Wednesday, March 21, 2018

With insights from Jill Simpson, we predicted Doug Jones would sell out black, female progressive voters, and Josh Moon shows that prediction was on target

We predicted here three months ago -- based on the insights of opposition researcher and whistle blower Jill Simpson -- that U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) would sell out the black, female, and progressive voters who put him in office. Josh Moon, of the Alabama Political Reporter (APR), now confirms that prediction was on target.

Moon's scathing report yesterday is particularly significant because the APR columnist has tended to write favorably about Jones -- something neither Simpson nor I ever will be accused of doing. In a post titled "Doug Jones is selling out the people who elected him," Moon not only rips Jones' voting record, but even suggests the junior senator will be a one-termer in D.C. From the Moon column:

It’s time for a reality check for Doug Jones.

You’re not going to be re-elected to the U.S. Senate.

Look, I’d love to think that there’s a chance, even a Lloyd Christmas “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” sort of chance. But there’s not.

You were nearly beaten by a man who was widely loathed in this state BEFORE he was accused of molesting a couple of teens and acting like a creepy uncle with several more. The worst candidate in modern political history nearly beat you because he had the good fortune of having an R beside his name and living in a state filled with people too ignorant to understand that a senator can’t affect abortion law at this point. (And please, spare the mock outrage over the late-term abortion ban bill that Jones voted against. That thing would’ve been declared unconstitutional by the next day by any federal court it landed in.)

So, when Del Marsh or some other Republican who didn’t allegedly molest teen girls lands on the ticket opposite you, you’re toast.

And it’s high time you started acting like it.

And stopped selling out the very people who put you in that office.

To whom does Jones owe his upset victory at the polls over Republican Roy Moore? Moon makes it clear, since Jones doesn't seem to be clear about it:

And it’s high time you started acting like it.

And stopped selling out the very people who put you in that office.

Without record support from the black community in Alabama (Jones’ numbers among black voters rivaled President Obama’s 2008 numbers), there’s zero chance that Jones is sitting in that office in D.C. today.

And without monumental efforts to get progressives out to the polls, ditto.

How has Jones rewarded those groups?

Moon answers that question by ripping Jones a new orifice for his vote, siding with Republicans, to roll back banking regulations:

By voting for a rollback of the Dodd-Frank banking regulations that were put in place to protect regular working folks from losing their 401ks and life savings in another financial crash, like the one that crippled America in 2008. 
Included in the bill rolling back those protections was a particularly nasty, racist bit of language that will allow local banks to go back to the discriminatory lending practices of the past. 
When the Dodd-Frank protections were passed a few years ago, they contained a little-known provision that required banks making mortgage loans to report additional info on borrowers they approved and denied. In addition to race and gender, the banks had to report income, credit scores, employment history and other factors that were considered in making the loans. 
They did this because those banks, when accused of discriminatory lending practices, usually claimed that the denials of minority borrowers were related to those additional factors. 
They weren’t denying black borrowers because they were black, the banks said, but because those black borrowers had lower credit scores, a sketchy employment history or were borrowing for homes in declining neighborhoods.

Well, guess what?

That wasn’t true.

Moon did some research that apparently Doug Jones was too lazy -- or too compromised by his cozy relationship with GOP thugs like Rob Riley -- to do:

A comprehensive report from the Center for Investigative Reporting, using the newly-required reporting info, found that minority applicants were 61 percent more likely to be denied a conventional home mortgage even when factors such as income, credit score and location were considered.

Mobile had the absolute worst score among metro markets, with black applicants 5.6 times less likely to be approved for a loan. In Montgomery, blacks were 3 times more likely to be denied.

Even with regulators watching, and with the possibility of fines and penalties, these banks went right ahead discriminating.

And now, thanks to Jones and 16 other Democrats, they can do it in the dark again.

It’s shameful.

What does that mean in everyday language? Moon spells it out:

No half-conscious person in Alabama doesn’t recognize the ramifications of this. Certainly not someone like Jones. He has to know Alabama’s long history of using discriminatory lending practices — especially at the community bank level — to prevent black families from moving into “breakaway” communities, and thus denying black children the ability to go to better schools. 
In an op-ed that appeared in several Alabama newspapers, Jones defended his decision by saying that he wants to be more bipartisan and work across the aisle. 
That’s a fine sentiment and all, but when the progressive voters of this state put Jones in office, their vision of him pushing bipartisanship was on bills that restored the rights of all people, that protected the least of us, that upheld the belief that all men are created equal. 
Not a bill that ensures documented and provable discrimination will continue and flourish. Not a bill that makes it progressively harder for more Americans to achieve the American Dream. Not a bill that makes it easier for big banks to rob the working men and women — again.

Now seems like a good time to revisit Jill Simpson's words from our post dated Dec. 18, 2017:

What a hoot, I have never seen anything like this -- the Karl Rove, Tom Donohue, and Bill Canary Chamber of Commerce types claim they are staying out of the Moore/Jones race, when secretly they have all hands on deck helping Doug Jones. Doug is the Chamber of Commerce candidate in Alabama. Many progressives in Alabama have been viciously mistreated by the chamber, so that will not bode well for Doug. Many progressives have even been investigated by the chamber for working against Republicans, but by golly, the corporate guys are not helping Roy the Republican this time. Right now, it is all out war between Rove Republican elites -- Doug Jones is their guy -- and the Bannon Religious Right/White Republicans, and Roy Moore is their guy from the South and Heartland. . . .

The Rove Republicans behind the scenes are doing everything they can to help Doug Jones, and if he gets elected, he will owe them, just like they owe him for saving Rove from having to testify under oath -- by cooking the deal between the Riley/Sessions crowd and [Eric] Holder.

Jill Simpson predicted it, and Josh Moon has confirmed it: Alabamians might as well have sent Roy Moore to the Senate. His vote would have been the same as Doug Jones's on the Dodd-Frank rollback, which could put our economic security at risk.

Oily Alabama operative Rob Riley admits, in a roundabout way, that GOPers used affidavit to blackmail Judge Mark Fuller in the Siegelman case

Paul Benton Weeks
Conservative operatives in Alabama (and beyond) used an affidavit, which revealed the corrupt acts of the federal judge in the Don Siegelman case, to blackmail the judge into doing their bidding -- ensuring that Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy would be wrongfully convicted.

That information about former U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, since forced from the bench in the wake of charges that he beat his wife in an Atlanta hotel room, comes from two sources -- Alabama whistle blower and opposition researcher Jill Simpson, plus the author of the affidavit, retired Missouri attorney Paul Benton Weeks.

The blackmail issue came to the surface following our post earlier this week about the political prosecution Weeks is facing for "securities fraud" in Missouri -- a case that is so dubious it did not, by law, even involve a security, and it was filed some 30 months after the statute of limitations had expired. Under the heading of "adding insult to injury," Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley recently solicited a $50,000 donation (for his U.S. Senate campaign) from Weeks -- even though Hawley is leading the prosecution against Weeks.

Yes sir, wouldn't we all jump at the chance to contribute to the political fraud who is leading a bogus prosecution against us?

Our post apparently riled Simpson and led her to note on Facebook the critical role Weeks played in the Siegelman case, via an affidavit that revealed Judge Mark Fuller never should have been on the case. From Simpson's Facebook post (with mild editing for clarity); as tends to happen, Homewood lawyer and GOP thug Rob Riley appears at the center of any post about Alabama corruption:

As many of you know I think of Paul Weeks as a hero in the Siegelman case. Paul showed up after I testified in D.C. . . . about all Rob Riley had told me about Mark Fuller. At the time Rob shared this information in 2005, I had no idea where he had gotten all of it [and how it was being used against Fuller]. Rob just said, "A friend gave it to me," and it was enough to get Fuller to do exactly what [Rob and his associates] wanted him to do."

In what should be no surprise to anyone, Rob Riley was lying. The information actually came from the Paul Weeks affidavit, which had taken a circuitous route through a major multi-state lawsuit -- winding up with lawyers from the Bradley Arant law firm in Birmingham. (More on that in an upcoming post.) Writes Simpson:

Rob and Bob Riley
Paul Weeks showed up by calling my lawyer at the time, who instructed me not to talk him ( I believe because of Doug Jones connections ), but I did [talk to Paul anyway]  and learned that he had filed an affidavit about Fuller. That was a case against Ray Scott and B.A.S.S., in which Rob and Bob Riley's good buddy, Matt Lembke had been an attorney. Weeks' knowledge of how they were blackmailing Fuller made him a dangerous threat to the Alabama Gang. But we could never get anyone in D.C. to question [Paul], as we were dealing with Rob Riley's buddy, Doug Jones, who was about to make $51 million in a [HealthSouth civil case], with Rob running interference against all of us in D.C.

Simpson notes the blow back Weeks and others have faced for standing up to corruption connected to the Siegelman case:

Each one of us who helped see this story told -- the ones that did not join the Doug Jones bunch -- got either criminally threatened are charged with crazy horseshit, and now it appears to be Weeks they are after. This is a never-ending saga. But all their bullshit is always met with resistance; by this, I mean we show up and out the corruption of this criminal gang. It appears to us that the Alabama Resistance needs to change its name to just Resist. As we now are way beyond Alabama, dealing with their corrupt individuals in other states. As for Paul Weeks, please hold him in your prayers. Can you believe how brazen this Missouri AG is with Paul?

What about our other source, Paul Benton Weeks? He provides insights on Bradley E. Murray, v. Ray W. Scott, the B.A.S.S. case that led to his affidavit -- and shows how his sworn statement about corruption connected to U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller made it into the hands of the right-wing Alabama Gang, which used it (via Bradley Arant lawyer Matt Lembke) to blackmail Fuller and control the Siegelman case.

Scott, by the way, long has been close to George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, which might explain how Scott receives favorable rulings in Southeastern courts (Eleventh Circuit: Alabama, Georgia, Florida), which are assigned to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a Bush appointee. From Paul Weeks:

Scott was founder of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society of America (B.A.S.S.) but then later created a deceptively-similar named entity, "B.A.S.S. Inc." that was then used to divert all of the B.A.S.S. membership dues and magazine advertising revenues from B.A.S.S. to B.A.S.S. Inc. 
Legal experts called it a huge fraud and charitable scam because B.A.S.S. was supposed to be a fishermen's organization dedicated to preserving fishing waters and promoting youth fishing programs. Turns out Ray Scott was looting B.A.S.S. of all of the organization's money using B.A.S.S. Inc. as the siphon. When B.A.S.S. members in Kansas filed suit against Scott to get their organization and magazine back, Scott hired,  among others, Matt Lembke's firm (Bradley Arant). 
So Lembke was one of the very first lawyers to get a copy of my Fuller affidavit when I submitted it in the summer of 2003. Lembke then shared all of the dirt on Fuller with his political allies, the Rileys. They then used that dirt on Fuller to blackmail Fuller to "get" Siegelman.

The dirt on Mark Fuller did not just land on Matt Lembke's plate. It went much higher up the food chain than that, again with profound consequences for the Don Siegelman case. From Weeks:

Not only did Lembke and the Rileys have the dirt on Fuller via my affidavit, but I originally sent a copy of that Fuller affidavit to the Department of Justice Public Integrity Section (PIN), which then enabled the PIN to lord it over Fuller during the prosecution and trial of Siegelman. Fuller would have definitely felt pressure (not to mention gratitude) for the DOJ not coming after him for what was in my Fuller affidavit.

So it's fair to say that my Fuller affidavit allowed the Rileys and Karl Rove and the DOJ to "own" and control Fuller in the mission to "get" Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.

The story does not end there -- far from it. Paul Weeks has many more insights on the blackmailing of federal judge Mark Fuller. We will have that in an upcoming post.

(To be continued)

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

My nephew, Noah Hayes Shuler, faces possession of drug paraphernalia charge after he and his girlfriend were stopped for speeding in rural Sparta, Missouri

Noah Shuler and Aubrynne Russell
Noah Hayes Shuler, my nephew and the son of my lawyer-brother (David Shuler), faces a possession of drug paraphernalia charge in Christian County, Missouri. This is the same nephew who already has a pending speeding charge for driving 88 mph in a 60 zone.

The criminal setting in the speeding case is April 6. David Shuler is his son's attorney in that case, and he entered a plea of not guilty on Jan. 17. But they could not make it to the next hearing date before Noah was in trouble again. (Incident report is embedded at the end of this post.)

What happened? At about 8:15 p.m. on Dec. 30, 2017, Noah was a passenger in a 2013 black Cadillac driven by his girlfriend, Aubrynne Russell. A police officer in Sparta, Missouri (pop. 1,864) stopped them for speeding, and as he approached the vehicle, immediately noticed the odor of marijuana.

The officer ordered Noah and his girlfriend out of the vehicle and told them he was going to conduct a probable-cause search. An inspection of the vehicle produced the following items:

(1) A rubber pipe, with a glass bowl, including marijuana residue. It was found in a box in the back passenger seat;

(2) Two clear sandwich bags containing marijuana residue. They were found in a box in the back passenger seat;

(3) One sandwich bag with marijuana residue. It was found in the glove box.

A property report from the vehicle stop lists the owner of all four items as Noah Hayes Shuler, with an address of 3825 E. San Poppi Court in Ozark, MO 65721. That's where my brother's family of four lives.

Springfield attorney Russell Dempsey represents both Noah and Ms. Russell in the drug paraphernalia/speeding case.

Noah entered William Jewell College in Liberty, MO, in fall 2017 and played on the soccer team -- although his playing time as a freshman was limited to four minutes in one game. Noah's Facebook page recently indicated he now is enrolled at Missouri State University in his hometown of Springfield -- although that information has disappeared from the page.

Did he get kicked out of William Jewell? Did he leave because of his sparse playing time on the soccer team? Did he just want to get back home and attend the same school as his girlfriend?

We sought comment from David Shuler for this post, including several specific questions, but he provided no substantive response.

I know this for sure: I grew up in what used to be a law-abiding family, but something must have changed in the 36 years I lived in Birmingham, AL. Carol and I each have been arrested -- and I even spent five months in the Shelby County Jail as the only incarcerated journalist in the western hemisphere for 2013 -- but none of those arrests were legitimate. They were trumped up as a form of intimidation for my reporting on this blog.

Noah, on the other hand, appears to be facing charges that are legitimate. He might be found not guilty on one or both, but the arrests appear to at least be based on probable cause.

It seems safe to say that he's the first member of our family to ever face two criminal charges at the same time -- certainly in my lifetime. I'm not sure how you even manage to accomplish that -- especially when your father is a lawyer, you've gone to private schools (Greenwood Laboratory School), and you've grown up in luxury (a house in a golf-course community, with an appraised value of $621,300).

So, how did Noah manage to accumulate two criminal charges -- with both cases pending -- well before completing his freshman year of college?

We will examine that and other issues in upcoming posts.

(To be continued)

Monday, March 19, 2018

Luther Strange's filthy fingerprints appear to be all over the Birmingham Superfund scandal -- plus an attempted financial hit on lawyer Burt Newsome

Luther Strange and former Balch lawyer Jessica Garrison
New evidence suggests former Alabama attorney general and U.S. Sen. Luther Strange was involved in a criminal conspiracy to help the large Balch Bingham law firm obtain the bank-collections business of a solo attorney in the Birmingham area, according to (See here and here.) Not surprisingly, Strange's one-time campaign manager and mistress, Jessica Medeiros Garrison, is involved in this sordid story.

Burt Newsome has built his collections practice into a lucrative enterprise, so lucrative that Balch Bingham apparently tried to steal it -- with help from Luther Strange. Newsome was hit with a sham criminal charge -- where have we heard this before? -- and evidence indicates Strange tried to make it stick.

This all grows from an report last week that Strange (and Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions) pushed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) not to designate the North Birmingham Superfund site for National Priorities List (NPL) status, which would have required polluters (Drummond Co. and others) to pay millions in clean-up costs.

As for Sessions, a report at Mother Jones and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) features documents that show Sessions' office was deeply involved in trying to thwart the clean-up effort. From an article at Mother Jones:

As Alabama’s junior senator, Jeff Sessions was far more involved than previously known in helping two of his top contributors derail a federal environmental cleanup effort, according to records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Mother Jones and the Project on Government Oversight. The stalled cleanup is now at the center of a federal bribery case spearheaded by the Justice Department, posing a serious conflict of interest for Sessions, who is now attorney general. Yet there is no indication that Sessions has taken any steps to recuse himself from this matter.

Last fall, the Justice Department indicted a top executive at Drummond Coal and two partners in the influential Birmingham-based law firm of Balch Bingham, who were representing the Alabama-based company. Prosecutors allege the men paid off an Alabama state representative, Democrat Oliver Robinson, as they undertook an all-out effort to block an environmental remediation effort in an impoverished, largely African American neighborhood of North Birmingham, known as 35th Avenue. Robinson, who pleaded guilty to charges of bribery, conspiracy, and fraud, admitted signing his name to letters opposing the cleanup that were ghostwritten by the Balch Bingham attorneys and to surreptitiously recording meetings with Environmental Protection Agency officials.

Speaking of indicted Balch partners (Joel Gilbert and Steven McKinney) and ghostwritten letters, that's where Luther Strange enters the picture. In a post titled "Luther Strange Coordinated with Indicted Balch Partners," reports:

We always suspected they were in cahoots.

Former State Attorney General and ex-U.S. Senator Luther Strange appears to be—unequivocally—the biggest stooge for Balch Bingham, the once prestigious, silk-stocking law firm.

Besides ghostwriting for their alleged bought-and-paid-for-politicians, Balch appears to have directly coordinated with state agencies.

How close was the coordination? spells it out:

On Oct. 23, 2014, Strange sent a formal letter to the EPA, calling the NPL listing "premature" and "futile." It has been pointed out before, this letter followed less than a week after Drummond Co. contributed $25,000 to Strange's reelection campaign, and Drummond was Strange's third largest donor in that election cycle.

What hasn't been evident before was how closely Strange's office and the Balch lawyers Gilbert and McKinney were working together.

When Strange's administrative assistant emailed the letter to the EPA, she blind carbon copied three lawyers in the Alabama Attorney General's office -- and Gilbert at Balch.

Essentially, Strange's office was letting Gilbert read their correspondence with the EPA without the EPA knowing Gilbert could see it.

And the Attorney General's office's coordination with Gilbert didn't stop there. Additional emails show that Robert Tambling, the chief of the environmental section, followed up on Nov. 4, 2014, after the EPA apparently failed to respond to Strange's first letter.

Tambling immediately forwarded a copy of his email to the EPA to Gilbert at Balch, writing to him, "Joel, Hope this helps. RT"

A few minutes later, Gilbert wrote back, "Can't hurt ... Thanks."

The Strange-Balch coordination apparently went well beyond the Superfund matter, as reports:

Now a can of worms has opened up, especially in relationship to Balch’s and Luther Strange’s involvement in the Newsome Conspiracy Case.

Did Balch in any way coordinate with the State Attorney General in 2016 to file a “cut and paste” brief in support of the resurrection of the bogus criminal case against Burt Newsome that had been expunged?

A public records request should be headed soon to the Office of the Attorney General.

A post dated Sept. 18, 2017, provides more details on Strange's ties to the Newsome case:

We have reached out to federal authorities and have asked them to investigate U.S. Senator Luther Strange’s involvement in alleged corruption and the trampling of the Civil Rights of Burt Newsome, a father of four young children who was wrongly targeted, falsely arrested, and defamed by one of Strange’s most ardent financial and political supporters, the embattled law firm Balch Bingham.

Burt Newsome
Strange has received tens of thousands of dollars from Balch Bingham or political action committees funded by Balch Bingham partners. Strange’s top political advisor and former campaign manager, Jessica Garrison, was “of counsel” at Balch until this past spring, a known revolving-door for political operatives.
What revolts us most is as Alabama Attorney General, Strange gave a helping-hand—just a year ago—to an alleged criminal conspiracy that trampled the Civil Rights of Burt Newsome, a father of four young children who was railroaded with a capital R.

According to court filings, Newsome, a small-town attorney in Alabama, was falsely arrested and defamed by the alleged co-conspirators including Balch Bingham which allegedly had a financial objective: to obtain Newsome’s lucrative banking collections business.

In April of 2014, the criminal case against Newsome collapsed and was eventually expunged from court records. But almost a year later after the expungement, in June of 2016, another judge, with allegedly no knowledge of the details of the case, reversed the expungement and opened the contents of a case that no longer existed, declaring that the previous judge (since retired) had erred.

Incredibly, Newsome was allegedly barred by court officials from filing a brief or petitioning the court at that time.

Raising eyebrows and expanding the web of possible collusion, two months later, in August of 2016, then-Attorney General Luther Strange filed a brief in support of the resurrected expungement, citing and regurgitating the order signed by the new judge.

Observers could not understand why his office would ever get involved in a matter like this, especially since the brief looked like a simple “cut and paste job.” The reason was Balch Bingham and other co-conspirators wanted to use the false criminal accusations in a civil case that the co-conspirators looked like they were losing against Newsome.

Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Josh Hawley seeks $50,000 donation from retired lawyer Paul Benton Weeks, whom Hawley's AG office is prosecuting

Paul Benton Weeks
A U.S. Senate candidate from Missouri sought a $50,000 donation from a retired lawyer he is prosecuting as state attorney general.

Josh Hawley, a Republican, is set to face incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill in one of the most-watched Senate campaigns of 2018. For now, Hawley is Missouri AG, and he recently solicited a $50,000 donation (via email) for his Senate campaign from Paul Benton Weeks, of Springfield, Missouri.

Weeks was invited to attend a fundraising reception, featuring Hawley and President Donald Trump, in St. Louis on March 14. The invitation, sent to Weeks' email address at, stated that Weeks could be part of the Host Committee Roundtable for a donation of $50,000 per person. (Invitation is embedded at the end of this post.)

Why should this raise eyebrows? Hawley's AG office is prosecuting Weeks on a dubious charge of securities fraud -- but now Hawley wants the defendant to fork over $50,000 to a Senate campaign. We've written a series of posts titled "The Political Prosecution of Paul Benton Weeks" (see here and here) and we thought the case could not get more smelly. But the Hawley solicitation adds a whole new layer of corruption, incompetence, or both.

Weeks lays it out in a supplemental motion to have the AG's office disqualified from his case. (Motion is embedded at the end of this post.)

Legal Schnauzer readers probably know Paul Benton Weeks best as the Missouri lawyer who wrote a scathing affidavit about U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, the wildly conflicted judge in the Don Siegelman case. Fuller, of course, eventually was forced from the bench in the wake of charges that he had beaten his wife in an Atlanta hotel room. That was no surprise to many because Weeks, via his affidavit, had already unmasked Fuller as a morally bankrupt fraud, who had no place on the federal bench -- much less overseeing the Siegelman case.

Evidence strongly suggests the "securities fraud" prosecution is payback for Weeks' willingness to research and report unflattering facts about a sitting federal judge. It certainly is not a legitimate securities-fraud case, as we explained in a November 2017 post:

As an initial matter, you would expect a "securities fraud" case to involve a "security." But, in Missouri, you would be wrong -- especially if your name is Paul Weeks and you've made it a habit to shine light on government and court-related abuses. Investopedia describes a security as follows:

"A security is a fungible, negotiable financial instrument that holds some type of monetary value. It represents an ownership position in a publicly-traded corporation (via stock), a creditor relationship with a governmental body or a corporation (represented by owning that entity's bond), or rights to ownership as represented by an option."

Was there anything with the transaction in question that fits that description? Did it involve a stock, bond, or option? Not even close.

The securities case grew from a private-loan transaction between Weeks and a personal acquaintance, with Weeks borrowing $200,000 and delivering a personal promissory note to the lender. When Congress enacted the federal securities laws in the 1930s, lawmakers made it expressly clear that personal and commercial promissory notes were not securities. The oddities with the "securities" case do not stop there:

In Missouri, the statute of limitations for alleged "securities fraud" is three years. The charge against Weeks is based on a private loan transaction that occurred in August 2009. Therefore, simple math would indicate that the statute of limitations in the Weeks case expired in August 2012, At that point, a Missouri prosecutor is required by . . . law, not to commence a prosecution barred by the statute of limitations. . . .

But [Chris] Koster and the Missouri Attorney General's Office filed their untimely prosecution against Weeks anyway. These Missouri officials commenced their prosecution against Weeks on Dec. 24, 2014 -- some 30 months after the three-year statute of limitations had already run.

Gee, the case was brought when it was stale by only 30 months? No wonder it smells bad. And now we have Hawley's solicitation email adding to the putrid mix. Here is how Weeks sets the stage, from his supplemental motion (citations omitted):

The Missouri Attorney General is Josh Hawley, who is now running for the United States Senate. Recent news reports confirm that Hawley faces substantial pressure, from powerful people within his own political party, to raise more campaign cash.

On Monday, February 26, 2018, Josh Hawley sent an email to Defendant Paul Weeks from an email address identified as “”.  In that email, Hawley stated it was his “honor” to invite Weeks to attend an “evening reception with President Donald J. Trump." Hawley stated to Weeks that “I hope you can join me and Erin [Hawley’s wife] for this special event.” Hawley’s email to Weeks described the event as a “fundraising reception, benefiting our campaign.” Hawley’s email also stated that if Weeks paid $50,000 to Hawley’s fundraising group, Weeks would be an “attendee” of the “Host Committee Roundtable” — suggesting that for $50,000, a cash donor would obtain special access to Hawley and perhaps a quick photo with Hawley and/or Trump.

How serious could this get? Weeks spells it out:

There is absolutely no excuse for Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s direct and personal solicitation seeking substantial money from a citizen that Hawley and his state office are currently prosecuting and threatening to throw into prison. No excuse whatsoever.
Josh Hawley
For decades, it has been widely understood that prosecutors, running for elective office, should follow certain procedures to ensure that no solicitations are made to persons who are being investigated or prosecuted by that same prosecutor or his or her office.
This elementary procedure requires that a prosecutor's office access its files or database in order to identify all persons currently being investigated or prosecuted by that prosecutor’s office. The names and contact information of all such persons must then be cross-checked with the campaign mailing lists to ensure that no person who is being investigated or prosecuted is included on any campaign list used to solicit funds for the prosecutor.

Ethical standards for prosecutors should be particularly stringent:

In addition, campaign experts have observed that because prosecutors have the absolute discretionary power to destroy citizens’ lives, prosecutors who run for public office should not personally solicit money from anyone — out of concern that solicitations for money by prosecutors are inherently coercive and could cause people to fear the consequences if they do not make a contribution to the prosecutor. To avoid an apparent conflict of interest or appearance of impropriety, many legal ethicists and campaign experts have urged that candidates closely tied to the judicial process, including prosecutors, should not personally solicit campaign contributions.

That, however, is exactly what Josh Hawley did, and he sought the hefty contribution from an individual he is prosecuting. It all suggests the Hawley campaign is too harried and rattled to worry about ethical concerns, too incompetent to check records for individuals it should or should not solicit, or is knowingly acting like a criminal enterprise. From Weeks' motion:

A prosecutor who solicits money from a criminal defendant invites and encourages the defendant to make a “campaign contribution” that could be perceived to be in fact a bribe or, at minimum, appear to be a bribe. 
Indeed, many states have enacted criminal statutes that make it a crime for a public official to solicit anyone who is subject to any current government action, regulatory matter, or prosecution.

Weeks shows how the Hawley campaign might have committed criminal acts, under Missouri law:

In this case, several Missouri criminal statutes were possibly implicated by Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s solicitation of money from a defendant who Hawley and his office are currently prosecuting and threatening with prison. For starters, a “stealing" crime in Missouri includes an attempt to coerce property from another person. In this case, Josh Hawley’s direct and personal solicitation to Weeks could plainly be perceived as an attempt to strong-arm and coerce Defendant Weeks into paying Hawley and his group up to $50,000 which, if so, would clearly constitute attempted felony “stealing” under Missouri law.

Missouri law also makes it a crime for a public servant to solicit any benefit in return for a decision or exercise of discretion favorable to the person solicited. In Missouri, the crime is known and described as “acceding to corruption” — which, in plain English, means a crime in which a public servant solicits or requests that another person pay that public servant for a favorable government decision.

These words are not just theoretical in nature. Such prosecutor-bribe cases actually have happened:

Several prosecutors have committed crimes by soliciting political contributions that were, in effect, bribes. In those cases, prosecutors solicited and collected political contributions in exchange for deciding cases in a manner favorable to a criminal defendant. For example, one prosecutor was convicted of accepting bribes in exchange for prosecutorial leniency, with some of those bribes being campaign contributions. Press Release, FBI, Former Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villallobos Sentenced to Federal Prison in Connection with South Texas Bribery Scheme (Feb. 11, 2014). Another prosecutor was convicted and disbarred for receiving a campaign contribution in exchange for supporting the early release of a convicted murderer. T. Evans, Document Reveals How Bribery of Former Marion County Deputy Prosecutor David Wyser Unfolded, CHILLICOTHE GAZETTE (Nov. 1, 2013). Finally, a New Jersey prosecutor was convicted and sent to prison for soliciting money from criminal defendants in exchange for a reduction or dismissal of the prosecutor’s charge. M. Conte, Former Fill-In Prosecutor In Bayonne, Secaucus Pleads Guilty To Bribery, THE JERSEY JOURNAL (Nov. 10, 2012).

What do Hawley's actions say about the integrity of the Missouri justice system? It isn't pretty:

All officers of the court – prosecutors in particular – must adhere to the highest standards of integrity. In view of AG Hawley’s solicitation of a cash ‘contribution’ from Defendant Weeks, it would be hard to imagine a more serious and egregious violation of Rule 4-8.4 (d). Anyone who doubts that assertion should simply imagine what the public would think if it learned that a state attorney general, in Missouri, had solicited up to $50,000 from a criminal defendant who that same state prosecutor and his office were prosecuting and threatening to throw into prison. Mindful of that objective fact, it is hard to imagine conduct by a prosecuting attorney that could be more damaging to the “integrity” of Missouri’s judicial system or the public’s confidence in the administration of justice in Missouri. If the public knew what AG Hawley solicited a big cash contribution from a defendant who prosecutor Hawley was prosecuting, and threatening with prison, the public would have absolutely zero confidence in the legal or judicial system in Missouri. Zero, zilch, nada.

Likewise, a prosecuting attorney has a sacred obligation to avoid any conduct that would create an appearance of impropriety. It ought to go without saying that a prosecutor who solicits a cash “contribution” from a criminal defendant who the prosecutor is prosecuting has created a shocking appearance of impropriety which, by any ethical standard, would be viewed as conduct by a prosecuting official that was “over the top” and completely improper.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Alabama sheriff who pocketed inmate food funds and bought beach house was appointed by (surprise!) Bob Riley and designated a "rising Republican star"

Todd Entrekin
An Alabama sheriff who pocketed $750,000 in inmate food funds and bought a $740,000 beach house was appointed to his position in 2007 by former Gov. Bob Riley. That should come as no surprise, given the Riley family's penchant for self-enrichment.

Todd Entrekin, Etowah County sheriff, has become a national punchline as the mainstream press has picked up on his outrageously greedy scheme. This is the same Entrekin whom the Alabama Republic Party, in 2013, named a "rising Republican star." From the ALGOP press release:

Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin is this week’s Rising Republican Star. Sheriff Entrekin has brought a wealth of experience and a vision to the Sheriff’s office of Etowah County. He became Sheriff of Etowah in 2007, when Governor Bob Riley appointed him after the passing of Sheriff James Hayes, but Todd’s career in law enforcement began long before that. . . .

Since his appointment in 2007, Sheriff Entrekin set several benchmarks for the department to reach and all of those benchmarks have already been accomplished.

It sounds like Entrekin's No. 1 benchmark was to line his own pockets -- and he certainly has accomplished that. In perhaps the finest piece of journalism to come from in the 2000s, Connor Sheets reports:

In September, Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin and his wife Karen purchased an orange four-bedroom house with an in-ground pool and canal access in an upscale section of Orange Beach for $740,000.

To finance the purchase, Entrekin got a $592,000 mortgage from Peoples Bank of Alabama, according to public real estate records. The home is one of several properties with a total assessed value of more than $1.7 million that the couple own together or separately in Etowah and Baldwin counties.

Some Etowah County residents question how a county sheriff making a five-figure annual salary can afford to own multiple houses, including one worth nearly three-quarters of a million dollars.

But ethics disclosure forms Entrekin filed with the state reveal that over the past three years he has received more than $750,000 worth of additional "compensation" from a source he identified as "Food Provisions."

Entrekin did not deny that he received the money when asked about it via email last week. Ethics forms he filed in previous years do not list any income from such a source.

To prove he does not lack for audacity, Entrekin actually tried to defend his actions -- seemingly drawing even more attention from the national press. Consider this, from Fox News:

Entrekin like other Alabama sheriffs believe a pre-World War II state law allows them to keep any “excess inmate-feeding funds” for themselves. However, in counties such as Jefferson and Montgomery, any excess money is supposed to be given to the county government.

In forms filed with the Alabama Ethics Commission, Entrekin reported he made “more than $250,000 each of the past three years via the inmate-feeding funds.”

Radley Balko, at The Washington Post, wrote about the scheme with a sense of disbelief, given that Entrekin has an annual salary of $92,000:

[Entrekin's] response when contacted for the story is priceless:

“As you should be aware, Alabama law is clear as to my personal financial responsibilities in the feeding of inmates. Regardless of one’s opinion of this statute, until the legislature acts otherwise, the Sheriff must follow the current law.”

So he had no choice, you see. He didn’t want to do it, but his hands were tied! He was bound by law to use funds designated for inmate meals to purchase beach homes for he and his wife. Just part of the sacrifice one makes for a career in public service.

The New York Daily News, referring to Entrekin as a "leech," focused on the political opposition that Entrekin's sticky fingers are attracting:

"I believe the funds belong to the taxpayers and any excess funds should go toward things that benefit the taxpayer," said Rainbow City Police Chief Jonathon Horton.

A former member of the Etowah County Sheriff's Office, Horton is running against Entrekin in this year's race for sheriff.

Said Horton, "There's been a tremendous amount of money left over that shouldn't be used as a bonus check."

At Mother Jones, Kevin Drum reports that "Alabama sheriffs are living large":

Let’s tear our gaze away from the swamp in Washington DC and check in on the swamp of Etowah County in Alabama. Todd Entrekin, the sheriff there, just bought a vacation home for $740,000, bringing his total real estate empire to $1.7 million. Where did the money come from?

Ethics disclosure forms Entrekin filed with the state reveal that over the past three years he has received more than $750,000 worth of additional “compensation” from a source he identified as “Food Provisions.”

Fascinating. Can you tell us more . . . ?

Entrekin told last month that he has a personal account that he refers to as his “Food Provision” fund. And Etowah County resident Matthew Qualls said that in 2015 Entrekin paid him to mow his lawn via checks with the words “Sheriff Todd Entrekin Food Provision Account” printed in the upper-left corner. viewed a photograph of one such check.

Drum seemed just a tad incredulous at all of this:

Apparently the state of Alabama makes the sheriff personally responsible for everything related to food in the jails he operates. They give him a lump sum, and he gets to keep anything left over. You know, sort of a good ol’ boy slush fund that’s managed to survive all the way into the 21st century.

But as much as I’d like to be outraged, this kind of penny-ante corruption is actually sort of soothing compared to what’s happening in DC. It just goes to show that when rural folks complain that “the America I know” is slipping away, they’re not seeing the whole picture. In Alabama, at least, it’s still going strong.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Clarence Thomas' SCOTUS seat might be getting hot, with #MeToo on his tail, plus evidence he helps create culture of corruption in Southeast federal courts

Clarence Thomas
The #MeToo Movement is targeting U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for removal from the bench because of his apparent false statements to Congress (a crime) about sexual-harassment allegations involving Anita Hill and other accusers in 1991. We've seen signs that Thomas' crookedness goes way beyond sex-related misconduct to include pervasive courtroom crookedness that affects every citizen in three Southeastern states.

Could Thomas' history of creepy behavior toward women, plus evidence that he has helped create a culture of corruption in federal courts across a significant swath of the United States, be enough to bring him down? Knocking a justice from the nation's highest court is, without doubt, a difficult task. But Thomas might have provided enough evidence on at least two fronts to get the job done.

Precedent exists for such an outcome; three federal judges have been impeached since 1989 on charges that include lying under oath. More than 60 Supreme Court justices and federal judges have been investigated for impeachment -- and that includes former District Judge Mark Fuller (Middle District of Alabama), who was forced to resign after being arrested for beating his wife. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor, with his duty station in Birmingham, should be investigated for lying to Congress, based on his apparent failure to disclose his history of posing nude for gay-porn photos that appeared at

We've seen signs that Thomas' creepiness involves more than his predilection for discussing pornography, breast sizes, and personal sex practices with women in the workplace. It also involves signs that he has helped turn federal courts into a sewer, especially in the South.

Each SCOTUS justice has a circuit assignment, and the Eleventh Circuit (covering Alabama, Georgia, and Florida) is assigned to . . . Clarence Thomas. Is it a coincidence that the circuit over which Clarence Thomas presides happens to be perhaps the most corrupt circuit in the country -- with stiff competition from the Fifth Circuit (covering Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas). We think not.

If you ask former Alabama governor Don Siegelman, he almost certainly would say it's not a coincidence, especially when you consider Thomas has deep ties to the Bush family -- he was nominated to the high court by George H.W. Bush -- and generally is considered the most right-wing justice on the court.

We've written a five-part series titled "The Cheating of Don Siegelman," focusing on the myriad ways the Eleventh Circuit butchered the appeal and wrongfully sent Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy to prison. The most obvious cheat job? The prosecution brought the Siegelman case almost a full year after the five-year statute of limitations had expired, meaning the case could not (by law) be heard at trial, much less go to a jury. The Eleventh Circuit glossed over that issue, and court corruption does not get much more stinky than that.

You don't have to be a former governor to get cheated in the Eleventh Circuit. Mrs. Schnauzer and I have experienced such cheat jobs multiple times. And how is this for irony? The chief author of the Siegelman opinion is an evil old bastard from the Richard Nixon/Gerald Ford era named Gerald Bard Tjoflat. The chief author of the opinion in my employment-discrimination case against UAB -- where the Eleventh Circuit grossly violated its own precedent (Snook v. Trust Company of Georgia) by granting summary judgment to the university, with no discovery conducted in the case -- was none other than Gerald Bard Tjoflat.

We have two pending cases in Alabama -- we call them "The Jail Case" and "The House Case" -- and the usual Eleventh Circuit corruption recently has reared its nasty head, like a creature from the black lagoon. U.S. District Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins administered "The Jail Case" cheat job, while our "old friend" Gerald Bard Tjoflat led the way on "The House Case" cheat job.

Details on those unlawful rulings are set for upcoming posts. For now, we'll say they are so gross that they cannot stand, as a matter of law -- and as a practical matter, they had better not stand.

But what does all of this have to do with Clarence Thomas? As already noted, Thomas oversees the Eleventh Circuit. We're not sure what that entails, but it raises this dark question: Does Clarence Thomas have the power to manipulate federal court cases in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida? Is he able to make sure his moneyed friends on the right receive favorable treatment in the Heart of Dixie?

Michele Rollins
Those questions hit disturbingly close to home because defendants in our "Jail Case" include members of the uber wealthy Rollins family -- the folks behind Orkin Pest Control, Rollins Jamaica resorts, Dover Downs, and other highly profitable enterprises, from their primary bases in Atlanta and Delaware. After Ted Turner, the Rollinses reportedly are the largest land owners in the Southeast.

Specific defendants in our "Jail Case" include former Campus Crest Communities CEO Ted Rollins, Rollins Jamaica Ltd. chair Michele Rollins, and Birmingham-based home builder Zac Parrish (Ted Rollins' former stepson). I earned the ire of the Rollins' family by reporting accurately on Ted Rollins' grotesquely corrupt divorce from Sherry Carroll Rollins in Shelby County, Alabama.

How intense is the Rollins family's ire? This is from our complaint in "The Jail Case." (Complaint is embedded at the end of this post.)

At about the same time of Shuler’s incarceration, Campus Crest Communities CEO Ted Rollins engaged in a flagrant defamation campaign against the Shulers via two Web sites— and Rollins apparently was angry about Legal Schnauzer’s accurate reporting on his divorce from Birmingham resident Sherry Carroll Rollins. The Rollins Web sites referred to Roger Shuler as a “perv,” “liar,” and “sicko” and suggested he had sex with cats. They said Shuler had severe mental illness, that he was a physical threat to those around him and suggested multiples times that no company should hire Shuler or his wife, Carol. They referred to Mr. Shuler as a “racist” and a “homophobe.”

A witness has reported hearing Michelle Rollins (Ted’s stepmother) say that she and Ted were going to “take care of Legal Schnauzer.”

Zac Parrish, Ted Rollins’ former stepson, has been listed as founding agent for at least one of the defamatory Web sites. Ted Rollins, while married to Sherry Rollins (Zac Parrish’s biological mother), was convicted of assault against Zac Parrish, who was roughly 16 years old at the time. The state of North Carolina conducted an investigation of possible sexual abuse against Ted Rollins, based on a citizen complaint regarding his behavior toward Zac Parrish. 
(Also, a witness has reported hearing Zac Parrish say, "Something bad is about to happen to Legal Schnauzer," in the days leading up to my incarceration. That suggests the Rollins family was involved with, or at least knew about, my false arrest and imprisonment. BTW, the Rollins family members likely will be added as defendants in "The House Case.")

With what major U.S. legal figure is the Rollins family tight? Why, that would be . . . Clarence Thomas. Thomas' ties to the Rollines run partially through his connections to a Texas hotel magnate named Harlan Crow. From a Legal Schnauzer post on that subject:

Mounting evidence indicates Justice Clarence Thomas is so ethically compromised that he should be removed from the U.S. Supreme Court. The latest evidence comes from a New York Times piece about Thomas' ties to a Texas real-estate baron named Harlan Crow.

We have discovered that the Thomas/Crow story, in a roundabout way, links to one of our storylines here at Legal Schnauzer. In fact, our story is about judicial chicanery in Alabama, the kind that favors the wealthy over regular citizens. That theme should sound familiar if you have been following the trail of Clarence Thomas' numerous ethical lapses. And it raises this question: How far will some wealthy Americans go to buy justice?

The answer, in the case of Harlan Crow, appears to be "pretty darned far." When you examine the actions of another wealthy titan, a man whose family has ties to Harlan Crow, you get the same answer.

The Blog of Legal Times provides details about Thomas tendency to grant favors for, and receive favors from, his wealthy corporate boosters, such as Harlan Crow:

A New York Times story Sunday detailed the friendship between Thomas and Dallas real estate magnate Harlan Crow, and the assistance Crow has given to projects of interest to Thomas -- including a planned nonprofit museum in Pin Point Georgia, where Thomas was born. After Thomas took an interest in the project, a company controlled by Crow bought the Pin Point property where the museum would be built, according to The Times. The story also describes instances in which "Justice Thomas’s travels correspond to flights taken by Mr. Crow’s planes," but Thomas reported he had been reimbursed for his travel by other entities. Neither Thomas nor Crow responded to Times requests for comment. . . .

The friendship between Thomas and Crow has triggered controversy before. We wrote about the relationship in June, 2002 after Thomas reported he had received a gift from Crow valued at $19,000.

Crow and affiliated groups have fared quite well before Thomas, according to Think Progress:

Real estate magnate Harlan Crow has been very good to Justice Clarence Thomas, lavishing gifts and other favors on Thomas and his family. Crow provided $500,000 to allow Thomas’ wife to start a Tea Party group, and he once gave Thomas a $19,000 Bible that belonged to Frederick Douglass. He also served on the board of a corporate-aligned think tank called the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which once gave Thomas a $15,000 gift.

As Think Progress reported earlier this week, AEI filed at least three briefs in the Supreme Court after giving Thomas this very expensive gift, and Thomas either sided with AEI or took a position that was much more extreme that AEI’s in all three of these cases. ThinkProgress has now learned that a second Harlan Crow-affiliated group, the Center for the Community Interest (CCI), has a perfect record in front of Justice Thomas.

Crow served on CCI’s board alongside failed Bush judicial nominee Miguel Estrada. Westlaw’s database of Supreme Court briefs reveals eight briefs filed by CCI in eight different Supreme Court cases, and Justice Thomas voted for CCI’s preferred outcome in every single one of these cases.

The Clarence Thomas-Harlan Crow story suggests the justice can be, and has been, bought -- that he accepts favors and returns them with favorable court treatment. Would he do that for members of the Rollins family. As we reported earlier, the answer appears to be yes:

The Crow and Rollins empires intersect in several ways. John Rollins built two hotels that were sold to Wyndham Hotels, which is owned by the Trammell Crow company. Both Rollins and Crow were in the Young Presidents' Organization (YPO), American Friends of Jamaica and the Horatio Alger Society.

Michele Rollins, John Rollins' widow, ran as a Republican in 2010 for a Delaware Congressional seat, narrowly losing to Glen Urquhart. Before becoming a corporate attorney and marrying John Rollins, Michele Rollins worked for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Justice Department, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Interior.

During her time in D.C., Michele Rollins got to know Clarence Thomas--and the Supreme Court justice served as master of ceremonies at John Rollins' 80th birthday party and roast at the Dupont Circle Hotel. In his opening remarks, Thomas talked extensively about his friendship with Michele and John Rollins.

Would Clarence Thomas cut the kind of court favors for Michele Rollins that he has cut for Harlan Crow? We will take a close look at that question in an upcoming post.

(To be continued)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Charles Todd Henderson, who should be Jefferson Co. district attorney, lands in jail, based on evidence that falls way short of "beyond a reasonable doubt"

Charles Todd Henderson
Just when you think Alabama courts can't get more corrupt, along comes the prosecution of Charles Todd Henderson.

Henderson, a Democrat, was elected as Jefferson County district attorney in November 2016. No one seriously disputes that he won the election fair and square. But two problems lurked beneath the surface: (1) Henderson had the audacity to defeat Republican incumbent Brandon Falls, the favored son of the crooked Riley political machine; (2) After winning, Henderson publicly stated that he intended to make public-corruption cases a top priority during his term as DA. That sounded like he had the Rileys in his cross hairs.

Three weeks later, Attorney General Luther Strange -- a Riley acolyte -- indicted Henderson for perjury related to his role as guardian ad litem in a divorce case. Prosecutors did not prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt -- not even close -- but Henderson was convicted, largely thanks to actions by Sibley Reynolds, one of the state's most corrupt judges who was specially appointed to hear the case. In fact, Reynolds clearly violated courtroom procedure, which should guarantee the Henderson conviction is overturned. But that assumes the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals has integrity, and one never can make such an assumption about an Alabama court.

Henderson received a six-month sentence late last week, and he spent a few days in the Jefferson County Jail, pending an appeal bond. Records indicate he has been released, even though his photo still appears at the jail Web site.

We've written multiple posts to show the Henderson indictment was bogus, and the trial produced a wildly wrongheaded result. (See here, here, and here.) We've also shown that coverage in the Alabama press has been wretched -- inaccurate, incomplete, one-sided -- about as bad as "journalism" can get.

For now, let's focus on one element of the case -- and our examination of this issue will show the whole proceeding was a sham. The case revolves around Henderson's role as guardian ad litem in a divorce case involving Yareima Akl, who had worked on Henderson's campaign. Here is how we set the stage in an Oct. 24, 2017 post:

How bogus were the charges against Henderson, and how unjust is his conviction? Well, a transcript from a hearing in the Akl divorce case shows Henderson was not asked about a romantic relationship with Ms. Akl? A private investigator's report that supposedly showed Henderson had "spent the night" at Ms. Akl's apartment did nothing of the sort. And based on press reports of the trial, no witness presented a shred of evidence that Henderson swore falsely in the divorce hearing; in fact, most witnesses reportedly testified to issues that had zero relevance to the perjury charge.

Upon what was the perjury charge based? A transcript of the hearing shows the following exchange between Henderson and Virginia Meigs, attorney for Charbel Akl, who was Ms. Akl's husband:

Q Okay. Now, since she has been campaigning for you, has there been a time where you have spent the night at her apartment?

A No.

Q No?

A No.

It has been widely reported that Henderson's conviction was based on a question about a "romantic" or "adulterous" relationship with Ms. Akl, and his answer of "no." But as you can see above, he was asked if he had "spent the night" at Ms. Akl's apartment. He never was asked about a relationship -- romantic, adulterous, or otherwise.

So when Henderson answered "no" about having "spent the night" at Ms. Akl's apartment, was that answer false, amounting to perjury? The prosecution certainly did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. First, a private investigator's surveillance report included huge gaps -- four hours, five hours, 15 hours, 19 hours -- when the PI had no clue about Henderson's whereabouts.

Let's examine the PI's evidence against Henderson:

Let's consider the private-investigator's report that reportedly was entered as evidence. (A summary of the surveillance report, prepared by J. Hammock of Comprehensive Investigative Group, can be viewed here.) In a synopsis on page 2, the PI states, "I find activities consistent with an extra-marital relationship between Yareima Akl and Charles Todd Henderson." Does evidence in the report support that finding, beyond a reasonable doubt? Not even close.

The best the prosecution could do was a statement that found "activities consistent with an extramarital relationship"? That's supposed to meet the burden of "beyond a reasonable doubt"? Don't make me laugh.

Imagine this scenario: A bank has been robbed, and Security Chief Fred Overlook is called to testify about his analysis of surveillance tapes that supposedly show the defendant, one Herman Bloakes, robbing the bank. Here is the exchange between Chief Overlook and Mr. Bloakes' defense attorney, Billem Bythehour:

Bythehour: So, Mr. Overlook, what does your analysis of the tapes show?

Overlook: I find activities consistent with Mr. Bloakes, your client, robbing the bank?

Bythehour: Did you see Mr. Bloakes using a weapon for a "stick-up"?

Overlook: No.

Bythehour: Did you see him confronting a teller or other bank official to demand money?

Overlook: No.

Bythehour: Did you see him grab cash or anything else of value and leave the bank?

Overlook: No.

Bythehour: So did my client actually rob the bank?

Overlook: I have no idea. But his actions were consistent with robbing a bank.

As you probably can tell, the Bloakes scenario is my version of a joke -- and some might consider it a pretty bad joke. But it's no more of a joke than was the Charles Todd Henderson case.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is accused of "slut-shaming" and use of racist attacks, as his lover's ex-husband testifies in Missouri House investigation

Eric Greitens
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens was accused of resorting to sexist and racist attacks to fight off a sex scandal, as his lover's ex-husband testified before an investigative committee of the Missouri House of Representatives.

The committee has been assigned to look into blackmail allegations against Greitens, and his lover's ex-husband testified behind closed doors on Friday. Al Watkins, attorney for the ex-husband, said Greitens has resorted to underhanded attacks on his lover and St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who has brought a felony invasion-of-privacy charge against the governor. From a report at

In an email announcing his press conference Friday, attorney Al Watkins, who represents the ex-husband, said he would "respond to the slut-shaming and demonizing the mother of his client's children, racially charged negative characterizations of the Circuit Attorney, and allegations of intimidation and threatening of witnesses involved in the current single criminal felony charge pending against Governor Greitens."

A motion filed Thursday by Greitens' attorneys said there's reason to believe that prosecutors enticed reluctant witnesses to testify by offering leniency or warning of possible charges or adverse actions against the witnesses if they did not.

Greitens is accused of taking a picture of his mistress while she was in a state of undress during an encounter in the spring of 2015 and threatening to distribute it if she spoke of their affair.

As for the ex-husband's testimony, the Columbia Missourian reports:

The ex-husband of a woman who had an extramarital affair with Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens testified for an hour and a half Friday before a House committee doing its own investigation into the indicted governor, the man's lawyer said.

Attorney Al Watkins told the Associated Press that the man was asked to confirm that his ex-wife had described to him her interaction with Greitens, that he had recorded their conversation and hadn't altered it before turning the recording over to investigators. . . .

Watkins said the questions posed by the committee to the ex-husband made it clear that the woman had already testified. "It is very clear that the committee is well versed in the underlying allegations such that one is left with the impression that they are not learning anything for the first time," Watkins said.

Watkins' description of the ex-husband's testimony offered a rare glimpse of the House investigatory committee's work. A committee finding critical of Greitens could lead to impeachment proceedings against him.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Does Missouri Public Defender Patty Poe deserve credit for getting jail time off the table in Carol's case? Evidence suggests the answer is a resounding no

Patty Poe
Several readers have argued in recent weeks that we should be grateful to Missouri public defender Patty Poe because, before bailing out on Carol's case, she got the possibility of jail time removed from the table. If we seem less-than-grateful for that, here are two reasons: (1) The whole case should have been booted about 10 months ago if Poe had done her job, filing pre-trial motions focusing on the case's myriad weaknesses based on constitutional problems and defective charging documents; (2) We have not been privy to possible behind-the-scenes coordination between Poe's office and that of prosecutor Nicholas Jain, but we do have evidence that suggests Carol herself had more to do with jail time being booted off the table than did Patty Poe.

Our last in-person meeting with Poe was on Monday, Oct. 30., and Poe's statements in that meeting left us concerned enough that Carol followed up with an email two days later on Nov. 1.  Carol focused on matters of law that are highly relevant to her case, especially about the unlawfulness of the eviction that led to Greene County, Missouri, deputies breaking her arm. She started with this:


This is Carol. As a brief followup to our meeting on Monday, Roger and I have found information that says a judgment in Missouri does not become final for 30 days.

We also found a law firm's landlord/tenant Web site for Missouri that says, "Any judgment, other than a default judgment, becomes final after thirty (30) days."

This seems to be another sign that someone jumped the gun on our eviction.


Here's how Poe responded:

If you send me those citations, I'd be happy to take a look.

Poe might soon have regretted making that statement because Carol dropped a payload on her, making clear and accurate citations to law that shredded bogus legal arguments Poe had been feeding us for weeks . . . months. From Carol, with links to the actual law:

(1) The part about a judgment becoming final in 30 days is at Missouri Supreme Court Rule 81.05: 

(2) The part about that rule's impact on an eviction is at p. 6 (of 7) at the following Web page, from a law firm that handles evictions in MO and KS: 

(3) While we're at it, we also found RSMo 535.020, which states a landlord must make a demand for rent before seeking eviction.
Cowherd never made a demand for rent. Here is the notice that was attached to our door, telling us to get out and saying nothing about a rent demand -- and that's because our rent always was timely paid. Cowherd had no rent and possession case, but they filed one anyway -- even though their own notice shows we weren't late on rent, and they made no demand for rent:

(4) Finally, you might check the date on the notice to vacate above. It is July 2, 2015, demanding we vacate by July 31. Missouri law holds that tenant must be given full one month's notice -- and our lease said the same thing. In fact, the lease said we were to be given notice on the 1st of the month, and that obviously didn't happen.

These are four more grounds upon which our eviction was unlawful, bringing the total to about 12 -- meaning Cowherd had no grounds to evict us, Lowther [Cowherd's attorney, Gerald] had no grounds to seek eviction, and cops had no grounds to be on our property at all.

These citations to law show that our eviction was wildly unlawful, and under a U.S. Supreme Court case styled Mapp v. Ohio (U.S., 1961),  all evidence must be suppressed -- gutting the state's case and leaving it with . . . nothing. Poe, however, was not finished trying to con us. She responded with this:

Whether or not the eviction was unlawful is not a defense. I attached a case that spells out that it doesn't matter if the officer was performing his duties in a lawful manner consistent with the constitution at the time of assault. As we discussed on Monday, I may discuss the eviction proceedings at trial to help the judge understand Carol's state of mind at the time, or why she would be mistaken in believing that the person at her door wasn't a police officer because she thought the eviction was stayed.

The case Poe cited was State v. Summers, 43 S.W. 3d 323 (2001) For weeks, Poe's mantra had been: "The fact the cops acted unlawfully is not a defense." Carol was ready to lower the boom on that malarkey, but first, she shredded State v. Summers:

I was charged under 565.083. State v. Summers is all about 565.081 and is even referenced at that specific statute (but not at 565.083).

Also, Summers is supported by a reference to 575.150, which involves constitutionality of an officer's actions in making an arrest. In my case, the officers were not there to arrest me. I had done nothing to be arrested for -- and the officer statements reflect that. They were there for an eviction, for which there was zero legal basis. That means Roger and I are protected by the Fourth Amendment, and all evidence must be suppressed.

The officer in Summers was called to the scene by a citizen, for an apparent criminal matter. Our situation was 100 percent civil -- and Debi Wade admits in her statement that officers had doubts about validity of the eviction, so she contacted an unnamed "counsel" in the sheriff's office, who told them to go ahead, contrary to law. We need to know the identify of said "counsel," and what he told Officer Wade. Whoever it was caused gross violations of our constitutional rights.

BTW, where does Rule 24.04 say a motion to dismiss is proper only for defects in information, cases of entrapment, etc.? I don't see it.

The only issue on appeal in Summers was whether the evidence was sufficient to convict for felony assault of a law-enforcement officer. Carol isn't charged with a felony; the officers in her case (in their own words) were not there to arrest her; and there has been no trial. so sufficiency of evidence is not remotely an issue for her.

Summers proved to be Poe's last gasp at her "that officers acted unlawfully is not a defense" spiel. And Carol was about to prove that Poe's efforts to "represent" her had been a sham -- and that's what would cause Poe to bail out.

(To be continued)