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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bob Riley Caves Rather Than Give Testimony Under Oath

What can make an arrogant Republican crumble in fear? The thought of having to testify under oath about his corrupt actions.

That's the lesson to take from reports that Alabama Governor Bob Riley has agreed to settle a lawsuit, in the face of a tight deadline for his deposition. A state judge had refused to dismiss the lawsuit and given both sides until September 20 to complete depositions--and opposing counsel had indicated that Riley would be among those questioned under oath.

Knowing that depositions can be wide ranging--and this one could have covered issues related to campaign finance, no-bid contracts, and other uncomfortable matters--Riley decided it would be a good idea to pay up.

Reports the Associated Press:

Gov. Bob Riley has agreed for the state to pay the legal fees of a law firm that a legislative committee hired to sue the governor over an unbid computer contract, officials said Wednesday.

Tommy Gallion, an attorney who represented the law firm, said the governor agreed to pay the $78,000 sought by Thomas, Means, Gillis and Seay. Riley also agreed to a payment of about $15,000 to Gallion. The Montgomery law firm had originally in February asked the state to pay $26,740 for its work representing the Legislature's Contract Review Committee.

You can always count on a Riley spokesperson to make a cartoonish attempt to explain away the governor's problems, and Jeff Emerson doesn't disappoint this time. Reports AP:

Riley's communications director, Jeff Emerson, confirmed the governor had agreed to settle the case to avoid costly, drawn-out litigation.

The settlement came after Jefferson County Circuit Judge Tom King last month denied a motion by Riley and state Comptroller Thomas White to dismiss the lawsuit. Emerson said King's ruling made it apparent he would eventually order the state to pay the legal fees.

"We believe the judge would not have changed his mind at trial and the state would have been forced to appeal, which would have added to the cost," Emerson said. "Unlike the plaintiffs, we don't want to waste taxpayer money on this political battle against the governor."

Emerson is so full of horse feces, the stuff must be oozing from his eye sockets. The facts indicate that Riley's decision to settle had nothing to do with his concern for taxpayers.

Riley could have given a deposition and still saved the taxpayers money by resolving the case shortly thereafter. In fact, if the governor really wanted to make sure the public knew the truth at no cost, he could have paid the deposition expenses out of his own pocket.

But he chose to settle matters now--before the September 20 deadline--because he did not want to have to give a deposition. Specifically, he did not want to face the possibility of having to testify under oath about the campaign support he received from Mississippi gambling interests--laundered through Jack Abramoff--and the huge gobs of state dollars he has shipped to family members and their associates.

What else can we learn from the lawsuit settlement? It appears that "Big Boss" Bob Riley might be in a weakened state. Is it possible that some folks don't fear the governor anymore?

Consider Jefferson County Circuit Judge Tom King, who was assigned to the Thomas Means case after Montgomery County judges recused themselves. First, would the Montgomery judges have recused themselves from such a case just a year or two ago, when Riley seemed invincible? We doubt it. And what about King, the guy who refused to dismiss the lawsuit and then put Riley under a tight deadline for a deposition? Is he an unusually ethical and fearless judge? It's possible, but we doubt it. If the Thomas Means case had come before him a year or two ago, we suspect King would have let the governor off the hook.

Have conditions changed for perhaps the most corrupt governor in Alabama history? Well, Riley is a lame-duck governor who will leave office in January 2011. His hand-picked successor, Bradley Byrne, got thrashed in the Republican Party primary. And even Riley's trusted friends on the Alabama Supreme Court seem reluctant to help at the moment, given that they are under investigation for possible misconduct connected to gambling-related rulings that went in the governor's favor.

We felt certain that Riley would avoid a deposition in the Thomas Means lawsuit by filing an emergency motion with the Alabama Supreme Court. But Justice Glenn Murdock, a strong Riley ally who has written numerous favorable rulings for the governor, is facing scrutiny for failing to disclose conflicts of interest-- so that easy path might be closed for now.

If Alabama Democrats were smart, they would pounce now and make Riley pay dearly for visiting untold sleaze upon our state over the past eight years. But Alabama Democrats have proven time and again that they are not so sharp. And with the Obama administration seemingly incapable of appointing a real U.S. attorney in Montgomery, the feds aren't likely to do anything about it.

Our guess is that Bob Riley will eventually walk away scot free, and his family members and cronies will continue to hose Alabama citizens for years.

But to watch the governor squirm when faced with having to give a deposition? It was maybe our favorite political moment of 2010--and it was fun while it lasted.


Anonymous said...

Is there a single judge that you believe to be ethical and not corruption? You sound like the typical pro se plaintiff who is bitter because they lost a case.

Did you read Judge King's Order? If not, go to Thomas, Means, Gillis, & Seay's website and do so. King called it like it is against Riley.

legalschnauzer said...


You are misreading what I wrote. I never questioned the correctness of King's order in the Riley case. I believe he got it absolutely right. I also acknowledge that it's possible King is an unusually ethical and fearless judge--the kind we need--all the time. I hope that is the case; it would be a true breath of fresh hair. But I raise this question: Would King have ruled the same way a year or two ago, when Riley was riding high and most everyone assumed Bradly Byrne would be our next governor, continuing the Riley reign?

Personally, I doubt it. But I hope I'm wrong. It seems pretty clear to me, and a lot of other folks, that our state's highest court has been ruling in an unethical fashion for Riley's benefit. Is there any reason to think that a circuit judge would be more ethical than our Supreme Court justices? I hope King indeed is honest all the time, and I would like to study more of his rulings to see if he consistently follows the rule of law. If he does, I give him 10,000 cheers--and I wish we had more judges like him.

As for me, in my personal legal matters, it's not a matter of what I "believe" about the judges' ethics. It's a matter of public record that they have been corrupt, and anyone who studies the law and reads their rulings could see that. I've laid much of it out here on this blog--with much more to come--and I've yet to have one person be able to legitimately dispute it.

Again, it's not a matter of opinion that the judges I've encountered, so far, have been corrupt. It's a matter of fact and public record. I hope to encounter a judge at some point who will break that mold. If I do, I will be sure to report it here.

To answer your other question, yes I've read King's ruling, and I believe he's right on target. I'm amazed to see an Alabama judge get it right for a change. I hope King does that on a regular basis.

Robby Scott Hill said...

Speaking of Bradley Byrne, guess who has been appointed as the special judge for the trial of John Tyson's buddy, former Asst. DA Steve Giardini?

You gotta admire the power of The Machine! Get ready for a suspended sentence, voluntary surrender of his law license & in 5 short years Tony McClain will hook a brother up. Only in Alabama can you shoot a State Trooper, start dating an FBI Agent while you're serving on a jury or purchase child porn while you're prosecuting sex crimes & get your license to practice law. Yet, if you're having trouble paying your bills on your lowest of all state salaries in the entire 50 states, you'll never practice law in this state because you'll never even make into the bar exam.

The message they are sending is that you can engage in inappropriate relationships with government agents, sexually exploit children, shoot police officers & you've still got a future in the practice of law as long as you've got money. Not having money is a bigger crime than murder as far as the state bar is concerned.

Hootboyslimm said...

How many days until Riley is out of office?
We need a precise countdown.

Hootboyslimm said...

This is "off the record" but I got it on the "QT" that Troy King is rallying his supporters to vote for James Anderson.

Anonymous said...


Fair enough.

Would King have ruled the same way two years ago? I think he would have done so if the law was the same. I was intrigued by his opinion. King ruled for Riley last December in the actual Paragon Source matter saying that Holmes waited too long to bring the lawsuit and lost standing. In his most recent opinion, however, King said the outcome of the Paragon Source matter would have been entirely different had the facts been different.

I wish all judges could be that fair. I wish all judges would stand up to Billion Dollar Bob, our Supreme Court sure hasn't.

legalschnauzer said...


You raise a good point about the earlier ruling by King in the Thomas Means matter. Essentially, he favored Riley the first time around and the law firm on the second matter. That sounds whacky, but that might be what the law and the facts called for.

Here is something I wonder about: The Montgomery judges apparently all recused themselves on this lawsuit. But when insurance exec John Goff sued Riley 4-5 years ago, the judges did not recuse and one of them wound up gutting Goff's case and dismissing Riley. Why the difference, I wonder. After Goff sued Riley, the Bush DOJ went after Goff on questionable criminal charges, which seemed like a clear case of retaliation, instigated by Leura Canary on behalf of her buddy, Riley. Are the facts and the law different now or has the political environment changed? I don't know the answer, but I think it's an interesting question to ponder.

One thing I should clear up: I used the term corrupt regarding judges I personally have encountered, and that is a rather jarring term. I've had people take me to task for using that term, claiming (I think) that it takes more than one bad ruling to make a judge corrupt. That's open to debate, in my mind. But to be clear, I am referring to cases where judges made "unlawful" rulings, decisions that were wrong under black-letter law.

In my mind, one such ruling, on something so clear that it can't possibly be a mistake, either makes a judge corrupt or incompetent. But for folks who don't like those terms, I mean judges who rule contrary to clear law, on matters that are not discretionary.

I don't use the term "corrupt" lightly. Reasonable people can disagree on the usage of that word. But the big issue is judges who violate their oath to uphold the law for everyone. In taking such actions, judges violate the constitutional right to due process and equal protection, and that's why these issues should be important to all Americans, whether they are personally involved in the case or not.

As I've learned the hard way, if you ignore the unlawful actions of a judge, he can come around to bite you one day.

Robby Scott Hill said...

The Supreme Court doesn't seem to understand that I spent 10 years away from my family and hometown working two jobs to get through law school & take the bar exam & they stopped me for not having money after being fired without cause or being underpaid by wealthy lawyers, yet they allow wealthy lawyers like Bill Swatek to screw people like Roger Alan Shuler & "that Black law firm" without consequences. Working Class people need to unite to shut down the system of corruption. We need to make friends in Homeland Security while Democrats are in power and find out who their drug dealers are, who their mistresses are and watch the house of cards come crashing down.

legalschnauzer said...

Rob: I like the way you think. Something pretty clearly smells about that whole Paragon Source deal, and I suspect the public will never know the real story.

It also would be interesting to know the dirty laundry of some of the so-called "journalists" in this state who do more to hide the truth than reveal it.

The Birmingham News ran a tiny story about Riley's cave job. You needed a magnifying glass to find it.

Redeye said...

Let me see if I've got this right,
King ruled for Riley last December in the actual Paragon Source matter saying that Holmes waited too long to bring the lawsuit and lost standing.

So it wasn't that Holmes didn't have a case it was that he waited to long to bring the case? Gee.