Monday, July 16, 2007

Republican Hypocrisy: Up Close and Personal

What's it like to look directly into the face of Republican hypocrisy? Well, let's consider some of the corrupt Republican judges I have encountered in Alabama.

Let's start with Shelby County circuit judge J. Michael Joiner, who appears to be the ringleader of the judicial cesspool that is based in Columbiana, Alabama. Joiner evidently professes to be a devout Christian. He attends The Church at Brook Hills, a megachurch in the Birmingham suburbs, and has taught Sunday school there. Joiner and his wife, Cathy, have a daughter named Christy Joiner. According to my research, Christy Joiner has attended Briarwood Christian School, and my guess is that she still attends Briarwood, probably in the 11th or 12th grade.

In earlier posts, I noted that Briarwood Presbyterian Church is a deeply conservative, wealthy, and politically active congregation in the Birmingham suburbs, and its members include former Birmingham News publisher Victor Hanson II. I noted that Briarwood Christian School, a ministry of Briarwood Presbyterian Church, seems to have some peculiar connections to the judicial wrongdoing I've encountered. Joiner, who repeatedly made unlawful rulings in the lawsuit against me (and committed honest services mail fraud in the process), has clear connections to Briarwood. His daughter, Christy, did go to Briarwood and probably still does. Also, Bill Swatek (the corrupt attorney who was the beneficiary of Joiner's unlawful rulings) has a son named Chace who is a Briarwood graduate. You will recall that another of Swatek's sons, Dax, is a Republican operative in Alabama with ties to the disgraced Jack Abramoff.

After Joiner had repeatedly cheated me, I discovered that he and Bill Swatek used to be longtime neighbors and were frequent golf partners. I moved for Joiner's recusal, and Joiner admitted his cozy relationship with Swatek in open court. (Why would such a fine Christian be buds with a lawyer of Swatek's sleazy pedigree?) I asked Joiner in open court why he had denied two motions for summary judgment (MSJ) that, by law, had to be granted because the opposing party did not respond. His answer? "I thought it was the right thing to do." (I'm not making this up! A judge in Alabama says he violated his oath to uphold the law because he thought it was the right things to do! Don't you just love it? What do they teach in law school?)

Joiner also said, "Mr. Shuler, if you don't like the way you're being treated here, you can get on I-65 and go to Montgomery (home of Alabama's appellate courts). Of course, Alabama's appellate courts are dominated by Republicans, and they proved just as corrupt as the Shelby County courts did. (And doesn't Joiner's snarky comment just radiate Christian warmth and charity?)

Joiner did recuse himself, but his unlawful rulings stood (contrary to clear written law), thanks to the new judge, one G. Dan Reeves. Talk about a judicial hack. This guy used to be the court clerk in Shelby County. Somehow he got a law degree and became a judge. I don't know if he's ever tried a case in his life. So much for high standards on the Alabama bench.

Like Joiner, Reeves made multiple unlawful rulings (and used the U.S. mails to send them; that's mail fraud, Danny Boy! Look it up!) One day while standing in front of Reeves' throne to argue a motion (talk about an exercise in futility), I noticed some type of Christian keepsake that Reeves keeps in front of him. It appeared to be made of stone and contained a number of sayings about Jesus and justice, etc. Then he proceeded to cheat me, denying a third motion for summary judgment that again, by law, had to be granted because the opposing party failed to respond.

For good measure, Reeves even lied in court documents while offering a lame excuse for his unlawful ruling. He stated that summary judgment was denied because I had offered no fact or law that had not already been cited in my two previous MSJs.

Now I like to think I'm relatively well educated; after all, an upstanding midwestern institution of higher learning conferred upon me a degree almost 30 years ago. When my wife sometimes questions my knowledge of a particular subject, I like to quote the immortal Jethro Bodine: "Uncah Jed, I dun gradjeeated sixth grade." To which she responds, "Eeee doggie, that boy sure nuff got the brains in the famlee."

Anyway, my sixth-grade education gives me the ability to read simple declarative sentences and compare information printed on one page to that printed on another page. I was certain that my third MSJ contained law and facts not present in my first two MSJs. It wasn't hard to write it that way, given that the case had to be dismissed on probably 10 to 12 different grounds.

But just to make sure, I consulted a buddy of mine. His name is Chucky, and he's a ground squirrel who lives in a hole (several holes actually) in our backyard. I see him just about every morning when I go out to the get the newspaper. "How's it going, Chucky," I say. "When you going to mow the grass again?" he says. "A guy could get lost out here."

One morning, I got down on all fours and showed Chucky my three MSJs, plus Reeves' ruling saying the third MSJ cited no law or fact different from the first two MSJs. Chucky put on his reading glasses and glanced back and forth from one document to the next. It didn't take him long to make a pronouncement. "You're getting screwed, dude," he said.

So there, you have it. Chucky the ground squirrel is smarter than a Shelby County judge.

For good measure, I took the motions and the Reeves ruling to the Birmingham Zoo and showed them to Babec, a lowland gorilla who lives there. "I agree with Counselor Chucky," she said. So a lowland gorilla is smarter than a Shelby County judge, too. And Babec even has a heart condition, bless her soul.

Back to people. My favorite Republican hypocrite has to be Drayton Nabers, former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Nabers, an appointee of Republican governor Bob Riley, was chief justice and administrator of the entire court system while my case was ongoing. Nabers has written a book about the importance of character. It's called The Case for Character: Looking at Character from a Biblical Perspective. What a high-minded title! What a wonderful man Drayton Nabers must be!

Apparently, Justice Nabers left his character at home while presiding over the Alabama Supreme Court. The Alabama Rules of Appellate Procedure state that the Supreme Court must grant certiorari review when a lower-court ruling contradicts a previous finding of the Alabama Supreme Court or the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. My petition for a writ of certiorari pointed out multiple lower-court rulings that contradicted established Alabama law. Did the Nabers court grant certiorari review and overturn the unlawful rulings as it was required to do by law? Nope.

I guess politics trumps character every time. At least in the tangled web of humanity.

Chucky and Babec show us that character counts in the animal kingdom. And that's one of the reasons we call this blog Legal Schnauzer. It's in honor of our animal friends who have so much to teach us about honesty and trust.


Anonymous said...

FYI - just a note from an attorney reading your blog... A motion for a summary judgment should not be granted when the moving party has not met his inital burden by showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the motion is due to be granted as a matter of law. Unlike what may occur when a party fails to respond to a complaint, when a party fails to respond to a motion for a summary judgment the motion is still not required to be granted when the moving party has failed to prove the above two required points.

The fact that your motion was not granted does not mean the trial judge was unethical.

legalschnauzer said...

Allow me to clarify. I've been writing in fairly general terms so far and will go into specifics soon.

But I need to add this specific information now: My motions for summary judgment were properly supported. I will provide details later to show they were properly supported. But the first two were prepared by attorneys from a major Birmingham firm, and they charged a combined $350 an hour. So if they could not get an MSJ properly supported in a case as simple as this, I had one heckuva of a legal-malpractice case. (Actually, I did have one heckuva legal malpractice case, and that will be part of this blog later.)

In short, when an MSJ is properly supported, the burden shifts to the non-moving party. And when the non-moving party presents no evidence, as happened three times in my case, the moving party's evidence must be considered uncontroverted and summary judgment must be granted.

I will provide a clarification of this on the blog today. Please stick around to read about the details regarding summary judgment and other issues. That's coming down the road, along with evidence showing that my own attorneys knew I was being cheated and did nothing about it.

As an attorney, I'm sure you are aware of the pressure an unscrupulous judge can put on a lawyer to keep wrongdoing "in the family." I've talked with numerous attorneys who say they have experienced this. They are put in this position: If they want to practice their profession and not be screwed repeatedly down the road, they had better go along with the judge. I suspect even normally honest attorneys might sell certain clients down the river under those circumstances

Anonymous said...

I am shocked that this would happen to you. I thought Judge Reeves just disliked us. He heard testimony of admitted guilt from our contractor where he overbilled us (by making xerox copies) $15,000 in framing and another $3,000 in tools and personal items (lunches and bottled drinks) and another $30,000 in unexplainable charges. However, the good ole judge couldn't award us any money from this lying, steeling crook because the contractor's records (which he refused to produce until forced by court order) were in such a mess that he couldn't come up with a value...WHAT kind of crap is that? You have a person, under oath, before God and everyone else admitting to changing records, overcharging, purchasing personal items and billing his clients for all of this. He admitted that. We have his testimony (cost $535.00) However, Judge Reeves chooses to ignore all his testimony. We still can't understand this. What kind of system is this? The contractor did not even have to reimburse the admitted overcharges. In fact, the judge was so "tired" of hearing about our case that he informed both attorneys if we continued he was going to "get out his laptop" because he was tired to hearing about it. That is what he gets paid to do. Is he just killing time until retirement or was he bought off? Better yet, he is old school Church of Christ and probably believes everyone besides himself is going to hell and we didn't need the money reimbursed to us for our son's college tuition this fall anyway. I must agree. The Shelby County Court is a "joke". I just hope he or anyone is his family never get sick and need my help or medical attention because that would be a tough call.

legalschnauzer said...

Please feel free to send me a private e-mail at Would like to learn more about your case.

Anonymous said...

You keep addressing the support and evidence. All the evidence and support in the world doesn't matter if there is no legal basis to grant your motion.

Are all judge unethical . . . or just Republican ones? There isn't a bad Democrat in the bunch, is there?