Thursday, January 17, 2019

Question about the jailing of journalists catches Donald Trump AG nominee William Barr off guard, but here is the harsh reality of current U.S. law

Trump attorney-general nominee William Barr said at his confirmation hearing this week that he "can conceive" of jailing journalists "as a last resort." I am the most recent U.S. journalist to be incarcerated -- from Oct. 23, 2013 to March 26, 2014 -- and my five-month stay behind bars was the third longest in American history. It was, by far, the longest for a journalist in a purely civil matter, and it apparently was the only one involving an alleged violation of a preliminary injunction that was unlawful on its face--running contrary to more than 200 years of legal precedent.

In short, Judge Claud Neilson's arrest order in my case likely was the most unlawful First Amendment ruling in U.S. history.

The issue of jailing journalists hits close to home, and I've written extensively on the topic. Since Barr did a poor job of explaining U.S. law on the matter -- in fact, he seemed flummoxed by the question from U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) -- I decided, in the interest of clarity, to help him out. (And yes, it's scary that an incoming chief law officer in the United States knows so little about a profound constitutional issue that he needs my help.) From a report at Yahoo News:

During his confirmation hearing on Tuesday, attorney general nominee William Barr was asked by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., whether his Justice Department would “jail journalists for doing their jobs.”

Barr, President Trump’s pick for the nation’s top law enforcement officer, said he could envision a situation where a news organization or individual journalist could be held in contempt of court.

“I think that, uh, you know I know there are guidelines in place,” Barr said after a seven-second pause. “And I can conceive of situations where, uh, you know, as a last resort, and where a news organization has run through a red flag or something like that, knows that they’re putting out stuff that will hurt the country. There might — there could be a situation where somebody could be held in contempt.”

Barr is correct that contempt of court often is an issue that leads to the incarceration of a journalist. A judge might order a reporter to produce documents related to a criminal matter, or to avoid publishing an article that could affect national security -- and if the reporter refuses, he can lawfully wind up behind bars. Do I agree with that? No. Is it the law of the land? Yes.

And it is not just a matter of "guidelines." It is based on a U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruling -- Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665 (1972) -- in a case that is getting close to 50 years old. Here is how we explained it -- and compared jailings related to criminal matters and my incarceration on a 100-percent civil matter -- in a March 2015 post:

Five of the six American journalists who have been jailed in the 2000s, had their freedom taken away based largely on a U.S. Supreme Court case styled Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665 (1972).

The sixth journalist is me, and my freedom was taken away for five months based on . . . nothing. No U.S. law supports it. In fact, a long line of U.S. Supreme Court and state high-court cases specifically state that a preliminary injunction in a defamation case is an unlawful prior restraint under the First Amendment--and yet, I spent five months in the Shelby County, Alabama, jail after Republican political figure Rob Riley and lobbyist Liberty Duke sought my arrest because I allegedly had violated a preliminary injunction in their defamation case, a civil matter that involved no criminal allegations of any kind.

Never mind that the material in question was not found to be defamatory at trial. That's because, under specially appointed judge Claud Neilson, there was no trial--only a hearing, with no discovery, no cross-examination, almost no evidence, no jury . . . well, you get the idea. It was, in fact, a joke--as I stated to the court that day.

The other five U.S. journalists to be arrested in this millennium, whether I like it or not, were lawfully arrested under Branzburg:

What separates my case from the other five that involve incarceration of journalists? Numerous differences come to mind, but the main one is this: Branzburg was the primary governing law in the other cases, and while I don't agree with the finding in Branzburg, it means that the other incarcerations probably were legal. Mine clearly was not legal, and even knowledgeable legal analysts who differ with me politically, agree on that.

The key issue in the other five cases involved efforts by journalists to protect confidential sources in criminal matters. Here is the core finding from Branzburg:

The First Amendment does not relieve a newspaper reporter of the obligation that all citizens have to respond to a grand jury subpoena and answer questions relevant to a criminal investigation, and therefore the Amendment does not afford him a constitutional testimonial privilege for an agreement he makes to conceal facts relevant to a grand jury's investigation of a crime or to conceal the criminal conduct of his source or evidence thereof.

Bottom line: If a U.S. reporter fails to appear and answer questions, per a court order in a criminal investigation, he can lawfully wind up behind bars. I suspect many Americans have no idea the First Amendment can become so squishy under certain circumstances --and William Barr did a poor job of explaining it.

The lawful incarceration of an American journalist almost always involves criminal investigation -- and the reporter's effort to protect a confidential source. My unlawful incarceration, on the other hand, involved a prior restraint -- and except for matters of national security -- those almost always fall outside the law. That Alabama lawyer Rob Riley and Liberty Duke did not appreciate my accurate reporting (it's never been proven false or defamatory, as a matter of law) hardly is a matter of national security.

In CBS, Inc. v. Davis, 510 U.S. 1315 (1994), SCOTUS addressed the "exceptional cases" where a prior restraint might be proper. The opinion is from Harry Blackmun:

Although the prohibition against prior restraints is by no means absolute, the gagging of publication has been considered acceptable only in “exceptional cases.” Near v. Minnesota, 283 U.S. 697, 716, 51 S.Ct. 625, 631, 75 L.Ed. 1357 (1931). Even where questions of allegedly urgent national security, see New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713, 91 S.Ct. 2140, 29 L.Ed.2d 822 (1971), or competing constitutional interests, Nebraska Press Assn., 427 U.S., at 559, 96 S.Ct., at 2802, are concerned, we have imposed this “most extraordinary remed[y]” only where the evil that would result from the reportage is both great and certain and cannot be mitigated by less intrusive measures. Id., at 562, 96 S.Ct., at 2804.

William Barr probably was interested mainly in obtaining a fancy title and more or less phoned it in for his confirmation hearing. He certainly did a poor job of educating the public. Hopefully, we have helped fill in some gaps.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Donald Trump has paid about $30 million to settle child-sex complaints, including a 2012 incident at Albemarle Estate in Charlottesville, Virginia

Albemarle Estate at Trump Winery

Donald Trump has paid roughly $30 million to settle child-sex complaints brought against him since 1989, according to a D.C.-based investigative journalist.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), which is a subscription site, describes the settlements in a Jan. 14-15 post titled "Why is Trump so afraid of Cohen's testimony?" From the article:

Donald Trump continues to lash out at his former lawyer and "fixer," Michael Cohen, as the February 7 public testimony by Cohen before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD), draws nearer. Cohen said he wants to "give a full and credible account of the events that have transpired."

While Cohen will avoid certain subjects still under investigation by Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller, he may provide some insight into the types of embarrassing things he "fixed" for Trump, before they ended up in scandalous court trials. This may include Cohen assisting Trump in paying off victims of Trump's sexual assaults over the years.

The cases go way beyond those widely reported in the mainstream press, WMR reports. They also go beyond cases that involve women and adults. They indicate Trump has a disturbing taste for children:

In addition to Stephanie Clifford, aka porn actress "Stormy Daniels," and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, Cohen reportedly helped settle a number of rape cases involving Trump. WMR received a list from a reputable Republican source of these settlement claims, all of which involve male and female minors:

(1) Michael Parker, 10-years old, oral rape, Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, FL, 1992. Trump paid his parents a $3 million settlement.

(2) Kelly Feuer, 12-years old, $1 million settlement paid in 1989, allegations of forced intercourse, Trump Tower, NY, NY.

(3) Charles Bacon, 11-years old, $3 million, allegations of oral and anal intercourse, 1994, Trump Tower, NY, NY.

(4) Rebecca Conway, 13-years old, intercourse and oral sex. Trump Vineyard Estates, Charlottesville, VA, 2012, $5 million settlement.

(5) Maria Olivera, 12-years old. Her family was paid $16 million to settle allegations of forcible intercourse occurring in Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, FL, 1993.

(6) Kevin Noll, 11-years old, anal rape, Trump Tower, NY, NY. 1998. Settlement details unknown.

Five of the six alleged incidents took place at two of Trump's best-known properties -- Trump Tower in New York City and Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, FL. The exception is incident No. 4, which is the most recent (2012) and took place at Albemarle Estate at Trump Winery. Donald and Eric Trump opened the facility as a bed-and-breakfast in May 2015.

Donald Trump
Trump started negotiating to acquire the property after it went into foreclosure in 2011. Trump formally purchased the entire estate in October 2012.

The child-sex settlements might explain Trump's reluctance to disclose his tax returns, WMR reports, and documents indicate our "president" is a deeply disturbed individual:

WMR's GOP source indicated that Trump has refused to release his tax returns because they will reveal the many out-of-court settlements he has paid to silence his assault victims and their families. The list of Trump's child victims came with an interesting reference point that was apparently part of the documentation in the settlement cases. Trump was designated with a psychiatric disorder referenced in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5). The referenced disorder is "Pedophilic Disorder (F65.4)."

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Ali (Akbar) Alexander, who co-founded American Priority Conference in D.C., distances himself from event after it attracts a vast sea of empty chairs

Laura Loomer speaks to mostly empty chairs at
the American Priority Conference in Washington, D.C.

Is the mask of legitimacy starting to fall from right-wing provocateur Ali (Akbar) Alexander? Are young conservatives, who seem to comprise most of Akbar's followers, tuning out to his nonsensical babblings -- not to mention his history as a felon and Grindr gay-sex troller?

If last month's American Priority Conference in Washington, D.C., is an indicator, the answer appears to be yes. Akbar co-founded the event, which featured such conservative luminaries as Roger Stone, Mike Cernovich, Corey Lewandowski, Katrina Pierson, Laura Loomer, Stefan Molyneaux, and Anthony Scaramucci -- and Breitbart Unmasked (BU) deemed it a "howling failure." The report, dated Dec. 8, 2018, is titled "American Priority Conference Headed By Convicted Felon Runs Off The Rails":

Hundreds of empty chairs along with a couple dozen Q-deluded fools showed up this weekend to witness convicted felon Ali Akbar’s latest self-embarrassment.

According to Politico, Akbar (calling himself “Ali Alexander” in a vain attempt to hide from his criminal past and deserved opprobrium) co-founded something called The American Priority Conference. It was a howling failure.

From the Politico report, titled "Wild theories and empty seats at CPAC-style conference for the MAGA set," which was written as the event unfolded:

American Priority, which brings together an impressive roster of right-wing social media agitators and Trump-world notables at a Washington, D.C., hotel, was envisioned as a Trumpist answer to CPAC. In reality, the three-day conference, which convened on Thursday, has been rife with conspiracy theorists, logistical snafus and empty seats.

It may also be the future of Republican politics.

“The right’s turning into a coalition and less of an ideological movement,” said conference co-founder Ali Alexander, a Republican operative and Twitter influencer who co-founded the conference but did not take an active role in organizing it.

The event apparently was such a flop that Akbar tried to distance himself from it in midstream -- using the "I co-founded this thing, but I didn't have anything to do with organizing it" approach. Way to man up and take accountability, Ali.

Ali Akbar, at Grindr gay-sex app
Of course, honesty and transparency are the last traits we expect to find from Ali (Akbar) Alexander. Considerable evidence suggests Akbar has connections to the Alabama State Bar, via his relationship with seedy Montgomery attorney Baron Coleman, and has used those ties to launch attacks on state progressives, such as whistle blower/retired attorney Jill Simpson and yours truly. In fact, it appears Akbar and the Alabama State Bar were central players in my "arrest for blogging."

As for the American Priority Conference, Akbar apparently laid quite an egg with that one. From Politico:

Despite the convergence of several figures with large, devoted social media followings — including Molyneux, Loomer, right-wing agitator Mike Cernovich and dirty trickster Roger Stone — attendance at this weekend’s conference was sparse.

On Thursday, speakers mostly addressed two- to three-dozen attendees amid a sea of hundreds of empty chairs in a ballroom.

When Stone spoke on Thursday afternoon — condemning [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller and defending his “iconic” 2016 tweet predicting imminent catastrophe for John Podesta — actual conference attendees were nearly outnumbered by members of the media hungry for any morsel of Mueller news, most of whom dispersed after Stone left, having offered none.

Just days after Loomer attracted worldwide attention by handcuffing herself to Twitter’s headquarters in protest of her banishment from the platform — a setback she has compared to the Holocaust — she spoke to a nearly empty room. After a reporter for The Daily Beast tweeted a photo highlighting the low attendance, Loomer commiserated in the hallway with a conference attendee about “retarded” left-wing reporters and also complained about “self-loathing Jew” George Soros.

BU noted the irony of the dark-skinned Akbar founding an event largely based on white nationalism:

If anything run by Ali Akbar is truly the future of Republican politics, that can only be good news for Democrats.

Ali Akbar mugshots
Politico refers to “Alexander” as “a Republican operative and Twitter influencer.” They should add the words “discredited, convicted felon” to that description.
Politico says the conference Akbar co-founded was created to foster American Nationalism. One wonders when Akbar will come to realize that this brand of “Nationalism” doesn’t bode well for people of his skin tone.

Or, more likely, perhaps he already realizes it but is only too happy to tap-dance to please White Supremacists in the hopes that they will need a few race traitors to at least attempt to appear “inclusive”?

Monday, January 14, 2019

Missouri lawyer David Shuler missed chances to impeach prosecution witness, leaving his client staring at five life sentences in child sexual abuse case

Daniel Dodson
(Sixth in a series)

How important is it for a criminal-defense attorney to impeach a prosecution witness -- when he has the opportunity -- especially in a child sexual abuse case that carries profound penalties?

Records in State of Missouri v. Scott J. Wells ((No. 31302CF5509) show that missed opportunities to impeach can have profound consequences for a client who is facing a likely punishment of five life sentences, plus 55 years. Still, with so much riding on the outcome, Springfield, MO, attorney David Shuler -- my brother -- missed opportunities to tear holes in the prosecution's case. An expert witness in Scott Wells' subsequent legal-malpractice case shows how David Shuler was center stage in a classic case of ineffective assistance of counsel -- one that almost put an innocent man behind bars for life.

Daniel Dodson, an attorney from Jefferson City, MO, got a guilty verdict overturned after showing a complaining witness falsely stated that Scott Wells had scars on his penis. Why would four complaining witnesses -- two biological daughters, one step-daughter, and a niece -- concoct stories that Scott Wells had sexually abused them? Evidence in the record suggests it was because Wells' ex wife (Cynthia Hedrick) wanted her new husband (Jeff Hedrick) to adopt at least two of the girls -- and Wells refused to go along with the plan.

Dodson showed in a new-trial hearing -- which ended with Judge Don Burrell reversing his own guilty verdict -- that David Shuler had an opportunity to impeach Cynthia Hedrick after she had denied having plans for adoptions. Shuler, however, let the opportunity pass, contributing to a guilty verdict for Scott Wells -- which only was overturned once Dodson came on the scene.

After the guilty verdict was reversed, Wells filed a civil complaint for legal malpractice against Shuler -- with Dodson serving as expert witness for the plaintiff. Dodson shows in a deposition how witnesses in child sexual abuse cases can provide (knowingly or unknowingly) false testimony that proves ruinous for adults. He also shows how David Shuler failed to counter false testimony from the girls -- and convince the trier of fact that it likely originated with the ex-wife's statements about adoption.

Below is testimony from Dodson's deposition, focusing on the sometimes dubious testimony of child witnesses, and Shuler's failure to impeach Cynthia Hedrick. The testimony begins on page 94 of the first document embedded at the end of this post. The questioner is Scott E. Bellm, from the Turner Reid Duncan firm of Springfield, representing David Shuler:

Bellm: Part of what you were going to do -- part of the process that you went through to defend Scott was to develop a theory of the case, true?

Dodson: Yes.

Bellm: And part of the theory that you were going to have to develop and address at trial, a big question at trial, was to explain why these four girls were making up these terrible stories about Mr. Wells, according to him.

Dodson: . . . There are various issues. First of all, the three daughters, the two natural daughters and the stepdaughter, it's very clear, even though the mother was untruthful about it on the stand, that there had been several discussions about them wanting to be adopted by their stepdad. The motivation there, I mean, ultimately take a look at Scott Wells. He's a funny-looking guy. He's not necessarily the dad you want to walk around the shopping center with. He's got an odd demeanor. He has big eyes. He walks funny.

Little girls -- and especially little girls in a family like this, where I don't sense that the mother had a lot of control, there wasn't a lot of incentive for them to develop a sense of right and wrong and truth and dishonesty. Their motivation was they wanted to get away from Scott. And I think that started with Brittany. The suggestion comes in, Courtney's on board, then Alicia's on board, then her cousin, who -- and I think she's the one who at first said, no, I don't remember anything like that. And it's almost like, well, you know, holy cow, if he found Courtney attractive enough to fondle, I can hardly say that I wasn't that attractive, too.

There are various motivations. There is no way to know -- there's also no way to know for sure whether they have convinced themselves that they're telling the truth. But you can certainly present to a jury the reasons to understand how they might have gotten to a point where they're in court, telling things that are not truthful.

Scott Bellm
Bellm: Scott's had no contact with these girls, as far as you know, of any significance since --

Dodson: Since then, no. No.

Bellm: Okay. Are you aware of any proceeding -- conversation with Scott where he was asked to give up his parental rights by any of those girls after the fact?

Dodson: I don't think so. I'm not sure though.

Bellm: Do you know whether, in fact, they have been adopted by anyone?

Dodson: I don't know.

Bellm: If they have not, they have not undertaken to terminate Scott's parental rights in light of all these things, not taken any affirmative steps toward getting an adoption through -- with their stepfather with that theory or motive?

Dodson: I don't think so. They have got -- in effect, they have got what they want. Scott's out of their lives . . .

Bellm: . . . have you done any additional work, whether it be notes or what have you, where you have memorialized any of your opinions or thoughts, just for the civil case?

Dodson: No. I have, and this is an ongoing thing -- I mean, I speak with Scott every now and then, because his family still gets told that they can't have their kids in Scott's presence because of these allegations.

David Shuler
Family Services people don't tend to take acquittals or dismissals of felony charges, they just -- they continue to try to constrain Scott's family in terms of what they can or can't do with Scott around the kids. And I have -- but I don't take notes. I just take a phone call every now and then. . . .

Bellm: But those aren't really issues for Scott, as much as his parents?

Dodson: Oh, they're big issues for Scott. He's told that he can't be around the house when his nieces or nephews are around and so on and so forth. Yeah, it's a huge issue for him. It weighs on him terribly. I can tell when I talk to him.

(To be continued)

Previously in the series:

* Court finds Missouri lawyer David Shuler provided ineffective assistance of counsel (11/13/18)

* Missouri attorney David Shuler took no action at trial . . . (11/27/18)

* David Shuler, unable to react to false testimony that Scott J. Wells had scars on his penis . . . (12/4/18)

* Expert testifies that Missouri lawyer David Shuler did not believe in his own client . . . (12/10/18)

* Record suggests Scott J. Wells faced charges because his ex wife wanted her new husband to adopt girls . . . (1/3/19)

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Activist Matt Osborne admits Dry Alabama was a form of voter suppression, but he claims to have acted within legal boundaries while boosting Doug Jones

Matt Osborne
A left-leaning activist at the center of the "Dry Alabama" disinformation campaign admits in an August 2018 article that the project was an act of voter suppression. Matt Osborne, in an interview published yesterday in his hometown Florence (AL) Times Daily, claims the deceptive nature of Dry Alabama did not violate laws. It's unclear if state and federal authorities agree with that.

In a LinkedIn article dated August 9, Osborne discusses Democrat Doug Jones' victory over Republican Roy Moore in Alabama's 2017 special U.S. Senate election. Osborne focuses on Baptist pastors as a key component of Roy Moore's political base, largely because of their shared opposition to alcohol sales and consumption:

Southern Baptists are the largest denomination in the state, accounting for at least 1 million of our 4.8 million residents, and churches in the Southern Baptist Convention have always promoted teetotalism, both as private and public policy. They have led resistance to liberalization of alcohol laws since the heyday of the temperance movement. When Clarke county residents voted on the issue in 2017, Baptist pastors were at the forefront of opposition.

Although he speaks to all sorts of churches, Roy Moore is a Southern Baptist. His abstinence from alcohol is a point of pride, and Breitbart has emphasized it in their promotions of his candidacy. As a candidate, he seems to perform best in the most rural parts of the state.

Osborne provides insightful background on the "politics of alcohol" in Alabama:

Twenty-five of Alabama’s 67 counties are "dry counties" which ban the sale of alcohol, yet all of them now contain wet municipalities. Conversely, there are still dry municipalities in wet counties.

Alabama seemed to reach a tipping point regarding alcohol politics over the last decade. In 2010, a referendum to allow liquor sales failed in Rogersville, a small town at the eastern end of Lauderdale County, by a single vote. . . . Sunday sales were almost impossible to imagine in most of the state just 20 years ago, but they have become common since 2005. Regulation has also begun to shift. Last year saw the Alabama Beverage Control board rescind an unpopular decision to ban margarita pitchers, for example.

It is important to note that this change of climate has coincided with the Republican takeover of the state. After many years of Democratic decline, the GOP swept all state offices and took supermajorities in the legislature in 2010, whereupon the industries with an interest in liberalization (bottlers/distillers, hospitality, municipal convention centers, etc.) finally found their voice and emphasized that such measures were “pro-business.”

That's how Democratic operatives decided on alcohol as an issue that could drive a wedge between "business" conservatives (who favored Luther Strange, loser in the primary to Moore) and "cultural" conservatives (who favored Moore). Dry Alabama, a social-media campaign that falsely claimed Moore supported a statewide ban on alcohol, was a "smashing success," Osborne writes -- essentially using Moore's teetotaling religious base against him:

Finally, it is worth understanding that Moore relies very heavily on this very same network of teetotaling pastors as his primary means of mustering voters to the polls. Indeed, his 2017 US Senate campaign almost exclusively relied on that mostly-Baptist pastor network for GOTV activity until the national party came to his rescue. However, that alliance was interrupted for almost three weeks during the last month of the campaign when the Washington Post reported a series of stories alleging past sexual misconduct. Because Moore has always had trouble bringing the "business wing" of the state party into his fold, this failure to motivate voters left him vulnerable to social media campaigns aimed at driving this alcohol policy wedge.

Which is exactly what happened. Hoping to deter white male suburban voters from voting for Roy Moore, a campaign targeted Facebook users with ‘false flag’ pages for thirteen days prior to the election. This limited run was a smashing success that reached 3 million targeted voters, achieving 4.6 million impressions with 97,000 engagements, posting videos that were watched 430,000 times, and presenting links that received 403,000 clicks. At least one of the associated memes received unexpected amplification on the Facebook page of a Grammy-winning celebrity. Debates broke out in the comments, with "piety Republicans" and "economic Republicans" disagreeing over the issue.

By every available metric, the campaign succeeded in spreading the message that a vote for Roy Moore was a vote against service industry jobs, against brewing industry jobs, and for going backwards to a "Dry Alabama."

Curiously, Osborne does  not admit -- as he recently did to The New York Times -- that he helped conceive the Dry Alabama scheme. He does, however, admit it was designed to help Doug Jones win. So much for the notion that recently uncovered Democratic disinformation campaigns were mostly for purposes of "research":

Given that Doug Jones won by less than 21,000 votes out of more than 1.3 million ballots cast, this campaign -- which was inspired by, and modeled on, the Facebook voter suppression efforts that Roy Moore backer Steve Bannon undertook in 2016 -- appears to have made a real difference at a very small cost compared to TV advertising or other forms of election communications.

While it is impossible to prove that this one effort was solely responsible for Moore's defeat, it is a good example of how to use local culture war wedge issues to limit an opponent's turnout in races that will be won at the margins.

Note the highlighted sections above, where Osborne clearly states: (1) Dry Alabama was modeled on GOP voter-suppression efforts led by former Donald Trump strategist Seve Bannon; (2) Dry Alabama was designed to limit opponent turnout, in this case those who likely would have voted for Roy Moore.

As for the interview with his hometown newspaper, Osborne boldly claims that he acted within the law -- and the Jones campaign was not connected to Dry Alabama:

In a Tuesday interview with the Times Daily, Osborne said part of the reason behind the movement was to get challenger Doug Jones elected. He said the Jones campaign was not connected to the "Dry Alabama" movement.

Jones beat Moore by a narrow margin.

However, Osborne said the effort went beyond that race. He said conservative entities have used "dark money" for similar tactics to benefit Republicans, so he did the same as a way to show the type of impact such tactics can have.

"There's nothing I participated in that crossed any lines of legality," Osborne said. "The real crime here — if there is a crime — is that you can get away with this stuff."

Are we to believe the Jones campaign had no knowledge of Dry Alabama -- or a similar project called Project Birmingham? We have already shown that Osborne contacted me in October 2017 and indicated he had "direct knowledge" of events tied to the Jones campaign -- and we now know Osborne readily admits being connected to Dry Alabama.

Roy Moore
Osborne can't seem to make up his mind on the subject of possible criminality connected to Dry Alabama. First, he proclaims he didn't cross "any lines of legality." Then, he follows immediately with language that hints, "Well, maybe there was a crime here -- who knows?"

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has referred the matter to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for possible investigation. Elections form a complex, murky area of the law -- involving both state and federal jurisdictions. It's doubtful that Osborne (or a Dry Alabama colleague, such as D.C.-based digital strategist Beth Becker) is qualified to make an assessment about the legality of deceptive election practices.

(Note: According to her Twitter account, Beth Becker seems to have launched an island-based vacation in the past day or two -- with stops at "Jamaica, Caymans, Cozumel and Havana." Has someone suggested Becker "get out of Dodge," due to heat from Dry Alabama and Project Birmingham?)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Trump-Russia investigation suggests that election meddling, in general, is unlawful. It seems clear that voter suppression, in some forms, is illegal.

Where does the Dry Alabama variety fall? It might be too early to say, but Osborne's claim to have acted within legal lines probably should not be taken to the bank -- at least not yet.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Six weeks before the 2017 Alabama U.S. Senate election, Matt Osborne indicated he was working for Doug Jones on a mission that likely was underhanded

Dry Alabama

A left-wing operative at the center of the "Dry Alabama" social-media scam, which might have decided the Doug Jones-Roy Moore U.S. Senate race, contacted me in October 2017 and indicated he was tied to the Jones campaign and had knowledge of what we now know were underhanded tactics on Jones' behalf.

Matt Osborne, a writer, researcher and would-be consultant from Florence, AL, contacted me via Facebook private message on Oct. 27 -- roughly six weeks before the special election, which Jones won by about 22,000 votes. What can we learn from this? I take away two key points:

(1) Osborne's words in the Facebook message -- plus his location in Alabama -- make it highly likely Doug Jones knew about the sleazy tactics being used on his behalf. That means Jones' claims to have been unaware almost certainly are false.

(2) Osborne suggested a Legal Schnauzer post about the use of Russian bots to produce a cyber attack on Roy Moore's campaign Twitter account was inaccurate and should be retracted. When asked for specifics about possible inaccuracies, Osborne went into hyper-secret mode and never provided information to support his claims. We now know the Russian-bot attack, in fact, happened -- and left-wing activists, apparently aligned with Osborne, launched it. I take that to mean Osborne lied to me about the alleged need to retract the bot story -- and his quick entry into top-secret mode suggests he was involved in nefarious campaign tactics at the time.

Matt Osborne
What was Osborne up to? Well, we now know he's not above engaging in a scam, so we will show you the central part of our communication and let you decide:

Matt: You should retract that entire blog post about the Russian bots. Direct knowledge.

Roger: In what capacity have you been around the Jones campaign? And where does your direct knowledge come from?

Matt: Not going to say in this format. Are you on Signal?

Roger: Nope, not on Signal.

Matt: Got a smart phone?

Roger: No, I don't have a smart phone. Almost everything we owned has been stolen, so a smart phone isn't a high priority.

Osborn then asked -- late in the game -- if the conversation was off the record. I did not agree to that, so I am publishing it now, in light of The New York Times report about Osborn's involvement in the Dry Alabama project.

The conversation ended when Osborn, without explanation, sent me the following link:

password: BRnrMLUAnknfD0L+7V4byKsy1PenoZOvJ3oWkvgDAf/gqfDOEJCfXFibOvFoSUH1 Link:

I had no idea what it was,and I really wasn't interested, so I did not click on it. I had not heard from Matt Osborne since then until the following comment arrived at Legal Schnauzer late Monday, on a post dated Dec. 27, 2018:

Matt Osborne Unsubscribe

Mon, Jan 7, 11:17 PM (13 hours ago)

to me

Matt Osborne has left a new comment on your post "Stories of election meddling involving Jill Stein,...":

This is hilarious, Roger. [Jill] Simpson is leading you right over a cliff again. Jill Stein and Doug Jones are conspiring to do what now?

I was told tonight that you've been yapping about me on Facebook. I can't wait to see what sort of nonsense you contrive to blog about me.

Given the comment's utter lack of meaningful content, I did not publish it. But I'm publishing it now, with the idea that it might provide some insight into Osborne's mindset after making The New York Times for his involvement in electoral skulduggery.

To me, Osborne sounds like a guy who knows he has stepped in thick, gooey, smelly doo-doo -- and is not sure how he's going to get it off his shoes.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Matt Osborne, a left-leaning activist from Florence, AL, tried to boost Doug Jones in Senate race by falsely suggesting Roy Moore wanted a statewide alcohol ban

Matt Osborne
A left-leaning political operative was part of a project to boost Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama's 2017 U.S. Senate election by concocting a social-media campaign that suggested Republican Roy Moore favored a statewide alcohol ban, according to a report yesterday at The New York Times.

The campaign, called "Dry Alabama," is the second Russia-style disinformation effort that might have helped Jones beat Moore in a tight race. It is the first such effort to be tied to an Alabama political operative, meaning the public might now be less inclined to believe Jones' claim that he was unaware of any digital skulduggery on his behalf.

The Dry Alabama story hits close to home because I've known one of its central figures, Florence-based writer and activist Matt Osborne, for close to 10 years. I've never met Osborne in person, but he has been in our home, under trying circumstances. About a week after my arrest in October 2013, Osborne contacted my wife, Carol, and came to our house (with a female companion named Melissa Brewer) and took photos and videos of the area in our basement where a Shelby County deputy named Chris Blevins beat me up and essentially kidnapped me by hauling me to jail for a five-month stay -- all with no mention of a warrant, any criminal charges, or his reason for being on our property, not to mention inside our home.

In October 2017, less than two months before the Jones-Moore election, Osborne contacted me via Facebook messenger and indicated he was connected to the Jones campaign -- and that I should retract a post I had written about the race. I did not retract the post, and it now appears Osborne was less-than-honest with me. Going back to read that communication today -- after reading The Times' report on Dry Alabama -- it's hard to believe Doug Jones did not know what Osborne and Co. were up to with their online schemes. (More about my communications with Matt Osborne, and his visit to our house, in upcoming posts.)

Osborne, who describes himself as a "writer, researcher, moving into the consultant space," acknowledged to The Times that he participated in Dry Alabama:

Matt Osborne, a veteran progressive activist who worked on the project, said he hoped that such deceptive tactics would someday be banned from American politics. But in the meantime, he said, he believes that Republicans are using such trickery and that Democrats cannot unilaterally give it up.

“If you don’t do it, you’re fighting with one hand tied behind your back,” said Mr. Osborne, a writer and consultant who lives outside Florence, Ala. “You have a moral imperative to do this — to do whatever it takes.”

Osborne has written for a number of progressive Web sites -- Crooks and Liars, Breitbart Unmasked, Deep State Nation, and his own Osborne Ink, among others. In a dubious example of journalism, which some might label self-serving propaganda, Osborne wrote a piece at Crooks and Liars yesterday on the Dry Alabama effort, claiming his actions were not unlawful. From the article, titled "Swinging a US Senate Race in Alabama, Kremlin-Style Isn't Illegal, But It Should Be,"  which Osborne wrote himself:

. . . the 'Dry Alabama' campaign used real quotes from allies of Moore, who is an outspoken teetotaler supported by anti-alcohol campaigners, to build the impression that a vote for Moore was a vote against beer. We did not have to use any 'fake news' because there was so much real news to work with.

“I don’t think anything this group did crossed any lines,” says Beth Becker, one of the individuals who took part in the Dry Alabama campaign. In fact, we worked very hard to discern the legal lines and stay inside them. . . ."

Yet it is not obvious that any laws were actually broken. Neither Congress nor the Alabama legislature has shown much ability to write effective legislation in the social media era. From my perspective, the real 'crime' here is that political disinformation campaigns are not illegal.

Political disinformation campaigns are not illegal? There does not appear to be universal agreement on that.  Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has asked the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to investigate the matter and determine if any federal laws were broken. Doug Jones himself has called for an inquiry that goes beyond Congress, straight to the FEC and the U.S. Justice Department.

Where is this story headed? That's hard to say because it seems to be evolving by the day. From The New York Times report:

The discovery of Dry Alabama, the second so-called false flag operation by Democrats in the fiercely contested Alabama race, underscores how dirty tricks on social media are creeping into American politics. The New York Times reported last month on a separate project that used its own bogus conservative Facebook page and sent a horde of Russian-looking Twitter accounts to follow Mr. Moore’s to make it appear as if he enjoyed Russian support.

The revelations about the first project, run in part by a cyber-security company called New Knowledge, led Facebook to shut down five accounts that it said had violated its rules, and prompted Senator Jones to call for a federal investigation. There is no evidence that Mr. Jones encouraged or knew of either of the deceptive social media projects. His spokeswoman, Heather Fluit, said his legal advisers were preparing to file a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission.

Consider this section from The Times' report, which raises all kinds of questions:

The first of the Alabama efforts was funded by Reid Hoffman, the billionaire co-founder of LinkedIn, who apologized and said he had been unaware of the project and did not approve of the underhanded methods. The second was funded by two Virginia donors who wanted to defeat Mr. Moore — a former judge accused of pursuing sexual relationships with underage girls — according to a participant who would speak about the secret project only on the condition of anonymity and who declined to name the funders.
Doug Jones
The two projects each received $100,000, funneled in both cases through the same organization: Investing in Us, which finances political operations in support of progressive causes. Dmitri Mehlhorn, the group’s managing partner, declined to comment on whether he approved of the tactics he had helped pay for. But after the Times report in December, he acknowledged, in a post on the online forum Medium, a “concern that our tactics might cause us to become like those we are fighting.” He declared that “some tactics are beyond the pale.”

Another organizer of the project, according to two participants, was Evan Coren, a progressive activist who works for the National Archives unit that handles classified documents. He did not respond to requests for comment. Beth Becker, a social media trainer and consultant in Washington who handled Facebook ad spending for the Dry Alabama page and the project’s other Facebook page, called Southern Caller, said in an interview that a nondisclosure agreement prohibited her from saying much about the project.

But, she added, “I don’t think anything this group did crossed any lines.”

Ms. Becker might be whistling past the graveyard with that last comment. In fact, our impression is that left-wing activists do not want to confront perhaps the most important questions hovering over the Alabama disinformation story:

(1) Were crimes committed?

(2) Did Doug Jones know about underhanded efforts to help him win?

I have information that might shine light on one, maybe both, of those questions.

(To be continued)

Monday, January 7, 2019

Under a U.S. Supreme Court case called Alabama v. Shelton, Carol's sentence of probation in Missouri "assault" case is invalid and due to be reversed

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
The suspended sentence that a Missouri judge placed on my wife, Carol, in a bogus "assault of a law enforcement officer" case is "invalid" and a "nullity," and it must be reversed,  according to U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) precedent.

We already have shown that, by placing a suspended imposition of sentence (SIS) on Carol, Judge Jerry Harmison Jr. ensured there is no final, appealable judgment in the case and no conviction (even though Carol, contrary to fact and law, was found guilty). Now, we learn that the SIS and two-year probation Harmison imposed are unlawful and due to be vacated.

How many ways can one compromised judge screw up a case?

This all goes back to Missouri's denial of Carol's right to counsel, and the relevant law comes from the nation's highest court in a case styled Alabama v. Shelton, 535 U.S. 654 (2002). How rich is the irony that the cheat job heaped on Carol in Missouri would be -- or should be -- decided by a SCOTUS case that originated in Alabama?

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (with dissents from -- surprise, surprise -- Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, William Rehnquist, and Anthony Kennedy) wrote the opinion in Shelton. Here is it's central holding:

Held: A suspended sentence that may "end up in the actual deprivation of a person's liberty" may not be imposed unless the defendant was accorded "the guiding hand of counsel" in the prosecution for the crime charged. Argersinger, 407 U. S., at 40. Pp. 660-674.

What does this mean for Carol's case?

(1) She was placed on probation, but a violation of its terms could lead to a jail term. That, SCOTUS found in its 2002 Shelton ruling, is not allowed under the Sixth Amendment;

(2) Carol at one point had an attorney -- public defender Patty Poe -- but when Poe bailed out of the case, jail was waived as a possible punishment, by law;

(3) Carol never had another attorney, and she never waived her right to counsel, so Harmison committed a huge blunder by adding probation to the equation -- and probation, by definition, means jail is on the table. And that, Justice Ginsburg found, is a no-no.

(4) Both Poe and Margaret Palmietto (the original judge in Carol's case) apparently have more functioning brain cells than Harmison, who took over after Palmietto recused -- or maybe Poe and Palmietto are slightly less corrupt than Harmison. Either way, Poe told us upon exiting that, with jail off the table, the court could only sentence Carol to a fine, community service, or some type of educational course. Palmietto, in her final days on the case, said multiple times in open court "it's just a fine" -- as if Carol should have no problem being fined for an offense she did not commit, even according to the written and verbal statements of the so-called "victim."

Carol Tovich Shuler
Where does the SCOTUS case have its roots? The answer is Etowah County, Alabama, (county seat is Gadsden), where LeReed Shelton represented himself and twice was found guilty of third-degree assault -- being sentenced to a suspended 30-day jail term and unsupervised probation. Shelton appealed, and the Alabama Supreme Court ultimately reversed his sentence, finding it invalid because he did not have counsel, violating his Sixth Amendment rights.

SCOTUS upheld the Alabama Supreme Court's finding, with these words from Ginsburg:

Defendant-respondent Shelton represented himself in an Alabama Circuit Court criminal trial. The court repeatedly warned Shelton about the problems self-representation entailed, but at no time offered him assistance of counsel at state expense. He was convicted of misdemeanor assault and sentenced to a 30-day jail term, which the trial court immediately suspended, placing Shelton on two years' unsupervised probation. The Alabama Supreme Court reversed Shelton's suspended jail sentence, reasoning that this Court's decisions in Argersinger v. Hamlin, 407 U. S. 25, and Scott v. Illinois, 440 U. S. 367, require provision of counsel in any petty offense, misdemeanor, or felony prosecution, Argersinger, 407 U. S., at 37, "that actually leads to imprisonment even for a brief period," id., at 33. The State Supreme Court concluded, inter alia, that because a defendant may not be imprisoned absent provision of counsel, Shelton's suspended sentence could never be activated and was therefore invalid. . . .

The Sixth Amendment does not permit activation of a suspended sentence upon an indigent defendant's violation of the terms of his probation where the State did not provide him counsel during the prosecution of the offense for which he is imprisoned. A suspended sentence is a prison term imposed for the offense of conviction. Once the prison term is triggered, the defendant is incarcerated not for the probation violation, but for the underlying offense. The uncounseled conviction at that point "result[s] in imprisonment," Nichols v. United States, 511 U. S. 738, 746; it "end[s] up in the actual deprivation of a person's liberty," Argersinger, 407 U. S., at 40. This is precisely what the Sixth Amendment, as interpreted in Argersinger and Scott, does not allow.

Carol was the victim of an uncounseled (and unlawful) conviction, and SCOTUS makes clear that her sentence must be reversed as invalid. Whether the dictates of the nation's highest court has any impact on Jerry Harmison Jr. -- or anyone else in Missouri's perverse "justice system" -- remains to be seen. But it's clear Carol's sentence is a nullity, meaning it is legally void and is based on . . . well, nothing.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Record suggests Scott J. Wells faced child sexual abuse charges because his ex wife wanted her new husband to adopt girls who became complaining witnesses

Scott J. Wells
(Fifth in a series)

How did four girls concoct stories of child sexual abuse that were so dubious a judge overturned his own guilty verdict in State of Missouri v. Scott J. Wells (No. 31302CF5509) -- a case where the defendant was the biological father of two complaining witnesses, the step-father of one, and the uncle of a fourth? The answer is not 100-percent clear, but the public record suggests the stories of abuse surfaced after Mr. Wells' ex wife, Cynthia Hedrick, informed at least two of the girls that she wanted her new husband to adopt them -- and Scott Wells refused to go along with the idea.

The record also indicates Ms. Hedrick testified falsely about the adoption plans, and Scott Wells' defense attorney -- my brother, David Shuler, of Springfield, MO -- failed to drive that point home to the trier of fact (Judge Don Burrell, who oversaw a bench trial in the case.)

What can happen to a father who refuses to turn his children over for adoption? The Scott J. Wells case -- with my brother providing what a court found to be ineffective assistance of counsel -- suggests such a father can face false allegations of child sexual abuse that bring him to the edge of ruination.

The adoption issue arises at several places in the case file, first when Wells' second attorney (Daniel Dodson, of Jefferson City, MO) sought a new-trial hearing that included testimony about David Shuler's inadequate work as a defense lawyer -- which had his client looking at a likely punishment of five life sentences, plus 55 years.

Following is testimony from Dodson's examination of David Shuler at the new-trial hearing. It begins on page 110 in the third document embedded at the end of this post. (The other documents are Part 1 and Part 2 of Dodson's testimony in the legal-malpractice case.). Dodson asks Shuler to read from a transcript of Cynthia Hedrick's testimony. We begin with Shuler's response:

Shuler: "And isn't it true that you were the one that told Brittanie [complaining witness, Brittanie Wells] that she could be adopted? You wanted your new husband to adopt her, isn't that true? Answer: "No." "Isn't it true that you would adopt her or rather that your new husband, Jeff, would adopt her?" "No." "You didn't tell them that?" "No."

Dodson: Okay. One of the things that you tried to present to the Court as a reason why these girls might be making something up would be to please their mother and her desire to have Scott step out of the picture and allow her new husband to adopt them. Is that correct?

Shuler: Correct.

Dodson: Okay. She basically shot you down at that point and denied that that was the case. Is that not correct, also?

Shuler: That's correct. she denied that, consistently, I believe.

Dodson then turns his attention to a document where Courtney Wells [another complaining witness] states that her mother (Cynthia Hedrick) wanted her new husband (Jeff Hedrick) to adopt Courtney, so that the child would not see Scott Wells again. Dodson's examination of David Shuler on this issue begins on page 112 of the third document embedded at the end of this post.

David Shuler
Dodson: Okay. Is that not an indicator that there had been some previous discussion, and she was aware that the possibility of Jeff adopting her existed?

Shuler: Brittanie?

Dodson: Courtney, in this case?

Shuler: Courtney? Okay, yes.

Dodson: Okay. So would that not have been an opportunity, had you been familiar enough with this document, to call Cindy Hedrick on her denial that she's discussed these issues with the girls by saying obviously, here Courtney knew about that. "Where would she have gotten that idea, for instance?" I believe the transcript part is questioning on Brittanie. I don't know why you didn't question on all the girls but --

Shuler: I don't -- I guess I'm not tracking your -- I don't think she -- I don't think she denied that there was ever discussion of adoption, but I guess she's saying she didn't.

Dodson: Well, you asked -- actually, this is -- isn't it true that you were the one who told Brittanie she could be adopted and then later isn't it true that you told Courtney you would adopt her and your husband would adopt her? Is this not an indicator that at least discussions had been had on that subject?

Shuler: Yes --

Dodson: And --

Shuler: -- it is.

Dodson: Somewhat of value in impeaching Cynthia Hedrick in her denial that there was any motive that could have caused some untruth on the part of the complaining witnesses?

Shuler: Somewhat, yes.

Was that the last time the adoption issue came up in the Scott Wells matter? Nope. It arose again when Wells brought a legal-malpractice case against David Shuler. At that point, Daniel Dodson was serving as an expert witness for Wells, and he had plenty to say about Shuler's failure to pursue impeachment of Cynthia Hedrick on what might have been the single most important issue in the criminal case.

(To be continued)

Previously in the series:

* Court finds Missouri lawyer David Shuler provided ineffective assistance of counsel (11/13/18)

* Missouri attorney David Shuler took no action at trial . . . (11/27/18)

* David Shuler, unable to react to false testimony that Scott J. Wells had scars on his penis . . . (12/4/18)

* Expert testifies that Missouri lawyer David Shuler did not believe in his own client . . . (12/10/18)

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Alabama's crooked system of starving inmates so that sheriffs can use the money for personal expenses finally is being exposed for the whole nation to see

Outgoing Moran Sheriff Ana Franklin
(Decatur Daily)

An Alabama prosecutor is suing his county sheriff for using funds intended for feeding jail inmates to pay her own legal fees. In another sign that nontraditional journalism has immense value, a groundbreaking blog puts the important (and largely unseen) issue in perspective.

Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson filed a lawsuit on December 21 seeking to recover funds outgoing Sheriff Ana Franklin allegedly had used for personal expenses. William Gray of Birmingham, one of Franklin's attorneys, said the sheriff used surplus jail-food money to pay lawyers who helped negotiate a deal with federal prosecutors that recently ended with Franklin pleading guilty to a misdemeanor for willful failure to file a tax return. From an article by Eric Fleischauer, of the Decatur Daily:

Some money originally earmarked for feeding Morgan County jail inmates has gone to pay lawyers for Sheriff Ana Franklin, one of her attorneys said.

The legal expenses may be part of at least $105,000 in jail-food money that Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson alleges the sheriff has taken or spent.

Anderson [on Dec. 21] filed a civil lawsuit against Franklin alleging she has illegally kept and spent state-issued jail food money that she should have been holding in trust exclusively for the feeding of inmates.

This issue has particular resonance here at Legal Schnauzer since I spent more than five months in an Alabama jail (Shelby County) in 2013-14 for reporting on state legal and political corruption, mostly among Republicans. I became the only U.S. journalist to be incarcerated since 2006 and probably the only American in history to essentially be "arrested for blogging," due to a preliminary injunction that has been an unlawful "prior restraint" under more than 200 years of First Amendment law.

I know what it's like to eat Alabama jail food; I survived on it for more than five months. Since then, we've learned that Alabama sheriffs make it a practice to pocket money intended for jail food and use it for their own purposes. That issue first hit the press in early 2018 when former Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin was found to have pocketed $750,000 in jail-food funds and used most of the money to purchase a beach house in north Florida.

A recent report at shows Entrekin, who lost his bid for re-election, made more than $1.5 million from funds that were supposed to be used for feeding federal immigration detainees at the Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden.

Morgan County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Anderson
(Decatur Daily)
Here is the equation for Entrekin, Franklin, and other sticky-fingered Alabama sheriffs: The less money you spend on feeding inmates, the more money you will have for your own ventures. The headline on this post might as well be "Alabama sheriffs live in high style by starving inmates." I once was one of those starving inmates; I lost 25 pounds during my five months in jail, and it would have been worse if I had not had resources to take one of the few survival options available to Alabama inmates.

Morgan County Whistle Blower, a ground-breaking blog that has broken one story after another in the Ana Franklin scandal, summarized Alabama's inmate-food crisis in a Dec. 23 post that focused on the Lawrence County Jail:

Folks these jails have become all about the almighty dollar. They are no longer about corrections or punishment. They are about how much money can we make off the inmates and their families or loved ones.

In Lawrence County, if you bond someone out of jail they now charge a $35.00 jail processing fee. Not sure where this money goes or what it is used for or who gets it. Not sure what the purpose of this fee is since in Lawrence County everyone who is arrested or gets a ticket when paying their fine and court costs pays a $35.00 jail fee. This fee is to pay for the construction of the current jail which is 20 years old. Just another burden added to the families for the money maker. This applies to property bonds and bail bondsmen but the $35.00 is separate from what you have to pay the bondsman and must be paid by the person making the bonds. I think this is a clear case of double dipping. The $35.00 jail fee is being paid twice.

As if that is not bad enough as soon as you walk into the doors of the jail you immediately have access to two machines, the first is so you can put money into their account so they can buy items from the jail including food. This seems like a racket to me; first, you don’t feed them adequately and then sell them overpriced food all the while getting rich off leftover jail food money. Next to the first money machine is another money machine to put money into an account so they can use the phones.

These things put a burden on the families, many of whom are already struggling financially. The phones they can do without but when a loved one calls and says they are hungry and it has been well documented they are not being fed properly by these greedy sheriffs it is hard to not rake and scrape and come up with money for them to buy something to eat.

This whole operation just seems to swirl around how we can make money off people who are in jail and contrary to popular belief most are not hardened criminals like the sheriff portrays them. The food is about like this jail processing fee, it all seems like double dipping to me, getting money from the State for food and then getting money from the inmates for food.

The operations of the Sheriff's Department has gone from one of law enforcement to one with multiple systems within the organization that is totally focused on making money.

That is very well stated, and the highlighted portion particularly hits home because I lived under those conditions for five months. I can add one point to this, and I know about it only because I've experienced it firsthand. Bottom line: An inmate does not suffer from Alabama's crooked jail-food system only while he's incarcerated; its impact can stay with him long after he has been set free.

(To be continued)