A number of readers have been kind enough to express concerns about threats to seize and sell our house. Quite a few have asked thoughtful questions about what I'm facing.
I'm still in the process of conducting legal research on the topics of execution, levy, exemptions etc., so my knowledge is not complete. But I want to try to address some issues that folks have raised.
At the moment, I'm acting as my own lawyer, so I need to be careful about how much I say. But let me take a crack at shining some light on a pretty dark situation:
* Why not just pay the $1,525? Believe it or not, I've never been asked to pay the money. I don't know about you, but I generally don't go around begging people to take my money. Even if the judgment were legitimate, and it isn't, no one has asked me to pay it. Why? Because they don't want the money. They want me to stop blogging.
* What about a lawyer? I've contacted two or three lawyers in the Birmingham area who have known progressive leanings and were recommended to me by a fellow blogger. None of them have responded to my e-mail messages. Here's the reason, I think: Judges have frightening power over the livelihoods of lawyers. A corrupt judge could ruin a lawyer's business. I'm disappointed that these local attorneys have not responded to my inquiries, but I'm not surprised. And given the hot-potato nature of what I'm facing, I can't say I blame them for steering clear of it. Also, my impression is judges are like the mafia--they stick together. A lawyer might practice mainly in Jefferson County, but if he stands up to a corrupt judge in Shelby County, chances are the lawyer will pay at the hands of the corrupt judge's buddies in Jefferson County.
* Are you totally on your own? Well, I'm not sure. I've got some legal contacts outside the Birmingham area. Not sure if they will be able to help, but that is a possibility. The key legal issue, in my mind, is civil rights. To seize someone's house without providing due process of law is a serious civil rights violation. I'm hoping their is a lawyer out there who will see that as a case worth taking on.
* What about the ACLU? A number of folks have recommended the ACLU. I tried contacting the ACLU three or four years ago about judicial corruption, long before my house was threatened, and I never received a reply. A number of people around the country have told me they tried to get help from the ACLU in dealing with corrupt judges and got nothing. So I'm not high on the ACLU. I might try them one more time, but I'm not holding my breath.
* What about the press? There is some activity on that front, but I can't go into details at the moment. An Alabama journalist actually has shown some interest, but I'm not counting on anything there. If anyone shines a bright spotlight on this, I think it will have to come from outside the state.
* What about Congress? I'm definitely going to contact members of the House Judiciary Committee. If folks connected to Alice Martin are behind this, as I suspect, then it's a matter of federal interest. Either way, I believe federal crimes have been committed in this effort to defraud me out of my house. I intend to contact Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) and Steve Cohen (D-TN), who have shown particular interest in the Don Siegelman and Paul Minor cases, the subjects of numerous posts here at Legal Schnauzer.
* What about a fund to collect the money and pay off the judgment? A number of people have suggested this, and believe me, my wife and I appreciate it. But I don't think there is a need to go that route. And as I stated earlier, these folks aren't interested in money. It's about the blog, and I have no intention of giving up Legal Schnauzer.
* What's next? Without going into too many details, I know the next legal step I need to take--and it doesn't require a lawyer. That should put a stop to this nuttiness, but seeing as how we're talking about Republican judges in Alabama, it probably will only delay things a while. Even if they auction off my house, there appear to be steps that can be taken to get it back. And it appears that a period of time must pass before anyone can actually lay claim to my rights to my own house. There's also the matter of my wife, who is joint owner of the house, and our mortgage company, which certainly has an interest.
* Just how far will these nutjobs go? That's a good question, and I don't know the answer. My wife and I have discussed whether or not we need to be prepared to defend ourselves physically. Are sheriff's deputies going to break into our house and try to throw me, or both of us, out? Are we going to come home some evening to find our house blockaded by sheriff's deputies, so we can't get in it? Are Shelby County authorities willing to put someone's life at risk in order to carry out their little scheme? I've dealt with these folks for about eight years now, and I wouldn't put anything past them. It has occurred to me that they might throw me in jail for some trumped-up charge (contempt of court?). They did it to Don Siegelman; no reason they wouldn't try it with me. I can only say that my wife and I are asking ourselves some serious questions and considering some serious steps to defend ourselves.