Author Mark Childress wrote a popular novel in 1993 called Crazy in Alabama. The book was popular enough that it was turned into a movie starring Melanie Griffith.
It turns out that Childress might have written his book too soon. That's because things really have gotten crazy in Alabama recently.
Consider last week, for example.
Early in the week, Alabama Representative Sue Schmitz (D-Toney) was convicted on federal charges that she pulled strings to get a job with a state program and then did little or no work.
We also learned that a state judge found that Central Alabama Community College had wrongfully terminated Schmitz from the job she supposedly didn't perform and ordered the school to reinstate her, with back pay.
Now we learn that the state owes Schmitz more than $177,000 in back pay.
You heard that right: In federal court, Schmitz was convicted of a crime for allegedly not doing her job. In state court, Schmitz was found to have been wrongfully terminated from the same job and ordered reinstated, with back pay.
How could this happen? Well, as we have noted, some mighty strange things can happen in Alabama when you have a Bush-appointed prosecutor (Alice Martin) and a Bush-appointed judge (R. David Proctor) handling a federal case.
The Birmingham News, which has become little more than Alice Martin's PR sheet, predictably went off on a rant in today's paper about the prospect of the state paying Schmitz money it legally owes her.
While stomping his feet and throwing a fit, the News' editorial writer reveals an awful lot about how Sue Schmitz got convicted for alleged activity that, even if true, does not constitute a federal crime. Consider this snippet from the News editorial:
Jurors were not told of a January ruling by Montgomery Circuit Court Judge Truman Hobbs Jr. that ordered Central Alabama Community College to reinstate Schmitz and two others to two-year system jobs. Hobbs ruled the three had been improperly dismissed under the terms of the state's Fair Dismissal Act.
Um, hmmm. Jurors were not allowed to hear that Schmitz had been unlawfully terminated from her job. How interesting.
This is the very thing Huffington Post's David Fiderer wrote about back in August 2008 regarding Alice Martin's efforts to essentially prevent Schmitz from putting on a defense. With the aid of a Bush-appointed judge, that strategy evidently worked the second time around--after the first Schmitz trial resulted in a hung jury.
Want one final piece of craziness? Today's Birmingham News proudly states that "Corruption Probe Unflagging" regarding Alabama two-year colleges. We learn that the ongoing probe seems to be picking up steam following the Schmitz conviction. We learn this from Assistant U.S. Attorney David Estes, one of Alice Martin's chief lieutenants.
Who is David Estes? Based on an October 2008 article in the Journal of the American Bar Association, Estes is about as unethical as a prosecutor can get. For anyone who wants to know how the Bush Justice Department really operated--and Bushies still run things in Alabama, even with Barack Obama in the White House--Lynda Edwards story, "The Curious Case of Alex Latifi," is must reading.
In Edwards' piece for the ABA Journal, defense lawyers in the case of Huntsville defense contractor Alex Latifi quote Estes as saying, "We don't care if Latifi is innocent. Our goal is to put him out of business."
Lawyers Henry Frohsin and James Barger, of Birmingham, have filed an ethics complaint with the U.S. Justice Department against Martin, Estes and others for their conduct in the Latifi case.
And yet David Estes--a man who admitted he didn't mind ruining the life of an innocent man--is Alice Martin's front man for a corruption probe on two-year colleges.
In other words, a corrupt prosecutor is in charge of looking into corruption. How quaint.
Hey, this is Alabama. And it's crazy indeed.