We recently showed that my wife, Carol: (A) Did not assault a law enforcement officer, a misdemeanor charge that she still faces; and (B) Even if she had used force, it would have been lawful under Missouri's Castle Doctrine Law. Of course, it would have been impossible for Carol to apply much force, given that a deputy broke her arm so severely that it required trauma surgery for repair. But the public is supposed to believe she was the assaulter, not the victim of an assault?
Now, we've learned that the same law shines new light on the myth that, roughly one week before our unlawful eviction on Sept. 9, 2015, I placed a 911 call and threatened to shoot any cop who attempted to evict us. I never made such a threat, or placed such a call, and discovery in our upcoming federal lawsuit will prove that. Research on Missouri's Castle Doctrine Law, however, indicates such a threat -- under the circumstances -- would have been lawful.
I've never been quite sure how the 911-call myth came to fruition. I first heard about it in an e-mail from my brother-lawyer, David Shuler, who lives here in Springfield, Missouri. He wrote that a deputy named Scott Harrison had informed him that a dispatcher reported such a call from me. I responded to David, in no uncertain terms, that I had never called 911 in my life -- and I certainly had not issued a threat to anyone, much less cops, via 911.
The 911 myth might have its genesis with a one-time "friend," who shall remain nameless, for now. About the same time of David's e-mail, this "friend" visited our duplex apartment, uninvited, and tried to convince us to leave because the landlord had sent us a notice to vacate. I informed Mr. "Friend" that the landlord was violating the terms of our lease, and we intended to fight the attempted eviction.
Mr. "Friend" began to berate Carol and me, saying we had made all sorts of "bad decisions" that led to my unlawful incarceration in Alabama and foreclosure on our Birmingham home. As he stood up and started to stomp out, I said, "Why don't you sit down and tell us what 'bad decisions' we've made."
I don't remember the conversation from there word for word, but I believe the only "bad decision" he could come up with was my refusal to accept the offer of an unspecified "other" job after my termination as an editor at UAB.
Of course, he failed to mention a few things: (1) I never had an offer in writing; (2) I never was told where at UAB I would be working; (3) I never was told who my boss would be; (4) I never was told why I was being forced to leave my position when a UAB grievance committee had found that I should not have been fired; (5) I never was told why I was being forced to leave my position when the HR director admitted my supervisor had butchered the situation and "would be dealt with." (The supervisor, I've been told, was forced to retire.); (6) When I asked to see a copy of the grievance hearing's written report, the request was denied; (7) Along with the job shuffle, I would have to accept two written warnings in my file, and UAB policy calls for automatic termination after three written warnings; (8) When I asked what the two written warnings were for, the HR director said the committee decided they were in "lieu of termination"; (9) When I asked what UAB policy allowed a grievance committee to find an employee had been wrongfully terminated but still should receive two written warnings, the HR director was stumped. When I again asked to see the committee's written report, the request was denied; (10) When I told the HR director, "It sounds like you are trying to set me up to be fired all over again," she didn't deny it. When I said, "If I wore the wrong color of socks to work one day, I could be fired," she didn't deny that either. In fact, she said, "That would be up to your new supervisor."
I firmly informed Mr. "Friend" that he did not know squat about what had happened at UAB. I also told him he didn't know squat about Missouri eviction law -- that the eviction unlawfully had been scheduled inside a 10-day window when no such action could be taken, and we intended to file a notice of appeal, which would put a stay of execution on the eviction.
As I recall, he said that we were going to be evicted anyway, and I informed him that anyone who unlawfully attempted to break into our home would be wise to think twice about that. Is that a radical thought? I imagine 99 percent of homeowners and renters in the US of A would say the same thing, although many probably would say it in much stronger terms than I did.
Mr. "Friend" has admitted that he passed along this "threat" to someone, probably my brother and possibly my health-care provider. As a result, Mr. "Friend" might soon have at least a couple of legal issues to deal with: (1) The conversation in question took place in our home, where Carol and I had an "expectation of privacy." The "friend's" actions might constitute invasion of privacy, and to the extent that his words to others were false, that might constitute defamation; (2) A person's relationship with a health-care provider, and his medical records, are protected by several layers of privacy laws. If Mr. "Friend" stepped into that minefield, he was most unwise.
But here is the key point: If I had used physical force -- even deadly force -- against those I reasonably believed were unlawfully entering my home, that would have been legal under Missouri's Castle Doctrine. And it makes no exception for invading cops.
Under Mr. "Friend's" apparent scenario, which likely is filled with falsehoods, I made a "threat" to do something that is 100 percent legal, even encouraged, under Missouri law. I pledged, in so many words, to protect my "castle" from unlawful intruders. Does that make me a criminal? Nope, it makes me a good Missourian.
Did Mr. "Friend" have grounds to report me to anyone for threatening to engage in lawful activity? No, he did not. And that is one of several reasons he might be needing to "lawyer up" in the near future.