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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Bentley crony Cooper Shattuck reels in $350,000 of state legal work, while Rebekah Caldwell Mason remains front and center in "Luv Guv's" administration


Cooper Shattuck
(From Alabama Political Reporter)
The lawyer who formed an alleged slush fund for the mistress of Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has received state contracts worth $325,000, according to a recent published report. The mistress, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, remains front and center with Team Bentley, even though she supposedly resigned as senior political adviser last March, the report states.

Cooper Shattuck, who resigned as chief counsel at the University of Alabama last December, is billing at $195 per hour for legal work, according to the subscription Inside Alabama Politics (IAP) Web site. Shattuck served as Bentley's legal adviser before taking the UA job and established the ACEGOV nonprofit, which has been described as a slush fund for Bentley mistress Rebekah Caldwell Mason.

Shattuck resigned at UA eight days after being named in a lawsuit filed by former Bentley security chief Wendell Ray Lewis. ACEGOV is a defendant, with Shattuck prominently mentioned in the lawsuit. Shattuck might be out of a full-time job, but he won't be hurting for money anytime soon. From the IAP report:

According to a State contract review for February, Shattuck will pull down $325,000 in legal work for the state between now and January 2019. One contract is for legal work related to the Deepwater Horizon matters and issues with the Gulf State Park Enhancement Project, a State-run hotel and convention center that will compete with private businesses along Alabama’s Gulf Coast. Billing at $195/hour this contract is good for $250,000 of state money from DWH funds until January 2019. A second contract for Shattuck (again at $195/hour) is related directly to the governor’s office dealing with Bentley’s possible impeachment. The contract states that the nature of the work is to provide “advice, counsel and other related legal services on all matters involving the Governor’s Office…on an as-needed basis.” Bentley’s friend will be paid $75,000 for this work through September 2018.

What about Caldwell Mason? Well, she apparently considers herself bulletproof. From IAP:

Speaking of Rebekah Mason, according to several sources she has once again become a permanent fixture around the Governor’s office. One insider tells IAP “she is conducting meetings as if she were the boss.” Another source has reported Mason now occupies office space in the RSA Union building and possibly working on another project with Shattuck.

Shattuck, by the way, is not the only lawyer gorging himself at the public trough:

Also mentioned in February’s contract review included $285,000 for legal work by Waller Lansden Dortch and Davis. If that name sounds familiar, it may be because Governor Bentley paid the firm $50,000 for ‘administrative’ work, presumably since there is no category on campaign finance forms for paying legal fees. Bentley reported the expenditure in January on the same report where he paid his legal bills as well as those for his fondling partner Mason.

How many reports about the seemingly dry topic of state contracts would include a reference to the governor's "fondling partner"?  Only in Alabama.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ashley Madison customers revealed: Nicholas Arciniegas, D.C. attorney with Birmingham roots and interest in national-security work, gets unmasked


Nicholas Arciniegas
(From LinkedIn)
A D.C.-based attorney, with Alabama roots and interests in intelligence, counterterrorism, and national-security work, appears as a paying customer at Ashley Madison. He even used a Mountain Brook address for his activities at the extramarital-affairs Web site. Classy move.

You might think that Nicholas Arciniegas, with his interest in legal work that involves high-level secrecy and discreetness, would be smart enough to stay away from a site like Ashley Madison. But you would be wrong.

Arciniegas appears to be a child of privilege who thinks he can build an impressive resume while getting away with immature and risky actions in his personal life. He certainly appears to come from an accomplished family.

Arciniegas has not responded to our questions, so his roots are a bit uncertain. But a check of public records indicates the following: His father is Joaquin Arciniegas, M.D., a physician with Alabama Cardiovascular Group, an affiliate of Grandview Health. His brother, Daniel Eduardo Arciniegas, is an attorney with Wiggins Childs Pantazis Fisher and Goldfarb, the largest employment-discrimination and civil-rights law firm in Alabama.

Nicholas Arciniegas graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 2009 and completed a degree at Samford's Cumberland School of Law in 2013. He worked briefly in the clerk's office at Wiggins Childs and served as a law clerk in the Alabama Attorney General's Office, under Luther Strange. While in college, Arciniegas served as an intern in the U.S. House of Representatives for Spencer Bachus.

Arciniegas has earned certificates related to intelligence and homeland security from a number of institutions, including Johns Hopkins, the Naval Postgraduate School, and the London School of Economics.

As a lawyer, Arciniegas has worked for LDiscovery LLC, Tower Legal Solutions, and the D.C. firm of Rodriguez and Sanabria.  before working three months at World Bank Group. He now appears to have his own solo practice, focusing primarily on immigration law.

Arciniegas' account at Ashley Madison has the address of 4924 Old Leeds Road in Mountain Brook, which is the address for Dr. Joaquin Arciniegas. Was Nicholas Arciniegas trying to disguise his identity or was he living at home at the time? It's not clear and, and he has not responded to our queries for this article.

Based on public records available to us, Nicholas Arciniegas' marital status is unclear; he appears to be single.

Perhaps the biggest question is this: How could an ambitious young lawyer, building a career in intelligence and national security, compromise himself by signing up for Ashley Madison? Has that information become known in the D.C. legal community and already had a negative impact on the trajectory of his career.

Building a snazzy resume seems to be Nicholas Arciniegas' primary accomplishment so far, and that probably isn't hard to do when money is no object, and you were born with a silver foot in your mouth.

As for genuine accomplishment, it's hard to find any -- other than making the dubious choice to join Ashley Madison.

Previously:

Article with links to 1-20 in Ashley Madison series

(21) Craig Oliver, attorney, Springfield, MO (1/24/17)

(22) Craig Lowell, attorney, Wiggins Childs, Birmingham (1/26/17)

(23) Thomas Mancuso, tax attorney, Montgomery, AL (2/16/17)

Why did Missouri lawyer David Shuler, my brother, form a property-related LLC for our mother just days before my wife and I were unlawfully evicted in 2015?


The Stamps General Store in Osage, Arkansas,
which was in my family from 1912 to 1990.
(From wikipedia.org)
My mother has owned or co-owned property in the Ozarks region of Missouri and northwest Arkansas for more than 60 years. All that time, to my knowledge, she never saw the need to organize her holdings under a limited liability company (LLC). So why did that suddenly change on August 31, 2015, just nine days before my wife, Carol, and I were unlawfully evicted from our apartment in Springfield, Missouri -- an event that caused a Greene County deputy to break Carol's left arm into numerous pieces, requiring trauma surgery that is expected to leave Carol with 75 percent usage in that arm?

Here is another question: Why was my family willing to make it appear that Carol and I were homeless -- when we haven't been, and my family owns property that Carol and I could use temporarily, making sure we don't become homeless? Was I raised by people who are so thoughtless and devious that they would have to improve to be compared to pack of wolves?

We've presented indisputable evidence that my brother actively has been trying to harm Carol and me -- it's not just a matter of "not helping" -- so a reasonable person could wonder about the motives behind this LLC.

We'll return to the questions above in a moment, But for now, why did my lawyer brother, David Shuler, find it necessary at that time to form G Shuler Properties LLC? (My mother's name is Gondylyn, "Gondy" for short.) My mother is 87 years old, and as I understand it, David is her trustee --  and she pretty much lets him handle all of her affairs. In fact, it seems most of my immediate relatives take advice from the "family lawyer," which might explain why our family has descended into a state of embarrassing dysfunction. David is the only member of my family, that I know of, who has demonstrably dubious ethics. No wonder he was attracted to the legal "profession."

It's not like my mother is a "land baron." Her holdings -- at least the ones I know of -- are modest, by most standards. She and my father owned two properties in Springfield, Missouri -- and when my father died in 2008, she became sole owner. According to Greene County records those properties are:

* 1123 W. University--This is our original two-bedroom family home, the one I arrived at after being born in 1956 at Springfield Baptist Hospital, which now is Lakeland Behavioral Health System, which specializes in psychiatric care for children and adolescents, plus adults over 60. Records show this house has 780 square feet (God, no wonder it felt crowded), with a current appraised valuation of $45,800. My parents have rented this home to a number of individuals and families since we moved to larger quarters in 1966.

* 3427 VanOwen--This was my home from fifth grade through the end of college, until I moved to Birmingham, Alabama, to seek "fortune" in the journalism business. My mother still lives here. Records show this house has 2,212 square feet (God, no wonder I felt like I could breathe there), with a current appraised valuation of $100,400. My memory is that my parents paid $18,000 for it in 1966; I might be overstating that figure. (Times have changed.) It sits on 1.1033 acres of land and was a great place to grow up, especially in a family with four active kids -- one of whom (me) tended to be playing some sort of ball almost all the time. My brother, Paul, also was a pretty fair athlete and might have been able to pitch at the college level if he had not hurt his rotator cuff.

My mother had three siblings, who all are deceased. They shared ownership of the family plot in Carroll County, Arkansas (near the tiny hamlet of Osage) for years, but my mother, as far as I know, now is sole owner.

As recently as February 2013, records showed my mother owned three properties in Carroll County, with a total value (if my memory is correct) of about $70,000. (Osage, Ark., is not a hot spot for development. That valuation, however, might be way less than what the land would bring on the market.)

The historic Stamps General Store was in my mother's family for decades -- her maiden name is Stamps -- and it now has its own Wikipedia page. It was in our family until about 1990, and now is home to a pottery shop.)

Records currently show no properties in Carroll County under my mother's name. What happened? Were the properties sold? Were they placed under some other entity, such as G Shuler Properties LLC? If so, why was that done?

My family doesn't clue me in on such decisions, so I don't have answers to those questions -- although I'm getting close to finding answers. But I do know this: G. Shuler Properties LLC was formed at a curious time, nine days before Carol and I would be victims of an unlawful eviction. (See the LLC's Articles of Organization below.) And my lawyer brother knew the unlawful eviction was coming, and chose to do nothing about it. In other words, he has clear liability, and it's likely my mother does, too.

I also know this: My family could have allowed Carol and me to live temporarily at my mother's rental home. My sister and her husband lived there, rent free as far as I know, for a year or two after they got married. One of my nephews lived there until he trashed the place so badly that he moved out, and his parents were stuck with fixing it. (Was he charged rent? Maybe, but I doubt it.)

On top of that, my lawyer brother is proprietor of Old Ivy Properties LLC, which seems to deal with rental properties, so he is in the landlord business, too. Is that how he came up with the idea for G Shuler Properties LLC, and if so, what is the new company's purpose?

As for Carol and me, we are living in a pay-by-the-week motel, and the roof over our head is a day-by-day proposition.

In essence, Carol and I have been treated differently from everyone else in the family -- and we've been the target of such contempt pretty much from the day we got married. That's why we had avoided Springfield, Missouri, for roughly 22 years -- until I got kidnapped and thrown in jail, and our house in Birmingham was stolen from us, and we were staring homelessness in the face.

We moved here mainly because it was somewhat familiar, and it was our only real choice. But has my family been more of a help or a hindrance? I hope to find the full answer to that question someday. For now, I know that Carol and I remain close to homelessness -- and I've seen no signs that my family cares one iota.

It did, however, care about starting G Shuler Properties LLC, for some unknown reason.

(Note: I have discovered that several documents related to David Shuler and Trent Cowherd, our former Missouri landlord, seem to be missing from our computer. Did someone hack our computer and steal the documents? I'm not sure, but I intend to find out. If the answer proves to be yes, someone might be facing criminal charges.)


Monday, February 20, 2017

When GOP operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison isn't dreaming of landing a $10-million job, she tosses out other jumbo numbers like . . . well, penny candy


Jessica Medeiros Garris
When last we visited Jessica Garrison's Wide World of Cash, our heroine was convinced she was on the verge of landing a job that would pay her $10 million over a 10-year period. Those, however, are not the only fabulous figures Garrison threw out during testimony in her defamation case against Legal Schnauzer and me.

Garrison, as one might expect from a good Republican operative, sounds crazy about cash. So let's consider some of the other jumbo numbers from her testimony. (A transcript of testimony from Garrison and Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is embedded at the end of this post.)

Our gal Jessica endures $25 million worth of "suffering"

Jessica Garrison claims under oath, in so many words, that our reporting about her extramarital affair with Luther Strange has caused her $25 million of damages. We're not making this up; you can read it on pages 65-67 at the transcript below. And this is from reporting that, as a matter of law, has never been found to be false or defamatory. God only knows how much she would be damaged if someone actually defamed her.

Here is part of the exchange between Garrison and her attorney, Bill Baxley:

Q. (MR. BAXLEY:) Jessica, if somebody offered you $25 million to let them do this to you publicly, what has been done, would you say it would be worth it?

A. No, sir.

Q. Have you had expenses that you've had to go through with us representing you?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And have you had expenses with trying to get Mr. Shuler served -

A. Yes, sir.

Q. -- over and over again?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. That's run up in the many thousands of dollars, hasn't it?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And you can't quantify what it's done to -- the dollar amount as far as the amount of mental anguish and suffering and angst this caused you, can you?

A. No, sir.

Q. But you say you wouldn't let somebody do this for $25 million for you?

A. Huh-uh (no).

Q. You need to speak up.

A. No, sir.

Q. So you would not let them do that for any amount of money, would you?

A. No. You couldn't pay me to go through this voluntarily.

Was any actual evidence presented that goes to the expenses Garrison concurred? Maybe canceled checks, invoices, etc.? Nope. Before the exchange above begins, something curious happens. It can be found on page 65 of the transcript:

MR. BAXLEY: Your Honor, I think that's all.

THE COURT: Is that all?

MR. BAXLEY: Yes, sir, I think so.

THE COURT: Approach, Mr. Baxley.

(A sidebar discussion was had off the record.)

Q. (MR. BAXLEY:) Jessica, if somebody offered you $25 million . . .

During the sidebar, one can almost imagine Judge Don Blankenship leaning toward Baxley and whispering:

Judge: Uh, Bill we're supposed to be establishing an extremely high figure for damages here; it's part of our plan to terrorize Mr. Shuler. But you haven't done that. You have to ask your client a leading question that establishes some outlandish figure for damages.

Baxley: Oh, that's right, Your Honor, I forgot about that. Haven't had my Jack Daniels yet today . . . heh, heh.

Judge: Will you please get some nutty figure in the record . . . and do it quickly, or I'm going to need some Jack Daniels.

Baxley: You got it, Donnie Boy. Comin' right up -- the nutty figure, that is. I don't share my JD.

Our gal Jessica is paid serious bucks for managing Luther Strange's campaign

On page 40 of the transcript, Garrison lets it be known that she is no regular working girl. She gets paid serious bucks -- $10,000 a month -- for her services:

Q. (MR. BAXLEY:) I'll show you what's been marked Plaintiff's Exhibit Number 10 and I'll ask you what that is.

A. That's my contract to serve as campaign manager for Luther's 2010 attorney general's race.

Q. And what did it call for you to be paid?

A. Ten thousand dollars a month plus expenses.

Q. And what else?

A. Oh, and they provided an iPhone, our computer -- our computer was a Mac. It was a portable computer -- and reimbursement of healthcare insurance premiums.

I don't claim to be a political insider, but $10,000 a month, plus expenses and various goodies (iPhone, Mac computer, etc.) for running an AG campaign in Alabama? Seems a bit high to me, especially for someone who had an 0-1 record at the time as a campaign manager.


Jessica doesn't just make big bucks, she pays big bucks -- and not very intelligently

On page 67 of the transcript, we learned that Garrison has paid Baxley and his firm more than $50,000 to bring the lawsuit against me:

Q. Has the amount you've had to pay for service and our services up to this point exceeded $50,000?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Have you had travel expenses having to come back to court when Mr. Shuler wouldn't show up?

A. Yes, sir.
As a party to the case, I have a pretty good idea of how much work Mr. Baxley and his firm put in. Here are the items I can recall:

* Baxley wrote me a couple of threatening letters, making outlandish misstatements of law;

* Someone wrote a complaint, which was filled with misstatements of fact and law.

* Baxley attended a couple of hearings where I was present, and probably 1-2 others where I was not present because I did not receive notice, making Garrison's $3.5-million judgment void.

* Someone printed out a bunch of blog posts and news articles, and it's not clear if any of them had to do with the matter being argued at the time -- whether Garrison's default judgment should be upheld or not. In essence, this was a "document dump," of little or no value.

There might have been a few other things Baxley and Co. did, but that's all I can think of right now. This much is certain: The Baxley lawyers did not engage in any discovery, there was no trial or trial preparation . . . so, how does Jessica Garrison wind up paying them more than $50,000? Were they charging her $10,000 an hour?

Was there any sign in the transcript that Garrison produced invoices or canceled checks to show she had been charged, and paid, $50,000? The answer is no.

If that amount was paid, did Garrison do it on her own, or did she have help? Did she walk "bravely" into filing a baseless lawsuit because someone was helping her with expenses? Did Baxley charge an outrageous amount because he knew Garrison's benefactors -- whoever they might be -- could afford it?

I know this: If Jessica Garrison paid Bill Baxley $50,000 for the puny and sorry work he did, she's the biggest dolt ever to land on planet Earth.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Ashley Madison records show Alabama tax attorney Thomas Mancuso has been looking for a woman who wants "to be licked" or "taken from behind"


Thomas and Judy Mancuso
A summary of an Alabama tax attorney's activities on the Ashley Madison (AM) extramarital-affair Web site shows he is looking for a woman who wants "to be licked," wants "to be taken from behind," and wants "to play with me in your mouth."

Thomas Mancuso, of Montgomery, is married to Judy Mancuso, but that hasn't kept him from seeking more than a little adventure on the side.

Records show that Mancuso signed up for AM at 3:51 p.m. on March 3, 2014, using a computer with an outbound IP address of 72.242.125.26, located on or near State Dock Road, Montgomery, AL 36104. His Ashley Madison account number is 24474963. (The full summary is embedded at the end of this post.)

What is Mancuso looking for in a partner? Well, he is quite explicit. From his AM profile description:

don't be too shy . . . say or show what you like . . . be aggressive if you like . . . or tell me to take control and seduce you . . . if you want to be licked, then lead me there . . . want to be taken from behind . . . then flip to your stomach . . . I will figure it out . . . want to play with me in your mouth . . . then do it . . . want to scream when you cum . . . that makes me nuts.
Mancuso then puts his slightly kinky side on display, and in perhaps his most impressive move, he points to his wallet:

want me to pull your hair . . . sure . . . your butt spanked softly . . . love to do it . . . and best of all, I am first class, have money, no nut case but very adventuresome, don't need you to go dutch, etc., etc.

We sought comment from Mancuso for this post, but so far, he has not responded to our queries.


Missouri thugs violated state law and my wife's Fourth Amendment rights by ordering her arrest for "failure to appear" when she had received no notice from court


Carol Tovich Shuler
How could my wife, Carol, be arrested in Missouri for failure to appear when the case docket shows she was not notified of a court appearance? The answer is, "She couldn't." But she was, and that is a violation of Missouri law. It also represents a grotesque violation of Carol's Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. (The U.S. Supreme Court has found that an arrest is the "quintessential example of a seizure of the person.")

If I have a say about it, someone is going to pay dearly for this abuse of Carol's constitutional rights. It's bad enough that the charges against Carol -- assault on a law enforcement officer and trespass -- are bogus and not supported by probable cause, as we will show in upcoming posts. But as a simple procedural matter, her arrest runs contrary to Missouri law.

How do we know? Please follow us for a brief explanation of the law that governs such issues.

It might seem strange to you, as it does to me, that courts could be allowed to send a summons -- for which you are subject to arrest if you fail to appear -- via first-class mail. You might think that a document that carries with it the potential loss of freedom would require some form of personal service, via certified mail, a process service, or a "peace officer." But you (and I) would be wrong. Missouri allows service of a summons via first-class mail, per Mo. Sup. Ct. Rule 21.08. Here's how it reads, in pertinent part:

A summons may be served by:
(a) The clerk mailing it to defendant's last known address by first class mail; or
(b) An officer in the manner provided in Rule 54.13 or Rule 54.14.

If the defendant fails to appear in response to a summons and upon a finding of probable cause that the defendant has committed a misdemeanor, the court may issue an arrest warrant.

Rules 54.13 and 54.14 refer to personal service in the state and outside the state, respectively. The highlighted section notes that an individual is subject to arrest if she "fails to appear in response to a summons." But Carol did not fail to appear "in response to a summons." The court's own records, as found at case.net (Case number 1631-CR07731), show she did not receive a summons. Last time I checked, it's hard to respond to something you did not receive, especially when you have no reason to believe it even exists.

To summarize, a summons in Missouri may be served by first-class mail or personal service. But if the court opts to serve by first-class mail, that comes with an extra burden: It must receive acknowledgement that the summons actually was received. If that doesn't happen, the court must turn to one of the other methods allowed by law, and that means some form of personal service.

In other words, a subject who does not acknowledge receipt of a summons -- and in Carol's case, she did not acknowledge because she did not receive the summons -- cannot be subject to arrest. The court must try again, via personal service, to make sure the summons actually is received. The relevant law can be found at Mo. Sup. Ct. Rule 54.16, which reads in pertinent part:

Acknowledgment of Service By Mail

Service of the summons and petition upon a resident or nonresident defendant of any class referred to in Rule 54.13(b)(1)(2) or (3) may be made by mailing a copy of the summons and petition by first class mail, postage prepaid, to the person to be served, together with two copies of a notice and acknowledgment conforming substantially to Civil Procedure Form 4B or Civil Procedure Form 4C and a return envelope, postage prepaid addressed to the sender. If no acknowledgment of service under this Rule 54.16 is completed and returned to the sender, service of the summons and petition shall be made as otherwise provided by statute or rule. Unless good cause is shown for not doing so, the court shall order the payment of costs of service on the person served if such person does not complete and return within thirty days after mailing, the notice and acknowledgment of receipt of summons.

We call your attention to the highlighted section above, which states in real clear English that if the subject does not return acknowledgement, the court cannot haul off and arrest her; it must attempt a form of personal service that is allowed by law.

What does this tell us? Carol was the victim of a wrongful arrest and imprisonment. Her constitutional rights were trampled. And it adds to the evidence that charges were brought against her for an unlawful reason -- probably in retaliation for my reporting about Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions and his status as a closeted homosexual.

Who ordered Carol's unlawful arrest? We aren't certain at the moment, but we have a real strong suspect, maybe more than one. I'm more than a little fed up with the abuse we've received from courts and law enforcement, and I am determined to see that the responsible person (or persons) is held accountable for this one.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Trump AG Jeff Sessions likely will be dragged into Michael Flynn scandal after serving as chairman over Flynn on two national-security committees


Jeff Sessions
(From UK Independent and Getty Images)
Could Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions be drawn into the scandal that caused National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to step down? It looks like the process to scrutinize Sessions, as part of Flynn's communications with Russian officials, already has started.

Sessions, of course, was a long-time Republican U.S. Senator from Alabama. Could that bring the Flynn scandal to The Heart of Dixie, with Sessions having already brought Alabamians into the Trump administration? According to a report today in the UK Independent, some Alabamians might soon be wishing they never had ties to Sessions. The former senator might soon be toxic for reasons other than his well-known racist statements and actions of yesteryear.

In an article titled "Jeff Sessions faces scrutiny over Michael Flynn’s calls to Russia," the Independent notes that the AG was sitting on the same national security council as Flynn when the latter sought to reassure the Russians that sanctions would be overturned.

The issues with Sessions actually go deeper than that. In March 2016, Trump appointed Sessions to head his campaign's National Security Advisory Committee. Let that sink in: Sessions was Trump's chief on national-security issues DURING THE CAMPAIGN, at a time when we now know from U.S. intelligence reports that Russian interests were trying to undermine the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Guess who served on that campaign committee with Sessions? Why it was none other than Michael Flynn. From a Trump campaign press release, dated October 7, 2016:

Today, Donald J. Trump announced the appointment of several key members to his national security advisory council following a roundtable meeting in New York. Mr. Trump’s national security team is comprised of some of the brightest minds in foreign policy, nuclear non-proliferation, combating ISIS and rebuilding our national defense. . . .

New members of the national security advisory council include: KT McFarland, Congressman Mike McCaul, Senator Tom Cotton, Senator Richard Burr, Jim Woolsey, Tom Barrack, Congressman Darrell Issa, Senator Bob Corker, Senator Jim Inhofe, Charlie Glazer and John Ashcroft.

These new members will add to the already strong team comprised of Senator Jeff Sessions, General Mike Flynn, Tom Stewart, Bert Mizusawa, Bob McEwan, Chuck Kubic, Jay Garner, Keith Kellogg, Gary Harrell, Bob Magnus, Jim Hoskins and Rudy Giuliani.

Creating a safe America is important to every American and Donald Trump’s plan will make the U.S. safe again.

In the wake of Flynn's resignation, every member of that committee soon should be under investigation, including its chair, Jeff Sessions. Notice some of the conservative stalwarts serving with Sessions and Flynn on that campaign committee -- Rudy Giuliani, John Ashcroft, Tom Cotton, Bob Corker. What did they know, and when did they know it?

Here's more from today's UK Independent report:

Jeff Sessions is once again in the spotlight after it was revealed he sat on the same Trump campaign national security council as Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who was forced to resign after admitting he called the Russian ambassador to reassure them that sanctions would be overturned.

The Attorney General, who was sworn in last week despite opposition from Democrats and civil rights activists, is now being asked to recuse himself from his role at the nation’s highest office after speculation is swirling that he may also have been involved in the Russia-related scandal.

That is despite revelations that Mr Sessions would lead the investigation against Mr Flynn.

Speculation is swirling that Sessions was involved in the Russia scandal? Gulp. That sound you hear is Jeff Sessions and his cronies stepping in a big pile of doo-doo. And the doo-doo might be much deeper than we now can imagine.

As David Corn, of Mother Jones, reported yesterday, Flynn's communications with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak go way beyond the ones after Trump was elected:

Flynn's departure should not end the demands for an investigation. One tantalizing and somewhat overlooked aspect of the Post story that did him in was the fact that Flynn hobnobbed with Kislyak during the campaign. The paper reported that the Flynn-Kislyak conversations "were part of a series of contacts between Flynn and Kislyak that began before the November 8 election and continued during the transition, officials said." And the paper noted, "Kislyak said that he had been in contact with Flynn since before the election, but declined to answer questions about the subjects they discussed."

This is the mystery that now needs an answer: What was Flynn talking about with the Russians during the campaign?

Who was Flynn's director chairman/supervisor during his talks with Kislyak? That would be Jeff Sessions. And the white-hot light is starting to turn on him.

U.S. Judge R. David Proctor's cheat job in "The House Case" starts early and ends late -- with lots of cheating throughout the middle passages, for good measure


Judge R. David Proctor and
his wife, Teresa
(From Facebook)
The cheat job that U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor has administered in our "House Case" is like a horribly written three-act play -- Proctor cheats in the beginning and the end, with lots of cheating in between.

Let's start by reviewing "Act 1." Proctor reveals himself to be a con man right off the bat, and he continues in that vein throughout. For now, we will focus on two major issues as the curtain rises on our "diabolical play."

A corrupt judge cannot get even the basics right
Reciting the standard of review on a Motion to Dismiss is the first order of business, and Proctor gets it wrong -- and continues to get it wrong on almost every page of his 45-page memorandum opinion. (Proctor's opinion and our Motion to Alter are embedded at the end of this post.)

Proctor cites the two U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) cases -- Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal (known, jointly, as "Twombly and Iqbal") -- that have caused mass confusion in federal courts. At their core, Twombly and Iqbal require a complaint to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Plaintiffs now must “nudge their claims across the line from conceivable to plausible,”

That's fine and dandy, but no one seems to know what it means, least of all Judge R. David Proctor. How does something go from conceivable to plausible? Most people of average to high intelligence would shrug their shoulders. Many judges, like Proctor, just wing it. If they are conservative and favor defendants (such as corporations, institutions, moneyed interests), they are likely to use Twombly/Iqbal as an excuse to kick out complaints that likely have merit. If they are liberals, they probably ignore Twombly/Iqbal.

Either way, the public probably is left with the impression that judges don't have a clue what they are doing. And the public would be right. If you skim the 45 pages of Proctor's opinion, you will find repeated use of words such as "conclusory" and "formulaic." That is the language of Twombly/Iqbal -- many people have no idea what those words mean either -- and the law does not make it clear.

It is clear that many observers -- from law-review authors and editors to lawmakers, even judges -- want to get out of this mess. Several measures have been introduced in Congress to overturn Twombly/Iqbal. But with conservatives in the majority, and their corporate backers pushing for easy dismissal of valid lawsuits, nothing has gained traction yet.

In a rare show of forward thinking, courts are moving away from Twombly/Iqbal on their own. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals -- which covers Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, and governs our case -- has interpreted Iqbal to mean that a "heightened pleading standard" no longer exists. From a case styled Randall v. Scott, 610 F. 3d 701 (11th Cir., 2010):

We conclude that the district court erred in applying a heightened pleading standard to Randall's complaint. After Iqbal it is clear that there is no "heightened pleading standard" as it relates to cases governed by Rule 8(a)(2), including civil rights complaints.

First, ours is a civil-rights case. Second, Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) has determined the bar that plaintiffs must clear to survive a Motion to Dismiss -- and it has applied since the federal rules were adopted in 1938. Rule 8 holds that a plaintiff must provide:

"a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief."

Our complaint easily meets the Rule 8 standard, and Proctor acknowledges, on page 7 of his opinion, that Rule 8 governs the case. He also acknowledges the 11th Circuit's finding in Randall. If anything, our complaint provides too many factual allegations and details.

Even SCOTUS is moving away from Twombly/Iqbal, and it did so in a Deep South case, originating in Mississippi. From a case styled Johnson v. City of Shelby, 135 S. Ct. 346 (2014):

We summarily reverse. Federal pleading rules call for a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8(a)(2); they do not countenance dismissal of a complaint for imperfect statement of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted. . . . [The rules] "are designed to discourage battles over mere form of statement. . . . Rule 8(a)(2) indicates that a basic objective of the rules is to avoid civil cases turning on "technicalities."

SCOTUS gets even more emphatic in Johnson:

Petitioners stated simply, concisely, and directly events that, they alleged, entitled them to damages from the city. Having informed the city of the factual basis for their complaint, they were required to do no more to stave off dismissal for want of an adequate statement of their claim.

No one who reads our complaint can seriously claim we did not inform defendants of the factual basis for our lawsuit, and in the words of the nation's highest court, we "were required to do no more to stave off dismissal."

Johnson did not specifically overturn Twombly/Iqbal, but it clearly rejected the pleading standard set out in those two cases. And we are talking about a U.S. Supreme Court ruling here.

Bottom line: Proctor got the pleading standard wrong, both at the Eleventh Circuit level and at the national level, via SCOTUS. You can't get much more wrong than that.

Proctor ignores a simple standard that he took an oath to uphold
A simple rule in reviewing a Motion to Dismiss -- the equivalent of "three strikes and you're out" in baseball -- is this:

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), all factual allegations are viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the nonmoving party.

We are the nonmoving party here. The Motions to Dismiss were filed by defendants. Proctor must, by law, view factual allegations in a light most favorable to us. He fails to follow this straightforward and longstanding principle over and over.

We will point out examples in upcoming posts. But for now, we've established that Proctor acts corruptly in the early stages of his opinion. And things don't get any better as they move along.


(To be continued)







Tuesday, February 14, 2017

U.S. Sen. Luther Strange's appointment of Kevin Turner as chief of staff emits the foul odor of blackmail and a "secret" that must be kept under wraps


Luther Strange's campaign team, with Kevin Turner in
the middle and Jessica Medeiros Garrison to his left.
(From Alabama Political Reporter)
One of Luther Strange's first acts as a U.S. senator appears to be driven by blackmail. That's quite a start for the "Big Lutha Era" on the Capitol Hill, but it should not surprise anyone because Strange has been ethically challenged for years.

Strange has appointed Kevin Turner, his former chief deputy in the Alabama attorney general's office, to be his chief of staff in D.C., according to a report at Alabama Political Reporter (APR). Turner, once an attorney at the Birmingham firm of Bradley Arant, abruptly left the AG's office after reports that he was interfering with the Mike Hubbard investigation by trying to have chief prosecutor Matt Hart removed from the case.

Turner landed at the Venable LLP law firm in Washington, but his bio already has disappeared from the firm's Web site, and his LinkedIn page already shows him as Luther Strange's chief of staff. Boy, that happened in a hurry.

How did it happen? Well, blackmail -- or fear of blackmail -- might have played a big role. Consider these words from an August 2014 Legal Schnauzer post, that drew heavily on a report by Bill Britt at APR. The title of our post was "Top Aide To AG Luther Strange Might Be Using "Secret" To Derail Alabama Corruption Probe." How underhanded can Kevin Turner be? The following provides an idea:

The chief of staff to Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is trying to derail a corruption probe of House Speaker Mike Hubbard, former Governor Bob Riley and his children, and more, according to a new report at the Alabama Political Reporter.

Bill Britt reports that Chief of Staff Kevin Turner is leading an in-house plot to have chief prosecutor Matt Hart removed from the case. Turner, who used to be at the Bradley Arant law firm in Birmingham, is holding a secret over Strange's head as leverage to get Hart off the case, Britt reports.

Turner was holding a secret over Strange's head? That sounds like serious stuff, with criminal implications. Here is more from the post:

Inside the Attorney General’s Office, the effort to sabotage the Grand Jury, by eliminating Hart, is thought to be the work of Strange’s closest ally, Turner.

The seemingly unbreakable bond between Strange and Turner is rumored to be based on more scandalous motives, and not mere loyalty. As Strange’s driver and body man during the 2010 campaign for AG, there is speculation that Turner holds a dirty secret over his boss' head. Whatever the reason may be for Strange’s particular loyalty to Turner, there are more than a few questions raised by Turner’s recent actions against Hart.

What secret could Turner have acquired while serving as Strange's "driver and body man" during the 2010 campaign? Well, we broke the story of Strange's extramarital affair with 2010 campaign manager Jessica Medeiros Garrison, whose divorce from Tuscaloosa City School Board president Lee Garrison dovetails with her activities on the Strange campaign. We addressed that issue in an October 2014 post titled "Could Jessica Medeiros Garrison's sealed divorce file help shine light on "secrets" in State House probe?" From the post:

Where does Jessica Medeiros Garrison fit into this picture? She managed Luther Strange's 2010 campaign, which would have more or less made her Kevin Turner's supervisor at the time. Any "dirty secret" that Kevin Turner has on Luther Strange, probably would be known to Garrison.

What's the nature of this secret? Is it personal, professional, political, financial--a combination of all the above? We don't know, but Garrison's divorce case ended in October 2009, and a related child-custody case went into 2011--all in the general time frame of the 2010 campaign for attorney general.

Could the sealed Garrison divorce file include information about the secret? It certainly could, and if so, that means it's relevant to the Lee County investigation--and Kevin Turner's actions that appear to be unethical (at best) and maybe criminal (at worst).

How likely is it that Kevin Turner's "secret" involves Luther Strange's affair with Jessica Garrison? The evidence suggests it is very likely. How likely is it that Turner is a mediocre attorney, and his career at Venable was going nowhere fast -- and when Strange was appointed to fill Jeff Sessions' U.S. Senate seat, Turner made a quick play for the chief of staff post, and Strange had little choice but to go along with it. After all, published reports indicate Strange would be wise to keep Turner's heart happy and his mouth shut.

Based on all the intel we've received, Luther Strange, as AG, ran a wildly dysfunctional office in Montgomery. It looks like he is heading down the same path in D.C.

Why did the state of Missouri wait until the last possible day to bring criminal charges of trespass and assault on law enforcement officer against my wife?


X-ray of Carol Shuler's broken arm,
shattered by Missouri deputy
We have presented evidence that the arrest of my wife, Carol, in Missouri might have been an act of retaliation for our reporting on Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions and his closeted homosexuality. That, however, is not the only instance of curious timing regarding Carol's arrest on bogus charges of trespass and "assault on a law enforcement officer."

Their is no probable cause to support the charges in the first place. I know because I've read the probable-cause statement from Deputy Debi Wade, who supposedly was present when we were unlawfully evicted on September 9, 2015, and a male deputy shattered Carol's left arm so severely that it required trauma surgery for repair -- and she is expected to regain only 75 to 80 percent usage.

I say Officer Wade "supposedly" was present because her probable-cause statement is pure fantasy. I'm not sure there is a single truthful statement in it, and it says right at the top that false statements are "punishable by law." One female office was present that day, and I suppose that was Debi Wade. But it's curious that Wade created the probable-cause statement because I saw the whole event where Carol was brutalized and had her arm broken -- and she and Wade never made contact with each other. At least two male deputies -- Scott Harrison and the unknown officer who broke her arm -- made contact with Carol. Why didn't one of them make the probable-cause statement?

Sheriff Jim Arnott pointed at Carol after she had been slammed to the ground and beaten and claimed she had "assaulted a police officer." He ordered her taken to jail, where someone finally noticed she was in severe pain and both of her arms were purple and had her taken to a nearby emergency room. That's where X-rays showed her arm had been broken, the bone snapped in two and completely displaced. Why didn't Arnott make the probable-cause statement? Evidence is overwhelming that Arnott committed a federal crime by ordering a baseless arrest, and that evidence only is getting stronger now that Carol, the victim of an assault, has been arrested for an assault.

Deputy Debi Wade
(From facebook.com)
We will examine the probable-cause statement in a series of upcoming posts. But for now, let's look at procedural oddities connected to Carol's arrest:

* The statute of limitations for bringing misdemeanor criminal charges in Missouri is one year, and the incident was on September 9, 2015. A review of the docket at case.net (Case number 1631-CR07731) shows Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson did not file the charges until Sept. 8, 2016. In other words, he waited until the last possible day to bring charges. If this were a case of true assault on an officer, even of the misdemeanor variety, why would a PA let the alleged perpetrator remain free for almost one year?

* Carol failed to appear at an arraignment because, as the court docket shows, she never received notice of the hearing. That prompted someone, probably Greene County Circuit Clerk Thomas Barr, to order her arrest, on October 31, 2016. Deputies did not attempt to make the arrest until January 27 of this year and actually made it on Jan. 30. Why would officers wait almost three months to make an arrest that had been ordered last October? Did those who swear to "serve and protect" wait until our Legal Schnauzer reports on Jeff Sessions (and federal judge Bill Pryor) to take action? Was there collusion between corrupt individuals in Alabama and their brethren in Missouri? Was Carol's arrest, in fact, an act of retaliation?