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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman is released from solitary confinement, where he landed after discussing Robert McDonnell case with Washington Post

Don Siegelman
(From nytimes.com)
Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman has been released from solitary confinement at the Federal Correctional Complex in Oakdale, Louisiana.

Siegelman was sent to solitary confinement last week after he was quoted extensively in a Washington Post (WaPo) article about the case of former Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell, whose 2014 conviction on public-corruption charges was reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) last Wednesday. The nation's high court twice has declined to hear Siegelman's case, even though it presents issues that are almost identical to those in the McDonnell case.

Many of the issues raised in the McDonnell case could have been resolved in 2010, or maybe even earlier, if SCOTUS had heard the Siegelman case. That the high court is hearing the case of McDonnell (a Republican) while ignoring the case of Siegelman (a Democrat) raises all kinds of ugly questions.

Those issues get even uglier when you consider that Siegelman wound up in solitary confinement just days after discussing the McDonnell case with Washington Post reporter Robert Barnes. Officials with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) claimed Siegelman was punished mainly for selling a shirt to raise funds for a documentary, called Atticus v. the Architect, about his case.

I'm not sure anyone, especially Siegleman, is buying that. Here is what he said in a letter to supporters about his return to the general prison population:

For unsaid reasons, I was directed to go back to the camp. Just had dinner with a group of guys, have a new bed assignment. I should be getting my personal property back from the "Special Housing Unit" tomorrow.

I'll keep you posted on any new developments

What prompted BOP officials to make such a stupid move in the first place, so closely aligned with the Washington Post interview? Here is Siegelman's best guess:

I suspect the BOP figured out that my donating a T-shirt to raise money for the International Documentary Association, to help produce a documentary on "The Political Assassination of Don Siegelman," was protected by the First Amendment. . . .

All is well for the moment. . . .

Court records show that McDonnell, his wife, and family received $177,000 in luxury items from businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr., but McDonnell supporters say evidence shows the former governor never took official action on Williams' behalf. The gifts were legal under Virginia law.

That factual scenario is quite different from the one in Siegelman, but the cases still raise similar legal issues. Writes WaPo's Barnes:

“Quid pro quo” translates from the Latin to “something for something.” McDonnell’s attorneys acknowledge the governor got something — Virginia’s laws did not forbid the gifts — but said he gave nothing.

Siegelman’s case is the reverse. He gave Alabama health-care executive Richard Scrushy a new term on an important industry regulatory board. But Scrushy’s offering was a $500,000 campaign contribution to push a referendum measure for a lottery that would benefit the state’s underfunded school system.

“The Siegelman case was different from all others,” Siegelman said, in the detached tone of the Georgetown Law graduate that he is. “There was no personal benefit, not a penny of any financial gain. There wasn’t any self-enrichment scheme. There was no testimony of a quid pro quo, much less an explicit or express quid pro quo. And the contribution was not even to me but to a ballot initiative.”

Andrew P. Miller, a former Virginia attorney general, agrees with Siegelman, a Democrat, and McDonnell, a Republican. Miller helped drum up support for both men as they presented their cases to the Supreme Court.

“I’m bipartisan in my concern about this,” he said.

Experts who have followed both cases say they see similarities--and differences. Writes Barnes:

The similarity [Milller] sees is that both men were rising stars in their respective parties brought down by prosecutors appointed by the president of the opposite party.

Grant Woods, a former Republican attorney general from Arizona, said that, if anything, Siegelman had the bigger complaint.

“The Siegelman case to me is a complete travesty of justice from start to finish,” Woods said. The McDonnell case, on the other hand, “is just more of an interesting legal question.”

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Mike Hubbard has accepted plea deal, with 18-month sentence in exchange for testimony against Bentley, Marsh, and Bob Riley, according to reports

Mike Hubbard
Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) and state prosecutors have reached a plea deal that calls for Hubbard to receive an 18-month prison sentence in exchange for testimony about alleged corruption involving Gov. Robert Bentley, Senate President Del Marsh, and former Gov. Bob Riley, according to multiple reports in the Web press.

The first report surfaced yesterday at The Meck, a Dothan-based blog published by David Meckley. Attorney Donald Watkins confirmed last night on his Facebook page that the deal had been finalized. What are details of the deal? Watkins has answers:

Hubbard will: (a) resign from public office; (b) plead guilty to public corruption charges; (c) agree to an 18-month sentence, 12 months of which will be served in the Lee County jail and 6 months of which will be suspended; and (d) be allowed to register as a lobbyist after serving his sentence. As part of his deal, Hubbard will cooperate with state and federal prosecutors investigating allegations of public corruption by Governor Robert Bentley, former governor Bob Riley, and Senate President Del Marsh.

Our Facebook news team first reported on April 17, 2016, that early "street" reports of the deal had been confirmed, including the 18-month sentence. TheMeck.blogspot.com reported additional details of Hubbard's deal in its story.

The Hubbard deal will be publicly announced after the legislature adjourns. The plea deal will be announced in open court on or before the start of Hubbard's scheduled May 16, 2016, criminal trial.

State Rep. Alvin Holmes (D-Montgomery) might have stepped in "doo doo" by issuing a threat last week to legislators who might consider supporting an effort to impeach Bentley. I have wondered publicly if Holmes stepped over the line into criminal extortion with his threat. (See comments at link.) Investigators apparently have the same concern. Writes Watkins:

Investigators are also looking into threatening statements made by State Representative Alvin Holmes (D-Montgomery) to fellow legislators last week to determine whether these statements rose to the level of criminal "extortion" under state law. Holmes threatened to "out" legislators who are engaging in extra-marital affairs if they voted in favor of the House's impeachment resolution against Bentley. Investigators believe Holmes may have crossed the line with his threat.

Breaking reports tend to answer some questions, while raising others. Perhaps the major question raised here is: Why are federal investigators checking into Del Marsh and Bob Riley, what information can Hubbard give them, and will that bring even more prominent Alabama politicos into the fray? Here is an even better question: Will unlawful actions of Indian gaming interests be unearthed, and will that help explain much of the corruption Alabama has experienced over the past 20 years? Come to think of it, could this create a trail that leads to national political figures who have turned Alabama into a legal and political sewer (hello, Karl Rove!)?

Sorry, but once you start thinking about all of the questions this raises, it's hard to stop. It's also hard to wipe the smile off your face at the thought of certain conservative crooks winding up in the orange jumpsuits they so richly deserve.

For now, we know for sure that the Web press has led the way in breaking this story and following its various leads. Writes Watkins:

David Meckley d/b/a TheMeck.blogspot.com, Yellowhammer News, the Alabama Political Reporter, Roger Alan Shuler d/b/a Legal Schnauzer.blogspot.com, and other online journalists continue to lead the state's news media by breaking all of the leading news stories relating to Alabama's high-profile public corruption scandals.

One note of caution: Plea deals, by their nature, are shaky--and this one has plenty of time to fall apart. Writes Watkins:

Hubbard has the legal right to walk away from his plea deal at any time prior to its acceptance by the Court. If he does, his trial will go forward as scheduled.

Monday, May 2, 2016

More sex tapes might surface of Gov. Robert Bentley and Rebekah Caldwell Mason--and these reportedly are much more graphic than the first batch

Gov. Robert Bentley and Rebekah Caldwell Mason
(From nytimes.com
More sex tapes exist of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and former advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason--on top of those already made public, which had Bentley talking about caressing Mason's breasts and exploring her nether regions. The new tapes, according to a report from Birmingham attorney Donald Watkins, are more graphic than the ones already made public.

When might the new tapes be made public? We don't have an answer to that question, but Watkins reports (via his Facebook page) that federal subpoenas are being issued in Montgomery and Tuscaloosa, seeking documents related to Bentley, Mason, and her husband, Jon Mason.

On top of that, we have a not-so-subtle political extortion scheme from Alvin Holmes, a black Democrat, to punish legislators who might support impeachment of Bentley, a white Republican. How weird is that? Well, it gets even more strange when you consider that Holmes' punishment would come in the form of outing legislators who are engaging in extramarital activities of their own.

It looks like this story could heat up before it cools down. And who knows how many powerful Alabamians will have tumbled--perhaps into federal prison--before it's all over. Watkins says he does not expect Holmes' scheme to succeed. More on that in a moment.

As for the new, so far non-public, sex tapes, Watkins reports:

Finally, we are reporting today that more Robert Bentley-Rebekah Mason sex tapes exist. According to my sources, these tapes are much more graphic than the ones that have already been made public. And "yes", they prove once again that Bentley has lied to Alabamians about the nature and scope of his relationship with Rebekah.

Meanwhile, Watkins says the federal investigation is marching forward:

Federal grand jury subpoenas are being delivered in Montgomery and Tuscaloosa requiring the submission of various records relating to Governor Robert Bentley, Rebekah Mason, Jonathan Mason and others. This investigation is headed in the right direction.

What explains Alvin Holmes bizarre and brazen effort to protect Bentley? Here is Watkins' answer to that question. He says the scheme has its genesis with Joe Reed, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Conference:

Yesterday, State Representative Alvin Holmes (D-Montgomery) threatened to expose the extramarital affairs of his fellow legislators if they vote to impeach Governor Robert Bentley. Holmes is one of many "human shield" legislators defending Bentley. Holmes' threat, which seemed to be extremely bizarre for an African-American Democratic legislator, has angered voters in Holmes' House district and has infuriated advocates for ethical government around the state.

Our Facebook news team has solved the Alvin Holmes-Robert Bentley human shield mystery. Holmes is a longtime political "puppet" of Alabama Democratic Conference Chairman Joe L. Reed and deceased Alabama Education Association Executive Secretary Paul Hubbert. Reed and Hubbert teamed up to help Bentley defeat Bradley Byrne in the 2010 Republican primary elections. Reed also privately supported Bentley in 2014 election against Democratic gubernatorial nominee Parker Griffin. As a result, Bentley and Reed have developed a close personal friendship.

Alvin Holmes
(From yellowhammernews.com)
Away from public view, Reed functions as one of Bentley's trusted political advisors. In this undisclosed capacity, Reed works closely with Bentley and his chief legal counsel, David Byrne. Reed identifies "safe" blacks for Bentley to appoint to vacant judgeships and government boards, among other tasks.
In the matters relating to Bentley's "sex for power" scandal with lover Rebekah Mason, Holmes is Reed's public voice. This is why Holmes has not condemned the scandal. Rather, Holmes has threatened the legislators who're moving to impeach Bentley. This political threat or "drone strike" was called in by Reed.

The Reed-Holmes scheme appears to be foundering after 23 representatives signed on to support Rep. Ed Henry (R-Hartselle) and his plan to impeach Bentley. That gave Henry more than the 21 signatures required to introduce an impeachment resolution.

Where is this headed? Polls show, Watkins reports, that Alabamians overwhelmingly want Bentley gone--and they are likely to punish any legislator who tries to protect the governor. Writes Watkins:

Following the lead of State Representative Alvin Holmes (D-Montgomery) and Senate President Del Marsh (R-Anniston), all of the legislators and senators in this seemingly pro-Bentley group have banned together, essentially forming a protective “human shield” around Bentley. Holmes has even gone so far as to threaten lawmakers with exposure of their marital cheating if any member of this group breaks ranks. Holmes’ extortion threat has been effective, even with Del Marsh.

Those "human shield" legislators who are not controlled by Holmes by virtue of his extortion threat are under the direct control and dominion of House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who is awaiting trial this month on 23 felony counts of public corruption charges.

According to a poll by AL.com in March, nine out of ten Alabamians want Bentley gone. Every major newspaper in the state has demanded Bentley’s resignation. No corporate leader is publicly supporting Bentley, and many have told me privately that Bentley is a total disaster as governor. Yet, only twenty-three of 105 House members co-sponsored the impeachment resolution. None of the thirty-five senators have publicly supported Bentley’s removal or demanded his resignation.

Holmes, Marsh and their fellow "human shield" legislators have figuratively given Alabama voters the "middle finger" with respect to family values, transparency, accountability, and integrity in government. Holmes is not expected to run for re-election in 2018. Del Marsh wants to become Alabama’s next governor, yet he is refusing to stand for integrity in government when it matters the most. The “human shield” legislators who intend to run for re-election and who are following Holmes' lead are running the very real risk of ending their political careers and irreparably damaging their personal reputations. So be it.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Judge Gary Pate does not mention in divorce order that steel exec. Bill Upton broke up marriage by having sex with young woman who was raised as his daughter

Bill Upton
What is the surest sign that Private Judge Gary Pate conducted a monumental cheat job in the Upton v. Upton divorce case? It might be that Pate's Final Order of Divorce does not even mention perhaps the central issue in the case.

Plaintiff Bill Upton, the multimillionaire president of Vulcan Steel Products, admitted in court documents to carrying on an extramarital affair with Gincie Walker, a young woman he and his wife had raised as their daughter, Court records indicate the affair was the driving event behind the breakup of Bill's marriage of more than 30 years to Linda Upton. Alabama law holds that a court may make an allowance to the spouse who was the victim of marital misconduct.

But Pate's Final Judgment of Divorce reads as if Bill Upton never admitted to having sex with a young woman who was essentially his daughter--and it apparently happened, for the most part, at the marital residence. (See Final Judgment of Divorce at the end of this post.)

On top of that, Linda Upton's attorney, MaryLee Abele, filed a Motion to Alter or Amend that states "The Husband openly admits his infidelity with a mental patient/former sibling to the minor children." (The term "mental patient" is a reference to Gincie Walker, who has been diagnosed with multiple-personality disorder. She reportedly has been found to have roughly 30 distinct personalities.) (See Motion to Alter or Amend at the end of this post.)

Did George R. Fernambucq, Bill Upton's attorney, address the infidelity issue in his response to the motion to amend? No, he did not. Like Pate, Fernambucq acted as if the Bill Upton/Gincie Walker affair never happened--even though information about it came directly from Bill Upton's deposition. (See Upton's response to Motion to Alter or Amend at the end of this post.)

Fernambucq also tried to ignore the fact that Linda Upton received nothing approaching an equitable share of the marital assets, to which she is entitled under the law. Consider this sleight of hand from Fernambucq's response to the motion to amend:

That the allegations in Paragraph six (6) suggesting that the Court only awarded the Defendant her inherited property and "most of the marital property to the Husband" is absolutely incorrect. This allegation overlooks the fact that the Defendant was awarded substantial marital property, some of which included a note payable to the Defendant from the Plaintiff's business with a value of approximately $1.4 million, a beach house that has no debt and a value of approximately $3.6 million, a one-half interest in the residence in Birmingham which has a value of $3.6 million, and an I.R.A. which was funded entirely by the Plaintiff for the Defendant's benefit with a value of  approximately $120,000.

Fernambucq, of course, conveniently confuses the issue: the issue is not whether Linda Upton received "substantial marital property," in his opinion. It's whether she received an "equitable share" of the property, based on the record and Bill Upton's admitted misconduct. The record strongly suggests that she did not--and it isn't even a close call.

Gincie Walker Upton
Code of Alabama 30-2-52 shows that Private Judge Pate butchered the Upton divorce, and a case styled Shirley v. Shirley, 600 So. 2d 284 (1992) drives that point home. From the Shirley ruling:

Section 30-2-52 permits a trial court, upon a finding of misconduct by one spouse, to make an allowance to the other spouse out of the estate of the offending spouse, as the circumstances may justify, provided "that any property acquired prior to the marriage of the parties or by inheritance or gift may not be considered in determining the amount."

Was misconduct present in Shirley? The trial court determined the answer was yes, and the Alabama Supreme Court agreed:

The record reveals that the parties' marriage was beset with extreme unpleasantness. In the pleadings and at trial, each party placed blame for the breakup of the marriage on the other. The husband claimed that the wife was verbally abusive, argumentative, and vindictive and that she interfered with the operation of his business both during the marriage and after the parties' separation. The wife claimed that the husband had a violent temper, had been physically abusive during the marriage, had been dishonest in his handling of the parties' finances, and had engaged in numerous extramarital affairs. At trial she specifically alleged that the husband had, without her consent, misapplied a number of her real estate commission checks for his personal use and had attempted to misappropriate certain life insurance proceeds of which she was the sole intended beneficiary. The husband denies that he has ever been dishonest in handling the wife's money or that he has engaged in adultery, although he admits to having engaged in sexual activity with a woman not his wife on three occasions.

The trial court made no specific finding of adultery, granting the divorce on . . . grounds of incompatibility of temperament and irretrievable breakdown. However, in the judgment of divorce the court recognized the husband's sexual infidelities and made specific findings of his marital misconduct and financial dishonesty toward the wife and other parties. We have thoroughly reviewed the record and conclude that there is ample evidence to support the trial court's finding of marital misconduct by the husband. . . . 

What impact should such misconduct have on the outcome of a divorce case? From Shirley:

Where one spouse is guilty of misconduct toward the other spouse, the trial court's award may be as liberal as the estate of the offending spouse will permit under the circumstances of the case. Isom v. Isom, 273 Ala. 599, 143 So. 2d 455 (1962).

In other words, Bill Upton could have, and should have, taken a major financial hit for engaging in misconduct that a reasonable person might decide was way worse than that present in Shirley. But Upton's attorney did his best to cover up the issue, and the judge made no mention of it.

Did Linda Upton get the due process and equal protection of the law guaranteed her under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? Not even close.

(To be continued)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Former Wall Street darling Ted Rollins, angry about our reports on his dubious divorce case, has turned defamatory statements into the ugliest of "art forms"

Ted Rollins during his halcyon
days on Wall Street
(From tedrollins.org)
What is the price of reporting accurately about individuals connected to legal and political corruption in Alabama? It can be steep, especially if you care about your reputation.

Attacks from powerful forces can come in a variety of forms. I've been kidnapped by law enforcement and thrown in jail for five months, contrary to more than 200 years of First Amendment law. My wife, Carol, and I lost our Birmingham home of 25 years to a foreclosure that reeks of likely unlawful activity. We were subjected to a flagrantly unlawful eviction at an apartment in our new "home" of Springfield, Missouri, and a Greene County deputy brutalized Carol to the point that she was left with a shattered left arm that never will be the same.

Evidence strongly suggests these events were retaliation for our reporting on a number of conservative rogues--Rob Riley, Liberty Duke, Luther Strange, Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Bill Pryor, and more.

All of that has been reported here, and at other news sites, but less well known are the attacks on my reputation. And that is a timely subject, given recent reports that Gov. Robert Bentley tried to use law-enforcement resources to gather dirt on me and try to stop our reporting on his extramarital affair with former advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason.

How ironic is this? I've twice been accused of, and been sued for, defamation--by Garrison and Riley/Duke--and in both cases, my reporting was found (as a matter of law) not to be false or defamatory. Less well known are the defamatory attacks against me--that I've been a repeated victim of the most vile defamation. I've yet to receive justice for any of the false information published about me--but that might change in the not-too-distant future.

The defamation against me has come from a variety of sources, but perhaps no one has been more blatant about it than Ted Rollins, the former CEO of Campus Crest Communities and the subject of numerous posts here about the cheat job administered in Shelby County against his ex wife (Birmingham resident Sherry Carroll Rollins) and their two daughters.

Rollins once was a darling of Wall Street, despite our reports here about his ties to domestic violence, child abuse, failure to pay child support, and other unpleasantness. Wall Street analysts, in fact, had direct knowledge of Rollins' abusive tendencies, but they chose to ignore it. Only when it appeared Rollins was about to drive Campus Crest Communities into the financial gutter, did the company's board give him the boot.

According to reports in the business press, Rollins has resurfaced as the founder of Valeo Groupe, which is focusing on student housing in places like Great Britain and Finland. He also is principal and chairman at Watercrest Group and Watercrest Holdings, which focus on senior housing.

How long will it be before investors, employees, or customers become aware of Rollins' background and his tendency to run companies into the ditch? Who knows, but the CEO's primary talent seems to be producing defamatory Web sites--with yours truly as the target.

Rollins is the "genius" behind Legal Schnauzer Exposed, an attack site that seems to have disappeared from the Web in recent days--hmmm, wonder why that is--but still can be found in archive form. It seems clear that Rollins, or someone connected to him, was behind the uber classy rogershuler.com, which has mostly disappeared, but a search still produces an entry that refers to me as "Satan's Earthly Emmissary" (sic). If my memory is correct, the site intimates that I have sex with animals and that I am a racist and a homophobe.

Finally, we discovered legalschnauzer.info, which suggests I have "psychological issues," based largely on the words of highly informed right-wing blogger Stacy McCain. (All of us who have brains have "psychological issues," right? That doesn't mean we have psychological problems, I presume. The only way not to have psychological issues is to be dead. You can see the nonsensical form of writing that tends to appear on these sites.)

We also know that Zac Parrish, Rollins former stepson and Sherry Rollins' biological son, set up an attack site, cleverly called mountschnauzer.com. Parrish got outed here for his handiwork before mountschnauzer.com could get off the ground, and the site died a quick death. What a loss for the literary world.

You will notice that the words "mount schnauzer" form a clear reference to anal, or doggy style, sex. Talk about Freudian, given that North Carolina social services investigated Ted Rollins for possible child sexual abuse, based on the complaint of a citizen who apparently had observed his interactions with Zac Parrish. On top of that, it's a matter of public record that Ted Rollins was convicted of assaulting Zac Parrish when the latter was about 16 years old and roughly half his stepfather's size.

Rollins has saved some of his finest "craftsmanship" for tedrollinstruth.com, of which he must be quite proud because he provides a link on his LinkedIn page. Most people use LinkedIn as a resource to show that they are competent professionals. Not Ted Rollins. He uses it to show he is a lying, defaming, bullying thug. Just the kind of guy I would want to run a company with my investments.

How off the rails is Rollins? You can get an idea from a post, published February 24, 2015, with the title "The Truth About Ted Rollins." Here we go, for starters:

In the fall of 2010, Mr. Ted Rollins came under attack by the Legal Schnauzer, a known and convicted cyber bully by the name of Roger Shuler. Mr. Shuler collaborated with Mr. Rollins’ ex-wife to spread untruths in the wake of her divorce from Mr. Rollins. This was an attempt to discredit Mr. Rollins after their divorce and also to extort additional money from him beyond what was provided by the divorce.

The only source that Mr. Shuler has ever had is Mr. Rollins’ ex-wife, who has used false information and Mr. Shuler’s lack of integrity to try and advance this ill-intentioned outcome. There are countless negative stories circulating on the web about Mr. Rollins and his family, all written by the Mr. Shuler aka the Legal Schnauzer blog. These stories are based on the untruths told by Mr. Rollins’ ex-wife and embellished further by the Mr. Shuler.

Exhibit A is an affidavit from Mr. Rollins’ ex wife that clearly states Mr. Schnauzer misrepresents the truth.

Let's see if we have this straight: Ted Rollins claims his ex wife, Sherry Rollins, tells "untruths" about him. But then he has Ms. Rollins sign an affidavit claiming I misrepresent the truth. If Sherry Rollins is a congenital liar, as Mr. Rollins claims, why should anyone believe a word she says in an affidavit about me? If she lies about Ted Rollins, she can lie about me, right?

Here is the real story behind Sherry Rollins goofy, and utterly untruthful affidavit. Ted Rollins was threatening to have her utilities shut off at the Birmingham rental house where she lives with their two daughters. She felt she had no choice but to sign the bogus affidavit Ted Rollins wanted her to sign.

Ted Rollins still is using such threats. According to Ms. Rollins, he has vowed to stop paying court-ordered alimony and child support in May 2016--when youngest daughter Emma graduates from Mountain Brook High School--and have daughters and ex wife kicked out of their rental home. What a guy, that Ted Rollins.

How nutty is tedrollinstruth.com? He claims the only source I've had on the case is Sherry Rollins? I guess that doesn't count the dozens of court documents upon which I've based my reporting.

Let's check out more from Ted Rollins Truth, which might be the most ironically named site in the history of the Web:

About Roger Shuler – The “Legal Schnauzer”

Below is a summary of Mr. Shuler aka the Legal Schnauzer Blogger.

▪ The Legal Schnauzer aka Roger Shuler is a one-man blogger who claims to be a journalist, but is not. Furthermore, he does not bother to follow practices of a professional journalist. Rather, he plays fast and loose with some facts, fabricates most of his content and uses unreliable sources to create a tabloid-type blog that produces false information.

▪ He is known in Alabama as a negative blogger for hire that writes destructive innuendo to harass his victims.

▪ The Legal Schnauzer has been incarcerated twice for slandering various parties in Alabama. (FYI: Ted Rollins was convicted for assault on his teen-aged stepson in North Carolina. Ted Rollins "Truth" makes no mention of that.)

▪ From 1989 until 2008 Mr. Shuler was a content editor for the University of Alabama at Birmingham until he was terminated for inappropriate behavior. At the time Mr. Shuler also threatened the then President of the University.

▪ Mr. Shuler has been unemployed since 2008 and uses his blog as a means for extorting money from people by posting negative blog comments and trying to evoke a response from his subjects. He does this by writing his main post on his blog, The Legal Schnauzer and then by linking this post to other sites such as Daily Kos. (FYI: Mr. Rollins here falsely accuses me of a crime--extortion. Under the law, it's not a good idea to falsely accuse someone of a crime; it's called "defamation per se.")

Mr. Shuler cannot pay his bills and has a very uncertain employment history. He lives on unemployment, welfare and disability and has not been employed since he was terminated from the University of Alabama, Birmingham where he threatened the life of some school officials. (FYI: Ted Rollins failed to pay court-ordered child-support for almost three years. Records indicate much of the money owed to Rollins' daughters never has been paid. In other words, Ted Rollins is a deadbeat dad. Ted Rollins "Truth" does not want you to know that. Again, Ted Rollins falsely accuses me of threatening to kill certain UAB officials. That's known as "defamation per se.")

▪ Mr. Shuler’s credit reports indicate that he routinely defaults on his debts and litigates as a strategy to avoid payment. (FYI: Court records show that Ted Rollins still owes child support to his children and that he failed to make court-ordered payments on mortgage and insurance to ensure his wife and children had a place to live during divorce proceedings. No word from Ted Rollins "Truth" about that. And by the way, how does Ted Rollins know anything about the contents of my credit reports? Does he have any lawful grounds for obtaining that information? I can't think of one.)

▪ Mr. Shuler was arrested and convicted in 2014 for failure to follow a judge’s order regarding the removal of defamatory and untrue statements regarding one of his targets. (FYI: A South Carolina court issued a bench warrant for contempt of court [failure to pay child support] and ordered Ted Rollins' arrest. That warrant was in place for more than two years, and records show Rollins never paid the full amount he owed, so he was a fugitive from justice. South Carolina law enforcement apparently did not bother to execute the arrest warrant, which apparently is one of the benefits Ted Rollins receives from being born into one of the nation's wealthiest families. On a final note, none of my reporting ever has been found to be false or defamatory, as a matter of law.)

▪ A default judgment was entered against Mr. Shuler in the amount of $3.5 million. (Editor's note: No lawful default judgment ever has been entered against Mr. Shuler.)

▪ Mr. Shuler is currently believed to be in hiding to avoid answering the default judgment, but continues to publish his blog. (In hiding? My contact information is available in multiple places on this blog. Plus, I've already answered the default judgment and proven that it is void, as a matter of law. Why "answer" it again?)

▪ More information can be found about Roger Schuler (sic) on http://www.legalschnauzers.com,

To borrow a phrase from the late Ann Richards, it looks like Ted Rollins was "born with a silver foot in his mouth."

How many ways has Ted Rollins defamed me here? Well, I'm not sure I have enough fingers to count that high. But the highlighted sections above show some of the biggest doozies. For fun, we suggest you click on the legalschnauzers.com link and see what you get. It was active just a few weeks ago.

Why hasn't the author of Ted Rollins' posts put his name to them? Shouldn't he be proud of such "work product"? Here are a few reasons the author might wish to remain anonymous:

(1) He has falsely accused me of crimes (extortion, terroristic threats)--not a good idea under defamation law;

(2) He falsely claims I've been incarcerated twice;

(3) He falsely claims I've been incarcerated for "slandering" someone. I've never been accused of slandering anyone, and slander is a tort (not a crime), which means you can't be arrested for it;

(4) He falsely claims I was fired at UAB for "inappropriate behavior" and that I threatened university president Carol Garrison and other university officials;

(5) He falsely claims I cannot pay my bills and I live on "welfare and disability";

(6) He falsely claims I was "convicted" of failing to follow a judge's order in a civil case.

I could go on, but you get the idea. There is very little truth to be found at Ted Rollins "Truth." And these kinds of bogus attacks are what you can expect from a CEO whose sense of entitlement apparently dwarfs his intelligence.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Does divorce court frown on husband who admitted to having an affair with young woman who was raised as his daughter? Not in Jefferson County, Alabama

Bill Upton
What should happen in divorce court to a husband who admitted to an extramarital affair with a mentally disabled young woman he and his wife had raised as their daughter--and the affair was a central event in breaking up his marriage of more than 30 years? Most citizens probably would say, and the law generally holds, that the husband should pay dearly for marital misconduct that might reasonably be described as grotesque.

But that's not how it works when the husband is Alabama steel executive Bill Upton, described in court documents as a "multimillionaire." The Final Judgment of Divorce in Upton v. Upton, dated December 4, 2012, suggests private judge J. Gary Pate was more impressed with Bill Upton's status as president of Pelham-based Vulcan Steel Products than he was with any issues related to facts, law, or general fairness. (The Final Judgment of Divorce can be read at the end of this post.)

To a member of the middle class, it might appear that Linda Upton got a pretty good deal in the divorce. But considering that Bill Upton reportedly has a net worth in the $40 million to $60 million range--and that estimate might be low--one can see that Linda Upton got a raw deal of epic proportions.

Linda Upton helped get the business off the ground, working in the plant during the early years, and her parents helped manage the company for a number of years. She and her husband adopted or foster parented numerous special-needs children over the years, with Linda providing most of the hands-on care.

We've seen nothing in the court record that indicates Linda Upton was found to be an unfit mother, but Judge Pate awarded physical custody of the children to Bill Upton. Many of the children, according to court records, considered Gincie Walker, Bill Upton's mistress, to be their sister. How confusing must that have been to the younger children? One can only imagine. But here is how Judge Pate ruled on the custody issue in his final order:

3. (a) The Husband and Wife shall be awarded joint legal custody of the minor children of the parties, David Upton, born September 4, 1994; Brandon Upton, born April 4, 1997; and Polly Upton, born May 11, 2007 ("the children"). The Husband shall be awarded sole physical custody of the children.
Is there anything in the record that supports an award of sole physical custody to Bill Upton? We have not found a single word to support that.

Bill Upton has since married Gincie Walker, who has been diagnosed with multiple-personality disorder. That means the younger children are in the control of a father who had little to do with their upbringing and a mother/sister who has a severe mental disorder.

How did Judge Pate come to this custody decision? The order provides no clues.

Linda Upton receives $4,350 a month in periodic alimony, but she received zero in gross alimony. She did not even receive the marital residence. From Pate's order:

11. (a) The parties jointly own a residence at 2870 Shook Hill Road, Birmingham, Alabama. It shall be placed on the market and sold. The Wife shall have exclusive possession pending sale unless she moves. . . . 

Linda Upton wound up staying at the home, but only after she had paid Bill Upton for his share of the property. And this was a husband who admitted to conducting an extramarital affair, apparently under the marital roof.

Gincie Walker Upton
Pate's order is written in a confusing fashion regarding property division, but Linda Upton apparently has received virtually nothing from the business enterprises built during their marriage. Here are the business-related items that Pate awarded exclusively to Bill Upton:

12. The Husband shall receive sole title to and ownership of the following, with Wife being divested of any interest therein:

a. First Commercial Bank checking account

b. Ohio National Life Insurance

c. National Copper

d. Vulcan Threaded Products

e. Peltown Realty (This company, by the way, appears to have a pretty cozy relationship with the City of Pelham.)

f. Wings LLC

g. Windwood Group

h. Windwood Farm

i. Vulcan Threaded Products--Husband's note receivable

j. Vulcan 401k Profit Sharing

k. His IRA

Item D particularly jumps out. Vulcan Threaded Products was the name of what is now Vulcan Steel Products, the family's primary business. It appears Linda Upton received little or no share in the company's proceeds--and the law is clear that she was entitled to an equitable share.

How can a divorce, which was precipitated by the husband's egregious marital misconduct, result in such a lopsided decree? It would be hard to fathom in a world where the law and facts mattered. But in postmodern Alabama, and I suspect in many other states, it happens quite often.

(To be continued)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Plaintiffs suing Ashley Madison extramarital-affair Web site in massive data breach will have to use their real names as class-action litigation moves forward

Individuals suing Ashley Madison for failing to secure their personal information at the extramarital-affair Web site will have to proceed without the cloak of anonymity, a federal judge ruled last week. If a plaintiff does not want to use his real name, he will have to drop out of the class-action litigation, which has been consolidated at U.S. District Court in St. Louis, Missouri.

At least one Alabama law firm, Heninger Garrison Davis of Birmingham, is representing a number of plaintiffs in the case. Judge John Ross's ruling essentially dovetails with our reporting on the Ashley Madison (AM) story. We have been revealing the real names of AM customers for several months, focusing on high-level professional elites (lawyers, doctors, CEOs, wealth managers, etc.), who make up a significant percentage of users in Alabama and Missouri, the two states that have been our focus.

To our knowledge, we are the only U.S. Web site to reveal elite users of AM, providing key identifying information--real names; addresses; employers; names of spouses and children; and in some cases, account information (credit-card transactions, amount of money spent, etc.) Most reporting on the AM story has focused on technical, legal, and social issues related to the data breach itself, but we are the only news site--best we can tell--that consistently has provided information about users. We plan to continue that reporting soon, and you can see examples of our investigative work here, here, here, here, here, and here.

The technology news site Ars Technica, now owned by Conde Nast Digital, broke last week's story about the anonymity ruling, From the Ars Technica report:

We all remember last year's hype surrounding the Ashley Madison dating site's data breach. Hackers exposed identifying information about millions of users of the site that has the tagline, "Life is short. Have an affair."

Then came the lawyers smelling blood in the water—filing proposed class-action suits targeting the cheating site's not-so-perfect "Full Delete" option that was supposed to, and didn't, remove all identifying information from the service for a $19 fee per user. Then it surfaced that the site perhaps made phony profiles of women to attract more men to the site.

The massive litigation has been co-mingled in Missouri, and there are some interesting elements at play. For starters, the judge presiding over the case says that if you want to be a named plaintiff in the litigation, you can't use a pseudonym like "John Doe," and instead you have to use your real name. The judge, in agreeing with Ashley Madison's owners, ruled that only in extraordinary circumstances may civil litigation proceed under fake names, like in cases such as sex crimes and suits about juveniles.

Upon what did Judge Ross base his ruling? Ars Technica provides details, and the full ruling can be read at the end of this post:

"The disclosure of Plaintiffs' identities could expose their sensitive personal and financial information—information stolen from Avid when its computer systems were hacked—to public scrutiny and exacerbate the privacy violations underlying their lawsuit," US District Judge John Ross ruled . . .  earlier this month. "At the same time, there is a compelling public interest in open court proceedings, particularly in the context of a class action, where a plaintiff seeks to represent a class of consumers who have a personal stake in the case and a heightened interest in knowing who purports to represent their interests in the litigation." Days ago, a "John Doe" plaintiff removed . . .  himself from the case.

Ross has given unnamed plaintiffs until June 3 to lodge their official class-action complaint and to give them time to decide if they want to be named plaintiffs or dropped out. Another contentious issue is on the table, as Ars Technica describes:

There's also a big wrinkle that could affect the upcoming class-action filing. Attorneys want to use confidential communications between Ashley Madison executives and their attorneys as part of their lawsuit in a bid to establish that the company made fake female profiles to induce people to become one of the site's 39 million members. Obviously, Avid Life Media, the site's operator, is opposed. Plaintiffs' lawyers say the data is not protected by attorney-client privilege and can be part of the case because of the "crime-fraud" exception. That exception means that a client and their attorney's back-and-forth communications are not protected if the communications were made "with the intention of committing or covering up a crime or fraud." The plaintiffs' lawyers noted a story in Gizmodo citing the hacked data in which Avid Life attorneys are discussing "fictitious" profiles on the Ashley Madison site.

Judge Ross has not ruled on the request but is expected to do so before the June 3 filing deadline.

Friday, April 22, 2016

"Tuscaloosa Trio," led by former Robert Bentley legal advisor Cooper Shattuck, had every opportunity to respond to questions--but they chose to remain silent

Cooper Shattuck
Cooper Shattuck, former legal advisor to Gov. Robert Bentley and current general counsel at the University of Alabama System, appears to play a major role in the sex scandal that now is bearing down on Tuscaloosa--as we reported yesterday.

Like Bentley, Shattuck portrays himself as a man of God, but he has problems with issues of the flesh--not to mention apparent workplace favoritism. Our post mentions his relationships with Lisa Waldrop, media and communications director at Shelton State Community College, and UA deputy counsel Katie Osburne as examples.

Stories like this tend to generate much harrumphing, and we've seen this before. I broke the story of Bentley's extramarital affair with Rebekah Caldwell Mason last August, and in recent weeks, the whole world has learned that our reporting was accurate. I faced defamation lawsuits after reporting on extramarital affairs involving Rob Riley and lobbyist Liberty Duke and Attorney General Luther Strange and Jessica Medeiros Garrison--and I even was thrown in jail for five months for daring to report on such topics.

What did the lawsuits prove? Not a thing for the plaintiffs. For me, as a matter of law, they proved that my reporting was not false or defamatory.

Like key figures in the other stories, Shattuck and Co. were given an opportunity to respond to questions, but they chose not to. Here are questions I sent via e-mail to Cooper Shattuck, with copies to Ms. Waldrop and Ms. Osburne:

Mr. Shattuck:

I am a journalist from Birmingham and publisher of the blog Legal Schnauzer, which covers justice issues in Alabama and beyond.

I have reported extensively on the affair between Gov. Bentley and aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason and issues connected to that. In my research, your name has come up frequently. Therefore, I would like to ask that we schedule a time for a telephone interview. If that is not possible, I would like to give you an opportunity to comment on the following topics:

* I understand that you had (or are having) an extramarital affair with Lisa Waldrop, who is assistant director of media and communication at Shelton State. Are extramarital affairs common among current and former members of the Bentley administration? What does that say about the ethical standards of Alabama's governor and his associates?

* I understand that you were associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Tuscaloosa, and Ms. Waldrop was the worship leader, when your affair started. I further understand that both of you have lost your church positions in the wake of revelations about the affair. Has the affair continued, and have you sought work in other churches?

* I understand that you hired Katie Osburne to be your chief deputy at UA. I also understand that there was no official posting for the job, that you created it specifically for Ms. Osburne. I further understand that Ms. Osburne has relatively little legal experience, but you elevated her over more qualified members of the UA staff. Why have you championed Ms. Osburne to such a degree?

* It has been reported that you set up the Alabama Council for Excellent Government (ACEGOV) as a nonprofit while still working for the Bentley administration. Where has money for ACEGOV come from and where has it gone? How much of the money has gone to Rebekah Caldwell Mason? Would you provide copies of documents that show the in-flow and out-flow of funds connected to ACEGOV?

Like most journalists, I work on deadline, so I ask that you respond to this e-mail by 5 p.m. on March 4.


Roger Shuler

(205) 381-5673

A health-care professional provides insights from the front line about delusional disorder: What it really is and how real cases can manifest themselves

Our post earlier this week on delusional disorder prompted one of Mrs. Schnauzer's Facebook friends to send a message that provides significant insight on the subject. The friend is a psychiatric nurse practitioner in a Midwestern state, and like Carol and me, she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from a violent encounter with law-enforcement officers.

She's been on the front line, both as a health-care professional and the victim of police abuse, of issues related to incidents where those who are sworn to "serve and protect" actually do harm. We thought her insights would shine considerable light on "delusional disorder" for our readers, so we are sharing them here.

A note: The woman makes several references to "Matt," and that refers to Matt Charles, the Missouri nurse practitioner who apparently made a notation about delusional disorder in my medical records. Just two days ago, Matt Charles confirmed to me that the notation had been removed, suggesting there never were factual or medical grounds for it to be there in the first place. I'm still not sure how, or why, it got there, but I appreciate Matt Charles' help in clearing it up. Meanwhile, here are some insights from a professional about delusional disorder:

I just read your husband's blog. I was a psychiatric nurse practitioner (PNP). I worked with people with delusional disorders. These patients believed things such as . . . following a car accident a woman believed she had glass in her stomach and refused to eat. A man who believed his neighborhood would be flooded and went into all their houses to shut off the water.
Schizophrenics suffer from delusions that are most often associated with the auditory hallucinations they experience. Alzheimer's patients become paranoid and often delusional about family members stealing their belongings or poisoning their food. Delusional disorder differs from these examples as the false and fixed belief is not a symptom of another psychiatric illness as was noted in the blog.

A PNP can diagnose and prescribe medications but these actions can only be done under the supervision of a board-certified psychiatrist. Delusional disorder is an inappropriate diagnosis in patients who have ANY type of evidence that supports their claims/ allegations. In many cases, confronting a patient about his delusions, only creates mistrust and hampers the therapist-client relationship. My questions about Matt evolve around what information he used to make the diagnosis...

Is Matt a certified psychiatric NP? Did the NP ever state that he believed Roger? Did Roger ever give him documents that supported his thoughts that he found credible? Did the NP use past medical records from AL that influenced his thinking? Did the NP use family reports regarding their perception of Roger's mental health? Was Roger treated for depression, severe enough to exhibit psychotic symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations? Did NP prescribe medications for Roger such as antidepressants or antipsychotics? Was there an entry in the MR indicating a positive response to these medications with a decrease in symptoms?

I was diagnosed with PTSD following the violent assault which I still struggle with today. I remain paranoid about the police but my thoughts are not deemed pathological/ delusional. I have spent years dealing with the many aspects of betrayal, from those are supposed to protect and serve to family members who thought I was on drugs (thanks to my ex- husband), to the elected government officials who chose to bury my case. If I ever felt my health care professionals doubted what I had been through, it would have been devastating.

I hope this information assists you in your search for answers. I also found several articles about PTSD and delusions. I will continue to help you in any way I can as we share the experience of police brutality and surviving police trying to kill us.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Former Bentley legal aide Cooper Shattuck, with fleshly sins of his own, could take center stage as governor's scandal bears down on U of Alabama

Cooper Shattuck
The sex scandal engulfing Alabama governor Robert Bentley, according to a report yesterday, is moving rapidly toward Tuscaloosa--like a tornado on Doppler radar. Tuscaloosa, of course, is home to the University of Alabama, and the Bentley scandal might leave a number of folks on the UA campus with crimson faces.

Chief among them might be Cooper Shattuck, the university's general counsel. As UA's top legal officer, Shattuck manages the work of 21 attorneys and 15 support-staff members. Before returning to his alma mater to take its top legal job, Shattuck served as chief legal advisor for . . . Gov. Bentley.

It's easy to see why Bentley might have considered Shattuck an attractive addition to his staff; the two men seem to have quite a bit in common. Both have connections of various kinds to Rebekah Caldwell Mason, who as Bentley's senior advisor and mistress, helped set the scandal aflame. Both seem to have played roles in the curious stream of funds that have been flowing to Mason and her husband, Jon Mason, partly through the University of Alabama. Both apparently consider themselves men of God, but sources tell Legal Schnauzer that Shattuck (like Bentley) has allowed issues of the flesh to influence his professional life.

According to multiple news reports yesterday, UA has paid Jon Mason's company almost $75,000 this year for services related to billboards in Dallas and Phoenix, before Crimson Tide football games in those cities for the 2015-16 national-championship season. Mason's company, however, did not design, create, or install the billboard ads. It appears Mason's firm, JRM Enterprises, did little more than act as a go-between for the company that rents out the billboards.

Lisa Waldrop
Where does Cooper Shattuck fit into this picture? The answer is not clear yet. But we know, while still Bentley's advisor, he set up ACEGOV, a "dark money" nonprofit organization that has paid at least $15,000--and possibly much more--to Rebekah Caldwell Mason.

How is this for irony? Bentley named Shattuck and Rebekah Mason to his staff on the same day, January 13, 2011.

If Shattuck helped funnel money to Bentley's mistress, is it likely he was involved in schemes to funnel money to her husband? An ongoing federal investigation perhaps will provide clarity on that question.

Can you imagine UA's chief legal officer at the heart of a federal investigation into apparent slush funds for Gov. Bentley's mistress and her husband? That might be harder for the Crimson faithful to swallow than an Iron Bowl loss to Auburn.

It's not like Cooper Shattuck hasn't been involved in messy situations before. Within at least the past two years, our sources say he has engaged in an extramarital affair with Lisa Waldrop, who is assistant director of media and communication at Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa.

A 2012 article about Shattuck's move from the Bentley administration to UA described him as "married with four daughters." He was divorced in 2014, and it's not clear if he is currently married. It also is not clear if the affair with Waldrop is ongoing, but the two have paid a professional price for it.

Katie Osburne
Shattuck used to be an associate pastor at First United Methodist Church (FUMC) in Tuscaloosa. He oversaw the church's contemporary service, called The Bridge, and Waldrop served as its worship leader. The affair started via the church affiliation, and when top administrators became aware of it, Shattuck and Waldrop were asked to leave. They no longer appear as staff members on the FUMC Web site.

Shattuck also has played a curious role in championing the career of UA lawyer Katie Osburne. sources say. He reportedly hired Osburne to be his chief deputy at UA, even though there was no official posting for the job. Sources say Shattuck created the position specifically for Osburne, who has a relatively thin legal resume and was elevated over UA attorneys who have much more experience and stronger qualifications.

Published reports show that Osburne worked at Rosen Harwood, the same Tuscaloosa firm where Shattuck once worked. Published reports indicate Osburne graduated from law school in 2007. So, with less than 10 years of professional experience, she finds herself as the No. 2 legal officer for the three-campus UA System, which includes more than 63,000 students and almost 28,000 faculty and staff.

Is Katie Osburn qualified to hold that position--or is she the most qualified person on the UA legal staff to hold that position? Taxpayers, who fund her salary, might want to ask themselves that question.

We sought comment for this post from Shattuck, Waldrop, and Osburne, but they did not respond.