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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Judge in Mike Hubbard case has family ties to the law firm that now is trying to keep the Alabama House Speaker from an up-close view of our state prisons


Judge Jacob Walker III
(Note: This post has been updated [in the second paragraph] to show that a hearing in the Mike Hubbard case has been rescheduled from Feb. 10 to Feb. 16.)

The judge in the Mike Hubbard corruption case used to be the primary partner in the law firm that now is helping to defend the Alabama House Speaker. In fact, Judge Jacob Walker's family built the firm that now is trying to earn a not-guilty verdict for Hubbard on a 23-count indictment of ethics-law violations.

When you add this information to the affidavit Montgomery political consultant Baron Coleman filed, claiming possible prosecutorial misconduct, an upcoming hearing in the case should be filled with intrigue. The hearing was set for today (Feb. 10), but has been rescheduled for next Tuesday (Feb. 16). The court gave prosecutors until Feb. 11 to respond to Coleman's affidavit.

A document filed on January 20, 2016, in the Hubbard case shows that two of the lawyers representing the speaker are Phillip E. Adams Jr. and Blake Oliver of the Opelika firm Adams White Oliver Short and Forbus.

A 1998 appellate case shows that Jacob A. Walker III was with the Opelika firm of Walker Hill Adams Umbach Meadows and Walton. Walker, as you can see, was listed in the No. 1 position on the firm's nameplate. That's the same Jacob A. Walker III who, about the time that 1998 case was decided, was appointed to a Lee County judgeship by Governor Fob James.

Walker has been on the bench ever since, earning re-election most recently in 2010. The firm that once bore his name has morphed into--you guessed it--Adams White Oliver Short and Forbus. In fact, the firm has the same address it had back in the '90s--205 S 9th St, Opelika, AL 36801.

A brief history on the firm's Web site indicates that address has been home to what should be called "The Walker Law Firm" since the 1940s. Photographs on the Web show that the firm is housed in The Walker Building.

How did Jacob Walker III land such a pre-eminent place in the legal stratosphere of east Alabama? He did it the old-fashioned way--he was born into privilege. From the firm history:

Adams White Oliver Short & Forbus can trace its roots to the law practice of Jacob Walker, Sr. Jacob Walker, Sr. graduated from Alabama Polytechnic Institute, what is now Auburn University, in 1908 and then attended the University of Chicago Law School. After graduating from the University of Chicago Law School, Mr. Walker, a native of Alexander City, returned to his home town to practice law. In 1915, Mr. Walker moved his young law practice from Alexander City, Alabama to Opelika, Alabama and began practicing law with Reid Barnes. In the late 1930's, Mr. Walker bought a vacant lot next to the Lee County Courthouse and in 1940 constructed a building to house his law practice. In the newspaper article announcing the construction of the office building by Mr. Walker, it was reported that the “blue prints of the new Walker Building indicate that Opelika will have one of its handsomest business structures” in the region and that the plans for the interior were of the “very latest designs for the elegant furnishings to be arranged.” The article continued to explain that the building “will be strikingly beautiful, one of the finest designs of any building in the city. When completed, this will make a wonderful improvement in the courthouse block. ”

In 1948, Mr. Walker was joined in the practice of law by his son, Jacob Walker, Jr., and they began practicing law under the name of Walker & Walker. Phil Adams joined the firm in 1969 and continued to practice law with Jacob Walker, Jr. until Jacob’s retirement in December of 2001. Over the years the firm changed its name but its members continue to practice in the same “strikingly beautiful” Opelika location.

So, let's follow the family trail: Jacob Walker Sr. started a law firm that has held several names over the years; his son, Jacob Walker Jr., joined the practice in 1948; and Walker Jr.'s son, Jacob Walker III, eventually joined the firm and was lead partner until Governor Fob James (a close friend of Jacob Walker Jr.) appointed him to a judgeship.

The current incarnation of the firm is called Adams White Oliver Short and Forbus. And two of its lawyers are trying to keep Mike Hubbard from becoming overly familiar with the Alabama correctional system.

Those two lawyers are practicing before a judge--Jacob A Walker III--whose roots run about as deep as possible in their firm.

Could that be an advantage for the Adams White firm? Could it help keep Mike Hubbard out of prison? Does it represent a glaring conflict for Judge Jacob A. Walker III? Where does Baron Coleman's affidavit fit into this picture?

The answer to those questions appears to be yes. But these might be the most interesting questions of all: Are prosecutors in the Hubbard case aware of Judge Walker's background and his monumental conflict? It's hard to imagine that they aren't.

If that's the case, why haven't they filed a motion for Walker's recusal? And where does Baron Coleman's affidavit fit into this picture?

How are prosecutors serving the public interest if they allow a clearly compromised judge to hear a profoundly important criminal case?

That probably is the most powerful question of all.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't the judge recuse himself without being asked?

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, that's how it's supposed to work. But we are talking the Alabama court system here.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff, LS! Now you're back in your "swim lane"...showing us the dirty side to the justice system through the actions of public servants. Soap operas couldn't make this stuff up. Keep at it!

Anonymous said...

Is it possible for a court case in Alabama to be conducted without sleaze?

Anonymous said...

I've long figured that Hubbard would get off somehow--a screwed up jury, a corrupt judge, incompetence from Big Lutha's Band of Idiots. I see no reason to change that opinion.

Anonymous said...

Guess which law firm did the legal work on the pre-clearance submission that brought the Justice Dept. to Auburn.Hint! Hint!

Anonymous said...

Mike wants your vote, when he runs for governor in 2018.He is dismantling the Riley machine as some one would when restoring a 1965 mustang.He will not reassemble it.Parts on right side of shop are donated to an auto club, parts on left side of shop used on the new prison beds. Coleman wants to be on right side of shop.
You did know Alice Martin is now running Big Luther's office?

Anonymous said...

A few years ago I was in Judge Walker's courtroom waiting for a case I had some involvement in to come up. Now it's true that I know nothing of the man outside that one day, but the way he ran court that day left me feeling good about our system. It's a rare day I feel good about anything here in Alabama but I think with Judge Walker we are looking at the real deal. We no longer have many "real deal" around anymore but some still believe in the values that made us great years ago. Now when you hear the word values you can be sure it's election time. I didn't hear values in that courtroom that day, I saw them in action. My money is on Judge Walker to be fair for both the state and Hubbard with their day in court.

legalschnauzer said...

Based on what I've read about the Hubbard case, @4:20, I also had a favorable view of Judge Walker and thought there was a good chance he would handle the case appropriately. In light of this latest information, I'm not so sure about that.

legalschnauzer said...

Interesting points, 4:19. Yes, I knew about Alice Martin's role in Luther Strange's office. Also, it's interesting that the former Siegelman juror, known as "Flipper," works in Strange's office. She had been with Montgomery Co. DA. Think her name is Katie Langer.

legalschnauzer said...

I like your question, @3:51. I'm going to guess Adams White Oliver Short and Forbus, of Opelika, AL. Am I warm?

Anonymous said...

The documents the Justice Dept. sent me show ;Adams,Umbach, Davidson& White,LLP 205 South 9th Street.The signature is of Umbach. The legal documents them selves are in order. Some where along the chain of custody,some one slipped in additional legal discriptions.

John Little said...

Judge Walker is an honest man.

Anonymous said...

Back in late spring of 2013, I called and talked to you about these documents and the Justice Dept being in Auburn.You said you were going to a meeting ,and for me to call back Saturday.We never talked again.Funny thing is,I knew what was in them because "Sara" told me on the telephone. I requested them thru the FOIA.They never would send them ,because they said they could not find them.Well, 5 days after I talked to you,they arrived.Everything "Sara" said was included was not in what I recieved.
I figured your telephone was being monitored,because you also got thrown in jail.
Other than the FBI trying to entrap me on drugs when I first started digging into this and some one trying to lure me into a construction accident and being poisioned in 2013 they have pretty much left me alone.

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for the update @10:11. I don't remember the phone conversation, but that's been awhile back, and I've had quite a few calls in that time. Would be glad to talk again sometime, but I would't doubt if our current phone is monitored. I like to think my e-mail is secure, but I have doubts that it is. Drugs, construction accident, poisoned? Sounds like you've had a charming experience with feds. Sorry you've had to experience this stuff. I know from firsthand experience that it isn't pleasant.

Anonymous said...

The actors have been selected and the stage is set, let the play begin. Future historians will solve why Eric Holder treated Don Seigleman the way he did.For the want of a nail the shoe was lost. The little insignificant comments on your website will make their job easier.

Anonymous said...

One more thing and I will not bother you again. I made that FOIA request in nov. 2009.I had been waiting three and one half years. All the good stuff was missing. I get it 5 days after talking to you.

Anonymous said...

Alabama is doomed

Anonymous said...

Roger a slut wife is better than a dull life.

Ask Ape the man in Jasper. And ask your wife. She has "known" many lawyers over the years.

Can I call Jock and get everything settled? Jock is the guy this week who watches you.

legalschnauzer said...

Sure, call Jock, @9:20. Is he another creature of your imagination?

Anonymous said...

Anyone have any info on possible family ties between these Walkers and the fast rising RB WALKER formerly associated with Governor Bentlee's ACEGOV operation?

The guy must be doing something right! https://www.linkedin.com/in/r-b-walker-418268b