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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Andy Schroeder, president of South Central Steel in Harpersville, threatens defamation lawsuit over our reports about his presence on Ashley Madison list

Andy and Monica Johnson Schroeder
(From facebook.com)
The president and owner of a Birmingham-area steel company is threatening to sue Legal Schnauzer and me for our reporting about his presence on the Alabama list of paying customers for the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site. Andy Schroeder, however, has a slight problem: His lawyer seems unable to point to a single piece of information in our report that is false.

In a post dated July 12, 2017, we reported that Schroeder -- a graduate of Briarwood Christian High School and Auburn University, and now president/owner of South Central Steel Inc. (SCS) in Harpersville -- appears on the list of paying customers at Ashley Madison. He is married to Monica Johnson Schroeder, a vice president at Capital One who has held several positions in real-estate finance. The couple has two sons -- Chase, who played football at Briarwood and is president of Mountain Top Events in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Drew, who is a current Briarwood student (class of 2019) and a member of the golf team.

All of that is undeniably true, but attorney Tommy B. Majors -- of the Majors Law Firm in Eagle Point -- fired off a "cease and desist" letter (dated August 7, 2017), instructing me that I was about to face a lawsuit if I did not take corrective action regarding defamatory reports about Andy Schroeder. Did Majors point to any specific information in my reports that was false? Nope, but I was to remove it anyway.

Majors invited me, or my attorney, to direct questions to him. When I took him up on that, he provided one of the strangest replies I've ever seen. Here is a portion of the "cease and desist" letter. (The full letter is embedded at the end of this post.)

Andy Schroeder is an accomplished and respected professional in the community who leads South Central Steel Inc., with integrity and hard work. Mr. Schroeder has spent years in the community building his and the company's reputation.

It has come to our attention that you have engaged in spreading false, damaging, insensitive, and defamatory rumors about Mr. Schroeder on your Legal Schnauzer blog. . . . .

The false and defamatory statements published in your blog post on 12 July 2017 and resulting harm to Mr. Schroeder and his family is a perfect example of defamation under Alabama law. Further, the absolute failure to make any attempt to substantiate or verify your allegations in the published blog post indicates a wanton and reckless disregard in posting such false, damaging statements. Due to the extreme nature of your publication, we demand that you:

Tommy Majors
(From themajorslawfirm.com)
 (1) Immediately remove any and all postings, specifically the posting on 12 July 2017, containing information about Andy Schroeder or South Central Steel Inc.;
(2) Immediately cease and desist your unlawful defamation of Mr. Andy Schroeder; and

(3) Provide us with proper written assurance within three (3) days.

Failure to comply with the cease and desist demand within 3 days shall result in the filing of a complaint against you and any other interested parties. Such a suit shall be seeking equitable relief from your defamation, including permanent injunctive relief and appropriate restraining orders, monetary damages, court costs, and attorney fees.

I recommend that you consult with an attorney regarding this matter. If you or your attorney have any questions, please contact me directly.

When I did contact Majors directly, as instructed, the result was . . . well, peculiar, to say the least.

(To be continued)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Newly discovered court document indicates that David Shuler, my attorney/brother in Missouri, has decent knowledge of the law, but sadly, he's an evil prick

David Shuler
The actions over the past two to three years of my lawyer/brother, David Shuler, raise a perplexing question: Is he (A) A marginal or buffoonish lawyer; or (B) An evil prick?

We recently discovered a document that suggests the answer is (B). That's disturbing, especially when you consider that I once held David in brotherly, high esteem. But 17 years of legal travails have taught me that sometimes you have to reach harsh conclusions in life, ones you would rather not reach. This seems to be one of those occasions, where truth can't be ignored.

Ever since Carol and I made the mistake of moving to Springfield, Missouri, under duress in summer 2014, David has uttered numerous comments that made me wonder if he knew squat about the law. (See here, here, and here.) Heck, at times, it seemed as if I was the lawyer in the family.

Via multiple communiques in summer 2015, David essentially sent me this message: "You are about to be evicted, and I see nothing unlawful about it." Given that I, a non-lawyer, knew of at least four grounds upon which it was unlawful, I was left to think, "Gee, my brother's dumb as a stump when it comes to knowledge of tenant-landlord law."

Consider the following portion of an e-mail from David, dated 8/11/15, involving a guy named Daniel Smith, who apparently was a housing specialist with some state or local agency:

Just FYI, your landlord has posted notice on your door because you will not answer the door. They are also serving Mom and suing her because she was willing to be a co-signor on your lease. It is my understanding that you have a court date on 8/25. If you aren't able to pay the rent, your landlord can have you forcibly removed from the premises. I don't want to see that happen.

Roger, I am asking you to speak with Dan Smith. I think he can prevent all of the ugliness and upsetting things that are about to happen to you and Carol. Please call him or talk to him if he comes to your door.

I'm not sure if Dan Smith ever came to our door. But I was more interested in the information in yellow above. David says that he knew "ugliness and upsetting things" were about to happen to Carol and me, and he gave no indication he saw anything improper about that. That told me that he considered the impending "ugliness" to be lawful.

Well, we now know that David knew the planned eviction was unlawful, and he chose to do nothing about it -- he didn't even have the decency to mention a key provision of Missouri tenant/landlord law, an item with which I was unfamiliar at the time.

We're talking about RSMo 535.120, which reads as follows:

Whenever one month's rent or more is in arrears from a tenant, the landlord, if he has a subsisting right by law to reenter for the nonpayment of such rent, may bring an action to recover the possession of the demised premises.

Let's back up for a moment and consider this e-mail from David, dated 6/2/15:

Mom asked me to contact you regarding the lease on your duplex. She said she tried to talk to you about it when she recently stopped by to visit, but was unable to do so. She talked to the people at Cowherd Construction and they are willing to extend your lease without a co-signor in that the rent has always been paid in full and on time. The lady suggested that you meet Mom at their office on 6/29 and they would allow you to execute a new lease. This lease would be in your name and would be your responsibility. I do not know if they would require Carol to be on the lease. I would think that they would also want her to sign since she would be living there. I also do not know how they would handle the deposit and pet deposit since those were paid by Mom.

Mom will make the last rent payment on 6/29 which will cover the month of July. You have the option to renew and stay there or of course, you could vacate and pick some place else to live.

This provides two key pieces of information, highlighted in yellow. In the first, David seems to be playing dumb, taking sides with a corrupt landlord over his own brother and sister-in-law. In the second, David confirms key information that helps show he knows the impending eviction is unlawful.

Regarding the first item, David conveniently ignores that I already had a lease in my name, it was due to go month to month, and it was to be the responsibility of Carol and me. There was nothing in the rental agreement that even hinted that we were due to execute a new lease, which would have tied us to Missouri for at least another 13 months.

As for the second item, David confirms that our rent had been paid through July 2015, so we were due to pick up payments on August 1, as the lease went month-to-month.

Now, back to RSMo 535.120. At the time, I thought maybe David was ignorant of its holding that eviction proceedings cannot begin until a tenant is behind on rent by at least one month. But it's now clear that's not the case. How do I know?

On May 19, 2017, David and his wife, Gina Hayes Shuler, filed a Rent and Possession Petition (R and P) against William Earl Snow Jr., a tenant in property they own at 2001 N. Boonville in Springfield. (See case.net, No. 1731-AC03525.) The petition seeks payment of back rent and possession of the premises -- and here is revelatory language from the document:

3. Defendant [Snow] entered into a rent agreement with Plaintiffs in which Defendant was to pay rent in the amount of Three Hundred Fifty Dollars and no/100 ($350.00) per month from approximately February 7, 2013, payable the third day of each month. 
4. Defendant has failed to make said monthly rental payments in the full amount due and owing in a timely period since March 2017, as agreed upon by the Plaintiffs and Defendant. Plaintiffs have made due demand of the Defendant to pay said sum on a timely basis, and Defendant has wholly failed, refused, and neglected to do same.

This claims Mr. Snow had not paid rent -- at least in the full amount, on a timely basis -- since March 3, 2017. That David and Gina Shuler waited until May 19, 2017, to initiate eviction proceedings indicates they know Missouri law on the matter -- that a tenant must be in arrears by at least one month before a landlord can seek to recover possession of the premises. (The petition is embedded at the end of this post.)

What does this say about my communications with David regarding our rental situation. It means he knew that eviction proceedings begun on August 5, 2015 -- when our rent was only five days late -- were unlawful. He knew all the "ugliness and upsetting things" that were about to happen to Carol and me could not happen, under the law. But he said nothing.

Someone with a modicum of integrity might have said, "Roger, I don't know about some of the grounds upon which you think this planned eviction is unlawful. But I can tell you for sure that the landlord, Cowherd, is violating Missouri law by initiating these proceedings while your rent is not even close to being one month late. I'm not in a position to handle a case such as yours, but I can refer you to RSMo 535.120, which will tell you all you need to know. You can contest the eviction yourself, or I might be able to refer you to a local attorney who works in that area of the law."

How hard would that have been? It would have been easy, but David Shuler lacks that kind of integrity. Most evil pricks do.

Friday, August 18, 2017

With left-leaning activists outing white supremacists from Charlottesville rally -- costing some their jobs -- Americans are learning First Amendment has limits

Ted Von Nukem (left), from southwest Missouri
(From usatoday.com)
A social-media campaign to identify and shame participants in a bloody right-wing rally at Charlottesville, VA, has caused at least three individuals to lose their jobs. That raises these questions: Is it legal to "out" protesters at a public gathering, and is it OK for employers to fire those who appear to support white-supremacist views in their free time?

The answer to both questions is "yes." And it's a sign that the First Amendment does not provide the kind of expansive free-speech coverage that many Americans think it does.

Gillian B. White. of The Atlantic, addressed the issue in an article titled "Is Being a White Supremacist Grounds for Firing?" White explains how activists on the left got the outing movement rolling:

After white nationalists descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia, a Twitter account with the handle @YesYoureRacist began soliciting the identities of rally goers based on photographs. “If you recognize any of the Nazis marching in #Charlottesville, send me their names/profiles and I'll make them famous,” the account tweeted. And by famous, the user of course meant infamous.

The strategy of exposing the faces of rally attendees to hundreds of thousands of people on Twitter worked, and many were identified. By Sunday, one of those whose name and place of residence had been revealed had reportedly been fired from his job at Top Dog, a hot dog restaurant in Berkeley, California, according to Berkleyside. (A call to Top Dog went unanswered.)

The strategy that ultimately got Cole White, the man who lost his job after being identified via social media, fired directed a mix of public shaming and economic pressure not at him, per se, but toward his employer. It took only a few hours for internet users to come up with an identification, where he was from, and where he worked and then to start calling on Top Dog to let him go. That’s certainly not a brand new tactic, but it’s a variety of vigilantism to which social media is particularly well suited, finding and disseminating information and amplifying calls to action far beyond what would be possible within a single geographic community. After the news broke that White had been fired, many who had participated tweeted delighted responses. ”Awesome! We must shame them into oblivion,” wrote one user.

The left-leaning folks might not find it so awesome if such tactics are used against them someday. For example, what if a pro choice counter-protester at an abortion clinic were photographed, and the picture made its way to his boss, who happens to be pro life? It might not end well for the pro-choicer, as The Atlantic's White explains:

Of course, the consequence of this dynamic is that taboo political ideas of all stripes can lead to workplace sanctions. While many on the political left are now lauding firings as a way to hold white supremacists accountable, it’s also worth remembering that pressuring employers to sever ties based on political activities, or social and racial beliefs, has historically been targeted in the other direction. McCarthyism involved reporting Communists and Communist sympathizers and pushing them out of the workforce, and Hollywood in particular. And as Walter Greason, a historian and professor at Monmouth University said in an interview, “Historically it's more dangerous as an employee to be associated with racial justice and the NAACP, than it was to be affiliated with the KKK.”

What about the First Amendment, what about free-speech protections? Well, White writes, they aren't all that strong, especially when it comes to protecting jobs:

In many cases, firing someone for their political ideas raises few legal issues. Though public-sector workers can’t be terminated for their political views, and many union contracts require that an employer demonstrate “just cause” for firing someone, federal law doesn’t offer any protections for expressing political views or participating in political activities for those who work in the private sector and don’t have a contract stating otherwise, according to Katherine Stone, a law professor at UCLA who focuses on labor law. (There are a few caveats for those in states or municipalities with laws that go beyond the federal mandate.) But more to the point, Stone says, it’s not at all uncommon—or illegal—for private-sector workers to get fired for what they do in their free time if it reflects poorly on their employer. In cases such as this, an employer in the private sector simply isn’t required to employ someone who exercises their right to free speech, Stone says.

Tom Spiggle, of The Spiggle Law Firm in Arlington, VA, drives home a similar point:

First Amendment protections only apply to government workers. So, if you work for the federal government, or, for instance, a sheriff's office, you have First Amendment rights. If you work in the private sector, you don't have any constitutional free-speech rights. In many, perhaps most, instances, a private employer can legally fire an employee for his or her speech, no matter the content. It is, however, a double-edged sword. In most states, you can be legally fired for attending a white supremacist rally or for attending a civil rights march. Four states, California, Colorado, North Dakota and New York, have laws that disallow employers from firing employees for lawful off-duty conduct. Arguably these laws would not protect an employer from participating in a violent rally. Another national and broad protection is speech that involves "concerted workplace activity," for instance, speech about pay or workplace conditions. This includes speech outside of the workplace and on social media. This protection is fairly broad and has been held by the National Labor Relations Board to protect even profane speech as long as it involves a commentary about workplace conditions.

Here are the far-right rally participants known to have lost their jobs:

* Cole White -- worked at Top Dog, a hot-dog eatery in Berkeley, CA;

* Ryan Roy -- worked at Uno Pizzeria and Grill in Burlington, VT;

* Nigel Krofta -- worked as a welder and mechanic at Limehouse and Sons Inc. in Ridgeville, SC.

For the record, a man from my current neck of the woods (southwest Missouri) has been identified as a white-nationalist participant at Charlottesville. His name is Ted Von Nukem, who reportedly lives "somewhere between Springfield and Joplin." No word yet that he has lost a job. A video of Von Nukem can be viewed at the end of this post.

Meanwhile, best-selling author and former Sports Illustrated reporter Jeff Pearlman is contributing to the outing effort. From a Pearlman blog post titled "Dear White Supremacist Marchers . . . ," which references the photo, below left:

… it’s me—John Stevens. I’m the boss at the feed warehouse where that guy on the left works.

… and it’s me—Randy Ott. I’m the boss at the accounting firm where that guy in the middle works.

 … and it’s me—Malik Lewis. I’m the boss at the pharmacy where that guy on the right works.
… and it’s me—Candace Cohen. I’m the boss at the AT and T store where that guy with the mustache works.

… and it’s me—Hillary Chen. I’m the dean at the college where that kid in the plaid shirt attends.

Yup, it’s us. And, as a group, we’d like to say: You’re fired. Expelled. Dumped. Kicked to the curb, like a bunch of low-level racist asswipes.

Did you not think we’d recognize your faces? Did you not think this would get out? You know we have black customers, right? Oh, and Jewish ones, too. A couple of Asians even. Soooo … you’d probably have to agree they don’t really want to frequent businesses staffed by white supremacists. It’s funny how that works.

Say what you want about the pre-Donald Trump KKK—at least they were smart enough to wear hoods. You guys … look at you, marching around like you’re living in 1928 Virginia. You know we have iPhones, right? And TVs? Your faces are everywhere. You’re embarrassments to the world.

So, again, you’re fired.

Go sell your bullshit elsewhere.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

How long has the Birmingham Superfund bribery scandal been brewing, and how big a threat could it pose for Luther Strange and his elitist supporters?

Birmingham Superfund cleanup
(From al.com)
Luther Strange made it into a runoff with Roy Moore in Tuesday's GOP primary for a U.S. Senate seat from Alabama. That might seem like a positive for Strange, but it could heat up a spotlight that has been shining for some time on his mounting ethical baggage.

The No. 1 sign of that baggage is the deal Strange made with Robert "Luv Guv" Bentley, the state's ousted and disgraced governor who temporarily appointed Strange to Jeff Sessions' seat, apparently in exchange for soft treatment from the Strange attorney general's office on an investigation into Bentley's sex- and finance-related misadventures.

But the No. 2 sign of ethical baggage might prove to be even more troublesome for Big Lutha, whether he gets past Roy Moore or not. That would involve Strange's apparent ties to the Superfund scandal on Birmingham's Northside. Federal investigators reportedly are sniffing in several directions, including Strange's, and the case already has yielded one indictment and guilty plea.

If I have my way, Strange also will be facing deposition questions from me or my attorneys in two pending federal lawsuits -- "The Jail Case" and "The House Case" -- involving my unlawful arrest and five-month incarceration in the Shelby County Jail, plus the wrongful foreclosure on our home of 25 years in Birmingham that forced us to move to Missouri. Strange already is a defendant in "The House Case," and he likely will be added as a defendant to "The Jail Case," assuming the U.S. Eleventh Circuit actually follows the law and reinstates both cases, which were wrongfully dismissed by U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor, a Jeff Sessions acolyte. Proctor has recused himself after admitting he had a conflict in "The House Case," and we are moving to have him forced off "The Jail Case" as well.

If the cases are re-assigned to a real judge -- assuming their is one in the Northern District of Alabama -- Luther Strange could be looking at deposition questions on a host of issues that he almost certainly would rather avoid. Those issues would include his personal and financial relationship with former campaign manager Jessica Medeiros Garrison.

How does all of this tie into the Birmingham Superfund scandal? Let's take a look:

Many citizens might understandably think the Superfund scandal started with the indictment and guilty plea of former State Rep. Oliver Robinson on bribery, fraud, and conspiracy charges. Many might also understandably think the scandal -- involving five industrial companies that might be forced to pay $20 million to clean up pollution on the city's north side -- shouldn't be all that big a deal. After all, $20 million, divided by five, is $4 million -- a relatively paltry sum for outfits like Drummond Company, U.S. Pipe, Walter Energy, KMAC, and Alabama Gas.

As it turns out, the Superfund controversy has been going on longer than many of us (including me) realize. And for reasons that are not fully understood yet, it appears to be a much bigger threat to Birmingham's corporate interests -- read that, "Luther Strange supporters" -- than one might think.

That raises this question, which hits pretty close to home: Did the Superfund issue reach a boiling point that made it a factor in my false arrest and incarceration in October 2013 and the wrongful foreclosure that forced Carol and me to leave our Birmingham home of 25 years and flee to Springfield, Missouri, where we still (to our chagrin) reside? To what degree might Luther Strange have been involved in both of those events?

It's been clear to me for some time that Carol and I were attacked -- literally, I was beaten up and doused with pepper spray inside my own home; Carol eventually was beaten by Missouri deputies and left with a shattered left arm that required trauma surgery -- because of (a) something I had written on this blog, or (b) something powerful interests feared I would write on this blog.

Under category (a), several stories could have prompted retaliation -- my coverage of U.S. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor and his ties to 1990s gay pornography; my coverage of an extramarital affair involving GOP operative Rob Riley and lobbyist Liberty Duke; my coverage of an extramarital affair involving Luther Strange and former campaign manager Jessica Medeiros Garrison; my coverage of the Rollins v. Rollins divorce case and related skulduggery involving the family behind Orkin Pest Control; and my coverage of the Upton v. Upton divorce case and related skulduggery involving the family behind Alabama Threaded Products.

Luther Strange and Jessica Garrison
That's a lot of possibilities under category (a). Possibilities in category (b) are more fuzzy because, well, I hadn't written about them yet at the time of my arrest and our foreclosure. Two factors, however, might have made me a threat to the corporate and legal interests who wanted to keep the Superfund story corralled: (1) The corporate/legal types know I have good sources. Both Rob Riley and Jessica Garrison sued me for defamation, but neither made any effort, under the law, to show my reporting was false and defamatory. That's because it wasn't, and their own actions suggest they knew it wasn't. In the end, my reporting in both instances, was found, as a matter of law, NOT to be false or defamatory (see here and here); (2) Unlike the mainstream media, I can't be controlled by yelling at my editors or threatening my advertisers; I don't have editors or advertisers.

With that as a backdrop, let's look at a timeline of the Superfund story -- and we will find it produces some curious results. This information is taken mostly from a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) press release about Oliver Robinson's indictment and guilty plea and from an al.com article titled "North Birmingham's 35th Ave EPA Superfund site explained":

(A) 2011

From al.com: "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) arrives on scene in 2011, responding to testing results conducted the previous year by Walter Energy that showed contamination in the neighborhoods around the Walter Coke plant. Some early EPA documents refer to the area as the Walter Coke Site, though it was renamed the 35th Avenue Site to indicate that multiple parties likely contributed to the pollution."

(B) 2013

From the DOJ: "In September 2013, EPA notified five companies, including ABC Coke, a division of Drummond Company, that they could potentially be responsible for the pollution. A company determined to be responsible for pollution within the site, known as the 35th Avenue Superfund Site, “could have faced tens of millions of dollars in cleanup costs and fines,” the information states."

(C) 2014

From the DOJ: "In July 2014, EPA began considering the petition of a Birmingham environmental advocacy group, GASP, to expand the Superfund site to the Tarrant and Inglenook neighborhoods. EPA granted that petition in October 2014 and contracted with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to perform the preliminary assessment."

(D) 2014

From the DOJ: "In September 2014, EPA proposed adding the Superfund site to its National Priorities List, signaling that it required priority attention. Placement on the priorities list would allow EPA to use the federal Superfund Trust Fund to conduct long-term cleanup at the site, provided the State of Alabama agreed to pay 10 percent of the costs, which could equal millions of dollars, according to the charges. EPA’s decision on priority listing for the site remained pending throughout the scheme.

(E) 2014

From al.com: "The pollution in the north Birmingham neighborhoods of Collegeville, Harriman Park and Fairmont has been around for more than 100 years. The controversy surrounding the cleanup of that pollution is much newer. . . . Sandwiched between two coking plants, and surrounded by other industrial facilities and heavy rail lines, these neighborhoods have long borne the environmental brunt of the city's steel-making success, but since 2014, a legal battle is being waged between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the state of Alabama and the five nearby industries identified as "potentially responsible parties" to the pollution over who should pay to clean up 100 years of industrial residue."

Why is this timeline curious? Well, let's look first at item (B). September 2013 was a key moment in the Superfund controversy, as the EPA notified five Birmingham companies that they could be held responsible for the pollution, to the tune of "tens of millions of dollars in cleanup costs and fines." What happened in October 2013? Deputies from Shelby County entered our home -- without showing a warrant or stating their reasons for being there -- and beat me up and hauled me to jail for a five-month incarceration that had zero basis in law. Landing in jail makes it difficult to report on a certain subject, any subject. Hmmm . . .

Now, let's look at item (C). It says that July 2014 was another "hot point" in the Superfund controversy, as EPA received a petition to expand the Superfund site to the Inglenook and Tarrant neighborhoods, a request the agency eventually approved. What else happened in July 2014? Carol and I were forced from our home via a wrongful foreclosure and wound up fleeing to Missouri, where it was less likely that I would be able to cover the Superfund story -- or any Alabama story.

One of our pending federal lawsuits, "The House Case," alleges Luther Strange, then Alabama attorney general, and Jessica Medeiros Garrison, his former campaign manager, were part of a coordinated effort to force us out of Alabama. Garrison worked in an "of counsel" role at Balch and Bingham, the Birmingham law firm at the heart of the Superfund scandal, but she mysteriously left that position in May 2017, and her Facebook and Twitter accounts recently went dark.

Strange has opposed the EPA's actions in North Birmingham, as described by al.com:

The state of Alabama also opposed the NPL listing. Then-Attorney General Luther Strange wrote a letter in 2014 to the EPA's regional administrator stating that Alabama did not agree with the proposal to list the site on the NPL and that "no State money will be expended to assist in any cleanup effort at the 35th Avenue Superfund site."

Alabama Political Reporter since has reported that Strange was present when a Drummond representative offered a bribe to State Rep. John Rogers. Al.com has reported that Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions is closely aligned with Balch and Bingham and could be part of efforts to thwart the EPA investigation.

Do we have ironclad proof that my arrest and our wrongful foreclosure were tied to the Superfund controversy? Not yet. Does the timing of the controversy suggest we were attacked to help ensure that I would not report on the subject? Absolutely.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Luther Strange makes runoff with Roy Moore in Alabama U.S. Senate election, but that might add to the heat from Strange's mounting ethical baggage

Luther Strange and Roy Moore
(From nymag.com)
Luther Strange came in second to Roy Moore in yesterday's Republican primary for a special election to replace Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate. Strange and Moore will meet in a runoff on Sept. 26. The winner will advance to face Democrat Doug Jones in the general election on Dec. 12.

Some recent polls had Strange missing the runoff, despite the endorsement of Donald Trump. That's because Strange has enough ethical baggage hanging over him to sink the Lusitania.

The spotlight already is shining on that baggage, especially Strange's temporary appointment to the Sessions seat by Robert "Luv Guv" Bentley, the disgraced ousted governor who apparently gave the position to "Big Lutha" in exchange for soft-peddling an investigation on Bentley's sex- and finance-related wrongdoing.

But the spotlight figures to get even hotter between now and Sept. 16, especially since Strange's baggage appears to go way beyond the Bentley deal. In fact, Strange's biggest ethical problem might, appropriately enough, involve dirt -- lots of real dirt. Strange's ties to that scandal might be in the early stages, but we've seen reports that "Lutha" has dirt under his fingernails, and federal investigators are poking around. For good measure, the scandal appears to have some connection to Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Strange's one-time campaign manager and mistress.

As for Doug Jones, he received a high enough percentage of votes yesterday to avoid a runoff and advance directly to the general election. As a staunch liberal, I generally support just about any Democrat with a pulse and three or more brain cells. But Jones is a dismal candidate and an even worse human being, as I will be showing in a series of posts between now and general-election day.

Jones is little more than a whore for the GOP's Riley Political Machine. Jones teamed with Rob "Uday" Riley (son of former Gov. Bob Riley) to help gather more than $50 million in attorney fees from a civil case against Richard Scrushy (codefendant in the Don Siegelman criminal case), HealthSouth, and related entities.

Rob Riley became part of the plaintiffs' team, even though he had blatant conflicts of interest, according to a 2008 report from Huffington Post's Sam Stein. In fact, Stein quoted two sources who suggested that Riley's insider knowledge from the Siegelman/Scrushy criminal case helped force HealthSouth's decision to pay $445 million, one of the largest settlements in securities-litigation history.

We picked up on that theme in a piece that showed Jones is happy to ignore right-wing conflicts if there is enough money on the table. From our 2011 post:

The other co-liaison counsel in the HealthSouth case -- Jones' chief local assistant -- was Rob Riley, the son of former Republican Governor Bob Riley. Why did Doug Jones need Rob Riley on the lawsuit team? Probably because Riley had inside information about former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. And that information probably came from Riley's involvement in a Republican conspiracy to conduct a political prosecution against Siegelman and Scrushy, a scheme that Alabama attorney and whistleblower Dana Jill Simpson revealed to the world.

Should progressives be concerned about Doug Jones' willingness to make money by jumping in bed with a member of the Riley clan? What about Jones' apparent determination to now push tainted nominees to [the] Democratic [Obama] administration?

Regular readers know that Bob Riley has ties to GOP felons Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon. And yet Doug Jones, who now seems to have the Obama administration's ear, is comfortably aligned with Bob Riley's son.

That's enough, for now, about Doug Jones. Even if he were a good Democratic candidate, Jones likely wouldn't stand a chance in the general election. Given that he's mostly a phony and a con artist -- touting his "civil rights" bona fides while the record shows he has little regard for the rule of law and equal justice --  Jones surely will get swamped by Moore or Strange in December.

Doug Jones
(From wkrg.com)
If it came down to it, I probably would vote for Roy Moore over Doug Jones; that's how bad Jones is. I consider Roy Moore one of the most gross charlatans in modern political history, but I suspect he would do less damage in the Senate than he's done as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

If it came down to Strange or Jones, I wouldn't vote for either one. I'd write in the name of a dead armadillo. We have reason to hope that, regardless of what happens in the Senate race, a "dirty" scandal will finally chop "Big Lutha" down to size.

We've seen signs that the "dirty" scandal hits real close to home for Mrs. Schnauzer and me. We will spell that out in an upcoming post.

Meanwhile, folks who voted yesterday for Luther Strange should think twice about how much dirt they are willing to stomach.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Documentary about the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman receives stellar review, plus a pledge to help arrange screening in Montgomery

A documentary about the political prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman is "worth your time and your anger," according to a review at the Alabama Political Reporter (APR). The Prattville-based news site pledged to help arrange a showing of the film in Montgomery.

The film, Atticus v. the Architect: The Political Assassination of Don Siegelman (directed by Steve Wimberly), had been scheduled for a showing at the Capri Theatre in Montgomery. But former federal prosecutor Leura Canary, who helped ramrod the Siegelman case, serves on the Capri's board of directors and objected to the screening. The board voted to renege on its agreement to rent the theater for a group to show the Siegelman film.

That act of not-so-subtle censorship, however, has not kept the film under wraps. After its premiere on May 10 at the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham, the film has had screenings in Atlanta (two shows, including one at Netroots Nation) and Tuscaloosa, with upcoming shows in Decatur, AL (8/18, Princess Theatre) and Leesburg, VA (8/23, Cobb Village 12).

Josh Moon, of APR, says the documentary makes for a powerful viewing experience. He calls it "scorching." From his review:

No wonder Leura Canary didn’t want people to see the Siegelman documentary.

“Atticus v. The Architect: The Political Assassination of Don Siegelman” is a scorching documentary, particularly if you’re one of the many Republican officials who played a role in the prosecution of Alabama’s former Governor.

The film does not offer much in the way of new information about the Siegelman case, Moon writes. But it takes a complex story and presents it in a solid, professional, understandable package for a mainstream audience:

For all of the local attention this film has received – thanks in large part to Canary’s pushback against allowing the film to be shown in Montgomery — “Atticus” doesn’t really reveal much in the way of new information. What it does – and it’s the first medium to do so – is put the whole sordid ordeal in one tidy package that’s easy for the common person to digest.

That alone would be reason enough for Canary and others to want it stopped. Because it’s only through that perspective, with all of the facts and the sequence of events laid out before you, that you understand the grandness of the scheme against Siegelman. And it is only through that perspective that the impossibility of such a grand conspiracy can be removed, and the lengths and depths to which some will go to gain a political advantage can be exposed.

Some of the most prominent conservative political figures of the 2000s receive withering treatment as underhanded operatives who helped create, and benefit from, the Siegelman case:

Starting with the 2002 gubernatorial race between Siegelman and Bob Riley, “Atticus,” written and directed by Steve Wimberly, travels a course of corruption, much of which it lays at the feet of Riley, Republican operative Karl Rove, Billy and Leura Canary and Eric Holder.

Steve Wimberly
It features interviews with some of the state’s most powerful and well-known political players. And there’s even an appearance by the most famous crooked lobbyist in DC, Jack Abramoff, who recounts in detail how he and his Choctaw Indian pals forked out $20 million to beat back a lottery and to get rid of Siegelman.
By the end, you walk away with two thoughts: Alabama politics is dirtier than I imagined (which is saying something) and Don Siegelman shouldn’t have been indicted, much less convicted.

It is well worth your time, and your anger.

As for future showings, Moon reports that APR and its affiliated The V television program plan to assist:

APR and “The V” hope to help with that, at least in the Montgomery area. We should have news soon on a new Montgomery screening location and date for the film.

Confronted with his vile, nasty, and prejudicial letter to the judge in our eviction case, Missouri attorney David Shuler (my brother) seems to be at a loss for words

David Shuler
How did my brother, Missouri lawyer David Shuler, react when confronted about the flagrantly prejudicial letter he wrote to the judge in our eviction case -- the one that resulted in a Greene County deputy assaulting my wife, Carol, and leaving her with a shattered left arm?

Perhaps the best way to answer that question -- and to illustrate how lawyers of dubious character can act -- is to follow a brief timeline:

(1) On August 25, 2015 -- two days before our court hearing in the eviction case -- David sent me an e-mail in which he made a number of false statements regarding matters involving Carol and me. He said the opposing party, Trent Cowherd, had asked him for assistance in serving us with legal documents. Aside from that, David stated that he did not want to be involved in our business, that he had no hard feelings toward me, and he wished me the best.

(2) I responded the same day, correcting a couple of false assertions he had made and asking him about a document, his letter to Judge Kelly Halford Rose, that I had seen in the court file. (See letter at the end of this post.) From my e-mail:

One final point: On the subject of serving documents, would you please serve me a copy of the letter you wrote to the judge in the Cowherd case? I've only been able to scan it at this point, but I would like to have a copy -- and I believe I'm due to be served with a copy. Again, I haven't digested it fully, but my initial reaction was that it was one of the nastiest, most vile pieces of correspondence I've ever read. In fact, I can't imagine what would possess an attorney to write such an improper and prejudicial ex parte letter at any point, much less the day before a case is to be heard. It should be grounds for the judge's recusal, but I'm sure she will ignore any calls for that. If my memory is correct, there is a line in there stating that your intent (and I'm paraphrasing) is to do everything possible to ensure that Cowherd regains possession. That sounds like your goal is not to represent Mom, but to help Cowherd and hurt me and Carol -- no matter what wrongdoing Cowherd has committed in this matter. I'll be blunt with you, David -- that letter, based on a quick reading, wreaks of spite, meanness, ill will, backstabbing, vindictiveness, and more. And it appears that these feelings toward me have been present in you for a long time. I don't think they suddenly arose when you sat down to write that letter. Why do you have such feelings toward a brother who has tried to treat you with respect and kindness and support? Only you can answer that question. But if I had written a letter like that about anyone -- much less my brother -- I would hope someone would encourage me to set aside a little time for self-reflection and maybe professional help. That letter tells me something is not right in your heart and mind. If I could help you with it, I would, but it's probably not my place -- especially since the vitriol is directed at me.

Just in case David could not grasp all that was revealed in his letter, I decided to spell it out for him:

I've written way too much, but I will conclude with this: You state that you don't want to be involved in my business, that you have no hard feelings. But your letter to the court says something altogether different. It says that you have extremely hard feelings -- for reasons I can't comprehend -- and it says you do intend to stay involved in my business. You are correct, it seems, when you say you no longer want to be involved with efforts to help me. But your letter makes it clear that you intend to go out of your way to help people who want to hurt me. You have encouraged me to seek professional help regarding psychological and emotional issues. The content and tone of your letter suggests that you might need such intervention more than I ever have.

BTW, please serve me with a copy of your letter to the judge. My understanding is that I'm due that under the law.

Did David serve me with a copy of the letter, even after I had asked him at least three times? Nope. Did he have any substantive response to my message? Nope. Here is his only reply:

I acknowledge receipt of your e-mail. Thank you.

Just to make sure David understood that he had an obligation to Carol and me, as parties in a case where he had written an ex parte letter to the judge, I added this, acknowledging that I was aware he had copied my other siblings and sisters-in-law with his e-mail -- and I had copied them with information about his letter:

Are you going to forward me a copy of the letter you filed with the court, as requested in my e-mail reply to you, copied below? As far as I'm concerned, you certainly are welcome to share it with any family members you've copied here. In fact, I think they should see it.

David's response? Crickets . . .

How many ways did Missouri attorney David Shuler lie to me, his brother? Let's count the ways:

(1) He says he does not want to be involved in our business. The letter below shows he very much is involving himself in our business.

(2) He says he holds no hard feelings toward me. The letter below shows he is riddled with hard feelings for me, none of which are justified.

(3) He says he wishes me the best. Apparently, one way he wishes me the best is by doing his best to ensure that I am homeless.

(4) Finally, David says in his e-mail that "unless absolutely necessary, you will have no further contact from me."

David stayed true to his word on the that last one -- if you don't count the 10 e-mails he sent me since that date, plus the petition he helped my other brother file, seeking to have Carol and I declared wards of the state.

Does law school cause brain damage in some people? I swear, I used to think David was a wonderful brother and an all-around good guy -- and Carol and I never have done anything to cause him to hold such ill will toward us. So, why does he clearly have it in for us?

I have no idea. But I sure don't recognize the author of that letter -- and I would say the author has something haywire in his attic.

Monday, August 14, 2017

White supremacists tend to be filled with racism and dishonesty, and they had a friendly ear in Alabama, thanks to ex Gov. Bob Riley and his KKK ties

"Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, VA
(From whotv.com)
When rational Americans consider the white supremacists who sparked a deadly rally over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, they probably view them in terms of racism. That is a central component of the equation, to be sure. But living in Alabama for 35-plus years taught me that white nationalists, neo-Confederates, and other similar hate groups have a second characteristic that tends to mark their dysfunction -- they are fundamentally dishonest.

For eight years (2003-2011), such groups had a friendly ear in Alabama, thanks to former GOP governor Bob Riley, who has family ties to the KKK. In fact, an issue that reared its ugly head multiple times during Riley's tenure, when seen in light of the recent violence in Charlottesville, provides a classic example of the dishonesty at the heart of white hate groups.

It should be no surprise that Alabama was well represented at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville. A racist gathering wouldn't be complete without Alabama representatives front and center. That would be like a wiener roast without the wienies.

The purpose of the Charlottesville rally supposedly was the protect a statute of Confederate general Robert E. Lee in a public park. In other words, the white nationalists portrayed themselves as preservationists, trying to ensure that Confederate history did not fade from view.

But for a significant chunk of the 2000s, at least, such groups in Alabama have tried to go way beyond that role; they actively have tried to block efforts to preserve civil-rights history in Alabama and other Southern states. They weren't just trying to preserve Confederate history, they were trying to destroy civil-rights history; they essentially sought to re-write history in a way that would wipe out the efforts of those who fought against hate and racism -- and for equal justice.

The thugs who sparked the violent rally in Charlottesville apparently did not spotlight that part of their ugly past. That's what we mean about dishonesty. In Alabama, Bob Riley was the perfect dishonest, neo-Confederate governor. And the racists held Riley's ugly family history over his head.

This is from a previous Legal Schnauzer post, titled "Former Alabama governor Bob Riley has family ties to KKK, CCC, and other prominent hate groups":

Former Alabama governor Bob Riley has family connections to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), and other extremist groups, sources tell Legal Schnauzer. While governor, Riley backed down from a plan to merge two holidays when angry neo-Confederate groups threatened to go public with his family history.

Riley's father, Eustace Riley Jr. (grandfather of Birmingham attorneys Rob Riley and Minda Riley Campbell), was a KKK Grand Dragon in the small Clay County community of Ashland, according to our sources. The Rileys also have long-standing ties to the CCC, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and United Daughters of the Confederacy.

The CCC's Web site reportedly inspired Dylann Roof to enter a historically black church in June 2015 and shoot and kill nine people. Bob Riley has tried to steer clear of his ties to such ugliness. It hasn't always worked. From our previous post:

Riley now heads a lobbying firm called Bob Riley and Associates, with offices in Birmingham and Montgomery. He has started a Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO), which provides money for students to attend private schools. Riley's SGO is one of a dozen created under the Alabama Accountability Act, a controversial school-choice law passed by the Legislature in 2013.

Why would Riley favor the use of tax credits from public-school revenues to help send kids to private schools? One answer might be money. The law allows an SGO to keep 5 percent of the maximum $25 million in tax-credited donations. Critics say more than $1 million could wind up in Riley's pocket each year.

Riley also might favor private schools because of his family's ties to white-supremacist groups. This was an issue several times while Riley was governor. It was widely reported in fall 2006 that Riley was a member of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Alabama, a secret society governed by documents that forbid membership to "negroes or other inferior races." Birmingham radio hosts Russ and Dee Fine were fired after reporting on Riley's ties to a racist group.

In one report, Riley claimed he had not attended a lodge meeting since he was in his 20s, and he did not know the head of the masons in Alabama. That doesn't make much sense in light of a widely circulated photo of Riley with Grand Master Frank W. Little.

What about white nationalists' efforts to whitewash Alabama history. Riley was in the middle of that, consistently siding with the racists:

In 2004, the executive director of the Alabama Historical Commission resigned because of differences with his board of directors and Gov. Riley over his support for civil-rights preservation projects. Here is how the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) described the resignation of Lee Warner in a winter 2004 report:

Bob Riley and Masonic leader
Frank W. Little
 "This August, the executive director of the Alabama Historical Commission, which owns and oversees major historic sites in the state, was forced to resign his position after what were described as conflicts with commissioners and Gov. Bob Riley over the director's support for civil rights preservation projects.

The episode was only the latest of the last several years in which museum professionals and preservation officials from around the South have come under sometimes severe pressure from neo-Confederate activists and their sympathizers, occasionally including harassment and various kinds of threats.

In case after case, members of groups like the League of the South and the Sons of Confederate Veterans have agitated against these professionals in a bid to push versions of history that mainstream curators and historians agree are bunk. . . .

And in Alabama, Lee Warner, the former Alabama Historical Commission executive director, told a reporter that many of Riley's appointees to the commission had opposed his plans to create a museum at the old Greyhound bus station, where Freedom Riders were badly beaten in 1961, and to memorialize the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march."

With such "leadership" at the executive level, Alabama provided fertile soil for white supremacy to take root.  One of the featured speakers at the Charlottesville rally was Michael Hill, co-founder and president of the Killen, AL-based League of the South. In the days leading up to the Charlottesville event, Hill rattled on about the need of Southern nationalists to secede from the Union. From an Associated Press article on the subject:

The League of the South's longtime president, retired university professor Michael Hill of Killen, Alabama, posted a message in July that began, "Fight or die white man" and went on to say Southern nationalists seek "nothing less than the complete reconquest and restoration of our patrimony -- the whole, entire South."

"And that means the South will once again be in name and in actuality White Man's Land. A place where we and our progeny can enjoy Christian liberty and the fruits of our own labor, unhindered by parasitical 'out groups,'" said Hill's message, posted on the group's Facebook page a day after a rally in support of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Gee, that doesn't sound the least bit racist, does it? And remember, where you find racism, you almost certainly will find dishonesty. Some seemingly have decided that the combination of those two factors makes Southern secession not such a bad idea:

Perhaps the United States should just let the South leave, said author Chuck Thompson.

Thompson's 2012 book "Better Off Without 'Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession" argued that both the United States and the South might both be best served if Southern nationalists won the argument and succeeded in forming a new nation.

The South has been at odds with the rest of the nation for generations over issues including education, race, politics, shared history and religion, Thompson said in a telephone interview, and some things just don't change.

"It's not that just the rest of the country would be better off without them," he said. "It's that everyone would be better off without them, both sides."

The problem, of course, is that Southern thinking no longer is limited to the South. I currently reside in Springfield, MO, where I grew up, and I think racism here has come to equal or exceed that found in Alabama. Voting patterns show that racist, Southern thinking has come to hold sway in large sections of the Midwest, Great Plains, Southwest, and Pacific Northwest.

What is the only state, in the 2008 presidential election, that did not have a single county go for Barack Obama? Answer: Oklahoma.

If the South is going to secede, we need to make sure the region takes with it Southern "thinkers" from non-Southern states. As we have written here several times, white elites in Alabama have formed an under-the-radar "New Confederacy." It's likely that similar schemes have infected public institutions -- courts, police forces, law firms, financial systems, and more -- in other states.

Southern elites will tell you they are trying to preserve a "way of life." In fact, they are creating a rigged system that benefits them, to the detriment of everyone else.

We don't need their racism, and we don't need their dishonesty.

According to Missouri deputies, I am essentially an "anti-government terrorist," as opposed to the guy who rammed a car into a crowd in Charlottesville, VA

Car crash at Charlottesville, VA, rally, leading to at least one
death and more than a dozen injuries, many of them critical.
(By Ryan M. Kelly, Charlottesville Daily Progress via AP) 
Law-enforcement officials in Missouri seem to have a problem defining the word "terrorist." Perhaps deadly events over the weekend at a white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, will help teach them -- that is, if they are capable of learning.

Public records in Greene County, Missouri suggest certain deputies here think a "terrorist" is someone who writes a blog about legal, political, and police-related corruption. In other words, they think I am a terrorist.

Perhaps deputies should take a look at the photo, above right. It shows a driver plowing a vehicle into a crowd of counter-demonstrators -- people who oppose the message of racism, Nazism, and white supremacy at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville. These are people who take the words of our U.S. Constitution seriously -- especially the 14th Amendment, the one about "equal protection -- and one of them gave her life, and given the number of critically injured, more fatalities might follow.

For you Missouri deputies out there, the guy driving that car . . . he's a domestic terrorist. Even Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions, who has practiced or supported domestic terrorism for years in Alabama, agrees with that. (More about Sessions' ties to domestic terrorism in an upcoming post.)

Why do we need this little lesson? Well, cops seem to have a problem understanding who is, and is not, a domestic terrorist.

For example, if you have been a long-time reader of this blog, I bet you didn't know you were drinking in the words of an "anti-government" terrorist. Just take the word of Missouri deputies who were responsible for the unlawful eviction that left my wife, Carol, with a shattered left arm and bogus criminal charges ("assault on a law enforcement officer") against her.

As we noted in a previous post, Officer Christian Conrad stated in a written report about our eviction that I was "anti-law enforcement." But he wasn't alone. Let's consider these words from Officer Debi Wade, who authored the Probable Cause Statement against Carol:

Recognizing the name and address, Deputy Harrison started looking into Roger Shuler's past; knowing that we would be tasked with the court-ordered eviction if and when it came to that. When [Harrison] 'Googled' his name we found multiple pictures and links to stories about Shuler and learned that he is a very well known anti-government blogger out of the state of Alabama. We also learned that he has been ordered to pay a $3.5 million judgment and was sent to serve time in jail by an Alabama judge for defamation, as well. 

How ignorant is this? Let's count the ways:

(1) Anyone who reads and comprehends this blog knows that I am a Democrat, a progressive, a liberal. (See, I don't even consider "liberal" a dirty word.) I'm a white guy from Alabama who voted twice for Barack Obama. By definition, a liberal is pro-government, supporting reasonable regulation and intervention to level a playing field that can get wildly out of whack under conservatives;

(2) Wade knows about a $3.5-million judgment in the Jessica Medeiros Garrison case, but isn't capable of understanding the judgment is void, as a matter of law, because I never was notified of Garrison's default-judgment application or the hearing on said application. (Isn't it interesting that Missouri cops seem to know about a court case involving Jessica Garrison, in Alabama? Hmmm . . . )

(3) Wade notes that an Alabama judge threw me in jail over a defamation case, but doesn't seem to understand that defamation is a civil matter, where the remedy is a money judgment, not throwing the alleged offender in jail. Wade didn't bother to learn that the preliminary injunction leading to my incarceration has been prohibited by more than 200 years of First Amendment law. Ironically, she cites a classic example of my reporting on corruption . . . but, wait, I'm an "anti-government" blogger. In Wade's world, if you support honest government, you are "against" the government. Don't bother trying to make sense out of that because it's impossible.

Domestic terrorism, of course, did not start over the weekend in Charlottesville. It's been around for quite a while, much of it driven by racism. Let's think about a few legitimate anti-government terrorists over the past couple of decades. There is Timothy McVeigh, who blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injuring more than 600. There is Randy Weaver, who instigated the Ruby Ridge standoff in Montana that led to the deaths of three people. There is Cliven Bundy, the rancher whose supporters launched a confrontation with law enforcement in Oregon. Then, there is Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, who killed three people and injured 23 others in a nationwide bombing campaign.

What do all of these domestic terrorists have in common. They all are, or were, right-wing loons. In other words, "anti-government" types are far more likely to be conservatives than liberals -- and no one has accused me of being a conservative in a long time, if ever. Conservatives are the ones always babbling about "keeping the government out of our lives." Liberals tend to welcome government in our lives.

Are these Missouri cops disingenuous, retarded (apologies for using a politically incorrect term), or both. My answer is "both." In their shallow world, standing up to corruption is the equivalent of being anti-government; unmasking the corrupt actions of rogue cops is being anti-law enforcement.

I know there must be intelligent cops out there, but I don't recall meeting one. In my experience, they consistently have been among the most stupid and useless people I've ever met. These statements from Missouri cops drive that point home -- especially in light of the disturbing and very real terrorism in Charlottesville, VA.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Missouri prosecutor stonewalls on discovery, probably because he knows it will produce embarrassing or incriminating evidence against law enforcement

Carol Tovich Shuler
Why is Missouri prosecutor Nicholas Jain stonewalling on discovery in the bogus "assault on a law enforcement officer" case against my wife, Carol? It's probably because Jain knows legitimate discovery will produce information that is embarrassing, incriminating, or both for his office (led by Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson) and that of Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott.

Our guess is that certain discovery requests from Carol are particularly sensitive for Jain and Co. Which ones are they? Let's a take a look at several, with Carol's requests and Jain's responses embedded at the end of this post, in "State's Response to Defendant's Motion for Disclosure . . . ": (Numbers correspond to those in Carol's discovery requests; Carol's requests and the State's responses also are summarized in Carol's "Motion to Compel . . . , " embedded below.)

      (1) Carol's Request: All documents related to an investigation of a “critical incident” involving use of force. (Such an investigation is required by the Greene County Sheriff’s Office Policy and Procedure Manual,)

      State's Response: The State has provided law enforcement reports to Defendant . . . pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 25.03. These items do not need to be ordered to be disclosed pursuant to Rule 25.04.

      What's Up With That Response? The point of Carol's request is to determine if Greene County Sheriff's Office (GCSO) personnel followed their own procedures. Jain conveniently ignores that and claims it is enough to provide incident reports, which have nothing to do with the department's policies or procedures.

       (2) Carol's Request: A list of all GCSO personnel, with full names and addresses, who were on the scene during the eviction at 4070 South Fort Ave., in Springfield, MO, on 9/9/15.

       State's Response: The names and last known addresses of persons the state intends to call as witnesses have been disclosed to the defendant in the witness endorsements on the Misdemeanor Information filed herein. . . .

       What's Up With That? Once again, Carol asks for one thing, and Jain provides something else. Jain provides the names of four officers he intends to call as witnesses. But Carol asks for the identity of all GCSO personnel on the premises that day, and there appeared to be 6-8 officers, maybe twice the number Jain is identifying. Jain's response obviously is ridiculous because the defense (Carol) might want to call anyone who was present as a witness. Seeking testimony is a two-sided affair, so it's hard to see how Jain can argue with a straight face that Carol is not entitled to the names of all GSCO personnel involved in the eviction. That he's dragging his feet suggests he does not want the defense, or the public, to know everyone who was present that day.

       (4) Carol's Request: A list of Human Resources records for all GCSO personnel involved in the South Fort eviction on 9/9/15, including all officers on the scene and any other employees who were involved in other capacities.

       State's Response: Pretty much the same as for No. 2 above.

       What's Up With That? We've been told that law-enforcement offices hate this kind of request. They don't want defendants, or the public, to know about various screw-ups that officers have been involved with in the past, which likely have resulted in complaints or even lawsuits. Carol's request goes to the credibility of officers on the scene, some of whom beat her up and left her with a shattered left arm.

       (8) Carol's Request: Copies of all communications, in any format, between or among GCSO officers re: the Shulers or their eviction prior to, during, or after 9/9/15.

       State's Response: The State has provided law enforcement reports  . . . (and) any information beyond this is not material.

       What's Up With That? Carol has stated in court documents, correctly, "This case is not about a crime she committed; it's about crimes committed against her." This request goes directly to Carol’s innocence, that she was the victim of a frame-up, and the police had ill motives. It seeks e-mails, text messages, phone records, and other information that will show cops acted with ill (and probably criminal) intent.

       (15) Carol's Request: All documents regarding any new information the GCSO received . . . between Carol's release from jail on 9/9/15 and the filing of an indictment against her on 9/8/16, followed by her re-arrest on 1/30/17.

       State's Response: Any information in this time period has no legal or logical relevance to the immediate case and pending charges. This is not not material the court should find . . . relevant.

       What's Up With That? Jain seems to be playing stupid here. Carol was released from jail, with no charges against her, on 9/9/15. Then an indictment was brought against her on the last day possible under the one-year statute of limitations. That implies new information was discovered in the interim to cause Carol's second arrest. Unless, of course, there were no grounds for either arrest, and it was done for purposes of harassment and malicious injury.

       (16) Carol's Request: All communications between GCSO personnel and Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson regarding the Shulers' eviction, Carol's indictment, and re-arrest.

       State's Response: This is not material that the court should find relevant. . . .

       What's Up With That? Not relevant? Jain must be joking. It goes to the process that caused a defendant who had been wrongfully arrested once and released with no charges to be indicted and re-arrested again. Carol has raised the issue of ill motives and corrupt conduct by cops and prosecutors, and this request goes directly to that issue.

       (25) Carol's Request: Copies of all documents related to evictions during the tenure of Sheriff Jim Arnott -- including personnel and weapons used during the evictions.

       State's Response: Essentially the same as No. 2 above.

       What's Up With That? This goes to information about the way the GCSO normally handles evictions. Did Carol receive "equal protection under the law," as required by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? This request goes directly to that question.

       (28) Carol's Request: Copies of all communications between GCSO personnel and external parties about the Shulers and/or their eviction . . . including (but not limited to) Springfield attorney Craig Lowther (or anyone from his firm), Springfield attorney David Shuler, Springfield resident Don Schlueter, Springfield landlord/businessman Trent Cowherd -- plus any legal/political figures or other individuals from Alabama.

       State's Response: Essentially the same as No. 2 above.

       What's Up With That? Again, Carol has alleged in court documents that she is the victim of a crime, not the perpetrator of one. This is designed to seek information about individuals who appear to be connected to her wrongful arrest and imprisonment. (Note: I've written previously about all the individuals in this request, except one. That would be Don Schlueter, a one-time friend of mine from college who made multiple trips to Birmingham after my incarceration in Shelby County and the wrongful foreclosure on our house. Schlueter played a major role in causing us to leave our home in Alabama, under duress, and wind up in Missouri. Almost from the moment we got here, he has acted with such belligerence and antagonism toward Carol and me that we no longer want anything to do with him. His behavior turned particularly ugly once I picked up blogging again after getting settled in Missouri. Why would Schlueter, who has a doctorate and is not a stupid guy, think it's any of his business whether I write a blog or not? I've known him for roughly 40 years and never found him to be a particularly controlling or nasty guy. But he's been both since we made the mistake of moving to Missouri. What are his motivations? That's why his name is in this request.)

       (30) Carol's Request: Copies of all communications regarding preparation of the probable-cause statement filed by Deputy Debi Wade, leading to Carol Shuler's arrest.

       State's Response: Essentially the same as for No. 2 above.

       What's Up With That? Carol has shown in court documents that Waid's PC Statement is filled with false information. This goes directly to ill motives among cops and prosecutors, which led to Carol being unlawfully arrested -- twice.

       (31) Carol's Request: All records or documents about the whereabouts and actions of GCSO Lt. Phil Corcoran on the day of our eviction.

       State's Response: Essentially the same as No. 2.

       What's Up With That? Prosecutors clearly are trying not to produce the names of all officers who were on the premises during our eviction. The likely reason is that they want to protect someone who engaged in serious misconduct. Our research indicates Corcoran is the No. 2 guy in the GCSO, and Carol wants to know if he was present on 9/9/15 and if he was among those who laid hands on her, for no lawful reason, and caused her arm to be shattered.

To summarize, here are issues that seem to be sensitive to the prosecution in Carol's case, to the point that the State clearly is stonewalling on discovery:

* Information designed to show whether GCSO personnel did or did not follow their own procedures;

* Information designed to show all GCSO personnel who were present for, or involved with, our eviction;

* Information designed to show the Human Resources records of all GCSO personnel who were involved with our eviction:

* Information designed to show all communications (including e-mails, text messages, phone records, etc.) between or among GCSO personnel regarding the Shulers or their eviction;

* Information regarding documents that point to any new evidence received from the time of Carol's release from jail (with no charges) and her re-arrest in January 2017;

* Information designed to show improper motives involving GCSO personnel and the office of PA Dan Patterson;

* Information designed to show GCSO handling of other evictions under Sheriff Jim Arnott;

* Information designed to provide evidence of communications between GCSO personnel and external parties, including any parties from Alabama;

* Information designed to reveal improper motives behind the preparation of the Probable Cause Statement that led to Carol's re-arrest.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Why has Alabama political pipeline produced such awful candidates for Senate special election? That question can be answered with two words: Karl Rove

Mo Brooks, Roy Moore, Luther Strange
(From mmo-champion.com)
The primaries in Alabama's special election for the U.S. Senate are less than a week away (next Tuesday, August 15), and a member of the mainstream media (MSM) is complaining about the poor slate of candidates from both parties. That's ironic because the MSM has a lot to do with the dismal political climate in Alabama.

Kyle Whitmire, of al.com, wrote a piece yesterday, titled "What's Wrong With Alabama's Political Pipeline?" Whitmire's been around long enough to know the answer to that question is easy; it can be summed up in two words -- "Karl Rove."

If you want to go beyond a two-word explanation, you can add these phrases: (1) "Jack Abramoff"; and (2) "Complicity of the lazy, compromised, right-wing media."

Yes, Kyle Whitmire belongs in category No. 2; he's part of the problem that leads him to whine.

Whitmire is correct that the field is dreadful. The GOP field is led by the "Three Stooges" -- Roy Moore, Luther Strange, and Mo Brooks. Perhaps Donald Trump could join them to form a Mount Rushmore of the dysfunctional political right. A new poll shows that Strange -- the darling of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (and yes, Karl Rove) -- might not even make a runoff. Wouldn't that be a hoot?

On the Democratic side, recent polls show that an unknown from Mobile is leading, only because he has a familiar name -- Robert Kennedy Jr. The best-known candidate among the Democrats is Birmingham lawyer Doug Jones, who happens to be one of the biggest political phonies of the modern era. Jones tries to con black voters with his supposed civil-rights bona fides, but the reality is that he sucked up to the Riley Political Machine to make money off a HealthSouth civil case, and he helped cover up insurance fraud involving University of Alabama honcho Paul Bryant Jr., creating a toxic Tuscaloosa culture that would eventually fuel the Megan Rondini rape case.

If there is a candidate of competence and hope in the field, it probably is Democrat Michael Hansen, who is running as "an unapologetic progressive." Good for him. I just wish he was running as an unapologetic liberal because I get tired of seeing the "L word" used as a pejorative.

Says Hansen: "Democrats in Alabama have a clear choice this election. They can select a centrist that’s indistinguishable from the pack, or rally behind a candidate with real energy. As an unapologetic progressive, I’m talking about pocketbook issues that cross party lines. health care, wages, and the environment resonate with real voters and that’s how I’m winning.”

I like the sound of that, partly because it's a clear shot at Jones. Unfortunately, Hansen is openly gay, and that's generally not part of a winning recipe in Alabama. Still, I would like to see him make a runoff, with those races set for Sept. 26 -- and the general election on Dec. 12.

As for Rove, he ushered in what I call "The Modern Era of U.S. political corruption" by joining with Tom Donohue and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to turn state courts in the Deep South from Democrat to Republican. That started in 1994 with the race for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme court, between Democrat Sonny Hornsby and Republican Perry Hooper. The race, brilliantly chronicled in a 2004 Joshua Green article at The Atlantic, served as a precursor to the Bush v. Gore presidential race of 2000. In both, the Rove candidate first appeared to have lost, setting off a chain of recounts, challenges, and dubious machinations that led to the Rove candidate being declared the winner.

An even more disturbing scenario came in 2002 when votes for Democratic incumbent governor Don Siegelman disappeared overnight in heavily Republican Baldwin County, turning the race in favor of Rove's candidate, Bob Riley. Jim Gundlach, an election expert from Auburn University, said it was virtually impossible for the Siegelman votes to disappear without human tampering. In other words, substantial evidence pointed to the election being stolen -- a Rove-related scenario that also was present in Hornsby v. Hooper (1994), Bush v. Gore (2000), and Bush v. John Kerry (2004).

The 2002 Siegelman-Riley fiasco was the race where GOP felon Jack Abramoff admitted to spending $20 million in an attempt to beat Siegelman because Mississippi Choctaws feared gaming competition from a possible Siegelman-supported lottery in Alabama.

When polls showed Siegelman likely would beat Riley in a 2006 rematch, the Bush Justice Department -- with Rove's fingerprints in all sorts of unlikely places -- decided to prosecute the Democrat in a "bribery" case that was brought more than a year after the five-year statute of limitations had expired. The trial, which by law could not happen, wound up with a conviction, largely thanks to bogus jury instructions from former U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, who went on to be forced from the bench after facing assault charges for beating his wife in an Atlanta hotel room.

What three lessons has Karl Rove, over roughly 23 years, taught candidates who might run for office in Alabama?

(1) If you are a Democrat, or non-Rove Republican, the race likely will be stolen from you;

(2) If that doesn't dissuade you from competing, you likely will face trumped-up criminal charges that could ruin your career and your life; and

(3) If that doesn't work, your financial backers are likely to face prosecution, too.

Kyle Whitmire is surprised that Alabama has a lousy field of candidates for the upcoming special Senate election? Gee, why would any semi-competent candidate choose to run for public office in that environment. It's obvious the "political pipeline" is clogged with raw sewage, and who wants to swim around in that?

As for Alabama's MSM, it has trumpeted political prosecutions at every turn. Just consider the esteemed Mr. Whitmire. He has written multiple times that the Siegelman case was properly decided, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. In making such assessments, Whitmire has shown no indication that he has any knowledge about relevant law that was supposed to govern the case.

A strong argument could be made that Alabama corruption, starting in the mid 1990s, has infected our national political culture. In fact, it likely led to Russia's meddling in the 2016 election, leaving us with an unqualified and unstable Donald Trump in the White House, at a time when tensions with North Korea could lead to nuclear war. One must not forget that Trump's presidential campaign seemed to pick up steam when he received the endorsement of former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions via a major rally in . . . Mobile, Alabama.

We long have referred to Alabama as "Ground Zero" for GOP-related political skulduggery. One reason involves geography; the state is smack in the middle of the band of Southern states (from Texas to North Carolina) that consistently vote "red" in presidential elections. Insiders like Rove know that if the Republican Party ever lost Alabama, the rest of the South likely would follow, leaving GOP prospects extraordinarily dim. That's one reason a Democrat like Don Siegelman, who consistently beat GOP opponents at the ballot box, was such a threat.

Now, we have Trump and North Korea tossing threats back and forth -- and one could argue we reached this point via a trail of political corruption that runs right through Alabama.