Thursday, May 17, 2018

Will Jerry Harmison Jr., new Missouri judge in Carol's "assault" case, correctly suppress evidence and force the prosecution to stop stonewalling on discovery?


Jerry Harmison Jr.
The incorrect rulings Margaret Palmietto made before stepping down as judge in my wife Carol's "assault" case, by Missouri law, have no impact moving forward. In fact, new judge Jerry Harmison has an obligation to rehear issues raised in Carol's Motion to Suppress and other dispositive motions. Harmison also has an obligation to make sure the state does not get away with wildly bad-faith efforts to stonewall on discovery?

Does Harmison know any of this? Does he have enough integrity to rule correctly and ensure a case that cannot go to trial is dismissed, as the law requires? Does he have the cojones to issue subpoenas and force the state and Greene County Sheriff's Office to turn over documents that are essential to Carol's defense? We've seen no signs of it. (Of course, if Harmison acts lawfully and dismisses the case, there will be no need for discovery.)

Harmison has put nothing on the docket that suggests he intends to rehear the motions Palmietto butchered on the first go-around. Given that Harmison is an appointee of scandal-plagued Republican Gov. Eric Greitens, we have little confidence the judge has any integrity at all.

Carol has filed motions on both issues -- to have the suppression and other motions reheard and to have subpoenas issued on discovery after the state repeatedly has failed to make disclosures. (Motions are embedded at the end of this post, and discovery clearly will require a continuance.) Harmison has not ruled on either motion.

What is the law on these issues. It's very clear. On the rehearing issue, controlling Missouri law is found at State v. Pippenger, 741 S.W.2d 710 (Mo. App. W.D. 1987). From Pippenger:

The Supreme Court in State v. Howell, 524 S.W.2d 11, 19 (Mo. banc 1975), held that the trial court ruling on "a motion to suppress evidence prior to trial is, in a sense, interloctory in nature." The court continued, "[t]he real damage is not done until the evidence is introduced in the trial of a case for consideration by a jury. Thus, a trial court can receive additional evidence and change its ruling prior to admitting the objected-to items in evidence before a jury." Id. This court has stated that the trial court's decision on interlocutory motions is not conclusive or binding on future proceedings. Noll v. Noll, 286 S.W.2d 58, 60-61 (Mo.App.1956); State v. Beaver, 697 S.W.2d 573, 574 (Mo.App.1985); see also Cook v. State, 281 Md. 665, 381 A.2d 671, 674 (1978), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 839, 99 S.Ct. 126, 58 L.Ed.2d 136 (1978). It is, therefore, incumbent for the trial court in the instant case to hear the evidence and rule thereon and not rely upon what some other trial court may have done before in another cause.

Language does not get more clear than that. Palmietto's faulty rulings mean nothing at this point; they are not binding and they are not conclusive. For Harmison, it is "incumbent" on him to rehear the evidence -- whether he knows it or not.

As for the law on discovery, Carol spells that out in her reply to the state's effort to continue stonewalling. Much has been written across the country recently about dishonest and deceitful prosecutors, and Carol has been subjected to two of them -- drunk-driving Nicholas Jain and smarmy hack Nicholas Bergeon -- not to mention their ethically challenged boss, Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson. From Carol's motion:

Missouri Supreme Court Rule 25.04 C says, “if the state’s efforts [to disclose] are unsuccessful . . . said court, upon request, shall issue suitable subpoenas or orders to cause such material to be made available to the state for disclosure to the defense.” Shuler has made such a request.

Throughout his response to Shuler’s Motion for Disclosure Via Court Order or Subpoena, the state’s APA Nicholas Bergeon repeatedly says he is “unaware” that relevant and material disclosures exist for Shuler’s defense. The state essentially admits it has been unsuccessful at obtaining disclosures. Also, Bergeon conveniently omits the fact that Shuler filed a Motion to Compel almost a year ago, dated 5/30/17, and Judge Palmietto never ruled on it. In fact, Shuler filed multiple dispositive motions, and Palmietto let them sit for more than a year – yet, Bergeon claims he is weary of delays, laying them at Shuler’s feet. Bergeon wasn’t even involved in this case when the delays started.

You read that correctly: Bergeon claims he is weary of this case. (His motions re: discovery and a continuance to allow for discovery are embedded at the end of this post.) Yet, he and his colleagues repeatedly have ignored Carol's discovery requests altogether or claimed they are not "relevant" or "material." Almost all of Carol's requests go to these two issues: (1) Why was she arrested for an offense even the "victim" admits she did not commit? (2) What evidence will discovery yield about the utter lack of credibility among the officers who brutalized Carol and then made up a "crime" to hinder her chances at civil justice?

This is not a normal criminal case; it's one where cops committed a crime, and they are trying to cover it up -- with assistance from Nicholas Bergeon. From Carol's motion:

All of Shuler’s requests are relevant and material under the extraordinary nature of this case. Consider: (a) From the outset there has been no accuser in this case, no one with a name who claims in the Probable Cause Statement that Shuler “pushed” Officer Jeremy Lynn. This is sub-hearsay, and there is no corroboration or verification, as required in a hearsay case under State v. Kirby (Mo. Ct. of App., 2004). With no accuser and no corroboration, there never has been probable cause in this case – to arrest Shuler, much less prosecute her; (b) In in his incident report, “victim” Jeremy Lynn admits he grabbed Shuler first, not the other way around, meaning Lynn “knowingly caused physical contact” (the central element of the offense under statute). That means Shuler is not guilty, even in the words of the “victim”; (c) Two witnesses at the earlier suppression hearing – Jeremy Lynn and Officer Scott Harrison – admitted they either did not have or had never seen a court-authorized (with judge’s signature) writ of execution for the Shulers’ eviction. That means they had no grounds to be on the property, the search and seizure violated the Fourth Amendment, and all evidence derived from an unlawful/unreasonable search must be suppressed. Judge Palmietto found Lynn and Harrison acted “reasonably”; Lynn and Harrison admitted they did not act reasonably – they burst into a home, while knowing they had no lawful grounds for doing so; (d) The PC statement failed to mention that deputies broke Shuler’s left arm, so severely that it required trauma surgery. Incident reports indicate Officer Christian Conrad, wearing a blue shirt, broke Shuler’s arm. Multiple officers state in incident reports that they knew Shuler’s arm had been broken, but they claim to have acted “reasonably.” Criminal charges were brought against Shuler as a classic “cover charge” to hinder her efforts at civil justice and cover up police brutality. Such a gross omission means the PC Statement is defective and due to be stricken; (e) APA Bergeron claims with a straight face the state has not stonewalled on discovery. Over more than a year, Shuler has requested 30-40 disclosures – all relevant and material under the facts of this case – and she has received exactly two responses. If that’s not stonewalling, what is? If that kind of bad faith does not require the issuance of subpoenas, what does?

How desperate is Bergeon to avoid disclosing anything of substance via discovery? First, note how many times he claims something doesn't exist -- or he isn't "aware" that it exists -- and Carol is supposed to just take his word for it? Second, Bergeon claims (item 5) that Carol received a CD including CAD (computer-assisted dispatch) logs regarding our eviction, but the only CAD logs Carol has received are of a 911 call that Burrell Behavioral Health personnel made -- regarding a threat I never made, and a gun I never had. Third, consider just a few of the items Bergeon objects to disclosing because they are not "relevant"or "material":

Carol Shuler's broken arm, which Missouri cops
conveniently failed to mention in their
probable cause statement.
* All communications, in any format between the Greene County Sheriff's Office (GCSO) and the Prosecutor's Office related to our eviction;

* All communications, in any format, between Public Defender Patty Poe and her office and the GCSO, the prosecutor's office, and any judges;

* All reports about other citizens that GCSO personnel have left with broken limbs or serious injuries;

* The name of the GCSO attorney who gave the go-ahead for our unlawful eviction, per Officer Debi Wade, author of the Probable Cause Statement;

* Copies of all citizen complaints against officers involved in our eviction, going back three years. (Bergeon says the GCSO claims there aren't any. Do you believe that? Would anybody believe that?)

* Copies of CAD logs and recordings to all patrol units and officers involved in our eviction. (Bergeon claims he has provided this. But he's lying. He's provided only CAD logs of a 911 I never made.)

* The ID numbers, with assigned deputies, for each vehicle present at our eviction;

* All video or audio that was recorded from each vehicle on 9/9/15, the date of our eviction;

* Copies of all communications, in any format, between or among GCSO officers re: our eviction. (The state agreed at a motion to compel hearing last September to produce this information, but it never has done so.)

Bergeon likes to claim that Carol has not made a showing of "good cause" on her discovery requests. First, he cites no law that shows that is the standard for a defendant. But more importantly, Carol is charged with a crime she did not commit -- and the "victim" admits she didn't commit it -- so that (in my view) provides plenty of "good cause" on all of her discovery requests. You can double or triple that point when you consider that cops broke her arm and are trying to cover it up -- with ample assistance from Nicholas Bergeon and his crooked office.











Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Jerry Harmison, the new Missouri judge in "assault" case against my wife, Carol, has connections to Eric Greitens, who might be the nation's sleaziest governor


Jerry Harmison Jr.
The new judge in the bogus "assault on a law enforcement officer" case against my wife, Carol, has ties to a politician who seems to be earning the title of "the nation's sleaziest governor."

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, in September 2017, appointed Jerry Harmison Jr. as an associate circuit judge in Greene County. Harmison was assigned Carol's case last Friday after original judge Margaret Palmietto granted a motion for change of judge and Becky Borthwick recused without explanation. Palmietto stepped down, at Carol's request, after a string of unlawful rulings on pre-trial motions.

Will Harmison be an improvement over Palmietto? If his "integrity" is anything like that of the governor who appointed him, the answer is no. And Harmison already made some highly questionable decisions on the case. (More on that in an upcoming post.)

An invasion-of-privacy criminal charge against Greitens was dropped on Monday -- after an "unprecedented" ruling, allowing the prosecutor to be called as a witness, by a judge with close ties to Greitens' defense lawyers -- but it still might be refiled and handled by a special prosecutor or member of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner's staff. That charge stems from an extramarital affair Greitens had with his hair stylist.

Greitens remains charged with a second felony in St. Louis for allegedly misusing a donor list from a St. Louis-based veterans' charity for campaign purposes. No trial date has been set for that case.

As sewage stacks up around Greitens, a Missouri House committee announced yesterday that it is investigating Greitens' possible use of shell companies to conceal the identity of donors to his 2016 campaign. From a report at stltoday.com:

The Missouri House committee investigating Gov. Eric Greitens is probing whether Greitens’ 2016 campaign used so-called “shell companies” to conceal the identity of donors.

The revelation came Tuesday morning as Rep. Jay Barnes, who chairs the panel, announced that the committee was releasing two email strings it had obtained from Michael Hafner, a former Greitens campaign adviser who later worked for businessman John Brunner during the 2016 GOP primary.

In one email dated July 2016, Will Scharf, who at the time was working for GOP gubernatorial contender Catherine Hanaway, wrote to Hafner about research he had done suggesting the Greitens campaign worked to conceal donors.

Scharf now works for Greitens as his policy director.

The new allegations are reminiscent of Sean Hannity's forays into real estate:

At issue were two companies — White Impala LLC and ELX83 LLC — that were formed in December 2015 and subsequently donated a combined $30,000 to Greitens for Missouri at the time of the email string on July 9, 2016.

“By all appearances, these two entities were created to channel contributions to the Greitens campaign from an anonymous donor or donors,” reads a memorandum attached to an email Scharf sent to Hafner. “Missouri law explicitly prohibits campaign contributions made ‘in such a manner as to conceal the identity of the actual source of the contribution.’

“The use of this arrangement to hide donors certainly runs counter to Greitens’s repeated attacks on ‘corruption’ and ‘insider political games’ in Missouri,” the memo states.

Barnes said Tuesday that the committee would seek Scharf’s testimony.

As for Harmison, his task with Carol's case should be simple -- if he has the slightest bit of integrity (always a big "if" with a judge). Here are four straightforward reasons the case cannot go to trial and must be dismissed. These all are issues that Palmietto got wrong:

(1) The "victim" admits there was no crime -- Officer Jeremy Lynn is the "victim," the guy Carol supposedly pushed as he burst into our duplex apartment. But Lynn admits in his own incident report that he grabbed Carol first, not the other way around, and he never says she pushed him or even touched him. In fact, Lynn says Carol tried to pull away from him, which last time I checked, is the opposite of a push. The central element in the statute is "knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical contact." Missouri appellate courts have determined the key question is "Who initiated physical contact?" (See State v. Armstrong, 968 SW 2d 154 [Mo. Court of Appeals, 1998]) Lynn admits that he initiated physical contact. I don't call the case bogus because the defendant is my wife. I call it bogus because the words of the "victim" prove it's bogus.

(2) Accuser? What accuser -- Officer Debi Wade, author of the Probable Cause Statement, admits she did not see Carol push Jeremy Lynn. But she states that an unnamed person "advised" her of such. This is sub-hearsay, and the PC Statement includes none of the corroboration or verification required in such a case. (See State v. Kirby [MO Ct. of App., 2004]) Carol has been fighting this charge for almost 16 months, based on the word of . . . well, nobody. The lack of an accuser makes the PC Statement defective, meaning there never was probable cause to arrest Carol, much less prosecute her.

Trent and Sharon Cowherd
(3) An eviction without a court order -- The state's two witnesses in the original suppression hearing -- Officers Scott Harrison and Jeremy Lynn -- could not point to a judge-signed writ of execution that gave them authority to evict. A prosecutor gave Harrison a copy of the writ, and Harrison admitted under oath and cross-examination that it did not have a judge's signature or any other form of authorization. Lynn stated he had never even seen a court order in our case -- but that didn't stop him from being the first to break into our home. An eviction without a court order is unlawful, and means all evidence illegally obtained under the Fourth Amendment must be suppressed.

(4) Why bother getting a final judgment? -- The docket in our rent-and-possession case shows in at least two places that the ruling was interlocutory, meaning it was non-final, with issues still to be determined at a hearing set one month from entry of the judgment. Under Missouri law, there cannot be execution on a judgment that is not final. (See State ex rel Turner v. Sloan [MO, 1980]) That means we were the victims of an illegal "self eviction," perpetrated by landlord Trent Cowherd and his lawyer, Craig Lowther, and any evidence gathered must be suppressed.

By law, Carol's case cannot go to trial, and she cannot be found guilty. But that requires a judge with integrity, and it would be a shocker if Harmison shows he has any.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Prosecutors drop charge against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens after "unprecedented" ruling by Judge Rex Burlison, who has ties to attorneys on the defense team


Eric Greitens
Prosecutors yesterday dropped an invasion-of-privacy charge against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens after an "unprecedented" ruling by a judge with close ties to the governor's defense lawyers.

Judge Rex Burlison ruled the defense could call St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner as a witness. The prosecution responded by dropping the charge, which stemmed from Greitens' admitted extramarital affair with his hair stylist, but members of the prosecution team said they intend to refile the charge -- with a special prosecutor or another member of Gardner's team handling the case.

From a report at stltoday.com:

A spokeswoman for Gardner said the case would be refiled. Gardner left the courtroom just before 5 p.m. She did not answer questions.

Circuit Judge Rex Burlison's "unprecedented" order "places the Circuit Attorney in the impossible position of being a witness, subject to cross-examination within the offer of proof by her own subordinates," Gardner spokeswoman Susan Ryan said in a statement.

But St. Louis University law Professor John Ammann said Gardner did not have to dismiss the charge. Because she could not be a prosecutor and witness in the same case, she could have simply let other prosecutors take over, he said.

The move by Judge Burlison caught many legal analysts off guard, and Greitens hardly is out of the legal woods. From a report at cbsnews.com:

Nationally, it's "super, super rare" for a judge to allow a prosecutor to be called as a witness, said Hadar Aviram, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of Law.

Some legal experts said prosecutors would have about a month to decide whether to file charges, because that's about how much time was left in the three-year statute of limitations when the original charge was filed. . . .

Greitens also remains charged with a second felony in St. Louis for allegedly disclosing a donor list from a St. Louis-based veterans' charity he founded for use in his political campaign. No trial date has been set for that case.

Judge Burlison's credibility might now be questioned in the court of public opinion. In late March, stltoday.com reported that Burlison had eased concerns about his impartiality by denying a defense motion for a bench trial. Those concerns likely will be raised anew after yesterday's unexpected ruling, forcing Greitens' prosecutor to testify. From the March report:

St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Rex Burlison went far [recently] in dispelling any public doubts about his impartiality as he presides over Republican Gov. Eric Greitens’ felony invasion of privacy case. Doubts have surfaced because of Burlison’s links to the law firm defending Greitens. Burlison dashed our concerns Monday by refusing a request by Greitens’ lawyers to allow a bench trial, which would have let Burlison judge the governor’s guilt or innocence without a jury trial. This high-profile case is being monitored across the state, if not the country, for its impact on the Republican Party in the November elections. . . .

Nevertheless, Burlison has troubling links with the influential Dowd Bennett law firm representing Greitens in the case, which stems from an extramarital affair in 2015. Burlison was a longtime aide to former Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat who appointed him to the bench. Nixon also appointed Burlison’s daughter to be a judge in St. Charles County, and Burlison’s wife to the judicial panel that recommends judges for the city of St. Louis.

Nixon now is a partner at Dowd Bennett. Three partners in the firm — Edward Dowd Jr., Jim Martin and James Bennett — are on Greitens’ six-member defense team. Burlison’s challenge moving forward will be to maintain strict impartiality regardless of the various political forces tugging at him.

Based on his ruling yesterday, Burlison appears to be playing favorites with the Dowd Bennett law firm -- and that benefits a governor who has scandals coming out of every orifice.

That does not speak well for justice in Missouri -- or anywhere else.

Margaret Palmietto steps down as judge in Carol's Missouri assault case after making a series of preposterously unlawful rulings on pre-trial motions


Margaret Palmietto
The Missouri judge in charge of the "assault on a law enforcement officer" case against my wife, Carol, has stepped down following a series of wildly unlawful rulings on pre-trial motions.

Carol filed an Application for Change of Judge, for Cause, under Missouri Supreme Court Rule 51.05(D) -- and Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto did step down, but not for the right reason. Palmietto could not even get recusal right, which was in keeping with her actions on pre-trial motions.

Palmietto denied Carol's motion for cause -- which called for her to step down due to comments and actions taken from the bench -- but did grant a change of judge under Rule 32.09(a). Due to timeliness factors, Carol was not entitled to a recusal under Rule 32.09(a). But she received one anyway, apparently because Palmietto did not want to call attention to the fact she had been cheating Carol and engaging in blatant impropriety from the bench.

After Palmietto stepped down on 5/7, the case was assigned to Judge Becky Borthwick, who recused two days later, without explanation. Carol's case then wound up with Judge Jerry Harmison Jr., an appointee of scandal-plagued Republican Gov. Eric Greitens.

Will Harmison be an improvement over Palmietto? I've learned to have low expectations for judges, so I doubt it. But he can't be any worse.

Carol filed six dispositive motions -- meaning, by law, they should have settled the matter and forced dismissal of the state's case, short of a trial -- and they were scheduled for hearing on 3/26. Palmietto butchered every motion, not coming close to ruling correctly under the law on any of them.

On that many motions -- involving important and fairly complex matters of law and fact -- you would expect a judge to take matters under advisement before issuing rulings. But not Palmietto. The minute argument was over, she summarily denied all of Carol's motions -- providing zero indication she had read the motions or given her rulings any thought.

Carol's most important document was a Motion to Suppress Evidence, which is a common pre-trial filing in many criminal cases. In essence, the motion claimed any evidence against Carol was obtained via an unlawful search and seizure, violating the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Given that our eviction was unlawful on at least 10-12 grounds, this should have been a no-brainer. With all of its evidence suppressed, the state's case would have been kaput. But Palmietto refused to suppress evidence that clearly was unlawfully obtained.

There was no evidence to speak of anyway. Officer Jeremy Lynn, the "victim" of Carol's alleged push, has admitted in an incident report that he grabbed Carol, not the other way around, and he never says that she pushed (or even touched him). In fact, he says Carol tried to pull away, which is the opposite of a push. Even though the state obtained no legitimate evidence via its unlawful search and seizure of our rented duplex apartment, Palmietto's denial still was a massive clunker. Carol's motion describes the inanity of the judge's rulings, especially on a central issue. (The full motion is embedded at the end of this post.)

A big issue in this case: Was there a judge-signed, court-approved writ of execution that gave approval to proceed with the eviction? Under Missouri law, per State ex rel Turner v. Sloan (MO, 1980), “An enforcement of judgment by execution supposes a judgment not merely interlocutory but become final.” Was there a final judgment in the rent-and-possession case landlord Trent Cowherd brought against the Shulers? The docket shows in at least two places that the answer is no. The possession order twice is listed as interlocutory (non-final), with a hearing scheduled for roughly a month in the future to consider other issues, including the Shulers’ counterclaim for breach of contract. The Shulers never have been presented with a court-authorized eviction notice, and one does not exist in the record – and that’s because there could not be one, given that the judgment was only interlocutory and not final. At the suppression hearing in Carol Shuler’s criminal matter, the state called two witnesses – Officers Scott Harrison and Jeremy Lynn – in an apparent effort to show the eviction was lawful. That effort failed miserably. Harrison admitted under oath that the writ of execution in his hand, the one upon which the eviction was based, did not contain a judge’s signature or any form of court approval. Despite that, Harrison burst into the Shulers’ home and pointed an assault weapon at Roger Shuler’s head. Officer Lynn stated under oath that he never had even seen a writ of execution for the Shulers’ eviction.

The state's two witnesses essentially claimed ignorance as an excuse for their actions. They undoubtedly are ignorant, but that excuse does not cut it under the law:

At the suppression hearing, the state’s witnesses – Officers Harrison and Lynn – sought to excuse their actions by essentially claiming ignorance of the law. The U.S. Supreme Court has held on multiple occasions that ignorance of the law does not excuse constitutional violations: “In sum, a Fourth Amendment violation occurs when police engage in a warrantless search and no exception to the warrant requirement applies, or when police search pursuant to a warrant not based on probable cause. That the police officer acted in an objectively reasonable (i.e., non-negligent) manner is irrelevant to the existence of a constitutional violation. See, e.g., Anderson v. Creighton, ___ U.S. ___, 107 S.Ct. 3034, 97 L.Ed.2d 523 (1987); Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S. 335, 106 S.Ct. 1092, 89 L.Ed.2d 271 (1986); United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 104 S.Ct. 3405, 82 L.Ed.2d 677 (1984)

Palmietto showed no sign that she knew who carries the burden of proof in a suppression hearing, even though Carol's motion spelled it out:

Trent Cowherd and wife, Sharon

Under Missouri law, per State v. Hernandez, 954 S.W.2d 639, 642 (Mo.App. W.D.1997), the burden in a suppression hearing is on the state to prove that evidence is admissible. Here, the state failed in spectacular fashion. Neither of its witnesses could point to a court-authorized writ of execution that would have made the Shulers’ eviction lawful. Thus, it was unlawful, and all evidence resulting from it, by law, must be excluded. Palmietto’s failure to rule correctly on this central issue might be the most glaring example of her impropriety in the instant case.

How wrong was Palmietto's finding on this one key motion?

Palmietto ruled at the suppression hearing that officers’ actions were reasonable under the circumstances, citing the “good faith exception” articulated in U.S. v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984). Leon, however, applies only to searches with a warrant. Missouri case law holds: “"Subject to only a few specific and well-delineated exceptions, warrantless searches and seizures are deemed per se unreasonable." State v. Johnson, 316 S.W.3d 390, 395 (Mo. App. W.D.2010). There was no warrant in the Shuler case because there were no allegations of criminal activity. This was an eviction, a civil matter, and it did not involve even a lawful, court-approved eviction order. Thus, the officers’ actions, by law, were per se unreasonable – and Palmietto butchered this issue and displayed glaring and actual impropriety.

Bottom line: The state had the burden of proof, and its two witnesses admitted they broke into our home without seeing a court-authorized, judge-signed eviction order. In other words, this was a classic "self eviction," which landlord Trent Cowherd perpetrated with his lawyer (Craig Lowther), but Palmietto found it constituted "reasonable" police work -- even though she cited no law that the "reasonableness" standard even applied in a warrantless search.

Palmietto's prejudicial statements from the bench also played a role in the whole circus:

On multiple occasions during recent hearings, Palmietto has said, in terms of possible punishment that Shuler faces, “It’s just a fine.” That suggests Palmietto has a predetermined outcome in mind, a guilty verdict, so that she easily can dispose of a case that has been dragging on for more than 15 months. It suggests Palmietto does not care if Shuler is found guilty of a crime she did not commit – and for which there was not even probable cause for issuance of a warrant.


(To be continued)







Monday, May 14, 2018

Paul Littlejohn III, sex offender who resigned from position with Sue Bell Cobb's campaign for governor, also worked on Doug Jones' campaign for U.S. Senate


Paul Littlejohn III
A sex offender who resigned from Sue Bell Cobb's gubernatorial campaign on Friday also worked on the campaigns of U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) and Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, according to published reports.

Paul Littlejohn III resigned from his paid position with the Cobb campaign one day after his arrest for allegedly violating the state's sex offender registration and notification act. Cobb angrily called Littlejohn's arrest "politically motivated." From a report at al.com:

"It's as politically motivated of a charge as I've seen," Cobb said, noting that the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office is headed up by a Republican Sheriff Mike Hale. "Why? The Republicans don't want to run against Sue Bell Cobb. Governor Ivey doesn't want to run against Sue Bell Cobb. They found that as an opportunity to take advantage of information that had been sent out into the public forum."

She said an arrest warrant was issued after she held a news conference defending Littlejohn's character after news reports surfaced about his background.

Republican operative Rob Riley, son of former Gov. Bob Riley, serves as an attorney for Hale and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

Littlejohn served a 30-year sentence for three crimes: rape by forcible compulsion, sodomy and robbery. His political activities have not been limited to Cobb. Reports al.com:

Since Littlejohn's release in 2014, he has worked for two Democratic campaigns: Randall Woodfin's victory in last year's Birmingham mayoral election, and for the Doug Jones campaign ahead of his win in last year's special Alabama Senate election.

A representative for the Jones campaign said late Saturday that they do not have any records of Littlejohn working for the campaign, and that he was not paid for campaign-related work.

Littlejohn said his 30 years behind bars came after he naively entered a guilty plea to the charges against him:

It was a plea deal Littlejohn took, he says, because his attorney insisted that if it went to trial, he could get life without the possibility of parole.

"I didn't know any better," he says. "When he said 'life', I thought it meant life. Thirty years sounded better. [My attorney] thought he made a good deal."

Doug Jones
"I can't put into words," Littlejohn says now, "how much it hurts me that I hurt somebody. I regret what happened, regret I was in position to stop what happened and didn't.... I have a daughter, a mother, a sister. I regret not standing up for another person's rights; that's counter to the way I was raised."
Littlejohn says he employs 12 people full-time for canvassing neighborhoods up to six days each week and three others for phone-banking. He pays $10 per hour, higher than the minimum wage.

"I have 12-to-14 people," Littlejohn says, "who depend on me to eat."

Not surprisingly, he is passionately loyal to Cobb, the former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. They met initially, he says, after he had done canvassing work for the Doug Jones and Randall Woodfin campaigns.

Littlejohn doesn't think of himself as an ex-con, doesn't dwell on the three decades spent behind walls topped with barbed wire, or the years after his release when he could not secure a job. "It got so bad, I got turned down by Burger King," he says.

Photograph shows Carol's split lip, likely the result of cop slamming her to the ground, and helps prove deputies are lying about the cause of her broken arm


Carol's lower lip is split and bleeding after Missouri cops brutalized
her and broke her arm.

Prosecutors have been stonewalling for about 12 months on turning over discovery in the pending "assault on a law enforcement officer" case against my wife, Carol. But the dab of discovery we have received tells a lot about what really happened during the unlawful eviction at our duplex apartment on Sept 9, 2015, in Springfield, Missouri. (See here and here.)

Consider the photo at top. It addresses one of Carol's injuries that I have not mentioned here on the blog. And the story behind that injury helps reveal the con game the Greene County Sheriff's Office (GCSO) and prosecutors are playing.

In this photo, taken just before she had X-rays that revealed a comminuted fracture in her left arm, Carol's lower lip is split, bad enough to cause slight bleeding.

How did this injury occur? We're not certain, but near the end of our eviction, Carol briefly got into the passenger seat of our car (with me on the driver's side); we looked at each other, and I do not recall noticing a split lip. Without saying a word, Carol apparently remembered that we needed our cat's litter box, opened the car door, and started toward the front door. After all, she had been told by cops that she could retrieve as many of our personal items as she could handle; I had been told the same thing, but a cop later changed course and said I could not go in.

As Carol approached the front door, officers Debi Wade and Scott Harrison blocked her path. I could hear Carol say "I'm just trying . . . " and I think the remaining words were "get our cat's litter box." I could not hear the rest of the discussion, but Carol was not acting in a threatening manner and never came close to touching either Wade or Harrison. From my vantage point, she simply was trying to convey our need to have our cat's box. Before any resolution could be reached, an officer who remains unknown (15 months after Carol's arrest), came from behind, grabbed Carol and body slammed her viciously, butt first, to the ground.

Wade, in her Probable Cause Statement, claims Carol "barreled" into her "head first" and assaulted her along the sidewalk -- and that is pure fantasy. In fact, it's such an obvious lie that even prosecutors did not bring the charge against Carol. It's the kind of false statement, under oath, that could help put Wade behind bars. Several of her colleagues are in danger of landing in the same place.

I believe Carol was slammed down so violently that she bit her own lip, and that is the injury you see in the photo. As Carol sat stunned on the ground, probably with a concussion, the cop we call "Mr. Blue Shirt" (he wore a blue shirt and reflective sunglasses) yanked on both of her arms in an upward and backward motion that caused Carol's left arm to shatter, just above the elbow.

Sheriff Jim Arnott, standing about five feet away, pointed at the victim of grotesque police brutality and said, "She assaulted a police officer." Arnott's words created the phony "cover charge" (to cover for civil liability) Carol has been fighting for 15 months.

In incident reports, cops have hinted that Carol must have broken her own arm by flailing about in the back seat of a patrol car. That's loopy for several reasons: (1) Carol was restrained by handcuffs and seat belt while in the patrol car; (2) A comminuted fracture is a severe injury, generally caused by trauma. Any suggestion that someone could produce such an injury to herself is laughable; (3) Carol's arm was broken when she was slammed to the ground and "Mr. Blue Shirt" violently yanked on her limbs; I saw it happen, so did Arnott and several of his officers, and it likely was caught on dash-cam video that the prosecution in Carol's criminal case has refused to turn over; (4) The photo above suggests Carol was, in fact, slammed to the ground.

That brings us to a key point that proves the bogus nature of the criminal charge against Carol. In fact, lie-filled police documents confirm this point.

Carol is charged with "pushing" Officer Jeremy Lynn as he burst through the front door of our duplex apartment for an eviction that was unlawful in more than 10 ways -- even though Lynn admits in his written report that he grabbed Carol, initiating contact with her, not the other way around.

If Carol had committed a crime, you might expect her to be arrested at that moment. But that didn't happen. As even the cop reports indicate, we both were taken outside and sat on the grass for a period of time before Carol was allowed to go inside and retrieve as many personal items as she could carry. This all took about 30 minutes, and never did any of the 6-8 deputies on scene indicate Carol had committed a crime or was under arrest.

That came when Carol was slammed to the ground, and her arm broken, with Arnott's finger pointing being the first sign that Carol -- the victim of an assault -- was being charged with a crime.

What does this tell us? I can think of two key points:

(1) The cops' own actions -- letting 30 minutes or more go by without making any move to arrest Carol or making any verbal statement indicating she had committed a crime -- suggest she did not "assault" Jeremy Lynn. That idea only came to someone's depraved mind after X-rays showed the cops had broken Carol's arm.

(2) Even if you buy the cop's version of events -- and only a cop would do that -- the two incidents are not connected. The alleged push of Jeremy Lynn happened at the beginning of the eviction, and Carol was not arrested until about 30 minutes later, after allegedly barreling into Debi Wade (even though prosecutors don't buy that tall tale and did not bring the charge against Carol). In the cops' own words, there is no connection between the alleged push of Jeremy Lynn and Carol's arrest. (Cop documents are embedded at the end of this post.)

The truth -- and the photo above helps show this -- Carol was charged with a crime because she was the victim of police brutality. Police reports say nothing about "Mr. Blue Shirt" slamming Carol to the ground, but her split lip is evidence that is what happened.

Jim Arnott saw it from a few feet away and knew in an instant that his department was likely to face major civil liability -- and it had better start developing an alternative version of reality, in a hurry.







Thursday, May 10, 2018

In documentary about the Don Siegelman prosecution, Rob Riley serves as a "Forrest Gump" character, the guy who is always around when big, ugly events occur


I recently watched the Don Siegelman documentary for a second time and noticed something I missed on initial viewing: The movie includes a Forrest Gump-type of character, a guy who always is around when key events are about to happen -- especially if they are underhanded acts designed to harm Siegelman.

The character is Republican operative and Homewood, Alabama, attorney Rob Riley. We often refer to him here as Rob "Uday" Riley, the oily son of former Gov. Bob Riley. Let's review five key moments where Rob Riley appears in Atticus v. the Architect: The Political Assassination of Don Siegelman:

(1) "We'll win" -- Former Birmingham broadcast journalist Rick Journey appears in the film to recall his coverage on election night 2002, when a tight governor's race had been declared for Siegelman over Bob Riley.

"I would guess around 11 or so . . . Rob Riley came out, and I was live . . . , and Rob Riley looked at me and said, "Rick, do you want a story?"

On television, Rob Riley said: "Due to the fact the media has been reporting what we now can confirm is a 6,000-vote discrepancy . . . the numbers simply don't add up."

From Rick Journey: [Rob Riley said] "We win this race," and at that point, it was off to the races."

Did Rob Riley know what was about to happen? Rick Journey's words indicate the answer is yes.


(2) "The hanging judge" -- From Bob Abrams, former attorney general of New York: "Jill Simpson indicated Rob Riley further went on to tell her that they had a judge picked out to preside over any Siegelman trial. And this judge was Mark Fuller, and he could be counted upon to hang Don Siegelman."

Rob Riley knew in advance that Siegelman was going to be cheated in court? Is this a crime, such as obstruction of justice? It sure sounds like it.


(3) "Hiring Rob Riley?" -- Narrator: "Bob Riley summoned Milton McGregor, owner of VictoryLand, the state's largest casino and primary competition for Indian casinos, to his office and had a point-blank demand."

McGregor: "Within 10 minutes of walking into that conference room, he made it real clear what he wanted to talk about: He wanted me to hire Rob Riley as one of my attorneys. It wasn't a request; it was like a demand, which didn't sit very well with me. I didn't tell him I would think about it. I told him no."

Did Bob Riley seek extortion money, via legal fees for his son? Sure sounds like it.


(4) "The Prosecutor-Rob Riley affair" -- Narrator: "During the House investigation into the matter, an email surfaced from an unidentified federal prosecutor, sent to Rob Riley, who was working on his father's campaign. In the email, the sender complained that he had been "thwarted" for beginning an investigation into the Siegelman administration.

"That person also stated it was 'frustrating for me and a small group of like-minded conservative prosecutors to fight the tide in order to do the job we were going to do.' The question is why would a federal prosecutor who helped begin the Siegelman investigation make such a plea to Rob Riley unless they and the Rileys were united in their efforts. A bigger question arises: Why did this prosecutor identify himself as a conservative to another conservative if politics were not involved?"

The unknown prosecutor is widely believed to be Matt Hart, now with the Alabama attorney general's office.


(5) "Jill Simpson and Rob Riley" -- Whistle blower Jill Simpson testified that Bill Canary said on a conference phone call that "his girls" (his wife, Leura Canary, and Alice Martin, both U.S. attorneys) would take care of Siegelman.

Simpson also stated that Rob Riley would have Mark Fuller assigned to the case, and he was "willing to hang Siegelman."

If you have not watched the Siegelman documentary, we encourage you to do so. As you watch, we encourage you to make note of Rob Riley's role in the Siegelman case and ask yourself, "Just how sleazy is this guy?"

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

An eyewitness saw Blue Cross/Blue Shield employee Mike McGarity, our Alabama neighbor with a lengthy criminal history, assault me with a roadside sign


Mike McGarity
Mike McGarity, our criminally inclined neighbor in Birmingham, generally has been portrayed here as the guy who launched all of our legal headaches -- and he is that. But McGarity also is a violent thug who lies to police officers. And I'm not the only one who has seen evidence of that.

We've reported several times about McGarity's physical attack on me, which ended with him striking me in the back with a roadside sign. (See here and here.) That did not come as much of a surprise, given that McGarity has at least eight criminal convictions in his background, including offenses that involved sex and violence (not to mention a drug charge that was nolle-prossed).

It is ironic, however, that McGarity would become a long-time employee at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. As a federal Medicare contractor, BC/BS of Alabama is supposed to follow strict guidelines for employee screening -- and that makes one wonder how McGarity slipped through the cracks, especially if he filled out his application truthfully.

McGarity's criminal record -- at least the part we've been able to uncover -- involves misdemeanors. But his attack on me, under Alabama law, was a felony. I did not file charges because multiple law-enforcement types in Shelby County insisted it would have to be charged as a misdemeanor, and I was not going to move forward with a complaint that wrongly classified what McGarity did. (More on my interactions with Shelby County "law men", on the felony vs. misdemeanor element of McGarity's assault, in an upcoming post.)

As for the assault itself, I have an eyewitness to the event -- and she is about as credible as a witness can get. Here is how I described the attack in a post last year, comparing my experience with that of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) after he was attacked by a neighbor:

I can identify with [what happened to Rand Paul]. Mike McGarity, our former Birmingham neighbor with an extensive criminal record, once assaulted me by hitting me in the back with a roadside sign. It left a bleeding gash on my back, which likely would have been worse except it was a fairly cool fall day and I was wearing a heavy sweatshirt. Such an assault with a "dangerous instrument," under Alabama law, is a felony. But Shelby County officials insisted on treating it as a misdemeanor, so I did not file charges.

I noted, at the time, my long-standing concerns that McGarity might someday turn violent:

Carol and I lived next door to McGarity for more than 15 years. I can recall often being concerned that, while doing yard work, I would be attacked by the loon next door -- much as Rand Paul was. In fact, I often would mow our yard while keeping one eye on the mower and the other on what might be lurking next door. As it turns out, McGarity did not assault me on my property.

What exactly did McGarity do? Here is how I described it in a November 2017 post:

What did I do to incur McGarity's wrath? I walked to the entrance of our neighborhood to remove signs (for-sale signs, garage-sale signs, etc.) that had been unlawfully placed in the right-of-way and were obstructing the view of drivers trying to pull onto a busy highway. [See note at the end of this post.] I was trying to keep someone from getting hurt or possibly killed. But McGarity was having none of that.

He followed me and started putting the signs back up. When I told him why I was taking the signs down, he said, "Let's get it on, right here." I said I wasn't interested in fighting him, but the signs were going to come back down. When I turned and walked away, he swung a sign as hard as he could and hit me in the middle of the back.

What is it like to be attacked by a thug with a lengthy criminal record? It's not fun, as I made clear in the earlier post:

Reading about the Rand Paul incident drove home the possible danger from living next door to someone who is more than a little unhinged. It also reminded me that I haven't written all that much about what McGarity did to me, especially when you consider the serious nature of any assault. McGarity's behavior was particularly creepy because he essentially stalked me -- followed me to the entrance of our neighborhood, where he had no business.

Much more about McGarity's assault on me needs to be told, and I intend to tell it. As noted previously, a woman who lived in our neighborhood was an eyewitness to the attack. I have her name and statement about what she saw, and I soon will be sharing that with Legal Schnauzer readers. It will make clear that I was, in fact, the victim of a felony assault.

Now, it's time to identify the eyewitness and present her statements about what she saw McGarity do to me. We will have that in an upcoming post.


Note: Placing unauthorized signs (garage-sale signs, political signs, real-estate signs) in the right-of-way of a state highway is illegal in Alabama. The relevant law is Code of Alabama 23-1-6, which reads: "Signs, markers, and advertising on the rights-of-way of state controlled highways are prohibited except those official signs or markers placed thereon by the State Department of Transportation or under its authority." Here are links to two articles on the subject:


Signs on the state highway right-of-way are illegal . . .


Wrong-of-way: Yard sign laws often ignored . . .


(To be continued)

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

What did it mean when my 88-year-old mother said, "Oh, Roger, you shouldn't have named names," not long after my arrest and our wrongful foreclosure?


Legal Schnauzer
In the roughly 18 years we've been fighting corrupt lawyers, judges, cops, and prosecutors, we've heard quite a few individuals make peculiar, even mind-blowing, statements. But the most curious statements of all might have come from -- of all people -- my 88-year-old mother, Gondy Shuler. Didn't a wise person once state you must be careful what you say around kids and old people because they have little or no verbal filters, and the truth (or something very close to it) is likely to spew from their mouths at any moment.

All three of my mother's odd statements came in the summer of 2014, after a college "friend" (who has proven to be anything but a friend) deposited me in Springfield, MO -- while Carol remained in Birmingham, packing our belongings for a move to the Midwest because of the wrongful foreclosure with which we had been targeted. All of this came just a few weeks after I had been released from a five-month stay at the "Shelby Sheraton," otherwise known as the Shelby County Jail in Alabama.

My mother's comments certainly are open to interpretation. But as probably the most observant of her four children -- I'm the one who went into journalism, after all -- I think I can come as close as any living person to making an accurate read on my mother's words. I must say, however, that I barely recognize the person she has become over the past several years. But I suspect there still is at least a sliver of the wonderful mother I thought I had for the first 35 years or so of my life.

With that in mind, here are her three curious comments, plus my analysis of what they might mean:

(1) "Oh, Roger, you shouldn't have named names" --  My brother-lawyer, David Shuler, regularly spins the yarn that nobody in my family knew or cared much about my blog and the legal woes Carol and were facing because I dared to report, accurately, about legal and political corruption in Alabama. My mother's statement suggests that's not exactly true. What does it tell us specifically -- or, more accurately, what does it tell me.

a. She knew quite a bit about my blog, and the abuse that prompted me to write it. Since I've seen no sign that she's ever had a computer or an Internet connection, that information almost had to come from my David, my brother.

b. By saying I shouldn't have "named names," my mother indicates she has a general idea of who is behind the abuse Carol and I have suffered, probably going back to being cheated out of our jobs, maybe earlier. I doubt my mother knows the specific Alabama legal and political names involved -- or if she once did, she's probably forgotten -- but I have little doubt my brother knows the specific names. And he almost certainly has shared at least some details about them with my mother -- enough that she knows they are dangerous, corrupt people. My mother said this in a tone that suggested she was talking about the Mafia, and she probably was -- at least a Southern version of it, known as the Dixie Mafia. Given what we've learned about Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration, she might have been (unknowingly) talking about the Russian Mafia -- or what some have come to call the Eurasian Mafia.

c. My mother has some idea of what my reporting has been about -- and she knows it has been accurate. She could have said something like, "Oh, Roger, you've written a lot of untrue stuff about these people, and it has really made them mad." But that's not what she said. The only problem with my reporting, from her perspective, was that I "shouldn't have named names."

(2) "Why did Carol let you stay in jail all that time?" -- This is part of the "evil mother-in-law" act my mother has been practicing -- at least to our knowledge -- since at least 1992. It probably dates to our marriage in 1989, and maybe to our two-year period of dating before that. I swear, if the moon's glow suddenly went out -- and the sun lost its ability to produce warmth -- my mother would find some way to blame Carol.

But I think this statement involves more than my mother playing the bitchy, "no way to please 'em" mother-in-law role that she has perfected. What else could be going on here?

a. Part of me is grateful for this comment because it indicates my family has no clue how jail works -- and that's because we generally have no experience with that kind of thing. The notion that Carol had the power to magically get me out of jail is absurd. But it sounds like the kind of thing someone in Alabama might have said to David, and he passed it along to my mother. Never mind that political thugs Rob Riley and Liberty Duke, via a baseless defamation lawsuit that ran contrary to 230 years of First Amendment law, were the reason I was in jail. And a corrupt judge named Claud Neilson, who clearly was a patsy for the state's white, racist, right-wing political machine, was responsible for keeping me there. I know, from experience, that jail cuts you off almost totally from the outside world -- and I was lucky if I could get one 15-minute phone call a day with Carol. I could only hear a few words here and there amidst the relentless and ear-splitting noise in our jail block; I doubt Carol could hear much of what I said.

b. My mother was unaware, or didn't care, that Carol was subject to arrest, too. Riley and Duke included her as a defendant in their lawsuit -- even though Carol had nothing to do with my blog, at the time -- because they wanted both of us to be captured. That clearly is because they wanted something they thought we had, and I believe they were prepared to kill us if they didn't get it. At the very least, they wanted both of us out of our home, so someone would be free to go through all of our things. With both Carol and me in captivity, that would have meant sure death for our two kitty kats at the time (Baxter and Chloe). Carol was willing to fight through fire to make sure that didn't happen. And that's why, at my insistence, she never came to visit me at jail. Had she come for a visit, I had no doubt she would have been arrested -- and Baxter and Chloe would have starved to death, or been killed by bastards ransacking our home.

c. My mother's comment is not the only one I've heard that indicates someone was frustrated at their inability to capture Carol. During out trip to Missouri, my college "friend" asked, "Does Carol drive?" I thought it was a strange question at the time, but I said, "Yes, she drives, and she's a very good driver, probably among the top 10 percent in Alabama (although that isn't saying much)." It later hit me that the "friend's" question probably was driven by law-enforcement types who were frustrated because they had not been able to nab Carol -- and that allowed her to get news out to the world about my arrest, causing whatever plans they had for us to more or less fail. This suggests the "friend" is compromised -- and probably has been for a long time -- receiving "intel," directly or indirectly from Alabama thugs, possibly via my brother.

d. The "friend," like many others underestimated Carol. The title of this blog comes from a genuine love of our pets -- and animals in general. And Carol demonstrated that love by her actions while I was in jail. Carol knew Baxter and Chloe's lives were on the line, and she took extreme measures to go underground. I'm not going to reveal what those measures were, but I'm pretty sure cop/thugs never came close to capturing her, even though they probably had regular (maybe constant) surveillance on our house during daylight hours. Comments from my mother and "friend" tell me that quite a few people were highly frustrated at their inability to grab Carol. Needless to say, I'm damned proud of Carol that she outsmarted them and kept our pets alive. Others might not have cared about their well-being -- or ours, as a matter of fact -- but we sure as hell did.

(3) "Maybe You and Carol shouldn't be together" -- This wasn't the only time my mother and brother brought up the subject of Carol and I splitting up. It happened several times in the days before Carol arrived from Birmingham. ("Oh, she'll never come up here," my mother said; news flash: She did come up here, and she's still here.) Given my family's increasingly conservative religious leanings over the previous 20-plus years, I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

"Are you suggesting divorce as a way to solve our problems?" I asked my mother.

"Well, if two people are miserable together . . . "

"Who said we're miserable together? We're miserable about the stuff evil people have done to us, but that doesn't mean we're miserable together -- that we're miserable with or toward each other."

She didn't have a response to that one, as if the notion never had occurred to her. I'm not sure if I said this or if I just thought it: "You've never shown any respect for Carol and me and our marriage -- and you wonder why we haven't been up here in 25 years?"

What was with this divorce talk. Was it just another sign of the dysfunction that has engulfed my family? Or was it the product of some warped political/legal mind in Alabama, thinking Carol and I would be less of a problem (threat?) if we were separate rather than together?

Quite a few folks reading this probably are dealing with screwed-up families too, so I will close with a thought that many of you might relate to. I mentioned earlier our love for our pets, and how it drove Carol to make sure cop/thugs did not apprehend her in Alabama. Well, that goes not just for the animals who belong to us, but for domestic animals of all types. I can't tell you how many times we've been driving and seen what appears to be a stray dog or cat and stopped to see if we can learn more about it -- and possibly help find it a good home. These often prove to be some of the most downtrodden, sickly creatures on earth, usually too skittish to let us get near.

We've not had much success at trying to help these creatures, but we have tried. Here is the sobering part: Carol and I care more about stray animals than my mother and brother (or anyone else in my family) care about us. They've proven since summer 2014 that they literally don't care if we live or die, if we even have a roof over our head.

They undoubtedly know who has abused us -- who has taken criminal actions against us -- but they refuse to speak up or do anything about it. They have sided with political/legal scum like Rob Riley and Liberty Duke (and probably Doug Jones and Jessica Garrison) over their own flesh and blood. I can only assume they've taken that stance because they believe it somehow furthers David's interests in the legal "profession."

That's sad, but I think I've come to grips with it -- realizing my family is "bad company" that "ruins good morals," the kind of twisted individuals of which The Bible warns us. I would help them if I could, but I've seen numerous signs that they are beyond help.

My mother, by the way, is not the only family who can spew some mighty curious statements. We'll look at another in an upcoming post.


(To be continued)

Monday, May 7, 2018

Some in the media are dismissing Roy Moore's lawsuit against those who accused him of sexual impropriety, but it could point to election irregularities, even crimes


Roy Moore
Roy Moore's lawsuit, against three women who accused him of sexual misconduct before Alabama's 2017 U.S. Senate special election, has been treated as pretty much a joke in several corners of the media world. Moore's complaint contains little of substance and is filled with the "craziness" for which "Ten Commandments Roy" has become known, says one columnist. The complaint sets out no facts to prove a conspiracy, makes Moore look like a "sore loser" (to Democrat Doug Jones) -- and, hey, the defendants are mostly fictitious -- writes another.

Moore's complaint is a nothing-burger that makes him look like a crybaby, the two analysts essentially conclude. I'm one of the last people on earth who ever will be accused of defending Roy Moore -- and I don't intend to do that here;  his brand of right-wing, pseudo-religious political zealotry leaves me stone cold, and I believe the Alabama Supreme Court and Alabama State Bar were hideously corrupt on his watch as chief justice.

But I disagree with the analysts above about Moore's lawsuit. I believe it does have substance, it provides more than enough information to get past the Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss stage (which is all a complaint really is designed to do), and it could pose a serious threat to major political players -- including Doug Jones; his right-wing compadre Rob Riley; Bush family associates (including perhaps Karl Rove?) -- if it's proven they cooked up false stories about Roy Moore to turn the election.

As the plaintiff, Moore will bear the burden to prove the allegations against him are false -- and that likely will be a challenge. As for me, I'm not making a claim one way or another about the truthfulness of the women's stories. But I sense the main defense in the complaint is, "Judge Moore never has faced accusations of improper behavior before, so these stories can't be true now." Such a stance likely will sink quickly as the case moves along. If Moore hopes to carry the day, he will need to come up with something stronger than that.

In fact, the biggest weakness of Moore's complaint is that it doesn't do much to show the allegations are false. But it doesn't have to do that in the early stages of litigation. That's where discovery -- the fact-finding process of depositions, interrogatories, production of documents in a lawsuit -- comes in. If Moore can gather enough facts to show there is a genuine issue of whether the accusations are false and defamatory, he should get past the summary-judgment stage -- which means we are looking at a trial or a settlement. 

(The Moore-Corfman matter, for now, involves multiple complaints and jurisdictions. Corfman filed a lawsuit against Moore in Montgomery County, and he filed a counterclaim there against her. Moore's lawsuit of last week is filed against Corfman and other accusers in Etowah County, where most of the combatants do, or have, lived. The cases likely will be consolidated and heard jointly in one jurisdiction. But how that will work out remains to be seen.)

Let's examine some of the issues raised by the two columnists noted above -- Josh Moon and Joey Kennedy, both of Alabama Political Reporter (APR):

(1) Moore's complaint has no substance -- A complaint does not have to display much substance to get past the Rule 8 notice pleading standard that applies in Alabama state courts. To get past the Rule 8 bar on a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff merely must "give the opponent fair notice of the pleader's claim and the grounds upon which it rests." Moore's complaint might not do a lot, but it does do that -- meaning the case likely will not be dismissed and will go to discovery.

(2) Moore's complaint lists 19 "fictitious defendants" -- This perplexes Joey Kennedy. "That's bizarre; if they're 'fictitious,' they don't exist," he writes. Actually, there is nothing bizarre about the fictitious defendants. It's a technique that is used in Alabama litigation all the time. And it doesn't mean the defendants don't exist. It means Moore and his lawyer do not know their names yet. But they plan to learn the names via discovery and add them to the complaint. This could make several prominent sphincters tight.

(3) So there is a point to the 19 "fictitious defendants" stuff? -- Absolutely. In fact, they might form the No. 1 point in Moore's complaint. Moore probably knows his accusers did not cook up a scheme to cost him the election on their own. And even if they did, they probably do not have the power and deep pockets that could make this a national story. By naming 19 fictitious defendants, Moore's lawyer essentially is leaving space for the names of those who really did concoct a scheme to spread false and defamatory stories about Roy Moore -- if, in fact, such a scheme existed. It might be difficult to prove the stories are false, but it could be easy to prove a conspiracy -- by using discovery to seek emails, text messages, memos, phone records, etc. If such discovery points to names like Doug Jones, Rob Riley, Karl Rove, the Bush family (Jeff Sessions, Richard Shelby?) -- well, copious amounts of feces could start hitting the political fan.

(4) Doesn't Moore have to point in his complaint to some sign of conspiracy? -- Well, he does point to such signs. So far, the conspiracy points primarily to an Etowah County resident named Richard Hagedorn, who appears to have a criminal history. From the Moore complaint:

Two days later, Hagedorn spoke with a reporter of BirminghamWatch.Org and said that he had “known Leigh Corfman for 25 years, ” and that he and Corfman talked about Judge Moore over the past “few years” but never in “great detail.”

In that article Hagedorn admitted to “drug offenses” and “prison” but failed to disclose that after serving prison sentences for trafficking and possession of cocaine, he was subsequently held in contempt of court by Judge Moore on May 18, 1994 for non-payment of past-due alimony and child support amounting with interest to $63,154.33. The following day, Judge Moore issued an income withholding for monthly payments of $600 against that arrearage.

Most recently, Hagedorn pleaded nolo-contendere (no contest) to possession of marijuana in Okaloosa County, Florida.

(5) That doesn't sound like much of a political conspiracy to me -- Well, it points to long-standing connections between Hagedorn and Corfman, and their apparent shared disdain for Roy Moore. But it doesn't end there; from the complaint:

On or about October 12, 2017, Hagedorn met with an agent for the WAPO (The Washington Post) at the Big Chief Restaurant in Glencoe, Alabama and made statements which were false and defamatory, knowing that they would harm the character and reputation of Judge Moore. Hagedorn’s brother, David Hagedorn, is a columnist for WAPO and resides in Washington, D.C., with his male partner. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg presided over the high-profile marriage of Hagedorn and his partner in Washington, D.C., while the case of Obergefell v. Hodges was pending before her Court. Richard Hagedorn attended the “wedding.” Judge Moore had been critical of the same-sex marriage movement and its success in the federal courts prior to his candidacy for U.S. Senate. He had, in particular, criticized Justice Ginsburg for performing same-sex marriages while the legal validity of that practice was at issue in a case pending before her Court. . . .

Hagedorn not only conveyed false and malicious information to the WAPO but escorted its reporters for several days in Etowah County and attended meetings with other individuals, including Corfman and Wesson to further the false and malicious attacks on the character and reputation of Judge Moore. On the evening of November 9, Hagedorn posted on this Facebook page a picture of his “friend of 40 years” Leigh Corfman, expressing his support and encouragement for her defamatory statements.

(6) Doug Jones and Rob Riley wouldn't conspire to undermine Roy Moore, would they? -- They sure as hell would. As we showed in a series of pre- and post-election posts, Jones and Riley are evil bastards, linked by their shared lust for a chunk of $51 million in attorney fees from a lawsuit against HealthSouth and related entities. Also, they have close ties to the Republican pro-business corruption machine, which favored Jones (a Democrat, in name only) over Moore and his religion-based supporters. The public record strongly suggests Jones and Riley were among the crooks who conspired to bring a political prosecution against former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. I have zero doubt that Jones and Riley were among the scoundrels who cheated my wife, Carol, and me out of our jobs (her at Infinity Insurance; me at UAB), caused me to be kidnapped from my own home and thrown in jail for five months -- for blogging; and worked with slime balls like Luther Strange, Jessica Medeiros Garrison, and Bill Baxley to cheat us out of our home of 25 years in Birmingham.

(7) If Moore gets to the bottom of this via a lawsuit, could he also unearth crimes? -- This might be the most important question of all. I don't pretend to be an expert on all the possibilities here, but discovery in the Moore lawsuit certainly could unearth evidence of election fraud and (if the accusers were paid or compensated in some fashion) campaign finance violations. Could that cause some corrupt low-life types to wind up in federal prison? I would not rule it out.

As with most lawsuits, it all will come down to discovery -- or the fear of discovery, by one side or the other. If the case lands with a judge who allows thorough and wide-ranging discovery, certain "fictitious defendants" might become very nervous.