|Judge William M. Acker Jr.
and Stanford Professor Jack Rakove
We explained in a post last week how U.S. District Judge William M. Acker Jr. cheated me in a federal lawsuit over my unlawful termination at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). But you don't have to take my word for it; Acker's own words prove the point.
Acker is an 84-year-old Ronald Reagan appointee, and this episode provides considerable insight into the kind of corrupt federal judges "The Gipper" gave us.
Acker granted summary judgment for the University of Alabama Board of Trustees and various individual UAB defendants, even though he had allowed no discovery. I showed that Acker's ruling could not be made under the law because a non-moving party (me, in this case) must be given an opportunity to collect evidence through the discovery process in order to counter the summary-judgment motion.
A transcript of a hearing in the case shows that Acker said he was going to treat a UAB motion as one for summary judgment and that he would have to give me an opportunity to conduct discovery before making any ruling. That hearing was on December 10, 2010, but less than two months later--on January 28, 2011--Acker granted summary judgment, effectively dismissing my case.
An appeal is pending before the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, and Acker's finding will have to be overturned on multiple grounds--assuming the actual law is applied. But for now, the stunning point is this: We have a public document that proves a federal judge knowingly ruled contrary to law in a case before him. It involves federal issues (free speech, age/gender discrimination), plus a state-law issue (defamation)--not to mention the fact that my livelihood is on the line.
Even if you don't give a rip about my well being, these are matters of profound importance--and everyone's tax dollars support a federal court that is supposed to ensure that fundamental constitutional rights are protected. And yet, we have proof that a federal judge is treating the entire proceeding as an exercise in theater of the absurd.
How do we know that? Well, you can follow along with me on a brief road trip through a 29-page transcript that should shock the conscience of anyone who believes in democratic principles. (The full transcript can be read at the end of this post.)
The transcript is filled with inanities from beginning to end, showing that the 84-year-old Acker isn't fit to manage a corner lemonade stand, much less a federal courtroom. But we will focus on just a few items.
On pages 15 and 16, Acker addresses UAB attorney Lisa Huggins:
THE COURT: In your case, I'm going to convert it to a motion for summary judgment and put a submission order out, which would require him to controvert anything that you say in your motion for summary judgment that is dispositive in the way of present condition. He is right that there has been no scheduling order, there has been no discovery.
So we've established--through Acker's words, not mine--there was no scheduling order and no discovery of any sort. Why did Acker have to treat UAB's motion as a motion for summary judgment? Huggins answers that herself, on page 22 and 23:
MS. HUGGINS: With respect to the individual defendants, we've filed extensive evidence in support of the motion to dismiss or summary judgment on behalf of all of those individual defendants.
THE COURT: So you're, in effect, joining me in converting that into a summary judgment motion?
Huggins tried to back herself out of that corner, but even a judge as bad as Acker knew that couldn't fly. After all, he already had stated the issue clearly on page 19, addressing points I had raised:
I think he has a point, that the alternative motion to dismiss should be converted to a motion for summary judgment, which might occasion some right by him to invoke Rule 56(f)--I don't know whether he is familiar with that or not; I think maybe he is--which would allow him to poke around into your people to some degree before we get to that.
By referring to my ability to "poke around into your people," Acker is referring to discovery--that I could issue interrogatories, conduct depositions, request production of documents, etc. What used to be Rule 56(f) in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is now Rule 56(d). In conjunction with Eleventh Circuit case law styled Snook v. Trust Company of Georgia, 859 F. 2d 865 (11th Cir., 1988), 56(d) holds that a non-moving party merely needs to alert the court that discovery is outstanding, and summary judgment cannot be addressed until the party has had an adequate opportunity for discovery.
I invoked the protection of Rule 56(d), just as Acker said I could, but he proceeded to ignore it--granting summary judgment when his own words show that he knew that could not be done.
What happened between the hearing on December 10, 2010, and Acker's ruling on January 28, 2011? I can think of only one answer--someone with connections to the federal courthouse in Birmingham took steps to make sure that a fix was in. That would almost have to be one or more persons in the legal community, and UAB officials surely know what went on.
That points to obstruction of justice, conspiracy, and perhaps other federal crimes. After all, we now know that Judge William M. Acker Jr. was not just senile or incompetent when he ruled contrary to law against me. His own words show that he knew the correct law; he just refused to apply it.
That points to corruption of the ugliest sort--the kind that probably should send any number of people to federal prison.
UAB Acker Transcript