Monday, February 19, 2018

Lawyer who defended federal judge Mark Fuller against wife-beating charges throws his support to Joseph Siegelman's opponent in Alabama AG race


U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (right) has thrown his support to
Chris Christie (left) over Joseph Siegelman in the Democratic
primary for Alabama attorney general. Also supporting Christie
is Sirote Permutt lawyer Barry Ragsdale, who defended former
federal judge Mark Fuller against wife-beating charges. Fuller,
of course, corruptly sent Don Siegelman to prison. Jones reportedly
worked behind the scenes to soothe his GOP friends by making sure
Fuller did not go to prison. In short, Christie's campaign is supported
by friends of wife-beating, corrupt judge Mark Fuller.
(From facebook.com)

Joseph Siegelman's opponent in the Democratic primary for attorney general of Alabama is drawing support from a Birmingham attorney who defended a former federal judge on wife-beating charges that eventually forced him off the bench.

How bad are the optics on this for AG candidate Chris Christie? According to prominent whistle blower and opposition researcher Jill Simpson, they hardly could be worse.

In a post at her Facebook page, Simpson reports that Barry Ragsdale, of the Birmingham firm Sirote Permutt, hosted a campaign kick-off party last week for Christie at B&A Warehouse. That's the same Barry Ragsdale who defended former U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller as he faced wife-beating charges that eventually led to his exit from the bench. And that's the same Mark Fuller whose corrupt handling of a federal bribery case caused former governor Don Siegelman (Joseph's father) and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy to be wrongfully convicted and spend about a combined 12 years in prison.

Chris Christie, an attorney with the wildly corrupt Birmingham firm of Bradley Arant, actually wants a boost from supporters of a wife-beating federal judge -- right here in the midst of the #MeToo movement, ushered in by male abusers such as Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, Steve Wynn, Matt Lauer, Dr. Larry Nassar, and more? How thick must Christie's tin ear be?

Mark Fuller
Christie apparently isn't the only "Democrat" with a tin ear. Simpson reports that U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, who once was Don Siegelman's defense attorney, supports Christie -- who is the preferred candidate of those who support notorious wife-beater Mark Fuller. Billy Beasley, the brother of prominent Montgomery tort lawyer Jere Beasley, also supports Christie, Simpson reports. Jere Beasley has made it a practice to work with GOP lawyer/thug Rob Riley on a number of personal-injury and nursing-home cases. And Jones jumped in bed with Riley to help snag a nice chuck of $51 million in attorney fees generated by a federal lawsuit against HealthSouth and related firms.

Rob Riley, of course, is noted for proclaiming, well in advance, that Mark Fuller would prove to be a "hanging judge" in the Don Siegelman case.

What is Jill Simpson's take on the support Joseph Siegelman's opponent is receiving from the unholy trinity of Barry Ragsdale, Doug Jones, and Billy Beasley? Here is part of it (with editing for clarity):

I heard from some old Republican and Democrat friends . . . that Doug Jones' buddy,  Chris Christie who is running for AG in Alabama against Joseph Siegelman, had a campaign kick-off party at B& Warehouse. Guess who the host and MC was for that event? Judge Mark Fuller's lawyer, Barry Ragsdale, Dougie and Christie's buddy.

Yep, "beat your wife "Judge Fuller's lawyer Barry Ragsdale is helping Democrat Chris Christie, along with Doug Jones. I never would have been able to prove that Fuller's bunch of lawyers are helping Doug the DINO with AG Candidate Christie but for Religious Republicans explaining, "Hey, this is what happened the other night." I'm certainly glad for the tips I got on this.

It also was explained to me how Doug ran interference for the GOP Alabama Gang against putting Fuller in jail with the Democrats in D.C. I knew Doug had helped Fuller, but never knew all the details -- but now I do. I am hearing if that y'all watch this election, it is all going to come out all the connections involving Jones -- as the Republicans are mad about the last election and are going to be putting out how Christie is being helped by a wife beater's attorney.

I use to tell folks Doug was constantly working against us in D.C., and folks in the Siegelman camp would say, "No, he loves Siegelman," and I would say, "No he does not." Every step of the way he was back stabbing us, and folks in D.C. were telling on him and his folks -- and y''all watch this race closely; you will see Doug is helping the guy against Joseph, and Christie is part of the Alabama Gang and is tied to them through his firm (Bradley Arant).

Also, as it turns out Christie is tied to Mark Fuller, who shackled and chained Don Siegelman. Barry Ragsdale was Christie's MC and host of activities at the campaign kick-off, and it was noticed by Republicans and Democrats all over the state -- and they do not approve of of Ragsdale representing and trying to keep known wife beater Mark on the federal bench -- after he dragged his wife at the time all over a room in the fancy Ritz Carlton in Buckhead.

I might add Barry Ragsdale is well known for protecting creepy now removed federal judge Mark Fuller all over the state -- and this stage performance at Christie's campaign is really being talked about as clearly it was a FU message to Joseph and Don Siegelman. . . .

I also want folks to know I am very proud to have been the one who wrote the first article in the nation demanding President Obama and Biden remove Fuller to show zero tolerance for judges who beat up on women -- and I want each and every one of my friends and fellow progressives to know I had Barry Ragsdale and Doug Jones working against me. 
They were Fuller's protectors, along with the Riley folks and Alabama Gang of Republicans, which in my opinion is ran by Sessions, Rove, and Canary. Make no mistake, Alabama Progressives, a vote for Chris Christie is a vote for Fuller's protectors. I might add it has always been a sick, sad joke to me how folks act like Jones and Ragsdale are good Democrats, when these are the folks who fought against me so hard when I was trying to hold wife- beating Judge Mark Fuller accountable. I have a lot of battle scars from that fight, but by golly I removed Fuller -- and Alabama Democratic women would be foolish to support anyone Ragsdale supports. My God, he tried to keep a wife-beating judge on the bench, and now, he supports Chris Christie, as does Doug Jones.

Why is Joseph Siegelman's run for the AG's office generating blow back from establishment Democrats and Republican? The answer, to me, is obvious. Many of those establishment types -- Rob Riley, Bob Riley, Jeff Sessions, Doug Jones, Bill Canary, Mark Fuller, Leura Canary and many more -- were deeply involved in the crooked prosecution that caused Don Siegelman to land in prison.

Barry Ragsdale
The establishment knows that a real attorney general, such as Joseph Siegelman, still could pursue any number of civil or criminal claims that are not barred by the statute of limitations. And that means a Joseph Siegelman tenure as AG could help put some of them -- and their brethren -- behind bars, where they belong. No wonder they support Chris Christie, who likely is to serve as their protector.

Andrew Kreig, of the Justice-Integrity Project, already is following what promises to be a fascinating AG race in Alabama:

Joseph Siegelman, son of a former Alabama governor convicted in one of the nation's most notorious political prosecutions in recent American history, [has] announced his candidacy to become their state's next attorney general.

The young Democratic attorney faces many obstacles in the deep Red state before emulating his father — former Gov. Don Siegelman, now 71 and recovering from emergency open heart surgery Feb. 9 — in winning their state's top elective law enforcement post. The elder Siegelman . . .  was Alabama attorney general for a term in the late 1980s before election as lieutenant governor for two terms. . . .

His son, managing partner of a Cochran Law Firm office in Birminghan, faces a long shot but highly dramatic and nationally important race to overcome a Democratic opponent in a June primary and, in November, the winner of a four-person Republican primary.

Although Joseph Siegelman will doubtless continue to frame his race in terms of justice for all Alabamians his father's conviction is known to virtually every voter. It is not just an implicit part of the current candidacy but will surely weigh on the minds of voters.

Commentators will note, as here, that political figures from the long-running prosecution are still part of Alabama's landscape on both Republican and Democratic sides of the attorney general race. . . .

But there's more, much more, to the upcoming race, including divisions among Democrats and Alabama's ongoing massive problems with public corruption.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Ex Alabama Rep. Micky Hammon gets three months in prison for essentially stealing more than $50,000, showing our justice system is hopelessly broken


Micky Hammon
A former Alabama lawmaker yesterday was sentenced to three months in prison and ordered to pay more than $50,600 in restitution for converting campaign funds to his personal use. The downfall of former House Majority Leader Micky Hammon (R-Decatur) represents another sad chapter in Alabama's culture of corruption. But it also provides more evidence of gross inequities in our justice system -- whether it crosses jurisdictional boundaries from Alabama to Michigan, or whether it's contained in The Heart of Dixie.

How soft was the court's treatment of Hammon, who became majority leader when Republicans took over the Alabama House in 2010 and maintained that position until 2017? (He was a close ally of former House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who has been convicted on corruption charges.) Prosecutors actually asked U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson to order no prison time for Hammon. When is the last time you've heard of federal prosecutors going that easy on a defendant? Heck, even Thompson could not believe it -- and he could not abide by the request. Reports al.com:

Thompson said he found the recommendation for no prison time unusual. The judge indicated he thought that would send the wrong message to other public officials. He said Hammon violated the trust of those who gave to his campaign.

"I don't see how I cannot give him some time in prison," Thompson said.

Thompson ordered Hammon to serve three years of supervised probation after release.

[Stephen] Shaw, Hammon's attorney, asked Thompson to reconsider the sentence or allow Hammon to serve it on weekends. Shaw said that would allow Hammon to continue to work.

Thompson said the sentence was reasonable, fell within guidelines and was "sufficient but not greater than necessary."

The guidelines allowed the judge to impose a fine of up to $20,000, but he imposed no fine, citing Hammon's inability to pay.

Hammon wound up pleading guilty to one count of mail fraud. From the al.com report:

Former Alabama House Majority Leader Micky Hammon of Decatur was sentenced to three months in prison today and ordered to pay $50,657 in restitution for converting campaign contributions to personal use.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson sentenced Hammon this morning in Montgomery. Hammon will report to a federal facility to begin his sentence on March 29."

"Converting campaign contributions to personal use"? That's a polite way of saying Hammon stole funds intended for campaign purposes and used them for personal reasons. So did Hammon get off unbelievably easy? The answer is yes, and we can compare his case to three others -- showing the justice system makes little or no effort to produce even the appearance of fairness or "equal protection under the law."

(1) Don Siegelman -- The former governor was sentenced to more than six years in federal prison, even though no evidence pointed to him benefiting by one penny from a contribution that went to a campaign fund for an education lottery. No evidence pointed to an unlawful "explicit quid pro quo" -- the standard required for a bribery conviction involving a campaign-contribution -- and no such jury instruction was given. On top of that, it's undisputed that the government brought its case almost one full year after the five-year statute of limitations had expired, meaning the Siegelman case never should have gone to trial, much less ending with a conviction.

Bottom line? Siegelman spends six-plus years in federal prison, while not pocketing any money. Hammon steals more than $50,000 and is sentenced to three months -- and prosecutors don't want him to serve any time. Fair? Don't make us laugh.

(2) Charles Todd Henderson -- The duly elected district attorney of Jefferson County, Henderson is set for sentencing on March 8 after his conviction last October on perjury charges. Evidence at trial, however, showed Henderson did not come close to committing perjury -- suggesting either the case was fixed, or jurors were smoking a powerful form of meth during deliberations. Here is how al.com described the Henderson trial:

Henderson's perjury case was based on information he was in a relationship with Yareima Carmen Valecillos Akl during her divorce with then-husband Charbel Akl. Henderson was appointed in January 2016 as the guardian ad litem of the Akls' young child, but was later removed from the position.

After his removal, Henderson testified during the Akls' September divorce trial and twice denied staying with Mrs. Akl at her apartment, but surveillance evidence showed Henderson had stayed at the apartment on several occasions.

Just a slight problem with al.com's version of events: It's not true.  As we've shown in several posts (see here, here, and here), the key question in the Henderson case came when he was asked if he had ever spent the night at Ms. Akl's home. Did a surveillance report prove Henderson spent the night at Akl's home? Not even close, as we reported multiple times. In fact the private-investigator report showed huge gaps in the surveillance -- four hours, five hours, 15 hours, 19 hours -- when Henderson clearly could have left, with PIs having no idea where he was.

The conviction in the Henderson case is a joke, and it must be overturned on appeal if the Alabama court system cares about maintaining any signs of competence or fairness. For sure, Henderson should not spend one moment in prison, and he should be returned to the position he won fair and square -- as a Democrat, over Republican incumbent Brandon Falls.

(3) Legal Schnauzer -- I spent five months in the Shelby County Jail (from 10/13 to 3/14) as fallout from a defamation lawsuit filed by GOP operative Rob Riley and lobbyist Liberty Duke. In essence, I was incarcerated for reporting on this blog about a personal relationship involving Riley and Duke -- and my reporting, by the way, has never been proven false or defamatory as a matter of law.

My case involved nothing remotely criminal. My arrest was based on a preliminary injunction and contempt order, both of which have been prohibited by more than 230 years of First Amendment law. I spent five months in jail for practicing journalism, becoming the first U.S. reporter to be incarcerated since 2006. I was the only journalist in the western hemisphere to be incarcerated in 2013.

But get this: I spent two more months in jail -- for lawfully practicing journalism, in a totally civil matter -- than Micky Hammon will spend for essentially stealing more than $50,000. Don Siegelman spent almost six more years behind bars than Hammon will spend -- and the record is clear that Siegelman committed no crime and was the target of the most grotesque political prosecution in American history. The Charles Todd Henderson perjury case is a travesty -- clearly driven by the Riley political machine, upset that Henderson beat their boy (and protector) Brandon Falls -- but there is no telling what kind of sentence Henderson will receive from wildly corrupt Judge Sibley Reynolds.

The American "justice system"? Ain't it grand?

It is, for some reason, if you're Mickey Hammon.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Ashley Madison customers revealed: Birmingham civil-rights attorney Chevene Hill, a graduate of Miles College School of Law, appears at notorious Web site


Chevene Hill
(From facebook.com)
A civil-rights attorney in Birmingham, AL, appears as a paying customer at the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site, according to publicly available records.

Chevene Hill has been a licensed attorney for about 10 years, earning his law degree at Miles College. Before going into the law, Hill worked as a photographer for 14 years at NBC 13 in Birmingham.

What type of cases does Hill handle? He represented the plaintiff in a 2011 case styled Hatcher v. Precoat Metals, 812 F. Supp. 2d 1287 (ND Alabama, 2011). Here are the facts, drawn from a memorandum opinion by a magistrate judge (internal citations omitted):

On or about December 10, 2007, plaintiff and Slitter Supervisor Grady Smith ("Smith") were standing with Allen. Smith asked, "Do anybody know any jokes about cars[?]"  Allen replied that a Ford was known as a "[f]ucking old rebuilt Dodge." Plaintiff and Smith laughed. Smith then asked plaintiff if he knew a joke. Plaintiff said that Ford stood for "[f]ound on the road dead." Plaintiff and Smith laughed again. Then Smith said, "I got one," and said that Pontiac stands for "Poor old nigger think it's a Cadillac." No one laughed at this joke, and the conversation ended. Plaintiff reported the "Pontiac Joke" to group leader Mike Walker, Rob Nemeth ("Nemeth") and Reverend Reginald Mann. A few days after the Pontiac Joke incident, management held an hour and a half meeting to discuss the racial slur. During the meeting, Smith began crying, looked at plaintiff, and apologized for telling the joke; Smith further said that he would never use the racial slur again. Plaintiff did not accept the apology, but never heard another racial slur at defendant's facility. Although plaintiff believed Smith received no disciplinary action as a result of his inappropriate joke, in fact Smith was required to attend sensitivity training in February 2008. Plaintiff was returned to work under Smith's supervision. Plaintiff further states that this Pontiac Joke incident was the worst thing to happen to him at Precoat Metals.

About a year later, Hatcher had a change in job status:

As a result of a business slow down, Precoat Metals, on November 14, 2008, and again on November 21, 2008, reduced its workforce from a three shift operation to a two shift operation that resulted in the layoff of eighteen employees. As a consequence of these lay-offs, several employees in plaintiff's Slitter Group had to be occasionally assigned different weekly duties in order to compensate for the smaller workforce. The two junior employees who previously held the Packer position were laid off, and plaintiff was assigned to fill the position of Packer. Nemeth stated that he assigned plaintiff the Packer responsibilities because his plan was to utilize plaintiff in doing setups and operating when needed and to cross-train plaintiff in learning the computer system. Plaintiff claims that he was made to do this job without assistance, although it had been common practice to have at least two people working in the area. Neither plaintiff nor any other employee received a change in pay or a formal job title change due to this realignment. Plaintiff states that he felt as though this was a demotion, although he concedes that no one ever told him he had been demoted.

Hatcher's situation at work then turned ugly -- and physical:

According to Mr. Hatcher on or about November 20, 2008, after taking a fifteen-minute break. Donald Gordon ("Gordon"), the shift supervisor, approached him and accused him of being away from his work for over an hour. Plaintiff told Gordon that he was on a fifteen-minute break and was returning from the bathroom. Gordon responded by grabbing plaintiff by the arm. Plaintiff told Gordon not to touch him; Gordon responded by grabbing him again. The next day, Tim Zell ("Zell") called a meeting with plaintiff, Gordon, and Anthony Fleischmann ("Fleischmann"). Zell told plaintiff that, "I want this shit with you and Gordon over and done with." When plaintiff tried to explain what happened, Zell told him, "Look at it this way; I can make it where you were laid off." In his deposition, however, plaintiff stated that no one ever told him that complaining about something would cost him his job. Plaintiff claims that he informed James Haas ("Haas"), a plant foreman, about the incident. Haas reportedly told Nemeth what happened, and plaintiff was moved back to the packer position.

Hatcher filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC and wound up being laid off in 2009 amidst another work slowdown. Hatcher filed a lawsuit, with the primary claim that he faced retaliation for filing an EEOC complaint.

The magistrate found against Hatcher, dismissing the case at summary judgment because Hatcher failed to produce evidence that pointed to a specific manager who knew about his EEOC complaint and discriminated against him because of it.

As for Chevene Hill, his Facebook page says that he is married, but we can find no public records with details about his wife. We sought comment from Mr. Hill, and the two of us wound up having a back and forth via email.

Here is our email exchange:

Chevene Hill (CH): "Mr. Shuler, I just read your email about your Ashley Madison story. I have no desire to be a part of your story, I have never spent money on an Ashley Madison account, nor do I recall having ever tried to contact or respond to any person that may be on this site. I request that you remove any information about me, my law practice and clients, including images about me from your story.

Roger Shuler (RS): "You're included as a paying customer on the Alabama list at Ashley Madison, so that is the genesis of the story."

CH: "I request not to be a part of your story."

RS: "I'm sorry, but your name is on the list, and that makes you part of the story."

CH: "Look, I don't want to have to file for cease and desist orders. So LEAVE ME OUT OF IT."

RS: "If you want me to use that as your response/comment, I will be glad to do that."

CH: "Call me."

I did call him, and we had a rather unpleasant exchange on the phone, with Mr. Hill using some colorful and "unlawyerly" language. It proved to be one of the most curious episodes in my coverage of Ashley Madison.


(To be continued)


Previously:


Article with links to 1-40 in Ashley Madison series

(41) David Armistead, director of enterprise sales, TekLinks, Birmingham (10/19/17)

(42) William House, VP and controller, HealthSouth, Birmingham (10/26/17)

(43) Olin B. Barnes III, VP, One Resource Group, Birmingham (11/1/17)

(44) T.J. Bunn Jr., ST Bunn Construction, Tuscaloosa (11/2/17)

(45) Todd Deffenbaugh, VP and controller, Express Oil Change, Birmingham (11/6/17)

(46) Richard D. Crites, lawyer and reserve deputy, Springfield, MO (11/13/17)

(47) Mark C. Trudeau, CEO, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, St. Louis, MO (11/15/17)

(48) Peter Blasi, lawyer, Evans Blasi, St. Louis, MO (11/16/17)

(49) Todd Wiesehan, director of resource management, Christian Co., MO (11/22/17)

(50) Spencer Desai, lawyer, Carmody MacDonald, St. Louis, MO (11/27/17)

(51) Johnny Aycock, assistant to the president, University of West Alabama (12/19/17)

(52) Chris McIntyre, district judge, County County, AL (1/3/18)

(53) William W. Smith, lawyer, Smith and Alspaugh, Birmingham (1/10/18)

(54) Jake Reinbold, lawyer, Turner Reid Law Firm, Springfield, MO (1/11/18)

Investigators appear with questions at Missouri's capital city, apparently turning up the heat on Gov. Eric Greitens over his admitted extramarital affair


Eric and Sheena Greitens
Investigators visited Missouri's capital yesterday, posing questions to several lawmakers about Gov. Eric Greitens and his admitted extramarital affair. One lawmaker in Jefferson City said he was asked about issues that go beyond Greitens' affair with his former hair stylist.

Greitens, a one-time Navy SEAL who was seen as presidential timber before the affair went public, might be under increasing pressure as he tries to save his current job. From a report at stltoday.com:

Investigators working for the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office were in Jefferson City on Wednesday, three state lawmakers said.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner, a Democrat, announced last month that her office would conduct a criminal investigation into claims Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican, took a compromising photograph of his lover and threatened to release it if she spoke about the affair.

Greitens lived in the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis at the time of his 2015 extramarital affair. He has acknowledged the affair but has denied allegations of possible blackmail.

The reason for the investigators’ visit was unclear.

Greitens has been acting in typical right-wing fashion, proposing a budget that would slash higher-education funding, while enhancing spending on road projects. But the visit from criminal investigators might bring the affair back into the public eye:

Rep. Nate Walker, R-Kirksville, told the Post-Dispatch he had spoken with investigators Jack Foley and William Tisaby mid-afternoon Wednesday. Walker was an early backer of Greitens during the 2016 campaign but was among a handful of House Republicans who called for Greitens’ resignation last month.

“Yes, I did meet with them,” he said of the investigators.

Walker would not say what types of questions the investigators asked, but signaled the issues they were interested in went beyond revelations surrounding the extramarital affair.

“They’re looking into some things in the governor’s office,” he said. “They asked a lot of questions. … Good investigators investigate everything.”

Walker was not the only lawmaker facing queries about the governor:

Sens. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, and Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, also said investigators from the prosecutor’s office were in the Capitol on Wednesday.

“Two came to my office,” Chappelle-Nadal said from the Senate floor, adding that Foley was one of them.

“There are two that are in the building,” Schaaf added.

Schaaf, a frequent critic of Greitens, said he wanted to shed light on the ongoing investigation.

“If they are in the building talking to people … I thought I should get that into the public sphere,” Schaaf said.

How ugly could this get for the governor with the almost super-human bio? The answer is "very." How far and fast could he fall? The answer, again, could be "very":

Greitens has rejected the calls for his resignation that followed his public acknowledgment of the affair. The allegations of blackmail were made public by the ex-husband of the woman who had a relationship with Greitens.

The ex-husband released audio last month that he described as a secret recording he made of his then-wife telling him about the non-consensual photo and the threat.

Greitens has denied any criminal wrongdoing. But he has declined multiple times to say whether he took a photograph. At a news conference last week, Greitens said he wanted to move past the controversy.

“We’re ready to move forward,” he said.

Greitens might want to "move forward." But it appears the circuit attorney has other ideas.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Missouri prosecutor Nicholas Jain goes silent when confronted with questions about his dubious judgment in bringing case against Carol without probable cause


Nicholas Jain
In answering our questions about his drunk-driving record, Missouri prosecutor Nicholas Jain raised the issue of individuals in his position showing good judgment. Jain is overseeing the case where bogus criminal charges have been brought in Greene County against my wife, Carol. Jain's statement about the integrity of prosecutors immediately raised more questions in my mind, so I posed them to Jain in an email.

I did not expect Jain to respond to these issues, but as a citizen who has been put through hell because of the corrupt acts of individuals in Jain's office, I thought it was important to raise them.

Mr. Jain:

Thanks for your response.

You mention the need for prosecutors to exercise sound judgment as it relates to each case you handle. As the husband of Carol Shuler, against whom you have been bringing a case for roughly 12-16 months, I have to ask this question: What does your handling of that case say about your judgment?

As a basis for that question, I point out this: Jeremy Lynn, the alleged "victim" in the "assault of a law enforcement officer" case, admits in his written statement that he grabbed Carol (inside her own home). In other words, Officer Lynn admits he "knowingly caused physical contact," that Carol Shuler did not. I'm sure you are aware that under RSMo 565.083 and case law, the issue of who knowingly caused/initiated physical contact is the central element to the offense. You've had information for months that shows Jeremy Lynn caused physical contact, and you don't even have probable cause against Carol Shuler, much less solid evidence of any offense. And yet, you have persisted in bringing a case that has no basis in fact or law. What does that say about your judgment? Has it really improved since 2011? (Statements of Jeremy Lynn and other officers are embedded at the end of this post.)

On top of that, Carol has been seeking discovery for months, and you have produced almost nothing -- you haven't even produced information you agreed in open court to produce, or information that you've been ordered by a court to produce. What does that say about your judgment?

Finally, you were present in open court when information about Carol's broken arm -- thanks to Missouri deputies beating her up -- was addressed, so it should be pretty apparent to you that the criminal case against Carol is nothing but a "cover charge," designed to protect rogue cops from being held accountable civilly. But you've gone along with it, so what does that say about your judgment?

In case you haven't seen it -- and on the off chance that you care -- I've attached copies of X-rays of Carol's arm, both pre- and post- trauma surgery. Perhaps you realize that you are helping to cover for the brutal cops who did this? Again, what about your judgment? [Items that were attached to the email are embedded at the end of this post.]

You are welcome to make any further response. But as a citizen and a journalist, I am appalled by the actions of you, Dan Patterson, and Jim Arnott in this case -- plus the officers on the scene, whom you have refused to identify. Do you really care about justice, or is your job about doing the corrupt bidding of those to whom you answer. As a fellow graduate of the University of Missouri (B.J., 1978), I'm sickened that you could go along with the scheme that has been heaped on Carol.


Roger Shuler

As expected, Nicholas Jain did not respond to these questions. After all, that would mean having to confront the notion that the same bad judgment that contributed to his drunk-driving convictions still is present in his taxpayer-funded public position. It also would have meant admitting that he was part of a process that brought a sham case against a citizen -- one where even the "victim's" own words prove no crime was committed.

That, however, did not end our discourse with Mr. Jain. We had other issues to address with him.


(To be continued)








Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Joseph Siegelman's run for attorney general of Alabama must have some of the state's nastiest political animals nursing quivery rectums


Joseph and Don Siegelman
Last week's announcement that Joseph Siegelman had qualified to run as Alabama attorney general has the makings of perhaps the most intriguing political news in . . . well, ever, at least in the 40 years I've had connections to the state.

As the son of former governor Don Siegelman, Joseph has a perspective on the "justice system" that probably is unique in post-modern America. His father was the target of likely the most flagrant political prosecution in U.S. history, and that surely has had a profound impact on Joseph Siegelman. What's it like to watch your dad shipped off to federal prison for six-plus years, for what we've called "a crime that doesn't exist" -- in a case that prosecutors brought almost one full year after the statute of limitations had expired?

It's hard for us to answer that question with certainty, but we suspect Joseph Siegelman would take his role as AG with the utmost seriousness. We suspect he would have plenty of motivation to investigate his father's case -- to ensure that justice delayed is not justice denied. And we suspect he would have a strong interest in deterrence, to make sure that future political thugs think twice before concocting a scheme like the one that sent two innocent men -- Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy -- to prison.

Joseph Siegelman surely will make a public statement to this effect: "I'm not seeking this office in order to gain justice for my dad or my family. My goal is to represent the interests of all Alabamians, to help provide us with a justice system that we can trust and respect." But the truth is this: The Don Siegelman case helped turn Alabama into a judicial and legal sewer, and it's unlikely the state ever can move forward unless the rule of law is restored. And Joseph Siegelman might be the only person who is willing, and capable, of turning over the rocks necessary to expose the bad actors in his father's case and hold them accountable.

We suspect the mere thought of Joseph Siegelman in the AG's office is enough to make some prominent sphincters pretty tight in Alabama right now. And we think that is a good thing -- an extremely good thing.

As a journalist, not a lawyer, I don't claim to be an expert on the duties of the attorney general in Alabama -- and I certainly am not an expert on the criminal and civil remedies that might be at Joseph Siegelman's disposal, if he were to be elected. I do know that the Don Siegelman case goes back to at least March 1999, roughly two months after he took office as governor. That means some elements of the case -- if a serious AG were to investigate -- likely would run afoul of various statutes of limitations (SOL). But my research indicates some elements of the case likely would fall inside the statute of limitations -- and that sound you hear is certain sphincters tightening as you read this.

For example, an investigation probably would produce heaping helpings of evidence pointing to civil cases of false arrest and false imprisonment. The SOL for each, in Alabama, is six years. The shackling of Don Siegelman in a Montgomery courtroom, plus his rough treatment in federal prison,  likely would support a civil claim for assault and battery, which also carries a six-year SOL. Keep in mind that Siegelman only recently passed the one-year anniversary of his release from prison.

Could the Alabama AG bring a case involving Don Siegelman in federal court? Given the apparent involvement of national GOP figures -- Karl Rove, Jack Abramoff, Michael Scanlon, Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist, Bill Pryor, Jeff Sessions, Bill Canary, and more -- the answer almost certainly is yes.

Did key figures act behind the scenes to ensure the U.S. Supreme Court did not overturn the Siegelman convictions and to make sure the Obama administration did not issue a pardon? If so, that means certain individuals in both parties might be experiencing tightness in their whities.

A federal civil-rights claim in Alabama generally is subject to the state's two-year SOL for personal-injury cases. But accrual of the claim is a matter of federal law (see Kelly v. Serna, 11th Cir., 1996), and a false-imprisonment claim does not accrue until the imprisonment ends. That already has been spelled out in a Northern District of Alabama case styled Antonio James v. City of Birmingham (2012). From the James ruling:

As to Count Two, alleging false imprisonment, the “running of the statute of limitations on false imprisonment is subject to a distinctive rule --dictated, perhaps, by the reality that the victim may not be able to sue while he is still imprisoned: ‘Limitations begin to run against an action for false imprisonment when the alleged false imprisonment ends.’” Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. at 389 (quoting 2 H. Wood, Limitation of Actions § 187d(4), p. 878 (rev. 4th ed. 1916). Construing the complaint in the light most favorable to plaintiff, this court presumes that he remained in the city jail until July 29, 2008. As such, the statute of limitations did not begin to run until July 29, 2008, and plaintiff’s false imprisonment claim is not time-barred.

Don Siegelman was released from federal prison on Feb. 8, 2017, so he has almost one full year to pursue a false-imprisonment claim -- with or without the assistance of the attorney general.

Our research indicates a false-imprisonment claim could provide a serious AG (such as Joseph Siegelman) with grounds to conduct a sweeping civil (or criminal, or both) investigation of the ugliness behind the Siegelman and Scrushy incarcerations.

How is this for possible irony? Siegelman's lawyers have been seeking information since 2006 about the alleged recusal of former U.S. Attorney Leura Canary -- via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) -- only to be stonewalled for 12 years. In fact, Joseph Siegelman has a FOIA lawsuit pending before U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala, and she has been sitting on it since last April.

The government's stonewalling could blow up in its face, like a stick of dynamite with Wile E. Coyote. A general principle of law is that the SOL is tolled when a party has been denied information to which it clearly is entitled. Also, Haikala's handling of the FOIA case suggests someone is unlawfully pulling her strings, which might give a serious AG (Joseph Siegelman?) grounds to investigate for obstruction of justice or its state equivalent.

Yes, a lot of time has passed since then-AG Bill Pryor launched an investigation of Don Siegelman. And yes, some avenues of investigation might be cut off by SOLs. But we suspect Joseph Siegelman, if he is elected AG, will have plenty of available avenues that are not time barred. On top of that, Don Siegelman mentioned last fall the possibility of pursing a federal RICO case against those responsible for his unlawful arrest and incarceration -- and that likely was long before anyone suspected Joseph Siegelman might be running for state AG.

All of that probably has some powerful and corrupt people connected to the Siegelman case sleeping a bit uneasy these days. We can't help but suppress a smile just at the thought of it.

By the way, Don Siegelman reportedly is recovering well from heart-bypass surgery late last week. Below is an interview he conducted with Cenk Uygur, of The Young Turks:





Monday, February 12, 2018

USA Gymnastics sexual-abuse case in Michigan -- plus my unlawful incarceration in an Alabama defamation case -- shows courts easily botch contempt law




A Michigan man's attempt to launch a courtroom assault on Dr. Larry Nassar, the physician at the heart of the USA Gymnastics sexual-abuse case, has wound up teaching an important lesson about the gross misapplication of contempt-of-court laws in the United States. Randall Margraves almost certainly did not intend to teach such a lesson -- but he did, and it's one that hits close to home here at Legal Schnauzer.

Margraves' actions amounted to about as blatant a case of contempt of court as one can imagine. It happened right under the nose of Judge Janice K. Cunningham, and based on Michigan law, Margraves was looking at up to $7,500 in fines and three months in jail. So, why did Cunningham ignore her oath to uphold the law and let Margraves off the hook? Given that judges in Michigan are subject to election, political considerations probably played a major factor.

Does that frost us, just a bit? It sure as heck does, given that I spent five months in an Alabama jail because of a preliminary injunction in a defamation case, the kind of injunction that has been prohibited by only 230 years or so of First Amendment law?

Why are preliminary injunctions forbidden in defamation cases? By definition, a preliminary injunction is a prior restraint on free speech and a free press. It involves a judge acting as a one-man censor, essentially saying, "You can't publish this, even though there has been no lawful finding that it is defamatory -- no discovery, no trial, no jury."

Also, a preliminary injunction leads to the possibility of a contempt finding, which inherently means fines and jail time. If that notion sounds un-American to you, that's because it is. So, how did I spend five months in jail on a contempt finding that has zero basis in law? Well, that's because Alabama is hideously corrupt -- a place where a political hack and legal neanderthal like Rob Riley can seek remedies not allowed by law, and a specially appointed corrupt judge like Claud Neilson will let him get away with it.

In a broader sense, my experience in Alabama -- viewed in a light with the Nassar case in Michigan -- shows that U.S. courts often make no serious effort to ensure law is equitably applied across jurisdictions. In other words, the notion of "equal protection of the law" is a joke in the U.S. justice system -- and judges tend to treat it with thinly disguised disdain.

How gross were Riley and Neilson's abuse of contempt powers in my case? About as bad as it can get, and we've spelled that out in several posts. (See here, here, and here.) Near v. Minnesota, 283 U.S. 697 (Sup. Ct., 1931), one of the seminal First Amendment cases of the 20th century, involved a Minnesota statute that provided for the "abatement" as a public nuisance of any newspaper that was found to produce "malicious, scandalous, and defamatory" content. The nation's highest court quickly found that the Minnesota statute collided with fundamental constitutional protections -- and one reason involved issues connected to contempt. From the Near opinion:

When a newspaper or periodical is found to be "malicious, scandalous and defamatory," and is suppressed as such, resumption of publication is punishable as a contempt of court by fine or imprisonment. Thus, where a newspaper or periodical has been suppressed because of the circulation of charges against public officers of official misconduct, it would seem to be clear that the renewal of the publication of such charges would constitute a contempt and that the judgment would lay a permanent restraint upon the publisher, to escape which he must satisfy the court as to the character of a new publication. Whether he would be permitted again to publish matter deemed to be derogatory to the same or other public officers would depend upon the court's ruling.

How dangerous is this to a society built largely on the foundation of a free press?

If we cut through mere details of procedure, the operation and effect of the statute in substance is that public authorities may bring the owner or publisher of a newspaper or periodical before a judge upon a charge of conducting a business of publishing scandalous and defamatory matter — in particular that the matter consists of charges against public officers of official dereliction — and unless the owner or publisher is able and disposed to bring competent evidence to satisfy the judge that the charges are true and are published with good motives and for justifiable ends, his newspaper or periodical is suppressed and further publication is made punishable as a contempt. This is of the essence of censorship.

There is that ugly word again -- censorship. I spent five months in an Alabama jail because Rob Riley and associated corrupt lawyers asked Judge Claud Neilson to act as a one-man censor in my case, contrary to centuries of First Amendment. And Neilson, showing absolute disdain for our constitution, agreed to act as a one-man censor -- using contempt powers he did not have as the weapon of choice.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

In a glaring show of hypocrisy, Missouri prosecutor Nicholas Jain -- with a DUI conviction on his own record -- brings drunk-driving charges against others


Nicholas Jain
A Missouri prosecutor who has a drunk-driving conviction on his record is handling a DUI case that is set for trial in late March after the state court of appeals overturned a trial-court finding that suppressed evidence due to lack of probable cause.

All of this has strong connections to the bogus "assault of a law enforcement officer (LEO)" charges against my wife, Carol. The drunk-driving prosecutor, Nicholas Jain, has pressed the case against Carol, even though it clearly has lacked probable cause from the get-go. The trial judge in the Greene County DUI case is Margaret Holden Palmietto, who also is presiding over Carol's case.

Most important, however, is this: The DUI case, taken in light with Carol's case, reveals Nicholas Jain to be a monstrous hypocrite and a glaringly corrupt prosecutor. What's next in Missouri? Will the state start hiring rapists to prosecute rape cases? Maybe it can hire child molesters to prosecute child molestation cases? Given that Nicholas Jain is a drunk driver prosecuting drunk-driving case . . . well, it seems reasonable to expect the state to hire criminals to prosecute the crimes they have committed themselves.

The pending DUI case is styled State of Missouri v. Charles Hollis Roux. The Web site for Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson shows Jain as handling "general crimes." You might think Patterson would have enough sense not to have a drunk driver handling DUI cases. But you would be wrong. "General crimes" apparently includes DUI cases, and God only know how many Jain has handled.

This all hits close to home here at Legal Schnauzer because of the probable-cause issue. Anyone can read the Probable Cause Statement and Misdemeanor Information -- the two charging documents in Carol's case -- and see Carol has been arrested twice without anything even close to probable cause. (Both documents are embedded at the end of this post.)

Carol has been forced to fight baseless charges for more than a year, even though the PC Statement includes no information from a named accuser. The only allegation against Carol -- that she supposedly pushed an officer who was engaging in an unlawful eviction at our apartment -- comes from an unnamed "adviser." That is sub-hearsay and is wildly inadmissible, under both Missouri and federal law..

The so-called "victim" of the push, Officer Jeremy Lynn, makes no statement in the PC Statement -- he provides zero evidence. He does admit in his incident report that he grabbed Carol -- initiating contact with her, not the other way around -- meaning Carol, as a matter of law in Missouri, is innocent. But Nicholas Jain doesn't seem to let the facts and law get in the way of pursuing dubious cases. (Lynn's incident report, which is not part of the PC Statement, is embedded at the end of this post.)

For now, the main issue in Carol's case is probable cause -- and anyone can read the PC Statement and see that Jeremy Lynn presents zero evidence of any misconduct on Carol's part.

State of Missouri v. Charles Hollis Roux also indicates Jain is pushing a DUI -- the very offense for which Jain served two years on probation -- which involves shaky probable cause. In fact, Judge Palmietto found at the trial level that all evidence was due to be dismissed for lack of probable cause. Did Patterson and Jain have the decency to take their lumps and move on to something else -- especially given their raging hypocrisy on the DUI issue?

Hell, no. They may be softies when it comes to drunk drivers in the Greene County prosecutor's office, but they play hard ass with everyday folks facing DUI charges. Here is the Missouri Court of Appeals' summary of its reversal of Judge Palmietto in the Roux case:

Charles Hollis Roux (“Defendant”) was charged with driving while intoxicated and thereafter filed a motion to suppress all the evidence in the case. The trial court granted that motion, and the State appeals pursuant to § 547.200.1(3) 1 raising two points of alleged error. In its first point, the State argues the trial court's decision was not supported by substantial evidence, and, in its second point, the State argues the trial court erred in refusing to admit the result of the portable breath test. The State's second point has merit, so we are compelled to reverse and remand the case. Moreover, as the admission of the test result will add additional relevant evidence for the trial court to consider on remand, we need not address the State's first point.

So, the trial-court judge -- the one who handled the Roux case from the outset -- found results of the portable breath test should not have been admitted. According to case.net, the case has been reset for a bench trial in Greene County on March 26, 2018.

Did the appellate court get it right? Well, we still are conducting research on that. But the trial court clearly found lack of probable cause -- and Patterson and Jain decided to play the hard ass when a regular citizen faces DUI charges.

That, of course, likely serves the political ambitions of the prosecutor and his flunky. But they probably don't want the public to know about their hypocrisy -- that they get all soft and gooey when it comes to a drunk driver working as a prosecutor.


(To be continued)










Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Missouri prosecutor Nicholas Jain addresses some questions about his drunk-driving record, while executing a nifty sidestep on other queries


Nicholas Jain
Missouri prosecutor Nicholas Jain has a drunk-driving conviction in his background, but that does not seem to have impeded his pursuit of a law degree, big time law-related jobs, even a pilot's license. That raises a number of unsettling questions, especially since Jain is in a position of judging the actions of others.

We sought to pose some of these questions to Jain, and it started with the following email:

Mr. Jain:

I publish Legal Schnauzer, a blog about justice issues in Missouri, Alabama, the South, and beyond. I am preparing a post re: the above-styled DUI case in which you were involved. I wanted to give you an opportunity to comment prior to publication. A few questions that you might want to address:

(1) It appears you were accepted to the MU School of Law while on two years' probation for the DUI case. Did you disclose your criminal record and probationary status on your law school application?

(2) To your knowledge, is it normal practice for the MU School of Law to admit a student who is on probation due to a criminal offense?

(3) My research indicates you worked as a law clerk for at least two state agencies, plus a Jefferson City law firm, either while you were on probation or shortly after your probationary period ended. Did you disclose your criminal record and probationary status on your applications for these positions?

(4) I understand you soon intend to run for prosecuting attorney, probably in your home area of Dunklin County, MO. Do you plan to disclose your criminal history to voters and the local press? What does this mark on your record say about your qualifications to serve in a position of such high public trust?

If you wish to comment on this matter for my articles, you are welcome to do so. Also, I would be glad to arrange a time for an interview (in person or by phone) if that would work better for you.

I ask that you make any response by 5 p.m. Thurs. (12/7/17).

Legal Schnauzer has been ranked among the top 50 law blogs in North America. Again, we welcome any comments you care to make prior to publication.


Sincerely,

Roger Shuler (publisher and editor)

Carol Shuler (asst. publisher and editor)

legalschnauzer.blogspot.com

(205) 381-5673.

Here is Jain's response:

Dear Mr. Shuler:

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond.

1. Yes, I disclosed the case to the University of Missouri School of Law as well as to the Missouri Board of Law Examiners.

2. I do not have sufficient knowledge to answer questions about the law school’s admission policies. I am only aware of my personal experience, and I was admitted without further question. The Director of Admissions or Admissions Committee may be able to provide more information about their policies and practices.

3. I disclosed the case to those employers. In addition, the record was also publicly available on Case.net then, as it is now.

4. I take full responsibility for driving while intoxicated in 2011, and I deeply regret that incident. Prosecutors must exercise sound judgment as it relates to each case they handle. As a prosecutor, I hope to have the wisdom and perspective to do what is in the best interests of the people of the county both individually and as a whole.

Thank you,

Nicholas Jain

Interestingly, Jain avoided the question about his political plans in Dunklin County, Missouri. He did, however, raise the issue of prosecutors showing sound judgment. That prompted more questions from us.

(To be continued)

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Sexual-abuse case involving Dr. Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics shows that our courts consistently fall short when it involves equal protection under the law


Dr. Larry Nassar
(From cbssports.com)
A casual observer of recent activity in the USA Gymnastics sexual-abuse case in Michigan could have the impression that American courts actually are striving to achieve equal protection of the law -- especially in matters that involve alleged contempt of court and abuse of girls and women by men in positions of authority.

My wife, Carol, and I have up-close-and-personal experience with such matters in two states -- Alabama and Missouri -- and we know U.S. courts are a long way from acting with anything approaching consistency and enlightenment. No matter how many life sentences are imposed against Dr. Larry Nassar -- the physician and sexual predator at the heart of the Michigan case -- the public should not fall for any notion that our courts truly dispense justice. The sideshow created when Randall Margraves -- the father of three Nassar victims -- tried to attack the doctor in court only adds to evidence that our courts are not to be trusted, even in a case that has attracted national media attention.

The criminal cases against Nassar likely ended yesterday, with a judge imposing another 40- to 125-year sentence. That could be interpreted as a form of justice for the victims. But criminal cases are about punishment for wrongdoers, and they do little or nothing to address the victims' damages. That can only come from civil cases, and lawsuits already are mounting against USA Gymnastics, Michigan State University, and other entities connected to Nassar.

Are the victims guaranteed anything close to justice in civil matters? Absolutely not. Michigan State is one of the most powerful entities in the state, and we know from first-hand experience with the University of Alabama, that you should never underestimate the ability of a state university to cheat its victims. When I was screwed out of my job of 20 years at UAB, the university was more than happy to take advantage of U.S. District Judge William M. Acker Jr.'s corrupt rulings, granting summary judgment when no discovery had been conducted.

That simply cannot be done, per Snook v. Trust Company of Georgia, 859 F. 2d 865 (11th Cir., 1988), and University of Alabama lawyers surely knew this was a monstrous cheat job. But they stayed quiet because it benefited them. Would Michigan State's lawyers do the same thing to Larry Nassar's victims? Well, they've already shown signs that the answer is yes. MSU has moved a federal judge to dismiss complaints against it in the Nassar matter on the grounds of "state immunity." From an article at the Lansing State Journal:

MSU has asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuits against it by some 140 women and girls who say former university doctor Larry Nassar sexually abused them because as a state institution it "retains absolute immunity from liability" for his actions. . . .

Attorneys for the university furthered their argument that Michigan State University and its current and former employees should be dismissed from the nine lawsuits by saying the statute of limitations had expired, the plaintiffs lacked standing for protection under the federal Title IX law or because MSU employees are also immune from liability.

"In the fall of 2016, Nassar was unmasked and exposed for what he is: a fraud, a pedophile, and a criminal," attorneys wrote. "He has now publicly admitted that he abused his position of trust to surreptitiously sexually assault his patients under the guise of medical care. He will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars — and deservedly so."

Michigan State has signaled clearly that it intends to do everything in its power to make sure Nassar's victims walk away empty handed. If that doesn't make you want to throw up in your mouth just a little . . . well, I've seen the University of Alabama pull the same stunt -- and get away with it.

I suspect the public perceives that the Nassar criminal sentencing signals his victims will achieve justice in the civil arena. But we warn against jumping to such conclusions.  We've seen here in Missouri that powerful institutions, who have abused women once, are likely to try it again.

Members of the Greene County Sheriff's Office -- acting at the behest of corrupt landlord Trent Cowherd and his corrupt lawyer, Craig Lowther -- broke into our rented apartment, with no authority from a court, and wound up breaking Carol's arm in more than two places (a comminuted fracture).

X-ray of Carol Shuler's broken arm
Did the thugs take accountability for their actions? Are you kidding? They concocted a bogus "assault of a law enforcement officer" criminal case against Carol, which she has been fighting for more than a year --and it clearly is a "cover charge" designed to impede her chances of achieving civil justice.

How weak is the cover charge? The Probable Cause Statement shows there is no accuser -- no one with a name makes any claim that Carol assaulted anyone. That can't be done under the Sixth Amendment to he U.S. Constitution, but it's being done right here in the Missouri Ozarks. Even worse, the supposed "victim," Officer Jeremy Lynn, admits in his incident report that he initiated contact with Carol -- and that means, as a matter of law, she could not have assaulted him.

All of this raises a discomfiting question: What if Larry Nassar had been a cop, or a doctor who worked for law enforcement? What if he had routinely sexually abused female inmates in the Michigan corrections system? Would the justice apparatus be doing everything in its power to protect him?

The answer, in my view, likely is yes. Also, we encourage the public not to buy into the notion that the justice system, and those who are powerful enough to manipulate it, care one iota about justice for Larry Nassar's victim.

We've already seen signs that Michigan State is working against the victims, and you can only expect that to intensify.

As for contempt of court, our justice system has proven beyond a doubt that it routinely butchers that concept. More on that issue is coming.