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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Ashley Madison customers revealed: David Deusner, lawyer with expertise in eDiscovery and forensic intelligence appears at Web site for extramarital affairs


David and Meaghan Deusner, with their children
(From facebook.com)
An attorney who specializes in forensics and e-discovery appears as a paying customer at the Ashley Madison (AM) extramarital-affairs Web sit.

David Deusner (his full name is Philip David Deusner) worked for roughly six years at Birmingham's Bradley Arant law firm, first as director of litigation support and eDiscovery Services and then as senior eDiscovery counsel in the litigation and construction group. He now is managing director of compliance forensics intelligence for Control Risks, working out of Birmingham and Washington, D.C.

The following is from Deusner's bio at Control Risks:

David Deusner Esq. is a principal within Control Risks’ Compliance Forensics and Intelligence practice in the Americas region. David brings his years of experience as a practicing e-discovery attorney to work extensively across multiple engagements to provide high level consulting services to clients on e-discovery issues. David has advised clients and leveraged technologies in the e-discovery space across highly regulated industries and time sensitive regulatory matters. Through his work, he has overseen discovery matters involving data in Taiwan, Russia, Canada, Panama, and China, to name a few. While his practice primarily dealt with e-discovery, David also regularly advised national and multi-national clients on issues related to litigation hold implementation and process, data mapping, email archiving initiatives, and best practices for BYOD and other information governance issues. Prior to his role as senior e-discovery counsel, David was the director of litigation support and e-discovery services at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings.

He is married to Meaghan Collins Deusner, and they have two children. Here is her Facebook page. Public records indicate they live at 3579 Valley Circle, Birmingham, in a home with an appraised value of $239,000.

David Deusner obviously is a bright fellow, earning a bachelor's degree in business administration/music business and artist management at Belmont University in Nashville and a law degree at DePaul University in Chicago.

His story presents deep irony. How could a guy who is smart enough to be an expert in eDiscovery and forensic intelligence be stupid enough to sign up with an obvious con outfit like Ashley Madison? We sought to pose that and other questions, but Duesner has not 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)

(26) Matthew Couch, attorney, Cabaniss Johnson, Birmingham (3/23/17)

(27) Dr. Keron Vickers, chiropractor, Birmingham (4/4/17)

(28) D. Paterson Cope, president, wealth management, Birmingham (4/20/17)

(29) Shawn Baker, developer, Blackwater Resources, Birmingham (4/24/17)





Crooked federal judge R. David Proctor, with his deep-seated ties to perjurious Trump AG Jeff Sessions, proves he is one apple who did not fall far from the tree


Judge R. David Proctor (center), with family members who
have benefited from ties to corrupt Trump AG Jeff Sessions
(From facebook.com)
How many ways can a federal judge screw up one relatively straightforward case? If you are talking about U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor (Northern District of Alabama) he has a toolkit full of goodies for cheating disfavored litigants. And he can do it by brazenly issuing an opinion that runs contrary to law at the beginning, middle and end -- sort of like a bad three-act play.

We will focus, in this post, on the third act because it provides as clear-cut an example as you will ever see of a judge simply refusing to follow black-letter law. We've written about a lot of judicial cheat jobs, but this is one of the most brazen we've seen -- in a case involving my wife, Carol, and me, or in a case involving other parties.

That Proctor would prove to be a crooked, dishonest sack of feces should surprise no one. He and his family have benefited to stunning degrees from their ties to former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). While in private practice, Proctor helped Sessions (perhaps the best-known racist in American public life) get a black judge removed from a case in which he, as Alabama's attorney general, was a defendant. One of Proctor's sons, Jake, has worked for Sessions -- and now works for Sessions' Senate replacement, the abominable Luther Strange. Proctor's other son, Luke, attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, almost certainly with the assistance and recommendation of . . . Jeff Sessions.

On top of that, the Proctors are members of Briarwood Presbyterian Church (PCA), Birmingham's nutty right-wing congregation that thinks it needs its own police department. In fact, the church is trying to cover up for future drug busts at Briarwood Christian School, like the one that made it into the news in 2015 and prompted the move for a police force. Briarwood is built on a history of racism and homophobia, as superbly reported last week by Michael Harriot at theroot.com.

Sessions, of course, now is Trump Attorney General and faces a criminal complaint alleging perjury, false statements, and obstruction of justice related to false testimony in his confirmation hearing about meetings with a Russian ambassador.

Proctor's handling ("butchering" would be a better word) of our "House Case" shows that he is a cheat and a con man of Sessionsian proportions. We've already shown that Proctor cheated us at the beginning of his memorandum opinion by holding us to a heightened pleading standard that no longer exists in the Eleventh Circuit. (Proctor's opinion and our Rule 59 response to it are embedded at the end of this post.)

That infected the entire case, causing it to be improperly reviewed on every point of law and wrongfully granting defendants' Motions to Dismiss -- and that, if upheld on appeal, means they won't have to face discovery that likely would unearth deep and widespread misconduct.

Proctor's cheat job, however, did not end there. How outrageous can a compromised federal judge get when he is strongly motivated to cheat a party? In this case, Proctor had ample motivation because at least four defendants -- Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Rob Riley, Cliff Sims, and Yellowhammer News -- have documented ties, like Proctor, to Jeff Sessions.

Let's jump ahead to the end of the opinion, where Proctor dispenses with any notion that he might be an objective arbiter. By this point, Proctor has already ruled that our complaint failed to state a plausible claim for wrongful foreclosure, constitutional violations, defamation, and more. (Never mind that the "plausible" hurdle is from the heightened pleading standard that no longer exists in the Eleventh Circuit -- and Proctor even cites the case, Randall v. Scott, 610 F. 3d 701 (11th Cir., 2010), that send the heightened pleading standards of Bell Atlantic v. Twombly to the exits.)

If Proctor had followed the proper standard of review, an amended complaint would not be needed in our case. But if our complaint is dismissed for any reason, lawful or otherwise, we are entitled, under the law, to file an amended complaint. Proctor, however, is determined to keep that from happening -- and he resorts to blatant falsehoods to do it. From his memorandum opinion:

“Where a more carefully drafted complaint might state a claim, a plaintiff must be given at least one chance to amend the complaint before the district judge dismisses the action with prejudice.” Cornelius v. Bank of Am., NA, 585 F. App'x 996, 1000 (11th Cir. 2014) (citing Bank v. Pitt, 928 F.2d 1108, 1112 (11th Cir.1991)). Here, the court is addressing Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint. And “[w]hile a pro se litigant generally must be given at least one opportunity to amend his complaint, a district judge need not allow an amendment where amendment would be futile.” Id. (citing Cockrell v. Sparks, 510 F.3d 1307, 1310 (11th Cir.2007) (per curiam)). This case is one of the rare few in which any further amendment of Plaintiffs’ complaint would be futile, and accordingly is due to be dismissed without leave to further amend. See Cockrell v. Sparks, 510 F.3d at 1310 (“Leave to amend a complaint is futile when the complaint as amended would still be properly dismissed or be immediately subject to summary judgment for the defendant.”).

This is a classic example of a compromised judge being duplicitous. Proctor claims, in so many words, that we had already amended our complaint, and thus, were not entitled to a second amendment. He fails to mention that our first amendment was simply to correct a couple of defendant names in the header of the complaint; it had nothing to do with substantive amendment of the complaint. Notice also that Proctor makes a simple conclusory statement that amendment "would be futile," without presenting any grounds to support it. Proctor continues along this deceitful line of thought:

Plaintiffs have already amended their complaint once in this action. Having reviewed the claims made by Plaintiffs, the court finds that any additional attempt to amend the complaint would be futile. Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint does not fail to state a claim because it is was pled inartfully. To the contrary, Plaintiffs have presented twenty pages of allegations and sought to allege a grand scheme between twenty-nine separate persons and entities. Plaintiffs are notoriously litigious in the Northern District of Alabama. The court mentions this not to because it holds Plaintiffs to a higher pleading standard than any other pro se litigant or to express any prejudice against Plaintiffs. Instead, the court merely notes that Plaintiffs have tried in at least one other case to bring similar claims against a number of the same defendants, arising out of a similarly alleged factual scenario. Ultimately, no matter how many times Plaintiffs’ complaint is amended or re-packaged, it is clear that they are unable to assert a right to relief based on an attempt to change (or condemn as unlawful) the results of state court foreclosure proceedings or other judgments of the state courts. See District of Columbia Court of Appeals, 460 U.S. 462. And having considered the allegedly defamatory articles attached to Defendants’ motions to dismiss, the court determines that amendment of Plaintiffs’ defamation claim would similarly be futile. Finally, the court finds that it would be futile to allow any further amendment of Plaintiffs’ remaining tort claims based on the foreclosure of their former home. Having reviewed the claims alleged by Plaintiffs, the court finds that it would be futile to allow Plaintiffs continued bites at the apple of re-pleading given the nature of the facts they allege and the relief they seek as a result.

Proctor's first sentence here is a lie, and garbage only gets stacked higher as the paragraph moves along. Proctor claims amendment of our wrongful foreclosure and defamation claims would be "futile," but he offers nothing to support that. For the third or fourth time in the case, Proctor displays prejudice by referring to us as "notoriously litigious" (he usually calls us "frequent fliers") and essentially admits that he dismissed the "House Case" based on something in another case, which he does not even identify. He cites no law that shows it is proper to decide one case based on elements from another case.

Trump communications specialist Cliff Sims
and wife, Megan, with perjurious AG
Jeff Sessions
(From facebook.com)
Finally, Proctor is utterly full of feces in his statements regarding the wrongful foreclosure on our home of 25 years in Birmingham. Proctor tries to sweep this issue under the courthouse rug by claiming that was a state-court matter that he can't consider under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. Here is our response from a Rule 59 Motion to Alter or Amendment Judgment:

On page 44 of its opinion, this court makes the peculiar claim that the Shulers cannot "assert a right to relief based on an attempt to change the results of state-court foreclosure proceedings or other judgments of the state court." To support this, the court cites District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, which involves bar admissions rules and nothing else. This is preposterous for a variety of reasons. One, Alabama is a non-judicial foreclosure state, so the Shulers foreclosure claims had nothing to do with state-court proceedings. 
We go on to make a rather lengthy argument about the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, but here is the key point: Proctor tries to get out of dealing with our wrongful-foreclosure count by claiming it is tied to state-court proceedings. But it wasn't. As we state in the highlighted section above, Alabama is a non-judicial foreclosure state. Our foreclosure involved no lawsuit, no court order, no state-court proceedings of any kind. That means Proctor has jurisdiction to hear the claim in federal court.

Here is an even more blatant example of Proctor trying to cheat us. As already noted, an amended complaint should not be necessary in this case. That's because the 11th Circuit held in Randall v. Scott, 610 F.3d 701, 710 (11th Cir., 2010) as follows: “We conclude that the district court erred in applying a heightened pleading standard to Randall's complaint. After Iqbal it is clear that there is no “heightened pleading standard” as it relates to cases governed by Rule 8(a)(2), including civil rights complaints.”

Ours is a civil-right complaint, and the Rule 8 standard has been in place for decades. The U.S. Supreme Court provided back-up for the Randall holding in Johnson v. City of Shelby, 135 S. Ct. 346 (2014), the nation’s highest court held: “We summarily reverse. Federal pleading rules call for "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8(a)(2)."

Our complaint easily meets the "short and plain statement" requirement of Rule 8. If anything, our complaint provides too much detail. But even if one assumes Proctor got it right in his dismissal, he gets it wrong in failing to allow us an amended complaint. Proctor cites Cockrell v. Sparks 510 F. 3d 1307 (11 th Cir., 2007) to support his claim that amendment would be futile. But he conveniently ignores the fact Cockrell involved discovery and summary judgment. It had nothing to do with dismissal, and the requirement that the Shulers be allowed to amend, at the Motion to Dismiss stage.

This is straight from the Cockrell opinion:

“Cockrell filed a complaint asserting, among other state and federal claims, a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 excessive force claim against the Sheriff of Polk County and Deputy Kevin Redden, whom he believed to be the deputy who shoved him, in their official and individual capacities. During discovery, Cockrell realized that Deputy King, not Redden, had shoved him. . . .
The defendants then moved for summary judgment on various grounds, including that the complaint failed to state a claim against Deputy King because it still alleged that the excessive force had been used by Deputy Redden, not by King. In response, Cockrell moved for leave to amend his complaint. . . . Cockrell's motion to amend was futile, and therefore properly denied, only if King would be entitled to summary judgment on the merits of the claim if the amendment were allowed. Because we conclude below that King would be entitled to summary judgment on the merits, the district court correctly held that Cockrell's motion to amend was futile.”

Cockrell obviously involves consideration of summary judgment, after discovery has been conducted. It has nothing to do with a case like ours, where defendants seek to avoid discovery by filing Motions to Dismiss. But Proctor's buffoonery does not end there.

He refuses to acknowledge that we are pro se plaintiffs, and that gives us an absolute right to file an amended complaint. The Eleventh Circuit has held in Carter v. HSBC Mortgage (11th Cir., 2015): "A pro se plaintiff, however, “must be given at least one chance to amend the complaint before the district court dismisses the action with prejudice,” at least where a more carefully drafted complaint might state a claim. Bank v. Pitt, 928 F.2d 1108, 1112 (11th Cir. 1991)."

Here is another key holding from the Eleventh Circuit: “As to the second exception, where the issue of futility is close, we err on the side of generosity to the plaintiff." O’Halloran v. First Union Natl Bank of Fla., 350 F.3d 1197, 1206 (11th Cir. 2003).

David Proctor is a dreadful judge, but he's not stupid. He knows our foreclosure -- and many foreclosures in Alabama, involve no state-court proceedings. And he knows Eleventh Circuit precedent requires him to allow amendment of our complaint. We've caught a federal judge, who took an oath to uphold the law, engaging in skulduggery that likely is designed to protect Jeff Sessions' cronies in our "House Case."

We will have more illustrations of Judge Proctor's "cheating heart" in upcoming posts.


(To be continued)







Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Law-enforcement source had no doubt that nude young man in gay-porn photos was the "Bill Pryor" who grew up to become a federal judge in 11th Circuit


Robed Bill Pryor and disrobed Bill Pryor
Whenever we publish a post about the gay-porn days of U.S. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor, you can count on it happening: Several commenters will question whether the individual in the nude photographs is Pryor. I've written extensively about the background on how the photos surfaced -- and the sources who said the nude "Bill Pryor" is the same one George W. Bush appointed to the federal bench. Still, some folks refuse to get it -- they apparently assume I stumbled upon a nude photo of someone who looked like a young Judge Pryor and published our reports based only on that.

The young fellow in the photo does look like Judge Bill Pryor (because it is him), but that's only a small chunk of the foundation upon which our posts have been built. I interviewed about a half dozen people connected to the Pryor/BadPuppy story before ever running the first post, in September 2015. Since then, I've talked to about a half dozen more sources, including three who say they knew Pryor when he was at Northeast Louisiana University (now Louisiana Monroe). One of those individuals, a male, said he had a brief sexual encounter with Pryor. One other said he played in the university band with Pryor, and that Pryor's homosexuality was well known throughout the band.

A key source was a former Alabama law-enforcement official who became aware of the photos shortly after Pryor was appointed state attorney general in the 1990s. Concerned the new AG might be subject to blackmail because of the photos, our source opened an investigation on the matter. When I interviewed the former law-enforcement official, this is part of what he told me: (A video with a recorded segment of the interview is embedded at the end of this post.)

I was working at ABI criminal intelligence at the time. An informant called and said,"You're not going to believe this: Bill Pryor was being displayed on a gay Web site out of Florida. I looked it up and there he was, with his name on it . . . It was about '94 or '95 maybe. It was an old photograph, but it was gay porn. A coworker and I made some copies of it, and (a source) presented it to one of the Republican (state) senators . . . I don't remember who it was, but it was someone he trusted, and (the senator) went to Pryor who expressed surprise, of course.
He was saying, "That's not me," but Bill Pryor is hard to fake a photo of, and it had his name on it. I don't know where the photographs originated or who made them. He was AG at the time, before he made federal judge, and he was lobbying for (a judgeship), however. Even though being homosexual isn't illegal, it could conceivably result in him being blackmailed as a judge.
The Web site went down (after Pryor was shown the photo). Matter of fact, I showed it to a reporter who worked for The Birmingham News . . . I showed it to her to get an opinion. She was in shock over it. No, she did not have doubt, nor did we (about who it was).

Why would it be hard to fake a photo of Bill Pryor? For one, Pryor has strabismus (crossed eyes), a fairly rare eye condition, and it clearly is present in the photo of "young Bill Pryor." As for origins of the photos, another source said they had been traced to Monroe, Louisiana, where Pryor went to college. More from our law-enforcement source:

It had his face, and his name was on the photograph. It looked like he was in his late teens or early 20s. The only thing he had on in one of them was an old-style soft motorcycle hat. It was hilarious when we saw them.

They were black and white, with a sepia tone. I think there were 8 to 10 of those. One of our analysts found them on a gay web site out of Florida.

As soon as Pryor found out they were out there, the Web site vanished.

How did that happen? Our source has some insights on that, and we will explain in an upcoming post.


(To be continued)





The Bentley Stench: One "penalty" was loss of pension benefits, but 1977 AL Supreme Court case shows "Luv Guv" was not entitled to retirement funds anyway


Robert Bentley mugshot
One of the penalties for former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley in the plea agreement that led to his resignation turns out to be . . . well, no penalty at all. That makes the plea deal, which emitted a foul odor from the outset, smell even worse now.

A provision in the agreement was that Bentley would not receive his pension, under Code of Alabama 36-13-11. But Bentley was not entitled to receive a pension, according to a new report from Inside Alabama Politics (IAP), a subscription-based newsletter that long has dished in an entertaining and informative fashion on politics in the "Heart of Dixie."

Supernumerary District Attorney Ellen Brooks implied at a press conference after the plea deal was reached that the loss of pension benefits would be a blow to Bentley -- and would produce significant savings for the public. Neither is true, according to IAP:

One of the penalties for former Gov. Robert Bentley as detailed in the plea agreement with the State was that he would not receive his pension under section 36-13-11. In a press conference held immediately after Bentley’s guilty plea Supernumerary District Attorney Ellen Brooks told the press that rescinding Bentley’s retirement benefits saved the state more than $1 million.

“An important factor that you may not realize is that he gave up his retirement benefits. Based on a life expectancy chart we believe we have saved the state over $1 million that he could have been paid on a monthly basis for his retirement,” Brooks said.

Was Brooks blowing copious amounts of smoke up Alabama fannies? The answer is yes, and you'd think Alabama citizens would be used to that from Republicans, by now:

However, a quick reading of the footnotes by a learned lawyer would reveal that Bentley was never entitled to a pension in the first place. The Alabama Supreme Court ruled in 1977, two years after the law allowing former governors to a pension was passed, that the statute violated Alabama’s Constitution.

Bentley could ask the state for back pay and turn back on his campaign promise not to take a salary, especially since there are no political consequences anymore. But even if that were possible it is doubtful such a judgment call would fall in Bentley’s favor.

That 1977 case was styled Zeigler v. Baker, 344 So. 2d 761 (Ala. Sup. Ct., 1977). The case started with a pro se citizen complaint from a man named John Baker -- and it shows that pro se parties do not always get whacked in Alabama courts. Baker had been elected to the Alabama Senate, which almost certainly helped him get treated with a modicum of respect in court. In fact, he prevailed when the case was heard in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

John Baker, of Rainsville
(From ebay.com)
The defendants, which included Comptroller Fred Zeigler and former Governors James E. Folsom and John Patterson, appealed -- and here is how the Alabama Supreme Court summarized the case:

This is an appeal from an order of the Circuit Court of Montgomery County enjoining the Comptroller, acting Finance Director and Treasurer of the State of Alabama from making payments from public funds under the authority of Act No. 343 of the Regular Session of the Legislature, 1975. We affirm.

It's hard to imagine today's Alabama Supreme Court siding with regular citizens over powerful interests. So why did the 1977 high court affirm the lower court's ruling? Here is the gist of the issues:

The plaintiff's original complaint, which he filed in the capacity of a citizen and taxpayer, sought declaratory and injunctive relief against the state's fiscal authorities on the ground that the Act contravened Section 98 of the Alabama Constitution of 1901, which provides:

"The legislature shall not retire any officer on pay, or part pay, or make any grant to such retiring officer."

Thereafter, the complaint was amended to allege that Act 343 also violated Section 68 of the Alabama Constitution of 1901 "and also on the general constitutional principle that legislatures can not [sic] appropriate money for gratuities for private purposes."

As a state senator, John Baker could not be called a "common man." But he stood up for the common men (and women) of Alabama and won resounding court victories that likely would not be possible in our corruption-saturated environment of today. (Can you imagine the Alabama Supreme Court of 2017 issuing any ruling that would deny state funds to Bob Riley and his son, Rob "Uday" Riley?)

Citizens should start a petition to get schools and other buildings named for John Baker. He reminds us that the rule of law -- and the notion that taxpayer dollars should be spent with care -- once mattered in Alabama.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Ashley Madison customers revealed: Shawn Baker, of Blackwater Resources shopping-center development firm, appears at site for extramarital cheaters


Shawn and Sarah Vickery Baker
(From facebook.com)
A member of perhaps Birmingham's "first family" of shopping-center development appears as a paying member of the Ashley Madison (AM) extramarital-affairs Web site, records show.

Shawn D. Baker, a developer at Blackwater Resources, appears on the Alabama list for AM. Blackwater spun off from AIG Baker in 2010, as the latter's partnership with AIG cratered amid the Wall Street crash and the imploding Bush-era economy. Blackwater, headed by president and CEO Alex Baker, has its headquarters at 700 Montgomery Highway, while AIG Baker remains in business, based at The Village at Lee Branch, which it developed.

Based on the limited Alabama public records available to us here in Springfield, Missouri, it appears Shawn Baker is Alex Baker's son. And Alex Baker is one of the major figures in the history of shopping-center development in Alabama -- plus some 20 other states. From a bio of Alex Baker:

In 1993, Mr. Baker and AIG Global Real Estate Investment Corp. (AIG Global) founded AIG Baker, then A.B. Shopping Center Properties, Inc. Mr. Baker has served as President and CEO of the company since its founding. Mr. Baker previously held the office of CEO for Polar-BEK and Baker, which is the predecessor firm of AIG Baker. He has also served as Senior Vice President for Aronov Realty Company. Mr. Baker has twenty-five years experience in the real estate industry and has been responsible for the development of over 22,000,000 square feet of retail space.

Thanks largely to Alex Baker's history, it did not take Blackwater long to become a major player in the development game. From the company's Web site:

Blackwater Resources was formed in 2010 by former executives of AIG Baker Shopping Center Properties, L.L.C. During their real estate careers, the executives of Blackwater Resources, LLC developed, leased and managed in excess of 25 million square feet of property in 36 different states. Borrowing on the experience of these seasoned professionals and their unique perspective on the market, the company was founded on the principle of seeking solid investments, opportunities and partnerships that produce enduring value and relevance, firm relationship, and optimal returns and outcomes for all parties.

Upon its formation, the company immediately procured leasing and management opportunities for over 1.6 million square feet of retail property, including several properties Blackwater Resources executives originally developed. The properties include regional power centers, grocery-anchored shopping centers and neighborhood centers. It additionally added to its portfolio recreational and residential properties, and continues to add to its portfolio by actively seeking investment, development, brokerage and management opportunities.

What does Shawn Baker do? It appears he mostly rides daddy's coattails -- and those coattails apparently are strong enough that Shawn felt secure in screwing around on Ashley Madison, even though he's married and appears to have at least two children.


Shawn Baker is married to Sarah Vickery Baker, who describes herself on Facebook as "Research Associate in Child Development and Human Relations at Baker Household." Sounds like she focuses on the domestic front. They live in a house at 7061 North Highfield Drive in the exclusive Greystone section of Birmingham. According to Zillow, the house has an estimated value of $650,099.

Based on published reports, Blackwater Resources does not appear to be out of the financial woods. According to a 4/6/16 article at The Auburn Plainsman, Blackwater is planning a 700-space parking garage, a 30,000-square-foot urban grocery and a 90–130-room boutique hotel. But Susan Hunnicutt, public-relations officer for the grassroots organization Keep Auburn Lovely, questions whether the company can pull it off:

"Five years ago they had a real string of bankruptcy projects, all of which were shopping center developments throughout the Southeast," Hunnicutt said.

According to Blackwater's website, Chairman Alex Baker founded Blackwater Resources from a previous company, AIG Baker Shopping Center Properties, along with several other former executives from the company.

Blackwater was built from what was left of AIG Baker after several bankruptcy filings in 2009 and 2010 following the Great Recession and the collapse of its equity partner and backer, the American International Group Inc., or AIG.

After over a year of untangling, Baker separated his company from AIG in spring 2010, according to an AL.com article.

But that was not before AIG Baker nearly lost two shopping centers in the Birmingham area to foreclosure: the Patton Creek shopping center — which was later sold by AIG Baker to a Miami-based real estate developer — and the Vestavia Hills City Center shopping center, which was put into bankruptcy protection in 2010 to prevent foreclosure.

The Chapter 11 bankruptcy was filed after the principal holder of the debt, Huntsville's Propst Properties, attempted to foreclose on the property, according to the article.

Alex Baker's image has taken a blow, and that has followed him to his new firm. From The Plainsman:

Chapter 11 bankruptcy often forces debt holders to renegotiate and restructure the debt of the filer, according to the article.

"If he's going to run out on his employees and his lenders, he might have no qualms about running out on the City of Auburn," Hunnicutt said.

AIG Baker also put two more shopping center properties in Deptford, New Jersey, and another called Fallschase in Tallahassee, Florida, into Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, according to public records.

The predecessor to Blackwater Resources lost one of its largest properties, The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama, after defaulting on a loan with JP Morgan Chase Bank, according to public records.

"Once that land is gone, they can sell it to any New York or out-of-state real estate development trust," Hunnicutt said. "Those guys, they're not going to care about what's going on in Auburn. They'll put anything they want to as long as it makes money for their line-item on their investment spreadsheet."

With the family business struggling to gain footing on rocky ground, you might think Shawn Baker would be too focused on financial matters to step in personal doo-doo. But he wound up fooling around on Ashley Madison, and one can only wonder how he was stupid enough to do that.

We sought comment from Shawn Baker for this article, but he has not 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)

(26) Matthew Couch, attorney, Cabaniss Johnson, Birmingham (3/23/17)

(27) Dr. Keron Vickers, chiropractor, Birmingham (4/4/17)

(28) D. Paterson Cope, president, wealth management, Birmingham (4/20/17)


Document suggests Lt. Christian Conrad was the Missouri deputy who brutalized my wife and broke her arm, but our research leaves some doubt about that


Christian Conrad
(From ozarksfirst.com)
Was Lt. Christian Conrad the Missouri deputy who brutalized my wife, Carol, and yanked so violently on her limbs that he shattered her left arm -- all during an eviction on Sept. 9, 2015, that was unlawful on at least four grounds?

A Probable Cause (PC) Statement from Deputy Debi Wade, which was used to bring bogus "cover charges" against Carol, suggests Conrad used such force against Carol that her broken arm required trauma surgery for repair. Given all the inaccurate information in Wade's PC Statement, we're not ready to take her Conrad information to the bank. Plus, we've found photos in the press of Conrad, and we are not sure he's the same guy who assaulted Carol and broke her arm.

That raises this question: Was someone, not named in Wade's PC Statement, actually responsible for Carol's injuries? Is the Greene County Sheriff's Office (GCSO) trying to protect someone, perhaps because he occupies a relatively high position in the department's chain of command?

We don't have answers to those questions at the moment, but we do have this, from the last sentence of Wade's PC Statement. This comes right after Wade had described her fantasy of Carol "barreling" into her and causing her to lose her balance. I was a witness to the event, and nothing like that happened. But something like the following did happen:

At this time, both Lt. Conrad and Deputy Harrison came in from either side to secure Carol's arms and place her in handcuffs.

This, and the preceding sentences, are peculiar for a number of reasons:

(1) Wade conveniently leaves out that one of the officers slammed Carol, butt-first, to the ground so violently that it likely caused (or added to) a concussion;

X-ray of Carol Shuler's broken arm

(2) Wade fails to mention that, upon bursting into our apartment, officers threw open the door, causing Carol to be slammed head-first against a wall. While putting handcuffs on her then, one or more officers banged her head against the wall multiple times. She might have sustained a concussion then, with the body slam outside, adding to it. But Wade claims Carol was the perpetrator of an assault, not the victim of one. Is it any wonder many people have zero trust in law-enforcement?

(3) Lt. Conrad doesn't have a first name, based on Wade's account. Every other person she mentions -- other than the "adviser," who has no name at all -- has both a first and last name. Why is Lt. Conrad's first name left out?

Wade does get one thing right in her PC statement: Carol's encounter with the cop thugs ended with her surrounded by three officers -- Wade, Scott Harrison, and (maybe) Christian Conrad. Here's our rundown on these three "public servants":

* Wade was the only female officer on the scene, we've run her photo several times, and we know she did not body slam Carol and break her arm;

* Harrison is the guy who apparently concocted the scenario that I had called 911 to threaten any cops who might try to evict us. He also was the one who, upon bursting into our apartment, pointed an assault rifle right at my head. He was the one who, after Carol had been placed in handcuffs (broken arm and all), drove her to the county jail. He was the one who, once someone at the jail noticed Carol was in agonizing pain, drove her to nearby Cox North Medical Center, where X-rays showed the bone in her upper left arm had been snapped in two, just above the elbow. Finally, Harrison gave Carol his card and said he was releasing her. That's how we know Harrison has sandy/reddish hair, and while he did bend down to help put her in handcuffs, he did not body slam her and yank on her arms.

Scott Harrison
(From facebook.com)
(Note: Harrison is a lying sack of feces. While Carol was in jail, he told her that he had heard the mythical 911, and it had been traced to our phone and our residence. That's impossible because Carol and I are the only ones who used our phone, and neither of us made such a call. I look forward to Harrison's response when he and his department are ordered to turn over tapes of said 911 call and any documents related to it.)

* Via Web research, we learned the GCSO has a Christian Conrad, apparently the only "Lt. Conrad" in the outfit. He is in the Springfield-area news fairly frequently. (See here, here, here, and here.) In every image we've found of Conrad, he is wearing a hat. The officer who broke Carol's arm was not wearing a hat that day, but he was wearing dark/reflective sunglasses, which made it impossible to see his eyes.

Bottom line: Conrad might be the guy who brutalized Carol, but we aren't 100 percent sure about that. We are dealing here with a thoroughly corrupt department, so it would not beyond them to put Conrad out as a straw man to protect a higher-ranking officer. We will need extensive discovery to sort all of that out.

The following is from Carol's Motion to Dismiss, which (with the PC Statement) is embedded at the end of this post:

Who is the real criminal here, the one who really did assault someone. It’s the unknown male officer who brutalized Carol. In the last sentence of her PC Statement, Wade mentions a “Lt. Conrad” and “Deputy Harrison,” who “came in from either side to secure Carol’s arms and place her in handcuffs. (“Secure” her arms? That must be copspeak for breaking someone’s arm.) The Shulers know Harrison has sandy/redish air, and he was not the one who yanked on Carol’s arm. Based on Wade’s fantastic version of events, that leaves only Lt. Conrad.

Published reports show a Christian Conrad with the GCSO. Is he the one who broke Carol’s arm? The Shulers aren’t certain. Conrad is wearing a hat in all the photos the Shulers have seen. The guy who broke Carol’s arm was not wearing a hat, but he was wearing sunglasses (ones that either were real dark or reflective; you could not see his eyes) and a light blue shirt. (Other officers were wearing black uniforms or civilian clothes.) At this point, it’s unclear to the Shulers if the officer was Conrad or someone else, perhaps someone Debi Wade has been told to protect in her PC Statement.







Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ashley Madison customers revealed: Head of D. Paterson Cope Wealth Management apparently checks out the wares on extramarital-affairs Web site


D. Paterson and Jennifer Miree Cope
(From facebook.com)
A Birmingham wealth manager who is pretty darned wealthy himself -- he lives in a Mountain Brook house with an appraised value of $755,000 -- appears as a paying customer at the Ashley Madison (AM) extramarital-affairs Web site, records show.

D. Paterson Cope heads a wealth-management firm that bears his name and is located on Cahaba Road, just off Highway 280 and near Colonial Brookwood Village. Quite a few wealthy Over-the-Mountain types apparently trust D. Paterson Cope Wealth Management with their money.

Should Jennifer Miree Cope, the money man's wife and mother of his two sons, trust him? Publicly available records from AM indicate the answer is no.

How does D. Paterson Cope Wealth Management help the rich get richer? He's a certified financial planner, by golly -- and he goes to church, tool! From the firm's Web site:

Pat has been providing comprehensive financial planning for his clients for more than 30 years. He has expertise in customizing financial plans designed to manage and preserve wealth consistently over the long term. He has earned the professional designation of Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner.

By being certified by the CFP® Board, Pat has taken the extra step to demonstrate his professionalism by voluntarily submitting to the rigorous CFP® certification process that includes highly demanding education, examination, experience and ethical requirements.

Pat is a graduate of the University of Alabama and a member of the Independent Presbyterian Church. Originally from Montgomery, he lives in Mountain Brook with his wife, Jennifer. They have two sons, Bobby and Charlie.

Here is more about Cope from his Facebook page:

D. Paterson Cope is a CFP and has had a great career as a financial consultant. His primarily focus has always been on Comprehensive Financial Planning. He is originally from Montgomery, Alabama and he graduated from the University of Alabama. When it comes to his career achievements, then he attained CFP designation in 1997. He always loves to provide financial consultancy, and he loves his career as a financial planner and consultant.

When it comes to his professional career, then there are a countless number of great events, and he has over 30 years of experience in the field. He has served approximately 45 families, and he is planning to serve 60 families, and that is the point when he will stop taking clients. At a glance, his professional career was a total success. D. Paterson Cope has over 30 years of experience in the brokerage industry, and he opened his practice in May of 2015. Before that, he spent over 20 years as First Vice President for Morgan Keegan and its successor, Raymond James.

He has a lot of work experiences, and presently, he is broker-dealer at Prospera Financial Services, and he is also an independent contractor with them and his own company named D. Paterson Cope Wealth Management.

That's some interesting information highlighted in yellow. Cope made his rep mainly from working for Morgan Keegan and Raymond James before striking out on his own in 2015. And get this: He has made enough to live in a house that probably would sell for close to $1 million, and yet he's only served 45 families -- with a goal of reaching 60 families, and that's the cut-off point.

I'm guessing D. Paterson Cope is a millionaire, maybe several times over, and he did it by handling the money for only 45 families. Who knew you could do that? I sure didn't. Something tells me Mr. Cope is highly selective about who he represents. I'm guessing Mrs. Schnauzer and I would not qualify. (In fact, Cope probably would take one look at our financial statements and spew water across the room; he might also break into an hours-long laughing fit.) I'm guessing most of our readers wouldn't qualify for Mr. Cope's services either.

Here is more professional and personal info about our financial hero, from Facebook:

D. Paterson Cope also worked with multiple giants of the financial world, and the few names included Lehman Brothers INC. New York, NY, the Robinson-Humphrey Company INC. Atlanta, GA, and J.C. Bradford & Co. New York, NY. He also has multiple certifications and state registrations. He has passed State Securities Law Exam and General Industry/Products Exam. He has multiple Licenses, and state registrations include Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

When it comes to the personal life of D. Paterson Cope, then he loves to spend time with his family. He is married to Jennifer Miree Cope, and he has two sons, Charlie and Bobby. They both are on their educational path and studying in different universities. He is also an active member of Independent Presbyterian Church. He also loves to read about the politics, and he is an avid sports fan as well.

Hmm, let's see: He loves to spend time with his family? The AM records suggest he's trying to spend time with a member of someone else's family. He loves to read about politics? Maybe he favors a certain political party. As a big-time financial planner who focuses on Birmingham's uber wealthy, I can't imagine which party that would be. And he's an avid sports fan? Is trolling for tail on Ashley Madison considered a sport now?

Here is the Facebook page for Jennifer Miree Cope, filled with family pictures and such. I'm guessing she has no idea about the "sports" her hubby engages in when he isn't trying to find new tax shelters for Mountain Brook elites.

We sought comment from D. Paterson Cope for this post, but he has not 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)

(26) Matthew Couch, attorney, Cabaniss Johnson, Birmingham (3/23/17)

(27) Dr. Keron Vickers, chiropractor, Birmingham (4/4/17)


Missouri deputy claims in probable cause statement that I threatened to shoot any officers who might evict us -- but gives no clue about origins of that claim


Deputy Debi Wade
A Missouri deputy claims in a Probable Cause (PC) Statement that I had threatened to shoot any officer that attempted to evict my wife, Carol, and me. How did Deputy Debi Wade know that when you consider that I've never spoken with her, and prior to our eviction on Sept. 9, 2015, I had never spoken with anyone from the Greene County Sheriff's Office?

Maybe Wade was advised of this "fact" by the same unnamed party -- we've called him a ghost, an entity from the spirit world -- who advised her that my wife, Carol, had pushed Deputy Jeremy Lynn as he burst into our apartment to begin an eviction that was unlawful on at least four grounds.

Either way, Wade's statement raises the specter of a mythical 911 call, which I never made, but it keeps popping up in this matter anyway.

Wade's PC Statement was the basis for Carol's arrest in January on charges of trespass and assault of a law enforcement officer. Wade's account of actions regarding Carol are mostly fantasy and don't even make sense. But the deputy was not content to stop there; she also had to make false statements about me.

That raises more questions about Wade's credibility than already were present -- and it means I might have grounds for civil claims against her -- and anyone else responsible for perpetuating the myth of a 911 call. This is from Wade's PC Statement:

We were there to execute on an eviction for Roger Shuler at this address. After the initial service, Shuler made threats to shoot any officer that attempted to evict him from his residence, so we took more officer than normal to execute on the writ.

Notice that Wade seemingly pulls this statement out of the sky, from the ether, if you will. It isn't attributed to anyone, but she states it as fact, in a sworn document that plainly shows false statements are "punishable by law." A few obvious questions:

* The only way Wade could accurately testify about such a statement would be if I made it directly to her. But I didn't, and she makes no attempt to claim I did. So where did it come from?

* Is Wade claiming I said this to another officer, who then "advised" her on the matter? If so, that would be both false and hearsay?

* Is Wade saying a third party claimed to have heard me make such a statement and passed word to deputies or other authorities? Again, this would be both false and hearsay. I don't claim to be an expert on the law in this area, but I would think the lawful definition of a threat would require that the statement be communicated directly to the person or entity being threatened. If a third party -- a "friend," family member, a bus boy at a restaurant -- claims to have heard something . . . well, that does not seem to constitute a threat; it's just hearsay. In this instance, the sheriff's department took no action to investigate, never checked with me about anything, indicating they knew there was no threat or they didn't take it seriously.

As for a third party reporting such a "threat," they might be at risk of a civil claim for defamation or invasion of privacy -- or both.

We touched on the threat issue in Carol's Motion to Dismiss Charges, filed on March 14. (The motion and the PC statement are embedded at the end of this post.)

Roger Shuler states as follows: “Prior to 9/9/15, I never had been in Debi Wade’s presence, so she could not have heard such a statement from me. I’ve never owned a firearm and have no recollection of ever threatening to unlawfully shoot anyone, much less an officer. In the days leading to our eviction date, I received an email from my brother, David Shuler, a lawyer in Springfield. He stated that a Deputy Scott Harrison had contacted him and said dispatch informed him that I had placed a call to 911 and threatened to shoot anyone who tried to evict us, or words to that effect. On 9/9/15, after I had been handcuffed and led outside, several officers referenced such a 911 call. I’ve never called 911 in my life, and I certainly did not place such a call, as described by David Shuler to me. If such a call actually was made to 911, it was made by someone else, from a phone other than the one Carol and I share. I would be glad to provide an affidavit on this matter, if the court deems that necessary.”

There is the mythical 911 call again. That is where my alleged threat supposedly originated. But I never made a 911 call, and Debi Wade makes no claim that I did.

Do I have a defamation claim against Debi Wade -- and anyone else who contributed to publication of information about a threat I did not make? I'm studying Missouri law on that issue now, but I've found case law that indicates the answer is yes. In some circumstances, testimony related to court proceedings is privileged and cannot be the basis of a defamation claim. But a probable cause statement is not the same as court testimony or statements made in court documents.

Wade's statements are particularly dubious since they were made about someone who was not the subject of the PC statement. Cops were seeking to bring bogus charges against Carol, so there was no reason to mention me at all. The PC statement says I did nothing wrong during the eviction, and the only wrongful conduct alleged against Carol came from Debi Wade's fertile imagination.

We will continue our research, but I suspect Debi Wade has left herself open to a defamation charge -- as has anyone who passed false information along to her.








Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Photographer catches mystery woman Patti Austin and "Luv Guv" Bentley taking in the festivities at Donald Trump Inauguration in D.C., with "Drinking Guy"


"Luv Guv" Bentley and Patti Austin
(From Inside Alabama Politics)
We recently reported on Patti Jackson Austin, the Baldwin County real-estate agent and "mystery woman" who accompanied former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley on a state airplane to the Trump Inauguration in January. Now, we have photographic evidence that Ms. Austin and the "Luv Guv" were mighty chummy while in Washington, D.C.

Unlike John Archibald of al.com, we don't take credit for breaking stories that others actually broke. On the Austin story, we were the first to identify her as Bentley's "guest" -- so I guess we deserve partial credit for breaking it. But we were not the first to report on the gist of the story. And we certainly were not the first to provide photographic evidence of the pair at a Washington gala.

That honor belongs to Inside Alabama Politics (IAP), the venerable subscription-based newsletter that has been dishing dirt and landing scoops on state politics for years. As you can see from images above and below, the nosy folks at IAP (I like nosy folks) landed proof that Bentley had a lovely guest on his arm. And it wasn't Rebekah Caldwell Mason -- although she and husband Jon also were on the state plane, and surely were in the immediate vicinity when these photos were snapped.

Here is one problem with the photos: A guy who seems to have a serious drinking problem is caught guzzling beer in both shots. We don't know if this was an intentional "photo bomb" or he just happens to be the "Forrest Gump of the Washington social scene."

Either way, the photo at top catches Ms. Austin looking back over Bentley's right shoulder toward the photographer. One senses that she is not thrilled to see a photographer nearby. One also senses the photographer is trying to take the snaps on the down low, perhaps explaining why he didn't tell "Drinking Guy" to get the hell out of the way.

Austin, Bentley, and "Drinking Guy"
From Inside Alabama Politics
In the second photo, Ms. Austin barely can be seen behind Bentley's left shoulder. It's as if she's doing her best to hide from the photographer. Meanwhile, "Drinking Guy" is in the foreground, apparently determined to wind up in a gutter by 2 a.m. (Maybe he's a liberal who was trying to get blotto in an effort to forget who was being inaugurated; can't blame him there.)

Here is the IAP news item that accompanied the photographs:

Last week Inside Alabama Politics broke the story Governor Robert Bentley had a date accompany him to Washington D.C. for the inauguration festivities of President Donald Trump. Also along on the flight to D.C. was the Governor’s 44-year-old alleged mistress Rebekah Mason and her husband Jon. When questioned by the media Bentley has only referred to his mystery date as an unnamed special guest and has declined to release her name. IAP has since learned she is a 54-year-old real estate agent from Orange Beach, we have decided not to identify her by name. She is pictured below (looking strikingly similar to Rebekah) at one of the inaugural parties with the Governor along with an unknown beer guzzling photo bomber.

What's with this idea of not identifying Ms. Austin, by name? IAP obviously knew who she was, name and all. What's the fun in not naming her?

We have to consider that a journalistic fumble on IAP's part, so we were happy to pick up the loose ball and run with it. But we give props to our colleagues for being the first to get the general story out there -- especially with photos.

For now, we only can hope someone has helped lift "Drinking Guy" out of the gutter.

Neil Gorsuch shows that judges' primary interest is to side with their colleagues, and Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins is exhibiting such behavior in Alabama now


Virginia Emerson Hopkins
(From al.com)
Trump SCOTUS appointee Neil Gorsuch stated during his confirmation hearings that he had participated in 2,700 appellate cases, and 97 percent of those resulted in unanimous rulings. “I was in the majority in 99% of the cases,” he added.

Gorsuch meant this to sound good. But a leading judicial critic says it actually is bad for the public, "Gorsuch values getting along with his 'brothers and sisters in the robe' higher than getting justice done," says Dr. Richard Cordero, Esq., founder and director of New York-based Judicial Discipline Reform (JDR). The Web site is described as "A study of judges' unaccountability and consequent riskless wrongdoing; how to expose it and bring about judicial reform."

We now are seeing behavior in the Northern District of Alabama that suggests Cordero is on target -- and the self-protective behavior he describes goes way beyond the 10th Circuit, where Neil Gorsuch once resided.

Consider what has happened in our "House Case," involving wrongful foreclosure on our home of 25 years in Birmingham, multiple constitutional violations, and state-law claims such as defamation and tortious interference. District Judge R. David Proctor, with documented and long-standing ties to perjurious Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions, summarily dismissed our case (meaning no discovery was conducted) in a memorandum opinion that includes violations of black-letter law on roughly a dozen key issues. Proctor's ruling, at least for now, has given a free pass to a number of Alabama's right-wing political operatives, several of them, like Proctor, closely tied to Sessions -- plus a number of deep-pocketed corporate entities, including Chase Mortgage and Hearst Corporation.

After issuing his dismissal order, Proctor admitted that he had a conflict. (One of his sons had worked for new U.S. Senator Luther Strange, a defendant in the case; the same son also had worked for Sessions, the man Strange replaced.)  But Proctor claimed, contrary to available evidence, that the conflict arose only after he had dismissed our case.

"The House Case," a term we use to distinguish it from "The Jail Case" (re: my wrongful arrest and five-month incarceration in Shelby County, Alabama, because of my reporting on uncomfortable truths about the state's GOP political machine), wound up in the lap of a Proctor colleague, U.S. District Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins.

In the few weeks she's had the case, Hopkins has proven to be a female version of Neil Gorsuch -- her interests clearly are in protecting R. David Proctor, and they have nothing to do with justice. We had filed a Rule 59 Motion to Alter or Amend Proctor's dismissal, and Hopkins dismissed it with virtually no explanation. We filed a Rule 60 Motion to Vacate Proctor's orders because evidence shows he had conflicts that disqualified him from hearing our case, from the outset. Hopkins dismissed that, with a ruling that was as sloppy as it was void of any legal reasoning.

How alarming is this judicial back-scratching behavior? How does it harm the public? Dr. Richard Cordero answers those questions, and much more, with a recent article titled "How Judge Neil Gorsuch and his peers dismiss 99.83% of complaints against them and dispose of 93% of appeals with reasonless decisions." (The full article can be read via a link at the end of this post; also, Cordero participated in a 2015 international symposium on justice issues, and a related video can be viewed at the end of this post.)

Dr. Richard Cordero
(From linkedin.com)
Gorsuch, Cordero writes, confirms Administrative Office of U.S. Courts (AO) statistics "that show that circuit judges dispose of 93% of appeals in decisions “on procedural grounds [e.g., “for lack of jurisdiction or jurisdictional defect”], by consolidation, unsigned, unpublished, without comment.”

We've experienced this in the Eleventh Circuit, where both "The House Case" and "The Jail Case" are pending on appeal. We've also experienced what tends to happen with cases that wind up in appellate courts. Writes Cordero:

The majority of these decisions are reasonless, fiat-like summary orders. They fit the front side of a 5¢ form, with one rubber stamped operative word, mostly ‘the decision below is Affirmed or the motion is Denied’. They express the morphed judges’ pro-forma justice: 'However things were, we leave them so. Next!'

The rest of those 93% decisions have an opinion so arbitrary, ad-hoc to reach a convenient result, or unlawful that they may not be relied upon in other cases; so they too are marked “not-precedential,” which is anathema to our system of common law based on precedent. Only the remaining 7% of decisions are signed, published, and intended to pass the scrutiny of the media, be discussed in law journals, and included in law school casebooks to establish the author’s reputation.

How does this affect human beings, especially those parties who go before the courts without being connected to corporate, institutional, or other moneyed/powerful interests? They get cheated -- and many of them probably don't even know it. Writes Cordero, of Gorsuch's behavior on the bench:

What criteria does Gorsuch use to treat parties so unequally: dumping their appeals with a meaningless decision or sweating it out on a meaningful one?

In fact, he also bragged that in 99% of his cases he had been in the majority. This means that in only 1% of them he felt so strongly about the issues or the parties to go to the trouble of dissenting, thus being in the minority. Nevertheless, he remained a typical judge within the norm, for the 2% of cases where it was one of the other two panel members who dissented can be distributed equally by allocating 1% to each of them.

For him and his peers getting along with each other and taking it easy with 93% of appeals are more appealing attitudes than a principled discharge of their duty. The latter requires reading the briefs, doing legal research, and coming to the panel conference prepared to advocate “a result compelled by the law”, which he said a good judge pursues.

No wonder he shied away from the exacting and socially lethal action of denouncing any of his peers or even protesting publicly their systematic dismissal of complaints against them, which would have entailed a lot of controversy and led to his peers outcasting him as a traitor.

The U.S. Senate proceedings that led to Gorsuch being seated on the nation's highest court mostly involved philosophical questions that the nominee neatly sidestepped. Senators asked almost nothing about "back scratching" issues that rob the public of judges' honest services. Writes Cordero:

The Senate’s debate should concentrate on the pro-forma justice that Gorsuch and his friends provide to parties and the rest of We the People.

So the question for the senators to ask before voting on Gorsuch is not whether what got under his skin in that 1% of cases in which he stood up for something other than his camaraderie with his peers was a big corporation or a little guy.

Rather, it is how he could claim commitment to rule of law results, never mind integrity, although during the past 11.5 years on the bench he has seen his peers dismiss on average one complaint a week of those 573 against them, but has simply looked the other way or even joined the other bullies in abusing their judicial power to silence complainants by resorting to false pretenses to dump their complaints.

Why did he tolerate, or participate in, the cheating of parties out of the meaningful appellate service to which their payment of the filing fee entitled them contractually?

By ensuring his and his peers’ unaccountability, they have abused their independence to provide themselves an irresistibly tempting and impenetrable cover for their riskless wrongdoing.

Close to home, here are the questions: Were we deprived of Judge Proctor's "honest services"? Absolutely. Is Judge Hopkins covering for her colleague's corrupt actions, with no regard for justice? There is no doubt about it.

We will show you in upcoming posts exactly how she is doing it.


(To be continued)


Full article: How Judge Neil Gorsuch and his peers dismiss 99.83% of complaints against them and dispose of 93% of appeals with reasonless decisions



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Paul Alan Levy, lawyer who works for Ralph Nader's nonprofit, helps violate my attorney-client confidentiality and proves to be a monumental asshole


Paul Alan Levy
(From rcfp.org)
Less than 24 hours after my release from jail in March 2014, I began to see signs that Birmingham lawyer David Gespass had violated attorney-client confidentiality -- and stabbed me in the back, in the process.

On March 27, 2014, the day after my release the previous evening, I sent an e-mail to Paul Alan Levy, a lawyer with Public Citizen, a D.C.-based nonprofit founded by Ralph Nader, with the stated purpose of helping regular citizens fight injustice brought by the wealthy and the powerful. It took only a few minutes for Levy to prove to me that he didn't stand for anything upon which Nader had built the organization. Here was my introductory e-mail to Levy, which I thought was lucid and well stated for someone who had just spent five months unlawfully incarcerated in the Shelby County Jail:

Mr. Levy:

I am a journalist/blogger in Alabama, and I was released from jail yesterday after being incarcerated for five months because of a preliminary injunction in a defamation case. It's all very similar to Dietz v. Perez, and I thought it might be of interest to you. I need legal representation and wanted to see if we could talk. My case has been widely covered in the NY Times, Al Jazeera, Huffington Post and many other news outlets, and even right-wing commenters seem to acknowledge that the injunction without a trial (in fact, without any discovery at all) is wildly unconstitutional.

I would appreciate any insights or guidance you can offer.

Best regards,

Roger Shuler

I thought I showed Levy plenty of respect. Did he return the favor? Not exactly, although he did take only 21 minutes to respond:

From what you say, you must be the guy who was enjoined and simply refused to comply with the injunction, and, from what I have heard from others, you were also too pigheaded to accept sound advice. Not a very attractive client for pro bono work!

In any event, we don’t handle defamation cases on the merits at the trial court level, so perhaps it depends what representation you are seeking.

As I noted in our previous post in this series, Levy came across as one of the biggest assholes I've ever encountered. You can see how I reached that conclusion. His "I have heard from others you were also too pigheaded to accept sound advice" was particularly interesting. He seemed to be referring to legal advice, and the only person who had given me legal advice regarding my incarceration was David Gespass.

Levy was not done being an ass. Here is how our conversation continued, with a response from me:

Thanks for your response. I don't think some of your assertions are correct, but I appreciate you getting back with me.

I decided I probably was showing Levy way more respect than he deserved, so I followed up:

Paul:

A few thoughts come to mind that might be worth making:

* My wife and I never were served with the temporary restraining order, and a lawyer who has seen the file indicated to me the record shows that. It's hard for me to know because the record was sealed until well after my arrest.

* We received notice of the preliminary injunction hearing barely 24 hours before it was to be held. That is insufficient notice under Alabama law, which contemplates notice that allows for calling of witnesses, introduction of evidence, etc.

* I challenged service, which seemed to be the first order of business considering that we received papers during a dubious traffic stop. I was arrested before receiving an order on the motion to quash and before having an opportunity to address the preliminary injunction.

* I assume you are referring to advice I received while in jail, just a few days after being arrested, beaten, and maced in my own home. I hope you can appreciate that meeting with an attorney under such circumstances is difficult. It also was difficult for the attorney. The file was sealed, so he had virtually nothing to review and had to go to the other side to get court papers. Everyone who has seriously looked at the case, from all political sides, seems to agree that the preliminary injunction is unconstitutional, so I was having to seek advice while unlawfully incarcerated. Imagine if Ms. Perez had been hauled into jail, and you'd had to meet with her under those circumstances. It probably would have complicated things for both of you. In my case, I think it's more a matter of being traumatized than being pigheaded.

* Finally, all the evidence I've seen indicates I was arrested on an unsigned warrant. It appears such a warrant is "utterly void" under Alabama law. From Kelley v. State, 316 So. 2d 233 (1975):

Often rules relating to arrest warrants parallel those applying to searches and vice versa. Significantly unsigned arrest warrants have been held void. Oates v. Bullock, 136 Ala. 537, 33 So. 835 (warrant utterly void).

Again, I shouldn't have been having to discuss complex, constitutional issues with a lawyer while incarcerated. It makes for a very uneven playing field. Hope you will find these thoughts worth considering.

Best regards, 
Roger

How did Levy respond to that? With absolute silence. You will notice, however, that he did not deny he was referring to legal advice I received in jail, which could only have come from David Gespass. Levy appeared to be acknowledging that my right to client-confidentiality had been violated.

That was the end of that exchange, but Paul Alan Levy and I were not finished with each other. I had occasion to communicate with him one other time -- and he proved to be as big an asshole the second time as he was the first time.


(To be continued)

Robert Bentley's claim that Paul Bryant Jr. was "using" him suggests the Crimson Tide football boss was connected to the scandal that brought down a governor


Paul Bryant Jr.
(From Bloomberg Markets)
An oblique reference to Paul Bryant Jr. in an impeachment report indicates the businessman and University of Alabama sports honcho might have been connected to the sex/money scandal that brought down Gov. Robert Bentley.

Bryant was a major financial backer when the Tuscaloosa-based Bentley ran for governor. But the relationship must have soured because a recently released impeachment report quotes Bentley as saying Bryant was among several power brokers who were "using" him. Others included in the quote were Clay Ryan, vice president for governmental affairs and special counsel at the University of Alabama, and Bill O'Connor, a political consultant and former president of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) who became a Bentley insider, with close ties to Chief of Staff Seth Hammett.

Bentley's comment about Bryant is buried on page 86 of the impeachment report, and to my knowledge, has received no attention in the press. (The full report is embedded at the end of this post.)

The comment came after Bentley had dispatched Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) chief Spencer Collier to meet with the governor's scheduler, Linda Adams, to find out what she might know about tape recordings of a steamy conversation between Bentley and his adviser/mistress Rebekah Caldwell Mason. The meeting with Collier left Adams shaken, and Bentley brought it up with her in a subsequent meeting. From the report:

About a week later, on routine business in Governor Bentley’s office, Governor Bentley asked Adams if Collier had come to see her on election night. She replied: “Yes, sir, he did, and I don’t appreciate it.” Governor Bentley said: “I sent him.” Adams asked Governor Bentley: “Do you not trust me?” Governor Bentley replied: “Oh, no, no, no Linda, it’s nothing like that.” Adams says that Governor Bentley told her that his family was turning against him and that Paul Bryant, Clay Ryan, and Bill O’Connor were “using” him. Adams ended the conversation by telling Governor Bentley, “Governor, there are a lot of people using you.”

The governor is telling a key aide that two top-of-the-food-chain officials from the University of Alabama and a former president of the BCA are "using" him. How could those individuals "use" the governor? Were they using him for their personal benefit, for the benefit of the university and certain business interests? Did their "use" of Bentley involve Rebekah Caldwell Mason?

O'Connor reportedly told security chief Wendell Ray Lewis, ""We created Rebekah, but it wasn't to sleep with the Governor."

Who exactly is "we," and why did they create Rebekah Mason? That is one of many questions lingering over the Bentley scandal, even after he is gone from office.