How would you define an outlaw? I would say it's a person who operates outside the law and gets away with it.
By that definition, Alice Martin, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, is an outlaw. Comforting thought for those of us who live in Martin's district.
(By the way, this discussion reminds me of a great song, "Outlaw Man," from the Eagles classic Desperado album. You can read the lyrics here. That song was about a fictional character, a dude, in the old west. Alice Martin, unfortunately, is real, and she's a woman operating in the here and now.)
Let's revisit our recent post about Martin being cleared of perjury charges related to an employment case at the U.S. attorney's Huntsville office. This episode points up all kinds of things that are wrong with our justice system. It also shows what is horribly wrong with a person like Alice Martin having anything to do with justice.
As we stated in our previous post, Martin clearly made false statements under oath. But the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) in the Bush Justice Department cleared her of the allegations. What can we learn from this?
* The Power of Perjury--Perjury is rampant in our justice system and is very rarely punished. From my own experience, I can say this: If I had known how easily people can lie under oath and get away with it, I would never have sworn out a criminal trespass complaint against my neighbor, which led to the lawsuit I am still fighting. When we get into details about both the criminal case I initiated and the lawsuit that was filed against me, I will show you numerous examples of outrageous lies under oath. Talk about having the scales fall from your eyes. When my tale of travail started back around 2000, I assumed that people swore on the Bible and told the truth in court. Of course, I also assumed that a lawyer would never lie in the middle of a deposition, and I certainly assumed that judges always ruled according to the law. Boy, what a dunce I was. Here's the ugly truth: If you are a child of the legal culture, it's probably going to become second nature for you to lie. And if you have considerable experience as a defendant in criminal courts, as my neighbor does, you are going to know how the game is played--unlike a ding dong like me, who had never been involved in a court case of any kind before.
* Another Press Cover Up--Once again, The Birmingham News provides cover for a corrupt Republican in Alabama. In it's story on Martin being cleared, nowhere does the News give any indication of the overwhelming evidence against Martin. It merely says the case was investigated, and the charges were dismissed. If you didn't know about Scott Horton's coverage at Harper's, you would think Martin was the real victim. No mention of the two written documents that proved Martin lied under oath. (By the way, since our original post on this subject, Horton has weighed in at his No Comment blog. He raises a number of troubling questions about the OPR's ruling and includes a link to an e-mail that erases all doubt about whether Martin lied under oath.)
* The GOP and Jurisdictional Issues--We drew on Scott Horton's reporting at Harper's on the Martin perjury case, and it's interesting to note that the OPR initially claimed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) should have heard the charges against Martin. Horton points out the blatant absurdity of this claim, but jurisdictional hocus-pocus is old hat for Martin and modern-day Republicans. When I filed detailed allegations of wrongdoing by Alabama GOP judges and lawyers, Martin told me she had sent my information to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Never mind that the postal inspection service does not have authority to investigate the kind of crimes (honest-services mail fraud, conspiracy) I was alleging. These GOPers are a shrewd bunch. Sending criminal allegations to an agency that has no authority to investigate them is a surefire way to make sure such allegations never see the light of day.
* The Arrogance of Alice--After being cleared, Martin went out of her way to say the claims against her had been "frivolous." And no one in the Alabama press evidently has questioned her about that claim. In fact, Martin's statement is further evidence that she lies like she breathes; it's second nature. She knows good and well the charges against her were not frivolous. The claims went to the heart of the employment matter, and the evidence was overwhelming that Martin indeed lied under oath. It's slightly possible that she was cleared on a technical defense to perjury. But more likely, she was cleared because the Bush Justice Department doesn't want further trouble for one of its "homies."
* Lawyers Overseeing Lawyers--This is a huge issue, one we will deal with in much detail later. The law is a self-regulating profession. Discipline of lawyers generally is left up to other lawyers. It's a classic example of "fox-guarding-the-henhouse" syndrome. And it's maybe the single biggest reason our justice system is so corrupt. Consider the Martin case: The OPR is a bunch of lawyers; they cleared Martin. The Alabama State Bar is a bunch of lawyers; they cleared Martin. Jethro Bodine ("I done gradjeated sixth grade, Uncah Jed!") could read Scott Horton's post on the Martin case and see she lied under oath. But a bunch of lawyers let her off. Heck, I've seen this stuff firsthand. I sent a lengthy complaint--I think it was 10 pages or so--about William E. Swatek to the Alabama State Bar. Swatek is the dirtbag who filed a bogus lawsuit against me, and he already had been "disciplined" multiple times by the Bar. By the Bar's own rules, prior discipline is supposed to be one factor in considering future discipline. In other words, if you've been a bad boy before, you are more likely to be found to be a bad boy again. But the Bar did not even investigate my complaint against Swatek. Cheryl Rankin, a Bar lawyer, pretty much admitted to me that the Bar gets so many complaints against sleazy lawyers that it can only act on cases filed by a lawyer's own client. The Rules of Professional Conduct clearly state that a lawyer owes a duty to be truthful and fair with the opposing party. But the Bar evidently does not enforce that rule. And get this: My complaint included undisputed evidence of Bill Swatek lying in a deposition! I have a transcript and a tape recording that prove it, but the Bar didn't even look at it. Now, Swatek was not under oath during the deposition--his client was. But it appears that a lawyer who lies during the course of an official legal proceeding is violating Bar rules. Does the Alabama State Bar care? Not in the least.
* Would Martin retaliate against someone--We learn from this case that the answer is yes. The EEOC found that Martin had fired Deirdra Brown-Fleming for retaliatory reasons. Which makes me wonder: Not long after I wrote on this blog about an e-mail exchange I'd had with Martin, an exchange which shows her intentionally deep-sixing my complaint and lying to me about it, I started receiving threats to unlawfully seize my house. Do I suspect Martin has something to do with what my wife and I are currently going through? You're darned right I do.
Before we go, I just discovered a video from YouTube of the Eagles performing "Outlaw Man." Think the performance is from 1976. Let's check it out.