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Monday, September 26, 2016

Court's finding for Rob Riley and Liberty Duke, like Jessica M. Garrison's $3.5-million default judgment, is worth nothing -- and here is the law that makes it so

Rob Riley
We have shown that Jessica Medeiros Garrison's $3.5-million default judgment against me is void, as a matter of law, meaning it is a "nullity" that has "no effect." In everyday terms, it is worth zero. Now, we have learned that Rob Riley's "judgment" against me also is worth zero, although for different reasons from those in the Garrison case.

The bottom line? Alabama Republican operatives have filed two defamation lawsuits against me, and they have nothing to show for it. By law, my reporting was found to be neither false nor defamatory in both cases. And the value of the judgments, combined, is worth . . . not a thing.

We hope you will follow us on a brief discussion because this is important information for anyone who might wind up representing himself in court someday.

We've shown that Garrison's judgment is void, and has no value, because I was not given three days' notice of her default application and hearing, as required by Alabama law. In fact, I received no notice at all, and it was Garrison's burden to provide notice. Lack of notice is such a fundamental violation of due process that I have an unlimited amount of time to attack her judgment  as void.

How does Judge Claud Neilson's order favoring Rob Riley and lobbyist Liberty Duke run afoul of the law? Well, there are a lot of answers to that question; an easier question would be, "Was anything lawful about Neilson's order?" The answer there is "probably not."

For example, Neilson didn't issue a final judgment, one that could be appealed at all. After all, there was no trial, no jury, no discovery -- nothing that generally is associated with a trial on the merits. After a hearing on November 14, 2013 -- and the document setting the event called it a "hearing," not a "trial" -- Neilson issued a piece of paper titled "Final Order." But here is what Alabama case law says about such matters: (See Civil Appeals 101, Christian and Small.)

With limited exceptions, an appeal can be taken only from the entry of a final judgment. Ala. Code § 12-22-2. What constitutes a final judgment may seem simple, but in fact it can be difficult to determine. As you might expect, an order adjudicating fewer than all of the claims is not a final judgment. Lloyd v. Cook, --- So. 3d ----, 2010 WL 3075280 (Ala. Civ. App. Aug. 6, 2010). The title of the order is not important. If a trial court enters an order labeled as a final judgment, but the order does not fully dispose of all claims or fully declare the rights of the parties, the judgment is not a final judgment from which an appeal may be taken. Alfa Mutual Ins. Co. v. Bone, 13 So. 3d 369 (Ala. 2009); Hall v. Reynolds, --- So. 3d ----, 2009 WL 1716912 (Ala. June 19, 2009). By the same token, a judgment that conclusively determines the issues before the trial court, even if not labeled “Final Judgment,” will support an appeal.

In the Riley matter, Neilson gave my wife, Carol, and me no opportunity to bring claims, much less have them heard and fully disposed. And he certainly did not declare the rights of the parties because we were treated as if we had no rights. (See Neilson's "final order" at the end of this post.) I was in the midst of a five-month stay at the "Shelby County Sheraton" (the jail), thanks to Riley and Duke's unlawful efforts to seek a preliminary injunction that has been prohibited by more than 200 years of First Amendment law, and the time for appeal lapsed during my incarceration. I had no access to a piece of paper or a functioning writing implement, but even if I'd had the basics for preparing an appeal, there was nothing to appeal -- because Neilsen issued no final judgment.

Liberty Duke
That takes the oomph out of any order favoring Riley and Duke. But here is the bigger issue: Neilson did not grant them money damages; he granted $33,875 in attorney fees ($24,425 for Riley, $9,450 for Duke).

That presents a slight problem: I was representing myself, and Alabama law prohibits the awarding of attorney fees against pro se litigants. Here is how Code of Alabama 12-19-272 (Alabama Litigation Accountability Act) addresses the subject:

No party, except an attorney licensed to practice law in this state, who is appearing without an attorney shall be assessed attorneys' fees unless the court finds that the party clearly knew or reasonably should have known that his action, claim or defense or any part thereof was without substantial justification.

Did the court find that I had brought a claim or defense without substantial justification? Nope. In fact, I brought no claim at all -- Riley and Duke sued me (and Carol), not the other way around. And we were given no opportunity to even bring a defense.

Here is what Neilsen's "final order" says about the only form of "damages" awarded to Riley and Duke.

Petitioners have requested attorneys' fees. The Court heard testimony and evidence that Petitioner Riley and Petitioner Duke have incurred attorneys' fees as result of this matter. Specifically, the Court heard testimony and evidence that Petitioner Riley has incurred $24,425.00 in attorneys' fees, that Petitioner Duke has incurred $9,450.00 in attorney's fees, and that those fees are usual and customary. Based on the testimony and evidence presented in support of their request for attorneys' fees, and based on the Court's equitable powers, the Court finds that Petitioners are entitled to an award of attorneys' fees in the following amounts: $24,425.00 for Petitioner Riley and $9,450.00 for Petitioner Duke.

Attorney fees are "usual and customary" against a pro se litigant? That's not what Alabama law says. The court issued these fees based on its "equitable powers"? That's funny. because Alabama law plainly states that attorney fees cannot be assessed against a self-represented party.

Just another sign that the Riley-Duke case was a joke from the outset -- and the rule of law played no role in Neilsen's handling of the case.


Anonymous said...

If Riley or Duke recieved any of the proceeds from the sale of your home, they better
look at the bottom of their shoes before entering their home. Woof! Woof!

legalschnauzer said...

Duke definitely received proceeds from the sale of our home, unlawfully, and I will have several posts on that soon. Little doubt in my mind that she accomplished that with the assistance of Rob Riley and Jessica Garrison.

Very ugly story, and you've hit on a key issue, @1:12.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't it just make sense that you can't assess attorney fees against someone who isn't an attorney?

Anonymous said...

If Rob Riley went to Yale Law School, why is he so stupid about the law now? What does that say about Yale?

legalschnauzer said...

I have a theory, @2:39. I think a corrupt mindset corrodes the brain. Rob Riley and Bill Swatek probably are the two most corrupt individuals I've ever encountered, and they both just act like idiots. When you benefit from corruption, I think, you become mentally and physically lazy. That's why Rob Riley, if you educate yourself about his actions, comes across as a dolt.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that David Gespass was dispatched to see you in the Shelby County Jail so that Riley/Duke would have lawful grounds to seek attorney fees against you?

legalschnauzer said...

That's an interesting idea, @3:33, one that had not occurred to me. I think it's certainly possible. For sure, Gespass was not there with the intention of benefiting me.

Anonymous said...

Seems clear to me that the Riley-Duke lawsuit was all about having you thrown in jail. Don't think money was all that much of an issue.

Anonymous said...

Let me see if I have this straight: Riley and Duke claim you owed them attorney fees, but they brought the case, right? They were the plaintiffs, so how can you owe them attorney fees? I thought attorney fees generally were rewarded to defendants, not plaintiffs, who had been the victims of frivolous claims.

legalschnauzer said...

I think you are on target, @7:02. I know that's the gist of the Alabama Litigation Accountability Act, which generally governs such things. My memory is that Riley cited some sort of case law to justify the attorney fees, but I suspect the cited case was utter BS, or he completely misapplied it.

Of course, this kind of thing can happen when one party writes all of the judge's orders and tries to have the case sealed to keep it from public view. Riley is a con man, but he's not a very good one. You can see right through his schemes.

Anonymous said...

Aboard the Victoria the ship's Engineer was giving a damage report to Captain Riley.
"The Lignum vitae bearings have Blattodea damage. The Portuguse Dogfish are attracted to our Bioluminescence." The captain responded. "Just in case we have some idiots on board,can you translate your report?"The Engineer began; "That idiot son of yours took his strange booty to the engine room.That booty was just fool's gold." The Captain replied that Jr did comment that the booty was not very good. The engineer continued by saying that the wood chest contained termites. They have eaten the wooden propeller shaft bearings. The ship is taking on water. The Portuguse dogfish is a shark with the body of a goldfish but the head of a schnauzer. They hunt in areas which the sunlite does not reach. Captain! The sharks are circling your ship.