|Jessica Medeiros Garrison|
That philosophy seems to be at play in the recent communications I've received from Baxley on behalf of his client, Republican political operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison. First, Baxley alleged that my reports on Garrison's long-running extramarital affair with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange are false and defamatory. I soon will present evidence that indicates Baxley himself doesn't believe that. In fact, I have evidence that suggests Baxley's letters aren't about Jessica Garrison and her affair with Luther Strange--they might not be about Jessica Garrison at all.
But Baxley was not content to raise only a bogus defamation claim against me. He followed that up by suggesting I had engaged in a crime, harassing communications, against his client. Then, seemingly unable to contain himself, Baxley alleged that I had committed another crime, stalking, against his client.
Press reports indicate Baxley has downed copious amounts of Jack Daniels and other "adult beverages" over the years, so maybe that has done something to his brain cells. For whatever reason, he seems to have lost the ability to engage in facts and the law. So we will take over that job for him.
As for facts, I've never seen Jessica Garrison or, to my knowledge, been anywhere near her. I've engaged her in communication twice, both times via e-mail. On both occasions, I requested an interview and/or invited her to comment on matters of public interest. She is, after all, an attorney with a major Birmingham law firm (Balch & Bingham) and an official with a national political organization, the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA). On top of that, she served as campaign manager for Luther Strange in 2010.
In other words, Jessica Garrison has willingly stepped into the arena of statewide and national politics, and she should not be surprised when a reporter contacts her with questions or an interview request. As an attorney herself, she also should be familiar with the law on subjects such as defamation, harassing communications, and stalking.
My first e-mail to Jessica Garrison was sent at 12:31 p.m. on July 12, 2013. Here are the full contents:
I am a journalist in Birmingham, reporting on justice/legal issues at a number of Web sites, including the blog Legal Schnauzer. I've received reports from multiple sources that you and Luther Strange had an affair that culminated with your divorce and his election as attorney general of Alabama. I have been researching this matter for several months, and I'm at the point where the stories are ready for publication. I would like to give you an opportunity to respond to questions and ask that we schedule a time for an interview, either via phone or in person.
My plan is to begin running the articles in the next few days, so I ask that you respond to this request by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 16.
As you can see, I identified myself and stated my affiliation and my purpose for contacting her. I stated that I wanted to give her an opportunity to respond to questions about her relationship with Luther Strange. I said I would be glad to conduct the interview by phone or in person--and I gave her more than four days to respond to my request. I treated her with respect and professional courtesy, but I never heard from her, so I proceeded with my first report about the affair on July 17.
Jessica Garrison had every opportunity to address this issue. If she wanted to make verbal statements or present physical evidence that indicated no affair took place, I was prepared to listen, take notes, and report accordingly. She was contacted five days before the first word ever appeared on this blog about the Luther Strange affair.
Ms. Garrison never responded--never took advantage of a chance to discuss this issue--but now she's claiming my reports are false and defamatory. In a curious twist, Ms. Garrison did not communicate her claims to me until Bill Baxley's letter of August 16, exactly one month after she had failed to respond to my interview request.
That's not the only curious twist in this evolving tale.
(To be continued)