Saturday, May 31, 2008

More Bipartisan Pressure is Heaped on Bushies

We noted in a post yesterday that one of the biggest misconceptions about the Bush Justice Department scandal is that it is being driven by partisan liberals.

In fact, the first known victims of the Bush DOJ were Republicans--nine U.S. attorneys who were fired apparently for refusing to practice political prosecution. In fact, the effort to get to the bottom of the Bush DOJ swamp has been bipartisan in nature from the outset. And in fact, the single most heroic figure in the whole story, north Alabama attorney and whistleblower Jill Simpson, is a Republican.

More news comes today of a bipartisan effort to get at the truth. Adam Nossiter, of The New York Times, reports that 54 former state attorneys general have filed a brief supporting the appeal of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman.

Robert Abrams, a former New York attorney general, wrote the brief. He says the document is unprecedented in bringing together a large number of former state top judicial officers, both Democrats and Republicans, to express a "strong feeling" that an injustice had been done to Siegelman.

The brief was filed in the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta. The brief states: "Completely absent from the trial record is any evidence that Gov. Siegelman and Mr. (Richard) Scrushy entered into an explicit agreement whereby Mr. Scrushy's appointment to the CON board was conditioned upon Mr. Scrushy making the political contributions in question."

Friday, May 30, 2008

Inside a Selective Prosecution, Part II

It's been a newsy week for Alice Martin, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.

First, she went on the defense against charges from Birmingham attorney Doug Jones that her office is practicing partisan politics with its handling of the Alabama two-year colleges scandal.

Then came news that Martin was handing down another indictment in the two-year case. This time the target was E.B. McClain, a state Senator and Democrat from the Birmingham suburb of Midfield.

Throughout the week came reports that the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is investigating several U.S. attorneys for practicing exactly what Jones alleges--the selection of prosecutions based on politics. The probe reportedly is focusing on cases in Alabama (Don Siegelman), Mississippi (Paul Minor), and Wisconsin (Georgia Thompson).

Counsel H. Marshall Jarrett is leading the OPR investigation, and if it is legitimate, Martin surely will be in the crosshairs. After all, she instigated the first Siegelman prosecution, which a federal judge kicked out of court before it could even get started.

(For those wondering about Jarrett's credentials, whether he will be a dogged and nonpartisan sleuth, there is reason to hope. He was appointed to head OPR in 1998, by then Attorney General Janet Reno. At least he doesn't appear to be a "loyal Bushie.")

With all this news swirling around Alice Martin, what better time to launch a series of posts about our experiences with one of Alabama's notorious Bush appointees. When our series is completed, you will have a clear answer to this question: "Does Alice Martin take political considerations into account when determining which cases to pursue and which cases to ignore?"

And the answer is--a resounding "yes!"

In part I of our series, we presented background about both Alice Martin and the issue of selective prosecution.

Now, we invite you to join us on a brief travelogue of my experiences in trying to inform the Bush Justice Department about clear criminal conduct by Republican judges and Republican-connected attorneys in Alabama:

* Contact the FBI--The bureau claims that public corruption cases are its No. 1 priority, so I was expecting prompt action when I went to its special Web site for reporting such cases. After filling out a lengthy complaint and transmitting it, I waited . . . and waited . . . and waited . . .

And let's just say the wait is ongoing. I believe I filed the complaint in spring 2006.

* Contact the FBI again--A few months went by without hearing anything regarding my e-complaint, so I decided to call the Birmingham FBI office. A gentleman answering the intake calls that day listened to a short version of my story and showed little interest. I asked him for the name of the person in charge of white-collar crimes. I left several voice messages with that person. Still waiting for a reply.

* Contact the Birmingham U.S. Attorney's Office--Somehow, I came up with an e-mail address for Matt Hart, director of the white-collar crime unit. I sent him an e-mail and never received a reply. I decided to take a shot at calling his office, and by some miracle, managed to get him on the phone. First, Hart told me I didn't have a clue about the applicable law--honest services mail fraud. When I made it clear that I certainly did know about both the statutory and case law behind honest services mail fraud, Hart changed his tune. Whether I had been the victim of a crime or not, Hart was "kicking" my case. "I kick cases all the time," he said. I found it interesting that he could "kick" a case he hadn't even looked at yet.

* Send snail mail to the Queen herself--On January 14, 2007, I fired off a letter to Queen Alice Martin, her ownself. Since Matt Hart had questioned my knowledge of the law, I decided to focus more on the law and less on the facts.

* Queen Alice responds!--In a letter dated January 22, 2007, Queen Alice Her Ownself (QAHO) informed me that she already was familiar with the applicable law, but she needed more in the way of facts. She needed allegations that were in "focused detail," she said. "Be careful what you ask for, Queen," I thought to myself.

* A Schnauzer rises to the challenge!--By now, I had read enough about QAHO in the press to think she almost certainly would not take my allegations seriously. So I let her response sit for a while. Finally, in a letter dated June 14, 2007, I loaded up the guns and fired everything I had in the Queen's direction. In a six-page letter, I laid out in "focused detail" the allegations of federal crimes I had witnessed. After sending the letter via snail mail, I waited . . . and waited . . .
* A Schnauzer doesn't like being ignored--More than a month went by, and I began to think, "You know, I don't think QAHO is taking this seriously." What to do? I had Matt Hart's e-mail address, and under the assumption that the Queen used a similar construction, I took a shot at e-mailing her. And what do you know, I guessed right. She responded.

And that was the beginning of an e-mail exchange that we are about to present here at Legal Schnauzer. We think you will find it highly educational.

By the way, the Queen's e-mail address is

(To be continued)

A Victory for Victims of Workplace Retaliation

I recently became personally acquainted with what it is like to face retaliation in the workplace. (More details on that coming soon.) So it was heartening, and surprising, to learn of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that strengthens protections for workers who face retaliation after making complaints about discrimination.

Most observers probably did not expect a worker-friendly decision from the Roberts Supreme Court. But a combination of conservative and liberal justices gave workers enhanced leeway to sue when they are the victims of retaliation after making discrimination claims.

In two employment cases, one involving race and the other age, the court took an expansive view of workers' rights and avoided the narrow, ideology-based decisions that marked its previous term:

The justices read parts of an 1860s civil rights act and the main anti-age bias law to include the right to sue over reprisals even though neither provision expressly prohibits retaliation.

Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the court in a case involving a black employee at a Cracker Barrel restaurant who was fired, said that previous Supreme Court decisions and congressional action make clear that retaliation is covered.

The idea that a provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, known as section 1981, "encompasses retaliation claims is indeed well-embedded in the law," Breyer said in the 7-2 ruling.

The outcomes contrasted with rulings last term in which conservative majorities insisted on literal readings of federal laws over the objections of liberal dissenters who favored more expansive interpretations.

On Tuesday, Justices Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy joined their more liberal colleagues in both rulings. Indeed, Alito wrote the court's opinion allowing a federal employee to pursue retaliation claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The vote in that case was 6-3.

Here's a shocker: Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented in both cases. "Retaliation is not discrimination based on race," Thomas wrote in the Cracker Barrel case.

Wow, that's profound.

Naturally, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wasn't happy with the outcome.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce vice president Robin Conrad said she has been puzzled by the court's repeated rulings against employers, particularly after last term's string of victories for business interests.

Conrad said Roberts, in particular, may be reacting to the criticism of the court after the 5-4 decision last year against Lilly Ledbetter, a longtime Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. employee. In an opinion written by Alito, the court threw out Ledbetter's pay discrimination claim because she missed a strict deadline in civil rights law.

"I would have to think there is some connection there because our batting average this term is pretty bad in labor and employment cases," Conrad said.

Interesting that a Chamber representative would accuse a Bush appointee of making judicial decisions based on perceptions or politics, rather than sound legal reasoning. Maybe the Chamber spent so much money on buying the state courts in Alabama and Mississippi that it didn't have enough left over to buy the entire U.S. Supreme Court.

William L. Taylor, a veteran civil rights lawyer in Washington, said the Cracker Barrel decision shows that the Roberts court will not engage in "an across-the-board decimation of civil rights. . . . I think it's cause for at least a small celebration."

Bushies Face Bipartisan Pressure

One of the biggest misconceptions about the evolving Bush Justice Department scandal is that it is driven by partisan liberals.

In fact, the scandal was initiated by, and partially driven by, Republicans--the kind that are honest, bipartisan servants of the American people. Yes, they do exist.

Remember, the first victims of the Bush DOJ were nine fired U.S. attorneys--all Republicans. The hero of the effort to shine light on the political prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman is north Alabama attorney Jill Simpson, a longstanding Republican. One of the most eloquent spokesmen on issues related to the Siegelman case has been former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods, a Republican. And the primary chronicler of Bush DOJ sleaze, Scott Horton of Harper's, has gone out of his way to point out that he is a former corporate lawyer and hardly a "whacky liberal." (Whatever that is.)

Now we have a new example of bipartisanship in the effort to drain the murky swamp Bushies have created at Justice. Twenty former U.S. attorneys, both Democrats and Republicans, have urged a federal judge to intervene in a constitutional battle over whether former White House officials Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolten should testify before Congress about the firings of the nine U.S. attorneys.

This comes on the heels of 50-some former state attorneys general, of both parties, stepping up to raise questions about the apparent political nature of the Siegelman prosecution.

So honest Republicans, noble people who are concerned about justice, do exist. And they are making their voices heard. My guess is that they will play a critical role in the process of unveiling the corruption that permeates the Bush Justice Department.

The George W. Bush Administration should be an embarrassment to all Americans. And no one knows that like honest Republicans.

Why All the Fuss Over McClellan Book?

Former Bush White House press secretary Scott McClellan is all over the networks, discussing his just-released book. But Larisa Alexandrovna, of at-Largely, asks this question: What's the big deal?

It's mostly old news for folks who have followed the reporting of Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel of McClatchy Newspapers.

Landay and Strobel have a retort for folks who have gone gaga over McClellan's "revelations."

Until now, we've resisted the temptation to post on former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's new book, which accuses the Bush White House of launching a propaganda campaign to sell the war in Iraq.

Why? It's not news. At least not to some of us who've covered the story from the start.
here, here and here to get just a taste of what we mean).

Second, we find it a wee bit preposterous -- and we are being diplomatic here -- that a man who slavishly - no, robotically! -- defended President Bush's policies in Iraq and elsewhere is trying to "set the record straight" (and sell a few books) five years and more after the invasion, with U.S. troops still bravely fighting and dying to stabilize that country.

But the responses to McClellan from the Bush administration and media bigwigs, history-bending as they are, compel us to jump in. As we like to say around here, it's truth to power time, not just for the politicians but also for some folks in our own business.

Alexandrovna provides background on the strong credentials of the "McClatchy Boys."

And when it comes truth to power, these two did not partake of the pre-war propaganda. Quite the contrary, they were in the tiny minority who reported aggressively about the lies issuing forth out of the White House. So let the ass kicking begin:

Bush loyalists have responded in three ways:
1) Scott, how could you? This conveniently ignores the issue of what Bush did or didn't know and do about intelligence on Iraq, converting the story line into that of wounded leader and treasonous former aide. (That canard was the sole focus of a CBS news radio report Wednesday night).
2) Invading Iraq was the right thing to do. Okay. When do Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, et al *not* say that? Dog bites man.
3) It was an intelligence failure. The CIA gave us bad dope on WMD and, well, they're the experts.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

What About the Prosecutor in the Two-Year College Probe?

It's been a busy week for news on the investigation of alleged corruption in the Alabama two-year colleges system.

Alabama's corporate press focuses exclusively on the alleged wrongdoers. But I would suggest that the public pay close attention to the prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Alice Martin. And I will tell you why in a series of upcoming posts.

As for the accused, word comes today that state Senator E.B. McClain, a Democrat from Midfield, is the latest to be indicted. McClain is charged with taking about $300,000 for himself from money he had helped obtain for a nonprofit organization.

The most high-profile case so far involves north Alabama legislator Sue Schmitz. Doc's Political Parlor provides a valuable update today on the Schmitz case. The Birmingham News reported on Wednesday that U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Paul Greene had rejected Schmitz' claims of prosecutorial misconduct and selective prosecution.

What to make of McClain, Schmitz, and others (mostly Democrats) who are accused of wrongdoing? It's too early to tell, but the issue of selective prosecution should not be swept under the carpet in this case.

Judge Greene might not have found Schmitz' arguments compelling. But your humble blogger has had personal interaction with Alice Martin, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama and chief prosecutor on the two-year colleges case.

Experience tells me that any claim of selective prosecution regarding Martin's office should be taken with the utmost seriousness.

Details on our interactions with Alice Martin are coming soon.

Hope for Justice in Mississippi--and Beyond

The Jackson Free Press, an alternative weekly in Jackson, Mississippi, has an excellent piece on recent signs that the Justice Department might be conducting a serious investigation of possible political prosecutions around the country, particularly in the Deep South.

The article, by writer Adam Lynch, brings to mind a number of questions--both about justice and the press:

* Does the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) have the kind of independent, tough-minded investigators needed to get to the bottom of the Paul Minor case in Mississippi, the Don Siegelman case in Alabama, and other suspect prosecutions around the country?

* Is OPR Counsel H. Marshal Jarrett the kind of guy who really can further the cause of justice? Or is he just another "cover" guy for the Bush administration?

* Were the Minor and Siegelman cases connected, and just how corrupt were the federal judges who handled the cases?

* Why does Jackson, Mississippi, have a feisty, inquisitive alternative weekly and Birmingham does not?

As for the first two questions, answers are varied. Lynch says Siegelman is not expecting much from the OPR folks. One of Siegelman's lawyers is more hopeful:

Siegelman told the JFP that he believed prosecutors pursued his case with Rove nipping at their heels all the way. He said the OPR office, which is an arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, investigating the issue could be compared to “asking the chickens if they feel comfortable with the fox guarding the hen house.”

“Karl Rove has had eight years to get his people embedded in the office. I have no reason to have anything other than high regard for H. Marshall Jarrett, but I don’t know him. I don’t know anybody’s background, so I can’t really speak on them,” Siegelman said.

One of Siegelman’s lawyers, Vince Kilborn of Alabama, said he had met with the Judiciary Committee’s lawyers and Chairman Conyers, and felt Jarrett could be an independent party to the investigation. “The Judiciary Committee has faith in him. He’s a career guy. He’s been there a while,” Kilborn said.

As for the third question, possible connections between the Minor and Siegelman cases remain unclear. But Lynch shines light on judicial corruption in the Minor case, giving a scathing review of U.S. Judge Henry Wingate. Evidence strongly suggests that U.S. Judge Mark Fuller was every bit as corrupt in his handling of the Siegelman case:

The prosecution had an easier time convincing a jury of Minor’s wrongdoing in 2006 after Judge Henry Wingate ruled out the necessity of quid pro quo—proof of bribery—in Minor’s case. Wingate also allowed prosecutors to tell the jury that the allegedly “purchased” rulings could be perfectly “legal and correct.”

As for the final question, I don't know why Birmingham's two alternative weeklies are so lame, when it comes to real news, compared to the Jackson Free Press.

Here's the lowdown on Birmingham's "alternative press." One of the papers, Black & White, actually has a clear conservative bent. What in the heck is alternative about that? The corporate press in Alabama isn't already conservative enough? Black & White bills itself as Birmingham's "city paper," and I guess it is if you happen to be a corporate chieftain or a member of a suburban megachurch. But don't we already have The Birmingham News for those folks? I have no idea what purpose Black & White serves, other than selling advertising.

The other paper, Birmingham Weekly, isn't much better. The Weekly does some nice arts stuff, and I invariably enjoy Courtney Haden's column. But the paper is pretty much worthless when it comes to news. The Weekly seems to have a somewhat progressive tone, but it doesn't do much with it. The Bush Justice Department scandal is one of the nation's most important domestic stories over the past year or so, and its roots clearly are in Alabama. Has the Weekly done anything of substance on the story? If it has, I've sure missed it.

From a personal perspective, I've contacted managing editor Phillip Jordan and writer Kyle Whitmire about the gross corruption I've witnessed in Alabama state courts, going all the way to the Alabama Supreme Court. I've made it clear that my experience has ties to regional and national issues. You would think such a story might be worth at least an inquiry from the Weekly's intrepid reporters. I've never received the first word in reply.

Was that because I pointed out that the corrupt judges in my case were all Republicans? If so, it appears that Jordan and Whitmire are more interested in covering up news than they are unearthing news. Again, don't we already have The Birmingham News for that.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The "Family Values" of Briarwood Christian

I haven't written in a while about the curious connections that Briarwood Presbyterian Church has to my legal woes. But let's return to that subject for a moment.

I noted in a post a while back that I had evidence strongly suggesting that officials at Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham know that Shelby County judges cheat on their behalf. And my evidence suggests that Briarwood officials try their best to take advantage of this.

What am I talking about? Well, it's a 2003 lawsuit filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court styled Dr. Charles Mayfield v. Briarwood Christian School. It contains some most interesting information that pertains to our Legal Schnauzer case.

First, a little background. In a number of earlier posts, I have noted the curious fact that my legal woes can be dated to a peculiar real-estate transaction in which Briarwood Christian football coach Fred Yancey (my former neighbor) moved to a house on school property where he evidently lived pretty much free of charge. This transaction resulted in me having a new neighbor named Mike McGarity, who came complete with an extensive criminal record and quickly proceeded to trample on my property rights in a variety of ways.

The problems with McGarity escalated to the point that, when my wife and I fought to protect our property rights, he filed a bogus lawsuit against us. And Republican judges in Shelby County repeatedly made unlawful rulings, benefitting McGarity and his sleazy attorney, William E. Swatek.

I have noted that both Swatek and Circuit Judge J. Michael Joiner have ties to Briarwood school. And I have speculated that McGarity's lawsuit against me might have been a way to divert his attention from a legitimate case he might have had against someone connected to Briarwood as a result of the hastily done real-estate deal.

Some readers have scoffed at the notion that Shelby County judges would act in ways that would protect the interests of Briarwood. But those readers might want to reconsider when they learn about the Mayfield case.

The Mayfield case is a classic personal-injury case. Dr. Charles Mayfield, who lived at the time in Jefferson County, was attending a youth soccer game on the Briarwood campus when he tripped over a wire and injured himself. Mayfield filed a lawsuit, stating that Briarwood was negligent in not removing the wire and had contributed to his injury.

Mayfield was represented by Craig Lowell, an attorney from the Birmingham firm of Wiggins, Childs, Quinn & Pantazis. Briarwood was represented by Jennifer T. Dewees, who also is based in Jefferson County.

The lawsuit initially was filed against Briarwood Christian School. But the Briarwood side quickly filed a motion stating that the proper party for purposes of the lawsuit was Briarwood Presbyterian Church. For legal purposes, the school is a ministry of the church, so the case was restyled Mayfield vs. Briarwood Presbyterian Church.

While the school is in Shelby County, and the accident took place in Shelby County, Briarwood's own lawyer noted that the suit properly was against Briarwood Presbyterian Church, which is in Jefferson County.

Now here's where it gets interesting: I don't pretend to be an expert on jurisdictional law. A number of factors can come into play when deciding where a case should be heard. But the overriding factors seems to be this: The proper jurisdiction for a case usually is the county where the defendant is based.

In this case, that issue is easy: Briarwood Presbyterian Church, the defendant, is based in Jefferson County.

But what did the Briarwood attorney do? She filed a motion seeking to have the case moved to Shelby County.

Now why would she do that? My guess is that she was told to do it by someone in the Briarwood chain of command, someone who knew the school would get favorable treatment in Shelby County. And had the case gone to Shelby County, who would it have wound up before? My guess is J. Michael Joiner, but it probably wouldn't matter. My experience suggests that Joiner would ramrod the case according to his desires, regardless of the judge.

Here's another guess from your humble blogger: I suspect all of the lawyers, and the judge, in the Mayfield case knew what was going on with the motion to move the case. It's a poorly held secret in Birmingham legal circles that Shelby County judges favor certain attorneys and interests.

Had the case been moved to Shelby County, Dr. Mayfield almost certainly would have gotten the shaft. His case would have been unlawfully dismissed, and had he chosen to appeal it, the Republican-packed appellate courts in Alabama would have affirmed the trial-court finding, almost certainly without a written opinion. In addition to being physically injured on Briarwood property, Dr. Mayfield would have suffered serious injuries to his wallet--to the tune of several thousand dollars. And Briarwood would have skated home free.

Mayfield's attorney wisely fought the change of venue, and the Jefferson County judge correctly ruled that the case would stay put. Court records indicate the case was settled. My guess is that Briarwood's insurer coughed up some cash to pay for Mayfield's injuries and his attorney fees.

What does this tale say about Briarwood Presbyterian Church? Here's what it tells me:

* Someone in the church's leadership knows the church will be legally protected in Shelby County.

* The church is more than happy to take advantage of this situation.

* If innocent people are harmed and/or cheated by Shelby County judges on Briarwood's behalf, the church evidently has no problem with that.

Kind of gives you the warm and fuzzies about Christian family values doesn't it?

Vanity Fair Has a Big Story Brewing

Acclaimed investigative journalist Craig Unger is working on a major piece about the Don Siegelman prosecution and related issues in Alabama. Glynn Wilson, of Locust Fork News, writes that the piece is due to run in the September or October issue of Vanity Fair.

Unger recently spent a week in Alabama, interviewing people from one end of the state to the other. Your humble blogger is among the folks Unger has interviewed, and it looks like our Legal Schnauzer tale will play some role in the Vanity Fair piece.

Is Vanity Fair taking this project seriously? Consider Unger's resume and check out his Web site.
He is the author of two highly regarded books on the George W. Bush administration: House of Bush, House of Saud and Fall of the House of Bush.

In November 2007, Scott Horton of Harper's presented an excellent interview with Unger. You can check that out here.

If you are interested in the many ills plaguing America's justice system, ills that sprang roots here in Alabama, you won't want to miss Unger's piece.

A seminal moment in the evolving Bush Justice Department scandal came when 60 Minutes reported on the Siegelman case. It appears the upcoming Vanity Fair piece, coming just before the November presidential election, could have an impact that is just as strong--maybe stronger.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Siegelman Calls Rove "Evil" and "Devious"

Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman is not in the mood for pulling punches, particularly when it comes to former Bush White House strategist Karl Rove.

In an interview with Sam Stein of Huffington Post, Siegelman fired both the "E" (evil) and "D" (devious) words at Rove. And Siegelman says Rove deserves a place in history for the special brand of corruption he brought to the U.S. Justice Department.

Said Siegelman:

"I think Rove is probably the most devious and evil political operative who has been trained to come on to the political scene in certainly the last fifty years. I can't think of anybody in the annals of history who could even rival this man's pernicious thoughts. It is a lifetime's work for him. . . . I think he learned two things from Watergate: you don't need to establish a secret plumbers union at a mid level office in the White House when you can take over Department of Justice and have them do your dirty work for you, and secondly, you don't leave tapes behind, you destroy evidence."

Siegelman went even further, by saying that Rove is lying when he claims to have had no involvement in political prosecutions:

"Karl Rove saying he's had nothing to do with firing U.S. Attorneys and nothing to do with my case is like President Bush saying he's had nothing to do with the war in Iraq because he hasn't pulled a trigger."

Siegelman's comments came one day after Rove said his involvement in the Siegelman case consisted of learning about the investigations in a newspaper article. The former Alabama governor said last week's subpoena for Rove to testify before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee was a step in the right direction.

"I think the objective from my point is not my case or my vindication or proving any one particular egregious act, but to expose a pattern and practice of political wrongdoing, of abuse of power, of misusing the Department of Justice as a political tool. I do think that my case offers the best route to prove that, and it is the easiest and fastest way to get at abuse from Karl Rove."

Siegelman repeated the suggestion he made last week on Dan Abrams' The Verdict, suggesting that House Democrats compel testimony from lower-level players in his prosecution, including: Bill Canary, an Alabama GOP consultant who reportedly said he would have his wife, Leura, a U.S. Attorney, "take care" of the case, and Rob Riley, the son of the Alabama governor who allegedly helped grease the wheels of Siegelman's trial.

Smoking Out Corrupt U.S. Attorneys?

Word came last week that the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is investigating the actions of several U.S. attorneys for signs of possible political prosecution.

Now that news is reverberating around the country, and the latest echo comes in Mississippi, home of the Paul Minor case that led to the imprisonment of a major Democratic donor and two former state judges.

Jerry Mitchell, an award-winning reporter at the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, reports that the Minor case, the Don Siegelman case in Alabama, and the Georgia Thompson case in Wisconsin are at the heart of the OPR probe.

"This really is a major step for the office to investigate its own prosecutors in the Justice Department," said Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz, who was cleared of any wrongdoing in the Minor case.

Minor, who was known for successfully suing the tobacco and asbestos industries, was convicted and is in federal prison, along with former state judges Wes Teel and John Whitfield.

Mitchell, noting connections between the Siegelman and Minor cases, writes:

In a May 5 letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr., H. Marshall Jarrett, counsel for the Office of Professional Responsibility, wrote that the Justice Department was examining allegations of selective prosecution related to Diaz, Minor, Siegelman and Thompson.

Siegelman's lawyer, Doug Jones of Birmingham, said this is an extension of the probe that began last year into the dismissals of nine U.S. attorneys, which helped lead to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' resignation.

"The investigation is looking at the allegations of possible perjury and obstruction of justice at the highest levels of the Justice Department," Jones said.

The White House reportedly approved the dismissals of seven of those U.S. attorneys after concluding they weren't doing enough to carry out President Bush's policies. Some prosecutors said they were shown the door for refusing to prosecute Democrats.

"The prosecutors who were fired did the right thing," Diaz said. "But that leaves open the question whether there were any pressures brought to bear on those U.S. attorneys who weren't fired."

Dunn Lampton, the U.S. attorney who spearheaded the Minor prosecution, originally was on a Bush administration list of prosecutors to be fired. But he led the Minor case and wound up not being dismissed.

Asked Saturday about the Office of Professional Responsibility investigating allegations of selective prosecution, Lampton responded, "There's not anything I can comment on."

Jill Simpson: She's Still Standing

What's happening with Jill Simpson, the north Alabama attorney and Republican whistleblower whose affidavit regarding the political prosecution of former Governor Don Siegelman was released almost one year ago?

How is Simpson holding up under regular attack from nutjobs in the corrupt wing of the Republican Party?

Alabama blogger and newshound Glynn Wilson addresses those questions in an excellent post at his Locust Fork Journal. Wilson tells us that Simpson is doing just fine, thank you very much.

The latest right-wing hatchetman to go after Simpson is John Hinderaker, writing at The Weekly Standard. Hinderaker claims that Simpson has struggled to make a living as an attorney, that she comes from a family of rabid Democrats, that she is moving to Washington, D.C., because she is on the verge of financial collapse in Rainsville, Alabama.

Wilson sets the record straight, showing that Simpson has done quite well as an attorney, her family indeed has a lengthy Republican resume, and she has made several savvy financial moves to facilitate a planned move to the nation's capital. Simpson long ago acknowledged that standing up to corrupt Republicans in Alabama has hurt her law practice. But she hardly is suffering financially, and greener pastures await in the nation's seat of power.

Hinderaker evidently isn't interested in the facts, so Wilson gets down to it:

As a matter of fact, Ms. Simpson held an auction of some of her extensive property holdings in order to buy a house and open a law office in Washington. She sold her burned down house for $57,000, not bad in a depressed market. And she sold her law office and an out building next door, along with the land next to the Rainsville City Hall and a city park, for $300,000. Not exactly a pauper’s return on her investment of about $65,000 a number of years ago. The city wanted the land anyway to fill out it’s growing municipal complex. Her office building may very well be used for the new Dekalb County satellite courthouse.

She rejected the bid on a 38-acre farm she still owns with a $150,000 lake on it. And she is keeping the house in Rainsville where she still lives with her mother and three children. When she is away working in DC, her secretary will still be working full time on her practice in Rainsville.

Yet without ever having met Jill Simpson, Hinderaker goes on to attack her mental health and the work of CBS’s “60 Minutes” on the story, all while defending the disgraced Karl Rove. He repeats the myth perpetrated by the Birmingham News that she has somehow changed her story several times over the past year.

Since I told the whole story based on an on the record interview almost a year ago, I can attest to the fact that the story has never changed. It’s just a complicated story with a host of characters, and different news outlets pick up on different aspects of the story in the retelling.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Gettin' Down and Dirty on the Siegelman Appeal

Want to get heavily into the legal issues involved in the appeal of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman?

Two very interesting blog posts provide the opportunity to do just that.

Tommy Stevenson, of the Tuscaloosa News, has a splendid piece about the guts of the Siegelman appeal. Stevenson describes the tone of the appeal as both "outraged and sarcastic" and includes a link to the entire 99-page document. If you are a legal junkie like me, you will want to sink your teeth into this.

Stevenson notes four major sections in the appeal that outline key mistakes by U.S. Judge Mark Fuller. But perhaps the most interesting part of the appeal comes from Siegelman's First Amendment assertion that his sentence was enhanced because of out-of-court statements he made regarding the political nature of his prosecution.

The White Collar Crime Prof Blog picks up on the First Amendment argument and calls it "powerful and unique."

Friday, May 23, 2008

Alabama: Love it or Leave it?

A reader left a comment a few weeks back, and it definitely made me stop and think.

The post was about the efforts of Shelby County sheriff's deputies to harass my wife and me over a writ of execution that clearly is invalid. Of course, since that post, the sheriff has gone ahead with an unlawful sheriff's sale of my house.

At that time, a reader wrote: "What keeps you in such a god awful place? The weather?"

I thought that was a darned good question, one I hadn't been asked before--at least not in quite that way. A number of people in the Birmingham area, upon hearing our tale of legal woe, have asked my wife or me, "Why don't you just move?" They were suggesting that we move to another house in this area, to get away from the troublesome neighbor, his corrupt lawyer, etc.

These folks mean well, but that question always tells me they probably never have faced a lawsuit themselves. Here's the reason I say that: When our neighbor first proved difficult, with the trespassing, sassing, etc., moving might have been an option. (Although with his fence taking up almost 400 square feet of our property, we couldn't have sold our house until that was resolved anyway. A survey would have shown an encumbrance, so we were heading for some sort of legal difficulties regardless.) But once someone files a lawsuit against you, moving isn't likely to solve anything. We could have moved to Alaska, and the lawsuit still would have followed us. It's like having a rash you can't get rid of.

The "why don't you just move" question always makes me think of my mother. She and my father were members of the same Presbyterian church in my native Missouri for more than 50 years. At one point, the church had a minister who was a perfectly fine fellow and a pretty good preacher as I recall, but he was not terribly friendly. This was a major flaw, in my mother's book. The fellow was from Pennsylvania, and my mother seemed to think that was the problem. "You know, people up there just aren't friendly," she would say.

Well, in my mom's value system, friendliness is next to Godliness. I suspect Charles Manson could have become minister of her church, and if he was friendly (and got a haircut and a shave), my mom probably would have thought he was A-OK.

One day, after listening to one of my mom's prolonged gripes about the minister (this was after I had moved to Alabama and was no longer a member of that church), I said, "Why don't you and dad move to a different church?"

She was having none of that. "We were there first," she said.

Well, maybe it's the stubborn, "Show Me" Missourian coming out in me, but that's how I feel when people suggest that my wife and I move because of this bad neighbor. "Hey," I want to say, "we were here first." My wife feels that way, too, and she's from Alabama, not Missouri.

But back to the reader's comment. Actually, this was not the first time someone had suggested that being in Alabama was the source of our problems. My best friend from high school, who lives in Missouri, had the same thought. "Don't you think it's time to get out of that state?" he said.

This all brings a couple of thoughts to mind:

* The problem of corruption in the justice system goes way beyond Alabama--Just consider the evolving Bush Department of Justice (DOJ) scandal. Brush fires connected to that have broken out in Alabama, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, California, New York, New Mexico, Washington . . . and well, I can't remember them all. On the subject of judicial corruption in state courts, my research has revealed cases from Washington to Florida, from California to New York, from Mississippi to Illinois, from Nevada to Pennsylvania. Evidence strongly suggests that the kind of problems I've encountered can hit you no matter where you live. And while almost all of the bad guys in my case have been Republicans, the problem is not limited to one party. It's not hard to find cases around the country involving judges who are Democrats. Perhaps the most egregious example I've come across involves family court in New York. One of my goals with this blog is to illustrate the pervasive nature of judicial corruption in the U.S. We will be discussing cases from all areas of the country and even look at the issue from an international perspective.

* I've perhaps given the impression that Alabama is a god awful place, all the way around--If I have, I feel bad about that because that certainly is not my intent. I grew up in the Midwest and have lived in Birmingham for almost 30 years. No one forced me to come here, and no one has forced me to stay, so obviously I must like the place. In spite of its horrible justice system, and its overall sorry government, Alabama in general--and Birmingham in particular--have quite a bit to recommend them. Here are a few of my favorite things about this place I now call home:

# From one end of the state to the other, Alabama is one of the prettiest places I've seen. We have beautiful mountains and lush forests to the north, with some of the world's nicest beaches to the south. Lakes, rivers, and wildlife are abundant.

# You can find some seriously good eatin' in Alabama. Birmingham alone has the best barbecue and some of the best seafood I've ever tasted. And the city has all kinds of excellent ethnic restaurants--Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Lebanese, Thai, Vietnamese, you name it. I'm not a big white-tablecloth kind of guy, but I'm told a number of our high-end establishments are superb. And if you really want to get down and dirty on Birmingham food, I would recommend Full Moon Barbecue and Milo's hamburgers.

# Birmingham has a rich cultural scene. It's no accident that our sons and daughters--Taylor Hicks, Bo Bice, Ruben Studdard, Diana DeGarmo--have done so well on American Idol. I'm hardly an expert on our music scene, but I hear we have a number of other promising musicians out there--Michael Warren, Moses Mayfield, Taylor Hollingsworth, Wild Sweet Orange, Vulture Whale, John P. Strohm, Dan Sartain, The Ackleys, and Ryan Kinder are a few who come to mind. A few weeks back, I read about a gifted young guitarist from our area named Todd Simpson. He fronts a band called Mojo Child and evidently is heavily into the blues. Birmingham has a most interesting musician named Walker Yancey. He's 11 years old, and a Birmingham News article said he looks like Buddy Holly and sings with the heart of Bob Dylan. Not a bad combination. You can read about Walker and hear a couple of his tunes here.

And Birmingham culture goes way beyond rock and/or roll. A woman who worked for ABC and had lived in New York for years once told me that Birmingham has some of the finest church choirs she's seen anywhere. One of our best is at Independent Presbyterian Church. Birmingham has some stunning church architecture, and IPC is a prime example.

# Birmingham has lots of history. Arlington Antebellum Home provides a feel of the old South. Sloss Furnances is a landmark to the city's steel-making past. And the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a can't-miss destination, spotlighting the city's role in the nation's battle for equality.

# The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is one of the great success stories in higher education anywhere. It didn't become an autonomous campus until 1969, and yet it has a powerhouse medical center and an acclaimed undergraduate program. If you need world-class health care, Birmingham is one of the best places on the planet to live. Here's some trivia for you: What three universities in the South receive the most research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)? Answer: University of North Carolina, Duke University, UAB.

# I was talking one time to an optometrist who had grown up in Kansas, and the conversation turned to things we liked about Birmingham. Two of his favorites: architecture and cuisine. The second one, of course, referred to our many fine restaurants. But his first choice was particularly interesting. Whether they are residential, business, or sacred, Birmingham has some beautiful buildings. In fact, if you can afford them, we have some of the most gorgeous neighborhoods you'll see anywhere. Even a poor guy like me can live in a pretty neighborhood. One of my brothers and his wife were visiting one time, and they kept looking out our back window and saying, "Look at all the trees." Go out our front door, walk a few steps and look in one direction and you see the lovely Oak Mountain. And the entrance to Oak Mountain State Park is just a little ways down the road. For all the crap we've endured while trying to live peacefully in our own home, my wife and I try to be thankful every day for the beauty that is present all around us.

# If you like sports, Birmingham should be your kind of place. Of course, Alabama-Auburn is one of the great rivalries in college football. And Legion Field is one of the sport's most historic venues. Since I grew up in Missouri, I had no particular allegiance to Alabama or Auburn when I moved here. So I adopted the UAB Blazers, as my team. Gene Bartow left UCLA in 1977 to start UAB's athletics program from scratch, and the Blazers have been strong in hoops throughout their 30-year history. The school started a football program in the early 1990s, and it became Division I-A in 1995. We've had a couple of down years recently, but we once beat LSU and have turned out a number of NFL players, including Roddy White of the Atlanta Falcons and Bryan Thomas of the New York Jets. And I think new coach Neil Callaway has the Blazers back on the right track. Birmingham has been host to NCAA basketball regionals, Olympic soccer, major golf and tennis events, and much more. I'm not much of a motorsports guy, but I'm told the Barber Motorsports Park is one of the best facilities of its kind in the nation. And if you are a baseball fan, Birmingham has one of the sport's shrines, a place that is a must visit if you are ever in the area. Rickwood Field is the oldest ballpark in America that is still in use. Babe Ruth played there. Willie Mays played there. The place reeks of history, and a local organization known as the Friends of Rickwood has kept it in excellent shape. Here's what one minor-league baseball aficionado says about Rickwood.

# Birmingham has a nice zoo. I used to hear that it was considered the best zoo in the Deep South. Don't know if that still holds true, but it's a cool place. The zoo has a great sea lions exhibit, which has helped me determine that if I'm ever reincarnated, I want to come back as a sea lion. They eat, swim, play, chill, and make people laugh. Sounds like a pretty good gig. No wonder they appear to have smiles permanently affixed to their faces.

# Yes, the weather is nice. We do have a little winter, but not too much. If you don't mind the humidity in the summer, and the threat of tornadoes in March and November, I'd say the weather is just about right.

# And for you guys out there, I would say there are more good-looking women in Alabama per capita than anywhere on the planet. In fact, I have to give the entire South high marks in this category. A college buddy from Missouri still has whiplash, I think, from his efforts to take in all the sights on his first visit to Birmingham. In fact, he was so impressed that he left the Midwest and moved to South Carolina, where he has been happily ensconced for years.

# When you consider its location, Alabama should be one of the top 10 states in the country to live. Instead, for a lot of complicated historical and socioeconomic reasons, we rank near the bottom on many lists where you want to rank high and near the top on many lists where you want to rank low. But consider that we have Atlanta to the east, Nashville and Memphis to the north, New Orleans to the west, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. Talk about the heart of the Sun Belt. I've often called Alabama "the most underachieving state" in the U.S. And in a backhanded sort of way, I mean that as a compliment because it speaks to our huge potential.

I could go on, but you get the idea . . . that Alabama, for all of its problems, has a lot going for it. One of the first steps toward reaching our potential is to clean up the justice system. We at Legal Schnauzer hope we can play a role in making that happen.

Before we go, let's spotlight my favorite of all Birmingham landmarks. The Alabama Theatre is a jewel from the 1920s, and a man named Cecil Whitmire led an effort to restore the theater. Mr. Whitmire deserves a special place in heaven because the Alabama is one of my favorite places on the planet to visit. Tours are available, and it's a gem that visitors to Birmingham absolutely should not miss. Be sure to check out the virtual tour that is available at the theatre's Web site. The wife and I got to see one of Taylor Hicks' two shows at the Alabama on his nationwide tour, and that was a real treat. He closed the show with an acoustic version of "My Home's in Alabama," and needless to say, that was a major hit. Here's a video of that performance.

While we're at it, let's include this video from Taylor Hicks' performance at the Alabama Theatre. It's "The Runaround," with assistance from the drumline at Homewood High School in Birmingham. Enjoy.

Is Bush Sleaze Coming to the Surface?

We are living in troubled times, with a brewing government scandal that someday is likely to be considered the worst in our nation's history.

Evidence continues to mount that the Bush Department of Justice (DOJ) has caused people to be fired for political reasons, has caused people to be imprisoned for political reasons, has thumbed its nose at the oversight powers of Congress, and essentially treated our constitution like yesterday's trash.

Years from now, when historians scour the evidence of malfeasance and criminality at the Bush DOJ, they probably will focus heavily on the past 24 hours, encompassing May 22 and 23, 2008.

Consider what has happened in that time frame:

* Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman files documents asking the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to toss out his conviction on various grounds. I haven't seen the Siegelman appellate documents, but from reading news reports, their general theme seems to be: "My prosecution was ramrodded by cohorts of my political opponent, my conviction was driven by a corrupt and incompetent federal judge, both prosecutors and the judge presented misrepresentations of the law to the jury, and because of all this, I've been held political prisoner--in the United States of America, what is supposed to be the earth's most enlightened and powerful country." My research indicates Siegelman is on pretty solid footing with all of that. And anyone who doubts the evil intent of U.S. Judge Mark Fuller, need only take a semi-objective look at the evidence that Fuller himself has presented.

* Democrats on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee sent a subpoena to former White House advisor Karl Rove, seeking his testimony regarding the possible political prosecution of Don Siegelman. This all raises a couple of questions: (1) What took them so long? and (2) Why is Karl Rove being treated with a respect he doesn't deserve? Rove is just the latest Bush loyalist to thumb his nose at Congress' oversight committee. It's about time committee chair John Conyers truly relies on his instincts and "kicks some ass."

* MSNBC presented some superb television last night. It's an example of how good cable news can be when talented people really put their minds to it. First, Keith Olbermann on Countdown had a splendid interview with Georgetown University law professor Jonathan Turley. Olbermann's questions were succinct, informed, and probing. Turley did the best job I've seen of explaining the audacity driving Rove's refusal to testify, the gross incompetence of Attorney General Michael Mukasey, and the legal options available to Congress. The Greenlee Gazette presents a nice overview of the Olbermann/Turley interview.

* Dan Abrams followed up with an excellent panel discussion on The Verdict. Abrams panel included Don Siegelman, Michael Iglesias, and a constitutional-law expert. Our friends at WriteChic have an excellent wrapup of the Abrams interview. Abrams is a strong interviewer, and he shed considerable light on an important topic. But I have a couple of quibbles with his performance last night:

(1) The presentation would have been far better without Michael Isikoff, of Newsweek. I've generally held Isikoff in high regard, but I recall reading somewhere recently (can't remember where) that Isikoff comes off as a protector of Karl Rove. That's how he came off last night, and he also had a hard time getting his facts straight. The interview would have been far more informative without Isikoff.

(2) Abrams did not allow Siegelman and Iglesias to speak nearly enough. Both men have been on the front line in this scandal, and neither got to say much. Also, when Siegelman tried to bring up the importance of going after Rove's foot soldiers in Alabama (Bill Canary, Leura Canary, etc.), Abrams cut him off. Abrams seemed only interested in Rove, but Siegelman was making an important point and it deserved followup questions.

For an excellent overview of the past 24 hours' events, including both the issues involved and the media coverage of them, check out Dan Froomkin's piece in the Washington Post.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Jill Simpson: All Roads Still Lead to Rove

Word comes today that the U.S. House Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed former Bush White House strategist Karl Rove to testify about his role in several possible political prosecutions, including that of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman.

The news comes on the heels of Dan Abrams' televised interview last night with committee member Linda Sanchez (D-CA). The interview included this intriguing tidbit: The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is officially reviewing the issue of selective prosecution and the actions of several U.S. attorneys around the country.

If the review is legitimate, one would assume it would include heavy scrutiny of Alabama U.S. attorneys Alice Martin and Leura Canary. We are about to start a revealing series of posts that includes clear evidence of selective prosecution on Ms. Martin's part, and we intend to share that information with OPR staff members--and anyone else who cares to read Legal Schnauzer.

But before we commence our "Malice of Alice" series, let's take a closer look at the Rove issue. When it comes to insight on this subject, few Americans can match Republican whistleblower and Alabama attorney Jill Simpson.

After hearing about Rove's refusal to testify, citing executive privilege, a number of observers have been scratching their heads. Rove has said he did not discuss prosecutions with the White House. But by claiming executive privilege, Rove is indicating he did discuss prosecutions with the White House. And that raises the question: Why would George W. Bush be talking about Don Siegelman?

Simpson has considerable insight on that question and issued the following statement today:

Why would Bush be talking about Governor Don Siegelman? The answer is this: In the summer of 2002 George Bush came down to Alabama and held a fundraiser for Big Bob Riley who was running against Governor Don Siegelman at the time for Governor.

Karl Rove tries to claim in his letter to (Dan) Abrams that he wasn't involved with Bob Riley's campaign in Alabama; he was too busy working for the President of The United States of America. He suggested he was only involved in one event that year regarding Bob Riley, but does not say what (that event was) in his famous letter to Dan Abrams.

However, when I spoke with congressional investigators last summer I told them what I knew about the Riley campaign that summer of 2002. They are fully aware of all that was going on with the White House in the Riley Campaign. Further, it is my understanding the trip of President George W. Bush was videotaped from the time the wheels of his plane touched down in Alabama until he left Alabama on the day he raised the four million dollars for Big Bob Riley.

All Presidential trips are videotaped for security reasons, and that video of this day exists and has been talked about in the press. I also pointed out to the investigators last summer that George Bush came to Alabama and raised four million dollars in one day for Bob Riley, whose opponent was Governor Don Siegelman.

Further, that event was not the only event that the President was involved with in beating Don Siegelman in 2002. That is why Bush would have been talking about Siegelman in 2002. He was campaigning for and fundraising for Big Bob Riley to help him beat Don Siegelman.

Also, (you) will probably remember last summer when the President came to Alabama. He got off the airplane, and Mr. Rove started running his mouth, and the media folks for the White House stepped in front of Mr Rove and said what Mr Rove meant to say was "no comment."

Further, when my story broke in The New York Times and Time magazine, the White House said no comment. They knew President Bush was very active in the 2002 campaign against Governor Don Siegelman. That is why I believe Mr Rove is asserting executive privilege.

There is just no telling what they talked about since the President was actively campaigning against Governor Don Siegelman in 2002.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Inside a Selective Prosecution

Selective prosecution, as practiced by the Bush Justice Department, is the subject of an ongoing Congressional investigation.

But how does selective prosecution work?

Well, it comes in two varieties. The first involves going after certain people for political reasons. (See Siegelman, D.; Minor, P.) The second involves not going after certain people for political reasons.

This second variety is more subtle and easier to disguise than the first. But it is every bit as unlawful and damaging to our democracy. And it is the kind of selective prosecution (SP for short) with which I am personally acquainted.

My lesson in SP came courtesy of Alice Martin, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. Martin is well known in legal circles for a number of things, none of them flattering. She botched the criminal prosecution of former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. She initiated the first prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, a case that was so weak it was summarily dismissed. She had Alabama legislator Sue Schmitz dragged out of her bathroom and handcuffed, even though Schmitz' attorney had said his client would willingly turn herself in to authorities, if required. She tried to conduct a media circus of serving subpoenas on lawmakers in Montgomery until it became clear that was a violation of state law.

Scott Horton, of Harper's, has written numerous articles about Martin's highly questionable prosecutorial tactics. One of my favorites is here.

Bob Martin, of the Montgomery Independent, wrote a most interesting profile of Martin:

Just who is Alice Martin? Alice Martin ended up in Florence about 1990, having received her law degree at the University of Mississippi and working as a federal prosecutor in Memphis. She married into the well-to-do Martin family who were manufacturers of stoves and other iron products in Florence. The Martin company filed for bankruptcy in the mid 1990s.

Martin was appointed city judge in the early 1990’s and was later appointed as a circuit judge in the 11th Judicial Circuit, by Gov. Fob James. She replaced Judge Don Patterson, a Democrat, who died. (Her federal court bio lists it as the 21st Judicial Circuit, which is incorrect) She ran for the position at the following election on the Republican ticket, spending over $100,000, but was soundly defeated by the Democratic nominee.

Martin was next appointed U.S. Attorney for the Northern District by President Bush, at the behest of her sponsors, sens. Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby. She still lives on Shoals Creek near Florence.

These lines jump out in Bob Martin's piece:

Although she has had some success as a U. S. Attorney, she botched the first prosecution of Don Siegelman and Richard Scrushy, and her attempted interference in the second case nearly wrecked it.

My sources in Florence tell me she is a very angry person who has an agenda against all Democrats.

Keep that thought in mind as we move forward.

Is Basketball More Important Than Our Courts?

That question in our headline might seem absurd. But the case of Tim Donaghy tells us that the answer is, "Yes, basketball most definitely is more important than our justice system."

Donaghy is the disgraced National Basketball Association referee who pleaded guilty last year to charges he conspired to engage in wire fraud and transmitted betting information through interstate commerce.

Federal prosecutors now say Donaghy bet on approximately 100 games over a four-year time period and cost the NBA more than $304,000 by depriving the league of his "honest services."

Donaghy contends that he cost the league only about $40,000. The former referee is due to be sentenced tomorrow.

All of this hits close to home here at Legal Schnauzer. The key charge against Donaghy, evidently, was honest services mail fraud, which also made up the bulk of the charges in the Don Siegelman (Alabama) and Paul Minor (Mississippi) cases.

My research indicates that the honest-services mail fraud statute, 18 U.S. Code 1346, normally is used against public officials. I don't see how a basketball referee would qualify as a public official, although many federal statutes are broadly written. Evidently prosecutors thought the statute gave them enough wiggle room to go after Donaghy on 1346 charges.

The most interesting part of the Donaghy case is what it says about the priorities of the Bush Justice Department. In New York, the feds are going after a basketball referee for betting on games. In Alabama, the feds turn a blind eye to clear honest services mail fraud committed by state judges who happen to be Republicans. A Bush appointee, U.S. Attorney Alice Martin, not only turns a blind eye to this wrongdoing, she actively takes steps to ensure that it will be covered up. And here at Legal Schnauzer, we will be outlining the steps Ms. Martin took to hide corruption by her GOP compadres.

So which hurts the country more in George W. Bush's America--a corrupt basketball official or corrupt state judges? You make the call.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Motives and Corrupt GOPers

A number of journalists around the country have commented on the apparent disarray currently cloaking the Republican Party. The sitting GOP president has dismal approval ratings, his justice department is enmeshed in scandal, and the party is 0 for 3 in recent special Congressional elections.

For my money, Mark Crispin Miller at News From Underground has one of the best commentaries on the subject, and you can catch his two-part vlog here.

Closer to home, I've experienced firsthand the threats and harassment that come from the hoodlums who run the corrupt wing of the Republican Party. What might be motivating these folks who make it their business to trash our constitution?

We'll be examining that issue in the coming days, focusing on two key figures--Pelham, Alabama-based attorney William E. Swatek and Alice Martin, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.

These folks have an interesting connection. Bill Swatek, the ethically challenged attorney who filed a bogus lawsuit against me, has a son named Dax Swatek. And Dax Swatek is a GOP consultant who served as Alice Martin's campaign manager when she ran in 2000 for a seat on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals (and lost to Sue Bell Cobb, now chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court). Dax Swatek also served as Bob Riley's gubernatorial campaign manager in 2006 and has close ties to Bill Canary, who has close ties to Karl Rove, who is George W. Bush's "brain." In other words, the Swatek GOP roots grow right up to the White House door.

Which might explain why Bill Swatek gets away with all kinds of shenanigans in Alabama state courts, even though he has a 30-year record of unethical and fraudulent activity.

But back to my situation. We showed Bill Swatek in action recently, when he made a "bid" on my house as part of an unlawful sheriff's sale on the front steps of the Shelby County Courthouse. In another post, we showed that Swatek's motive clearly was to scare me into shutting down this blog, as opposed to actually trying to satisfy a legitimate judgment.

Which raises this question: Why are Bill Swatek and his GOP cronies so intent on targeting this blog? I think there are several answers to that question.

But one, I suspect, simply has to do with business. Since I started this blog, I've heard from a number of Bill Swatek's former clients. These folks were none to happy with the legal services they received, and they particularly were unhappy with the curious billing processes Mr. Swatek evidently employs.

I had noticed from checking public records that Bill Swatek has sued a number of his former clients. That might be a fairly common thing among attorneys. But of the lawyers I'm familiar with, Swatek is the only one who has sued a rather large number of former clients.

Former clients of Swatek's have given me some insight into why these lawsuits have occurred. A number of these former clients indicated to me that they intended to file bar complaints against Swatek, focusing heavily on his billing practices.

I have no idea if they actually filed bar complaints or not. But another source told me something interesting recently about the bar-complaint process. This individual had filed a bar complaint against an attorney I'm familiar with (not Swatek), and the complainant asked me if I would be willing to testify against the attorney.

I wasn't aware that someone other than the complainant could testify in a bar proceeding. And I gather that published articles about an attorney can be presented as evidence.

I haven't heard anything more about the bar case my source told me about. But if he is correct about the broad nature of a bar inquiry, a corrupt attorney like Bill Swatek would have a vested interest in trying to shut down a blog like mine.

Imagine if former clients were filing bar complaints against Swatek and including copies of posts I had written about him.

If you want to get a feel for what I'm talking about, go to Google and do a blog search for "Bill Swatek." The first three items that come up are uncomplimentary items connected to this blog.

For an even better idea, go to Google and do a regular search on "Bill Swatek." The first NINE items that come up are uncomplimentary items connected to this blog.

Thanks to the wonder of blog analytics, I have a pretty good idea of the number of folks who are doing searches on some variation of the name "William Swatek." And I have a real good idea of where those folks are landing in cyberspace.

Are they coming away with a good feeling about the legal services provided by Bill Swatek? I doubt it.

Is Bill Swatek the kind of guy who would use unlawful means to try to put a stop to such bad publicity? His history suggests the answer is yes.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Vast Right-Wing Charade in Alabama

Let's return to the issue of motive behind the orchestrated "auction" of my house one week ago today at the Shelby County Courthouse in Columbiana, Alabama.

One thing I've learned in my fight against corrupt public officials in Alabama: The more you learn about the law, the worse the corruption is likely to look--and the more you can understand the motives driving the bad guys.

As we noted in our previous post on this subject, I now know enough about the law to prove that the "sheriff's sale" really was about trying to shut down this blog. How do I know that? Let's take a look at the facts and the law:

* As a result of the "sheriff's sale," the most corrupt attorney William E. Swatek can get out of it is a lien on my portion of our home. That's because the house is jointly owned by my wife and me, and the amount of the "judgment" against me is so small--$1,525. The lien remains dormant until we attempt to the sell the property. I only discovered this in the few days prior to the "sale," and Deputy Bubba Caudill admitted that is all that could be done--after he had repeatedly called us and told us he was about "to sell that property." In other words, we discovered the truth after Bubba had repeatedly committed honest services wire fraud--at the instigation of Bill Swatek and a number of corrupt public officials in Shelby County.

* Now here is where it gets real interesting. If you have a court judgment and want a lien on someone's property to enforce it, all you have to do is file a certificate of judgment. That places a judgment lien on the property and causes the judgment creditor's rights to attach to the property. A search of probate records in Shelby County shows that Swatek didn't do this. Why not? Here's my guess: Getting a judgment lien doesn't do anything to scare my wife and me. It just sits there, minding its own business, until the day comes that we try to sell our house. But threatening to have a sheriff's sale of our house? Why, that gets people stirred up a bit. It might even get someone stirred up enough to cave in to Swatek's thinly veiled desires, which is to put a stop to this blog. Also, it appears that Swatek wanted to leave as small a paper trail as possible on his way to causing my house to be unlawfully "auctioned." Getting a certificate of judgment, garnishing my wages--those things cause paper trails and get third parties involved. It appears Swatek wanted to "keep it down home, cuz" as much as possible.

* Here's the irony of Swatek's bogus plan: Without a judgment lien on my property, he had nothing to gain by holding a "sheriff's sale." No one else's rights can attach to my property without a judgment lien. But Swatek wasn't interested in anyone's rights attaching to my property. He wanted to scare me into halting this blog, and that's why he orchestrated the fraudulent sheriff's sale, which we caught on tape!

* The bottom line? Initiating a sheriff's sale on jointly owned property, in order to satisfy a "judgment" in an amount under $2,000, appears to make no sense under the law. But Swatek, as usual, wasn't interested in the law; he was interested in scare tactics--and corrupt judges, clerks, and sheriff's deputies were actively participating in his little scheme.

* The sheriff's sale failed, so what will Swatek try next? I have no idea. But at some point, you would think he would realize that schnauzers don't scare easily. And schnauzers are fairly adept at figuring things out when people are trying to cheat us. Here's another lesson Swatek evidently has not learned: You keep poking a schnauzer with a stick, and he eventually is going to bite you. And when a schnauzer bites, he draws blood and holds on for dear life. And that doesn't feel so good for the bitee. I suspect many a bitee has looked back on things and said, "You know, I wish I had left that schnauzer alone."

Siegelman and Our Pathological President

I'm not a psychologist, but regular readers know I play one on my blog from time to time.

I'm inspired today to channel my inner Lucy Van Pelt (and put out my "psychological help for 5 cents" sign) by the latest antics of our "commander guy," President George W. Bush.

What is one of the surest signs that someone has a serious personality disorder? My research indicates it's the inability to truly examine the self. In Biblical terms, I would suggest it's the inability to see "the log in your own eye" before noting "the speck in your brother's eye."

If I'm right about that, then our "commander guy" serves up whopping evidence of a personality disorder in a story about his trip to the Middle East in today's New York Times.

In a speech in Egypt, Bush presented a laundry list of things Arab leaders should embrace in order to bring peace to the Middle East. If you have followed the Bush Justice Department scandal at all, be sure you are sitting when you read the following quote:

"Too often in the Middle East, politics has consisted of one leader in power and the opposition in jail," Bush said in an address to the World Economic Forum here, adding, "The time has come for nations across the Middle East to abandon these practices and treat their people with the dignity and respect they deserve."

I hope Don Siegelman didn't have a mouthful of coffee when he read that sentence this morning. If he did, I'm sure the former Alabama governor spewed the coffee clear across his kitchen.

Siegelman, of course, recently spent nine months in federal prison. And what was his crime? Mounting evidence indicates it was being a Democrat, an opposition leader, in a state dominated by Republicans, the "leader in power." And who engineered what increasingly is looking like a sham prosecution and conviction of Siegelman? More and more, it appears it was Alabamians with ties to the Bush administration, through former White House strategist Karl Rove.

Siegelman is far from alone in being targeted for opposing the Bush administration. If attorney Paul Minor and former Mississippi state judges Wes Teel and John Whitfield are able to follow the news in federal prison, I wonder what they thought when they read Bush's quote.

And what about yours truly? One week ago today, I watched as my house was unlawfully "auctioned" on the steps of the Shelby County Courthouse in Columbiana, Alabama. You can catch the action (live and in color!) here, a prime example of what we call "corruption in real time."

Is this what Dubya means when he talks about treating people "with the respect and dignity they deserve?"

And keep this in mind: The attorney in the video, making an unlawful "bid" on my house, is William E. Swatek who has family ties straight to the Bush White House. Swatek's son, Dax Swatek, is a close associate of Bill Canary, who is a close associate of Karl Rove, who is primarily responsible for the eight-year Bush Reign of Error in this country.

So Bill Swatek certainly is a Bush acolyte. Is Swatek capable of seeing the irony of unlawfully stealing someone's property at roughly the same time his commander is spewing high-minded rhetoric in the Middle East? I would say the chances of Swatek, or any other loyal Bushie, having that kind of self awareness is pretty much zero.

Numerous books surely will be written about the Bush administration over the next 10 to 20 years. A suggested title? "A River of Pathology Runs Through It."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Are Bushies Getting Tighty Whities?

Folks in the corrupt wing of the Republican Party, made up almost entirely of "loyal Bushies" we suspect, appear to be feeling tightness in their jockey shorts these days.

Inevitably, the story of the sewer-like Bush Justice Department, centers on Alabama. A number of honest Alabamians are fighting back against the Bush Machine, and that seems to have the Bushies in a lather.

First, it seems clear that the Bushies were counting on former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman remaining in federal prison for the next seven years or so. Instead, Siegelman is free pending an appeal, and he is able to tell his story far and wide. Every now and then, a member of the Alabama press picks up on the story, and that happens today with an enlightening Q&A from Markeshia Ricks, capitol correspondent for the Anniston Star.

Corrupt GOPers can't be happy that Siegelman now has forums to make comments like this:

The Star: Why do you believe Rove hasn't agreed to testify under oath?

Siegelman: He doesn't want to run the risk of lying under oath and being prosecuted for perjury. You know, I think it's telling that he talks a good game. He wrote a, I think it was a five-page letter to [MSNBC anchor] Dan Abrams basically asking Dan Abrams questions about why he should testify under oath. When Conyers invited him to testify under oath, he's dodged that, he's skated, and I think it's clear he's got something to hide. Otherwise, there is no reason why he wouldn't testify under oath.

Or this:

The Star: Since 1998, you've been the subject of some kind of investigation. Why do you think that is?

Siegelman: It's all part of the same case. It started when Karl Rove's bag man, I call him, Jack Abramoff, started putting Indian casino money into Alabama to defeat me in 1998. Shortly after I endorsed Al Gore in 1999, Karl Rove's client, the attorney general of Alabama (Bill Pryor) started an investigation. In 2001, Karl Rove's business associate and political partner's wife, Leura Canary, became a U.S. attorney and started a federal investigation. … It started with the attorney general and the state investigation, followed by the federal investigation, followed by indictments in 2004, and then another series of indictments leading up to the 2006 election … but, yeah, it's all part of the same case.

And then Siegelman repeats a statement that has given him quite a bit of mileage in recent weeks:

I think this will make Watergate look like child's play when it is fully investigated, not so much this case because certainly it's not about me. It's about restoring justice and protecting our democracy and, because this case shows the lengths to which those who are obsessed with power will go in order to gain power or retain power, it has attracted the attention of the national press.
Specifically, because it is tied to the White House because Karl Rove is not only a political adviser to the president but he's a close personal friend of the president, and you asked me if I was surprised, no I'm not surprised that the national media has focused on this because it is the only case that has led Congress directly to the doors of the White House.

The other cases that are being mentioned or being talked about are primarily the eight U.S. attorneys who were targeted for removal either for failing to move quickly enough or for not following really the party line — the Karl Rove party line — of trying to do damage to Democrats who were involved in an elections contest.

What Congress is seeing in this case is the other side of that coin, which is what happens when a U.S. attorney does follow the party line and a person is selectively prosecuted to impact the outcome of an election.

Siegelman goes on to note the critical role of Republican whistleblower Jill Simpson in bringing Bush DOJ sleaze to light. And that leads us to the latest GOP attempt to discredit Simpson. It comes from that trusty right-wing rag, the Weekly Standard.

Writer John H. Hinderaker makes no attempt to hide his misogyny, referring to Simpson as a "conspicuously large redhead" of "uncertain mental health."

And he makes little attempt to convince semi-coherent readers that he has his facts straight.

Hinderaker says Simpson has scratched out an "uncertain living" in DeKalb County, Alabama. Does he tell us what he means by "uncertain living?" Nope. Does he offer any evidence to back up this claim? Nope.

Hinderaker describes Simpson as a "very strange person" who "lives in her own world." What in the heck is this supposed to mean? The same terms could be applied to Stephen Hawking couldn't they? Or Paul McCartney? Or Brian Wilson? Or J.K. Rowling? Or any number of the brightest minds on the planet?

Hinderaker describes Simpson as the daughter of "rabid Democrats." Does he offer any proof of that? Nope. And does he note that this contradicts Simpson's sworn testimony before Congress? Nope.

Hinderaker reports that Simpson's house and law office are on the auction block. Does he offer anything to support this, say from a public document? Nope. And what does he mean by saying the property is "on the auction block?" Does he mean it's for sale? Then why doesn't he say so?
If the property is for sale, so what? What is that supposed to mean? Hinderaker doesn't tell us.

The Siegelman/Simpson tag team apparently is drawing blood. And that seems to have loyal Bushies on the edge of becoming unhinged.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Caught on Tape! Corrupt Alabama Republicans

We've shown you the video of my house being unlawfully "auctioned" on the courthouse steps Monday in Columbiana, Alabama. We also have explained that Bill Swatek, the attorney behind this little charade has direct ties to the Bush White House.

Now let's bring the law into a little clearer focus, to illustrate just how corrupt this piece of "GOP Masterpiece Theater" truly is.

Have Republicans, or Democrats for that matter, ever been caught on camera in a more blatantly unlawful act than this one? I can't think of another similar example.

For those of us who care about the actual law, what does it say about the process that leads up to a sheriff's sale? Let's take a look:

Judges Ain't Invited
First of all, what you saw in the video was supposed to be a sheriff's sale. And it is called that for a reason. It involves the sheriff, not a judge. In the video, you hear Deputy Bubba Caudill saying that he has been ordered by Circuit Judge Hub Harrington to proceed with the "sale." I spoke with Bubba that morning via phone, and he said that Harrington had told him that I had indeed filed a valid, notarized claim of exemption--but Bubba could go on with his sale anyway.

A couple of points about that. First, Alabama appellate courts have specifically said that a sheriff's sale does not involve a judge. A case called Ex Parte Arthur Lynn (Ala. Civ. App., 1999) states that a sheriff's sale is recognized by statute and does not require any action by a judge. In fact, that court found that a sheriff's sale is not a judicial sale.

A judge has no business taking part in a sheriff's sale. Both statutory and procedural law in Alabama are clear: If the judgment debtor files a notarized claim of exemption, as Judge Harrington admitted I did, the sheriff's sale is stayed. The sheriff has three days to notify the judgment creditor that a claim of exemption has been filed, and the judgment creditor has 10 days to file a contest. This is all in Rule 69 of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure.

If no contest is filed, the claim of exemption is considered accurate and uncontested, and the property no longer is subject to a sheriff's sale. The matter is finito.

If a contest is filed, a hearing must be scheduled, and a judge determines if the sale can go forward. But then, and only then, does a judge become a player.

As you can see in the video, I asked Bubba if a contest had been filed, and he admitted he didn't know. Of course, I knew one hadn't been filed because I hadn't received a copy of it. Certainly no hearing was held because I never was notified of one, and I'm a fairly important player in all of this--it's my house.

If Judge Harrington actually did what Bubba said he did--if the judge ordered Bubba to unlawfully proceed with a sheriff's sale--that has major implications, both civilly and criminally.

On the civil side, it's almost impossible to sue a judge when he acts within his judicial capacity--no matter how unlawful or corrupt his ruling might be. But when a judge acts outside his judicial capacity, as Harrington evidently did here, he is fair game.

This process probably doesn't make the kind of reading you will want to take to the beach this summer. But it's actually quite simple, very much like the process for a motion for summary judgment. One party takes a legal action, and if it is properly supported, it must be upheld unless it is lawfully countered by the other party.

In this instance, Bill Swatek made the sheriff's decision for him. By failing to file a contest, Swatek himself determined there could be no sheriff's sale. But as all the world can see in the video, GOPers in Shelby County aren't remotely interested in following the law.

Here's a little more law to chew on:

"The effect of a claim of exemption, if it is not successfully controverted, is that it must be taken as prima facie correct . . . " Robinson v. Ferdon, 76 So. 907 (Ala., 1917).

"Because the claim of exemption was not properly contested, it was considered to be correct and was due to be upheld . . . " Young v. Strong, 694 So. 2d 27 (Ala. Civ. App., 1997).

This is real simple, folks. No contest, no hearing, no sale.

A Paperwork Problem
As I wrote on this blog shortly after I received the writ of execution in this matter last September, I never received a Notice of Right to Claim Exemption, as required by law.

My guy Bubba admitted he had read this on my blog, and he has no proof that it ever was delivered. He has no proof because it wasn't delivered. I took the writ of execution from a deputy that morning, and it included only the writ of execution.

Bubba told me on the phone that my wife must have misplaced it. (Way to go, Bubba, blame your screwup on my wife! Hey, I'm the only guy who gets to blame his screwups on my wife!) This matter didn't involve my wife, and she didn't misplace anything because the document was given to me. And it never included the exemption-claim notice that is required by law.

I told Bubba multiple times that I had not received this document, and he still never made sure one was delivered.

Now, is this just a procedural hiccup--a minor detail that has no impact on the sheriff's sale. Not hardly.

Here's the law: "Judgment must be set aside where sheriff failed to give written notice of claim of homestead exemption as required by this section." McLaren v. Anderson, 81 Ala. 106 (Ala., 1886).

The failure to provide the exemption notice, I feel certain, was intentional. The notice, three times, tells the recipient to contact an attorney if he has questions. And the corrupt GOPers in Shelby County did not want me to contact an attorney. Heck, a student with three days in law school could have told me this was bogus and not to worry about it. And that's the last thing the crooks wanted.

You might ask: Well, how did you file your claim of exemption if you never received a notice? Well, way back in 2003, when it was becoming abundantly clear that I was being screwed, I purchased a copy of the Alabama Rules of Court, the green book I was waving around in the video like Jimmy Swaggart on crack. The form I was supposed to see is in that book, and that's how I knew about my exemption rights. But Bubba & Co. have an obligation under the law to make sure that judgment debtors know of their rights. And they intentionally failed to live up to this obligation.

Slapstick Law in Shelby County
Is it OK, under the law, to screw up a sheriff's sale this badly? Does the law say, "Oh heck, just get it sorta right and everything will be OK--you know what they say about horseshoes, hand grenades, and sheriff's sale?"

Well, here's what the law says: Messing around with someone's property is important business, and you had better get it right:

"The judgment lien statute is in derogation of the common law and is to be strictly construed." AmSouth Bank v. Bischoff, 678 So. 2d 1102 (Ala. Civ. App., 1995). In other words, get it right or it ain't going to hold up. Well, nothing was done right in this fiasco.

Live and in Color! A Federal Crime
As Bubba is walking away at the end of the video, I say that he is knowingly violating the law. This was not idle chat.

What you see on that video is a federal crime. It is the culmination of a several-month conspiracy to threaten me with loss of my property in order to deprive me of my First Amendment rights to free expression on this blog. How many people were involved in this conspiracy? Clearly, Bubba and Bill Swatek were front and center. But it involves a host of other folks--Sheriff Chris Curry, County Clerk Mary Harris, Circuit Judges Mike Joiner and Dan Reeves.

Will any of these folks ever pay for their crimes? Certainly not as long as loyal Bushies are running the Justice Department. If a Democrat wins the presidency in November and appoints an attorney general who is determined to clean up the sewer he or she will inherit, some folks in Shelby County might wind up in orange jump suits.

What makes this a federal crime? For months, Bubba and his cohort Eddie Moore have been calling my wife and me to claim they are "getting ready to sell that property." This was blatant fraud, and because they used the federal wires, it is a federal crime. And the people who put them up to it are accountable under the law.

For weeks and even months, this gambit almost worked. My wife and I are not lawyers, and we were concerned for a very long time that we might wind up homeless if I did not quit blogging. As you might imagine, this caused more than a few sleepless nights.

It wasn't until we found an article by an attorney named Tony Mankus that we began to sense we were being played for fools. You can read the entire Mankus article here.

But the key point is this: Our home is jointly owned by my wife and me. And despite Bubba's repeated claims that he was going to "sell that property," my wife's half of our property was never on the table. Ironically, we had tried to get my wife included as a party to the underlying lawsuit, and by law, she should have been added. But corrupt Judge Dan Reeves kept her out, which wound up being a huge break for us. If Reeves had ever dreamed I would blog about the case, I'm sure he would have handled it differently. But neither Reeves, nor any of the other judges in Shelby County that I've encountered, are known for being terribly sharp.

The Mankus article makes the law clear. He's writing from the standpoint of a federal tax lien, but the same principle applies on state judgment liens:

"In the case of property held in joint tenancy, the federal tax lien attaches to the taxpayer's proportionate interest. As long as neither the owners, nor security holders (including the IRS) take any action to dispose of the property, the lien will remain a dormant right against the property and will not impede its use by the owners."

So that's the law--and thank you Tony Mankus, wherever you are!

If we had not found that article, and gradually figured out how Bubba & Co. were trying to screw us, I'm not sure what would have happened.

As I've asserted repeatedly on Legal Schnauzer, this whole criminal enterprise by Alabama Republicans was designed not to take our house or satisfy a "judgment" but to put a halt to this blog.

I have come to understand the law enough to prove that I was correct about that. And we will discuss that subject next.