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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Criminal complaint against Attorney General Jeff Sessions alleges perjury, making false statements, and obstruction of justice related to Russia meetings


Jeff Sessions
Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a long-time U.S. senator from Alabama, faces criminal allegations based on false statements during his confirmation hearings about meetings with a Russian ambassador. Boston attorney J. Whitfield Larrabee filed the complaint yesterday, on behalf of 23 citizens who allege Sessions violated federal statutes on perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice.

The case, styled Cynthia Berkowitz, M.D.,et.al. v. Jefferson B. Sessions, III, was filed with Inspector General Michael Horowitz and Counsel Robin C. Ashton, of the Office of Professional Responsibility, both in the Department of Justice (DOJ) that Sessions heads. (The complaint is embedded at the end of this post.)

Larrabee has filed a complaint against Sessions with the Alabama State Bar, which could lead to professional sanctions. But the criminal complaint carries much more serious penalties, including the possible loss of Sessions' freedom. Filing of the complaint drew coverage yesterday from The Washington Post and Fortune magazine.

“There is no doubt that Attorney General Sessions falsely denied communicating with Russian officials in testimony before the United States Senate," Larrabee said in a press release. "After this false testimony was revealed, Sessions made other false statements to the American people and to the United States’ Senate. Sessions attempted to conceal and to cover up his misconduct. He illegally interfered with the proper administration of the Department of Justice. The substantial evidence of criminal conduct by Attorney General Jeff Sessions makes it impossible for him to continue leading the Department.”

J. Whitfield Larrabee
Sessions' actions threaten the credibility of the entire DOJ, Larrabee says. "“Attorney General Sessions is putting his own personal interest above the interest of the people of the United States by failing to resign. Because there are grounds not only to investigate, but also to charge Sessions with several crimes, the integrity of the Department of Justice will be destroyed so long as Sessions remains in office. Prosecutors at the Department of Justice cannot properly investigate this matter while Sessions remains in office because of a natural reluctance to aggressively probe and prosecute the leader of their own Department. It is an inherent conflict of interest.”

If Sessions refuses to step down, President Donald Trump has a duty to fire him, Larrabee says. "Because the Attorney General has failed to resign, the President is obligated to put the interests of the people of the United States above his own partisan loyalty to Sessions. If he does what is best for the people of the United States, President Trump will fire the Attorney General.

“Under the regulations of the Department of Justice, the Deputy Attorney General must immediately appoint a Special Counsel to investigate evidence of criminal conduct by Attorney General Sessions.”



Monday, March 27, 2017

Are jealousy and embarrassment the reasons Alabama's mainstream press is seven months late on the first anniversary of the "Luv Guv Scandal"?


Robert Bentley and Rebekah Mason
Alabama's largest mainstream news outlet has spent much of the past week writing about the "first anniversary" of the "Luv Guv" scandal, featuring the sexcapades of Gov. Robert Bentley and his married senior adviser, Rebekah "Home Wrecky Becky" Mason. For good measure, al.com has tossed in a few reports about the possibility Bentley will resign at any moment.

We're talking here about the Republican, "family values" governor of a Deep Red state perhaps stepping down in disgrace. The story has drawn the attention of The New York Times, The Washington Post, the New York Daily News, the Rachel Maddow Show, Esquire, GQ (classic headline: "The Love Song of Robert Bentley, Alabama's Horndog Governor") and other national news outlets, so it's obviously an important story. You would think al.com might take the time to get it right.

Alas, Alabama's mainstream journos are about seven months late to the party. The first anniversary of the "Luv Guv Scandal" was on Aug. 31, 2016. I know because I broke the story on Aug. 31, 2015. The first anniversary of stories about the misuse of public, campaign, and "dark money" funds, which could form the foundation of Bentley's resignation or impeachment, was on Sept. 1-2, 2015. I know because I broke those stories, too. (See here and here.)

Translation: Both the titillating gist and the substantive grit of the "Luv Guv" story broke on this blog, in the non-traditional press. So, why is al.com claiming the first anniversary dates from March 22, 2016, when the story actually broke seven months prior to that? Why the spate of stories such as these in recent days?

* "Robert Bentley to resign? Governor's office dispels rumors," March 17, 2017

* "Gov. Robert Bentley: A year of living scandalously," March 22, 2017

* "Gov. Robert Bentley resignation rumor: 'No intention of not doing what God called me to do,' March 23, 2017

* "Go ahead, Gov. Robert Bentley, tell your story," March 26, 2017

Reporters and editors at al.com probably would say, "Well, the story didn't really break until text messages and a recording surfaced of Bentley and Mason engaging in dirty talk on the telephone." But the texts and recordings showed that Bentley and Mason had engaged in a physical affair -- and we had reported that months earlier.

The words of al.com's own reporters -- in this case, John Archibald -- show the story did not begin with recordings. From Archibald's "Year of Living Scandalously" story:

In the span of 24 hours [Bentley's] transformation from family values grandpa to lecherous Luv Guv was under way. Even then it was impossible to foresee what a seismic year would follow.

At times the whole nation sat back and laughed as Alabama covered its face in sheer humiliation.

Earth to Archibald: The transformation of Robert Bentley, in journalistic terms, began seven months earlier than you want to admit -- and the "seismic" year already was well under way before your "news organization" took serious notice.

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

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

This blog's credibility, as it turns out, could not be any higher. I actually was going after a story about the state's chief executive officer, not sniffing up Rebekah Mason's skirt like Chuck Dean. (The two were "besties" on Facebook.) By the way, Dean's journalism career seems to have gone into a nose dive. Can't remember the last time I saw one of the Chuckster's stories. Maybe they have him compiling bowling scores in the sports department's agate section -- you know, those statistics in really small type.

As for me, this post is getting dangerously close to an exercise in self-aggrandizement. (Full disclosure: I am scheduled for shoulder surgery later this week, due to excessive "patting of patient's own back.") The truth is this: The real journalistic heroes here are the anonymous sources who provided me with the details to break the "Luv Guv" story. If I deserve credit for anything, it's for developing relationships with some very smart individuals, folks who know Alabama politics inside and out. Once they started feeding me scoops on "Luv Guv" and "Home Wrecky Becky" . . .  heck, Dagwood Bumstead could have written the stories.

Perhaps that is why al.com reporters prefer to ignore that seven-month gap between the actual breaking of the story and their own acknowledgment of it. They know my sources have journalistic and investigative bona fides that far surpass their own. And they know my sources helped a one-man blog kick the ass of a fading corporate-media property.

If anyone doubts where the "Luv Guv" story began, consider these words from our post of Aug. 31, 2015:

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley engaged in an extramarital affair with his former communications director, leading First Lady Dianne Bentley to file for divorce last Friday after 50 years of marriage, sources tell Legal Schnauzer.

Rebekah Caldwell Mason, a married mother of three from Bentley's home base of Tuscaloosa, was the governor's mistress in an affair that sources say raises a number of possible legal issues--including use of the state jet and a state trooper's services for personal reasons that had nothing to do with Bentley's official role.

History has been kind to those words. The texts and recordings that surfaced in March 2016 were important; they added details about Gov. Bentley's mindset that made the public want to alternately laugh and puke. But the basics of the story were in the two paragraphs above, which we wrote seven months before anyone knew about texts or recordings.

How did that happen? It happened because of knowledgeable sources who care about justice, who care about unmasking corruption. It's about sources who know, if they contact a reporter from a corporate media outlet (especially one in Alabama), their message is likely to be ignored if it reflects poorly on a right-wing politician. Those sources know they can contact Legal Schnauzer, and their message will be heard -- and it will be taken to heart.

Reporters at al.com want you to forget about that seven-month gap in the "Luv Guv" story because it shows they are ethically compromised on stories about right-wing politicos, such as Robert Bentley, Bob Riley, Bill Pryor, Luther Strange, John Merrill, and Jeff Sessions -- to name a few.

We are not so compromised. And that has helped us attract sources that can kick al.com's ass most any day of the week.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Evidence suggests Alabama lawyer David Gespass gave me no legal aide, but also violated client confidentiality by blabbing to D.C.-based lawyer Paul Alan Levy


David Gespass
An Alabama lawyer who visited me in jail apparently violated attorney-client confidentiality. And evidence suggests he did it by communicating with a lawyer for a nonprofit organization founded by perhaps the nation's best-known consumer-rights advocate.

David Gespass, a Birmingham attorney supposedly committed to civil rights and the First Amendment, visited me twice while I was incarcerated "for blogging" in the Shelby County Jail. A letter Gesspass wrote to me and my wife, Carol, shows he offered no legitimate path for getting out of jail or for seeking justice based on our unlawful treatment. In other words, Gespass' failure to do his job -- like filing a habeas corpus petition for my immediate release -- is a big reason my stay in jail lasted five months.

But Gespass was not content to simply do a horrible job and act as a con man on behalf of someone, likely opposing lawyers. He also, evidence suggests, trashed me to a prominent out-of-state lawyer, who also supposedly cares about civil rights and the First Amendment. That would be Paul Alan Levy, of Public Citizen, a D.C.-based organization founded by Ralph Nader.

Almost immediately after being released from jail, with no help from David Gespass, I contacted Levy because of Public Citizen's reputation for helping victims of injustice. I quickly learned that Levy is a monumental asshole or smart-ass (take your pick), and he sullies the decades of good work Ralph Nader has done for victims of the powerful and wealthy.

I came away with evidence that Gespass and Levy had no interest in helping a victim of grotesque injustice, they also had no regard for the ethical foundations of their profession, of which attorney-client confidentiality might be the most famous. Why would supposedly progressive lawyers treat a victim with such disdain? My guess is that when it comes to progressivism vs. the legal tribe, many lawyers ditch their progressive ideals and side with corrupt figures in their own profession. It's also possible that many liberal lawyers are "progressive" in name only, that they adopt the label because it gives them a certain persona that they want affixed to their names. The label probably helps them make money, without needing a genuine commitment to justice.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) has portrayed Levy as a staunch advocate for free speech. You will soon see why, based on my experience, that is a cruel joke.

What is attorney-client confidentiality? Well, it's a little different from attorney-client privilege, as explained in an article from the American Bar Association:

The concepts of lawyer confidentiality and attorney-client privilege both concern information that the lawyer must keep private and are protective of the client’s ability to confide freely in his or her lawyer, but the concepts are not synonymous. Terminology from both, such as “privileged information” or “waiver” are sometimes used interchangeably, further causing the differences between them to become somewhat blurred. However there are several critical differences between the two in their applicability and exceptions and the extent of information covered.

The principle of confidentiality is set out in the legal ethics rules in each jurisdiction and in ABA Model Rule 1.6. Model Rule 1.6 Comment [2] states: “A fundamental principle in the client-lawyer relationship is that, in the absence of the client's informed consent, the lawyer must not reveal information relating to the representation. . . . This contributes to the trust that is the hallmark of the client-lawyer relationship.” A violation of the ethics rule may lead to disciplinary sanctions.

On the other hand, the attorney-client privilege, sometimes referred to as the testimonial privilege, is a concept from the law of evidence and is present in the common law or statutes of the fifty states. The client, acting through the lawyer, may claim the privilege. As stated in Model Rule 1.6, Comment [3]: "The attorney-client privilege and work-product doctrine apply in judicial and other proceedings in which a lawyer may be called as a witness or otherwise required to produce evidence concerning a client.”

My relationship with Gespass did not go beyond two jailhouse meetings, although he did take certain actions on my behalf -- namely reviewing the sealed file in my case, apparently by visiting the Riley Jackson Law Firm, home to Rob "Uday" Riley, who apparently led the effort to bring bogus defamation claims against me. Because our relationship did not involve judicial or other official proceedings, Gespass and I are not dealing with attorney-client privilege -- we are looking at attorney-client confidentiality.

Paul Alan Levy
(From rcfp. org)
Two brief meetings with Gespass, plus one letter, were enough to convince me he either is a loon or was working for the other side -- or both. Either way, I wanted nothing to do with him; he was one of the most unimpressive individuals I've ever met. He could not even do a good job of faking sincerity.

Even though, I did not hire Gespass, he still was bound to honor confidentiality, as explained in an article at nolo.com:

Each day, countless people with legal problems consult attorneys before deciding if they want to hire them. Many, if not most, criminal defense attorneys offer free consultations for potential clients. Understandably, some defendants wonder whether such consultations—with attorneys who don’t yet and might not ever represent them—are protected.

In general, as long as the prospective client is seeking legal advice or representation and reasonably believes the communication will be confidential, the consultation is privileged. This is so even if the would-be client never pays or hires the attorney.

The nolo.com article then really hits home for my situation:

The potential-client-confidentiality principle also comes into play when an arrestee consults with a public defender at or from the police station or jail. The conversation is privileged, even though the public defender does not, and may never, represent the arrestee, and even though the public defender doesn’t receive a fee.

Gespass was not a public defender, but he was in consulting in jail with an arrestee (me).  Gespass offered me zero legal help -- and apparently being pissed because I did not fall for his con act -- he violated confidentiality and stabbed me in the back.

How exactly did that happen? We will provide details in an upcoming post.

Gespass has admitted publicly that Judge Claud Neilson's rulings in my case were "insane," "bizarre," and "way out of bounds." So Gespass knew I had been victimized, as had Carol. But he did nothing to help, and evidence suggests, he actively tried to hurt us.

It's hard to get much lower than that.


(To be continued)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Ashley Madison customers revealed: Lawyer Matthew Couch, of Cabaniss firm, appears at cheaters' site, and his wife, Mary Ann Couch, works at Bradley Arant


Matthew Couch
An attorney at a major downtown-Birmingham law firm -- his wife is an attorney at another big downtown firm -- appears as a paying customer at the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site.

Matthew M. Couch is an associate at Cabaniss Johnston Gardner Dumas and O'Neal, focusing on litigation in the transportation sector. The Cabaniss firm, founded in 1887, is one of the oldest continuous law practices in Alabama. One of Couch's colleagues, James F. Henry, recently joined the Cabaniss firm after we profiled him as an Ashley Madison customer back in March, while he worked at Bradley Arant.

That's ironic because Couch's wife, Mary Ann Couch, is an associate at Bradley Arant. This presents the first case we've discovered of an Ashley Madison case that is contained wholly within the Birmingham legal community (unless, of course, Matthew Couch had an affair with someone who is not a Birmingham lawyer).

Here is background on Matt Couch from his profile at the Cabaniss Web site:

Matt Couch is an associate in the firm’s Birmingham office. His practice focuses on civil litigation in the transportation sector, particularly in the areas of railroad personal injury claims and regulatory compliance. He regularly represents one of the largest class I railroad companies in the nation, litigating a wide array of issues and legal claims in state and federal courts. Matt is admitted to practice law in all state and federal district courts in Alabama and all state courts in Florida. Prior to joining the firm, Matt clerked for Judge Sharon L. Blackburn, former Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Alabama. Matt graduated with honors from Cumberland School of Law in 2011, where he served on the editorial board of the American Journal of Trial Advocacy. Matt graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 2008.

What about Couch's life outside the office. Here is more from his Cabaniss profile:

When not practicing law, Matt enjoys participating in outdoor activities with his wife, Mary Ann, including running, hiking, wakeboarding, and snowboarding. Matt is an Eagle Scout. He also serves on the junior board of directors for the Firehouse Shelter, a men’s homeless shelter and outreach organization serving the Birmingham, Alabama, metro area.

What about Mary Ann Couch? Here is a summary of her legal practice from a Bradley Arant bio:

Mary Ann Couch helps her clients avoid and solve problems in a variety of matters—from commercial disputes and financial services litigation to employment matters and ERISA litigation.

Mary Ann is licensed in both Alabama and Florida, and litigates cases in trial and appellate courts across the Southeast. She represents clients in a number of industries, including manufacturing, health care, natural resources, employee benefits, and financial services.

Here is more on Mary Ann Couch's background:

Before joining Bradley, Mary Ann served as a law clerk to the Honorable Joel F. Dubina, former Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. During law school at the University of Alabama, she was an Executive Editor of the Alabama Law Review and an active member of the Moot Court Board. Mary Ann graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music (violin performance) and English.

Joel Dubina should be a familiar name to many Alabamians. He's retired chief judge from the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the father of U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL). Dubina has strong right-wing roots, so it makes sense that Mary Ann Couch (and her husband, for that matter) both work at corporate, GOP-leaning law firms.

On a personal note, I've seen evidence that Joel Dubina was more interested in hiding judicial corruption than in addressing it. When U.S. District Judge William M. Acker Jr. repeatedly cheated me in my employment-discrimination case against the University of Alabama Board of Trustees (UAB) -- going so far as to tell me from the bench he was going to cheat me -- I filed a complaint with the Eleventh Circuit.

How bad was Acker's chief job. He granted summary judgment to the university without allowing any discovery to take place; no discovery schedule even was set. That simply cannot happen in any federal circuit, and it clearly is prohibited in the Eleventh Circuit by a case styled Snook v. Trust Co. of Georgia, 859 F. 2d 865 (11th Cir., 1988). As chief judge, Dubina wound up with my complaint, and he proceeded to make every excuse imaginable for Acker's misconduct.

In other words, Dubina provided cover for a cheater (Acker). That was in 2012, and now, roughly five years later, we learn that Mary Ann Couch worked for a cheater (Dubina) -- and her husband (Matthew Couch) has tried to cheat on her.

Is that a sign of karma -- what goes around, comes around? We will let you decide on that.

We sought comment from both Couches for this post, but neither has responded to our queries.


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)

(24) Nicholas Arciniegas, attorney, Washington, D.C. (2/21/17)

(25) Griffin McGahey, vice president, High Cotton USA, Birmingham (3/16/17)

Martha Stewart wound up in an orange jumpsuit for violating 18 U.S.C. 1001, and Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions might be heading down the same path


Martha Stewart
(From businessinsider.com)
If domestic diva Martha Stewart served five months in federal prison for violating 18 U.S.C. 1001, Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions should not be above such a fate, should he? Our answer is "hell, no!" Sec. 1001, commonly known as "making false statements," might be the biggest threat to Sessions' freedom -- and his political life.

Sessions' vulnerability to a Sec. 1001 prosecution first came to light via a complaint to the Alabama State Bar by Boston-area attorney J. Whitfield Larrabee. Before the Larrabee complaint hit the news, many Americans probably thought the main possible charge against Sessions would be perjury (under 18 U.S.C. 1621) -- and some prominent legal analysts, such as George Washington University's Jonathan Turley, pooh-poohed the notion that such a charge could be brought.

I'm not sure Turley is right about that, but even if he is, perjury might not present Sessions' biggest hurdle. That could come from Sec. 1001, as Larrabee explains in his bar complaint:

On March 6, 2017, Sessions submitted a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee supplementing his testimony on January 10, 2017. (Letter from Sessions to Charles E. Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, attached hereto as Exhibit “A.”)

Sessions claimed in the letter that his response to [U.S. Sen. Al] Franken, denying any communications with the Russians during the campaign, “was correct.” Rather than acknowledge the falsity of his prior testimony, Sessions willfully and deliberately insisted that his prior false testimony was correct. In doing so, Sessions made an additional material false statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee and attempted to conceal and cover up his prior false testimony and perjury.

This comes under the heading of "The Cover-up Is Worse Than the Crime," and Larrabee asserts that it violates Sec. 1001. How is this for a possible case of irony? More than 10 years later, many Americans likely think Martha Stewart went to prison for insider trading or perjury. But she actually got nailed for lying to government agents. And Sessions, while trying to clarify his perjury before the U.S. Senate, stepped in the same brier patch that ensnared Martha Stewart.

A 2004 article at Graziadio Business Review puts the Stewart case in perspective. Its title is "Businesspersons Beware: Lying Is A Crime":

In recent corporate scandals, some executives have learned the hard way that lying is still a crime in corporate America. Martha Stewart was accused of selling her ImClone stock allegedly after receiving insider information. However, she was not convicted of securities fraud. She was instead convicted for lying. In addition, Computer Associates executives were indicted and some have already pleaded guilty for lying to their own company’s attorney during an internal investigation when their lies were passed on by their attorney to the government. . . .

Lying is a crime because those who lie in a judicial proceeding are destroying the essential fabric of the “rule of law,” which has enabled capitalism to be so successful in the United States. Lying is and must be a crime in a judicial proceeding—and must be enforced against everyone—whether he or she is the President of the United States, the president of a Fortune 500 multinational organization, or the janitor. Stewart’s crime of lying must be viewed not only in terms of how it may have impacted her own company and shareholders,[4] but must also be viewed in light of the potential damage to our entire economy if lying were suddenly to be tolerated in our judicial proceedings. After all, if it is okay for Stewart to lie, then how can we complain about accountants who lie about a company’s financial audits, executives who lie about their company’s sales and revenues, or analysts who lie about their stock recommendations? What then makes us think that anyone will continue to invest their money in the American stock market, which has been the driving force of our brand of successful capitalism during the second half of the 20th century?

Martha Stewart hardly is the only business exec to run afoul of Sec. 1001. So have Bernie Madoff and Jeffrey Skilling, along with political figures Scooter Libby and Rod Blagojevich.

Will we soon be making way for Jeff Sessions?


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A second gay-porn photograph from his badpuppy.com days hits the Web, as nudie past makes an already rough 2017 get rougher for federal judge Bill Pryor


2017 has been a tough year for U.S. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor, of Alabama, and it might get tougher before too long.

Pryor appeared to be Donald Trump's No. 1 choice to fill the late Antonin Scalia's seat on the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS), but he finished no higher than No. 3 as the nomination went to Neil Gorsuch, of Colorado. Pryor saw his political booster, former U.S. senator and Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions, become ensnared in KremlinGate for lying to Congress about meetings with a Russian ambassador -- and Sessions could face criminal prosecution on at least three counts, according to a bar complaint by Boston attorney J. Whitfield Larrabee.

Now, two additional nude photos of Pryor, from a gallery that appeared at the gay-porn super site badpuppy.com in 1997, have surfaced. Did our reporting on the first gay-porn Pryor photo help cause his SCOTUS chances to implode? I know a number of smart people who think the answer is yes. If that's the case, the two new photos are likely to have Pryor's judicial career floating like a corpse in a slow-moving river.

A strategically blurred version of gay-porn photo No. 2 is at the top, right corner of this post. (You can view the full-blown, NSFW version by clicking on a link at the end of this post.) As you can see, this photo appears to be taken in the same setting, with the same primitive "techniques," as No. 1. This time, Pryor appears to be sitting on, or straddling, a block of wood. Not sure what that is supposed to signify. (Not sure I want to think about what that is supposed to signify.)

Photo No. 2 has surfaced at Tumblr and a number of Europe-based porn sites. The same goes for Photo No. 3, which we will reveal in an upcoming post. According to multiple sources, the original Pryor gallery included eight to 12 images. Alert Legal Schnauzer readers now are scouring various Web sites for the remaining images. We hope to have the full collection within the next two or three months. It's sort of like collecting baseball cards, without the chewing gum.

How could 2017 get tougher for Pryor? Multiple news sites have reported that Pryor's gay-porn past actually has helped his judicial career. The photos, our sources say, likely surfaced via Republican political operatives, who knew they could be used as blackmail against Pryor. That made Pryor an attractive candidate to be a compromised judicial nominee, who could make sure certain cases turned out the way Karl Rove GOPers desired. In blunt terms, Pryor is known as a case fixer, and that could get him into a heap of trouble in 2017.

Robed Bill Pryor and disrobed Bill Pryor
from gay-porn photo No. 1
We recently have seen signs that Pryor and fellow George W. Bush nominees R. David Proctor and Virginia Emerson Hopkins have been fixing cases in the Northern District of Alabama. A few weeks ago, one might have accurately been able to say, "Oh, those judges will be protected by Jeff Sessions' justice department."

But Jeff Sessions appears to be in deep doo-doo, especially if some form of wiretap captured his conversations with Russian officials at Trump Tower. I know of a number of individuals, fed up with courtroom corruption in Alabama, who are gathering information for the FBI about judges who issue orders that run contrary to actual law.

Will the FBI, already investigating the actions of Trump insiders in KremlinGate (and that almost certainly includes Jeff Sessions), look at judges and others who have benefited from Sessions' crooked political clout -- especially those who, at this moment, appear to be fixing court cases? If the answer to that one is yes, it could unleash a torrent of intriguing information, especially as it relates to an Alabama "justice system" that has been hopelessly dysfunctional since at least 1995 -- and probably much earlier than that.

It's well established that judges cannot be sued for acts in their official capacity, no matter how corrupt they might be, because of a judge-created concept called "judicial immunity." (Note: We never will have an honest court system until judicial immunity winds up in the trash bin of history.) But it's also well established that judges can be criminally prosecuted, just like the rest of us. And there is little doubt Pryor, Proctor, and Hopkins (plus many others in Alabama) have engaged in criminal activity.

Corrupt judges in Alabama have been acting for years like they are beyond the long arm of the law. They might discover soon that they were wrong about that.

We sought comment from Pryor for this post, but he has not responded to our queries. The timing of a recent court order, however, suggests he might have responded in a different way -- by helping to fix a case. We will explain in an upcoming post.


Bill Pryor NSFW No. 2


(To be continued)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Missouri deputies used "strong hand," "circumstances of terror," and a bogus 911 call to evict us, meaning they will face a "forcible entry and detainer" charge


(From copblock.org)
We soon will be filing a federal lawsuit in Missouri over the unlawful eviction and police brutality that led to my wife's shattered left arm. It will come under the broad heading of a civil-rights case, but it also will feature state-law claims, including one for a tort that is new to me -- and it's probably new to you, although you might be faced with it someday, especially if you are a tenant.

The tort is called "forcible entry and detainer." It's a very old legal concept, and one piece of case law says it's been around for almost 900 years -- long before Missouri became a state.  Here is the gist of the tort: (1) If you think you have the right to possess certain property, you'd better be damned sure that you are correct; (2) If you plan to dispossess someone of property, you'd better be careful about using a "show of force."

Concern about the tort probably is the reason deputies concocted the story of a mythical 911 call in which I allegedly threatened to shoot anyone who tried to unlawfully evict us. The mythical call likely was created to give deputies an excuse to terrorize us. That plan, of course, had a slight problem -- I never made any such call or any such threat.

If you violate either of the two concepts outlined above, you could find yourself staring down the barrel at a "forcible entry and detainer" (FED) lawsuit. And I've found no citation that says creating a bogus 911 call allows you to skirt the repercussions of FED law.

Why is this an issue in our case? One, landlord Trent Cowherd did not have a legal right to re-possess his property, on at least four different grounds, and we've spelled those out in a series of posts. Two, Cowherd and his lawyer (Craig Lowther) clearly caused a "show of force," which included Greene County deputies pointing an assault rifle at my head and various pistols at both Carol and me. The show of force ended with Carol's left arm being snapped in two, just above the elbow -- an injury so severe that it required trauma surgery for repair.

X-ray of Carol Shuler's broken arm
Bottom line: Throwing people out of property where they legally are entitled to remain, and using force to do it . . . well, that's a piss-poor idea.

FED cases can be found in Alabama. In fact, we were targets of the tort in Birmingham. When Spartan Value Investors conspired with Birmingham Water Works to have our water shut off, that is a form of forcible entry and detainer. In Missouri, the tort is covered under RSMo 534.020, which reads:

Forcible entry and detainer defined.

534.020. If any person shall enter upon or into any lands, tenements or other possessions, with force or strong hand, or with weapons, or by breaking open the doors or windows or other parts of a house, whether any person be in it or not, or by threatening to kill, maim or beat the party in possession, or by such words or actions as have a natural tendency to excite fear or apprehension of danger, or by putting out of doors or carrying away the goods of the party in possession, or by entering peaceably and then turning out by force, or frightening, by threats or other circumstances of terror, the party out of possession, and detain and hold the same in every such case, the person so offending shall be deemed guilty of a "forcible entry and detainer" within the meaning of this chapter.

That's a long-winded statute, but let's break it down into these elements:

(1) Entering onto property with "force or strong hand" can be . . . a bad idea;

(2) Entering property with "weapons" can be . . . a bad idea;

(3) Entering property by "threatening to kill, maim, or beat the party in possession" can be . . . a bad idea. (In our case, the cops did not just threaten to maim or beat a party in possession; they actually did it.)

(4) Entering property by use of words or actions that "have a natural tendency to excite fear or apprehension of danger" can be . . . a bad idea. (Again, we weren't just made to feel we were in danger -- we were in danger.)

(5) Entering property and "putting out of doors or carrying away the goods of the party in possession" can be . . . a bad idea;

(6) Entering property and "turning out" by force or "other circumstances of terror" can be . . . a bad idea.

All six of those elements were present during our eviction on Sept. 9, 2015. It's almost as if our experience was taken right out of a legal textbook. Details about FED law can be found in a Missouri case styled Walker v. Anderson, 182 SW 3d 266 (Mo: Court of Appeals, Western Dist., 2006):

In an unlawful detainer action, under section 534.200, RSMo 2000, "[t]he complainant shall not be compelled to . . . make further proof of the forcible entry or detainer than that he was lawfully possessed of the premises, and that the defendant unlawfully entered into and detained or unlawfully detained the same." "[T]he principal issue in an unlawful detainer action is the immediate right of possession. . . . " 

That's the law in a nutshell. Under at least four grounds, we were "lawfully possessed of the premises." Cowherd, Lowther, and Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott caused deputies to "unlawfully enter . . . and unlawfully detain the same." Creating a bogus 911 call does not provide an excuse for such conduct.

As we've noted several times, tenants do not have many rights in the U.S., especially in Missouri (which must be one of the most pro-landlord states in the country). But if you are lawfully in possession of the premises, you do have a right not to be forced out via "strong hand," "weapons," "threats," and "circumstances of terror."

That law has held for 900 years, and it isn't likely to change soon.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Shelby County's Al Crowson, one of Alabama's most dreadful judges, apparently will leave the bench from lingering effects of a stroke and serious car crash


Al Crowson (second from left) and some of the other
sleazeoids who inhabit the hideously corrupt
Shelby County Courthouse
(From facebook.com)
The effects of a stroke and a car crash likely mean one of Alabama's worst judges is gone from the bench, sources tell Legal Schnauzer.

Shelby County Circuit Judge D. Al Crowson not only is awful on the bench, his rulings indicate he is a dreadful human being. If Crowson now is suffering in pain, well, you won't be hearing any sympathy from here. In fact, we file it under the heading of "Karma is a Bee-atch."

We don't have all the details about Crowson's condition, but a source said he had a stroke and was involved in a serious car crash a few weeks back. We're not sure if the stroke caused the car crash, but it appears the judge is not in good shape. His son, Danny Crowson (also a Shelby County judge) has written on Facebook about his father's general condition and the car crash.

How horrible a judge was Al Crowson? Learning the details of just one case -- the Rollins v. Rollins divorce -- will tell you all you need to know. Here are some of the basics from the Rollins case:

Ted Rollins, the head of Charlotte-based Campus Crest Communities, helped his company complete a $380-million IPO late last year. And a South Carolina divorce-court judge found that Rollins belongs to one of the nation's wealthiest families and has the use of multiple private aircraft. But Rollins managed to get the divorce case unlawfully moved to Alabama, and the resulting judgment means that his ex wife and two daughters qualify for food stamps.

Sherry Carroll Rollins said she and the girls now are on food stamps--and have been for some time. That's because Alabama Circuit Judge D. Al Crowson ordered Ted Rollins to pay only $500 in alimony and $815 in child support--a monthly total of $1,315. Our research indicates that is a shockingly low level of support for a man of Rollins' means, a CEO whose family owns Orkin Pest Control and other highly profitable enterprises.

Yes, Al Crowson caused a woman and her two young daughters -- who were connected to one of the nation's wealthiest families -- to wind up on food stamps. What a prince of a guy! What a responsible use of public resources!

Did someone pay Crowson under the table to make such outlandish rulings? The evidence overwhelmingly suggests the answer is yes. The following shows that Crowson's actions were crooked to an almost unreal extent:

The case was heard in Shelby County, Alabama, and Mr. Rollins received an extraordinarily favorable judgment, even though Mrs. Rollins had sued him for divorce some three years earlier in Greenville, South Carolina--where the couple had lived and where numerous court orders already had been entered. Simple jurisdictional law--call it Law School 101--shows that such a judicial heist cannot be done. But Alabama Circuit Judge D. Al Crowson did it anyway, violating all sorts of law that perhaps is best explained in a case styled Wesson v. Wesson, 628 So. 2d 953 (Ala., 1993). Here is the key finding:

"Once jurisdiction has attached in one court, that court has the exclusive right to continue its exercise of power until the completion of the case, and is only subject to appellate authority."

Legal doctrine doesn't come much shorter or simpler than that. Based on the clear language in Wesson, Sherry Carroll Rollins and the two daughters she had with Ted Rollins (now teens and living with their mother in Alabama) received a "shaft job" that would make Isaac Hayes blush.

Yes, the case had been litigated for three years in South Carolina, jurisdiction had been established there, and it could not be moved elsewhere -- in South Carolina and certainly not to Alabama. But Al Crowson essentially stole the case and robbed Sherry Rollins of marital assets that lawfully were hers -- and robbed her daughters of childhoods they never will get back.

So, we hear Al Crowson is suffering now? I can't wipe the smile off my face. The Bible says I'm not supposed to have such a reaction? But I'm a human being, I know what it's like to be abused by individuals in authority, and I'm glad to see Al Crowson get just a taste of what he has dished out for many years.

The only bad thing, in my view, is that the bastard is still alive.

U.S. military is scrambling to deal with gay-porn scandal, but Alabamians Bill Pryor and Jeff Sessions helped similar issues reach the justice system long ago


Robed and disrobed Bill Pryor
The U.S. military is wrestling with a gay-pornography scandal that reportedly has spread to "a slew" of Web sites that feature images of men wearing military uniforms engaging in sex acts. The troops, and decorated brass who lead them, are not alone. The judiciary has been faced with a gay-porn scandal that dates back roughly 30 years -- and it's about to get worse.

That's because we have obtained two more nude photographs of U.S. Circuit Judge William H. Pryor, one of Donald Trump's three finalists to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. The Pryor photos first appeared at a print publication in the 1980s and found their way to  the badpuppy.com gay-porn super site in 1997.

The irony, of course, is that Pryor has made virulently anti-LGBT statements, and his career has been relentlessly pushed by former Alabama U.S. Senator and current Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is a closeted homosexual himself and once was caught on law-enforcement surveillance making frequent late-night visits to Pryor's residence in Montgomery, Alabama. (See video at the end of this post.)

Sessions' false statements to Congress about meetings with a Russian ambassador during the 2016 campaign have him at the center of the KremlinGate scandal, which threatens to end Sessions' political career and bring down the Trump administration, almost before it gets started.

Issues related to gay porn and closeted homosexual activity go right to the top of the U.S. Justice Department, and they launched with two short, beady-eyed men from Alabama, who claim to be "pro family" conservatives.

As for the military, its problems started with male Marines taking photos of female colleagues in various states of undress and posting them to a private social-media site called Marines United. It has grown to other branches of the service, with gay-porn photos and public Web sites. From a report at USA Today:

The military scandal involving sharing of sexually explicit images of troops has expanded beyond the private social media site Marines United to a slew of gay pornography web pages with images of men wearing military uniforms engaged in sex acts, USA TODAY has learned.

The broadened investigation to an increasing number of websites underscores the complexity of policing social media sites where sensitive images can be uploaded in an instant for all to see. In the case of the sites with gay pornography, military investigators will be tasked with determining whether active-duty troops were involved in conduct that could bring discredit on their service, a potential violation of military law.

Military gay-porn photos are appearing at Tumblr, which is one of the sites where our readers found additional photos of Bill Pryor. One gay-porn page at Tumblr is called HornySgt, and it definitely is NSFW. Here is more from USA Today:

The Marine Corps is not the only service affected. Images of men in the uniforms of sailors, soldiers and airmen also appear on an array of Tumblr sites. Similar to the Marines United case, it is unclear whether men appearing in the images — some photographed engaging in sex — provided consent to have their images shared publicly. Victims of so-called revenge porn in the Marines United case have limited protection under military law if the photographs or videos were taken originally with their consent.

Navy, Marine, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard investigators have "established a multi-service task force to expand the investigation," she said.

Military officials briefed Congress on Thursday about the Marines United scandal, in which hundreds of active-duty Marines have viewed photos of servicewomen taken without their consent and cyberbullied some of them.

On some of the gay Tumblr sites, fully dressed troops appear in photos with their name tags visible. At least one such Marine did not agree for his photo to be republished amid a sea of images of men having sex, according Lt. Col. Eric Dent, a Marine Corps spokesman.

Military gay-porn is not all you can find at Tumblr; you also can find nude images of federal judge Bill Pryor. We will be providing the evidence very soon.

Below is a video with information about the surveillance that caught Jeff Sessions making frequent late-night visits to Bill Pryor's residence in Montgomery, Alabama.





Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ashley Madison customers revealed: High Cotton exececutive Griffin McGahey, married to a partner at Bradley Arant law firm, appears at notorious Web site


Griffin McGahey
(From highcottonusa.com)
A vice president at a Birmingham-based company that focuses on payment technology and customer communication appears as a paying customer at the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site, records show.

Griffin McGahey, vice president of strategic initiatives at High Cotton USA, has an unusual twist to his unsavory online activities. His wife, Jennifer J. McGahey, is a partner at Bradley Arant, Alabama's largest law firm.

High Cotton, with its headquarters in Irondale, has a fairly low profile in the Birmingham area. It appears to be a family business, led by CEO Tommy McGahey. Is the CEO Griffin McGahey's father. The answer is not clear from published reports, but they certainly appear to be related.

What is High Cotton's business profile? This is from the company's Web site:

“From the day we started this company more than 50 years ago, one thing has been constant,” Tommy McGahey, CEO of High Cotton says. “Our customers succeed because of our attention to detail.”

High Cotton has changed over the years, of course. “We began as a traditional direct mail house, helping clients fulfill bulk mail at the absolute lowest cost,” McGahey says. “But we’ve evolved. Today, we are a data driven company, helping companies primarily in the banking and healthcare industries with payment technology and customer communications.” Each of these industries is marked by incredible complexity with literally millions of details to get right.

“Speed, security, competitive pricing — these are all aspects of our business that our clients count on,” McGahey says. “But in the end, it’s our focus on the details that determines our clients’ success.”

At Bradley Arant, Jennifer McGahey focuses on commercial litigation and labor and employment issues. From her bio on the firm's Web site:

[Jennifer} represents clients in a variety of industries, such as e-commerce, natural resources, government contract, healthcare, pharmaceutical, and retail, and her clients range from large publicly-traded companies to small family-owned businesses. Jennifer has litigated cases ranging from a single plaintiff to class action to the federal government. Jennifer handles cases across the country and is currently national counsel representing a provider of online travel services in more than 40 lawsuits and administrative proceedings throughout the United States.

The McGaheys live on Euclid Ave in Mountain Brook, in a house valued at almost $700,000. The remodeling of the McGaheys' home was featured in 2014 at styleblueprint.com. From the article, titled "Dull to Dazzling: A House Transformed":

Jennifer J. McGahey
(From lexology.com)
Jennifer and Griffin McGahey knew they wanted more living space. After much consideration, they decided their Birmingham neighborhood and neighbors were second to none, so remodeling their existing home was the way to go. They enlisted Scott Carlisle of Christopher Architecture and Interiors to help them renovate their house into the masterpiece it is today. Their original home was 2,200 square feet with three bedrooms and two baths. The McGaheys wanted a bedroom for each of their two boys, plus a guest room for visiting family. It was important to them to have an open family living arrangement and a home office, but not a priority to have a traditional dining room. By bumping out the existing foundation a mere six inches, removing all but two walls and going up with a second story, all their needs were met! The end result is a highly functional, breathtakingly beautiful space of 3,700 square feet, with scores of details from the ground up.

Why would Griffin McGahey, after engaging in all the time and effort (and money) it took to build a comfortable family space, put it all at risk by fooling around on Ashley Madison? We sought the answer to that question, and others, but McGahey did not respond to our queries. Jennifer McGahey also did not respond to our questions.


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)

(24) Nicholas Arciniegas, attorney, Washington, D.C. (2/21/17)