One of the most famous quotes about American justice is attributed to John Adams. The subject was the principle of separation of powers, and the occasion was the drafting of the constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:
". . . to the end it may be a government of laws and not of men."
That phrase has been quoted with approval by the U.S. Supreme Court and every state supreme court in the United States. But does it still hold true? Is America, in the postmodern Age of Rove, still a "government of laws and not of men?"
The answer, sadly and resoundingly, is no.
In fact, if I were told that I had only one sentence to get across the core message of this blog, it would be this: "Our nation in 2008 is ruled by corrupt men (and women) and not the rule of law, and Legal Schnauzer is designed to present irrefutable proof of that sorry state of affairs--in hopes that people of good faith will rise up and do something about it."
How do I know that our nation currently is controlled by corrupt "men" and not the rule of law? Well, any objective and serious student of the Don Siegelman case in Alabama and the Paul Minor case in Mississippi would have to strongly suspect that something is horribly amiss with our justice system.
But I have an advantage over most folks. I don't have to rely on third-person accounts of injustice, of legal wrongs that have befallen "other people."
I've seen it firsthand. I've been a victim of it. And for some reason--I give credit to my background in journalism and to a wife who is more fearless than I ever imagined--I had the ability, support, and determination I needed to go to a law library and figure out exactly how I was being cheated. And that knowledge, discovered with the help of some wonderful law librarians, forms the foundation for the story that unfolds on this blog.
My hope is that the public at large will take my efforts--and the efforts of folks like Scott Horton, Larisa Alexandrovna, Glynn Wilson, and more--and become alarmed enough to say, "Enough!" As Don Siegelman has correctly pointed out, this is not about my case, his case, or any particular case. It's about our country--and what it stands for.
By the way, what does America stand for? If you did a nationwide survey, I bet the number one answer would be "freedom." I bet the number two answer would be "justice." But here's the key: If number two is tarnished and warped, number one is no longer a possible. Freedom cannot thrive without justice. Just ask Don Siegelman, who lost his freedom for nine months because of a corrupt and dysfunctional justice system. Just ask the three defendants in the Paul Minor case, who are currently imprisoned for crimes the case record shows they did not commit.
People who care about justice have a tough road ahead. Many Americans have forgotten, or never bothered to learn, what the words of John Adams really mean.
Consider my case, where Republican authorities in Shelby County, Alabama, are threatening to unlawfully seize and auction my house--all to settle a "judgment" in the amount of $1,525. I've had more than one person, people who are smart enough to know better, say something like: "Well, you've got a judgment against you, and there's nothing you can do about it. You have to pay the judgment or you're going to lose your house."
John Adams isn't around to say it, so I will say it for him: "Rubbish!"
The "judgment" against me was signed by a "man," Shelby County Circuit Judge G. Dan Reeves. His signature is the only thing that gives the judgment even a hint of authority. But that authority is not grounded in the law. The record in my case is filled with proof that Dan Reeves is corrupt, a corrupt "man." He and his predecessor on my case, Presiding Judge J. Michael Joiner, are glorified rapists. They raped the law repeatedly and viciously.
Corrupt "men" like Reeves and Joiner, thank God, have limited authority in our system of government. They are constrained by the law.
And what does the law say in my case? It says, more than anything, that the lawsuit against me had to be dismissed (summary judgment) multiple times--that the case could not go to trial. And if you take summary judgment out of the equation and consider just the trial itself, the law says no finding could be made against me there, either.
We will be providing many details later to drive home these points. But for now, our key point is this: Under the rule of law, there is no judgment against me that could threaten my house; under the rule of men, there is a judgment against me that is being used to threaten my house.
Which one prevails? John Adams would have a ready answer. So would Thomas Paine, who wrote the following in Common Sense:
". . . the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America the law is king. For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other."