Friday, August 24, 2007

Bob Riley and Professional Misconduct

Bob Riley's chief legal advisor might have a problem with the Alabama State Bar--at least if the bar takes its own rules seriously (and that's a big "if).

In our previous post, I noted that I had sent an e-mail to Governor Riley after he had appeared on Bill O'Reilly's Fox television show in November 2005 and encouraged anyone to let him know of problems they had encountered in Alabama's justice system. This came after Riley had called for a boycott of Aruba over concerns about the handling of the investigation into the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, an Alabama resident.

I took Riley up on his offer, and through an e-mail form on the governor's official Web site, I let him know about repeated instances of unlawful rulings I had witnessed by Republican judges in Alabama, starting in Shelby County trial courts and going up to the Alabama Supreme Court. Riley sent me a letter, saying he had referred my message to Ken Wallis, his chief legal advisor. I said in my post that I had never heard anything from Wallis.

In another recent post, I noted that a lawyer in Alabama is required to report wrongdoing by other lawyers or judges.

Rule 8.3 of the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct states that when a lawyer possesses knowledge of professional misconduct, he must report it to an appropriate authority or tribunal. The rule states that self-regulation of the legal profession requires an attorney to initiate investigation when he knows of a violation, and a lawyer is obliged to report every violation of the rules. The failure to report a violation, the rule states, is itself a professional offense.

I filed my complaint on the governor's Web site form and was not able to keep a copy. But my memory is that I provided considerable detail about the wrongs I had witnessed. Governor Riley stated in his response that he had forwarded my information to Mr. Wallis. And yet, almost two years after the filing of my complaint, I have no indication that Mr. Wallis took any action.

Does Governor Riley expect his chief legal advisor to live up to the ethical rules of the legal profession? Would the Alabama State Bar hold the governor's aide accountable for failing to report professional misconduct?


Anonymous said...

There is such a huge, glaring gap in your logic here laid out in this post that I'm curious if you even see it. I've noticed some fairly large gaps in logic on your other posts, but I'd written those off to a personal agenda, which I suppose could explain this gap too. But seriously, do you even realize the problem with your logic in this post? I'm curious, because it will tell me something about your thinking and intellect if you do see it. And of course if you do see it, and still want to stand by this post, I suppose that's fine.

So really, do you see it?

legalschnauzer said...

Please share your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick question: To date, how many individuals that you have brought information regarding judicial misconduct to have sided with you?

Anonymous said...

Well, I thought I did share my thoughts. I'm curious if you are aware of how inconsistent your logic is in this post. Is your statement posted in response an indication you are not?

legalschnauzer said...

Re: the post on Bob Riley's legal advisor, I don't see that as a post involving logical argument. I view it as a post about fact and law. I'm stating what occurred, and I'm stating the legal requirements under the Code of Professional Conduct for an attorney who possesses knowledge about misconduct. If you have a problem with the logic of the rule, or if you see a logical argument where I don't see one was made, feel free to enlighten me.

As to your question about people who have sided with me, well, that's irrelevant. If someone breaks into your home and steals your television, a crime has occurred. If you tell 10 people about it, and they blow it off, doesn't mean a crime hasn't occurred. Probably means the people either are ignorant of the law or don't care to learn about the law.

Of the people who have seriously heard about, or read about, both the facts and the law related to my case, not one has disputed that misconduct took place. In fact, I've spoken to numerous attorneys in Birmingham who say it is well known that judges in Shelby County favor "local counsel" and routinely rule contrary to law. Severeal of them have regaled me with their own "war stories" of being screwed in Shelby County.

I've spoken to a prominent attorney in Montgomery who says he is aware of many instances where the Court of Civil Appeals unlawfully allows wrongly decided trial-court rulings to stand.

A couple of other points: It's not a matter of anyone's opinion whether wrongdoing took place--any more than it would be a matter of opinion about your television being stolen.

Wrongdoing did take place, and it's right out in the open for anyone to see. Both in Shelby County and in Montgomery (with the appellate courts), the files are public record. Anyone who knows what the law is, and compares it to what was done in my case, could see the corruption immediately.

Finally, the terms misconduct and wrongdoing don't really tell the story of what these corrupt judges and attorneys have done. What they did is criminal under 18 U.S. Code 1346.

Will anyone in authority ever do anything about it? Probably not. But that goes to corruption in the U.S. Justice Department, and it's why I've spent a lot of time providing background info about the DOJ scandal and the handling of the Siegelman case.

Anonymous said...

Well, then, you clearly don't see the gap. Let me see if I can gently nudge you to notice. By the way, I take no position on the credibility of your claim. I'll assume it's true, for the sake of this discussion. But I refer you to your reference to the Bar rule you reference. What does it say? And how do you establish that the facts you lay out are met under that rule? Let's see if you see the gap in your logic now.

legalschnauzer said...

If you care to make your point clear, I'd be happy to hear it. But not interested in playing guessing games.

Anonymous said...

Not a guessing game here. Yours is a classic case of "conspiracy" logic; that is, where there is no logic, there is a conspiracy. You, and some of your fellow bloggers (Horton), use this logic to assert claims against those with whom you disagree, i.e. (Gonzales under attack for firing of prosecutors, prosecutors handled case against Siegelman, Siegelman's prosecution must be tainted because DOJ has these problems.)

This is a classic ploy that's used by those with a peronal or political agenda. Yours, I'm assuming, is personal, therefore you fall into this trap like others. You cite the Alabama Bar rules, and you assume those rules require an action based on the facts you lay out. But you don't realize the rule speaks to absolute knowledge, not a claim made by a disgruntled petitioner who may or may not be telling the truth, or at least the whole truth. Your complaint filed with the governor's attorney does not itself establish action under the rule, but you don't see that in your irrational use of "conspiracy" logic.

I guess you answered the question I posed in my first comment on this post.

legalschnauzer said...

The rule says nothing about "absolute knowledge." In fact, the "knowledge" requirement has been held to mean that a lawyer must possess more than suspicion. Alabama Ethics Opinion 85-95 held that a lawyer must report to proper authorities the unethical conduct of opposing counsel if, after thorough investigation, a lawyer firmly believes that opposing counsel clearly violated one or more of the disciplinary rules. If the knowledge is "privileged," the attorney is not required to report it. But my communication with Governor Riley's legal advisor was not privileged. I'm not his client. Therefore, he has a duty to at least investigate, which he has evidently not done. "Absolute knowledge" has nothing to do with it.

Anonymous said...

Again, you don't fix the problem by arguing semantics with absolute knowledge. Use your own language, and show me how a "thorough investigation" was conducted by a lawyer that raises beyond suspicion the prospect of a rule violation. (Again, you have an interesting gap in logic if you try to follow your line of thinking.)

Surely you don't believe that your claim to the governor's lawyer alone amounts to a legitimate basis for an investigation, or is itself a thorough investigation? You must realize that there are 100 people like you in Alabama out there every day who swear they've been wronged, and have all the documents to prove it. And it really only amounts ultimately to them not liking the outcome of their case. So given your own definition, the lawyer about whom you speak has no knowledge, beyond any suspicion, to believe a rule was broken, and further has seen no thorough investigation producing relevant facts to suggest so.

I'm assuming now you see how faulty, and borderline irrationale, your logic was here.

legalschnauzer said...

Sorry the law doesn't say what you want it to say.

I can assure you that the information I sent to Riley's office would raise more than a suspicion, and that's the legal requirement. Therefore, the governor's legal counsel is required by law to investigate.
And that's simple. All he has to do is send me a letter asking for more detailed information regarding the facts and law of my case. (Actually, I think he already had all the information he needed in my original e-mail, but it's pretty easy to just ask for more info.)Had he done so, he would have seen clear evidence not only of misconduct, but of multiple crimes.

You might not like the law, but that's what it says. And your statements about my lack of logic aren't going to change it.

After all, the law is a self-regulating profession, and lawyers have a duty to report wrongdoing. This doesn't matter from a legal standpoint, but Riley's advisor should be particularly vigilant when his boss has just gone on national television and invited anyone to let him know about wrongdoing in Alabama's justice system.

You might try asking yourself this question: Why has the governor's counsel not simply written me a letter? It could say something like, "Mr. Shuler, I'm sorry that you are unhappy with your experience in Alabama courts, but the information you provided gives no indication that any judges did anything improper. If you care to provide me with more information regarding the facts or law of your case, I would be happy to review it. But based on what I have before me, I see no evidence of wrongdoing and can take no action."

Why has he not sent such a letter? My guess is this: He knows my e-mail outlined clear wrongdoing by multiple Republican judges, showing that a judicial system headed by a Riley appointee was corrupt to the core and that a family member of a Riley associate was receiving unlawful favorable treatment in court.

By the way, your point about 100s of Alabamians every day who have documents to prove they were wronged in court . . . is simply wrong. Many people might not like what happens to them in court. But most people, I suspect, figure judges are honest and apply the law, so don't question it too much. And very few people have the ability, or the desire, to go to a law library and conduct the hours of work it would take to understand the law that is relevant to their cases.

I did do that work, and Riley's advisor knows it. He just doesn't want to deal with it.

Anonymous said...

My, my. Sounds like I hit a nerve. Well, then, let's follow this through, since I have pointed out your poor logic here (which I guess has offended you.) Let's just say I'm wrong, dead wrong. And there you go.

So that being said, if you're right, then the Alabama Bar will pursue a case against not only Mr. Riley's lawyer, but others you have evidence against. Right? Oh, wait a minute, I'll guess your answer ... they're part of the conspiracy too.

Yes, yes, it's all making sense now. And thank you for answering the question I first posed on this post.

legalschnauzer said...

Well, we're finally getting somewhere.

Yes, you are wrong, and you semi-admit that. So congratulations.

You still have a problem with putting words in my mouth. I never said the State Bar was part of a conspiracy. I did say I have concerns that they don't take their own rules seriously, and I have personal experience (not involving Riley's advisor) to back that up. Will be writing about that down the line.

As for your original question, I believe it had to do with a gap in my logic. Turns out you're the one with a gap in both his logic and his knowledge of the law.

You tried to blow smoke up my fanny with your "absolute knowledge" bit. Then you tried the "hundreds of people have documents to prove they were wrong" trick. Neither worked.

Now you try the "my, I've struck a nerve" routine to cover up the inadequacies of the argument you were trying to make.

Nice try, but please stick around. You are liable to learn a lot more about the actual law and how it should work.

I've found that real law is pretty interesting. It's corrupt people who screw up the system.

Anonymous said...

I have come to the conclusion that your an idiot with an ax to grind.