Monday, April 30, 2012

Legal Headaches Can Emerge From Exposure to Psychological Wreckage

Edmund C. McGarity

When Mike McGarity became our new next-door neighbor in December 1998, my wife and I only needed a few encounters with him to have this burning question: "Where in the hell did this guy come from?"

Having lived in Alabama for 30-plus years, I've gotten used to Southern accents and even have come to find some of them charming. But McGarity has the kind of backwoodsy accent that makes the flesh crawl. For example, a dog is a "dogue" (rhymes with rogue). Between his voice, belligerence, and intellectual shallowness, McGarity appeared to be the sort who was raised in the sticks, perhaps by wolves. (In retrospect, we owe a sincere apology to wolves--and people in the sticks.)

Imagine our surprise when we learned that McGarity grew up not in moonshine country but in the fashionable Birmingham suburb of Homewood, complete with its "excellent schools" that real-estate agents love to tout. And McGarity's father, Edmund C. McGarity, was not a bootlegger but a business executive, one with multiple academic degrees.

Heck, Mike McGarity and his siblings grew up in privilege compared to Mrs. Schnauzer and me. She's the child of a steelworker and a stay-at-home mom. I'm the child of a postal clerk and a nurse (who was a stay-at-home mom for most of my upbringing).

So why did all four of the McGarity boys wind up with criminal records? And why did one of them, Mike McGarity, prove to be by far the most difficult jackass Mrs. Schnauzer and I have ever encountered? Why did the McGarity household seemingly fail to turn out one decent human being among its males? (Nancy McGarity Lawrence, the youngest and the one girl among five children, turned out OK, best I can tell from a check of public records.) Did the parents' divorce, in 1973, cause severe psychological wreckage?

The McGarity "men" clearly did not turn out well--two of them died young--even though they had advantages that many of us never have. Edmund C. McGarity recently died, and here is part of his obituary. He obviously was not a stupid or unaccomplished guy:

Mr. McGarity graduated from Auburn University with a B.S. degree in Business Administration in 1951 where he was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha, Delta Sigma Pi and Phi Kappa Phi. He received his law degree from Jones Law School, Montgomery, AL, in 1964. He worked with U.S. Pipe and Foundry Company, Birmingham, AL from 1953 to 1975 serving as controller (1965-68), Vice President (1968-75) and Vice President/Treasurer/Administrator (1970-75.) After that he worked with U.S. Home Corp., Clearwater, Fla. 1976-1990. He was employed by Dr. Michael Vitkin from 1990 to 2011 as Vice President/Controller.

This guy was vice president of a major Birmingham corporation, with a law degree, and all four of his sons have rap sheets of varying severity? How does that happen? And why did one of his dysfunctional brats wind up living next to us?

Edmund McGarity initiated a divorce action against his first wife, Lenora T. McGarity, and it was finalized in 1973, splitting up a family of five children (ages 11-20 at the time). Is divorce that traumatic? Is it the simple answer for why the McGarity "men" turned out the way they did?

We have been known to dabble in dime-store psychology, and my guess is that the McGarity household was screwed up long before the divorce action commenced. We have written several times about sociopathy and it's growing prevalence in American society. What exactly is sociopathy? It's a form of personality disorder that is resistant to medication and therapy. Here is how we have described it, based on our reading of works by Robert Hare, a leading expert in the field:

Antisocial personality disorder, also called sociopathy or psychopathy, basically refers to a lack of empathy for the rights and feelings of other people. It is notoriously difficult to treat, partly because those who have it almost never acknowledge that they have a problem. It's the people around them--family members, neighbors, coworkers--who suffer.

I'm not qualified, of course, to diagnose a complex psychiatric disorder. But when I look at the McGarity family history, and consider the words "lack of empathy for the rights and feelings of other people" . . . well, it gives me serious pause.

We already have provided a summary of Mike McGarity's criminal history. Here are summaries of his brothers' criminal records, from Birmingham Municipal Court records. Keep in mind that these are only from one jurisdiction, in a low-level court. It does not include possible violations of statewide laws in Alabama, or in other states. And it does not include possible violations in other municipalities.

Our sample size might be small, but here in black and white is more evidence of the troubled environment that produced our toxic neighbor:

Marshall McGarity Criminal Record

Alan McGarity Criminal Record

William McGarity Criminal Record

Friday, April 27, 2012

UAB's Carol Garrison and UT's John Shumaker Weaved a Trail of Deception

Carol Garrison
In our previous segments, we focused on misuse of public funds by former University of Tennessee president John Shumaker and UAB president Carol Garrison. The scandal, with Garrison near its center, resulted in Shumaker's resignation.

A close review of published reports about the episode shows that it involved more than just poor judgment on the part of two highly compensated university administrators. A significant amount of deceit was involved in trying to cover up the improper behavior.

A ranking trustee at the University of Tennessee said Shumaker had "misled" her and other officials about his extensive travels, including his numerous trips to Birmingham to see Garrison. The Associated Press reported:

"He assured me everything was appropriate, that there was nothing wrong," said Johnnie Amonette of Memphis, who chairs the UT trustees' executive committee.

Asked if she felt betrayed, Amonette said, "Let's just say, misled."

What form did the deceit take? Here's more from the AP, with a heavy emphasis on Birmingham and Garrison:

On July 2, Amonette issued a statement saying her committee was "fully aware of and approved his (Shumaker's) extensive travel, including the trips to Birmingham."

The statement was in response to reports that Shumaker used the UT plane to visit friend and former Louisville colleague Carol Garrison, now president of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Amonette said she was asked to read a similar statement endorsing Shumaker's travels during a June board meeting in Memphis, but declined until she could meet with Shumaker.

In a personal meeting, Shumaker gave the trustees a "verbal update" about the flights, the reasons for them and told "everything was done exactly as it should be done." But the trustees never saw any paperwork, she said.

"I should not have released the statement," Amonette said Thursday, ". . . and I am sorry about that."

Shumaker would later reimburse UT $34,747.71 for personal expenses, most of it for personal flights, including trips to Birmingham.

Testimony before a state legislative committee, after Shumaker's resignation, revealed much more about his deception involving Garrison. From an AP report on August 21, 2003:

Cathy Cole, Shumaker's chief of staff, said her boss told her about his relationship with Garrison last fall. She told him she was concerned about his use of the state plane to travel to Birmingham, Ala.

"I commented to him that there was one thing a president can count on--an audit of travel," she said.
Perhaps with that in mind, Shumaker tried to cover his tracks. But his actions did not slip past UT auditor Mark Paganelli:

In addition, auditors found a personal electronic calendar in Shumaker's office had been altered, with trips to Little Rock, Ark., and Birmingham deleted.

"Information had been changed, removed," Paganelli said, noting that the calendar was turned over to the state comptroller's office, which is conducting its own audit.

That information hit home with committee members:

Committee co-chairman Sen. Jerry Cooper, D-Morrison, called the calendar a "smoking gun."

"After what I heard today, I'd say there's a real good chance he was trying to cover something up," he said.

The attempted cover up didn't end there. It extended to a conference in San Antonio, where Shumaker and Garrison shared a hotel room for three days:

Former University of Tennessee President John Shumaker initially lied to auditors about spending three nights in a hotel room with a former colleague, an auditor told lawmakers Thursday.

UT auditor Mark Paganelli told the Fiscal Review Committee that Shumaker tried to conceal his relationship to University of Alabama-Birmingham President Carol Garrison when auditors asked him about a San Antonio, Texas, hotel receipt. . . .

Auditors caught on to the lie when questioning a receipt they found in Garrison's name, Paganelli said. The first two nights of their stay was paid by UT, while the third was billed to UAB at a rate $120 less than the previous two.

While Shumaker lost his job at UT, Garrison remains employed as UAB's president. But I've seen no indication that she ever has faced serious questions about her role in the scandal. A few obvious questions come to mind:

* Were you aware that John Shumaker was altering his personal calendar in an effort to conceal his trips to see you? Did you alter any of your records?

* What role did you play in the mix up about the hotel receipts?

* Were any UAB resources used in furthering your personal relationship with John Shumaker? For example, did he spend nights at the Woodward House, the UAB presidential residence? Was UAB reimbursed for expenses that were strictly personal in nature?

Throughout her presidency, Carol Garrison has shown a tendency to release "official statements" about various events but has rarely consented to interviews. Given the many questions an inquiring reporter might want to ask about the Shumaker scandal, it's easy to understand why she stays out of the spotlight.

Even when releasing one "statement" about her relationship with Shumaker, Garrison appears to have been deceitful. The statement was released to Associated Press:

In a statement Thursday, Garrison acknowledged a relationship with Shumaker and said UAB paid for her hotel room because she was there on official business that had been approved by the chancellor.

"My relationship with John Shumaker at the University of Louisville was professional. Our relationship now is personal, and has been no secret, as he has attended a number of Birmingham and UAB events," Garrison said.

Garrison says she was in San Antonio in December 2002 on official business "that had been approved by the chancellor." Let's take a closer look at that statement.

I worked at UAB for 19 years, so I have a little knowledge about how the university conducts its travel business. First of all, the volume of travel by UAB faculty and staff members is heavy. It is so heavy that at one time UAB had its own on-campus travel agency.

Amidst all of that travel, Garrison is saying that the chancellor of the UA System singled out her trip for his personal approval. This statement is more than a little hard to believe.

There seems to be nothing remarkable about the San Antonio conference. It was the annual meeting of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools on December 7-10, 2002. That sounds like the kind of event that both Shumaker and Garrison would have legitimate reasons for attending.

So why the strange statement about the chancellor approving the trip?

I have two guesses:

* Garrison's involvement in the Shoemaker scandal, so soon after she had arrived at UAB, was becoming a "hot potato" and had put her job at risk. Facing a probable lawsuit at the time from UAB's first female president (W. Ann Reynolds), UA wanted to do everything possible to avoid dumping its second female president. Malcolm Portera, the chancellor at the time, reportedly had been a strong Garrison supporter, and he probably wanted to take the spotlight off her and put it on him.

* If a reporter somehow did start asking serious questions--a great unlikelihood in Alabama--this statement established Portera as the go-to guy and took Garrison out of an increasingly warm spotlight. My guess is that Portera was prepared to perform a little public-relations "soft shoe" to take the heat off the UAB president.

But the statement raises a few obvious questions, ones that I've never seen asked in the mainstream press: How many times did Portera, or any other UA chancellor, personally approve a trip by the UAB president? Is that the way business usually is conducted in the UA System? Did Garrison take any notes at the conference, make any presentations, return with any pertinent material? How has UAB benefitted from her attendance at the San Antonio conference?

Here's an even better question: Is there any reason that taxpayers should believe a word Carol Garrison says? Taxpayers foot the bill for most of UAB's activities, but Garrison doesn't appear to think much about her obligations to everyday folks.

At times during the Shumaker/Garrison scandal, the level of deceit reached comic proportions. A classic example, along with lots of other interesting information, comes from a report on Shumaker's activities by John G. Morgan, comptroller of the treasury for the State of Tennessee.

One section of the 110-page report deals with a trip to Birmingham on April 15, 2003, for what was supposed to be a "business" trip. It seems Shumaker had a little trouble explaining details about the "business" part of his trip:

The flight logs showed that on April 15, 2003, the UT plane flew Dr. Shumaker and Dr. Cole from Knoxville to Nashville and dropped off Dr. Cole in Nashville. Dr. Shumaker continued on the UT plane to Birmingham on April 15. According to the flight logs, the UT plane remained in Birmingham overnight and returned Dr. Shumaker to Nashville and then to Knoxville, all on April 16.

According to Dr. Shumaker, he made the trip to Birmingham to attend a dinner at Dr. Garrison’s residence. Dr. Shumaker stated that Dr. Garrison had indicated that one of her invitees to dinner was a UAB faculty member with whom Dr. Shumaker had expressed interest with regard to this individual contracting with UT. Dr. Shumaker indicated that his trip was business-related in that he was able to converse with this UAB faculty member. However, when asked for the name of the UAB faculty member, Dr. Shumaker declined to provide the individual’s name.

Yep, Carol Garrison had supposedly set up a meeting between Shumaker and a UAB faculty member. But when asked to provide the faculty member's name, Shumaker couldn't do it.

Oh what a tangled web we weave. And I have firsthand experience with the kind of tangled webs Carol Garrison still is weaving at UAB. In fact, people who have become active participants in Garrison's corrupt enterprise helped cheat me out of my job. And I would not be surprised if Garrison was directing the whole charade.

Much more on that coming up. Previously in the series:

Carol Garrison and John Shumaker, Part I

Carol Garrison and John Shumaker, Part II

Carol Garrison and John Shumaker, Part III

Thursday, April 26, 2012

University of South Alabama Students Are "Rooming With Roaches" at The Grove

Ted Rollins grew up in the family that owns Orkin Pest Control, so you might think that his student-housing complexes would be relatively bug free. But you would be wrong.

Students who live at The Grove apartments on the University of South Alabama campus say they have been overun with roaches for months. And students say officials with Campus Crest Communities, the company that has built apartments under The Grove banner at about 30 universities around the country, have not done much to help.

Channel 15 in Mobile has a report titled "Rooming With Roaches at The Grove." The story is dripping with irony when you consider that Ted Rollins is the CEO of Campus Crest Communities. And his billionaire cousins, Randall and Gary Rollins, are the heads of Atlanta-based Rollins Inc., the parent company of Orkin Pest Control.

We have written extensively about Ted Rollins' legal and personal affairs in Alabama, especially a dubious divorce case he filed in Shelby County back in 2004, even though Sherry Carroll Rollins had already sued him for divorce in 2001--in Greenville, South Carolina, where the family lived and jurisdiction was established. The Shelby County divorce was handled in such a grossly unlawful manner that it left Ms. Rollins and the couple's two daughters on food stamps in Birmingham. Now it looks like Ted Rollins business affairs might be even creepier than his personal affairs.

It's not clear what company handles the pest-control contract for Campus Crest Communities, but we would say there's a strong possibility that it's Orkin. So why can't perhaps the best-known extermination company in the world keep roaches out of student apartments--especially at a complex that is owned and operated by a company that is part of the Rollins family?

The answer to that question is not clear. But this much is clear: Students in Mobile are not happy with living conditions at The Grove. From reporter Andrea Ramey at

University of South Alabama students living at The Grove apartments say they've been rooming with roaches for months now, and they say management hasn't done much about it. 
"Roaches are everywhere. They come out from behind the stove when you cook. They come up from the side of the fridge. I mean, everywhere," said a South Alabama student, who didn't want to be identified. 
She says she routinely complains about the bug infestation but says not much is done about it. 
"The only thing they say is keep the drains closed. Keep the toilet lid closed and they can only spray once every other week or every two weeks, and we can't permanently be put on a list for him to spray. We have to put in a request every week. We've gotten pushed back," the student said.

How bad is the problem? From Ramey's report:

"They're being shy right now," said another student who lives there as he opened up a kitchen cabinet. 
"I've been sitting in my bedroom and seen bugs going up the walls or all around in my bed room drawer," said one of the residents. 
But to get away from the creepy crawlies isn't cheap. The student who didn't want to be identified says she's requested a different apartment but was told her and her roommate would be charged $500. 

Some students have decided to address the problem themselves:

Until management acts, this student says she'll keep buying bug spray and just hope the critters stay in the kitchen. 
"Roaches like to crawl in your ears at night whenever you sleep. So it's kind of scary at night going to sleep knowing that they're in the kitchen and all it's going to take is crawling under my door," she said.

Having to worry at night about roaches crawling in your ears? Gee, that must really help the old grade-point average. Is that what Campus Crest Communities means by it's marketing slogan, "Fully Loaded Living"?

Here is the Channel 15 report:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Truth About Ted Rollins: The CEO of Campus Crest Communities Got Away With Child Abuse

Ted Rollins

The brutal beating that Ted Rollins inflicted upon his stepson in 1995 should have been treated, under the law, for what it was--a case of child abuse.

Our research shows the case was not handled properly, and numerous individuals failed in their obligation to report the abuse to the North Carolina Division of Social Services. That raises this troubling question: Is our "justice system" willing to look the other way on child abuse when the perpetrator is from a family with substantial money and power?

Ted Rollins now is the CEO of Campus Crest Communities, a company that builds student housing near universities around the country and completed a $380-million Wall Street IPO in late 2010. Campus Crest did not exist in 1995, but Rollins was head of American Textile Services, which was one of the largest employers in Franklin County, North Carolina, where the beating took place.

That made Rollins a prominent figure in and around Louisburg, North Carolina, where he lived with his second wife, Sherry Carroll Rollins; their infant daughter, Sarah Rollins; and Eric and Zac Parrish, who were Sherry Rollins' sons by her first marriage--and Ted Rollins' stepsons. Zac Parrish was about 15 years old in September 1995 when Ted Rollins beat him so severely that the youngster was rushed to an emergency room via ambulance, his face a bloody mask.

Was there any doubt that Zac Parrish had been abused? Consider Sherry Rollins description of the trip to the hospital with her son. (The full interview can be viewed in a video at the end of this post.)

In the ambulance, my daughter and I were with him. I believe he was given oxygen. He was badly beaten. He had lacerations around his mouth. Ted had repeatedly beaten him around the mouth area. You could see the inside of his lip hanging down.

Anyone who sees a child in such condition is required by North Carolina law to report it as a case of possible abuse. So why was that not done? Why did the child-protection system in the state fail Zac Parrish?

The failure is particularly egregious when you consider that in 1993, North Carolina Social Services had received substantial evidence of a dysfunctional relationship between Ted Rollins and Zac Parrish. (More on that in upcoming posts.) The same child was beaten senseless by the same stepfather two years later, and it doesn't raise an eyebrow with authorities?

Did the fact Ted Rollins belongs to one of the nation's wealthiest families help him escape serious scrutiny? Does Atlanta-based Rollins Inc., the parent company of Orkin Pest Control, have the kind of power and legal resources that can help provide cover for a family member who abuses a child? Randall and Gary Rollins, the chairman and president of Rollins Inc., are both billionaires--and they are Ted Rollins' cousins, with Randall and Ted joining in a business venture called St. James Capital.

Rollins Inc. frequently enlists the services of one of the nation's most powerful law firms, a Chicago-based outfit called Sidley Austin. What kind of status does Sidley Austin wield in the legal realm? It is billed as one of the oldest law firms in the world and the sixth largest corporate firm with a U.S. base. Could that kind of legal clout help get Ted Rollins out of a jam? We will be addressing that question in a future post, but for now, let's consider the law that should have been applied when Zac Parrish was beaten.

Since the passage of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974 (CAPTA), states have received federal funding to provide child protection and welfare services. CAPTA also sets a minimum definition of child abuse and neglect.

North Carolina has a two-tiered set of laws to deal with possible cases of child abuse. One involves a juvenile system, which is designed to protect children; the other is the criminal system, which is designed to punish abusers. Our research indicates that Ted Rollins should have been subjected to both sets of child-abuse laws. But the record shows he was subjected to neither.

The juvenile process is governed by Chapter 7B of the North Carolina General Statutes, which defines an "abused juvenile" as follows:

7B‑101.  Definitions 
As used in this Subchapter, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the following words have the listed meanings: 
(1) Abused juvenile – Any juvenile less than 18 years of age whose parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker: 
a. Inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the juvenile a serious physical injury by other than accidental means; 
b. Creates or allows to be created a substantial risk of serious physical injury to the juvenile by other than accidental means; 
c. Uses or allows to be used upon the juvenile cruel or grossly inappropriate procedures or cruel or grossly inappropriate devices to modify behavior;

That is not the full definition, but Zac Parrish met all three of those criteria for an "abused juvenile" under North Carolina law. Based on Sherry Rollins' description of the beating, let's consider the individuals who had overwhelming reason to believe that Zac Parrish was the victim of child abuse:

* At least one sheriff's deputy;

* At least two ambulance personnel;

* Multiple medical professionals in a hospital emergency room.

What were all of those people required by law to do? Section 7B-301 spells it out:

7B‑301. Duty to report abuse, neglect, dependency, or death due to maltreatment. Any person or institution who has cause to suspect that any juvenile is abused, neglected, or dependent, as defined by G.S. 7B‑101, or has died as the result of maltreatment, shall report the case of that juvenile to the director of the department of social services in the county where the juvenile resides or is found. The report may be made orally, by telephone, or in writing. . . . 

We've seen no evidence that anyone reported the abuse, as required by law. It appears the system that was designed to protect Zac Parrish from Ted Rollins was bypassed completely. Based on Sherry Rollins' statements about the beating, it appears her husband also should have been subject to North Carolina's criminal child-abuse statute. That is not certain because the law is based on the victim's age, and strangely, the age standard is different from the juvenile-code definition of a child (less than 18 years of age). The applicable law appears to be Section 14-318.4 of the North Carolina General Statutes. It states:

14‑318.4. Child abuse a felony
(a) A parent or any other person providing care to or supervision of a child less than 16 years of age who intentionally inflicts any serious physical injury upon or to the child or who intentionally commits an assault upon the child which results in any serious physical injury to the child is guilty of a Class E felony, except as otherwise provided in subsection (a3) of this section.

Why is a child defined as "less than 18" under the juvenile code and "less than 16" under the criminal code? We have no idea. But our research clearly shows that Ted Rollins intentionally inflicted serious physical injury upon Zac Parrish, which would be a felony. The only question has to do with Zac Parrish's age at the time of the beating--and Sherry Rollins has been uncertain on that point. In our videotaped interview, she states that her son was 14 at the time of the beating. On other occasions she has said he was 15. In either case, Ted Rollins would have been subject to a felony child-abuse charge.

If Zac Parrish had reached his 16th birthday at the time of the beating--and it appears that is the oldest he could have been--the criminal child-abuse statute would not have been in play. Instead, the case would have been covered by a general assault statute.

This much is certain: Zac Parrish was not protected the way he should have been--and Ted Rollins was not scrutinized the way he should have been. And the 1995 beating was not the first time North Carolina officials failed to intervene effectively in the troubled Rollins household.


Blue Cross Faces Allegations That It Drives Up Prices By Stifling Competition Around the Country

The nation's biggest health-insurance story at the moment probably revolves around the U.S. Supreme Court deliberations on the fate of Obamacare. But a lawsuit filed recently in the Northern District of Alabama could prove to have a major impact in its own right.

A case styled Fred R. Richards, et al v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, et al alleges that 38 Blue Cross companies across the country illegally stifle competition and drive up costs for consumers. Court documents list Charles M. Thompson of Birmingham as chief local counsel for the plaintiffs. The New York-based firm of Cohen Milstein also represents plaintiffs in the antitrust case, which seeks class-action status.

The named plaintiff is Richards and Sons Construction Co., a small Bessemer-based firm and Blue Cross customer. Reports Stan Diel of

According to the lawsuit filed this week in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, the 38 member companies in the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association are granted service territories outside of which they are restricted from conducting business. 
Such agreements are a violation of federal anti-trust law and "have resulted in fewer health insurance choices for Alabama residents and increased premiums ..." the lawsuit alleges. "This reduced competition and inflated premiums would not be possible without defendants' illegal agreements to eliminate competition and divide markets."

What was the response from Blue Cross?

Koko Mackin, vice president for corporate communications at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, said the insurer has the fifth-lowest family premiums in the country among all employers, and the suit is without merit.

The case involving Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama hits close to home here at Legal Schnauzer for several reasons:

*  Mike McGarity, the troublesome neighbor who launched our numerous legal headaches, works at BC/BS of Alabama, even though he has an extensive criminal record. As a Medicare contractor, BC/BS of Alabama is supposed to abide by stringent federal guidelines on employee screening. So how is it that the company has a documented criminal in its midst?

* Mrs. Schnauzer and I, for a short while, received our health care from Dr. Amy LeJeune at the UAB Inverness Clinic. We only went there because Dr. Edward Childs, our family physician for roughly 20 years, retired from his practice at UAB's Kirklin Clinic. Dr. LeJeune continued a prescription that Dr. Childs had initiated about eight years earlier, and things seemed to be going smoothly. Then, about three months ago, I was notified that Dr. LeJeune was not going to continue the medication. In fact, she was going to rescind a prescription she already had written. When I inquired as to what in the heck was going on, Dr. LeJeune's nurse, Amy Mathis, informed me that the decision to discontinue my prescription came after Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama started to "have an issue" with me being on the medication. Ms. Mathis further stated that BC/BS was "starting to see that there was no reason" for me to be on the medicine. She didn't say that Blue Cross had questioned whether it was going to cover the medicine; she said it had determined that I should not be taking it. In other words, a nurse for a UAB physician flat-out told me that Blue Cross was making decisions about my medical care. Does this happen to other people? Does Blue Cross "play doctor" for other insureds? Doesn't that go way beyond an insurer's authority? Does it violate laws that govern the health-insurance field? And why does a UAB doctor allow a health-insurance company to control what she does or does not prescribe? Suffice to say, Mrs. Schnauzer and I no longer entrust our health care to Dr. LeJeune or UAB Inverness Clinic, and we would strongly encourage others to avoid them.

* Finally, I was checking documents at the federal courthouse in Birmingham recently when I stumbled upon a most interesting whistleblower lawsuit. It seems a former high-ranking executive at BC/BS of Alabama alleged that the company took Medicare dollars and used them to shore up its private insurance business. I will be writing more shortly about that case, but for now, it raises these questions: How many Blue Cross affiliates around the country use federal taxpayer dollars to illegally pad the bottom line on their private insurance business? How much does this cost taxpayers every year? Is this an indication that we really do need a government-run health-care program to replace private insurers who cannot be trusted?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Federal Judge William M. Acker Jr. Says Up Front That He's Going to Cheat Me--And Then He Does It

Judge William M. Acker Jr. (right)
with Stanford professor Jack Rakove

You have to admire U.S. District Judge William M. Acker Jr.--in a macabre kind of way. From personal experience, I know that judicial corruption is not unusual in the American justice system; in some parts of the country, I would say it's the norm.

But Acker, an 84-year-old Reagan appointee in the Northern District of Alabama, applies an unusual twist to the crooked game: He tells you up front, in open court, that he's going to screw you--and then he does it.

How do I know? He did it to me, in the lawsuit I filed over my unlawful termination at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). And I have an official court transcript to prove it.

Not content to state publicly that he was going to unlawfully rule against me at every turn, Acker also admitted that he'd had communications with someone connected to the opposing party. That's in the transcript, too.

Don't you just love that kind of brazenness? When you are 84 years old, with a lifetime appointment and pretty much no oversight over what you do, I guess that's how you behave.

A transcript of the hearing in which Acker makes his intentions clear is available at the end of this post. The judge's words are likely to shock any reader with a functioning conscience. But let's compare Acker to some of his brethren on the federal bench--say Mark Fuller, from the Middle District of Alabama, and Henry Wingate, from the Southern District of Mississippi.

If you have followed the story of Bush-era political prosecutions, you will recognize the names of Fuller and Wingate. They presided over the Don Siegelman and Paul Minor cases, respectively. Our research indicates that Fuller and Wingate acted with consistent righteousness in public, while knowingly sending innocent men to federal prison. By comparison, I think I prefer Acker. He makes no pretense about being fair, objective, or obedient to the law. He tells you to your face, "I'm going to screw you over and over, so deal with it and learn to enjoy it." In the "through the looking glass" world of American courts, that kind of brutal honesty is oddly refreshing.

Not that I'm going to bend over and take it. I filed a complaint against Acker with the Judicial Conference of the United States, pursuant to 28 U.S.C., 351-364. That's how I wound up with a copy of the hearing transcript, which I intend to share with the world. Also, the transcript is part of the record in my appeal before the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

How did Acker make good on his vow to cheat me? As I reported in a recent post, he granted summary judgment without giving the opposing party (me) an opportunity to conduct discovery. That simply cannot be done--under clear and simple procedural, statutory, and case law. If the law still means anything in the U.S.--and that's a big if--the Eleventh Circuit will have no choice but to overturn on appeal. But Acker's words will remain a glaring example of how badly our judicial train has gone off the tracks.

The hearing in question took place in Acker's court on December 10, 2010. It's clear from the transcript that Acker is going to convert motions to dismiss to motions for summary judgment--and there had been no discovery in the case. And yet, he granted summary judgment on January 28, 2011, without even a discovery meeting having been held between the parties.

Courtroom crookedness doesn't get much more outrageous than that. But it came as no surprise, given Acker's statements in open court on December 10. One issue on that date was a motion to dismiss from the City of Birmingham, which I had named as a party in my complaint. The record shows that the city attached an affidavit to its motion, and the transcript makes clear that Acker did not exclude it. When a defendant attaches "matters outside the pleadings" to a motion to dismiss and the court does not exclude them, the motion must be converted to a motion for summary judgment and handled according to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP)--and that means discovery must be conducted. This process is outlined in Rule 12(d) FRCP, which ends with this sentence: "All parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the motion." Law doesn't get much more clear cut than that.

I pointed out the requirements of Rule 12(d) to Acker, but he wasn't going to hear it. The give-and-take on this issue can be read in pages 10-15 of the transcript below. But Acker's dark intentions become clear on page 14:

MR. SHULER: Well, I just want to be on record that --

THE COURT: You have your record.

MR. SHULER: -- it has to be converted, and I think we all here know that.

THE COURT: I suppose with all the work you have done on this and other cases that you know what a petition for a writ of mandamus is. Have you run into one of those yet?

MR SHULER: That shouldn't be needed.

THE COURT: That would be the way to get an immediate review of my disagreement with you. You better look that up. . . .

MR. SHULER: Isn't that a waste of judicial resources when everybody here --

THE COURT: You know, I give pro se parties slack because they are due it. You are about halfway between a pro se party and a represented party. You are still pro se, so I have got to cut you some slack, but I don't have to give you free legal advice, some of which I have already given you. So I think I'm stopping there on that for the question of the City of Birmingham. They are going to be out, one way or the other. . . .

So there you have a federal judge admitting that he's not going to follow the law. But Acker does not stop there. Near the end of the hearing, on page 27 in the transcript, he returns to the issue of a writ of mandamus:

THE COURT: . . . But if you file something before I do it, I will read it, and it will be in the file, and the record will be made. But as of now, we are just making the record for today. And don't forget to look up the mandamus rule. Look that up.

To fully grasp what Acker is doing here, you have to understand the purpose of a writ of mandamus. The filing of a petition for such a writ is governed by Rule 21 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure (FRAP). It is a form of appeal while the case still is in the trial court. That's why it is called an "extraordinary writ"; the process is designed to address close questions of law or fact, not to serve as a pinch hitter for a trial judge who is too crooked to rule correctly on simple procedural issues.

The transcript, read in full, shows there was no legitimate reason for Acker to warn me twice that I would need to learn about the mandamus process. But Acker knew two things about mandamus petitions: (1) They are time consuming; and (2) They are expensive, with an appellate docketing fee of $450 every time you file one.

In so many words, Acker was telling me: "I'm going to screw you on every little detail of this case, and you are going to have to spend months of your time and thousands of your dollars just to make the simplest step forward in your case. I will drain you of your resources simply because I can--and no one can stop me."

Why would a federal judge act in such a flagrantly corrupt and vicious fashion toward a party he does not know? Acker provides the answer on page 28 of the transcript, after I ask him how much time I have to file a reply to an opposing party's motion:

THE COURT: I think I'm going to give you until after Christmas so I can wish you a happy Christmas by giving you the time for Christmas. I know that UAB and the people over there are anxious about this, and I want to accommodate them, too, but I think I'm going to eliminate the anxiety for me between now and Christmas by giving (you) at least that much time.

How could Acker know that UAB is anxious about the case? It could only be because someone connected to the university told him--and this is the kind of prejudicial communication that is strictly prohibited by judicial ethics rules.

How about this? Acker references "the anxiety for me" regarding this issue. Was someone pushing so hard about UAB's anxiety that it was causing anxiety for the judge? I see no way to reach any other conclusion.

And that points to any number of federal crimes, including obstruction of justice.

I already can hear apologists in the legal community claiming there are other explanations for Acker's comments. But the truth is this: Acker told me up front that he was going to cheat me--and it was due to unlawful pressure from someone associated with the opposing party. It's right there in black and white.

I've seen a lot of courtroom shenanigans, but even I was shocked that a judge would be so lazy, arrogant, and stupid to make these statements in open court.

UAB Acker Transcript

Monday, April 23, 2012

Here's the Story of Family Dysfunction Behind My Neighbor From Hell

Mike McGarity
Homewood High School
The courtroom misery that my wife and I have experienced, on the surface, seems like a story of legal intrigue. But upon closer inspection, you find what Hollywood might call a "psychological thriller."

That's because Mike McGarity, the troublesome neighbor who initiated our law-related headaches, comes from a background of intense family dysfunction. I was reminded of that not long ago when I stumbled upon the obituary of Edmund C. McGarity, 83, who had lived in the Gadsden, Alabama, suburb of Rainbow City.

Edmund McGarity was Mike McGarity's father. In fact, Mr. McGarity had five children, four of them boys, and all four boys had (or have) criminal records. What kind of father was Edmund C. McGarity? Well, I guess you could say he was consistent--all four of his boys turned out to be thugs. and two of them died young, under unusual circumstances.

To put it in stark terms, public records show that Edmund C. McGarity was a miserable failure as a father--and Mrs. Schnauzer and I have paid a colossal price for it. You might say we aren't real happy that the results of Mr. McGarity's parenting "skills" wound up on our doorstep.

Not long after Mike McGarity became our next-door neighbor in December 1998, we learned that he had several "charming" qualities. He was a smart ass and a bully, who seemed to have no clue that nearby property owners had certain rights. Because of his surly demeanor, and apparent intellectual deficits, it was impossible to carry on a semi-adult conversation with him. I had lived for 42 years, graduated from a large university, traveled extensively, and lived in three different cities--and I had never come across anyone like this guy.

So I decided to conduct some research, using the resources of the Birmingham Public Library and various law-enforcement agencies. I was not surprised to learn that Mike McGarity himself had a criminal history. But it was fascinating--in a dark, foreboding way--to learn about the family that had produced him.

Included among the five McGarity children was one girl. Her name is Nancy McGarity Lawrence, she lives in Birmingham--and best I can tell--she has no record of being anything other than a law-abiding citizen and a decent human being. She has my deepest sympathies for having grown up with four brothers who must have been miserable to be around. Her youngest brother, Mike, would have been bad enough on his own. But the other three apparently weren't much better, and public records indicate one brother was even worse.

We already have examined Mike McGarity's criminal record, and we soon will be providing more details. We have noted the irony that he has worked for roughly 25 years at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, a federal contractor that is supposed to have solid background checks and stringent requirements for employee screening. We also noted that Koko Mackin, a spokeswoman for BC/BS of Alabama has been quoted about the company's commitment to ensuring the integrity of member health information by, presumably, weeding out questionable characters among its staff--yet she and other executives seem blissfully unconcerned that a documented thug is in their midst.

Marshall McGarity
Shades Valley High School
Is it any wonder that Mrs. Schnauzer and I struggled to interact with Mike McGarity--and determined early on that we wanted no part of him, or anyone affiliated with him, having access to our property? It certainly isn't when you learn about his criminal history--and the backgrounds of his three brothers.

What can lead to such dysfunction? Well, the seminal event apparently came on June 5, 1973, when Edmund C. McGarity and his first wife, Lenora T. McGarity, divorced. According to the divorce decree, the three oldest boys were to live with their father. Mike (age 13) and Nancy (age 11) were to live with their mother.

How bad was the home environment before the divorce? I have no idea, but it clearly did not help turn out well-adjusted males. Here are brief summaries of what we've learned about the McGarity "men"--and trust me, it's not pleasant reading:

Marshall Edmund McGarity--Date of birth: 8/7/1952 . . . apparently was the brain among the siblings . . . had a degree in accounting from Birmingham-Southern College and worked in the gas accounting department at Southern Natural Gas, which later became El Paso Corporation . . . was married to Celia McGarity, who has a background in interior design . . . she filed for divorce in 1977 but withdrew the complaint in 1978 . . . he committed suicide in 2004--by gunshot wound to the head, according to our sources. Criminal Highlights: Driving while intoxicated (twice), driving without a license (twice).

Charles Alan McGarity--Date of birth: 8/30/1955 . . . the criminal "star" of the family . . . he lives somewhere in Alabama, and his wife's name is Maria . . . has worked in landscaping . . . his rap sheet is so extensive that I almost certainly have not uncovered all of it . . . was once represented by William E. Swatek, one of the lead characters in our Legal Schnauzer story, on a theft charge . . . public records indicate he has served time in the Jefferson County Correctional Center. Criminal highlights: grand larceny in a narcotics-related case (guilty plea), theft of property (guilty plea), criminal trespass (sounds familiar), public intoxication, disorderly conduct, numerous driving-related offenses.

William Cody McGarity--Date of birth: 1/24/1957 . . . he apparently was gay and died of AIDS in 1996 . . .  was facing a theft-of-property charge at the time of his death . . . must have liked shopping in high-end places; was arrested for shoplifting a package of cigarettes at the Western Supermarket in Mountain Brook . . . no information that I could find regarding employment. Criminal highlights (aside from theft charge): Driving while intoxicated, public intoxication, driving without a license (three times).

It's not as if the McGarity siblings grew up in rugged surroundings. They appear to have grown up in the fashionable Birmingham suburb of Homewood and had access to some of the finest K-12 schools in Alabama. It's not like they were impoverished; their father had degrees in accounting and law and was an executive at several companies, including U.S. Pipe.

At one point, I thought about trying to look up Edmund C. McGarity in Rainbow City and see if he would talk to Mrs. Schnauzer and me. Here are a few questions I thought about asking him: Do you realize that you raised a son who is an absolutely wretched human being? Do you realize that your son has caused us untold misery? Do you care?

I finally decided that Edmund C. McGarity probably wouldn't give a flip about the repercussions of his own flawed parenting. We never made a trip to Gadsden and never had that little chat with the man who apparently played a major role in ensuring that we would have a next-door neighbor from hell.

What's our profound lessons for the day? Dysfunction can grow in seemingly unlikely environments. It can cause substantial harm for people who innocently cross its path down the road. If you wind up being a victim of someone else's family dysfunction, you probably will have to take matters into your own hands; public officials aren't likely to do anything about it, and they even might make the situation worse.

A Curious Firing Adds to the Mounting Intrigue at Retirement Systems of Alabama

David Bronner

Since the Republican takeover of the Alabama Legislature in the 2010 elections, we've seen signs that GOPers are trying to get their grimy hands on the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) and the some $32 billion that it manages.

First, came introduction of two GOP-backed bills that would have given politicians more control over RSA. Then came news that Leura Canary, former U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama under George W. Bush, was going to be forced onto the staff of RSA chief executive David Bronner. Now we have word of a curious firing that signals more upheaval at RSA.

Marc Reynolds, deputy director of RSA and Bronner's right-hand man, has been fired, according to a report in the Montgomery Independent. Writes Bob Martin:

The Independent learned Tuesday that Marcus H. Reynolds, Jr. the Deputy Director of the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) has been fired.
I began hearing rumors to that effect late last week. I called RSA on Tuesday of this week and asked to speak to Mr. Reynolds but was advised he no longer worked there.
My next question was, “Did he retire?” The answer was “No.” Then I asked “What happened?” I was advised by the spokesperson at RSA that he did not leave on his on accord, but his employment, in effect, had been terminated.
I then asked to speak with RSA Director Dr. David Bronner, but was told he was in a meeting and would return my call. I did not receive a call from Dr. Bronner by this week’s printing deadline.
I tried to reach Mr. Reynolds on his cell and home telephone numbers Tuesday but could not reach him. We will continue to attempt to reach Mr. Reynolds in order to give him an opportunity to comment.

It certainly is possible that Reynolds did something to merit the termination. But we would say it's much more likely that this is a political hit, designed to rid RSA of an executive who opposes Republican intervention. Bob Martin seems to smell something foul behind Reynolds' ouster:

Mr. Reynolds’ departure comes less than three months after Dr. Bronner hired Leura Canary, who was recently replaced as the U. S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. Ms. Canary’s annual salary is currently set at $200,803.20.
To this writer and to others with whom I have spoken, this firing scenario really appears weird. Mr. Reynolds seemed to many to have been Dr. Bronner’s alter ego and the one who was destined to later become head of the agency.
It is also strange to this writer because Mr. Reynolds has been a part of the Bronner team which, since the mid-1970’s, has transformed RSA into a financial giant, that not only has made wise investments for the most part but also made significant infrastructure improvements for Alabama.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Child Sexual Abusers Tend To Be A Crafty And Elusive Bunch

The public's general reaction to a case of child sexual abuse probably goes something like this: "The adult who did that is evil and should burn in hell."

Such a response is understandable, but abusers tend to be smart--and that can make it extremely difficult to intervene in child sexual abuse cases.

That was the take-home lesson from a conference recently that featured several experts in one Midwestern state. The event took place as the Missouri Task Force on the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse is focusing on solutions to a problem that has made headlines since the Jerry Sandusky case broke at Penn State last November.

All of this resonates with your humble blogger because the conference was in Springfield, Missouri, my hometown. I can't remember ever hearing about a case of child sexual abuse when I was growing up. But now my old neck of the woods apparently has a significant problem with it. From The Springfield News-Leader:

Mark Webb became Marionville police chief after retiring from the Springfield Police Department.

Although Springfield has far more than its fair share of child sex abuse cases, Webb said he was shocked to find the proliferation of child abuse in the more rural area where he now works.

Is child sexual abuse becoming more and more of a problem in the countryside? The Missouri experts have seen evidence indicating the answer is yes:

The more (Webb) thought about it, the more it made sense. Perpetrators were picking small towns and rural regions.

“They go to these areas because they know there’s no law enforcement and what there is is very limited in their ability to investigate,” Webb said.

“Their risk of being apprehended, these guys, they know the risk is minimized. They’re out there with the police they might hang out with at the coffee shop.”

That goes back to what experts have learned about child abusers--they can be crafty and elusive. From the News-Leader:

The truth of the matter is, many adults who prey on children for sexual gratification are smart.

They know where they’ll be trusted. They know who will look the other way.

They know the kids who won’t tell.

Sexual abusers tend to be someone close to the child, often within the family. From the News-Leader and Barbara Brown-Johnson, executive director of the Springfield Child Advocacy Center:

Parents are the vast majority of perpetrators of sexual abuse against children, Brown-Johnson said. That’s because trust is the primary tool of a sexual predator who seeks children, and children are born with a certain amount of faith in their parents.

But it’s also common for others to build bonds with families to prey on the children. The term is called grooming, and often the parents are groomed right along with the kids.

The Sandusky case has brought child sexual abuse to the nation's front pages, and it has become a frequent topic on our blog. We have seen evidence that Sandusky persistently groomed his victims, even while they were on the Penn State campus, and we have followed similar cases from around the country over the past six months or so.

I have many fond memories of growing up in Springfield, Missouri. I can't imagine a better place to have been a kid. But that was in the 1960s and '70s; it doesn't sound as if Springfield is quite so idyllic for many kids now.

That is sobering to learn, but it's encouraging to know that professionals are making a serious effort to root out the evil of child sexual abuse that has taken root in my hometown. Perhaps that will help lead victims, parents, community leaders, and others to speak up when they see signs of a child being victimized--not only in Springfield, but across the country.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Attorney Chace Swatek Died In the Middle of a Walk to the Drugstore

Chace Swatek and his sister,
actress Barret Swatek

Alabama lawyer Chace Swatek died while in the midst of a two-mile roundtrip walk to a drugstore, according to details released by the Pelham Police Department.

The cause of death remains undetermined, pending results of a toxicology report that is expected to take six months to a year. Swatek's body was discovered on February 15 behind a stack of pipes on the shoulder of Shelby County 35, near the County Services Building in Pelham. Officials quickly said they saw no signs of foul play, and there have been no reports of a suicide note or evidence pointing to an accident.

Swatek, 35, was the youngest son of attorney William E. Swatek, who plays a central role in our Legal Schnauzer story and has a 30-year history of ethical violations with the Alabama State Bar. Swatek was the younger brother of Dax Swatek, a well-known Republican Party consultant with ties to Bill Canary and Karl Rove. We've seen no signs that Chace Swatek's death had anything to do with politics or his status as the son of an ethically challenged lawyer; it's what law-enforcement officials call an "unattended death," which can be mysterious by its very nature. But in a series of recent interviews with Legal Schnauzer, Pelham Police Cpt. Larry Palmer shined light on what an investigation has determined.

* Swatek was placed at the CVS Pharmacy store, at 100 Huntley Parkway, between 4 and 4:30 p.m. on February 14;

* Investigators found a CVS bag, containing several items and a receipt, near Swatek's body. That is what caused officers to trace him to the CVS store. Palmer said he could not identify the items that Swatek purchased because the investigation is ongoing.

* Palmer described Swatek's clothing as "casual," and said no vehicle belonging to Swatek was found in the area--and no one has come forward to report dropping him off at the CVS store. It appears he was on foot.

* Swatek was renting a house in the Mallard Pointe subdivision, which is just north of the CVS store, about one mile away.

* Swatek's body was found at 6 a.m. on February 15, which means he died at some point in roughly a 14-hour window. At the time Swatek's body was found, Palmer said, it appeared he had been dead for several hours.

Palmer said he could not give the exact address of Swatek's home, but it is in the 100 block of Mallard Pointe Circle. Our research indicates the house is at 154 Mallard Pointe Circle, which is owned by Brent and Charlotte Callihan. Brent Callihan is a lawyer who occupied the office at 451 Canyon Park Drive (Suite A) in Pelham before Chace Swatek took it over. In 2010, Brent Callihan became the police chief of Chatom, Alabama, which is near Mobile. Shortly after that, it appears, he rented his house to Chace Swatek.

The investigation, Palmer says, points to the following timeline:

* Late on the afternoon of February 14, Chace Swatek decides to walk from his home in Mallard Pointe to the CVS store. It's only one mile to the store, and the weather is mild, but the route is not pedestrian friendly. Turning left out of his neighborhood, Swatek walks for about 3/10 of a mile on a section of Shelby County 35 that has almost no shoulder, and a relatively steep ditch on the left side;

* He veers to the left on another section of 35, and that appears to be an easy section to walk, with plenty of shoulder on both sides of the road. An All-State Insurance agency sits in a small building to the right, which is the first step in what appears to be a budding office-part development. For now, it's mostly a vacant lot. Swatek passes the Brookshire neighborhood and the County Services Building on the left before reaching Shelby County 52;

* The CVS is visible to the left from the intersection of 35 and 52, and at some point, Swatek crosses five lanes of traffic to reach the store on the other side, maybe 200 to 300 yards down 52;

* Swatek buys a few items, leaves the store with bag and hand, and begins the trip back home, along the same route;

* As he reaches the intersection of 52 and 35 and turns right back toward his house, Swatek goes behind a stack of pipes that have been placed in a wide section of the shoulder, directly across from a Shell station at 75 Highway 35 in Pelham. His body is found behind the pipes the next morning.

Why did Swatek go behind the pipes when it appears there was plenty of room to walk in front of them? What caused him to die while behind the pipes? That remains part of the mystery surrounding the investigation.

"Until tox gets back, to tell us if there was anything in his system, it's just an unknown," Palmer said. "We talked to the family, and he didn't have any medical problems that we learned about. But that doesn't always play out to be true in the end. We've had cases where people had heart attacks at young ages and didn't realize they had a heart problem until it was too late.

"I've been in this business for 30 years, and I never try to assume anything or speculate. Anything could have happened. We're looking for anything that might give us an idea of what happened. In this case, we found nothing. . . .

"Any time you have an unattended death, we always ask, 'Why?' We want to know what happened to that person. If it's unattended, those will drive you crazy. . . . We want to know, as quickly as we can from the medical examiner, what caused this."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Campus Crest CEO Ted Rollins Once Beat His Stepson to a Bloody Pulp

Ted Rollins

Ted Rollins is the CEO of a company that in late 2010 completed a $380-million IPO on Wall Street--and as head of Campus Crest Communities, Rollins markets student housing to young people. So it is grimly ironic that the same Ted Rollins once beat a young person so severely that the teen-ager's face was a bloody mask.

In a videotaped interview with Legal Schnauzer, Sherry Carroll Rollins describes an act of domestic violence that fits every definition of child abuse that we can find. Ms. Rollins is Ted Rollins' ex wife, and she now lives in Birmingham with the couple's daughters, Sarah and Emma. The full interview can be viewed at the end of this post, but let's first consider the stark, unflinching language that Sherry Rollins uses to describe the condition of Zac Parrish, her son who was about 15 at the time, after he had been beaten by Ted Rollins:

I couldn't tell what his injuries were exactly. He was stumbling as he walked toward the house. His face was all blood . . . as if he had no eyes, completely covered. There was no way of seeing his eyes. How he walked, I don't know. He stumbled into the house as the ambulance was coming. He said he felt he should get the gun . . . and started looking for the gun. I asked him what he was trying to do, and he said, "I'm going to use it on him." He wanted to kill Ted.

This account leaves us with at least two glaring questions: (1) If Ted Rollins committed a grotesque act of child abuse, why has he never been held accountable for it? (2) Why have investors poured hundreds of millions of dollars into a company that is led by a man with a record of child abuse?

Rollins was head of American Textile Services, near Louisburg, North Carolina, when he exploded with anger one fall afternoon in 1995. Rollins' rage was directed at Zac Parrish, his stepson from Sherry Rollins' first marriage. The Zac Parrish beating was one of several events that led to a breakdown of the Rollins marriage, ending with a 2005 divorce judgment in Shelby County, Alabama--even though Sherry Rollins had initiated the proceedings in Greenville, South Carolina, where the family lived by 2001, and the case was litigated there for three years.

Zac Parrish, now 33, is managing member of Parrish Building Company in Birmingham and responded with a profanity-filled tirade when I recently asked him for an interview on subjects related to Rollins v. Rollins.

As we have reported in a series of posts, the Rollins divorce case could not lawfully be shifted to Alabama once jurisdiction was established in South Carolina. But the change in judicial scenery led to an outrageously favorable outcome for Ted Rollins, causing Ms. Rollins and her daughters to wind up on food stamps. How was Ted Rollins able to pull this off? Well, he is a member of one of the nation's wealthiest families, the folks behind Atlanta-based Rollins Inc., the umbrella company of Orkin Pest Control. It also probably helped that Campus Crest Communities' primary corporate law firm is Birmingham-based Bradley Arant. The Rollins v. Rollins divorce case provides ample evidence that money and connections can help buy "justice" in an Alabama courtroom.

Now the story has a new element. Bradley Arant and Shelby County Circuit Judge D. Al Crowson did more than just create a friendly environment for a corporate big dog. They aided a man who has a documented history of committing child abuse. What does that say about the values of the lawyers at a powerful Alabama firm--and of a judge in one of our most conservative, "pro family" jurisdictions?

Parents and teens have been having "go arounds" for centuries, but Sherry Rollins describes something much darker than a standard family spat. She describes an act of frightening brutality, and it started when Ted Rollins was mowing grass, with his stepson nearby, in the rural area where they lived:

I was not aware of what was said between Ted and Zac. I came on the scene of the assault when I heard loud screaming and loud talking and the dog barking. I had my daughter, Sarah, who was about 18 months old, on my hip. I saw Ted on top of Zac, with his knees around his chest, and Zac was flat on his back, and Ted was hitting him in the head. Ted is 6-4, and Zac at the time weighed roughly, I'd say, 100 pounds.

He was defenseless in that Ted is so big and weighed at the time 225 to 230 pounds, at least, and was on top of him--sitting on Zac's abdomen and holding him down with his knees and pummeling him in the face. Zac had no choice but to take the strikes that were coming at him and turn his head from side to side.

It sounds like Ted Rollins might have killed his stepson if Sherry Rollins had not figured out a way to intervene:

I put Sarah down and went inside and got the house phone and called Zac's father in Alabama and put the phone on Ted's ear and said, "You've got to stop beating Zac; Zac's father wants to talk to you." He just ignored me. At that point, I jumped on his back and shook him repeatedly and tried to pull him off Zac. I ripped his shirt, a cotton knit golf shirt, which is pretty hard to tear. . . . When that didn't have any affect on Ted hitting Zac, I dialed 911. Only when Ted heard the 911 sirens . . . did he get off Zac.

As we fast forward to 2010, investors were heaping $380 million on Campus Crest Communities, turning it into a Wall Street darling at a time when mainstream Americans were struggling with the worst economy since the Great Depression.

Does it concern the corporate lawyers and investment gurus who drive IPOs that Ted Rollins has a history of abusing a child under his care? Do they see irony in the fact that Ted Rollins, who once left his own stepson a bloody mess, now markets student housing to college students and their parents?

And here's the biggest question of all: Why was Ted Rollins never held fully accountable for what appears to be a clear act of child abuse, under the law?

We will be addressing those questions, and much more, in upcoming posts. For now, here is the full Sherry Rollins interview:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Did Judge William Acker Jr. Engage In A Criminal Conspiracy By Corruptly Dismissing My Lawsuit?

Judge William M. Acker Jr. (right),
with Stanford professor Jack Rakove

A federal judge has unlawfully dismissed the lawsuit over my wrongful termination at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), and evidence suggests that he and others might have committed criminal acts in the process.

U.S. District Judge William M. Acker Jr., an 84-year-old Reagan appointee, granted summary judgment for the University of Alabama and various individual defendants--and he did it without giving either side an opportunity to conduct discovery. Procedural and case law make it clear that summary judgment cannot be considered, much less granted, when the parties have not been able to conduct discovery.

Acker ignored black-letter law and essentially allowed the UAB defendants to cheat me out of my job without having to provide any documents or answer any questions related to my termination. The case currently is on appeal before the U.S. Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta, and if the law still means anything in the Deep South, Acker's rulings will have to be overturned. But as we have seen in the Don Siegelman case, the Eleventh Circuit often is more interested in protecting trial-court judges than in making sure the law is upheld, so the outcome in my appeal hardly is a certainty.

This much, however, is certain: It's hard to imagine a more grotesque example of judicial incompetence or corruption. (Acker's old, but I see no signs that he's senile; that makes me think this is a case of corruption, not incompetence.) It becomes even more disgusting when you consider that a public, taxpayer-supported university--and several of its officials/managers--are trying to pervert the court system by knowingly taking advantage of tainted rulings.

Most disturbing, perhaps, is this: Acker made statements from the bench--and I have them in an official court transcript--indicating he had talked with one or more people connected to UAB about my case. If that indeed happened, and it influenced Acker's rulings, it would point to federal crimes, including obstruction of justice under 18 U.S. Code 1503.

I recently reported about corrupt rulings I had witnessed in federal court and pointed specifically to two judges from the Northern District of Alabama--Acker and Abdul Kallon. On the surface, the two judges could not be more different. Acker is old, white, and a Republican. Kallon is young, black, and supposedly a Democrat (an Obama appointee). But they have consistently shown a lack of respect for the law, the office they hold, and the parties who come before them. In my previous post, I wrote that I would be providing details about the corrupt actions of Acker and Kallon. This is the first in a series of followup posts that will unmask two rogues on the federal bench.

The law governing my UAB case could not be more simple. It's fairly common for defendants in a lawsuit to file a Rule (12)(b)(6) motion, also known as a "motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim." We discussed these motions in a previous post and noted that, even under recently heightened pleading standards, they should almost never be granted. In fact, when a defendant attaches "matters outside the pleadings" to a motion to dismiss and the court does not exclude them, the motion must be converted to a motion for summary judgment and handled according to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). This process is outlined in Rule 12(d) FRCP.

The record shows that UAB entered matters outside the pleadings, in the form of affidavits, and the court did not exclude them. The record also shows that Judge Acker converted the motions to dismiss to a motions for summary judgment. (See document below.) So far, so good.

But Acker veered into a swamp of unlawful activity when he ruled on summary judgment without giving me (or the other side, for that matter) an opportunity to conduct discovery. This is like declaring the New York Yankees the winners over the Boston Red Sox, without giving the Red Sox a chance to bat. It simply cannot be done, either under Rule 56 or Eleventh Circuit precedent.

Acker did not order a discovery conference among the parties, as required by Rule 26(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), and he never set a scheduling order as required by Rule 16(b) FRCP.

That Acker pulled this stunt indicates he is a judicial rogue of the worst sort. That the UAB defendants are quietly trying to take advantage of such thuggery, when their in-house lawyers have to know it is unlawful, tells us all we need to known about the university's ethically challenged "leadership."

How simple is the law in question? Rule 56(d) FRCP allows a nonmoving party (me, in this instance) to show by affidavit that he has not been able to obtain information that is essential to opposing the motion for summary judgment. The Eleventh Circuit has streamlined this process by operating for almost 24 years under a ruling styled Snook v. Trust Company of Georgia, 859 F. 2d 865 (11th Cir., 1988).

In Snook, the Eleventh Circuit found that a party opposing summary judgment need not file an affidavit to invoke the protection of Rule 56(d). Instead, the nonmoving party simply must bring to the district court's attention that discovery is outstanding. Once that is done, consideration of summary judgment is premature. From Snook:

This court has often noted that summary judgment should not be granted until the party opposing the motion has had an adequate opportunity for discovery. . . . The party opposing a motion for summary judgment has a right to challenge the affidavits and other factual materials submitted in support of the motion by conducting sufficient discovery so as to enable him to determine whether he can furnish opposing affidavits. . . . Generally summary judgment is inappropriate when the party opposing the motion has been unable to obtain responses to his discovery requests.

I was not allowed to even make discovery requests, much less obtain responses--and I filed two motions alerting the court to this. (See one of those motions below.) But Acker ruled on summary judgment anyway.

This is dumbfoundingly unlawful, and it indicates that Acker thinks I am too stupid to realize what he did. It also hints that he thinks other parties who come before him are stupid--and, with a lifetime appointment, he really doesn't care that he has butchered the law.

Evidence suggests that Acker might be more than just a bad judge; he might be a crook. Consider a statement Acker made in a hearing on December 10, 2010, after I asked him how much time I had to file a response to a UAB motion:

I think I'm going to give you until after Christmas so I can wish you a happy Christmas by giving you the time for Christmas. I know that UAB and the people over there are very anxious about this, and I want to accommodate them, too, but I think I'm going to eliminate the anxiety for me between now and Christmas by giving him at least that much time.

How would Acker know that "UAB and the people over there" were "very anxious" about my case? I can think of only one answer--someone connected to UAB told him. At a bare minimum, this means Acker had improper ex parte communications about my case, violating judicial ethics and requiring his recusal. Given that Acker went on to unlawfully grant summary judgment without discovery, it more likely means that Acker and one or more persons acted criminally in my case.

Below is a memorandum opinion, and on page 2, Acker clearly states that he is converting defendants' motions to dismiss to motions for summary judgment and will treat them as such. After that, is a motion where I timely notify the court, as required by Snook, that discovery is outstanding. At this point, summary judgment could not lawfully be considered, much less granted. Acker granted it anyway.

Such blatant contempt for the law indicates that Acker does not try very hard to conceal the fact he is crooked. And from our reporting on the Don Siegelman and Paul Minor criminal cases, we know that Acker is not alone.

This is more evidence about the shameful state of our federal courts--and most Americans have no idea how their tax dollars are being abused by "rogues in robes."

(To be continued)

UAB-Acker MSJ Ruling

UAB--Shuler Motion for Discovery