|Luther Strange and Jessica Medeiros Garrison|
The "of counsel" designation, by the way, usually is reserved for senior attorneys, those who have enjoyed distinguished careers and shown high-level knowledge in certain areas of the law. How did Garrison, with her thin legal resume, manage to obtain such a title at Balch and Bingham? I've asked that question of several lawyers, and they tend to shake their heads or shrug their shoulders as if to say, "Beats me."
In launching a public-relations attack on our reporting about her extramarital affair with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, Garrison reveals that her legal bona fides are shaky, at best.
In her as-told-to rant at marieclaire.com, for example, Garrison says there was a trial in her defamation case against me. Anyone with a computer and willingness to pay a small fee can check alacourt.gov and see there was no trial in the case--no jury, no discovery, no adversarial proceeding of any kind. There was a default-judgment hearing, for which the record shows I was not sent notification, but there was never anything remotely close to a trial. Jessica Garrison, with a law degree and a license to practice, doesn't know the difference between a trial and a hearing? Hmmm.
Then, we have these words from Garrison:
When Shuler was served with the papers from my attorney, he was already in jail for another defamation case. (Robert Riley, a lobbyist, sued Shuler for alleging he'd had an affair with lobbyist Liberty Duke.) When we met in court for a preliminary hearing, Shuler came in wearing an orange jumpsuit.
Garrison makes it sound like it's routine for a journalist--or a blogger or anyone--to be jailed in a defamation case. In fact, my incarceration--based on alleged contempt of court regarding an unlawful temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction--violated more than 200 years of First Amendment law. Specifically, it violated Near v. Minnesota, a 1931 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that is widely considered the "foundational" case for 20th-century defamation law in the United States.
Judge Claud Neilson's ruling in the Rob Riley/Liberty Duke case was so off-the-charts illegal that I can find no other case in American history where a journalist has been imprisoned under such circumstances. Even conservative/libertarian legal analysts, such as Ken White at Popehat blog, proclaimed that Neilson was acting way outside the law. In fact, White said that Riley lawyer Jay Murrill was "blindingly ignorant" or "cynically dishonest."
Does Jessica Garrison seem to know the first thing about First Amendment law and related constitutional issues? Nope. Does she seem to care that Alabama courts routinely are the place where the rule of law goes to die? Nope.
But she doesn't stop with just one ignorant statement. There's more, from marieclaire.com:
When the trial came, Shuler didn't show up. (After five months, he'd gotten out of jail—his wife unpublished the posts about Riley.) Both Luther and I were called to the stand. Seeing Luther responding to questions about the rumors was mortifying. My job had been to help him present a strong front—the exact opposite of making him vulnerable to such scandalous lies. I knew it wasn't my fault, but I couldn't help feeling like I failed him somehow.
Yes, I didn't show up for the hearing (there was no trial) because notice was neither sent nor received. All of that was complicated by the fact that my wife, Carol, and I had been forced to exit our home of 25 years because of a foreclosure that almost certainly was unlawful. But aside from that, consider the stunning material that is highlighted above.
Finally, we have this from an article by Rob Holbert, of Lagniappe Mobile, about Garrison's Marie Claire piece:
Garrison said she is fighting to have Google remove searches that would take people to Shuler’s stories about her. With the defamation judgment against him, she hopes that will soon happen.
Garrison is too dishonest to say it, and Holbert apparently is too lazy or ignorant to ask, but here is what Garrison is trying to do: She's trying to get Google to hide articles that never have been found to be false or defamatory at trial, by a jury, as required under First Amendment law.
In other words, Garrison is pushing for censorship, and she's trying to get Google to go along with her little con game.
If Garrison is successful in this gambit, she and Google might find themselves the target of a First Amendment and civil-rights lawsuit.
We've presented substantial evidence that suggests Jessica Garrison is dishonest, shallow, poorly informed, and not terribly bright. On top of that, we see evidence that she is one crappy lawyer.
Is Google going to jump in bed with her? The company would be wise not to make that mistake.
Jessica Garrison wants to remove articles from the Web that never have been found at trial (or in any adversarial proceeding) to be false and defamatory? Again, that is censorship, and Garrison is trying to enlist one of America's most powerful companies to help in her effort to trample the U.S. Constitution.
In terms of First Amendment law, it doesn't get much more outrageous than that.