|William E. Swatek|
The nation's attention has been riveted in recent days on video of a woman being stomped at a Rand Paul rally in Kentucky. The thuggish behavior of Paul's tea-party supporters was captured on tape for the entire nation to see.
Republican thuggery is not new for my wife and me. We've been dealing with it in Alabama for roughly 10 years, long before most people had heard of Rand Paul.
One of the more unusual moments in our legal travails came in May 2008 when Republican thugs in Alabama caused our house to be unlawfully auctioned. We still live in the house, but our full ownership rights were essentially stolen. My wife and I now are fighting to get them back.
We have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging that attorney William E. Swatek and Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry led a conspiracy to violate our equal-protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. Other named defendants include Mike McGarity, our criminally inclined neighbor; Sheriff Deputy Bubba Caudill; and Alabama Circuit Judge Hub Harrington. (See the complaint at the end of this post.)
Long-time readers might recall that we captured the bizarre sheriff's sale on video for our Legal Schnauzer audience. You can relive those memories here:
Showdown in Shelby County, Part II
What is the gist of the lawsuit? This section of the complaint pretty well sums it up:
The sale allegedly was for the purpose of satisfying a judgment against Roger Shuler in the amount of $1,525. The judgment had been entered in Shelby County Circuit Court in June 2004, in favor of Mike McGarity, who was represented by Attorney William E. Swatek.
Swatek made the only bid on the property, and he was awarded rights to the Shulers’ property. A sheriff’s deed was placed on the Shulers’ property in Swatek’s name, and the deed remains in place.
The sheriff’s sale was conducted without due process of law and violated Alabama statutory, procedural, and case law in multiple respects.
The "auction" was a legal fiasco, apparently designed to threaten me into discontinuing my blog. It took place on May 12, 2008 (while I was on administrative leave from my job at UAB), and I was fired on May 19. That strongly suggests that the sheriff's sale and my unlawful termination are connected.
Swatek's son, Dax Swatek, is a Montgomery-based political consultant for the Republican Party and was Gov. Bob Riley's campaign manager in 2006. Dax Swatek's mentor is Bill Canary, president of the Business Council of Alabama and husband of corrupt U.S. Attorney Leura Canary (of Don Siegelman-case infamy). Bill Canary, of course, is a close associate of Tom Donohue, head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Karl Rove, Bush White House and GOP fund-raising strategist.
Bill and Dax Swatek are the Kevin Bacon characters in our Legal Schnauzer story, providing "six degrees" of connections to some of the sleaziest Republicans in American history. Does all of this suggest that my unlawful termination at UAB and the bogus auction of our house were driven, at least in part, by GOP political operatives? Does it suggest that our problems with debt collectors also might involve GOP politicos? We think the answer to both questions is yes.
(By the way, the photo of Bill Swatek above is not a gag. That's really him, and he really is an "officer of the court" in Alabama. Comforting isn't it? The photo is from the Web site swateklaw.com. If you have some time on your hands and want to have a little fun, try this: Check out the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct and then peruse the Swatek Web site. See how many violations of ethics rules you can find.)
How big a joke was the process leading up to the auction of our house--and why does it appear connected to my blog? The complaint states:
As of fall 2007, more than three years had passed, with McGarity making no effort to collect on the judgment. Neither Swatek nor McGarity ever sent a demand letter regarding the judgment. But roughly three months after Shuler started writing about the case on his blog—and also writing about debt collectors who had repeatedly violated federal law—McGarity and Swatek suddenly became interested in collecting the judgment.
In September 2007, Swatek applied for a writ of execution on McGarity’s behalf, threatening seizure of the Shulers’ cars and house. The writ was issued by Clerk Mary Harris on September 21, 2007. On February 8, 2008, the Shulers received a notice of levy, signed by Sheriff Chris Curry, stating that the house and property at 5204 Logan Drive would be advertised and sold. Over a period of several weeks, the Shulers received approximately 25 phone messages from Deputies Bubba Caudill and Eddie Moore. The tone of the calls was “we’re fixing to sell that property” and “have you worked something out with the other side?”
In a phone conversation with Bubba Caudill, Roger Shuler stated there was nothing to work out. The judgment itself was void, Shuler said, and he had filed a claim of exemption with the sheriff’s office—and McGarity had not contested it, meaning the property was exempt from levy and no sale could took place. Caudill told Shuler that Judge Harrington had ordered that the sale proceed, and the court file shows that Harrington indeed signed off on the sale. This occurred even though Alabama law holds that a sheriff’s sale is recognized by statute and does not require any action by a judge. (Ex Parte Arthur Lynn, Ala. Civ. App. 1999.) In fact, that court found that a sheriff’s sale is not a judicial sale, so Harrington acted outside his official capacity as a judge in causing the Shulers’ property rights to be unlawfully auctioned.
What has been the fallout?
As a result of the unlawful auction, a sheriff’s deed now is recorded in Shelby County Probate Court, falsely asserting that Bill Swatek has legal rights to the Shulers’ property. The Shulers now frequently receive mail at their home, addressed to William E. Swatek, as if he is the owner of the property.
Imagine that you are outside on a 90-degree summer day in Alabama, mowing your yard, pulling weeds, trimming shrubs--doing the kinds of things that homeowners do to try to keep their property looking nice. Imagine that sweat is pouring down your face, and your shirt is thoroughly soaked.
Then this thought comes into your head: Thanks to a neighbor with a long criminal record and his lawyer with a long history of ethical violations and corrupt public officials, you are working your ass off on property that you don't fully own.
Imagine how that would make you feel. Mrs. Schnauzer and I don't have to imagine it. We know how it makes you feel. It makes you so pissed off that you are tempted to take the bogus sheriff's deed and jam it up someone's orifice. It makes you want to take Bill Swatek's "hog" and drive it over a cliff--with him on it.
We try to be civilized folks, so we are going about things in the proper manner. But to say we are determined to get justice in this matter would be a vast understatement.
You are a hero, but we live in a kleptocracy which punishes courageous people who have high ethical values. Unfortunately, Barack Obama joined with the thugs the moment he won the White House, and so Americans have nowhere to turn.
If you think the Alabama political system has done YOU wrong, look at the case of John Sophocleus. He ran against Bob Riley for congress in 2000, and then against him in 2002 for governor. His house was 'eminent domain'ed, he received calls threatening his family, and lost his job at Auburn.
Your reference to the 'stomping' of the paid agitator in KY is ignorant of the facts. The woman, a PAID AGITATOR in an obvious disguise, holding a critical sign, ran up to Paul's moving vehicle and attempted to shove something into the window.
Now, imagine that she was a paid agitator for one of the people who are causing you grief over YOUR house. I believe you'd handle her a bit more roughly than she was handled by those 'thugs' who were trying to disable a possible assailant.
Anon No. 2:
Thanks for the info about John Sophocleus. I'm not familiar with his situation, but will look it up.
I disagree, mostly, about the Rand Paul situation. I do agree that it probably was not a good idea for the woman to be there. She had every right to be on the premises, but to act like she was going to give something to Rand Paul was not a good idea.
Still, that does not mean she deserved to be assaulted. These guys who did this are not trained security people, and it's not their job to "protect" Rand Paul. The campaign should have professionals for that.
It's a wonder this woman didn't suffer some sort of brain injury from this.
You made a comment about cars. If there was the possibility of taking or selling an automobile or other property to satisfy the judgment, why the house? That clearly would show malicious intent.
You are very observant and make a key point. There are signs of malicious intent all over the place here:
* McGarity/Swatek never asked for the $1,525, never sent a demand letter. That indicates they weren't interested in the money.
* I was employed at UAB at the time they filed the writ of execution threatening our house and cars. All they had to do, if a demand letter didn't work, was garnish my wages. But they didn't do that. Another sign they weren't interested in money.
* Who tries to get a sheriff's deed on a house to satisfy a debt of $1,525? It makes no sense. Clearly, there was an ulterior motive.
Can't find the disclaimer stating - "No representation is made...." That's the big one. He claims to have never lost a divorce. I'm assuming that's a divorce where he was the attorney & not the defendant in the divorce proceeding :) My number one question is how he made the transition from Sheriff's Deputy to high powered lawyer. Several of my friends and relatives have been cops in Alabama for decades & they have always struggled to pay their bills, much less attend law school and open a law office with their pittance paychecks. You have to have another source of income other than law enforcement to move into the law office game. What was Swatek's other source of income?
That's a good question. I think Swatek might come from money. Believe I read somewhere that his father was an exec at EBSCO. That might have helped.
Here is my favorite line from his Web site: "But I believe that my experience as a deputy sheriff, my investigative abilities, my Christian faith and my “I will win no matter what” attitude are the factors that help me to win cases.
He talks about his Christian faith and his "I will win no matter what" attitude in the same sentence! The implication: I will cheat, lie and steal if I have to--but, by God, I'm a Christian!
Got to love it.
Dear Anonymous: The primary problem with this kleptocracy you mention is that wealthy people and their lawyers are GREEDY. It's not like Roger Shuler & I aren't partially educated & don't have the requisite knowledge, skills & experience to help these people make some of that money they love so much. The problem is they want all that money FOR THEMSELVES. Roger & I have the education and experience to work for any law firm in Alabama & help them make money. I can't speak for Roger, but so long as they choose to keep blacklisting me, that's how long they'll keep getting outmaneuvered and surprised. They also have a lien against my family home that I hardly ever speak about, but despite years of civil court battles and false criminal charges & false ethics charges at the Alabama State Bar, they've never managed to kick me out of my house nor have I ever served one day in jail. They punish people like Roger & me because we are reminders of their own mistakes which they refuse to admit. When you're rich & powerful, it's a hell of a lot easier to punish people like Roger Shuler & cover it over with a veneer of their religion of choice than to own up to their own mistakes & say I'm sorry.
Wow Roger, you and Joanne have really hit a nerve with this business about political corruption in Alabama! I mean, there is a total of five posts on Democratic Underworld about your article! They might need a server upgrade to handle all the traffic your drivel is driving.
Roger, if you think your democrat idols are the answer to your real-estate problems, then you need a cranial-rectal inversion.
Who is Joanne and what is Democratic Underworld? Never heard of either one.
You should come out from behind that mask of false bravado Anon.
As for Swatek, that picture clearly defines someone suffering from little man's syndrome or maybe he is looking to be the next Viagra/Cialis spokesman.
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