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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Court documents show lawyers from Maynard Cooper Gale are filing documents filled with false statements. to defend Gov. Bentley -- on taxpayers' dime

Offices of Maynard Cooper Gale in downtown Birmingham
(From fravert.com)
Taxpayers are on the hook for up to $200,000 in legal fees to defend Gov. Robert Bentley and Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) chief Stan Stabler in a lawsuit brought by former ALEA chief Spencer Collier. What are taxpayers getting for that money? They are getting a law firm -- Birmingham-based Maynard Cooper Gale (MCG) -- whose attorneys have lied in court documents, apparently in a desperate attempt to keep their clients from having to face discovery in the Collier case.

Since taxpayers are paying the bill, do they have a right to know how MCG is using that money? My answer is yes. Do they have a right to expect that MCG will represent Bentley and Stabler in an honest fashion? My answer, again, is yes. Are taxpayers getting the kind of legal services they have every right to expect? Absolutely not.

How do we know? It takes a close examination of the Motion to Dismiss MCG filed on behalf of Bentley and Stabler. It includes citations to law that are . . . well, "fanciful" is one word that comes to mind. "Creative" is another. "Fraudulent" is another. (Motion to Dismiss is embedded at the end of this post.)

Three MCG lawyers -- John Neiman Jr., Stephanie Houston Mays, and Mark D. Foley Jr. -- claim Bentley and Stabler are protected by sovereign immunity and should be dismissed from Collier's lawsuit. Here is probably the key argument, found on page 7 of the 13-page motion to dismiss:

Collier attempts to plead his way around state-agent immunity by alleging that the Governor’s actions “were willful, malicious, fraudulent, in bad faith and/or beyond [his]authority.” But the absolute sovereign immunity of constitutional officers does not have a “bad-faith” exception in suits for monetary damages.

The lawyers essentially are claiming the law protects Bentley's pocket book (and Stabler's) and frees him from the lawsuit, even when he acts in bad faith -- with willful, malicious, or fradulent intent, beyond his authority, The lawyers cite nine cases that supposedly support this proposition. But there is a slight problem: The cases do not say what the MCG lawyers claim they say.

The MCG lawyers are lying to the court, lying to the opposing party, and lying to taxpayers who are paying their fees.

A case styled Ex parte Cranman, 792 So.2d 392 (Ala. 2000), restated the rule governing state-agent immunity 16 years ago, making it probably the most important case on the subject in Alabama history. Here is a key finding from Cranman:

A State agent shall not be immune from civil liability in his or her personal capacity. . . .

(2) when the State agent acts willfully, maliciously, fraudulently, in bad faith, beyond his or her authority, or under a mistaken interpretation of the law."

In other words, Collier makes a correct citation to law -- showing that Bentley and Stabler are not protected by sovereign immunity when they act in bad faith, etc. -- and Bentley's lawyers are trying to muddy the waters by citing nine cases for a holding they do not make.

How do the MCG lawyers try to execute this little con game? First, we must recall that they are trying to convince the court that nine different cases support this proposition: "The absolute sovereign immunity of constitutional officers does not have a “bad-faith” exception in suits for monetary damages."

Let's look at one of the nine cases the lawyers for Bentley cite. It is styled Alexander v. Hatfield, 652 So. 2d 1142 - Ala: Supreme Court 1994, and Team Bentley claims the above proposition is found in section 1144. Here is what section 1144 of Alexander says:

We have also held that deputy sheriffs are immune from suit to the same extent as sheriffs. "In general, the acts of the deputy sheriff are the acts of the sheriff. The deputy sheriff is the alter ego of the sheriff." Carr v. City of Florence, Alabama, 916 F.2d 1521, 1526 (11th Cir.1990) . . . "[Under Alabama law, a] deputy is legally an extension of the sheriff. If the deputy's acts are generally considered the acts of the sheriff, it is logical that those acts should enjoy the same immunity covering the sheriff's own acts." Carr, at 1526, quoted with approval in Wright v. Bailey, at 303.

In this case, none of the exceptions set out in Parker v. Amerson applies. Deputy Hatfield was on duty when she left the papers at Alexander's place of employment. Therefore, the summary judgment in favor of Deputy Hatfield, individually and in her official capacity, was proper, based on the sovereign immunity granted under Article I, § 14, of the Alabama Constitution of 1901.

Does this say anywhere that there is no "bad faith exception in suits for monetary damages"? No, it does not, and it does not say that at any point in the Alexander opinion. It also does not say that in any of the other eight cases Bentley's lawyers cite.

This is a crafty tactic of the unethical lawyer, a tactic I've seen many times in my own court battles. The lawyer cites a certain case, claims it says such and such . . . then, when you look up the case, it says no such thing.

Bentley and Stabler are relying on sleazy, corrupt lawyers to represent them. And taxpayers are being forced to pick up the tab. Taxpayers should be flooding the offices of Maynard Cooper Gale with complaints about the underhanded use of state funds.


Anonymous said...

Kind of makes me thiks Bentley doesn't have much of a real defense.

Anonymous said...

The legislators who OK'd the payment of $200,000 to Maynard firm ought to be reminded of their poor decision at election time.

Anonymous said...

It's all going to come down to the judge. If he's crooked, he'll buy what Bentley's lawyers are selling.

legalschnauzer said...

Right you are, @1:05. In many civil cases, the real law does't mean a thing. I've seen it happen over and over again.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Bentley has more legal problems, now related to his Gulf State Park playground:


Anonymous said...

My sources say one reason victims are going after Bentley so hard is that Rebekah Caldwell Mason is a huge ass wipe. She has acted like a giant prick (excuse the expression) to many people around the administration, and the behavior rubbed off on Bentley. Now people are anxious to see them penniless and in prison, both of which seem likely to happen.

Anonymous said...

Moral of the story: If you are going to have a glorified hooker in your administration, at least make sure you get a nice one.

Anonymous said...

Gee, I don't think Bentley has anything to hide. Now, he's refusing to release his schedule and calendars:


Anonymous said...

I guess taxpayers will have to pay to defend Bentley in the Gulf State Park lawsuit, too?

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't lawyers be sanctioned or thrown in jail for this kind of crap?

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, they should be sanctioned for sure. But my impression is that hardly ever happens, especially to lawyers from a big firm like Maynard Cooper. That firm probably has given to the campaigns of every judge in the Birmingham area, so their lawyers are not likely to be sanctioned for anything -- even if they get caught having sex with a cow, as happened with a guy in Missouri the other day.

Anonymous said...

Since you brought up the man cow sex arrest...

Being that the accused is from Nixa which is in Christian County...

What is the predicted impact on tomorrow's church night activities? What about Chick-fil-A sales on Sunday? e

I used the word accused although it may be that he has made a confession.

Anonymous said...

I thought this Nieman guy was supposed to be a genius or something. But he has to used trumped up case law to support his case?