Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Daily Dixie Explains Himself--Sort Of

Dan Roberts, who publishes the Huntsville, Alabama-based Daily Dixie blog, has a writing style that might charitably be called schizophrenic.

Roberts is so "all over the map" with his musings that one wonders if Roberts himself knows what he thinks. That, of course, makes it pretty hard for the reader to figure out what Roberts is up to.

Normally, I wouldn't care what Roberts was up to. But when I discovered Friday morning that he had authored a "hit piece" on me, questioning my mental health and pretty much making sport of the public corruption I've chronicled here at Legal Schnauzer, I figured maybe I should pay more attention to his blog.

So I've tried to read his Schnauzer-related posts and comments carefully, with hopes of coming to some conclusions. The only conclusion I can make is this: In the header for Daily Dixie, Roberts refers to himself as a "lost soul" in Alabama. I think "confused soul" might be a better term.

I've made a genuine effort to take Roberts and his work seriously. But he hasn't given me, or any objective reader, a reason to do that much longer.

Consider Roberts' piece from yesterday, "Why I did the Legal Schnauzer piece."

He shreds his own credibility right off the bat. He says he had determined that Legal Schnauzer is "the kind of blog you have to read continuously to understand"--I agree with him on that--and he had chosen to "not really follow it."

No problemo. I'm sure my blog isn't everyone's cup of tea, and I don't write it for mass appeal. My hope is to reach readers who have a genuine interest in the state of our modern justice system--from the perspective of a regular guy who has seen it up close.

The problem is that Roberts' words of yesterday don't jive with his words of roughly three weeks ago. At that time, he wrote that he found Legal Schnauzer "entertaining and informative." He wrote that UAB's actions regarding my termination were "setting off flags" for him.

Now he says he never really followed the blog, and he calls me "paranoid," "delusional," and "loony." You see what I mean by all over the map?

Roberts said he was inspired to check into my blog when he received several e-mails from readers in the wake of Raw Story's piece about my termination at UAB. The e-mailers, Roberts wrote, "were hoping I could vouch for Mr. Shuler's account or at least his general believability."

Strange. Why would anyone contact Dan Roberts to check out the validity of my story or my "general believability?" I don't know Roberts, and he doesn't know me. Why not contact Lindsay Beyerstein who wrote the Raw Story article? She's very nice and smart as a whip. I'm sure she would have been glad to answer questions. Scott Horton, who only writes for Harper's magazine and only serves on the law faculty at Columbia University, was quoted extensively in the article, and his e-mail address is readily available. Why not contact him? Robin Wilson, of the Chronicle of Higher Education, picked up on the story, evidently because she found it credible. She only works for the premier publication in the area of higher education. Why not contact her? Heck, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) entered documents citing Legal Schnauzer during a Congressional hearing. Since that material was entered into the Congressional Record, I assume Cohen found it credible. Why not contact him?

But Dan Roberts? A reasonably objective person is going to contact him about my believability?

Roberts admits that he only "skimmed" Legal Schnauzer because the posts are "very long and it's hard to follow." But he read enough to call my mental health into question. Hmmm.

Finally, Roberts centers on the seven-page letter I wrote to Alice Martin, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, presenting evidence of federal crimes by at least one attorney and multiple state judges in her district.

Now Roberts is showing some smarts here. If you are going to skim Legal Schnauzer, the Martin letter is a good place to start; it provides a solid overview of my experiences in Alabama court. But Roberts evidently can't be bothered to read even this one document closely--or maybe he just doesn't comprehend it.

But the corruption in my case isn't hard to comprehend. In fact, it is outrageously blatant, and the perpetrators are so used to getting away with this kind of stuff (harming many Alabamians, not just me) that they didn't even try to hide it.

In my very first post here at Legal Schnauzer, I drew a parallel between my experiences in Alabama courts and a baseball game. Roberts says in his bio that he enjoys a cold, frosty brew from time to time, and that usually means a guy (or gal) likes and understands baseball.

So here is the comparison: An umpire in baseball has discretion to make certain calls--whether a pitch is a ball or strike, whether a runner is safe or out, whether a batted ball is fair or foul. He's supposed to work within the rules of the game, but he can use his judgment to make these calls. An umpire, however, does not have discretion to make other calls. He cannot, for example, decide that visiting-team batters get three strikes and home-team batters get six strikes. He cannot decide that the visiting team gets three outs in an inning and the home team gets eight outs.

A question for Roberts (and anyone else who cares to play along): If you go to a baseball game, and the umpire gives the home team eight outs in an inning, what kind of an umpire do you have? Answer: You have a cheat.

It's pretty much the same situation with the judges in my case. When one party files a properly executed motion for summary judgment and supports it with sworn evidence (as I did), and the other party does not present any evidence at all (as the opposing party did), the moving party's evidence must be considered uncontroverted and summary judgment must be granted.

Law doesn't get much more clear and simple than that. And for good measure, Alabama law says that such a ruling is "nondiscretionary"--just like in baseball, where it's "three strikes and your out." The judge doesn't get to make up his mind; the law, in such instances, makes it for him.

And yet, three times--three times--Shelby County judges could not get this right. And the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals and the Alabama Supreme Court refused to overturn it--taking the cowardly way out by issuing a "no opinion affirmance" (in the case of the Court of Civil Appeals) and refusing to grant certioari (in the case of the Supreme Court).

The law also does not grant discretion when one party tries to amend their complaint 65 days after the deadline for doing so--in fact, after the other party (me) had already filed a timely motion for summary judgment. An amendment that is filed 65 days late simply cannot stand under the law. But Shelby County judges couldn't get that right either--and appellate courts also let it slide.

At one point, Roberts seems to suggest that filing an amendment 65 days late is a trivial matter. Well, the amendment, in this instance, added a complaint for conversion. That's the charge that a jury eventually found against me on and awarded damages of $1,525. Never mind that, under the law, the jury could not possibly even hear that charge. Shelby County judges allowed it, and Attorney William E. Swatek used the unlawful judgment to orchestrate a bogus "auction" of my house and get a sheriff's lien in place--meaning, thanks to corrupt judges, my wife and I no longer own our own house free and clear.

In his bio at Daily Dixie, Roberts talks at some length about the importance he places on property rights. Wonder how he would like it if his house was stolen by corrupt judges and lawyers. Wonder if he would consider that unlawfully allowed amendment to be trivial if it caused him to have a lien on his property.

Am I delusional for finding it curious that Bill Swatek's son has worked for numerous high-profile Republicans, including judges, and all of the judges involved in these unlawful rulings were Republicans?

Roberts seems aghast--aghast, I tell you--that I would suggest the judges who butchered my case committed crimes. Well, he should try telling that to the Bush Justice Department, particularly to Dunn Lampton, a U.S. attorney in Mississippi. Lampton prosecuted two former state judges and one sitting state supreme court justice for allegedly doing the very thing that occurred in my case: Intentionally making unlawful rulings to favor a certain party and using the U.S. mails in furtherance of the scheme.

That was at the heart of the charges in the Paul Minor case, and three men currently sit in federal prison because of the prosecution. Roberts might want to check it out.

If Roberts checks it out objectively, though, he will notice one difference between the Minor case and my case. In the Minor case, the judges ruled correctly in the underlying cases that were the basis for the government's case. This means three men are in federal prison for crimes they did not commit. In my case, multiple state judges in Alabama clearly ruled contrary to established law--and did it on numerous occasions. They used the U.S. mails in furtherance of this scheme, and whether Roberts likes it or not, that's a crime--honest-services mail fraud (18 U.S. Code 1346).

By the way, some folks might discount the crimes I witnessed because my case did not involve a large sum of money. But money has nothing to do with honest-services mail fraud. Oh, money is involved in many 1346 cases. But money is not at the heart of the crime. The crime is about this simple notion: Citizens of Alabama (all citizens, not just me; and in all states, not just Alabama) have an "intangible right" to the "honest services" of public officials. When that right is abused, the law says it constitutes "theft" of honest services. And when the U.S. mails or wires are used in furtherance of the scheme, it's a federal crime

Remember that word "theft." Because that's what the judges in my case are--thieves. That's a word most of us can understand--even Roberts and his readers.

Did I think Alice Martin was actually going to investigate and prosecute the crimes that I witnessed? Heck no. I figured she was a political hack, and she proved me correct. But Martin's compadre, Leura Canary in the Middle District of Alabama, had no problem charging Don Siegelman with multiple counts of honest-services mail fraud, under circumstances that weren't remotely as clear cut as the ones in my case. In fact, roughly two-thirds of the charges against Siegelman involved honest-services mail fraud, so it's not like the Bush DOJ treats that crime lightly.

This is why many progressives--and honest Republicans--accuse the Bush Justice Department of political prosecution. That's exactly what it is. Don Siegelman and the Paul Minor defendants--all Democrats--do not commit honest-services mail fraud, but they get prosecuted anyway. The judges in my case--all Republicans--do commit honest-services mail fraud, and nothing is done about it.

Anyone who can't see the problem with that . . . well, their moral compass is so maladjusted that I'm afraid I can't help them.

I probably can't help Roberts either. But on the off chance that he is sincerely interested in understanding the issues in my case--and their connections to the Siegelman and Minor cases--I can point him to this post.

It's called "Mail Fraud: A Primer," and it's a succinct description of what honest-services mail fraud is all about. It's straight from the law books; it's not my opinion, I didn't make it up.

Any objective human who makes an attempt to understand that law, and then applies it to the facts in my case, will see the crimes that I have written about.

I'm sure it's easy, and probably fun, to call me a loon or a nut. But if Roberts and his readers remain in the dark on the issues raised at Legal Schnauzer, it's not because I haven't tried to show them the way.

If they are still in the dark after today, that's a choice of their own making.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if this episode has anything to do with Dan shutting the Daily Dixie down?
jim gundlach

Anonymous said...

Thought I would comment and say neat theme, did you make it for yourself? It's really awesome!