King Artur vs. Teflon Bob
U.S. Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) and Alabama governor Bob Riley were sparring the other day via the U.S. mail, and now they are doing some verbal jousting over the phone lines. Sounds like the two might be coming to some kind of peace after reports about Davis' hiring for his Congressional office of an Alabama two-year college employee. Davis had said such arrangements are specifically permitted by House rules. Riley had said he does not support the practice of paying two-year college employees to work in the office of politicians. A couple of interesting points that came out of today's story:
* Riley acknowledged that he had used a Department of Defense employee for a short time in his Congressional office when he served in Washington, something The Birmingham News neglected to report in its original story. Davis said that's equivalent to his arrangement with former two-year colleges employee Gina Bailey McKell. Riley, whom we've come to know as "Teflon Bob" here at Legal Schnauzer, seemed to think there was a difference. Teflon Bob also had problems with King Artur's characterization of problems in the two-year system as a "partisan, political turf war." Gee, can't imagine why Davis might think Alabama Republicans could resort to partisan politics
* Love this quote from Teflon Bob about the two-year college scandal in Alabama: "The questionable and corrupt conduct that has been painstakingly uncovered is real. I applaud (those) who are working to clean up these problems and stop them."
Well, I've got news for you, Teflon Bob. Corruption in Alabama's courts, while they were overseen by one of your appointees, also was real. And I have zero doubt that it still is real. You went on national TV in November 2005 (to encourage a boycott of Aruba over that nation's handling of the Natalee Holloway case) and said you wanted to know about problems in Alabama's justice system. I took your statement seriously and sent you a lengthy e-mail, outlining the corruption I've experienced from Republican judges in our state. Your administration has done nothing about it. Why is that?
You say you want to stop corruption, but people close to you seem to do their best to encourage corruption and cover it up. Dax Swatek, your campaign manager, is the son of William E. Swatek, who has an almost 30-year record of unethical behavior in the legal profession (including some interesting problems in criminal court, which we will be reporting soon here at Legal Schnauzer.). This includes filing a bogus lawsuit against me. But William E. Swatek has repeatedly been the beneficiary of unlawful rulings by Alabama judges, costing me and Alabama taxpayers thousands of dollars. It appears that William E. Swatek's family ties to your administration have helped him become Teflon Bill--the sleazy Shelby County attorney who gets away with just about anything in Alabama courts. I realize we have separation of powers, and as governor, you don't control the judicial branch. But you certainly have the bully pulpit, and you could use it to shine a light on Alabama's corrupt courts. Why haven't you done it, if stopping corruption means so much to you?
And why not call for a commission to investigate the events of election night 2002 in Baldwin County? Wouldn't it be nice to assure Alabamians that you became governor in a honest manner?
Rapid Troy vs. the DAs
Alabama Attorney General Troy King continues to draw fire from the state's district attorneys. Rapid Troy the AG boy had yanked a death-penalty case from Shelby County DA Robby Owens, and the Alabama District Attorneys Association didn't take kindly to it. "The attorney general has no idea about these things because he has never stood where we stand every day," said Ken Davis, president of the DA group. "Many of our members were fighting for the rights of victims when the attorney general was still in grammar school." Ouch.
Rapid Troy appears to be positioning himself as the "pro-death penalty candidate" for a future run at the governor's office. Look for him to return fire soon in this little intramural spat.
More BS in Shelby County
Speaking of Robby Owens, the Shelby County DA, Troy King is turning him into a sympathetic figure. Trust me, Owens doesn't deserve it. He claims to be about honor and integrity. Well, I was the victim of a felony assault last October by my Neighbor From Hell (NFH), and Owens' office has persisted in ignoring clear law and ruling it a misdemeanor. I wrote Owens a letter in January, outlining the facts and the law in the case and asking him to contact me promptly so the case could be prosecuted properly. I've never heard from him.
I refuse to sign a misdemeanor complaint for an offense that I know was a felony, so looks like NFH is going to get away with a crime. And Owens' says he cares about crime victims?
I will be writing about the assault in detail very soon here at Legal Schnauzer, but here is the short version of what happened: NFH took a roadside sign (which qualifies as a "dangerous instrument" under Alabama law) and swung it with two hands as hard as he could, hitting me in the back and leaving a bleeding abrasion (which qualifies as "physical injury" under Alabama law). There is no question he had intent to hit and injure me; no one else was in the vicinity, so it certainly was not a reckless or negligent act. Have doubts about whether or not this was a felony? Check out Code of Alabama 13A-6-21 and read item (a) (2). I've got a stump in my backyard that could tell this was a felony, committed by a guy with at least eight criminal convictions in his background, including violence-related and sex-related offenses, plus an offense that involved lying to a police officer. But Owens and Co. think they can't prosecute this guy? Good grief, Babec the lowland gorilla at the Birmingham Zoo could get a conviction on this.
(By the way, I'm tired of the cute nicknames for my neighbor from hell. The guy's name is Mike McGarity, and he works at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama in Birmingham. Best I can tell, his job title is "bar-code operator," whatever that is. You have to wonder how a guy with McGarity's criminal record was able to land a job at Blue Cross, which as a federal Medicaid contractor, is supposed to do thorough background checks on prospective employees. Much more about Mike McGarity, his "interesting" past, and his evidently lax employer coming soon. You'll see exactly what I mean about neighbor from hell.)
But back to Owens. You might recall this recent post about the death-sentence commutation of LaSamuel Gamble. That ruling, by Shelby County Circuit Judge J. Michael Joiner, is the one that got Troy King riled up at Owens, who testified that Gamble should be taken off death row in the wake of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision related to sentencing for murderers who were juveniles at the time of their crimes.
Joiner said he made his ruling because it would be "constitutionally unfair" to keep Gamble on death row following the Supreme Court decision. Reading those words from Joiner almost caused me to have an attack of projectile vomiting.
Not because I have a problem with his ruling, which actually is based on the law (a rarity for Joiner). But Joiner is the judge who I've seen repeatedly make unlawful rulings in my case, always favoring Mike McGarity (he of the extensive criminal record) and his attorney, William E. Swatek (he of numerous ethical violations).
I know Mike Joiner to have zero regard for fairness and the constitution, and concepts such as due process and equal protection of the law. So I knew that could not be the real reason he commuted Gamble's death sentence.
But thanks to Robby Owens I think I have an idea what was behind Joiner's thinking. In this post yesterday Owens first said he supported the commutation as a matter of "honor and integrity." Then he turned right around and admitted that, in his mind, it really was a political matter. Owens said he was concerned that leaving Gamble on death row would turn into a rallying point for death-penalty opponents.
It's rare that you see a lawyer make such an unwittingly honest remark. But you can rest assured that Joiner was thinking along the same lines. That's an incestuous bunch down at the Shelby County Courthouse; they all think alike. And it's highly unlikely that Joiner's decision had anything to do with fairness or the constitution.
Rather, it was about laying low, out of the spotlight, a spotlight like the one being shined in the Jena 6 case. Joiner runs a corrupt little empire down in Columbiana, Alabama, and the last thing he wants is attention, particularly the kind that might come with leaving LaSamuel Gamble on death row.
Heck, Al Sharpton is in the neighborhood, just a couple of states away in Louisiana. It would have been easy for Sharpton and friends to stage a protest over the Gamble case on Main Street in Columbiana.
But J. Michael Joiner was having none of that. I imagine the mere thought of Al Sharpton outside the Shelby County Courthouse would cause Joiner to soil himself.