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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Issues of Insecurity

Eugene Robinson, of the Washington Post, is one of my favorite columnists. And he had a particularly thought-provoking column recently.

In a column titled "We, the Paranoid," Robinson writes of attending a panel discussion on "The Insecure American" at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association. "(It) turned out to be a revelation--by turns alarming, depressing, and laugh-out-loud amusing--as scholar after scholar presented research showing just how unnerved this society is," Robinson wrote.

One researcher had studied gated communities, noting that people camp behind walls because they are afraid of crime, they feel isolated from neighbors, and they are nostalgic for some kind of Norman Rockwell past. The study showed that there isn't less crime in gated communities and people do not feel closer to their neighbors. In fact, many residents still turn on their burglar alarms, despite the walls and security guards.

This all made me think of my own little experience with our deeply troubled justice system in the United States. My experience has centered around corrupt lawyers and judges in Alabama's state courts, with starring roles for some of the same Republican characters who have been featured in the prosecution of former Governor Don Siegelman.

I have about as much psychological training as Lucy Van Pelt in the famous Peanuts comic strip. But follow me for a moment, and with Eugene Robinson's help, perhaps we will be onto something.

* The primary judge who repeatedly cheated me--and committed federal crimes in the process--is Shelby County Circuit Judge J. Michael Joiner. Where does Judge Joiner live? A gated community called Highland Lakes. You can read all about here. Where did Judge Joiner go to school? My research indicates he went to Indian Springs School in Birmingham and completed both undergraduate work and law school at Samford University. These are all private institutions. If Judge Joiner's precious fanny has ever touched a desk at a public school, I see no evidence of it. And where does the fine judge go to church? Why a suburban megachurch of course--the Church at Brook Hills. And where do Judge Joiner and his wife, Cathy, send their daughter, Christy, to school? My sources tell me they send her to Briarwood Christian, which is (surprise, surprise!) a private school. Another source says she has been home schooled at times. Either way, sounds like she ain't getting near a public school.

* Now here's where it gets a bit creepy. You might think Mike Joiner became a judge because he was such an outstanding lawyer. You would be wrong. My sources tell me he was a mediocrity at best as a lawyer. But half of south Shelby County, around Columbiana (the county seat), is related to him. There is even an area called Joinertown. No wonder he doesn't have to worry about whether he rules according to the law or not! He's judge for life! My sources tell me that the good judge's parents, Hubert and Christine Joiner, live in the neck of the woods around Joinertown. One of the judge's brothers is an ophthalmologist. On that kind of income, I'm guessing he's a gated-community guy, too.

* Now, let's consider William E. Swatek, the ethically challenged attorney who filed a bogus lawsuit against me and committed federal crimes in the process. Remember, Mr. Swatek has valuable ties to Alabama Republican royalty. His son, Dax, was Governor Bob Riley's campaign manager. The Daxter also ran the failed campaign of Alice Martin for a seat on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. Alice Martin, of course, went on to become U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, where she initiated a failed attempt to prosecute Don Siegelman. The "successful" attempt to prosecute Siegelman came in the Middle District of Alabama under the esteemed Leura Canary. You can read all you need to know about Martin and Canary here and here. But back to Bill Swatek. Where does he live? Behind a gated drive off Highway 119 in north Shelby County, the one with an "S" on it. Swatek has plenty of acreage, about 18 acres I think, and you can't even see his house from the road. Guess he likes his privacy. I'm told by someone who has visited the house that there are so many firearms about that "you would think you were in an armed camp." What's Swatek afraid of? Are there some vicious squirrels on his property? Oh, and Swatek has a penchant for private schools, too. Son Chace is a Briarwood Christian grad. And Chace went to law school at Pepperdine University in California, that bastion of progressive thinking. Guess who's dean of the law school there? Yikes!

* And let's not forget Briarwood Christian School, a ministry of the behemoth Briarwood Presbyterian Church. As we've noted before, Briarwood and its powerhouse football program played a role in a strange real-estate deal that caused your humble blogger to wind up with an eight-time criminal for a neighbor and all sorts of legal and financial headaches.

So, do you see a thread here? We're talking about people who are walling themselves off from the public at large--through gated communities, private schools, mammoth doctrinaire churches. And yet what kind of people do those conditions turn out?

Well, Judge J. Michael Joiner and William Swatek are common criminals. And that's not just my opinion. They have repeatedly committed honest services mail fraud (18 U.S. Code 1346) in my case. We will go into more detail on this later, but much of the language related to 1346 refers to "theft" of honest services. And that's what they are--thieves. And who do they steal from? They steal honest services from you, me, and all of the citizens of Alabama. And because they use the U.S. mails, it's a federal crime.

Joiner and Swatek might not look like the guy you envision using a crow bar to break into your home. But they are not one bit better. In fact, they are worse. The guy with the crow bar probably did not take an oath to uphold the law, and he probably isn't on the public payroll.

This brings us back around to one of my pet theories here at Legal Schnauzer. The idea is this: If we are to get to the root of the problem with our modern justice system, we must not look at it only as a legal problem. I submit that it is also a mental-health problem. Based on Eugene Robinson's column, I suspect a lot of sociopathy is being bred behind those gated walls and inside those private schools.

Show me a sociopath, and I will show you someone who--no matter how tough he might appear on the outside--is deeply insecure.

Consider just one example: the Alabama election of 2002. The evidence is overwhelming that numbers were manipulated to give Bob Riley the victory over Don Siegelman. If that's the case, what was at the heart of that act? Insecurity. And I submit insecurity is at the heart of almost everything we have, and will, discuss on this blog--the Siegelman case in Alabama, the Paul Minor case in Mississippi, and my own Legal Schnauzer case.

And we mustn't forget the man who turned Alabama's state courts into a Republican playground and then turned the U.S. Justice Department into a criminal enterprise. That, of course, would be Karl Rove. Think he's got some insecurities?

Let's give Eugene Robinson the last word: "We're afraid of one another, we're afraid of the rest of the world, we're afraid of getting sick, we're afraid of dying. Maybe if we study our insecurities and confront them, we'll learn to keep them in check . . . maybe we'll learn that life isn't really any better behind the walls."

5 comments:

supablogga said...

I couldn't agree more on the insecurity issue. I graduated from the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law at Faulkner University in Montgomery, AL which like Pepperdine is a private christian school affiliated with the Churches of Christ. The Jones staff contains several former Pepperdine employees.

I attended public school from first grade through my sophomore year of college and immediately noticed the mental health issues with both students and faculty upon transferring, but if you speak out against it, they will call you crazy and try to have you committed. Too much time in a fundamentalist, private school can be bad for your mental health. Lucky for me, I had plenty of heathen friends who allowed me to maintain contact with the "sinful world" on weekends.

If you disagree with me, at least consider what these great philosophers have to say on the subject:

"We are a nation that is unenlightened because of religion. I think religion stops people from thinking. I think it justified crazies. I think flying planes into a building was a faith-based initiative. I think religion is a neurological disorder."
-Bill Maher

"The clergy converted the simple teachings of Jesus into an engine for enslaving mankind and adulterated them by artificial constructions into a contrivance to filch wealth and power to themselves…these clergy, in fact, constitute the real Anti-Christ."
- Thomas Jefferson

"Religions vary in their degree of idiocy, but I reject them all. For most people, religion is nothing more than a substitute for a malfunctioning brain.”
- Gene Roddenberry

Anonymous said...

What you are describing, correctly, is elitism. Our republican friends see themselves unfortunately as being better than the average American.

Elitism - the belief that one is or should be superior to others - is one reason why our public schools are in such a deplorable state. This is sad. Our country was founded on the principle that we were doing away with titles and classes. It didn't happen, though.

John Leek said...

Take a listen to the preacher at Brook Hills. He's very good. David Platt is all about looking outside the doors. I think that's why Brook Hills brought him on.

Atlantaflash said...

The three largest newspapers plus the Internet site al.com in Alabama are all owned by Advance Publications, INC. They literally print nothing but lies about all Democrats in the state. They will not allow their investigative reporters any access to these cases. If they would have investigated and printed the truth about Don Siegelman like the locally own papers done the Canary's would have been run out of the state by its citizens before now.

It has taken a few months, but most Alabamians now know the truth about their good friend Don Siegelman, about the conspiracy that removed the most popular Democrat in Alabama by Bush's appointees and how his elections were taken from him.

These three newspaper instruct their writers to start every article that they write about Siegelman with this statement, "our newspapers endorsed Riley and we believe Siegelman to be a crook" then they twist every sentence after that to sound negative.

Many of us are dropping our subscriptions and are switching to locally owned newspapers.

Anonymous said...

I am a student at Briarwood Christian High School and I can confirm for you that Christy Joiner did attend Briarwood Christian School in the year 2007-2008 based on the school's directory. She graduated from Briarwood in 2008. I don't know where she is going to college, but I just thought that this info might be helpful.