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Monday, October 31, 2016

In reopening Hillary Clinton e-mail case, FBI director James Comey shows the disregard for policy and law that we have written about for years in Alabama


James Comey
FBI director James Comey's decision last week to notify Congress and the public about his decision to reopen the Hillary Clinton e-mail case illustrates the disregard for rules and laws that undergird our democracy. It also represents the kind of abusive actions that have provided us with almost 10 years' worth of material about corruption -- in Alabama and beyond -- here at Legal Schnauzer.

Much still is not known about Comey's motivations, but we do know the following, based on multiple news reports about the case:

* The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has a longstanding policy against discussing specifics of a pending investigation. Comey violated that policy.

* DOJ policy forbids taking actions that could influence an election. Comey violated that policy.

* The FBI's decision to expand its investigation of Anthony Weiner's e-mails to target Hillary Clinton's e-mails likely went beyond the boundaries of the bureau's warrant and could represent a violation of the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable (and unlawful) searches. In other words, powerful evidence suggests Comey violated constitutional protections.

* The Hatch Act bars the use of an official position to influence an election. A former Bush-administration already has filed a Hatch Act complaint against the FBI with the Office of Special Counsel.

In many ways, Legal Schnauzer has presaged dubious acts such as the ones Comey took late last week. Here are a few examples of similar acts at lower levels of government:

* In the Rollins v. Rollins divorce case, the matter had been litigated for three years in South Carolina, where the family lived when Sherry Rollins initiated divorce proceedings. Ted Rollins failed to make court-ordered house payments, so Ms. Rollins and the couple's two daughters were forced to flee to Shelby County, Alabama, where family members lived. Ted Rollins then sued Sherry Rollins for divorce in Alabama, but a case styled Wesson v. Wesson, 628 So. 2d 953 (Ala. Civ. App., 1993) shows Rollins v. Rollins could not be heard here once jurisdiction had been established elsewhere. Shelby County Circuit Judge Al Crowson heard the case anyway and heaped a monstrous cheat job on Sherry Rollins.

* When I was placed on administrative leave at UAB, the matter was governed by the university's Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). After all, the university alleged I had used my work computer to write this blog. The AUP clearly states that, if improper use of a computer is suspected, it should be handled via progressive discipline -- starting with oral warning, written warning, and termination (if the first two steps don't work). UAB never issued an oral or written warning regarding my use of the work computer. That's probably because they had asked an IT employee to monitor my computer usage for one month, and he later testified at my grievance hearing that I had not touched the first keystroke on my blog while at work. UAB fired me anyway, its own policies be damned.

* When we brought a criminal trespassing (third degree) complaint against our neighbor Mike McGarity (the one with the extensive criminal record), Shelby County District Judge Ron Jackson acquitted based on his notion that we were required to give written warning -- and there was reasonable doubt as to whether McGarity had received our written warning prior to trespassing. The actual law on such issues is cited in Chambers v. City of Opelika, 698 So. 2d 792 (Ala. Crim. App., 1996), and here it is:

The appellant has cited no authority for his position that to be guilty of criminal trespass the intruder must be aware that he or she had no license or privilege to enter or to remain on the premises. There is authority, however, that states that when those premises are private and not open to the public, there is no requirement that the prosecution prove that a prior written or verbal warning was given to the intruder.

Under the law, we did not have to warn McGarity at all -- in writing, or otherwise. But Judge Jackson refused to follow black-letter law, and the acquittal allowed McGarity to file a bogus malicious-prosecution lawsuit against us. We've spent 16 years fighting the fallout from that baseless lawsuit, which never would have happened without Jackson's unlawful ruling.

We've seen disregard for law and policies in Alabama for years. Now James Comey has shown that the FBI is infested with a similar mindset, and it could wind up putting the presidency in the hands of Donald Trump, who likely is the most unqualified individual ever to run for the office.

Here are specifics about U.S. Judge R. David Proctor and his abuse of "pauperis" law in lawsuit over my police beating and unlawful incarceration in Shelby Co.


R. David Proctor
How is this for irony? My wife, Carol, and I qualify for indigent status (in forma pauperis or IFP) in federal court because lawyers and judges essentially have stolen almost everything we once owned, including my freedom (for five months) and our home of 25 years. Now that we clearly qualify for IFP status -- two judges have ruled that we do -- one of those judges is trying to take it away. Gee, I can't imagine why I've described Alabama courts as a dysfunctional sewer. The judges, themselves, prove that my assessment is, if anything, too kind.

Why does the IFP issue matter? Well, if you qualify for it, you either pay no filing fees (which can be in the neighborhood of $500) or a partial fee. Also, the court itself, via the clerk's office has an obligation to issue summonses and complete service of defendants on your behalf. All of this simply makes common sense. Like filing fees, service costs can be steep -- depending on how many defendants are involved -- and law holds that litigants are not to be denied access courts simply because they are poor. After all, some litigants, like us, are poor only because of corrupt courts.

As posted here last week, we have filed two federal lawsuits in the Northern District of Alabama, seeking justice for the abuse we've experienced at the hands of lawyers, law enforcement, mortgage political operatives, bankers, house flippers, and so on. In one case that we call "The House Case" (Shuler, et al v. Garrison, et al) we allege wrongful foreclosure, defamation, and other torts against more than a dozen defendants -- and our IFP situation has gone smoothly. U.S. Magistrate T. Michael Putnam granted IFP status, the clerk's office promptly started fulfilling its duty to effect service on our behalf, and a number of defendants have responded with various motions that are awaiting court action. In other words, The House Case is rocking along, as it should be.

The one we call "The Jail Case" (Shuler, et al v. Duke, et al), about police brutality, false arrest and imprisonment, etc., actually was filed first and should be even further along. U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor granted what he called "partial IFP status." and required us to pay a reduced filing fee of $200. We timely paid that fee, sent defendants' names and addresses to the clerk's office, contacted a woman named Angela Day who told us the clerk's office would conduct service on both cases, and waited for the real legal action to commence.

Instead, we got an order from Proctor claiming our "partial IFP status" did not entitle us to service-by-court and gave us a small window (two or three weeks, I think) to complete service on our own. We knew Proctor was wrong about the law, so we challenged his order (as we are entitled to do), and he ruled that his small window had closed and dismissed our case without prejudice (meaning it can be refiled), claiming we had failed to prosecute. In fact, we had prosecuted it exactly as we had with The House Case, so Proctor's refusal to follow the law indicates he is incompetent, corrupt, or both.

Proctor's actions are a classic example of chicanery we have seen in both state and federal courts time and again. A lawyer or judge will make a citation to law, giving the impression he has conducted actual research, probably thinking no one will check on it. When you read the case, you find its holding is nowhere close to what the judge or lawyer says. It's as if every law school offers a course titled How to Cheat The Other Side 101. If so, Proctor clearly took the course, and he must have aced it. We are guessing he didn't do quite so well on any legal-ethics course that might have been required.

We have filed an appeal of Proctor's ruling with the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. That appeal is pending, and it clearly represents a waste of judicial resources and taxpayer dollars -- not to mention our time. If Proctor simply had followed the law, The Jail Case would be even further along than The House Case.

Here is an explanation of the straightforward law that guides this area of law. The statute in question is  28 U.S. Code 1915, and 1915(d) could not be more clear:

(d) The officers of the court shall issue and serve all process, and perform all duties in such cases. Witnesses shall attend as in other cases, and the same remedies shall be available as are provided for by law in other cases.

The highlighted section plainly states that "officers of the court" SHALL issue and serve all process . . . " That seems to be written in clear English, and the word "shall" indicates the officers have a duty to prepare and serve all process -- it is not a discretionary matter.

So, what does Proctor come up with? He claims Sec. 1915(d) applies only to "full status" IFP litigants. He also claims that a case styled Bryan v. Johnson, 821 F. 2d 455 (7th Cir., 1987) holds that courts are not obligated to conduct service for "partial IFP" litigants.

Proctor could not be more wrong. I've published all of 1915(d) above, and it says nothing about "partial IFP" status. Neither does Bryan v. Johnson; in fact, here is the key holding in that case:

A district judge should deny leave to proceed in forma pauperis if an action is frivolous or malicious. If the motion is granted and the complaint filed, the matter cannot be dismissed until summons has issued.”

The record shows that Proctor did, in fact, grant our "pauperis" motion and allowed the complaint to be filed, which means he did not find it to be "frivolous or malicious." Under those circumstances, the matter cannot be dismissed until summonses have issued. But Proctor dismissed our Jail Case and blocked the clerk's office from issuing summonses and completing service, forcing us to seek corrective action from the Eleventh Circuit. In blunt terms, Proctor butchered the law he took an oath to uphold.


Bryan goes on to hold as follows, providing more specifics:

If the court had considered the complaint to be frivolous it should have at that point dismissed the matter pursuant to § 1915(d) instead of ordering Bryan to pay a partial filing fee. Moreover, Bryan himself thought his claim was meritorious because he devoted a significant share of his assets to prosecuting his claim. Thus, instead of dismissing the complaint, the court should have permitted a summons to issue and allow the defendants to respond.”

When Proctor ordered us to pay a partial filing fee, it was the equivalent of a finding that our case was not frivolous. It also meant that Proctor was obligated to permit process to be completed and allow defendants to respond. He has not allowed either to happen in The Jail Case. Is that because U.S. Circuit Judge William H. Pryor, whose duty station is the Hugo Black Courthouse in Birmingham (making him, sort of, Proctor's boss ), is a defendant in the Jail Case? After all, my arrest came just a few weeks after I reported on nude photos of Pryor that appeared at the gay-porn site badpuppy.com in the late 1990s. I would say Proctor is, in fact, trying to protect Pryor and perhaps other right-wing luminaries among the defendants. (Proctor seems to wear his conservatism on his sleeve, attending the staunchly right-wing and political Briarwood Presbyterian Church.)

One problem with Proctor's rulings is that he  bases them largely on Bryan, which is from the Seventh Circuit and is not controlling law in the Eleventh Circuit. But we have found Eleventh Circuit law that is controlling -- it borrows from Bryan -- and reaches the same conclusion.

At this point, Proctor is violating law from two circuits -- the Seventh and the Eleventh. And he is showing utter contempt for the rights of taxpayers to have their dollars used wisely and lawfully.

(Note: Below is one of two documents we have filed to counter Proctor's rulings. Our documents do not include our signatures and a time stamp because we are out of state and cannot submit documents in person at the Hugo Black Courthouse, as we have done in the past. We must file documents by U.S. Mail, so the signed and time-stamped versions can be seen in the official court file. Unable to show that we are wrong and unwilling to follow the actual law, Proctor has twisted himself into a pretzel trying to come up with some way to justify his rulings and deny us justice.

(So far, he has only succeeded in digging his legal hole deeper. We hope to publish copies to Proctor's rulings here. But we currently have them only in paper form, and our scanner was stolen in our unlawful eviction here in Missouri, so we do not have the capacity to digitize the paper rulings and publish them here. Anyone with a PACER account, which is a subscription service that charges fairly steep fees, can check the full docket in both of our cases. Meanwhile, we hope to figure out a way to scan and embed Proctor's rulings, and other documents, here.)


(To be continued)





Friday, October 28, 2016

Missouri politico sues future colleague who accused him of rape, possibly shining light on scandal involving Jason Kander and U.S. Senate race against Roy Blunt


Steven Roberts Jr.
An incoming Missouri legislator has filed a defamation lawsuit against a future colleague who accused him of rape. The civil case could unlock secrets about the evolving scandal surrounding Jason Kander, the Democrat who is trying to unseat GOP incumbent Roy Blunt in one of the nation's most closely watched U.S. Senate races.

Steven Roberts Jr. yesterday filed a lawsuit against Cora Faith Walker, accusing her of defamation, malicious prosecution, and infliction of emotional distress. The lawsuit comes two days after a special prosecutor announced he would not bring criminal charges against Roberts, based on Walker's rape complaint.

Walker serves as one of three officers for Raise Your Hands for Kids (RYH4K), a Kander-controlled nonprofit that has raised about $5 million for a ballot initiative and constitutional amendment that would raise tobacco taxes supposedly to boost early-childhood education in Missouri. According to a document called The Kander Memo, however, $3 million for RYH4K came from RJ Reynolds, the tobacco conglomerate that likely would benefit from enhanced market share and increased taxes on products from its discount competitors.

As an officer of RYH4K, Walker holds a fiduciary duty to ensure that $5 million in donations, $2 million of which came from individual contributors, is handled lawfully and actually goes to programs for children. The anonymous authors of The Kander Memo say the funds have been tainted with fraud and theft by deceit, serving partly as a political slush fund for Kander.

Walker, a lawyer, brought her rape allegations against Roberts less than 10 days after The Kander Memo was released to seven government oversight bodies. The 127-page memo repeatedly points to irregularities and alleged criminal conduct that could threaten Walker's legal and political careers. Evidence suggests she might have developed the rape allegations against Roberts as a way to deflect attention from The Kander Memo.


Cora Faith Walker
Could discovery in the Roberts lawsuit reveal information about Walker's motivations and her connections to RYH4K and the Kander campaign? The answer appears to be yes.

This much is certain: Roberts' lawsuit provides intimate details about his relationship with Walker, which he says was consensual. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Roberts’ civil suit claims the two actually had their first sexual contact at a political conference in Kansas City on Aug. 25, the day before Walker alleges she was raped.

Roberts claims that Walker, who is married, initiated the contact in Kansas City by asking to keep her purse in Roberts’ hotel room while she attended an evening social function. The suit claims that once in Roberts’ room, Walker asked to use his shower and then undressed in front of him. Roberts said Walker posed for a nude photo and then the two had sexual contact. Walker left Roberts’ room about 2.a.m., the suit claims.

The following night, after returning to St. Louis from the conference in Kansas City, the two met up for drinks, according to the suit.

Walker texted Roberts from a jazz bar and he went to meet her, the suit says. On leaving the bar about 10 p.m., Roberts said Walker turned down his invitation to go to another bar, but accepted his offer to go to his apartment. They stopped to pick up food and wine on the way to his apartment, the suit says.

While there, from about 10:30 p.m. to the early morning, Roberts claims, they had sex three times and then fell asleep.

Roberts said Walker woke up about 6 a.m. when her cellphone rang, and she became agitated. When Roberts asked if everything was all right, Roberts said Walker stated that it was, except that she was supposed to have gone home the night before.

He says they exchanged cordial texts later in the day.

The Walker-Roberts story already has made national headlines, and the lawsuit figures to grab even more attention. Meanwhile, the Kander-Blunt race could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate beginning in 2017.

The lawsuit and The Kander Memo, combined, might eventually expose a side of politics that is as ugly as it gets.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

U.S. Judge R. David Proctor is trampling the law regarding indigent litigants in federal lawsuit involving my unlawful arrest and incarceration in Shelby Co.


U.S. Judge R. David Proctor
The incompetence and corruption in Alabama's federal courts never ceases to amaze -- and that's a shame because our state has produced Hugo Black and Frank Johnson, two of the most courageous and impactful federal jurists in American history. In fact, the U.S. Courthouse in downtown Birmingham is named for Hugo Black, but he likely would be embarrassed, chagrined, even outraged by what passes for "justice" in that building these days.

Our little blog, in a sense, has been a travelogue of dysfunction in Alabama's federal courtrooms. We have helped unmask: (1) Mark Fuller, who butchered the Don Siegelman/Richard Scrushy case in the Middle District, and eventually was forced off the bench for beating his wife in an Atlanta hotel room; (2) William H. "Bill" Pryor, who posed nude for gay-porn photos that wound up at badpuppy.com in the late 1990s (and likely lied about it during his U.S. Senate confirmation hearings, which would be a crime; (3) William M. Acker Jr., a Reagan appointee who is getting close to 90 and granted summary judgment for the University of Alabama Board of Trustees in my employment-discrimination/First Amendment case -- without allowing any discovery in the case. That, of course, simply cannot be done, under the law; it's like declaring a winner in a baseball game without allowing either side to bat.

That doesn't even include Abdul Kallon, the dreadful Obama appointee my wife, Carol, and I have seen screw up three cases in which we were involved -- each time with rulings that run contrary to black-letter law. Now we can add a new name -- R. David Proctor -- to Alabama's Hall of Judicial Infamy.

A 2003 nominee by (you guessed it) George W. Bush, Proctor has wound up hearing both of the federal lawsuits we've filed in recent months -- one involving my unlawful beating, arrest, and five-month incarceration in Shelby County; the other involving the glorified theft of our home, where we lived for 25 years, via a wrongful foreclosure. (The complaints are embedded at the end of this post.)

What are the chances that both of our cases would wind up with the same judge, in a system where assignments supposedly are made by "random selection." I would say it's close to zero, which suggests Proctor was assigned to our cases intentionally, not randomly, likely with the assignment of producing a certain desired outcome for legal elites. After all, Pryor (whose "duty station" is the Hugo Black Courthouse, meaning he more or less is Proctor's boss) is a defendant in one case. GOP operative Rob Riley, who is close to Pryor and such right-wing luminaries as Karl Rove, is a defendant in both cases -- as is Attorney General Luther Strange and his campaign manager/mistress Jessica Medeiros Garrison, both staunch Pryor/Riley allies.

Has Proctor been unlawfully assigned to protect all the Bushies who have abused us over the past eight years or so (it's 16 years if you go all the way to the beginning of our legal woes, which include lawyer William E. Swatek, the father of Riley acolyte Dax Swatek)? That's certainly the way it looks from here.

We've already seen signs that Proctor is, in fact, cheating us. I will go into details, with citations to law and such, in upcoming posts. But for now, here is a brief, by the numbers, look at Proctor's chicanery:

(1) It's undisputed that we qualify to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP), a fancy term for indigent, in both cases. U.S. Magistrate T. Michael Putnam, who originally had what we call "the house case," granted IFP status before Proctor somehow took over that matter; Proctor himself granted IFP status in what we call "the jail case." That means, under the law, we are entitled to proceed without paying filing fees -- and the court is obligated to issue summonses and conduct service on our behalf.

(2) We fulfilled all of our obligations -- providing an affidavit with detailed financial information, sending names and addresses of defendants to the clerk's office, and even having an employee named Angela Day tell us that the court would handle service, as prescribed by law. Anyone with access to Pacer can check the court record and see Putnam granted us IFP status. Service went smoothly with "the house case," and a number of parties have filed Motions to Dismiss, which are pending. (Under the law, they cannot be granted, but we will see how that goes, with Proctor on the case.)

(3) The record shows that Proctor granted IFP status in "the jail case," but he put a twist on it -- one that is not supported by law. Proctor required us to make a partial payment of fees ($200), which we timely paid, and is lawful. The theory is that such partial payments discourage IFP parties from filing frivolous cases. Once we made the payment, we were entitled to have the court issue summonses and complete service, with defendants receiving notice to respond within a time frame allowed by law. Statutory law says the court (clerk's office) not only has an obligation, but a duty, to conduct service on our behalf. And case law says that, once IFP status has been granted and the case has been determined not to be frivolous (a bar we apparently crossed with ease, in both cases), the judge is to stay out of things until defendants respond. After all, the judge has no authority over defendants until service has been completed.

(4) Sounds relatively straightforward, right? Well, not with Proctor. He claimed we had "partial IFP status," and the law does not require the court to conduct service for such parties. He used that rationale to order the court not to conduct service in our "jail case," even though the law says he has no authority to take any action until defendants have been served and responded.

(5) There is a slight problem with Proctor's approach: It isn't lawful. Our research indicates there is no such thing as "partial IFP status," under the law. You either are IFP and do not have to pay fees or you are IFP and are required to pay partial fees; but you cannot be "partial IFP." Whether you are required to pay a partial fee or not, the law says you are entitled to have the court issue summonses and serve defendants. That memo apparently did not reach Proctor; in truth, Proctor probably knows the law but is choosing to act corruptly anyway.

(6) We had fulfilled all of our duties to the clerk's office and even checked with Ms. Day to make sure they had our material, and everything was a go. We thought service had been completed, until we got an order indicating Proctor had intervened, claiming we were "partial IFP" litigants and were not entitled to have the court conduct service. Proctor gave us a small window to conduct service ourselves, and stated if we failed to do so, the "jail case" would be dismissed. (I forget the amount of time he allowed, and I don't have immediate access to the document, but I think it was roughly two to three weeks.) In our living quarters at what we've come to call "The Shiftless Drifters Fleabag Motel," mail did not come directly to us (and as pro se litigants, we did not have access to the electronic filing that lawyers can use). Our mail was delivered to a central office about a block from where we lived, and we generally picked it up once a week. By the time we finally got Proctor's order, about 10 days of our allotted time had elapsed.

(7) The loss of time should have been irrelevant because the bigger issue was this: Proctor's order was wildly contrary to law, which says the court had a "duty" to conduct service on our behalf. We argued that point, among others, in a response to Proctor's order. But we quickly received another order, which apparently crossed in the mail with our response, claiming we had failed to prosecute our case and it was being dismissed without prejudice (meaning the claims have not been heard on their merits and can be refiled).

(8) We have two options -- (a) Appeal Proctor's bogus order to the U.S. Eleventh Circuit; (b) Refile the "jail case." We have chosen the first option and now are filing the paperwork to have the matter heard on appeal. In addition to being a gross injustice and time waster for us, it is a waste of judicial resources -- your tax dollars at work, thanks for R. David Proctor.

Sadly, we've seen this kind of thing happen over and over in Alabama Federal Courts. Hopefully the Eleventh Circuit will follow its own clear precedent, make the correct ruling, and let us move on with a case that involves profoundly important matters -- law enforcement's deprivation of a citizen's freedom for the "crime" of blogging. That issue was important enough to attract national and international news attention in 2013-14 -- from The New York Times, Al-Jazeera, Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, and many other outlets.

We are determined to seek justice, partly for us and partly to help ensure (we hope) that something like this never happens to another journalist (or regular citizen, for that matter, who could be thrown in jail, under Shelby County "law," simply for writing a negative review about a business on a Web forum, such as Yelp).

Judge R. David Proctor, who either is incompetent or corrupt, has thrown up unlawful hurdles. But we have some arrows in our quiver that we did not have when other cheat jobs were taking place.

Proctor would be wise to remember his oath, to uphold the law, and act accordingly.

(To be continued)






Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ashley Madison customers revealed: Brian Shulman, former Auburn punter and founder of LTS Education Systems, appears at site for extramarital cheating


Brian Shulman
(From princetoncapitalpartners.com)
The founder and CEO of a Birmingham-based company that purports to advance education by using concepts from sports is a paying customer of the Ashley Madison extramarital-affair site, records show.

Brian Shulman, a former punter at Auburn University during the Pat Dye football era and a long-time associate of convicted House Speaker Mike Hubbard, is head of LTS Education Systems (Learning Through Sports), which he started in 2001.  Shulman has written a book, The Death of Sportsmanship, published in 2007, and he is a managing partner in the investment firm Princeton Capital Partners, which has offices in Boston, Dallas, Nashville, and Palm Beach.

Shulman and LTS have been close to several controversies over the years, perhaps because of his ties to Hubbard. Public documents and reports suggest LTS has been highly lucrative for Shulman, with the company receiving a major infusion of cash from public sources.

Now, we learn that Shulman, who is married to Lisa Shulman and has three children, has participated in a Web site that is notorious for its specific purpose of facilitating extramarital affairs.

This is from Shulman's bio at the LTS Web site's page about its executive team:

Mr. Shulman founded LTS in 2001 after recognizing the need to reach at-risk youth in a new and engaging format using a motivating gaming to learn approach that includes peer competitions. Brian guides the LTS team by the basic tenet that great solutions are a process, not a destination. Through relentless creativity and innovation, LTS was one of the first to deliver their solutions in an exclusive cloud-based manner over 12 years ago.

What about controversy surrounding Shulman and LTS? That surfaced in April 2011, with a report from veteran Huntsville Times reporter Bob Lowry. (Curiously, Lowry subsequently was forced out of his job, at the height of Mike Hubbard's powers, and now is retired.) From the Lowry article:

A politically-connected group has received more than $13 million from the Alabama Department of Education to contract for educational software since 2008 without the knowledge or approval of the state school board.

The money, part of an "at risk fund" controlled by Dr. Joe Morton, state superintendent, was paid to the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS), which hired a Birmingham software company to provide an after-school learning program based on video games called Kids College.

The software company, Learning Through Sports Inc., was formerly a partnership between Brian Shulman, a former Auburn football player, and Auburn Network Inc., a multimedia company owned by House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn.

Hubbard, president of Auburn Network, sold his interest in Learning Through Sports in 2005 to Shulman, according to a letter on file at the Alabama Ethics Commission. Hubbard declined to be interviewed for this story. But he said in a statement that he trusts Morton's judgment in the matter.

Bill Britt, publisher of Alabama Political Reporter, picked up on the issue in February 2013. From the Britt article:

If politics is about who gets what and how, then the state legislative leadership is already loading up the armored cars for their buddies. In fact, it very well may be that charter schools will be the next growth industry for those in power at the State House.

One needs to look no further than a multi-million dollar venture called “Learning Through Sports” to see how investments by legislators can lead to lucrative deals for themselves and their cronies, while tapping the insufficient resource of the state’s Education Trust Fund.

Speaker Mike Hubbard’s ties to Learning Through Sports LLC, and how Learning Through Sports obtained more than $13 million from Department of Education via payments to the politically connected Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS) organization, is such an example of deal making.

In the early days, Learning Through Sports LLC was a partnership between a Hubbard and friend and former Auburn football player Brian Shulman. Hubbard owned his share of the computer games and educational software company owned through Hubbard’s sports media company, Auburn Network Inc.

Things started getting murky about four years later. Writes Britt:

In a June 9, 2005, “Extraordinary Filing” letter to Ethics Commission director Jim Sumner, Hubbard informed Sumner that he planned to sell his interest in Learning Through Sports.

What is most interesting is that Hubbard never previously found it necessary to disclose on his ethic forms that he was an owner in the company. So what changed? According to Hubbard, he suddenly felt it appropriate that June day to announce he was “divesting” from Learning Through Sports because the company was on the verge of major contract with Alabama schools.

According to Hubbard, Shulman had began negotiating a deal in April 2005 with the Department of Education to bring Learning Through Sports software to Alabama schools.

The timing of Hubbard’s disclosure most certainly raises some questions into his actions.

Hubbard stated in the June 2005 letter to the Ethics Commission, that Shulman had informed him two months earlier that Learning Through Sports “had approached the Alabama Department of Education about utilizing its software program  . . ."

Why did Hubbard feel it necessary to defend his actions in such a way?

If he never used his influence why did he not disclose the information earlier?

Hubbard also told the Ethics Commission that he sold all of his shares in the company at the then-current valuation of 55 cents per share, effective June 15, 2005.

One month later, the company sent out a press release announcing that it had launched deals that ultimately would mean millions of dollars for the company funded by Hubbard.

Brian and Lisa Shulman certainly appear to have benefited from the machinations surrounding LTS. Shelby County Property records show they took out a $1.143 mortgage for property in Greystone, via First Commercial Bank. Records in the Shelby County Reporter show that in 2015 they sold a lot in Greystone 1 sector, phase VII for $1.650 million, to Barry and Monica Farris.

Lisa Hill Shulman
(right), with ,
Claudean Hill
(From facebook.com)
Here is a link to the Facebook page for Lisa Hill Shulman.  Is she blissfully unaware of her husband's marital indiscretions, or attempted indiscretions? Is Brian Shulman genuinely interested in innovative education techniques, or is he just another conservative con man with a greedy streak -- one who feeds at the public trough, while engaging in efforts to undermine public education?

Perhaps insight can be found at the author's bio for his book, "The Death of Sportsmanship," at amazon.com:

A former football star and team captain at Auburn University, where coaches were his strongest influences, Brian Shulman has observed a shameful decrease in good sportsmanship, from youth leagues to the professional ranks in every major sport. "In our increasingly combative society," he says, "sports seem to be dividing us more than uniting us. As the games take on intimidating intensity, more and more children opt out, retreating to activities that offer no opportunity to build individual and team skills. If young athletes are to learn and practice sportsmanship, it must be taught, just like reading, writing, and arithmetic; and coaches and parents are the ones who must learn it and teach it." After years of research, he offers practical solutions that work and will revitalize athletics in your community's schools, ensuring that sports remain an integral part of our nation's fabric.

One of the fundamentals of sportsmanship is a sense of fair play, that you don't try to cheat the other side -- or anyone else. So how ironic is it that Brian Shulman portrays himself as an expert on sportsmanship, when substantial evidence suggests he has cheated Alabama taxpayers? How ironic is it that Brian Shulman's name appears at a Web site designed to help cheat on his wife? We sought comment from Shulman for this post, but he has not responded to our queries.


Previously:

(1) Edgar C. Gentle III -- attorney at Gentle Turner Sexton and Harbison, Birmingham, AL (3/8/16)

(2) Stewart Springer -- attorney, solo practice in Birmingham, AL. (3/9/16)

(3) Richard W. "Dick" Bell -- attorney, solo practice in Birmingham, AL (3/14/16)

(4) Robert M.N. Palmer -- attorney and bar association president in Springfield, MO (3/15/16)

(5) Thomas Plouff -- attorney, who is licensed in Alabama and has a practice in Chicago (3/17/16)


(9) Randy Bates -- executive VP and member of board of directors, Golden Flake (10/5/16)

(10) Reid Carpenter -- attorney, Lightfoot Franklin White, Birmingham (10/6/16)

(11) Scott Sink -- exec. VP, McGriff Seibels Williams, Birmingham (10/11/16)

(12) Russell Byrne -- VP for information systems, Bromberg's, Birmingham (10/17/16)

(13) Rob Waudby -- district manager, Skyline Steel, Birmingham (10/24/16)

(14) Paul Wells -- VP, Protective Life, Birmingham (10/25/16)

Prosecutor declines to bring rape charges in case with apparent ties to Jason Kander scandal surrounding Missouri U.S. Senate race against Roy Blunt


Cora Faith Walker
(From washingtonpost.com)
A Missouri special prosecutor yesterday declined to bring criminal charges in the case of an incoming state representative who claimed one of her future colleagues raped her. Evidence suggests the rape allegations are connected to an evolving scandal surrounding Democrat Jason Kander, who is attempting to unseat GOP incumbent Roy Blunt in one of the nation's most closely watched U.S. Senate races.

We reported last week on The Kander Memo, which outlines a number of campaign-finance irregularities -- plus possible criminal acts such as theft by deceit and fraud -- against the candidate and his wife, Diana Kagan Kander. How explosive could The Kander Memo become? The rape allegations involving two up-and-coming politicians from the St. Louis area seem to provide insight.

Cora Faith Walker, 31, won the Democratic primary and is running unopposed in the general election for a seat in the Missouri House of Representatives from the Ferguson area. Steven Roberts Jr. also is running unopposed to become a Democratic representative from a metro St. Louis district. Both are expected to take office in January 2017.

But their relationship already has become the subject of national news. In a letter dated September 30 to Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) and other legislative leaders, Walker accused Roberts of raping her. She said in the letter that she had filed a police report earlier that week against Roberts.

The story generated headlines well beyond Missouri over the past three weeks or so, but prosecutor Tim Lohmar announced yesterday that he could find no grounds to bring a case against Roberts. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar, who serves as a special prosecutor in the case, said, “We’re not going to file charges against Mr. Roberts. There simply wasn’t enough credible evidence that sexual relations between these two people were anything but consensual.”

How does the Kander scandal enter the picture? Walker is one of three officers in Raise Your Hands for Kids (RYH4K), a Missouri nonprofit that Kander controls. It has raised approximately $5 million to, it appears, push for a ballot initiative and constitutional amendment that would raise tobacco taxes to help boost early-childhood education in Missouri.

That sounds like a noble cause. But Big Tobacco, specifically RJ Reynolds, has contributed $3 million, and fine print in the ballot measure shows it would protect and likely increase Big Tobacco's market share, in part by imposing a particularly heavy tax on Reynolds' chief competitors -- cheap "discount brand" cigarettes.

Is that the only unseemly business behind the RYH4K scheme? Nope. According to The Kander Memo, RYH4K violates the Federal Campaign Act and operates as "a $5-million political slush fund, to use as Kander deems best to further his political candidacy and personal ambition . . . ."

The Kander Memo, which is embedded at the end of this post, was released to at least seven government-oversight bodies on September 20. At the heart of the memo is this question: What happened to the $5 million raised for RYH4K, and who are the individuals with a fiduciary duty to make sure the money was spent lawfully?

Steven Roberts Jr.
(From nydailynews.com)
That question points squarely in the direction of Cora Faith Walker. As an officer in RYH4K, Walker was one of three individuals with such a fiduciary duty -- and the stark language in The Kander Memo, outlining numerous possible criminal violations -- clearly posed a threat to her career as a lawyer and a politician.

Did Walker develop flimsy rape allegations against Stephen Roberts Jr. as a way to divert attention from the ugly questions The Kander Memo raises -- questions that could send state and federal investigators her way?

This much we know for sure. The Kander Memo became public on September 20, and 10 days later, Walker came forward with rape allegations against Roberts. She filed a police report several days prior to that. We also now know that a prosecutor has found the allegations were too thin to support a criminal case.

The Kander-Blunt contest has been portrayed as the race that could decide which political party controls the U.S. Senate beginning in January 2017. But details in the 127-page Kander Memo, plus Cora Walker's rape allegations that now have fallen apart, suggest something deeper and more sinister might be going on.




Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Ashley Madison customers revealed: Protective Life VP Paul Wells appears on list and went through a divorce that might be tied to notorious Web site


Protective building in Birmingham
(From cargocollective.com
One of the youngest vice presidents in the history of Protective Life is among paying customers at the Ashley Madison extramarital-affair Web site, records show.

Public records also show that Paul Wells went through a divorce in 2015. Did Amy Scotch Wells seek divorce because of her husband's activities on Ashley Madison? The answer to that is not clear, but Mr. Wells clearly is going through a period of upheaval.

Paul Wells has been vice president and division chief financial officer at Protective since 2007, when he was 33 years old. Here is how Jones described his career path in a 2013 interview with Birmingham Business Journal (BBJ):

After finishing graduate school, I worked in the audit practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers for five years. Spent four years in the finance department of Compass Bank and at Protective Life Corp. now for 6 years.

What does Wells find appealing about his profession?

I like being able to leverage my technical financial skills while also being involved in the various aspects of running our Life and Annuity business. Continually being exposed to dynamics outside my technical expertise keeps things interesting.

Amy Scotch Wells
(From facebook.com)
Wells has two children, Cody and Hayley, and images from his family life can be found at his ex-wife's Facebook page. (Amy Scotch Wells is a graduate of Briarwood Christian School and Samford University, and her family has helped develop a number of neighborhoods in north Shelby County.)

Did Ashley Madison provide the tools to tear apart the Wells family? We sought comment from Paul Wells for this post, but he has not responded.


Previously:

(1) Edgar C. Gentle III -- attorney at Gentle Turner Sexton and Harbison, Birmingham, AL (3/8/16)

(2) Stewart Springer -- attorney, solo practice in Birmingham, AL. (3/9/16)

(3) Richard W. "Dick" Bell -- attorney, solo practice in Birmingham, AL (3/14/16)

(4) Robert M.N. Palmer -- attorney and bar association president in Springfield, MO (3/15/16)

(5) Thomas Plouff -- attorney, who is licensed in Alabama and has a practice in Chicago (3/17/16)


(9) Randy Bates -- executive VP and member of board of directors, Golden Flake (10/5/16)

(10) Reid Carpenter -- attorney, Lightfoot Franklin White, Birmingham (10/6/16)

(11) Scott Sink -- exec. VP, McGriff Seibels Williams, Birmingham (10/11/16)

(12) Russell Byrne -- VP for information systems, Bromberg's, Birmingham (10/17/16)

(13) Rob Waudby -- district manager, Skyline Steel, Birmingham (10/24/16)

Fighting back: Federal lawsuits seek justice for my unlawful arrest and incarcertion in Shelby County, plus the wrongful foreclosure on our home of 25 years


Liberty Duke
My wife, Carol, and I have filed two federal lawsuits in Alabama, seeking justice for the police beating and wrongful arrest that caused me to spend five months in jail -- and for the wrongful foreclosure on our home of 25 years in Birmingham.

The first case is styled Shuler, et al v. Liberty Duke, et al (Case No.: 2:16-cv-00501-RDP), and it was filed on March 26, 2016, in the Northern District of Alabama. Defendants in that case include lobbyist Liberty Duke, lawyers Rob Riley and Christina Crow, former Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry and three of his deputies, and former Campus Crest Communities CEO Ted Rollins.

Another defendant is U.S. Circuit Judge William H. "Bill" Pryor, so it should be a surprise to no one that we already have seen signs of judicial corruption in the case -- and service has not even been completed. (More on the actions of U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor in upcoming posts.) The complaint alleges violations of the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth amendments -- plus false arrest and imprisonment, excessive force, defamation, abuse of process, assault and battery, and more.

The second case is styled Shuler, et al v. Jessica Medeiros Garrison, et al (Case No. 2:;16-cv-00695-RDP), and it was filed on April 29, 2016, in the Northern District of Alabama. Defendants include attorneys Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Bill Baxley, and Robert Wermuth (and Huntsville law firm Stephens Millirons); Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange; Spartan Value Investors; JAG Investment Strategies; JPMorgan Chase Bank; Marie Claire magazine and Hearst Corporation; Yellowhammer News; al.com and Alabama Media Group; and more. The complaint alleges violations of the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth amendments; wrongful foreclosure; tortious interference; defamation; civil conspiracy; and more.

We filed both cases in forma pauperis, which refers to indigent status for which we quality, largely because of the actions alleged in these lawsuits -- and because of actions apparently taken by members of Riley Inc. to cheat us out of our jobs, at UAB and Infinity Insurance, respectively.

Signs of corruption are connected to our in forma pauperis status in the first case and are driven by multiple unlawful rulings -- and we are talking about rulings that are not even close to being correct -- by District Judge R. David Proctor. Again, details on that are coming soon.

The two complaints can be read below. (Note: The complaints seen here are identical to those filed in court, except they do not include a time stamp or our signatures. That's because we now live in Missouri and were not able to get time-stamped copies as we normally do when we file matters in person at the Hugo Black Courthouse in Birmingham. The time-stamped and signed versions can be viewed at PACER, which charges fees for viewing documents.)









Monday, October 24, 2016

The Curse of Columbiana: The shaky morals that could bring down "Luv Guv" Bentley and his flame might have their roots in his sleazy Shelby County hometown


Robert Bentley
In the aftermath of last week's announcement that an Alabama grand jury refused to file charges against former law-enforcement chief Spencer Collier, multiple reports said the news indicated "Luv Guv" Robert Bentley and chief advisor "Freaky Becky" Caldwell Mason were edging closer to the abyss. After all, Bentley, Mason and Co. had concocted charges of alleged wrongdoing against Collier, apparently to support their dubious decision to terminate him, and a grand jury -- which are famous for having such a low bar that they will "indict a ham sandwich" -- said, in essence, "There is no 'here' here."

The Bentley-Mason crowd appear to be next in line, and the decision on Collier suggests the grand jury might not look so favorably on the guv and his inamorata. Collier said Bentley used law enforcement as a "political tool"; perhaps the more accurate term would be "political weapon." John Archibald, columnist at al.com, said "Bentley's goose is cooked." Attorney Donald Watkins, writing at his Facebook page, agreed, calling Bentley "an evil man who uses political appointees and state resources to carry out personal vendettas against those who opposed and/or exposed his lawlessness."

That last part includes me, because I broke the story about the Bentley-Mason affair -- and Watkins and I did the heavy lifting on the scandal for months before the mainstream media arose from its stupor to realize our reporting was on target. In fact, multiple news accounts have Bentley and Mason making unlawful use of law-enforcement resources to target Watkins and me, in retaliation for having the audacity to practice journalism.

I had reasons to see the Bentley collapse coming, but like many others, I was conned by his grandfatherly demeanor and claims to be a heavy-duty Christian. In fact, I now must admit that I voted for Bentley -- the first Republican to get my vote in roughly 20 years, and hopefully the last one I ever will support. My wife, Carol, and I did not actually "support" Bentley. But we were among a sizable number of Democrats who crossed over in the primary to vote for Bentley in hopes of blocking Riley Inc. lackey Bradley Byrne -- and it worked.

We now know that Bentley's professorial exterior hides a dark and ugly soul. And I suspect its roots are in his hometown of Columbiana, the seat of Shelby County government and the place where I've spent a number of dismal and interminable days being cheated by various judges at the courthouse.

Corruption in Columbiana is so commonplace and deep-seated that I suspect it's impossible to grow up there -- or live there for any length of time -- without becoming warped, at least if you are among the town's elite. It's a place where everyone with white skin is expected to think alike, where the federally guaranteed rights to due process and equal protection are beaten, thrashed, and locked in the basement like unruly orphans. The people of Columbiana are like a tribe, the kind you find in a dysfunctional nation like Iraq. ("The Kurds today built a wall to protect their homeland of Columbiana from government forces. While they were at it, the Kurds helped kick the guts out of the Voting Rights Act. 'Negroes don't need to vote anymore,' the Kurds said in a prepared statement.") They march to their own Columbiana-made rules, while ignoring the laws of the land, which govern those of us outside the city limits. In blunt terms, they are un-American, among the most unpatriotic individuals you will find anywhere outside of Mississippi, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

Downtown Columbiana, Alaama
Why should I have seen Bentley's ethical problems coming? Because we lived for 25 years in Shelby County, and any legal problem meant you had to take the roughly 50-mile round trip from the civilized part of Shelby County (closest to Birmingham) to the little hellhole of Columbiana, way to the South. Inevitably, a Shelby County judge (all Republicans in a town where everyone of the "Caucasian persuasion" is expected to think alike) would cheat us. It took us a while to realize how badly we were being cheated, but once we did, that gave rise to this blog, which has come to be rated among the top 50 law blogs in North America. (Notice how I like to drop that ranking into posts on a regular basis?)

Corruption is so entrenched in Robert Bentley's hometown that it can take on laughable forms. Consider two examples that Carol and I have experienced:

(1) Admit you are guilty of a crime and get found "not guilty"

Our legal woes started when we had the misfortune of having a career criminal named Mike McGarity move in next door to us. Our charming neighbor apparently hid his ugly past during the job screening process at his employer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. (In blunt terms, he likely lied on his job application, and the lax process at BC/BS let him get away with it.)

McGarity, his kids, and guests -- having already sassed us when we asked him to keep his barking coon hound under control ("You just need to get earplugs") -- proceeded to trespass on our property on an almost daily basis. When we called to let McGarity know his presence was not welcome on our yard, McGarity replied, "I'm going to sue you for harassment" and "we're going to keep on coming,"

When we asked a Birmingham lawyer named Bill Lewis to write a letter, explaining the law to this dunderhead, it seemed to have no effect. The trespassing continued, and the last line of Lewis' letter was, "You will receive no more warnings."

With all that in mind, we felt we had no choice but to pursue a case against McGarity for criminal trespassing, third degree. The alternative was to wait until someone got hurt on our property, have them sue us, and watch our homeowners-insurance premiums go through the roof. (Allowing trespassers to freely roam your property is a bad idea, for a lot of reasons, perhaps the biggest one is financial.)

District Judge Ron Jackson had encouraged both parties to work out a settlement, but McGarity refused to discuss it. That meant the case went to trial, and a transcript shows that McGarity confessed to the crime as charged. How do we know? Well, the elements of criminal trespassing, third degree, are about as straightforward and simple as law gets. Here they are, straight from Code of Alabama 13A-7-4:

(1) "A person commits the crime of trespass in the third degree when he knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises."

(2) "A person enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises when he is not licensed, invited or privileged to do so."

Our research indicates "licensed" refers to someone who has a professional reason to enter property, such as a meter reader. "Privileged" refers to someone who tries to address an unexpected occurrence. For example, if your hat flies off your head and lands in my yard, you have a right to retrieve it. "Invited," as it sounds, refers to someone who who has a good relationship with the owner and has reason to believe he is welcome to enter.

The transcript shows that McGarity admitted to entering our property, he made no claim to being licensed or privileged, and he made no claim that he was welcome. In fact, he admitted we had verbally warned him multiple times to stay off our property, along with others entering from his yard. Translation: McGarity admitted to the crime of criminal trespass, third degree.

Judge Jackson, however, found that -- in this instance -- we had to give McGarity written warning. We did that, of course, in the form of Bill Lewis' letter. But a woman from Lewis' office testified that she could not find the certifield-mail receipt that proved when McGarity received the letter. McGarity claimed he had not received the written warning prior to trespassing, and Jackson found that created enough reasonable doubt to acquit -- even though the judge essentially read McGarity the proverbial "riot act" from the bench about the dire consequences of any future trespassing.

We later discovered that Jackson got the law laughably wrong -- except it's not funny when you are the victim of a judge's corrupt rulings. Here is the actual law from a case styled Chambers v. City of Opelika, 698 So. 2d 792 (Ala. Crim. App., 1996):

The appellant has cited no authority for his position that to be guilty of criminal trespass the intruder must be aware that he or she had no license or privilege to enter or to remain on the premises. There is authority, however, that states that when those premises are private and not open to the public, there is no requirement that the prosecution prove that a prior written or verbal warning was given to the intruder.

In other words, we had no obligation to warn McGarity at all. We certainly did not have to warn him in writing, as Jackson found. The same holds true for any homeowner -- or renter, for that matter. It is the would-be intruder's duty to make sure he has lawful grounds to enter. McGarity never did that, and Jackson turned the law on its head in order to reach an "acquittal."

This is the kind of thing that happens with regularity in Robert Bentley's hometown.


(2) Present no evidence to support your case and still get a favorable result

Because of the acquittal, McGarity had minimal grounds to sue us for malicious prosecution, which means the underlying criminal case against him was brought with a complete absence of probable cause. In fact, McGarity had no legitimate grounds for a lawsuit because we had not only probable cause, but actual cause -- he admitted to trespassing, as charged.

Bill Swatek, McGarity's lawyer who has been disciplined by the Alabama State Bar at least three teams (including one suspension of his license) brought the case anyway. We hired Jesse P. Evans III and Michael Odom, then from the law firm Lange Simpson (now at Rumberger Kirk and Caldwell) and paid them more than $12,000 to represent us.

Evans and Odom prepared a Motion for Summary Judgment, complete with material evidence in the form of evidence from Carol, Bill Lewis, and me. McGarity was required by law to present an opposing motion, supported with material evidence, at least two days prior to the summary-judgment hearing. He presented no evidence, which means the Circuit Judge J. Michael Joiner was required by law to grant summary judgment and dismiss McGarity's case on the day of the hearing.

Mike McGarity
McGarity presented a late affidavit, without seeking leave of court as required by law, and nothing in it was material to the case. The key point in such an affidavit should have been "I did not trespass on the Shuler's property." McGarity could not say that, of course, because he had admitted to trespassing in the criminal case, and we had a copy of the transcript. That was the second time Joiner was required to grant summary judgment, but he didn't do it.

We filed a second summary-judgment motion, focusing on new issues and evidence, and McGarity presented no response of any kind. The law is real clear in such situations, as expressed in a case styled Voyager Guar. Ins. Co., Inc. v. Brown 631 So. 2d 848 (Ala., 1993):

When a party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment offers no evidence to contradict that presented by the movant, the trial court MUST consider the movant's evidence uncontroverted, with no genuine issue of material fact existing."

Three times, the law required Joiner to consider our evidence uncontroverted and that there was no genuine issue of material fact existing, meaning he had to grant summary judgment. He failed to follow the law three times, forcing us to go to a trial that could not be held and causing us to spend thousands in additional dollars on a case that already had been decided under the law.

Again, this is what serves as "justice" in Robert Bentley's hometown. Is it any wonder that he grew up to be, in the words of Donald Watkins, "an evil man who uses political appointees and state resources to carry out personal vendettas against those who opposed and/or exposed his lawlessness."

Speaking of political appointees, guess one of Bentley's first actions upon taking office in January 2011? He appointed J. Michael Joiner to a seat on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, where he still sits and played a prominent role in the removal of Chief Justice Roy Moore from the Alabama Supreme Court. (Note: If Roy Moore and his supporters could afford a good private investigator, they probably could come up with evidence of Joiner in any number of compromising positions.)

Did Bentley make the appointment because of Joiner's superior legal skills? Don't make me laugh. Joiner is one of the worst judges in the Southeast; he's unfit to judge pigs at a county fair. Bentley's action was the worst kind of cronyism. He appointed Joiner for no reason other than the two are from the same hometown, grew up in the same sheltered and dysfunctional culture, and spout the same phony beliefs in a religion that most real Christians would not recognize.

With Bentley and Joiner in statewide positions, they have helped spread the Curse of Columbiana to every corner of Alabama. Bentley's removal from office cannot happen fast enough -- and a semi-competent investigation would show that Joiner needs to be right behind him.

Ashley Madison customers revealed: Rob Waudby Jr., district manager for Skyline Steel and key player in huge public-works projects, appears at cheaters' site


Skyline Steel
The Birmingham-based district manager for an international steel company is among paying customers at the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site, records show.

Rob Waudby Jr. heads the South district for Skyline Steel, with an office at 4908 Cahaba River Road, Suite 200, in Birmingham.

Skyline Steel is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nucor Corporation, the largest producer of steel in the United States. Skyline serves markets in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and Colombia. It has 20 sales offices in North America, and Waudby heads the one based in Birmingham.

Waudby is married to Gretchen Waudby, and they live at 2764 Cherokee Road in Mountain Brook. According to public records, the assessed value of their home is roughly $400,000. Our guess is that the sales price, if the house were on the market, would be much higher than that.

Is Skyline Steel involved in some major projects? Consider this item from the news page at their Web site:

Gretchen Waudby (right)
(From facebook.com)
Working with Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure Group, Skyline Steel is providing steel for the largest design-build civil works project in the history of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Reduction -- as it's officially named -- is a $695-million wall barrier designed to protect New Orleans from storm surges similar to that generated by Hurricane Katrina.
Skyline Steel is furnishing almost 18,000 tons of steel pipe (36" OD x .750 wall) to Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure Group for this massive two-mile long project. When the production and fabrication are complete, the steel pipe will be loaded on barges and transferred to a Shaw subsidiary in Delcambre, LA.

Skyline Steel is proud to be the steel supplier for such an elaborate, and important project that has the potential of impacting millions of people as well as the environment in a positive manner.

Can you imagine how much 18,000 tons of steel pipe cost? The figure probably would boggle the mind -- at least this mind.

As for Rob Waudby's activities at Ashley Madison, we sought comment from him for this story, but he had nothing to say for the record.

Previously:

(1) Edgar C. Gentle III -- attorney at Gentle Turner Sexton and Harbison, Birmingham, AL (3/8/16)

(2) Stewart Springer -- attorney, solo practice in Birmingham, AL. (3/9/16)

(3) Richard W. "Dick" Bell -- attorney, solo practice in Birmingham, AL (3/14/16)

(4) Robert M.N. Palmer -- attorney and bar association president in Springfield, MO (3/15/16)

(5) Thomas Plouff -- attorney, who is licensed in Alabama and has a practice in Chicago (3/17/16)


(9) Randy Bates -- executive VP and member of board of directors, Golden Flake (10/5/16)

(10) Reid Carpenter -- attorney, Lightfoot Franklin White, Birmingham (10/6/16)

(11) Scott Sink -- exec. VP, McGriff Seibels Williams, Birmingham (10/11/16)

(12) Russell Byrne -- VP for information systems, Bromberg's, Birmingham (10/17/16)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Donald Trump likely is wrong about dark motives behind 2016 election, but many everyday Americans know that some U.S. systems are, in fact, "rigged"


Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton
(From businessinsider.com)
Lost amid discussion about Donald Trump's failure at last night's presidential debate to promise he would accept 2016 election results is this: Trump, though he surely did not realize it, actually had a point.

Trump's statement that he would keep us in "suspense" on the election-results issue caused many pundits' heads to spin, but it should not have been a surprise. It grew from Trump's pre-debate claims that the race is "rigged" in Hillary Clinton's favor.

The Trump claim is nonsensical on at least two levels; (1) We've seen zero evidence that this particular election is rigged; (2) When events are rigged in the United States, they almost never harm rich, white, conservative guys like Trump; they tend to be the riggers, not the riggees.

Despite that, Trump has provided a public service, in a roundabout way, by raising the "r word." That's because parts of American officialdom are rigged, especially in our so-called justice system. My wife, Carol, and I have seen it firsthand. So have many of the people I've reported about on this blog -- women like Sherry Rollins, Linda Upton, and Bonnie Cahalane in divorce cases; a man like Dr. Mark Hayden in a business/estate case; a man like VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor in a string of gaming-related cases; even a former governor, Don Siegelman of Alabama, in perhaps the most grotesque political prosecution in American history.

(Speaking of Siegelman, do you think he believes American elections can be stolen -- in other words, rigged -- after votes for him disappeared overnight in the 2002 race against Bob Riley? What about Sonny Hornsby, the Alabama chief justice candidate in 1994 who perhaps was the first victim of an election that was manipulated by Karl Rove? What about Al Gore supporters in 2000 and John Kerry supporters in 2004, who likely saw results in single states -- Florida and Ohio, respectively -- lead to the calamitous George W. Bush presidency? Bottom line: Donald Trump almost certainly has no grounds to believe the 2016 election is rigged against him -- his own missteps have been plenty to make him a loser -- but American election results should not be seen as sacrosanct; they can be subject to tampering.)

What about those instances when a rigged system has worked against Carol and me? I could write a multi-volume book on that, but let's focus on one element, of one case, in our legal odyssey.

In a letter dated October 31, 2013, eight days after I was arrested for writing this blog and thrown in the Shelby County Jail, Birmingham attorney David Gespass revealed stunning information. GOP political operative Rob Riley and lobbyist Liberty Duke had -- contrary to law -- asked for the case file to be sealed. That meant Carol and I largely were in the dark about a case that caused Alabama deputies to barge into our home and essentially kidnap me -- I use that term because the cops showed no warrant, did not mention a warrant, and did not even state their purpose for being on our property before beating me up and dousing me with pepper spray.

Gespass -- who visited me twice in jail, although he never offered any strategies for addressing the injustice I had experienced -- apparently managed to review the file. (I assume by contacting Rob Riley or his lawyers, members of Riley's firm.) Consider just one sentence from the third paragraph of Gespass' letter: (The full letter is embedded at the end of this post.)

First of all, both the temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction (the latter is now in effect, but both say the same things) appear to have been issued before service was effected. . . . 

Let's briefly deal with two preliminary matters before addressing our main point:

(1) More than 200 years of First Amendment law hold that both a TRO and preliminary injunction are unlawful in a case of alleged defamation;

(2) A TRO lawfully can be issued prior to notice or service to the defendant. But that simply cannot happen with a preliminary injunction, in any kind of legal case. In fact, Alabama law holds that a preliminary injunction cannot be considered, much less issued, if the opposing party has had no opportunity to submit evidence, call witnesses -- all the elements we know as due process in the United States. (See Southern Homes v. Bermuda Lakes.)

Now, back to our main point, and the mind-blowing words from Gespass' letter. According to Gespass, a preliminary injunction had been issued against Carol and me BEFORE SERVICE WAS EFFECTED.

David Gespass
Those aren't my claims; those are from an attorney -- one I do not like, and for whom, I have zero respect -- based on his review of the court's own hidden files. Gespass' words show that the court took action against Carol and me when we had not been served -- and without service, the court had no authority over us.

A legal case can't get much more "rigged" than that. It was decided in favor of one party before the other party even was given notice of the lawsuit, before the case had even started.

And get this: David Gespass, to my knowledge, has not done or said one thing to expose such an outrage -- even though Gespass has a duty under the ethical guidelines of his profession to report wrongdoing by his fellow members of the bar. Like most lawyers, it appears, Gespass is more interested in covering up injustice than exposing it.

As for Donald Trump, he seriously thinks he knows what it's like to face a system that is rigged against you? Carol and I really know what that's like -- and so do many of the people I've written about on this blog.