doesn't appear he would miss the money Scott Wells paid him -- and which Shuler definitely did not earn. But David Shuler has not responded to my queries. (More on the subject of Shuler's fees in an upcoming post.)
Daniel Dodson, the Jefferson City attorney who got the Scott Wells guilty verdict overturned, served as an expert witness for Wells in his legal-malpractice claim against Shuler. At one point, Dodson describes the level of malpractice in the underlying criminal case as "staggering." Below is testimony from Daniel Dodson's deposition in the malpractice case, and as you will see, Dodson does not mince words about David Shuler's performance. The testimony begins on page 42 of the first document embedded at the end of this post. The questioner is Scott E. Bellm, from the Turner Reid Duncan firm of Springfield, representing David Shuler:
Bellm: Can we agree that it was not -- maybe in hindsight, things might have been done different, but it was not necessarily a breach of the standard of care for him to waive the jury [trial]. . . .
Dodson: No, I think it was a trial strategy -- a trial strategy borne of not knowing anything about doing these cases and generally having a make-up -- Mr. Shuler's make-up -- he's probably still not tried a jury trial and may never do it. He's not a jury trial lawyer.
Bellm: In any event, even if he had not waived jury and they would have had a jury trial, there's no way in the world anybody in this room or anywhere else could ever predict one way or the other what the outcome would have been?
Dodson: With David Shuler as his lawyer, I can predict what the outcome --
Bellm: Or with anybody?
Dodson: I can predict what the outcome would have been in this case with proper preparation -- there was so much -- I had forgotten half of what came up in that transcript, and I didn't get to half of my witnesses that came up. In this case, I think it was rather obvious that Scott Wells wasn't guilty and that there were so many holes and so many problems and then the stuff that came up in trial that wasn't reacted to, I think the case was a winner.
Bellm: You believe, as you sit here today, that had a different lawyer with different skill sets, different preparation, if that lawyer would have tried this case in Greene County back in August of --
Bellm: -- four, in front of a jury of unknown people, that you can say with any degree of certainty that there would have been an acquittal of all 14 charges?
Dodson: There may not be certainty in this business, but I can tell you that I believe there would have been an acquittal in front of a jury or in front of Judge [Don] Burrell.
Bellm: If all -- of all charges?
But I think eventually we would have won on appeal, because I think what I think Judge Burrell did was, as the trier of fact, find that he had a doubt about his own verdict beyond a reasonable doubt. And I think eventually there would have been an acquittal, based on the fact that the original trier of fact set aside his own finding of guilt. I think it would have.
Bellm: And in all fairness, Judge Burrell had the benefit of hearing evidence that you understand, likely, probably would not have been admitted at trial?
Dodson: He did, but I don't think he considered it. I think he considered -- and I think, you know, the crux of this case is the scars on the penis evidence, and that is what did it. Based on what he said in chambers, he said, when I heard that and heard that she said he had scars on his penis for the first time and that -- and he didn't even have the fact that Shuler didn't remember, but Scott will tell you that Shuler didn't even ask.
Part of defending a case like this is having a belief in your client, if your client says he didn't do it. And Shuler didn't have enough of a belief in his client that he had any doubt that this girl was correct about the scars on the penis and didn't even ask Scott if he had scars on his penis, and therefore, did not react and put in evidence which was, frankly, right there behind his zipper, that this young woman was completely up a tree.
Bellm: And you agree with me that the first time this testimony was ever given was during the trial?
Dodson: It was.
Bellm: And --
Dodson: But I can tell you when I got that transcript, the first thing I did -- I was at my home in Maryland -- I still lived out in the Washington, D.C., area, and I had this transcript and I saw that, and I immediately called Scott Wells and said, do you have scars on your penis?
And he said, no.
And I said, did Shuler ever ask you if you had scars on your penis?
And he said, no.
Now, that's an immediate reaction, if you're a defense lawyer, capable of defending these cases.
Bellm: And he may have asked him and he may have said no, but there is no way to know what weight or credibility the fact finder would have given that testimony?
Dodson: I'm sorry?
Bellm: If David would have asked Mr. [Wells] that question --
Dodson: He indicated he wasn't sure if he did. If David had asked Mr. Wells that question --
|Scott J. Wells|
Dodson: I don't think, especially in this case, a judge-tried case might have been better, because first of all, if the prosecutor didn't do something to refute it, you're basically in a position with a presumption of innocence and a reasonable doubt standard to take that at face value unless it's questioned. But the evidence was there.
I sent Scott to a doctor, because frankly, I didn't want to see his penis, and got a report that said he has no scars on his penis. That couldn't have been done that day. The appropriate scenario would be, judge, let's go back into chambers, my client has something he wants to show you, and the evidence would have been irrefutable at that point.
That's not a matter of just asking Scott. It's a matter of being aware of what's going on and at least asking your client to figure out that you have exculpatory evidence right there, frankly, in his pants.
(To be continued)
Previously in the series:
* Court finds Missouri lawyer David Shuler provided ineffective assistance of counsel (11/13/18)
* Missouri attorney David Shuler took no action at trial . . . (11/27/18)
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