Let's examine another justice-related story that broke a few weeks back in Shelby County, Alabama. This one purports to be about a serious subject. But to anyone who knows how justice really works in Shelby County--and your humble blogger most definitely does--this story is downright comical.
It seems that J. Michael Joiner, presiding circuit judge in Shelby County, has decided to launch a new court to deal with thieves. It's called "accountability court."
The Birmingham News treated this with the utmost seriousness, playing the story on the front page of its Feb. 18 edition. (You must wonder if the headline writer saw the humor in the story. The headline: "Accountability Court Gives Thieves Second Chance." To do what? Steal again?)
Anyway, I don't mean to be hard on the folks who might find themselves in accountability court. The real joke is the judge in charge of the court.
Here's the truth The Birmingham News doesn't want you to know: J. Michael Joiner is a far bigger thief than anyone who will come before him in accountability court.
And that's not just the opinion of someone who has gone before Joiner and received an unpleasant result. It's a fact, under the law.
Let me explain: We have already shown on this blog--and we will show it in even greater detail in future posts--that Mike Joiner handled a bogus lawsuit filed against me in an unlawful way. Specifically, he denied two motions for summary judgment that, by law, had to be granted, causing a case that had to be dismissed in a few months time to drag on for about five years, costing me and Alabama taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. (By the way, after Joiner recused himself on my motion--acknowledging that he had a relationship with opposing counsel William E. Swatek--Judge G. Dan Reeves unlawfully denied a third motion for summary judgment. The two summary-judgment rulings were among numerous examples of Joiner butchering the law.)
A reader might respond to this by saying: "Tough luck, Schnauzer. Sorry you got a raw deal, but why am I supposed to care? How does that affect me?"
Under the law, Mike Joiner's unlawful actions in my case affect every citizen of Alabama. And here is why: By intentionally making multiple unlawful rulings in my case, and using the U.S. mails in furtherance of a fraudulent scheme, Mike Joiner committed honest-services mail fraud. Specifically, he violated 18 U.S. Code 1346, the statute that was central to the federal prosecutions of Don Siegelman in Alabama and Paul Minor in Mississippi.
For anyone wishing to understand honest-services mail fraud, I strongly recommend the article "Honest Services Fraud--Strong Medicine for Pay to Play." It is available here.
Here is a key passage:
"Underlying Sec. 1346 is the notion that a public official acts as trustee for the citizens and the State . . . and thus owes the normal fiduciary duties of a trustee, e.g., honesty and loyalty to them. THEFT of honest services occurs when a public official strays from this duty.'" (U.S. v. Sawyer, 239 F. 3d 31, 39, First Circuit, 2001.)"
Two key points:
* Joiner owes a fiduciary duty to all citizens, not just those who come before him. He owes a duty to me, and to you, to act in an honest way.
* A public official who fails in this duty is committing THEFT of honest services. Mike Joiner is a THIEF. Let me say that again, because it feels so good: Mike Joiner is a THIEF.
Here is another delicious passage from the "Strong Medicine" article:
"Acording to the First Circuit, a public official can STEAL honest services from his public employer in two ways: (1) the official can be influenced or otherwise improperly affected in the performance of his duties, or (2) the official can fail to disclose a conflict of interest, resulting in a personal gain. U.S. v. Woodward, 149 F.3d 46, 57 (1st Cir. 1998) (relying upon the court's earlier decision in U.S. v. Sawyer, 85 F.3d 713, 724 (1stCir. 1996)."
Notice that word in big, bold letters: STEAL. So, you see, it's not just my opinion that Mike Joiner is a thief. The law says that Joiner, and other public officials who behave as he has, are thieves.
By the way, since we brought up the Siegelman and Minor cases, we should mention this: We have shown on this blog that Paul Minor and co-defendants Wes Teel and John Whitfield definitely did not commit honest-services mail fraud (or bribery, for that matter). We know this because a transcript of that trial actually exists, and I've read it, and it is clear that Minor, Teel, and Whitfield are innocent of the charges that currently find them in federal prison.
A transcript of the Siegelman only recently became available, and I have not seen it, so I can't say for certain that the former Alabama governor is innocent of the corruption charges against him. But given what we know about the political machinations behind his prosecution, I think it's safe to say that Siegelman someday will be proven innocent of honest-services mail fraud and the other charges brought against him.
In contrast to Siegelman and Minor and Co., Mike Joiner is the real deal. He is a true THIEF of honest services. We already have laid out the case against him here in general terms. And when we go into specifics, you will see that it's about as blatant a case of honest-services mail fraud as you can imagine.
Joiner, of course, is a member in good standing of the Republican "home team" in Alabama, which means U.S. Attorney Alice Martin has no interest in seeing that he is punished for his crimes. She would rather drag 63-year-old retired school teachers out of the shower and arrest them for "underperforming their lesson plans."
Perhaps after the November election, we will have a Democratic president (God willing!) who will appoint a real U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. And perhaps that U.S. attorney will put Mike Joiner, Dan Reeves, Bill Swatek, and others behind bars where they belong. (Wonder how they will look in orange jumpsuits?)
Until that day comes, Legal Schnauzer readers will know the truth: Shelby County Circuit Judge J. Michael Joiner is a thief. And the fact that he is starting a special court to oversee thieves is the cruelest of jokes upon the citizens of Alabama.