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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

New al.com Post Focuses On My Release And Provides An Opportunity For Comment About Life Behind Bars

Judge Claud Neilson
Details about my release from the Shelby County Jail are available in a new article at al.com. Reporter Kent Faulk gave me an opportunity to comment about the whole experience, and I hope that provides new insight about my time behind bars.

The article is titled Legal Schnauzer blogger freed from jail after 5 months; had been held on contempt charge and focuses on steps that led to my release last Wednesday.

In the initial version of his report, Faulk noted that he had sought comment from me but had not received a reply. I contacted Faulk and told him that the e-mail had not appeared in my inbox, but I would be glad to comment or answer questions. His query finally reached me, and here is how it read:

I see from your blog that your wife removed some things from your blog etc. That satisfied the judge? Do you feel you had support from different groups during your incarceration? How so?

Here is my response:
"I'm very thankful to be out of jail. It was an extremely difficult experience, physically and mentally.
"I had hoped to be released much sooner than this, with the help of legal counsel that could have argued that the preliminary injunction in my case was improper under roughly 200 years of American law. It's a classic prior restraint, the kind that long has been forbidden under the First Amendment. Outside legal counsel was slow in developing, and I couldn't argue the case for myself from inside the jail, so over the course of several weeks my wife figured out how to remove certain items as ordered by the court and gained my release. I see her as a hero in this, operating under very stressful conditions.
"I guess you could say it was a survival move. While inmates and guards generally treated me well, jail is a rough place. I witnessed an inmate suicide and regularly witnessed fights or intense verbal altercations that threatened to become dangerous. I needed to get out, especially when you consider this was a civil matter that involved no criminal allegations.
"I regret that it took five months to make this happen, but we had very little direction from the court on how to make it happen. And inmates in general have limited opportunities to communicate with the outside world. I'm not sure the general public understands just how isolating the jail experience can be. I certainly didn't realize it until I experienced it.
"As for support from different groups, I know the ACLU and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) filed briefs on my behalf--and I greatly appreciate that. I know a lot of people from all walks of life were in touch with Carol, offering support in different ways. I think my case was so extraordinary--I was the only jailed journalist in the Western Hemisphere for 2013--I'm not sure a lot of people knew exactly how to respond to it. It's just not the kind of thing you see, or should see, in the United States. Plus, the case file was sealed for a number of months, and that helped keep people in the dark.
"I do know that Carol and I have been in a lot of thoughts and prayers, and that means more to us than I can say."

In the body of  his report, Faulk notes the major role my wife, Carol, played in bridging the gap between the court and her inmate husband. From Faulk's report:

Roger Shuler, who writes the blog Legal Schnauzer, was released from the Shelby County Jail last Wednesday afternoon based on an order from Circuit Court Judge Claud D. Neilson.
In his order, Neilson stated that Shuler's wife, Carol Shuler, "has removed most of the subject matter of the injunction from the Legal Schnauzer blog, from Shuler's You Tube account, and from Shuler's Twitter account."
"The court is informed that the headlines about the subject matter of the injunction are still on the internet if you utilize Google or Yahoo. The defendant Roger Shuler, also has another blog/website that contains the material that was determined to be defamatory and made the subject of the permanent injunction," the judge wrote.
"Because of the good faith efforts made to remove the material by Carol Shuler, the court has determined that the defendant, Roger Shuler, may be released from custody pending a review by the court of all actions taken to remove the defamatory items and if the defendants have purged themselves of contempt," Neilson wrote.

But Neilson also cautioned that his final order in the case on Nov. 14, 2013 is a permanent injunction - ordering Shuler to take the comments down - and Shuler is subject to its terms in the future.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Speaker of the house just made a speech on CNN Boehner commented on taking this new cap off of how much can be donated to political individuals. He just said "You all have the FREEDOM OF SPEECH TO WRITE WHAT YOU WANT TO WRITE .. Now you can give what you want to give".. I thought when he was saying this "I hope Rogers sees this." I taped it.. It will be on all day.. Don't give up..

Anonymous said...

Help me understand how you "had very little direction from the court on how to make it happen."?

Was the outcome achieved by your wife the same outcome you could have achieved prior to your incarceration by removing the slanderous material?

Anonymous said...

So you aren't totally off the hook yet-all is pending a final review? So if whatever has been done is not satisfactory you could go back to jail for contempt? Is that right ?

Debra Ann Elliott said...

Supporting you all the way!

e.a.f. said...

Nielsen most likely realized your particular case was receiving much more attention than anyone had thought it might.

What becomes critical is for the other side to appear that it has "won". When Ms. Shuler removed some of the "offending" items, it is most likely those involved felt it was best to have you out of jail than in. it is not unreasonable to conclude some may have thought it was easier to have you in jail, but then the news did travel.

Great you received additional press on this matter. Given the latest Supreme Court decision regarding financial contributions and freedom of speech, perhaps it might be better to throw money.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that e.a.f.'s analysis makes sense. The attention peaked sometime last November or December, so that would have been the time at which the press could plausibly have been said to contribute to Roger's release.

I'm not particularly fond of Roger, but I hope that he succeeds in overturning the injunction the right way: through the court system. I can't imagine that it'll withstand appellate review.

Anonymous said...

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/04/john-boehner-supreme-court-ruling-campaign-limits-105288.html

Larry Smith Asheville said...

You must not throw in the towel. Here is why your jailing was illegal, just ONE of many reasons:

http://www.paed.uscourts.gov/documents/opinions/13d0385p.pdf

“[T]he maxim that equity will not enjoin a libel has enjoyed nearly two centuries
of widespread acceptance at common law.”

And here is my comment in Alabama's usenet forum:
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alabama.general/Hi525J0hQa8

RStevens said...

The Alabama Republican Mafioso did not like the national attention of its third world country antics. The dark coming to light is heating up in Montgomery too with republicans turning on each other in ethics violations. It would take a soap hurricane to purge all the back room, back alley dirty deals going on in this state including what happened to Roger. I am so glad he is out of jail. Republicans I hope you do not sleep at night until you do right. What is done in the dark always comes to light and republicans the spotlight is on YOU!!!!!

e.a.f. said...

It depends upon what your definition is of "peak". Mr. Shuler's case continued to receive exposure. Frequently it isn't how much exposure an event receives but where it receives its exposure.