How is this for "legal ethics"?
Birmingham attorney Allan L. Armstrong threatened to kill a man in 2008 after cheating with the man's wife, apparently prompting a divorce action. The threat led to a motion for a restraining order against Armstrong, which a Jefferson County circuit judge granted.
Has the Alabama State Bar taken action against one of its members, an "officer of the court," for such thuggish actions? Our investigation on the matter is not complete, but we've seen no signs that the bar has taken any action against Armstrong.
This is the same bar that suspended Angela Turner Drees for one year, essentially because she told the truth in an official proceeding about the actions of another lawyer.
Let's see if we have this straight: Allan Armstrong threatens to kill a man, and the Alabama State Bar apparently does nothing; Angela Turner Drees tells the truth in an official proceeding and has her license suspended for one year. Is this how the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct were meant to be applied in the real world? Is Armstrong immune from discipline because his brother is U.S. Magistrate Robert R. Armstrong, of the Northern District of Alabama? Does the Alabama State Bar engage in flagrant favoritism? Does the bar expect the public to take it seriously when it conducts business in such a loony fashion?
If nothing else, Armstrong should be disciplined for personal stupidity and professional hypocrisy. He did not just catch Johnny J. "Jeff" Scruggs III in a heated moment and threaten to kill him; he left the death threat on Scruggs' telephone answering machine, providing indisputable evidence of what had transpired.
According to an offense report with the Vestavia Hills Police Department, Scruggs at the time was 6-5, 250 pounds. (The offense report can be viewed at the end of this post.) I've seen Allan Armstrong, in the same general time frame, and he is significantly smaller than that. If you are going to cheat with a man's wife and then threaten to kill him, you might want to pick on someone who is smaller than Mr. Scruggs. If Armstrong were going to carry out his threat against Scruggs, he probably would need some serious weaponry.
Speaking of which, Armstrong has a history of illegally carrying weapons, while driving like a mad man. As we noted in a previous post, Armstrong twice has been arrested for DUI and driving left of the center lane. In both instances, Armstrong also was charged with carrying a concealed weapon.
As for hypocrisy, Armstrong joined his legal compadre Darrell Cartwright in filing a lawsuit against former University of Alabama football star Rolando McClain. Armstrong and Cartwright represented a former UA student named Matthew Mangham who alleged that McClain struck him with a vehicle and then assaulted him. McClain, who now plays for the NFL's Oakland Raiders, recently settled the lawsuit, with both sides declining to say if he paid Mangham as part of the agreement.
Armstrong wrote in the complaint, apparently with a straight face, the following:
Upon information and belief, Defendant McClain has a history of aggressive and violent behavior, including previous assaults and other criminal activity.
McClain might have his problems, and he recently was convicted for assault and other charges connected to an incident in Decatur last year, but he sounds like a relatively charming guy compared to Armstrong.
In McClain's defense, he's in a profession where people are paid to act in a violent and disruptive fashion. Armstrong is in a profession that is supposed to be about truth, honor, and the administration of justice. So how is it that the Alabama State Bar seemingly has allowed Allan Armstrong to repeatedly get away with thuggish behavior?
How does Allan Armstrong, an officer of the court, behave in the real world? A Jefferson County divorce action styled Johnny Jefferson Scruggs III v. Michelle Ann Scruggs provides considerable insight.
We will be looking at that case in upcoming posts.
Armstrong Incident Report