Monday, July 23, 2007

A Certain Kind of Thief

We've been focusing on conservative hypocrisy lately, so let's examine a recent John Archibald column in The Birmingham News.

Archibald was at the downtown YMCA one day when someone evidently broke into his locker and stole his wallet and cell phone. Archibald wrote a column about it under the headline "They stole from me, and I'm furious." He calls the thieves "pigs," and I can't say I blame him. I've had items stolen, and it's infuriating.

My guess is that when most people read Archibald's column, they pictured a sneaky guy (maybe someone of color) using crude tools to violate Archibald and commit a crime. I thought of a different kind of thief, the kind that has ripped me off most recently.

I thought of thieves who have law degrees. Some of them wear robes and go by the title "Your Honor."

The corrupt judges and lawyers I will focus on in Legal Schnauzer are no better than the slimeball who ripped off Archibald. In fact, in my mind, they are far worse. Alabama lawyers are "officers of the court" and are supposed to adhere to strict standards of professionalism. When they possess information about wrongdoing by other lawyers or judges, they are required by the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct to report it to a tribunal or proper authority.

Judges take an oath to uphold the law, and they make mighty fine livings on taxpayer dollars. In fact, state judges in Alabama are among the highest paid in the nation.

Archibald did not state a value of the items that were stolen from his locker. But consider how much judges and lawyers have stolen from my wife and me. Just in legal fees alone, it amounts to almost $20,000. When other costs are factored in, it runs into the $30,000 to $40,000 range. And consider the time it has cost me, especially since I was forced to represent myself in court. If I were paid $100 an hour for the time I spent on this bogus lawsuit (and $100/hour is cheaper than you could find any lawyer), the total price tag would run well into the six figures. And that doesn't include emotional distress we have suffered or punitive damages that should be awarded in a case of intentional fraud, such as this one.

So why is it The Birmingham News devotes a full column to the theft that Archibald experienced, while ignoring the judicial thieves that I have encountered? And I am not the only Alabamian that judicial thieves prey upon. Ray Vaughan, a prominent Montgomery attorney and former candidate for a seat on the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, has written in public documents that it is not unusual for trial courts to make unlawful rulings in favor of certain parties--and for appeals courts to let the rulings stand. In other words, Alabamians get cheated all the time, and the press just lets it go on.

I don't mean to make light of Archibald's misfortune. I've communicated with him via e-mail previously, and he impresses me as a competent, honorable journalist. Given the opportunity, I think he would expose wrongdoing in Alabama's courts.

But it appears the higher ups at the News, probably concerned that my story in particular would shine a bad light on Briarwood Presbyterian Church/School, won't allow Archibald, or any other reporter, to touch it. They would rather focus attention on a petty thief, as opposed to the judicial thieves who steal thousands both from litigants and from Alabama taxpayers.

And so the hypocritical right-wing world turns.

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