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Monday, July 7, 2008

Judge in Minor Case Gets a Public Spanking

When my tale of legal woe began some seven years ago, I quickly noticed the effect judges have on many lawyers.

For example, upon receiving notice that my troublesome neighbor had filed a bogus lawsuit against me, I retained the services of a lawyer who is known in Birmingham legal circles for his knowledge of property issues.

I paid this lawyer and his associate between $150 and $200 an hour, a total of roughly $12,000 over about a year and a half. You would think that kind of dough would at least buy some loyalty--particularly when you consider that lawyers take an oath to fight vigorously for their clients' best interests.

But you would be wrong.

About 18 months into the case--a case that by law had to be dismissed (summary judgment) in six to eight months time--it became apparent that my lawyers were more interested in currying favor with the corrupt judge assigned to my case than they were representing my best interests. When I challenged my lawyers on their questionable handling of my case, they lied to me about what they were doing. When I demanded a refund of the fees I had paid, they refused.

This episode taught me one of the ugly secrets of the legal professions: Many lawyers, even ones with good reputations, are terrified of what a corrupt judge can do to their practices. These lawyers will happily sell a client down the proverbial river in order to stay in good graces with folks who wear robes.

Because of this, lawyers treat judges with extraordinary deference. While I'm sure some judges deserve the utmost respect, most of the ones I've encountered deserve prison sentences more than anything else.

So imagine my amazement when I read the appeal in the Paul Minor case and saw defense counsel Abbe Lowell give U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate, a Reagan appointee, a public spanking like I've never seen before.

Lowell flat out says that Wingate made numerous "improper" and "illegal" rulings in the Minor case. Six pages of the appeal include a section titled "This court should assign a new judge on remand."

In other words, "This clown ain't fit to run a lemonade stand, much less a trial where several folks' freedom is at stake."

As the author of the following post, "Henry Wingate: Portrait of a Corrupt Judge," I was delighted to see Lowell tell it like it is regarding a true judicial fraud. And I was proud to be among the alternative journalists cited in the appeal for bringing the Minor case to the public's attention. I consider Scott Horton of Harper's.org, Larisa Alexandrovna of Raw Story, and Adam Lynch of the Jackson Free Press to be mighty fine company indeed.

The Minor appeal is a voluminous document, at 121 pages. But I hope readers will take the official Schnauzer "mini tour" of the appeal. The Minor case is a classic illustration of the sheer evil that has come to permeate the Bush Justice Department. And it raises a number of issues that also are present in the Don Siegelman case in Alabama.

As for the "mini tour," try this: Click here and read "Statement of the Case," pages 5-7. That will give you an overview of the facts. Then read "Summary of the Argument," pages 33 to 35, which sums up the grounds upon which the conviction should be reversed. Then be sure to check out "This court should assign a new judge on remand," pages 114-119. That will let you know what it's like to see a federal judge receive a public spanking. It also will cause you to ask this question: How in the world do frauds like Henry Wingate get appointed to the federal bench?

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