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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Judge Claud Neilson earns dubious "award" for sending me to jail and trampling the First Amendment


The Alabama judge who unlawfully ordered my incarceration in a defamation case has been cited for committing one of the year's "more egregious or ridiculous affronts to free expression."

The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, based at the University of Virginia, has been issuing "Jefferson Muzzles Awards" for 24 years to those who have wantonly trampled First Amendment rights.

Claud Neilson, a retired circuit judge the Alabama Supreme Court specially appointed to hear a lawsuit brought against me by Republican political figures Rob Riley and Liberty Duke, was among eight individuals or entities to receive "Muzzles Awards" for 2014-15.

Josh Wheeler, director of the Thomas Jefferson Center, says the "Muzzles" are designed to spotlight First Amendment violations that might not have made front pages around the world. From a center press release:

Josh Wheeler, director of the Thomas Jefferson Center, says people might be as surprised by what is not on the list this year as they are by what is. “At several points during the past year, the news was understandably dominated by coverage of the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris, the cafĂ© shooting in Copenhagen, and the threats against theaters screening the movie The Interview. While the Thomas Jefferson Center stands united with those condemning violence as a response to speech, our mission has always been focused on meeting challenges to the rights and principles enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. This year, as always, the Jefferson Muzzles reflect that focus.

Wheeler also believes it is important for the Jefferson Muzzles to include lesser-known acts of censorship. “It challenges the assumption held by many that, because of the First Amendment, attempts at censorship are few and far between in this country. In fact, such acts occur every day. Our hope is that the Jefferson Muzzles help to dispel the complacency with which many view free speech issues.”

The mayor of Peoria, Illinois; a district attorney in Bedford County, Pennsylvania; the administration of a New Jersey community college; and the administration of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are among those joining Neilson as "winners" of the dubious awards. The Associated Press picked up on the Muzzles Award story last night, and it ran at al.com, seeing as how one of the chief "winners" is from Alabama.

Here is the citation for Neilson's "award":

Alabama Circuit Court Judge Claud D. Neilson for ignoring a basic tenant of defamation law that “equity will not enjoin a libel” and holding blogger Roger Shuler in contempt of court until he removed allegedly defamatory statements from his website. Shuler spent five months in jail before finally agreeing to remove the statements because he felt he could not endure jail any longer.

(Note: It's not quite accurate to say I felt I could not endure jail any longer. Obviously, I wanted to get out ASAP, but the main reason had to do with my physical well-being. I had witnessed an inmate suicide and numerous fights or near fights and feared for my safety.)


The Jefferson Center then provides more details about Neilson's unlawful actions in my case:

Alabama resident Roger Shuler is a former newspaper reporter who since 2007 has maintained the blog Legal Schnauzer. The blog aims to “scale all obstacles in pursuit of truth and justice” and since its founding Shuler has used it to allege a wide variety of illegal or unethical activities by Alabama’s public officials and political figures.

Judge Claud Neilson
In late 2013, Shuler posted claims that Rob Riley, son of a former Alabama Governor and active member of the Republican Party, was engaged in an extra-marital affair. Riley strongly denied the allegation and went to court seeking an injunction prohibiting Shuler from writing anything further about the alleged affair and asking that all posts about Riley be removed from the blog. At a hearing in which Shuler was not present, acting Circuit Judge Claud Neilson issued the requested injunction, effectively placing a prior restraint on Shuler’s speech. Shuler did not comply with the injunction, however, and not only refused to remove his earlier posts on Riley but also soon wrote a new one. Shuler’s non-compliance landed him in jail for contempt of court. He remained in jail for 5 months until he could not bear incarceration any longer. In March 2014, Shuler had his wife remove the allegedly defamatory posts about Riley and he was released from jail.*

While in many circumstances it is not unusual to find someone in contempt of court for refusing to obey a court order, it is virtually unheard of in the context of allegedly defamatory speech. Were it otherwise, individuals could effectively silence critics by merely alleging their speech to be defamatory without actually having to prove it. To avoid this, the established remedy for reputation harming falsehoods is post-publication relief, not pre-publication censorship. Yet Judge Neilson issued an injunction without any finding that Shuler’s posts about Riley were defamatory. By issuing a prior restraint on Shuler’s speech, Judge Neilson employed a legal mechanism that the U.S. Supreme Court has described as “the most serious and the least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights.” Moreover, Judge Neilson’s unconstitutional injunction deprived a U.S. citizen of his liberty for 5 months. In hopes that it will inspire him to learn what any law student in a basic First Amendment course already knows, Alabama Judge Claud Neilson is awarded a 2015 Jefferson Muzzle.

*When a law enforcement officer went to Shuler’s house to arrest him for contempt of court, an altercation occurred resulting in a resisting arrest charge against Shuler. That matter involves legal issues that are not relevant for the purposes of this Muzzle.

The full Muzzles press release can be viewed below. Of the eight cases, mine is the only one that involves incarceration of a citizen. A strong argument could be made that Neilson's actions were far and away the most serious and outrageous infringement of First Amendment rights on the list:





38 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Judge" Neilson certainly earned this "award." My hope is that he soon earns an orange jumpsuit. No doubt he was part of a criminal conspiracy to kidnap you.

Burt said...

Dale Jackson tweeted this am that you were arrested for contempt of court. Therefore, you were correctly arrested, according to Dale Jackson.

legalschnauzer said...

Who is Dale Jackson?

Burt said...

He hosts a radio show in Huntsville.

Anonymous said...

Don't be coy, you know who he is, and your has wife responded to his letters before

legalschnauzer said...

The bar must be set pretty low (subterranean?) for Huntsville radio hosts. The facts and law are this: Neilson issued a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction, both of which are violations of First Amendment law dating back to the Revolutionary War. He ordered my arrest for "violating" a TRO/permanent injunction that cannot exist under the law. As the Jefferson Center said, this is something students learn in Law School 101. It's simple stuff, but it apparently is beyond Dale Jackson's grasp. Is he a right-wing loon?

Anonymous said...

Are you a left-wing loon?

Burt said...

He's a conservative.

legalschnauzer said...

And he's in Alabama? That means he's a right-wing loon.

Anonymous said...

Your in Alabama, so your a right-wing loon.

Shay said...

Dale Jackson never has been accused of trying to educate his audience, and he's certainly not going to start now.

legalschnauzer said...

@9:42--My wife has received letters from Dale Jackson? That's news to me and news to her. Even if that's true, which it isn't, how does that mean I know who the guy is? Right-wing radio loons all sound the same to me, and they run together in my mind--when I think of them at all, which isn't often.

Anonymous said...

https://theattackmachine.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/my-open-letter-to-mr-and-mrs-roger-shuler/

His comments and your responses to refresh your memory

Dale Jackson said...

Talk to your wife, I tried to help your pathetic self.

https://theattackmachine.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/roger-shuler-is-rotting-in-jail-and-his-wife-wants-to-sue-me-for-something/

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Dale Jackson knows more about constitutional law than the director of the Thomas Jefferson Center. Don't worry about Dale. He's the prototypical blowhard.

legalschnauzer said...

I did talk to my wife, and she said she's never received a letter from you in her life. You were trying to help me? How, pray tell?

Dale Jackson said...

You think I made that whole thing up?

legalschnauzer said...

Somebody above said you sent a letter, and your links aren't to a letter. They are to a blog post. Carol said she responded to some tweets or blog comments or something, but she said she never received a letter from you.

Again, I have no idea how you would have any interest or ability to help me. Your tweet this a.m. got the fundamental matter in my case wrong, as the director of Jefferson Center said, it's easy, early law-school stuff.

Sorry, but I haven't asked for your kind of help, and I don't need it--then or now.

Dale Jackson said...

You are an absolute imbecile.

You are quibbling over an e-mail vs. an actual letter.

This is as wise as your "I was never served" argument.

I get your case, here it is in a nutshell:

You said a ton of crazy un-provable things. Finally got sued. When served, claimed you weren't served appropriately as you threw papers out the window. Didn't show up in court. Ordered to remove defamatory posts. Did not. Found in contempt. Resisted arrest. Sat your dumbass in jail. Deleted offending blogs. Got sued. Didn't show up again. $3.5 judgement. Still claimed you had em right where you wanted them. Somewhere in all of this you lost your house, your job and your wife's job.

Does that sum it up.

legalschnauzer said...

So you're "anonymous" now. That's funny.

No, here is what sums it up. Check out your first line. Most of us start growing out of name calling somewhere around third grade. But you've never grown out of it. You're still that third grader who lobs bombs at others because you can't think of anything else to say--and you are too lazy to actually learn about issues that stray outside your little sandbox.

You offered me help, well I will offer you some. Grow up. An overgrown child, posing as an adult, cuts an pretty unimpressive swath.

Anonymous said...

God, LS, what a great comment, telling Dale Jackson to grow up. Somebody has needed to do that for years. He IS like a third grader, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for him to grow up. Don't think it will ever happen.

legalschnauzer said...

I probably need to apologize to third graders. It's an insult to them to be compared to Dale Jackson. I've met quite a few third graders who are far more mannerly and intelligent and thoughtful than Dale Jackson seems to be.

Dale Jackson said...

You continue to lie. It is pathological.

I post using my name. Both you and your wife have tried this "Oh, your anonymous" crap...

3rd grader, great stuff.

Keep getting egged-on by anonymous folks who don't give a damn if you get locked up again. Keep making up crazy stories, the latest one is that Luther Strange is part of the Gambino crime family, right?

Lunatic.

legalschnauzer said...

Got to give you credit. You are always lazy, and you always resort to name calling--like a fourth grader. Does that make you feel better? You've been upgraded.

You are one of the most intellectually lazy individuals I've ever encountered. But you are consistent. Props for that.

Anonymous said...


Hey Legal Schnauzer, before you go on calling someone a name caller, might want to check your own integrity on such issue!!! Heres some examples!

LS: Actually, I think I know exactly who you are, and why your panties are in a bunch these days. I'm pretty sure you and I have spoken several times, and you have a fake public image you wish to preserve, which is why you are afraid to contact me and reveal your true identity. You are a coward--always have been, always will be. You also are a very small, sick little man, which is why you hate someone who actually stands for something.

April 20, 2015 at 8:49 PM

LS:You really should try the comedy-club circuit, @1:23. Looks like you've given up on trying to be taken seriously

April 15, 2015 at 3:12 PM

LS:I don't know if you are grasping at straws or you really are as clueless as you sound, but you deserve "credit" for one of the most legally inept comments I've ever read--here or anywhere else.

April 13, 2015 at 8:41 PM

LS: Were you raised in the woods by wild hogs? It sounds like it, and I apologize for offending wild hogs.

April 13, 2015 at 9:18 PM

LS: You do deserve credit for this: I've never had a commentor pack so much stupidity into such a small space before. Congratulations!

March 30, 2015 at 9:16 AM

legalschnauzer said...

Funny, but you don't provide a single example of the kind of unvarnished, unexplained name calling in which Mr. Jackson specializes. And he does it with stunning consistency.

If you are capable, take a close look at the examples from my blog vs. Mr. Jackson's "material."

You should be able to see the difference. If you can't, I can't help you.

BTW, you seem to be acknowledging that Mr. Jackson is a knee-jerk name caller. Your defense of him is that I supposedly am, too.

Sorry, I'm not perfect, but I'm not even close to Mr. Jackson's class as a name-caller. It's pretty much the only tool he's got--at least when it comes to discussing matters of law, which clearly are way beyond his grasp.

Anonymous said...

Well LS considering your legal success record (or lack thereof) when it comes to discussing matters of law, is clearly way beyond your grasp.

legalschnauzer said...

Thank you, @3:18, for illustrating another one of Mr. Jackson's unfortunate traits. (I guess his traits apply to his followers, of which you might be one.)

Your comment indicates you don't care one iota about the rule of law. Your comment indicates you don't care one iota about constitutional rights--such as due process, equal protection, etc.

You only care about who "won" or "lost" a case because that's all your small mind can grasp. You can't look at a case to see if the judge ruled according to law, if the judge was a "neutral arbiter," as required by the 14th Amendment.

I do look beyond the won/lost mindset, and that's largely why I've been attack by the conservative elites (of both parties) who run Alabama. To a great extent, that's why I was thrown in jail--the elites don't know what to do with a reporter like me that they can't control.

You assume the judges in my cases--and other cases I've reported on--got it right because that's the easy thing to do. Like Mr. Jackson, you are too lazy to go beyond that, to look at what actually happened, to see if the rule of law was applied.

That's why I'm not interested in going on a show with a host like him and followers like you.

You are invested in your own lazy way of thinking, and that's likely to never change. In my view, your ilk are unpatriotic and un-American because you do not believe in the constitutional guarantees that make us a democracy that once was to be admired.

Not sure why I've invested time engaging in back and forth with you guys because it's such a waste of time. You engage in name-calling and insults because that's as far as your minds will allow you to go.

Actually, I suspect you both are smart enough to do much better than that. But it seems you've set up a mental barricade to block out ideas that might cause you to reconsider how the world really works.

Good luck with your future endeavors. Let me know if you ever decide to take off the blinders. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening in the near future, if ever.

Anonymous said...

Of course your idea of being American is sitting in your upstairs window, recording numerous deputies trying to serve you a subpena and then complaining that you didn't get served in a reasonable time. That is a cowardly act.
There really isn't a lot to look at in your case. If you don't show up in court, you will have a default judgement against you. You knew the lawsuit was ongoing, but you chose to ignore it.
I am an American and I believe in the Constitution. I also believe in personal responsibility. I have been served a few subpoenas in my life. I always gladly accepted them, showed up in court and told my side. It's amazing, but I have never had a default judgement. I wonder how that happened.

Dale Jackson said...

I'm lazy? I think you've worn out that insult at this point.

Now you know the ide tiny of every anonymous poster after falling accusing me of being an anonymous poster... Smart and believable.

The "falsely accusing people" thing seems to be a trend.

Lastly, if you can convince or stand your ground against a lazy fool like me no wonder you want show up in court.

legalschnauzer said...

Dale:

I don't think I've worn out the lazy notion because you keep proving that it's true.

In fact, you now must be so lazy or tired because you can't write a coherent comment at this point.

I have no idea what your latest masterpiece is even attempting to say. Have a good evening.

legalschnauzer said...

@4:15, you are so wrong about everything that I don't even know where to begin:

* I wasn't being served with a subpoena. I don't recall a subpoena ever being a factor in the Riley case.

* There was no default judgment.

* I've never complained that I "didn't get served in a reasonable time."

* I didn't ignore the court case, and the record shows I responded to it with an appropriate motion.

* Check out a SCOTUS ruling issued just today. It adds to the evidence that I was never lawfully served at all, meaning the court never had jurisdiction over me, as I argued all along. I know that will take some effort on your part, but maybe you will find it satisfying to actually learn something about the law.

To summarize: Almost every word of your comment is false--and it's contradicted by the record. I could explain the record to you, but I'm not going to bother because you've proven you can't grasp it.

I couldn't explain it in this format anyway. You would have to e-mail me, with your real name, so we could arrange a time to talk via phone. But I doubt you will do that, and it doesn't matter to me whether you are informed or not.

I've already wasted too much time on individuals whose intellectual talents seem to be calling names and making insults--and not much else.

Here's a suggestion: Try looking at a court docket in a case to learn the facts or allegations, and go to a law library or good online site to learn the applicable law, before spouting off on a case you know nothing about. I know that takes effort, and you resist putting forth effort, but it will lessen the chances of you looking like a dunce, as you have today.

As it stands now, every sentence you write provides more examples of a lazy mind. Give it a rest because you are way out of your depths.

You and Dale Jackson have proven beyond a doubt that you are intellectually lazy, so there is no reason to keep writing so you can drive home that point.

Name calling and such might be an effective communication tool in the world of right-wing radio, but it gets you nowhere with me.

Robby Scott Hill said...

After the Battle of Chattanooga, a chaplain asked General Thomas whether the dead should be sorted and buried by state, Thomas replied "Mix 'em up. I'm tired of States' Rights." Robby Hill is also tired of States' Rights. I figure that if our freedoms as Americans were secured in the Civil War, then these States' Rights assholes should have to face us in a fair fight before they can take those freedoms away instead of hiding behind badges & robes. Eventually, they will be defeated by federal power just like their fathers were in the 1960s & their ancestors were in the 1860s.

Anonymous said...

But you did hide in your upstairs window while deputies attempted to serve you. And you have had a default judgement against you. You have made a comment about not being given enough time to respond. I believe you said you should have had 30 days before the court date, not one. Had you gone to the door and received the paperwork from the deputy, maybe you would have had more time.
I wouldn't be so sure the SCOTUS decision helps you. Had the officer used the dog during the stop, he would have been fine. The problem was the detention after the stop. Handing someone a paper after you signed the ticket isn't in the same ball park as an 8 to 10 minute detention.

Robby Scott Hill said...

The fundamental matter in Roger's case is prior restraint. It's first year law school stuff & Roy Moore's handpicked special judge couldn't get it right, but perhaps he was handpicked because the GOP Leadership knew he wouldn't get it right ;^) This isn't the America you learned about in High School Civics, this is the real shit; secret societies protecting the financial positions of their members & pushing the opposition into the streets & the jails.

legalschnauzer said...

Rob:

Good to hear from you. Since you have a law degree and actual knowledge, feel free to address any of the issues raised by Mr. Jackson and his followers. Beware, of course, that they won't grasp anything you tell them.

legalschnauzer said...

Again, @9:22, I don't know how to enlighten someone who simply refuses to be enlightened.

* There is no law that says anyone has to answer the door when someone knocks, whether it be cops or civilians. Plaintiffs had multiple ways they could have served us, so we had no lawful obligation to answer the door for cops. Most courts allow six months or more for service, and this all took place within one week, so by law, we were not avoiding service. We simply exercised our fundamental right to be left alone.

* The cops could have left a note saying they had court papers for me, and I would have known what they were trying to do. They didn't leave such a note, and I think that's because their real intent was to arrest (kidnap) both me and Carol. Again, plaintiffs could have chosen any number of service methods that do not involve cops.

* Even if I had answered the door and received service, that is nowhere near the time required by Alabama law to prepare for a hearing on a preliminary injunction. That's been covered here on LS, but I'm sure you haven't bothered to look it up.

* You obviously haven't read today's Rodriquez ruling, but it says that even a "de minimis" extension is unlawful. And any extension must be related to reasonable suspicion of a crime, which even Officer DeHart never suggested was present. Anyone who seriously thinks it's lawful for a cop to stop a vehicle to give court papers . . . well, it's so outrageous that I don't think there is even a case that's directly on point with what DeHart did. I'm not sure a law-enforcement ever officer ever has attempted something so stupid and flagrantly unlawful. DeHart might have pulled off a first.

* In a sense, you are right that Rodriguez does not help me. The law already showed that DeHart's actions were unconstitutional. Today's ruling just drives home the point that even a "de minimis" extension is unlawful--and one not related to reasonable suspicion of a crime is unlawful, period.

Not sure what your agenda is, but you clearly have one. Perhaps you should move to another country because you clearly can't grasp the constitutional principles that are supposed to guide life here in the USA.

Your utter contempt for the rule of law becomes more apparent with each sentence you write.

And you claim to be a conservative, patriotic American? Your own words show that you are none of those things.

Many white conservatives should exit the country, and I'm serious about that. They believe essentially in what I call a "shadow confederacy," guided by chosen white (mostly male) elites. They certainly do not believe in the U.S. Constitution. To a great extent, they don't believe in the Alabama Constitution either, so I'm not sure where these folks should go--but they obviously hate the principles upon which this country was founded.

Robby Scott Hill said...

The shadow Confederacy or Knights of the Golden Circle aka KGC is very real. It is a secret society dedicated to the restoration of the Confederate States of America.