Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Adventures of Alice in Plunderland

Got an interesting e-mail today from (as Dave Barry would say) an alert reader. He (my reader, not Dave Barry) let me know about a recent blog post regarding U.S. Attorney Alice Martin and referred to it as the antics of "Alice in Plunderland."

I liked that line so much that I asked him if I could steal it sometime. He said "sure," so there you have it.

And what about the post? Well it was from our friends at folo, a blog that follows heavy-duty legal issues, particularly in Mississippi. We posted recently about folo here.

Our reader was intrigued by this post, titled "Alice Martin tried to stick her nose in the Renfroe case. Why?"

The Renfroe case involved insurance coverage in Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina. Renfroe & Co. was an insurance adjusting firm that was working for State Farm. For some reason, Alice Martin (U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama) sought to intervene by seeking an ex parte status conference.

What does this mean? Let's let the folks at folo explain:

Before I go into this, I want to remind readers what ex parte hearings are, quite literally: They are court proceedings involving only one party to a case. I’ll also remind them that the Renfroe case was between Renfroe & Co., an insurance adjusting firm working for State Farm, and the Rigsby sisters, two former adjusting employees for Renfroe. In January of 2007, they were subject to an injunction that they return to Renfroe & Co. documents they had taken. It also bears remembering that the United States (that is, the justice department and the U.S. attorney) was not in any way party to that suit.

What to make of this? Beats me, and the folks at folo are baffled, too:

I don’t know anything to do but speculate about this event. It involves a bĂȘte noir of Lotus’s, N.D. Alabama U.S. Attorney Alice Martin. In the period January 11-19, 2007 (a period that has a lot of interest to me, as readers are aware), she actively attempted to insert herself in the Renfroe case. My question is essentially: What was she up to? Who exactly pulled her string? I can think of explanations that are legitimate (say there really was a justice department investigation involving State Farm and the Rigsbys and they were trying to protect the Rigsbys) and illegitimate (for some reason suddenly deciding to help out Dickie Scruggs and his informants, at the behest of, oh, anyone could guess), but I don’t really have a clue. If there really was an investigation, I don’t think this would have been the way to protect it.

Legal Schnauzer readers might want to check out some of the comments at the folo post. Interesting stuff.

You never know what's going to happen with Alice in Plunderland.

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