|Judge Claud D. Neilson|
Jay Murrill, an attorney at Riley's law firm who is representing his boss in the case, appears to have written an order to grant a preliminary injunction and seal the public file, plus an order to hold us in contempt. If granted, the contempt order could subject us to incarceration.
How disturbing is this scenario? Rob Riley, the son of former two-term governor Bob Riley, seems to be serving as a party, legal researcher, court clerk, and de facto judge in a Shelby County Circuit Court case styled Robert R. Riley Jr. and Liberty Duke v. Roger Shuler, Carol T. Shuler and Legal Schnauzer, Civil Action No. 2013--236 and 237.
Do Rob Riley's ties to his father and related GOP heavyweights--not to mention national figures such as Karl Rove and Jack Abramoff--give him the clout to take over a court case and run it for his own benefit? That's exactly what appears to be happening.
No wonder Riley moved for the court file to be sealed, meaning public documents are not available to the public. In fact, this case is more than sealed; it has gone totally underground. When you check electronic files at AlaCourt.com and do a "party search" for my name, the Riley lawsuit does not show up.
In my experience, sealed cases generally show up on a basic docket search. Documents from the case might not be available to the public, and that seems to be standard procedure in a case that has been sealed--the divorce case involving GOP politico Jessica Medeiros Garrison and Tuscaloosa School Board president Lee Garrison is an example. (The Garrison case almost certainly was sealed to ensure that details about Jessica Garrison's affair with Attorney General Luther Strange would not leak to the public.)
Rob Riley apparently has taken sealing one step further, ensuring that a search of public records makes it appear the lawsuit doesn't exist. Mrs. Schnauzer and I only know about the documents because we are parties. And it seems likely that even we have not been provided with copies of all documents in the case.
Why is Rob Riley determined to shroud his lawsuit in secrecy? We can think of a whole bunch of possible reasons. But for now, we will focus on only one, and here it is: Records show the Riley Jackson law firm is writing orders, conducting research--pretty much running the show to benefit partner Rob Riley--and the firm is trying to hide such flagrant corruption from the public.
We have little doubt that retired Marengo County Circuit Judge Claud D. Neilson, appointed by the Alabama Supreme Court to hear the Riley lawsuit, is capable of acting in a corrupt fashion. (Neilson wouldn't be an Alabama judge if that weren't the case.) But for now, we aren't sure Neilson has done anything with the Riley case, one way or another.
Washington,D.C.-based investigative journalist Wayne Madsen noted last week Neilson's leading role in the ugly 2009 case of Herman Thomas. The former Mobile County judge faced multiple counts of sexual abuse, sodomy, and assault, but when a jury could not reach an overall verdict, Neilson stepped in and acquitted his judicial colleague.
We will take a closer look at the Herman Thomas case in an upcoming post. But at the moment, it seems Neilson has done little in the Riley case other than sign his name to documents that Rob Riley's minions prepared. And those signatures might have been stamped by someone else. Has Neilson reviewed relevant law and actually prepared orders? It doesn't look like it. Rob Riley and his lawyers appear to be doing that.
Let's consider an order that purports to hold us in contempt for failing to appear at a hearing last Thursday (October 17) on Riley's preliminary injunction. We showed in yesterday's post that Murrill entered a proposed order, with blank spaces left for someone (supposedly Neilson) to fill in the date/time and sign his name. The order was issued exactly as Murrill wrote it, with "Thursday, October 17th, 2013 at 1:15 p.m." entered by hand for the hearing and "7th day of October, 2013" entered as date of the order. (See the final order at the end of this post.)
Here is where the plot thickens. The order is signed by "Claud D. Neilson, retired circuit judge, assigned by the Alabama Supreme Court." But is that Neilson's handwriting or did someone else fill in the blanks? We have no way of knowing. But we do know that Neilson is based in Demopolis, quite a way from Shelby County, so it might be expeditious for someone to forge the judge's signature.
Aside from the signature, here is perhaps the most disturbing part: If Riley's lawyers prepared the contempt order, a reasonable person might figure they also wrote the preliminary injunction. Court documents in the case, which you aren't supposed to see, show that a hearing on the injunction was held on September 30, the day after we were "served" with court papers during an unlawful traffic stop by Shelby County deputy Mike DeHart.
On October 1, apparently less than 24 hours after the hearing, Neilson issued a four-page order, granting Riley's Petition for a preliminary injunction. The heavily footnoted document includes references to roughly 15 court cases. (See the document here.) What are the chances that a circuit judge could, or would, prepare such a document and have it issued in less than 24 hours? The answer that forms in my mind is "slim and none."
The preliminary injunction, like the contempt order, was prepared in advance, almost certainly by Rob Riley's law office. To top it off, the preliminary injunction is filled with citations to law that are inaccurate, off point, bogus, or some combination of all three. (More on that in an upcoming post.)
Welcome to a real-time view of how law actually is practiced in Karl Rove's Alabama.
You know what they say about bacon: You might like to eat it, but you don't want to see it being made. The same idea applies to our justice system, in Alabama and probably many other states.
Just how ugly can it get? We have much more coming.
(To be continued)