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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The ExxonMobil Coverup

The Legal Schnauzer has been out of commission for a couple of days because of sinus problems. But we are back in the saddle just in time to make sure that none of our readers falls for the latest gambit from the office of Alabama Governor Bob Riley.

Riley's office has announced that it will not ask the Alabama Supreme Court to reconsider its decision to throw out nearly all of the state's $3.6 billion judgment in a natural-gas royalties dispute with ExxonMobil.

Ken Wallis, Riley's legal advisor, said the governor had decided that seeking a rehearing "would be futile."

"With 8-1, we did not feel there was a likelihood of success," Wallis said.

So why bother trying? That's the spirit that made this country great isn't it?

There is an ulterior motive to Riley's decision to accept the Alabama Supreme Court's ruling, and it's one Mr. Wallis doesn't want you to know about. The 8-1 decision involved eight Republican justices voting to overturn the trial-court finding, with the lone Democrat (Sue Bell Cobb) casting a dissent. Riley, of course, is a Republican.

And here is why the governor is caving in: When a party seeks to have an appellate court rehear a case, it must file an application for rehearing. And along with the application, the party must file a brief, citing instances where the court ruled incorrectly or misunderstood the facts and the law involved.

Riley and Co. simply do not want to file a brief for reconsideration because such a brief, done honestly, would reveal the eight GOP justices for what they are--a bunch of rogues who are intentionally cheating the state of Alabama and ignoring their own well-settled law to do it. The brief would be a public document, and it's possible (though not likely) that a reporter from an Alabama newspaper might awaken from his or her slumber long enough to realize that, "Hey, there's a story here!"

We wouldn't want that. So Riley would rather let the case die and see his state get cheated out of billions of dollars. He simply does not want someone to write a brief that would show that the Supreme Court's ruling was unlawfully decided.

And it wouldn't take a legal scholar to write such a brief. Most anyone with three or four days of law school could probably show how the Supremes intentionally butchered the case in order to repay the corporate supporters who put them in office. (These same corporate supporters also put Riley in office.) Heck, I don't have the first day of law school, and I could write the brief--and I would do it for free.

Think I'll e-mail Wallis and offer to write the brief--for the good of our fine state. Wonder what his reply would be.

The Supremes so blatantly cheated the citizens of Alabama that Riley feels compelled to sweep the whole thing under the proverbial rug. That's the kind of leadership we have in Montgomery.

And did you notice that The Birmingham News buried the story on an inside page? Think that was an accident? Far and away the most important story in yesterday's newspaper, and it winds up on page 12 or 15 or some such.

With the help of Novationeering's Robby Scott Hill, we've already shown you one way the Supreme Court cheated Alabamians in its haste to kiss the collective fanny of ExxonMobil. We will show you more ways soon.

I'm not an expert on appellate law, but I believe the state still could file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court. But don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen. And even if the state does file an appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court is not likely to hear it. Did you know this? U.S. Supreme Court rules specifically state that the court is not in the business of hearing cases in order to correct state courts. If your state courts screwed you, that's tough.

You can see why it's kind of important to have honest state appellate courts. And that is something Alabama definnitely does not have.

And here is one other thought to keep in mind: This decision by Riley to forgo a rehearing shows a sort of collusion that goes on between our corrupt executive branch and our corrupt judicial branch--both dominated by Republicans.

I've seen evidence of this kind of collusion in my own case. William E. Swatek, the father of Riley campaign manager Dax Swatek, filed a bogus lawsuit against me that started a chain of events leading to this blog. By law, Bill Swatek should have been held accountable for filing a baseless claim in Alabama courts. Several mechanisms are available for doing just that. But since Bill Swatek has ties to the executive branch, he gets away with murder in our judicial branch. And the evidence is strong that this kind of footsie is not accidental.

What happens in Alabama is a smaller version of what happens on the national stage--we are the nation's canary in a coal mine. The Bush Administration turns the U.S. Justice Department into a politicized cesspool. The Riley Administration does much the same thing with the judicial branch of Alabama's state government.

Folks like Bob Riley assume that Alabamians will just sit back and take it. Sadly, he might be right about that.

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