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Thursday, August 17, 2017

How long has the Birmingham Superfund bribery scandal been brewing, and how big a threat could it pose for Luther Strange and his elitist supporters?

Birmingham Superfund cleanup
(From al.com)
Luther Strange made it into a runoff with Roy Moore in Tuesday's GOP primary for a U.S. Senate seat from Alabama. That might seem like a positive for Strange, but it could heat up a spotlight that has been shining for some time on his mounting ethical baggage.

The No. 1 sign of that baggage is the deal Strange made with Robert "Luv Guv" Bentley, the state's ousted and disgraced governor who temporarily appointed Strange to Jeff Sessions' seat, apparently in exchange for soft treatment from the Strange attorney general's office on an investigation into Bentley's sex- and finance-related misadventures.

But the No. 2 sign of ethical baggage might prove to be even more troublesome for Big Lutha, whether he gets past Roy Moore or not. That would involve Strange's apparent ties to the Superfund scandal on Birmingham's Northside. Federal investigators reportedly are sniffing in several directions, including Strange's, and the case already has yielded one indictment and guilty plea.

If I have my way, Strange also will be facing deposition questions from me or my attorneys in two pending federal lawsuits -- "The Jail Case" and "The House Case" -- involving my unlawful arrest and five-month incarceration in the Shelby County Jail, plus the wrongful foreclosure on our home of 25 years in Birmingham that forced us to move to Missouri. Strange already is a defendant in "The House Case," and he likely will be added as a defendant to "The Jail Case," assuming the U.S. Eleventh Circuit actually follows the law and reinstates both cases, which were wrongfully dismissed by U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor, a Jeff Sessions acolyte. Proctor has recused himself after admitting he had a conflict in "The House Case," and we are moving to have him forced off "The Jail Case" as well.

If the cases are re-assigned to a real judge -- assuming their is one in the Northern District of Alabama -- Luther Strange could be looking at deposition questions on a host of issues that he almost certainly would rather avoid. Those issues would include his personal and financial relationship with former campaign manager Jessica Medeiros Garrison.

How does all of this tie into the Birmingham Superfund scandal? Let's take a look:

Many citizens might understandably think the Superfund scandal started with the indictment and guilty plea of former State Rep. Oliver Robinson on bribery, fraud, and conspiracy charges. Many might also understandably think the scandal -- involving five industrial companies that might be forced to pay $20 million to clean up pollution on the city's north side -- shouldn't be all that big a deal. After all, $20 million, divided by five, is $4 million -- a relatively paltry sum for outfits like Drummond Company, U.S. Pipe, Walter Energy, KMAC, and Alabama Gas.

As it turns out, the Superfund controversy has been going on longer than many of us (including me) realize. And for reasons that are not fully understood yet, it appears to be a much bigger threat to Birmingham's corporate interests -- read that, "Luther Strange supporters" -- than one might think.

That raises this question, which hits pretty close to home: Did the Superfund issue reach a boiling point that made it a factor in my false arrest and incarceration in October 2013 and the wrongful foreclosure that forced Carol and me to leave our Birmingham home of 25 years and flee to Springfield, Missouri, where we still (to our chagrin) reside? To what degree might Luther Strange have been involved in both of those events?

It's been clear to me for some time that Carol and I were attacked -- literally, I was beaten up and doused with pepper spray inside my own home; Carol eventually was beaten by Missouri deputies and left with a shattered left arm that required trauma surgery -- because of (a) something I had written on this blog, or (b) something powerful interests feared I would write on this blog.

Under category (a), several stories could have prompted retaliation -- my coverage of U.S. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor and his ties to 1990s gay pornography; my coverage of an extramarital affair involving GOP operative Rob Riley and lobbyist Liberty Duke; my coverage of an extramarital affair involving Luther Strange and former campaign manager Jessica Medeiros Garrison; my coverage of the Rollins v. Rollins divorce case and related skulduggery involving the family behind Orkin Pest Control; and my coverage of the Upton v. Upton divorce case and related skulduggery involving the family behind Alabama Threaded Products.

Luther Strange and Jessica Garrison
That's a lot of possibilities under category (a). Possibilities in category (b) are more fuzzy because, well, I hadn't written about them yet at the time of my arrest and our foreclosure. Two factors, however, might have made me a threat to the corporate and legal interests who wanted to keep the Superfund story corralled: (1) The corporate/legal types know I have good sources. Both Rob Riley and Jessica Garrison sued me for defamation, but neither made any effort, under the law, to show my reporting was false and defamatory. That's because it wasn't, and their own actions suggest they knew it wasn't. In the end, my reporting in both instances, was found, as a matter of law, NOT to be false or defamatory (see here and here); (2) Unlike the mainstream media, I can't be controlled by yelling at my editors or threatening my advertisers; I don't have editors or advertisers.

With that as a backdrop, let's look at a timeline of the Superfund story -- and we will find it produces some curious results. This information is taken mostly from a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) press release about Oliver Robinson's indictment and guilty plea and from an al.com article titled "North Birmingham's 35th Ave EPA Superfund site explained":

(A) 2011

From al.com: "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) arrives on scene in 2011, responding to testing results conducted the previous year by Walter Energy that showed contamination in the neighborhoods around the Walter Coke plant. Some early EPA documents refer to the area as the Walter Coke Site, though it was renamed the 35th Avenue Site to indicate that multiple parties likely contributed to the pollution."

(B) 2013

From the DOJ: "In September 2013, EPA notified five companies, including ABC Coke, a division of Drummond Company, that they could potentially be responsible for the pollution. A company determined to be responsible for pollution within the site, known as the 35th Avenue Superfund Site, “could have faced tens of millions of dollars in cleanup costs and fines,” the information states."

(C) 2014

From the DOJ: "In July 2014, EPA began considering the petition of a Birmingham environmental advocacy group, GASP, to expand the Superfund site to the Tarrant and Inglenook neighborhoods. EPA granted that petition in October 2014 and contracted with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to perform the preliminary assessment."

(D) 2014

From the DOJ: "In September 2014, EPA proposed adding the Superfund site to its National Priorities List, signaling that it required priority attention. Placement on the priorities list would allow EPA to use the federal Superfund Trust Fund to conduct long-term cleanup at the site, provided the State of Alabama agreed to pay 10 percent of the costs, which could equal millions of dollars, according to the charges. EPA’s decision on priority listing for the site remained pending throughout the scheme.

(E) 2014

From al.com: "The pollution in the north Birmingham neighborhoods of Collegeville, Harriman Park and Fairmont has been around for more than 100 years. The controversy surrounding the cleanup of that pollution is much newer. . . . Sandwiched between two coking plants, and surrounded by other industrial facilities and heavy rail lines, these neighborhoods have long borne the environmental brunt of the city's steel-making success, but since 2014, a legal battle is being waged between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the state of Alabama and the five nearby industries identified as "potentially responsible parties" to the pollution over who should pay to clean up 100 years of industrial residue."

Why is this timeline curious? Well, let's look first at item (B). September 2013 was a key moment in the Superfund controversy, as the EPA notified five Birmingham companies that they could be held responsible for the pollution, to the tune of "tens of millions of dollars in cleanup costs and fines." What happened in October 2013? Deputies from Shelby County entered our home -- without showing a warrant or stating their reasons for being there -- and beat me up and hauled me to jail for a five-month incarceration that had zero basis in law. Landing in jail makes it difficult to report on a certain subject, any subject. Hmmm . . .

Now, let's look at item (C). It says that July 2014 was another "hot point" in the Superfund controversy, as EPA received a petition to expand the Superfund site to the Inglenook and Tarrant neighborhoods, a request the agency eventually approved. What else happened in July 2014? Carol and I were forced from our home via a wrongful foreclosure and wound up fleeing to Missouri, where it was less likely that I would be able to cover the Superfund story -- or any Alabama story.

One of our pending federal lawsuits, "The House Case," alleges Luther Strange, then Alabama attorney general, and Jessica Medeiros Garrison, his former campaign manager, were part of a coordinated effort to force us out of Alabama. Garrison worked in an "of counsel" role at Balch and Bingham, the Birmingham law firm at the heart of the Superfund scandal, but she mysteriously left that position in May 2017, and her Facebook and Twitter accounts recently went dark.

Strange has opposed the EPA's actions in North Birmingham, as described by al.com:

The state of Alabama also opposed the NPL listing. Then-Attorney General Luther Strange wrote a letter in 2014 to the EPA's regional administrator stating that Alabama did not agree with the proposal to list the site on the NPL and that "no State money will be expended to assist in any cleanup effort at the 35th Avenue Superfund site."

Alabama Political Reporter since has reported that Strange was present when a Drummond representative offered a bribe to State Rep. John Rogers. Al.com has reported that Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions is closely aligned with Balch and Bingham and could be part of efforts to thwart the EPA investigation.

Do we have ironclad proof that my arrest and our wrongful foreclosure were tied to the Superfund controversy? Not yet. Does the timing of the controversy suggest we were attacked to help ensure that I would not report on the subject? Absolutely.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Luther Strange makes runoff with Roy Moore in Alabama U.S. Senate election, but that might add to the heat from Strange's mounting ethical baggage

Luther Strange and Roy Moore
(From nymag.com)
Luther Strange came in second to Roy Moore in yesterday's Republican primary for a special election to replace Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate. Strange and Moore will meet in a runoff on Sept. 26. The winner will advance to face Democrat Doug Jones in the general election on Dec. 12.

Some recent polls had Strange missing the runoff, despite the endorsement of Donald Trump. That's because Strange has enough ethical baggage hanging over him to sink the Lusitania.

The spotlight already is shining on that baggage, especially Strange's temporary appointment to the Sessions seat by Robert "Luv Guv" Bentley, the disgraced ousted governor who apparently gave the position to "Big Lutha" in exchange for soft-peddling an investigation on Bentley's sex- and finance-related wrongdoing.

But the spotlight figures to get even hotter between now and Sept. 16, especially since Strange's baggage appears to go way beyond the Bentley deal. In fact, Strange's biggest ethical problem might, appropriately enough, involve dirt -- lots of real dirt. Strange's ties to that scandal might be in the early stages, but we've seen reports that "Lutha" has dirt under his fingernails, and federal investigators are poking around. For good measure, the scandal appears to have some connection to Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Strange's one-time campaign manager and mistress.

As for Doug Jones, he received a high enough percentage of votes yesterday to avoid a runoff and advance directly to the general election. As a staunch liberal, I generally support just about any Democrat with a pulse and three or more brain cells. But Jones is a dismal candidate and an even worse human being, as I will be showing in a series of posts between now and general-election day.

Jones is little more than a whore for the GOP's Riley Political Machine. Jones teamed with Rob "Uday" Riley (son of former Gov. Bob Riley) to help gather more than $50 million in attorney fees from a civil case against Richard Scrushy (codefendant in the Don Siegelman criminal case), HealthSouth, and related entities.

Rob Riley became part of the plaintiffs' team, even though he had blatant conflicts of interest, according to a 2008 report from Huffington Post's Sam Stein. In fact, Stein quoted two sources who suggested that Riley's insider knowledge from the Siegelman/Scrushy criminal case helped force HealthSouth's decision to pay $445 million, one of the largest settlements in securities-litigation history.

We picked up on that theme in a piece that showed Jones is happy to ignore right-wing conflicts if there is enough money on the table. From our 2011 post:

The other co-liaison counsel in the HealthSouth case -- Jones' chief local assistant -- was Rob Riley, the son of former Republican Governor Bob Riley. Why did Doug Jones need Rob Riley on the lawsuit team? Probably because Riley had inside information about former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. And that information probably came from Riley's involvement in a Republican conspiracy to conduct a political prosecution against Siegelman and Scrushy, a scheme that Alabama attorney and whistleblower Dana Jill Simpson revealed to the world.

Should progressives be concerned about Doug Jones' willingness to make money by jumping in bed with a member of the Riley clan? What about Jones' apparent determination to now push tainted nominees to [the] Democratic [Obama] administration?

Regular readers know that Bob Riley has ties to GOP felons Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon. And yet Doug Jones, who now seems to have the Obama administration's ear, is comfortably aligned with Bob Riley's son.

That's enough, for now, about Doug Jones. Even if he were a good Democratic candidate, Jones likely wouldn't stand a chance in the general election. Given that he's mostly a phony and a con artist -- touting his "civil rights" bona fides while the record shows he has little regard for the rule of law and equal justice --  Jones surely will get swamped by Moore or Strange in December.

Doug Jones
(From wkrg.com)
If it came down to it, I probably would vote for Roy Moore over Doug Jones; that's how bad Jones is. I consider Roy Moore one of the most gross charlatans in modern political history, but I suspect he would do less damage in the Senate than he's done as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

If it came down to Strange or Jones, I wouldn't vote for either one. I'd write in the name of a dead armadillo. We have reason to hope that, regardless of what happens in the Senate race, a "dirty" scandal will finally chop "Big Lutha" down to size.

We've seen signs that the "dirty" scandal hits real close to home for Mrs. Schnauzer and me. We will spell that out in an upcoming post.

Meanwhile, folks who voted yesterday for Luther Strange should think twice about how much dirt they are willing to stomach.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Documentary about the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman receives stellar review, plus a pledge to help arrange screening in Montgomery

A documentary about the political prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman is "worth your time and your anger," according to a review at the Alabama Political Reporter (APR). The Prattville-based news site pledged to help arrange a showing of the film in Montgomery.

The film, Atticus v. the Architect: The Political Assassination of Don Siegelman (directed by Steve Wimberly), had been scheduled for a showing at the Capri Theatre in Montgomery. But former federal prosecutor Leura Canary, who helped ramrod the Siegelman case, serves on the Capri's board of directors and objected to the screening. The board voted to renege on its agreement to rent the theater for a group to show the Siegelman film.

That act of not-so-subtle censorship, however, has not kept the film under wraps. After its premiere on May 10 at the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham, the film has had screenings in Atlanta (two shows, including one at Netroots Nation) and Tuscaloosa, with upcoming shows in Decatur, AL (8/18, Princess Theatre) and Leesburg, VA (8/23, Cobb Village 12).

Josh Moon, of APR, says the documentary makes for a powerful viewing experience. He calls it "scorching." From his review:

No wonder Leura Canary didn’t want people to see the Siegelman documentary.

“Atticus v. The Architect: The Political Assassination of Don Siegelman” is a scorching documentary, particularly if you’re one of the many Republican officials who played a role in the prosecution of Alabama’s former Governor.

The film does not offer much in the way of new information about the Siegelman case, Moon writes. But it takes a complex story and presents it in a solid, professional, understandable package for a mainstream audience:

For all of the local attention this film has received – thanks in large part to Canary’s pushback against allowing the film to be shown in Montgomery — “Atticus” doesn’t really reveal much in the way of new information. What it does – and it’s the first medium to do so – is put the whole sordid ordeal in one tidy package that’s easy for the common person to digest.

That alone would be reason enough for Canary and others to want it stopped. Because it’s only through that perspective, with all of the facts and the sequence of events laid out before you, that you understand the grandness of the scheme against Siegelman. And it is only through that perspective that the impossibility of such a grand conspiracy can be removed, and the lengths and depths to which some will go to gain a political advantage can be exposed.

Some of the most prominent conservative political figures of the 2000s receive withering treatment as underhanded operatives who helped create, and benefit from, the Siegelman case:

Starting with the 2002 gubernatorial race between Siegelman and Bob Riley, “Atticus,” written and directed by Steve Wimberly, travels a course of corruption, much of which it lays at the feet of Riley, Republican operative Karl Rove, Billy and Leura Canary and Eric Holder.

Steve Wimberly
It features interviews with some of the state’s most powerful and well-known political players. And there’s even an appearance by the most famous crooked lobbyist in DC, Jack Abramoff, who recounts in detail how he and his Choctaw Indian pals forked out $20 million to beat back a lottery and to get rid of Siegelman.
By the end, you walk away with two thoughts: Alabama politics is dirtier than I imagined (which is saying something) and Don Siegelman shouldn’t have been indicted, much less convicted.

It is well worth your time, and your anger.

As for future showings, Moon reports that APR and its affiliated The V television program plan to assist:

APR and “The V” hope to help with that, at least in the Montgomery area. We should have news soon on a new Montgomery screening location and date for the film.

Confronted with his vile, nasty, and prejudicial letter to the judge in our eviction case, Missouri attorney David Shuler (my brother) seems to be at a loss for words

David Shuler
How did my brother, Missouri lawyer David Shuler, react when confronted about the flagrantly prejudicial letter he wrote to the judge in our eviction case -- the one that resulted in a Greene County deputy assaulting my wife, Carol, and leaving her with a shattered left arm?

Perhaps the best way to answer that question -- and to illustrate how lawyers of dubious character can act -- is to follow a brief timeline:

(1) On August 25, 2015 -- two days before our court hearing in the eviction case -- David sent me an e-mail in which he made a number of false statements regarding matters involving Carol and me. He said the opposing party, Trent Cowherd, had asked him for assistance in serving us with legal documents. Aside from that, David stated that he did not want to be involved in our business, that he had no hard feelings toward me, and he wished me the best.

(2) I responded the same day, correcting a couple of false assertions he had made and asking him about a document, his letter to Judge Kelly Halford Rose, that I had seen in the court file. (See letter at the end of this post.) From my e-mail:

One final point: On the subject of serving documents, would you please serve me a copy of the letter you wrote to the judge in the Cowherd case? I've only been able to scan it at this point, but I would like to have a copy -- and I believe I'm due to be served with a copy. Again, I haven't digested it fully, but my initial reaction was that it was one of the nastiest, most vile pieces of correspondence I've ever read. In fact, I can't imagine what would possess an attorney to write such an improper and prejudicial ex parte letter at any point, much less the day before a case is to be heard. It should be grounds for the judge's recusal, but I'm sure she will ignore any calls for that. If my memory is correct, there is a line in there stating that your intent (and I'm paraphrasing) is to do everything possible to ensure that Cowherd regains possession. That sounds like your goal is not to represent Mom, but to help Cowherd and hurt me and Carol -- no matter what wrongdoing Cowherd has committed in this matter. I'll be blunt with you, David -- that letter, based on a quick reading, wreaks of spite, meanness, ill will, backstabbing, vindictiveness, and more. And it appears that these feelings toward me have been present in you for a long time. I don't think they suddenly arose when you sat down to write that letter. Why do you have such feelings toward a brother who has tried to treat you with respect and kindness and support? Only you can answer that question. But if I had written a letter like that about anyone -- much less my brother -- I would hope someone would encourage me to set aside a little time for self-reflection and maybe professional help. That letter tells me something is not right in your heart and mind. If I could help you with it, I would, but it's probably not my place -- especially since the vitriol is directed at me.

Just in case David could not grasp all that was revealed in his letter, I decided to spell it out for him:

I've written way too much, but I will conclude with this: You state that you don't want to be involved in my business, that you have no hard feelings. But your letter to the court says something altogether different. It says that you have extremely hard feelings -- for reasons I can't comprehend -- and it says you do intend to stay involved in my business. You are correct, it seems, when you say you no longer want to be involved with efforts to help me. But your letter makes it clear that you intend to go out of your way to help people who want to hurt me. You have encouraged me to seek professional help regarding psychological and emotional issues. The content and tone of your letter suggests that you might need such intervention more than I ever have.

BTW, please serve me with a copy of your letter to the judge. My understanding is that I'm due that under the law.

Did David serve me with a copy of the letter, even after I had asked him at least three times? Nope. Did he have any substantive response to my message? Nope. Here is his only reply:

I acknowledge receipt of your e-mail. Thank you.

Just to make sure David understood that he had an obligation to Carol and me, as parties in a case where he had written an ex parte letter to the judge, I added this, acknowledging that I was aware he had copied my other siblings and sisters-in-law with his e-mail -- and I had copied them with information about his letter:

Are you going to forward me a copy of the letter you filed with the court, as requested in my e-mail reply to you, copied below? As far as I'm concerned, you certainly are welcome to share it with any family members you've copied here. In fact, I think they should see it.

David's response? Crickets . . .

How many ways did Missouri attorney David Shuler lie to me, his brother? Let's count the ways:

(1) He says he does not want to be involved in our business. The letter below shows he very much is involving himself in our business.

(2) He says he holds no hard feelings toward me. The letter below shows he is riddled with hard feelings for me, none of which are justified.

(3) He says he wishes me the best. Apparently, one way he wishes me the best is by doing his best to ensure that I am homeless.

(4) Finally, David says in his e-mail that "unless absolutely necessary, you will have no further contact from me."

David stayed true to his word on the that last one -- if you don't count the 10 e-mails he sent me since that date, plus the petition he helped my other brother file, seeking to have Carol and I declared wards of the state.

Does law school cause brain damage in some people? I swear, I used to think David was a wonderful brother and an all-around good guy -- and Carol and I never have done anything to cause him to hold such ill will toward us. So, why does he clearly have it in for us?

I have no idea. But I sure don't recognize the author of that letter -- and I would say the author has something haywire in his attic.

Monday, August 14, 2017

White supremacists tend to be filled with racism and dishonesty, and they had a friendly ear in Alabama, thanks to ex Gov. Bob Riley and his KKK ties

"Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, VA
(From whotv.com)
When rational Americans consider the white supremacists who sparked a deadly rally over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, they probably view them in terms of racism. That is a central component of the equation, to be sure. But living in Alabama for 35-plus years taught me that white nationalists, neo-Confederates, and other similar hate groups have a second characteristic that tends to mark their dysfunction -- they are fundamentally dishonest.

For eight years (2003-2011), such groups had a friendly ear in Alabama, thanks to former GOP governor Bob Riley, who has family ties to the KKK. In fact, an issue that reared its ugly head multiple times during Riley's tenure, when seen in light of the recent violence in Charlottesville, provides a classic example of the dishonesty at the heart of white hate groups.

It should be no surprise that Alabama was well represented at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville. A racist gathering wouldn't be complete without Alabama representatives front and center. That would be like a wiener roast without the wienies.

The purpose of the Charlottesville rally supposedly was the protect a statute of Confederate general Robert E. Lee in a public park. In other words, the white nationalists portrayed themselves as preservationists, trying to ensure that Confederate history did not fade from view.

But for a significant chunk of the 2000s, at least, such groups in Alabama have tried to go way beyond that role; they actively have tried to block efforts to preserve civil-rights history in Alabama and other Southern states. They weren't just trying to preserve Confederate history, they were trying to destroy civil-rights history; they essentially sought to re-write history in a way that would wipe out the efforts of those who fought against hate and racism -- and for equal justice.

The thugs who sparked the violent rally in Charlottesville apparently did not spotlight that part of their ugly past. That's what we mean about dishonesty. In Alabama, Bob Riley was the perfect dishonest, neo-Confederate governor. And the racists held Riley's ugly family history over his head.

This is from a previous Legal Schnauzer post, titled "Former Alabama governor Bob Riley has family ties to KKK, CCC, and other prominent hate groups":

Former Alabama governor Bob Riley has family connections to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), and other extremist groups, sources tell Legal Schnauzer. While governor, Riley backed down from a plan to merge two holidays when angry neo-Confederate groups threatened to go public with his family history.

Riley's father, Eustace Riley Jr. (grandfather of Birmingham attorneys Rob Riley and Minda Riley Campbell), was a KKK Grand Dragon in the small Clay County community of Ashland, according to our sources. The Rileys also have long-standing ties to the CCC, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and United Daughters of the Confederacy.

The CCC's Web site reportedly inspired Dylann Roof to enter a historically black church in June 2015 and shoot and kill nine people. Bob Riley has tried to steer clear of his ties to such ugliness. It hasn't always worked. From our previous post:

Riley now heads a lobbying firm called Bob Riley and Associates, with offices in Birmingham and Montgomery. He has started a Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO), which provides money for students to attend private schools. Riley's SGO is one of a dozen created under the Alabama Accountability Act, a controversial school-choice law passed by the Legislature in 2013.

Why would Riley favor the use of tax credits from public-school revenues to help send kids to private schools? One answer might be money. The law allows an SGO to keep 5 percent of the maximum $25 million in tax-credited donations. Critics say more than $1 million could wind up in Riley's pocket each year.

Riley also might favor private schools because of his family's ties to white-supremacist groups. This was an issue several times while Riley was governor. It was widely reported in fall 2006 that Riley was a member of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Alabama, a secret society governed by documents that forbid membership to "negroes or other inferior races." Birmingham radio hosts Russ and Dee Fine were fired after reporting on Riley's ties to a racist group.

In one report, Riley claimed he had not attended a lodge meeting since he was in his 20s, and he did not know the head of the masons in Alabama. That doesn't make much sense in light of a widely circulated photo of Riley with Grand Master Frank W. Little.

What about white nationalists' efforts to whitewash Alabama history. Riley was in the middle of that, consistently siding with the racists:

In 2004, the executive director of the Alabama Historical Commission resigned because of differences with his board of directors and Gov. Riley over his support for civil-rights preservation projects. Here is how the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) described the resignation of Lee Warner in a winter 2004 report:

Bob Riley and Masonic leader
Frank W. Little
 "This August, the executive director of the Alabama Historical Commission, which owns and oversees major historic sites in the state, was forced to resign his position after what were described as conflicts with commissioners and Gov. Bob Riley over the director's support for civil rights preservation projects.

The episode was only the latest of the last several years in which museum professionals and preservation officials from around the South have come under sometimes severe pressure from neo-Confederate activists and their sympathizers, occasionally including harassment and various kinds of threats.

In case after case, members of groups like the League of the South and the Sons of Confederate Veterans have agitated against these professionals in a bid to push versions of history that mainstream curators and historians agree are bunk. . . .

And in Alabama, Lee Warner, the former Alabama Historical Commission executive director, told a reporter that many of Riley's appointees to the commission had opposed his plans to create a museum at the old Greyhound bus station, where Freedom Riders were badly beaten in 1961, and to memorialize the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march."

With such "leadership" at the executive level, Alabama provided fertile soil for white supremacy to take root.  One of the featured speakers at the Charlottesville rally was Michael Hill, co-founder and president of the Killen, AL-based League of the South. In the days leading up to the Charlottesville event, Hill rattled on about the need of Southern nationalists to secede from the Union. From an Associated Press article on the subject:

The League of the South's longtime president, retired university professor Michael Hill of Killen, Alabama, posted a message in July that began, "Fight or die white man" and went on to say Southern nationalists seek "nothing less than the complete reconquest and restoration of our patrimony -- the whole, entire South."

"And that means the South will once again be in name and in actuality White Man's Land. A place where we and our progeny can enjoy Christian liberty and the fruits of our own labor, unhindered by parasitical 'out groups,'" said Hill's message, posted on the group's Facebook page a day after a rally in support of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Gee, that doesn't sound the least bit racist, does it? And remember, where you find racism, you almost certainly will find dishonesty. Some seemingly have decided that the combination of those two factors makes Southern secession not such a bad idea:

Perhaps the United States should just let the South leave, said author Chuck Thompson.

Thompson's 2012 book "Better Off Without 'Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession" argued that both the United States and the South might both be best served if Southern nationalists won the argument and succeeded in forming a new nation.

The South has been at odds with the rest of the nation for generations over issues including education, race, politics, shared history and religion, Thompson said in a telephone interview, and some things just don't change.

"It's not that just the rest of the country would be better off without them," he said. "It's that everyone would be better off without them, both sides."

The problem, of course, is that Southern thinking no longer is limited to the South. I currently reside in Springfield, MO, where I grew up, and I think racism here has come to equal or exceed that found in Alabama. Voting patterns show that racist, Southern thinking has come to hold sway in large sections of the Midwest, Great Plains, Southwest, and Pacific Northwest.

What is the only state, in the 2008 presidential election, that did not have a single county go for Barack Obama? Answer: Oklahoma.

If the South is going to secede, we need to make sure the region takes with it Southern "thinkers" from non-Southern states. As we have written here several times, white elites in Alabama have formed an under-the-radar "New Confederacy." It's likely that similar schemes have infected public institutions -- courts, police forces, law firms, financial systems, and more -- in other states.

Southern elites will tell you they are trying to preserve a "way of life." In fact, they are creating a rigged system that benefits them, to the detriment of everyone else.

We don't need their racism, and we don't need their dishonesty.

According to Missouri deputies, I am essentially an "anti-government terrorist," as opposed to the guy who rammed a car into a crowd in Charlottesville, VA

Car crash at Charlottesville, VA, rally, leading to at least one
death and more than a dozen injuries, many of them critical.
(By Ryan M. Kelly, Charlottesville Daily Progress via AP) 
Law-enforcement officials in Missouri seem to have a problem defining the word "terrorist." Perhaps deadly events over the weekend at a white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, will help teach them -- that is, if they are capable of learning.

Public records in Greene County, Missouri suggest certain deputies here think a "terrorist" is someone who writes a blog about legal, political, and police-related corruption. In other words, they think I am a terrorist.

Perhaps deputies should take a look at the photo, above right. It shows a driver plowing a vehicle into a crowd of counter-demonstrators -- people who oppose the message of racism, Nazism, and white supremacy at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville. These are people who take the words of our U.S. Constitution seriously -- especially the 14th Amendment, the one about "equal protection -- and one of them gave her life, and given the number of critically injured, more fatalities might follow.

For you Missouri deputies out there, the guy driving that car . . . he's a domestic terrorist. Even Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions, who has practiced or supported domestic terrorism for years in Alabama, agrees with that. (More about Sessions' ties to domestic terrorism in an upcoming post.)

Why do we need this little lesson? Well, cops seem to have a problem understanding who is, and is not, a domestic terrorist.

For example, if you have been a long-time reader of this blog, I bet you didn't know you were drinking in the words of an "anti-government" terrorist. Just take the word of Missouri deputies who were responsible for the unlawful eviction that left my wife, Carol, with a shattered left arm and bogus criminal charges ("assault on a law enforcement officer") against her.

As we noted in a previous post, Officer Christian Conrad stated in a written report about our eviction that I was "anti-law enforcement." But he wasn't alone. Let's consider these words from Officer Debi Wade, who authored the Probable Cause Statement against Carol:

Recognizing the name and address, Deputy Harrison started looking into Roger Shuler's past; knowing that we would be tasked with the court-ordered eviction if and when it came to that. When [Harrison] 'Googled' his name we found multiple pictures and links to stories about Shuler and learned that he is a very well known anti-government blogger out of the state of Alabama. We also learned that he has been ordered to pay a $3.5 million judgment and was sent to serve time in jail by an Alabama judge for defamation, as well. 

How ignorant is this? Let's count the ways:

(1) Anyone who reads and comprehends this blog knows that I am a Democrat, a progressive, a liberal. (See, I don't even consider "liberal" a dirty word.) I'm a white guy from Alabama who voted twice for Barack Obama. By definition, a liberal is pro-government, supporting reasonable regulation and intervention to level a playing field that can get wildly out of whack under conservatives;

(2) Wade knows about a $3.5-million judgment in the Jessica Medeiros Garrison case, but isn't capable of understanding the judgment is void, as a matter of law, because I never was notified of Garrison's default-judgment application or the hearing on said application. (Isn't it interesting that Missouri cops seem to know about a court case involving Jessica Garrison, in Alabama? Hmmm . . . )

(3) Wade notes that an Alabama judge threw me in jail over a defamation case, but doesn't seem to understand that defamation is a civil matter, where the remedy is a money judgment, not throwing the alleged offender in jail. Wade didn't bother to learn that the preliminary injunction leading to my incarceration has been prohibited by more than 200 years of First Amendment law. Ironically, she cites a classic example of my reporting on corruption . . . but, wait, I'm an "anti-government" blogger. In Wade's world, if you support honest government, you are "against" the government. Don't bother trying to make sense out of that because it's impossible.

Domestic terrorism, of course, did not start over the weekend in Charlottesville. It's been around for quite a while, much of it driven by racism. Let's think about a few legitimate anti-government terrorists over the past couple of decades. There is Timothy McVeigh, who blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injuring more than 600. There is Randy Weaver, who instigated the Ruby Ridge standoff in Montana that led to the deaths of three people. There is Cliven Bundy, the rancher whose supporters launched a confrontation with law enforcement in Oregon. Then, there is Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, who killed three people and injured 23 others in a nationwide bombing campaign.

What do all of these domestic terrorists have in common. They all are, or were, right-wing loons. In other words, "anti-government" types are far more likely to be conservatives than liberals -- and no one has accused me of being a conservative in a long time, if ever. Conservatives are the ones always babbling about "keeping the government out of our lives." Liberals tend to welcome government in our lives.

Are these Missouri cops disingenuous, retarded (apologies for using a politically incorrect term), or both. My answer is "both." In their shallow world, standing up to corruption is the equivalent of being anti-government; unmasking the corrupt actions of rogue cops is being anti-law enforcement.

I know there must be intelligent cops out there, but I don't recall meeting one. In my experience, they consistently have been among the most stupid and useless people I've ever met. These statements from Missouri cops drive that point home -- especially in light of the disturbing and very real terrorism in Charlottesville, VA.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Missouri prosecutor stonewalls on discovery, probably because he knows it will produce embarrassing or incriminating evidence against law enforcement

Carol Tovich Shuler
Why is Missouri prosecutor Nicholas Jain stonewalling on discovery in the bogus "assault on a law enforcement officer" case against my wife, Carol? It's probably because Jain knows legitimate discovery will produce information that is embarrassing, incriminating, or both for his office (led by Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson) and that of Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott.

Our guess is that certain discovery requests from Carol are particularly sensitive for Jain and Co. Which ones are they? Let's a take a look at several, with Carol's requests and Jain's responses embedded at the end of this post, in "State's Response to Defendant's Motion for Disclosure . . . ": (Numbers correspond to those in Carol's discovery requests; Carol's requests and the State's responses also are summarized in Carol's "Motion to Compel . . . , " embedded below.)

      (1) Carol's Request: All documents related to an investigation of a “critical incident” involving use of force. (Such an investigation is required by the Greene County Sheriff’s Office Policy and Procedure Manual,)

      State's Response: The State has provided law enforcement reports to Defendant . . . pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 25.03. These items do not need to be ordered to be disclosed pursuant to Rule 25.04.

      What's Up With That Response? The point of Carol's request is to determine if Greene County Sheriff's Office (GCSO) personnel followed their own procedures. Jain conveniently ignores that and claims it is enough to provide incident reports, which have nothing to do with the department's policies or procedures.

       (2) Carol's Request: A list of all GCSO personnel, with full names and addresses, who were on the scene during the eviction at 4070 South Fort Ave., in Springfield, MO, on 9/9/15.

       State's Response: The names and last known addresses of persons the state intends to call as witnesses have been disclosed to the defendant in the witness endorsements on the Misdemeanor Information filed herein. . . .

       What's Up With That? Once again, Carol asks for one thing, and Jain provides something else. Jain provides the names of four officers he intends to call as witnesses. But Carol asks for the identity of all GCSO personnel on the premises that day, and there appeared to be 6-8 officers, maybe twice the number Jain is identifying. Jain's response obviously is ridiculous because the defense (Carol) might want to call anyone who was present as a witness. Seeking testimony is a two-sided affair, so it's hard to see how Jain can argue with a straight face that Carol is not entitled to the names of all GSCO personnel involved in the eviction. That he's dragging his feet suggests he does not want the defense, or the public, to know everyone who was present that day.

       (4) Carol's Request: A list of Human Resources records for all GCSO personnel involved in the South Fort eviction on 9/9/15, including all officers on the scene and any other employees who were involved in other capacities.

       State's Response: Pretty much the same as for No. 2 above.

       What's Up With That? We've been told that law-enforcement offices hate this kind of request. They don't want defendants, or the public, to know about various screw-ups that officers have been involved with in the past, which likely have resulted in complaints or even lawsuits. Carol's request goes to the credibility of officers on the scene, some of whom beat her up and left her with a shattered left arm.

       (8) Carol's Request: Copies of all communications, in any format, between or among GCSO officers re: the Shulers or their eviction prior to, during, or after 9/9/15.

       State's Response: The State has provided law enforcement reports  . . . (and) any information beyond this is not material.

       What's Up With That? Carol has stated in court documents, correctly, "This case is not about a crime she committed; it's about crimes committed against her." This request goes directly to Carol’s innocence, that she was the victim of a frame-up, and the police had ill motives. It seeks e-mails, text messages, phone records, and other information that will show cops acted with ill (and probably criminal) intent.

       (15) Carol's Request: All documents regarding any new information the GCSO received . . . between Carol's release from jail on 9/9/15 and the filing of an indictment against her on 9/8/16, followed by her re-arrest on 1/30/17.

       State's Response: Any information in this time period has no legal or logical relevance to the immediate case and pending charges. This is not not material the court should find . . . relevant.

       What's Up With That? Jain seems to be playing stupid here. Carol was released from jail, with no charges against her, on 9/9/15. Then an indictment was brought against her on the last day possible under the one-year statute of limitations. That implies new information was discovered in the interim to cause Carol's second arrest. Unless, of course, there were no grounds for either arrest, and it was done for purposes of harassment and malicious injury.

       (16) Carol's Request: All communications between GCSO personnel and Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson regarding the Shulers' eviction, Carol's indictment, and re-arrest.

       State's Response: This is not material that the court should find relevant. . . .

       What's Up With That? Not relevant? Jain must be joking. It goes to the process that caused a defendant who had been wrongfully arrested once and released with no charges to be indicted and re-arrested again. Carol has raised the issue of ill motives and corrupt conduct by cops and prosecutors, and this request goes directly to that issue.

       (25) Carol's Request: Copies of all documents related to evictions during the tenure of Sheriff Jim Arnott -- including personnel and weapons used during the evictions.

       State's Response: Essentially the same as No. 2 above.

       What's Up With That? This goes to information about the way the GCSO normally handles evictions. Did Carol receive "equal protection under the law," as required by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? This request goes directly to that question.

       (28) Carol's Request: Copies of all communications between GCSO personnel and external parties about the Shulers and/or their eviction . . . including (but not limited to) Springfield attorney Craig Lowther (or anyone from his firm), Springfield attorney David Shuler, Springfield resident Don Schlueter, Springfield landlord/businessman Trent Cowherd -- plus any legal/political figures or other individuals from Alabama.

       State's Response: Essentially the same as No. 2 above.

       What's Up With That? Again, Carol has alleged in court documents that she is the victim of a crime, not the perpetrator of one. This is designed to seek information about individuals who appear to be connected to her wrongful arrest and imprisonment. (Note: I've written previously about all the individuals in this request, except one. That would be Don Schlueter, a one-time friend of mine from college who made multiple trips to Birmingham after my incarceration in Shelby County and the wrongful foreclosure on our house. Schlueter played a major role in causing us to leave our home in Alabama, under duress, and wind up in Missouri. Almost from the moment we got here, he has acted with such belligerence and antagonism toward Carol and me that we no longer want anything to do with him. His behavior turned particularly ugly once I picked up blogging again after getting settled in Missouri. Why would Schlueter, who has a doctorate and is not a stupid guy, think it's any of his business whether I write a blog or not? I've known him for roughly 40 years and never found him to be a particularly controlling or nasty guy. But he's been both since we made the mistake of moving to Missouri. What are his motivations? That's why his name is in this request.)

       (30) Carol's Request: Copies of all communications regarding preparation of the probable-cause statement filed by Deputy Debi Wade, leading to Carol Shuler's arrest.

       State's Response: Essentially the same as for No. 2 above.

       What's Up With That? Carol has shown in court documents that Waid's PC Statement is filled with false information. This goes directly to ill motives among cops and prosecutors, which led to Carol being unlawfully arrested -- twice.

       (31) Carol's Request: All records or documents about the whereabouts and actions of GCSO Lt. Phil Corcoran on the day of our eviction.

       State's Response: Essentially the same as No. 2.

       What's Up With That? Prosecutors clearly are trying not to produce the names of all officers who were on the premises during our eviction. The likely reason is that they want to protect someone who engaged in serious misconduct. Our research indicates Corcoran is the No. 2 guy in the GCSO, and Carol wants to know if he was present on 9/9/15 and if he was among those who laid hands on her, for no lawful reason, and caused her arm to be shattered.

To summarize, here are issues that seem to be sensitive to the prosecution in Carol's case, to the point that the State clearly is stonewalling on discovery:

* Information designed to show whether GCSO personnel did or did not follow their own procedures;

* Information designed to show all GCSO personnel who were present for, or involved with, our eviction;

* Information designed to show the Human Resources records of all GCSO personnel who were involved with our eviction:

* Information designed to show all communications (including e-mails, text messages, phone records, etc.) between or among GCSO personnel regarding the Shulers or their eviction;

* Information regarding documents that point to any new evidence received from the time of Carol's release from jail (with no charges) and her re-arrest in January 2017;

* Information designed to show improper motives involving GCSO personnel and the office of PA Dan Patterson;

* Information designed to show GCSO handling of other evictions under Sheriff Jim Arnott;

* Information designed to provide evidence of communications between GCSO personnel and external parties, including any parties from Alabama;

* Information designed to reveal improper motives behind the preparation of the Probable Cause Statement that led to Carol's re-arrest.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Why has Alabama political pipeline produced such awful candidates for Senate special election? That question can be answered with two words: Karl Rove

Mo Brooks, Roy Moore, Luther Strange
(From mmo-champion.com)
The primaries in Alabama's special election for the U.S. Senate are less than a week away (next Tuesday, August 15), and a member of the mainstream media (MSM) is complaining about the poor slate of candidates from both parties. That's ironic because the MSM has a lot to do with the dismal political climate in Alabama.

Kyle Whitmire, of al.com, wrote a piece yesterday, titled "What's Wrong With Alabama's Political Pipeline?" Whitmire's been around long enough to know the answer to that question is easy; it can be summed up in two words -- "Karl Rove."

If you want to go beyond a two-word explanation, you can add these phrases: (1) "Jack Abramoff"; and (2) "Complicity of the lazy, compromised, right-wing media."

Yes, Kyle Whitmire belongs in category No. 2; he's part of the problem that leads him to whine.

Whitmire is correct that the field is dreadful. The GOP field is led by the "Three Stooges" -- Roy Moore, Luther Strange, and Mo Brooks. Perhaps Donald Trump could join them to form a Mount Rushmore of the dysfunctional political right. A new poll shows that Strange -- the darling of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (and yes, Karl Rove) -- might not even make a runoff. Wouldn't that be a hoot?

On the Democratic side, recent polls show that an unknown from Mobile is leading, only because he has a familiar name -- Robert Kennedy Jr. The best-known candidate among the Democrats is Birmingham lawyer Doug Jones, who happens to be one of the biggest political phonies of the modern era. Jones tries to con black voters with his supposed civil-rights bona fides, but the reality is that he sucked up to the Riley Political Machine to make money off a HealthSouth civil case, and he helped cover up insurance fraud involving University of Alabama honcho Paul Bryant Jr., creating a toxic Tuscaloosa culture that would eventually fuel the Megan Rondini rape case.

If there is a candidate of competence and hope in the field, it probably is Democrat Michael Hansen, who is running as "an unapologetic progressive." Good for him. I just wish he was running as an unapologetic liberal because I get tired of seeing the "L word" used as a pejorative.

Says Hansen: "Democrats in Alabama have a clear choice this election. They can select a centrist that’s indistinguishable from the pack, or rally behind a candidate with real energy. As an unapologetic progressive, I’m talking about pocketbook issues that cross party lines. health care, wages, and the environment resonate with real voters and that’s how I’m winning.”

I like the sound of that, partly because it's a clear shot at Jones. Unfortunately, Hansen is openly gay, and that's generally not part of a winning recipe in Alabama. Still, I would like to see him make a runoff, with those races set for Sept. 26 -- and the general election on Dec. 12.

As for Rove, he ushered in what I call "The Modern Era of U.S. political corruption" by joining with Tom Donohue and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to turn state courts in the Deep South from Democrat to Republican. That started in 1994 with the race for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme court, between Democrat Sonny Hornsby and Republican Perry Hooper. The race, brilliantly chronicled in a 2004 Joshua Green article at The Atlantic, served as a precursor to the Bush v. Gore presidential race of 2000. In both, the Rove candidate first appeared to have lost, setting off a chain of recounts, challenges, and dubious machinations that led to the Rove candidate being declared the winner.

An even more disturbing scenario came in 2002 when votes for Democratic incumbent governor Don Siegelman disappeared overnight in heavily Republican Baldwin County, turning the race in favor of Rove's candidate, Bob Riley. Jim Gundlach, an election expert from Auburn University, said it was virtually impossible for the Siegelman votes to disappear without human tampering. In other words, substantial evidence pointed to the election being stolen -- a Rove-related scenario that also was present in Hornsby v. Hooper (1994), Bush v. Gore (2000), and Bush v. John Kerry (2004).

The 2002 Siegelman-Riley fiasco was the race where GOP felon Jack Abramoff admitted to spending $20 million in an attempt to beat Siegelman because Mississippi Choctaws feared gaming competition from a possible Siegelman-supported lottery in Alabama.

When polls showed Siegelman likely would beat Riley in a 2006 rematch, the Bush Justice Department -- with Rove's fingerprints in all sorts of unlikely places -- decided to prosecute the Democrat in a "bribery" case that was brought more than a year after the five-year statute of limitations had expired. The trial, which by law could not happen, wound up with a conviction, largely thanks to bogus jury instructions from former U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, who went on to be forced from the bench after facing assault charges for beating his wife in an Atlanta hotel room.

What three lessons has Karl Rove, over roughly 23 years, taught candidates who might run for office in Alabama?

(1) If you are a Democrat, or non-Rove Republican, the race likely will be stolen from you;

(2) If that doesn't dissuade you from competing, you likely will face trumped-up criminal charges that could ruin your career and your life; and

(3) If that doesn't work, your financial backers are likely to face prosecution, too.

Kyle Whitmire is surprised that Alabama has a lousy field of candidates for the upcoming special Senate election? Gee, why would any semi-competent candidate choose to run for public office in that environment. It's obvious the "political pipeline" is clogged with raw sewage, and who wants to swim around in that?

As for Alabama's MSM, it has trumpeted political prosecutions at every turn. Just consider the esteemed Mr. Whitmire. He has written multiple times that the Siegelman case was properly decided, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. In making such assessments, Whitmire has shown no indication that he has any knowledge about relevant law that was supposed to govern the case.

A strong argument could be made that Alabama corruption, starting in the mid 1990s, has infected our national political culture. In fact, it likely led to Russia's meddling in the 2016 election, leaving us with an unqualified and unstable Donald Trump in the White House, at a time when tensions with North Korea could lead to nuclear war. One must not forget that Trump's presidential campaign seemed to pick up steam when he received the endorsement of former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions via a major rally in . . . Mobile, Alabama.

We long have referred to Alabama as "Ground Zero" for GOP-related political skulduggery. One reason involves geography; the state is smack in the middle of the band of Southern states (from Texas to North Carolina) that consistently vote "red" in presidential elections. Insiders like Rove know that if the Republican Party ever lost Alabama, the rest of the South likely would follow, leaving GOP prospects extraordinarily dim. That's one reason a Democrat like Don Siegelman, who consistently beat GOP opponents at the ballot box, was such a threat.

Now, we have Trump and North Korea tossing threats back and forth -- and one could argue we reached this point via a trail of political corruption that runs right through Alabama.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Why did cops concoct a bogus 911 story, and why was Missouri Sheriff Jim Arnott present for our eviction? We think we have solved both of those mysteries

Sheriff Jim Arnott
Two mysteries have hung over our unlawful eviction in Springfield, Missouri: (1) Why did law enforcement, apparently with assistance from my lawyer/brother David Shuler, concoct a story about me making a threatening call to 911, when officers' own written statements now show that to be false? (2) Why was Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott on the scene? Everyone with whom we've discussed the case has done a "you must be kidding" double take when informed that the sheriff himself was present for an eviction.

We might be close to resolving both mysteries -- and questions surrounding both of them, it appears, can be resolved with the same set of facts.

What are those facts? Well, we've established that evidence strongly suggests our eviction was conducted without a valid court order. We've seen no sign of a court order that was authorized by a judge, as required by state law. (See here and here.)

How does that solve our mysteries? Let's consider item No. 1 first. What did law enforcement accomplish by creating a bogus story about me calling 911? It gave Arnott an excuse to be present at the eviction. Without that excuse, his own deputies probably would have been thinking, "What in the hell is he doing here?" One can almost imagine Arnott stating something ridiculous, to the effect: "Men, this could be a dangerous mission. Everyone knows Roger Shuler is an anti-government and anti-law enforcement nut job, and worst of all, he's a Democrat. He might have stockpiled weapons, because we all know how much liberals love to shoot cops. So I will be there with you -- and in my magical way -- will make sure all of you are safe."

Now, let's consider item No. 2. With Arnott riding tall in his saddle, he could say to his troops: "We're off, men! I have the court order with me, so let's go make Greene County safe from mentally ill Democrats who threaten our way of life by filling the InterWebs with liberal blogs. If we don't stop this now, next thing you know, blacks and whites soon will be going to school together. So, the court order will be inside my squad car, giving us the authority to make this so-called blogger (did I mention he's a liberal?) and his nutty wife homeless -- and to rough them up a little, if we get the chance -- huh, huh."

One can imagine Arnott making this little speech, too -- ensuring his troops that he has the court order authorizing our eviction, except (oops) there was no court order -- not a real one, anyway.

That's why Arnott had to be present. In a normal eviction, where one deputy sits in a squad car on the street -- scratching his nuts and munching on a donut while the landlord removes the tenant -- the court order is given to the deputy. Under Missouri law, that's how it's supposed to happen -- although the "scratching his nuts and munching on a donut" part is optional.

But in our case, that could not happen because there was no court order; there could not have been a court order because Judge Kelly Halford Rose had issued only an interlocutory judgment in Trent Cowherd v. Roger Shuler. That means the judgment was not final (it would not be final until after a hearing that clearly was scheduled on the docket for 10/1/15), it was not appealable yet, and it could not support execution of the eviction.

That's why the 911 story was concocted, giving Arnott an excuse to be present. And he had to be present so he could con his own troops into believing they were acting under a court order -- when they weren't.

That adds to the evidence suggesting that Arnott was acting in cahoots with landlord Trent Cowherd and Cowherd's lowlife attorney, Craig Lowther -- of the lowlife law firm, Lowther and Johnson.

I have to admit that their con game worked, more or less, for more than a year. I didn't start to put the pieces together until about two months ago, when I finally noticed that Judge Rose's judgment clearly was labeled "interlocutory." Until then, I also thought we had been ordered out of our apartment -- although I knew we had timely filed a Notice of Appeal that put a stay on execution.

As it turns out, there was no court order to stay, and any Notice of Appeal should not have been filed until after 10/1/15.

At least we know that Arnott is an equal-opportunity fraud; he will lie to us and to his own troops. Among those troops is a deputy -- we are not certain of his name yet, although documents make it appear to be Christian Conrad -- who knows he broke Carol's arm. And he soon will learn -- if he doesn't already know -- that he did it without having the authority to even be on our rented property. Such a realization is likely to leave him not feeling so well -- assuming he has a conscience, and that seems to be a big "if" with many cops.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Jeff Sessions hints at jailing journalists, and the press had better take such threats seriously because Sessions & Associates have used such tactics in Alabama

Jeff Sessions, at "leaks" press conference
(From politico.com)
The journalism world is in a state of anxiety after Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions hinted last Friday that he might begin issuing subpoenas to reporters in an effort to shut down leaks. If journalists failed to respond properly to such subpoenas, it could put them at risk for being arrested and incarcerated.

Most reporting on the subject so far has treated Sessions' words as radical and overreaching.   In fact, the notion isn't new at all in Alabama -- where Sessions served as U.S. attorney, attorney general, and U.S. senator over more than 35 years.

Less than four years ago, law-enforcement officers beat up a journalist in his own home near Birmingham, doused him with pepper spray, made an arrest (after threatening to break the journalist's arms) and hauled him to the Shelby County Jail for a five-month stay. Cops also made multiple attempts to arrest the journalist's wife. Chris Blevins, the primary Shelby County deputy involved in the arrest, never stated why he was on the journalist's property, never showed an arrest warrant, and never said he had an arrest warrant. A judge later ordered Blevins and a prosecutor to produce copies of any warrants in the case, and they responded that they didn't have any. The lack of any apparent warrant makes the case sound more like a kidnapping than an arrest.

How do I know so much about the case -- and the threats to press freedom in Jeff Sessions' Alabama? I was the journalist in question. I know what it's like to be stripped and placed in what might be called a "haz mat" shower to remove pepper spray before being issued jail garb. I know what it's like to have a fellow inmate jump about 25 feet to his death and land 10 feet or so from me. I know what sound a human head makes when it cracks on a concrete floor during a suicide. I know what it's like to see fights and near-fights break out regularly -- usually over issues related to use of a jail block's television or phones.

My experience has Jeff Sessions' fingerprints -- or those of his associates -- all over it. I know, from firsthand experience, that journalists had better take Sessions seriously when he threatens police action against them. Sessions has no respect for the rule of law, in general -- or the First Amendment in particular. And his focus on leaks appears mainly to be an effort to get back in Trump's good graces, after being the target of stinging criticism for recusing from the Russia investigation. In other words, Sessions is trying to save his own job by going after the press -- and he and Trump might figure this is their last, best hope to throw a wrench in Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation.

What is the primary lesson from my incarceration -- which has its own Wikipedia entry, by the way? In early 2013, I wrote several unflattering stories about individuals connected to Jeff Sessions (See herehere, and here.) Next thing I knew, cops were swarming our property on a regular basis -- with one finally breaking in and arresting me.

Was Jeff Sessions directly involved in using the police state to attack a free press? We have two pending federal lawsuits designed to help answer that question -- and many others. But there is no question that Sessions was indirectly involved; at least five defendants in the two lawsuits -- Rob Riley, U.S. Judge Bill Pryor, U.S. Senator Luther Strange, political operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Trump "communications specialist" Cliff Sims and the Web site he founded, Yellowhammer News -- are closely aligned with Sessions. (Complaints in both lawsuits are embedded at the end of this post.)

Bottom line? Jeff Sessions and his acolytes see the threat of jail time as a legitimate way to control the press, and they have a history of using such tactics. I know, from personal experience.

In short, I was the only U.S. journalist to be incarcerated in 2013 (from Oct. 23, 2013, to March 26, 2014) -- the only journalist arrested in the western hemisphere that year. I'm the only U.S. journalist to be arrested since 2006 -- more than a decade -- and my incarceration is the third longest for a journalist in American history. Before me, was San Francisco-based free-lance videographer Joshua Wolf (2006), New York Times reporter Judith Miller (2005), and true-crime writer Vanessa Leggett (2001).

I am the only American journalist to be arrested in the 2000s for a case that had no criminal implications. Our research indicates I am the only journalist to be incarcerated because of an unlawful preliminary injunction, which has been an improper prior restraint under more than 200 years of First Amendment law. In other words, my case might represent the worst abuse of a journalist on American soil.

In essence, I was arrested because of this blog, Legal Schnauzer. I wasn't trying to protect sources; I wasn't ordered to turn over documents from my reporting about a possible crime. My reporting had nothing to do with national security. Those are the kinds of cases for which journalists lawfully can be hit with subpoenas and the threat of jail time.

In my case, someone decided this blog had to be shut down, and they figured the best way to do it was to arrest me -- and to try to arrest my wife, Carol, even though she had nothing to do with the blog at the time. (Note: Carol played a key role by managing to escape capture and get word out to the press about my arrest. She also kept the blog alive by writing regular reports about my situation. If she had not managed to do that, I might still be in jail, or more likely, be dead. If cops had abducted her, too, we both probably would be dead.)

When fellow inmates asked me why I was in jail -- and noted that I didn't look like most of the other prisoners -- I answered truthfully and directly: "I was arrested for blogging." That inevitably drew howls of laughter. Newbies often said, "Oh, you're the blogger guy. I've already heard about you. You're famous in here."

Some of the more thoughtful inmates would say something like, "Hey, wait, they can't do that. You can't arrest someone for blogging." The only response I could muster was, "Well, here I am."

How did I -- a guy with hardly even a traffic ticket on my record at the time -- wind up in jail? The short answer: I wrote accurate, hard-hitting posts about some of Jeff Sessions' cronies -- and I learned that you can go to jail for that in Alabama. (Note: I've been sued twice by Sessions' cronies; in both instances, my reporting was found -- as a matter of law -- to be neither false nor defamatory.)

Here is a little longer answer about how I wound up in jail:

* In January 2013, I began to publish a series of posts about an extramarital affair involving Homewood attorney Rob Riley (son of former GOP governor Bob Riley) and lobbyist Liberty Duke. The Rileys are closely aligned with Jeff Sessions;

* In July 2013, I began to publish a series of posts about an extramarital affair involving then Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (he is now U.S. senator, replacing Jeff Sessions) and his one-time campaign manager, Jessica Medeiros Garrison. As noted, Strange replaced Sessions in the U.S. Senate, via appointment by former Gov. Robert "Luv Guv" Bentley, and now faces a special election, with the primaries on August 15. Garrison used to work for Sessions.

* In September 2013, I began to publish a series of posts about nude photographs of U.S. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor that had appeared in the 1990s at the badpuppy.com gay-porn Web site. Sessions and Pryor are so close that the AG pushed Trump to appoint Pryor to the U.S. Supreme Court seat that went to Neil Gorsuch.

My mugshot, as the only American ever arrested
for blogging.
Riley and Duke eventually filed a lawsuit against me, claiming defamation and seeking a preliminary injunction, which has been an unlawful prior restraint under 200 years of First Amendment law, as set out in Near v. Minnesota and related cases. I had filed a motion to quash service as unlawful and was preparing to challenge the preliminary injunction when cops broke into our home and arrested me. Interestingly, Riley and Duke made no effort to prove my reporting was false or defamatory -- and the burden of proof was on them. They sought no discovery, no trial, no jury -- none of the procedures that, by law, go with a legitimate defamation case.

The record indicates the lawsuit had no purpose other than to provide a (bogus) excuse to have me thrown in jail. Since Riley/Duke asked to have the record sealed -- and corrupt, retired Judge Claud Neilson granted anything they asked -- it's never been clear when their lawsuit actually was filed. But I did not become aware of it until after I had written about Bill Pryor and his ties to gay pornography. And Pryor is a long-time acolyte of . . . Jeff Sessions -- with Sessions hiring Pryor in the Alabama AG's office and pushing for Pryor to be appointed as his successor as AG.

At least one national-security expert clearly finds Sessions' language to be troubling. Politico's Kel McClanahan, executive director of a Maryland-based public interest law firm, wrote a piece titled "Jeff Sessions' Attack on the Media Is Worse Than You Think." McClanahan says Sessions is equating journalists with spies:

Don’t get me wrong; leaking classified information to the media is illegal, and it can result in harm to our national security. But recognizing that fact is a far cry from saying that leaking to a reporter is anything close to selling secrets to China: The two deserve to be treated differently. While it is true that the courts might decide to draw a line in the sand if the DOJ moves too far in this direction, they also might not, and even the courts’ hands are tied if new laws go into effect. Sessions is playing a long game here, and this is just him setting the public opinion foundation before he starts asking for more authorities to combat leaks. When he starts asking for those authorities, we the public need to be able to voice an informed opinion as to whether the threat of leakers is as great as he says it is, without confusing leakers with spies.

Do U.S. journalists grasp the threat that Jeff Sessions poses? This is from a report by Michael Calderone, at Huffington Post:

Journalists were alarmed Friday after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Department of Justice was revisiting guidelines for handling media subpoenas in leak investigations and said there needed to be limits on press freedom.

“Are you saying you will jail journalists, Mr. Attorney General?” a reporter asked as Sessions exited the room. “Do you plan to prosecute journalists?”

Sessions didn’t answer that question, or any, at the press conference. He “tells room of reporters he may make it easier to jail them if they don’t reveal sources,” MSNBC host and attorney Ari Melber tweeted, and “leaves without taking any press questions.”

Ari Melber provides an interesting tweet, but he hasn't lived in my shoes. I've been a journalist for 30-plus years in Jeff Sessions' Alabama, and I know what a toxic culture he and his brethren have created. They have built what I call "The New Confederacy," where the U.S. Constitution is ignored and "laws" are pulled out of thin air to favor white, conservative elites.

When a reporter asks, "Are you saying you will jail journalists, Mr. Attorney General?" I can provide this clear-eyed answer: "You can bet your press pass that's what he's saying. And you can bet he will try it, in an effort to protect himself and Trump from repercussions of the Russiagate scandal." Here's one of the central tenets of "The New Confederacy": White, conservative elites are not to be held accountable -- for anything.

That sounds warped, but hard-earned experience has taught me just how warped Jeff Sessions can be. No other journalist in the country has the perspective on Trump's AG that I do. And I absolutely expect him to try jailing journalists, whether there is any support for it, under the law, or not.