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Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Simpson/Schnauzer Comparison

Let's compare The Birmingham News' relentless attacks on the credibility of Rainsville attorney Jill Simpson to its nonexistent coverage of wrongdoing by Republican judges in Alabama.

Keep this in mind: A rational, semi-objective person could conclude that Simpson is working for the cause of justice. She is a lifelong Republican, testifying against powerful Republicans. She has evidently stepped forward at substantial personal cost and risk.

Meanwhile, a story about corrupt Republican judges has been available to the News for at least three or four years. I call it the Legal Schnauzer story. It's the story at the heart of this blog. And The Birmingham News has done absolutely nothing with it.

I've lost track of all the editors and reporters I've contacted at the News. The first person I contacted was Editor Tom Scarritt, and I met with him, briefly, in his office. I laid out my experience, and had numerous documents available to support my claims to wrongdoing by multiple Alalabama judges and attorneys, including opposing counsel William E. Swatek of Pelham. Scarritt did not ask one question; he did not look at one document. He made this statement: "I think you need to get an attorney who's as good as Bill Swatek."

That remains the single most ignorant statement I've ever heard another human being utter. Oh, that's the ticket: Let's hire an attorney who can match Swatek's almost 30-year record of unethical behavior. One problem, Tommy Boy: I'm not sure there is another lawyer in Alabama who can match Swatek's record of sleaze.

Scarritt's comment gives you some insight into the thinking that is behind those deadly dull columns he writes on Sundays.

Let's see, who else have I contacted? Editorial page editor Bob Blalock and reporters Brett Blackledge and Eric Velasco never responded to e-mails.

Blackledge, of course, won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on Alabama's two-year colleges scandal and has been one of the prime attack dogs let loose on Jill Simpson. After Blackledge won the Pulitizer, the News made much of the fact that the story started from insiders with personal knowledge contacting Blackledge, and the reporter pursuing the information aggressively. Of course, the information pointed to wrongdoing by Democrats. Where is Blackledge when the wrongdoing involves Republicans? He's like a prairie dog who won't come up out of his hole.

No matter how many prizes Brett Blackledge wins, from where I sit, he appears to be nothing but a partisan hack. Would be happy to change my opinion of his work, if I ever see any reason to do so.

Montgomery-based reporter David White did respond once or twice to e-mails, but seemed skittish from the outset.

Columnist John Archibald seems to be the only person at the News who has some semblance of a testicle. He responded to an e-mail, and at first, seemed genuinely interested in the story. When I told him I had been forced to fight a bogus lawsuit for five-plus years, all because I had been the victim of a crime and had sought to have it prosecuted, Archibald said, "That's nuts."

No kidding. When I told him that Montgomery attorney Ray Vaughan, a former candidate for the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, had spoken out on the issue of Alabama's corrupt appellate courts, Archibald said he was interested in talking to Vaughan. To my knowledge no such conversation took place.

Archibald eventually quit responding to e-mails. When I posted a message on his blog, he ignored that.

Why is the Legal Schnauzer story toxic to The Birmingham News? Well, there are the obvious political reasons that we've noted. But I suspect there are "religious/political" reasons as well. You see, Victor Hanson II, the patriarch of the paper, attends the highly conservative and extremely wealthy Briarwood Presbyterian Church. And as I've noted in a previous post, I strongly suspect the church and one of its ministries, Briarwood Christian School, has played a central role in my legal travails.

And why would Briarwood intrude on my once-peaceful life? Did it have something to do with education, teaching, Bible study? Not on your life. It had to do with that great Southern passion--football.

Interestingly, I think there might be connections to Hoover High School, the subject of a major story in today's Birmingham News. The long-awaited report on wrongdoing connected to the high-profile Hoover program was released yesterday. More coming on the possible Hoover-Briarwood connection and my story.

And by the way, Scott Horton has done another masterful trashing of "The Pravda of the South." You can enjoy it here.

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