Thursday, August 30, 2012

Robert Vance Jr. Would Not Be An Improvement Over Roy Moore for Alabama Chief Justice

Robert Vance Jr.

Democrats generally seem heartened by recent news that Harry Lyon was disqualified as the party's candidate for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Democrats also seem to applaud news that Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert Vance Jr. would replace Lyon on the ballot, taking on Republican Roy Moore in November's general election.

Lyon is seen as a perennial candidate who is prone to making outrageous public statements. Moore is seen as a religious whack job, noted mainly for his ouster as chief justice in 2003 because of his refusal to remove a Ten Commandments monument he had ordered placed in the Alabama Judicial Building.

To progressives, moderates, and probably quite a few conservatives, Vance seems like the only sane choice. But everyday folks of a progressive/moderate bent might want to be careful about making assumptions. I have appeared in Vance's court, and I know from first-hand experience that he is anything but a friend to the common man. More importantly, he is not a friend to the rule of law.

Vance comes with a fine pedigree, but that's about it--and genuine Democrats should not let that fool them. His father was the late U.S. Circuit Judge Robert S. Vance Sr., who was seen as a champion of civil rights. Vance Sr. was killed in December 1989 when he opened a mail bomb that had been sent to his Mountain Brook home. His death came as an appeal was pending on a case styled Avirgan v. Hull, which threatened to unveil secrets about drug and arms smuggling connected to the Bush family and the Iran-Contra Scandal.  As chief judge on the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Vance Sr. was seen as likely to push for a ruling that would overturn dismissal of the Avirgan case and bring Iran-Contra secrets to light.

Walter Leroy Moody, a white supremacist from south Alabama, was convicted in Vance Sr.'s murder and still resides on death row at the Holman Correctional Facility. But a number of investigative journalists have reported that Moody probably had little, if anything, to do with the mail bomb. Powerful evidence suggests  that Vance Sr. was killed in order to keep the Avirgan case under wraps, and indeed, a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit went on to uphold the dismissal.

History tells us that Robert Vance Sr. was a man of convictions. His son, sadly, is anything but that. I know from personal experience that Vance Jr.'s main judicial philosophy, if you want to call it that, is to protect the interests of legal, corporate, and political elites. And he will twist the law beyond recognition in order to achieve his goals.

My take on Robert Vance Jr. is not necessarily welcome in progressive circles. A lot of folks seem to hear the name "Vance" and assume that he is one of them--a liberal who seeks to fight injustice. But this apple fell a long way from the tree--and there is a big difference between the two Vances.

How big is the gulf? I'm about as liberal as a white guy living in Alabama can be. And I've paid a steep price for speaking out about injustice; I was cheated out of my job at UAB because of the progressive tone of this blog, and my wife probably was cheated out of her job at Infinity Property and Casualty for the same reason.

I very much want Alabama courts to take a turn back toward the left. But if the election were tomorrow, I  would hold my nose and vote for Roy Moore. That's how little I think of Robert Vance Jr.

Plus, Roy Moore--for all of his nuttiness on religion--is not part of the legal establishment. And it's possible that he would take on the entrenched con men who run the Alabama State Bar--and the bar, I believe, is the source (or the enabler) of the legal corruption that wracks our state. If Roy Moore would take on the Alabama State Bar, it might actually serve a useful purpose for regular Alabamians. Robert Vance Jr. would serve no useful purpose that I can see--other than to provide cover for corrupting forces in Alabama courtrooms.

Speaking the truth about Vance Jr. tends to generate blowback in progressive circles. The matter becomes particularly sensitive when you consider that his wife, Joyce White Vance, was the Obama administration's appointee as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. I found out about blowback when I wrote about my experiences before Vance Jr. back in 2009. Here are links to those posts:

Is Joyce White Vance the Answer for Justice in North Alabama?

Here Is One Way a Corrupt Alabama Judge Will Cheat You

The comments on the second post provide a prime example of the protective cloak that has developed around the Vances. What is my beef with Robert Vance Jr.? Here is a brief summary from the second post above:

How did Vance Jr. cheat me? Let me explain: It involved a legal malpractice claim I filed against Jesse P. Evans III and Michael B. Odom, the lawyers who originally defended me in the lawsuit filed by my troublesome Shelby County neighbor, Mike McGarity. 
At the time, Evans and Odom were with the Birmingham firm of Adams and Reese/Lange Simpson. They since have moved to Haskell Slaughter. Evans is well known as a property lawyer and even has written a textbook on the subject. I sought him out because the lawsuit against me involved real-property issues, and a friend had told me that Evans was an expert in the field. Odom was Evans' assistant and handled most of the actual work on my case. 
To be blunt, Evans and Odom cheated me raw. In the Shelby County case, we filed two motions for summary judgment, which were properly executed and supported with affidavits regarding material facts. On the first, McGarity did not respond as required by law, meaning summary judgment had to be granted and the case dismissed. On the second, McGarity did not respond at all--and that's because he had no case and his corrupt lawyer, William E. Swatek, surely knew it. Again, summary judgment had to be granted. 
Judge J. Michael Joiner denied both summary judgment motions, contrary to clear, black-letter law. Evans and Odom had to know the judge was cheating me, but they did nothing about it. They even refused to file a counterclaim on my behalf, even though McGarity had built a fence on our property, enclosing about 400 square feet of our yard. It's hard to imagine a more egregious example of trespass. 
Evans and Odom, however, did nothing to protect my rights, ensuring that I was on the defensive throughout the proceeding. So I fired them--and then sued them. Acting pro se, I filed the legal-malpractice lawsuit in Jefferson County Circuit Court on September 4, 2003--case number CV03--5627 
My original complaint was 12 pages long and outlined four counts against Evans and Odom--legal malpractice, fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent suppression, and fraudulent deceit. The action was brought pursuant to the Alabama Legal Services Liability Act, sections 6-5-570, et. seq., Code of Alabama. That's the catch-all statute for actions against legal services providers, and my complaint was filed well inside the two-year statute of limitations. 
The Birmingham firm of Starnes and Atchison represented Evans and Odom and promptly filed a Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure, claiming that I had failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted. 
In an order dated December 5, 2003, Vance granted the Motion to Dismiss. I filed a Motion to Alter, Amend, or Vacate under Rule 59(e), but it was denied on January 5, 2004. The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals affirmed Vance's ruling, without an opinion, and the Alabama Supreme Court denied certiorari to hear the case.

With that as background, here is the crux of the matter--and it is absolute proof that Robert Vance Jr. does not respect the rule of law:

Here's the key to understanding how Vance cheated me: When you read in the newspaper about a lawsuit being dismissed, it almost always means that summary judgment has been granted, under Rule 56. (Note: Summary judgment is handled under Rule 56 in federal cases, too.) 
Summary judgment means that both parties have had an opportunity to conduct discovery, and one party or the other has shown that, based on the facts and the law presented, there is no reason for the case to go to trial. 
That is very different from a Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Such a motion, if granted, cuts off a case before it even gets started. It claims that the plaintiff's complaint, on its face, is insufficient--and the case should be dismissed without any discovery being conducted. 
Most honest Alabama lawyers will tell you that filing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is a waste of their time--and their client's money--because the motion almost never can be granted under the law. 
Why? Federal courts and most state courts, including Alabama, operate under a "notice pleading" rule. What does that mean? Here is one definition: 
[The] Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires only “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,” in order to “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." 
To overcome a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, I only needed to give Evans and Odom notice of what the claim was and the grounds for supporting it. I met that burden with this one sentence in my complaint, under "Count One--Legal Malpractice": 
13. The actions and inactions of Defendants, as set forth in paragraphs 1 through 11 above, fall below that level of such reasonable care, skill and diligence that other similarly situated legal services providers in the same general line of practice as Defendants and in the same general locality ordinarily have and exercise in like cases. 
That one sentence, noting that I had set forth 11 paragraphs of facts to support my claim, was sufficient to overcome Evans and Odom's Motion to Dismiss. In all, I provided 12 pages worth of facts and law--when only one sentence was sufficient. And Vance still could not get it right!

That's a lot of detail on a legal issue that is simple, and it boils down to this: The bar to overcome a motion to dismiss is extremely low; you only have to give notice of a valid legal claim, and it must not be barred by the applicable statute of limitations or immunity issues. (Neither of those was a factor in my case.)

I gave notice that Evans and Odom were being sued for legal malpractice, and that clearly is a valid and recognized claim. I provided 12 pages of detail about the claim, going way beyond the standard set by law for overcoming a motion to dismiss.

Robert Vance Jr. is not stupid; he knew he was cheating me. He did not make a single citation to law in dismissing my case. That's because there is no law that supported his desired outcome. So he simply went rogue, seemingly without a conscience, because he did not want his fellow members of the legal tribe to be subjected to depositions and other forms of discovery. What about the fact my wife and I had been cheated by lawyers we paid roughly $12,000--a lot of money for us? Vance Jr. didn't care; the interests of big downtown law firms were served, and that's all he cared about.

I haven't written about Robert Vance Jr. in quite a while; I've tried to "put him in the rear-view mirror." But now he is seeking the highest judicial office in our state, and I know for a fact that he is singularly unqualified for it. Before voters mark their ballots in November, I want them to know how Vance Jr. actually conducts business in his courtroom.

I will provide copies of several key documents from my legal-malpractice case, along with explanations of relevant law, and they will show that Robert Vance Jr. does not deserve your vote.

He definitely will not be getting mine.

(To be continued)


Redeye said...

"I very much want Alabama courts to take a turn back toward the left. But if the election were tomorrow, I would hold my nose and vote for Roy Moore. That's how little I think of Robert Vance Jr."

As the young people say "that's deep" LS and I admire your principled stand. If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything.

That said, I fault the leaders of the Alabama Democratic party for this debacle.

Anonymous said...

Jeff Connaughton was a lobbyist, a Senate aide and a White House lawyer. He says he came to Washington, D.C. as a Democrat and left as a Plutocrat.

Now he’s written a book – The Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins (Prospecta Press, August 20, 2012.)

This book is about corporate crime – although that phrase doesn’t appear anywhere in its 288 pages.

It is in fact one of the best books on how corporate criminals manipulate the system to get away with their crimes.

One way is to enforce silence among the elites who know how the system works.

“Party cohesion and the desire to make a munificent living in DC go a long way to enforce silence,” Connaughton writes.

But Connaughton is silent no more.

“I’m willing to burn every bridge,” he writes. “Now that I’ve mutinied and fled to a remote place, I want to set flame to the ship that would take me back there.”

.... But Brown-Kaufman could muster only 33 votes in the Senate.

“Senator Diane Feinstein – one of the most liberal members of the Senate – asked [Senator Dick] Durbin, the majority whip, ‘What’s this amendment?’ [referring to the Brown-Kaufman amendment to break up the mega-banks]. According to Durbin, he replied: ‘To break up the banks.’ Giving the thumbs-down sign, Feinstein said bemusedly: ‘This is still America, isn’t it?’

Connaughton and Senator Kaufman tried to get enforcement authorities to move aggressively against Wall Street criminality. They tried to break up the big banks. To no avail.

They were up against The Blob.

And The Blob won.

legalschnauzer said...


I agree that the Alabama Democratic Party is an utter mess. Its inability to win statewide court races is jaw dropping, especially when you consider that the all-GOP Supreme Court has cost the state billions of dollars by unlawfully overturning jury verdicts for fraud involving Big Oil, Big Pharma, etc. Why has ADP failed to take that issue and run with it? Why have Democrats not bashed the GOP over the head with these outrageous court rulings? Are they afraid to criticize sitting judges? Do bar rules prohibit that? If so, why? What is the point of a political campaign if you can't point out the other guy's faults?

We shouldn't be having judicial campaigns anyway, but we certainly should not have them if candidates are not allowed to take off the gloves and really go at it.

Huge numbers of white Alabamians reflexively vote GOP on court races, probably because they want judges to be "tough on crime." But only a portion of cases are criminal; the rest are civil, and Dems need to show the public how it is being screwed on the civil side by GOP judges who are friendly to corporations. I think a lot of white, middle-class Alabamians are capable of understanding that if the ADP would make an effort to educate them.

Dems also need to show that the whole "GOP is tough on crime" business is a hoax anyway. The GOP actually enables white-collar crime, which costs all of us billions.

Anonymous said...

The Blob is the cult of corruption.

The Blob,

Circuits from A to Z.

NINTH CIRCUIT and the "Culture of Vulgarity!?"

All the Blob members, as ALL POWERFUL?! In the book, are connected in every way, shape, form imaginable:

IT source of BLOB power vs. We The People NOT in the BLOB membership.

You LS, found your BLOB lack in the court because the COURTS for almost 100% are the BLOBS' [lack of better words], NAZI JACK BOOTS.

No such IDEA IN THE "COURT SYSTEM," other than so few in the U.S., "REAL TRUTH AND JUSTICE."

The time has arrived to figure out how to gently, but certainly without failure, eliminate the BLOBS' immunity and impunity in what was once the Justice Dept.

Recovery begins with a single step forward and please see the new picture at Biloxi Marx 3752 Scribd that was sent by Gilad Atzmon. Not a new picture for US, and the so-called "CONGRESSES" have been complicit since Louis Brandeis' gave the SUPREME COURT the power of sovereignty "US money."

Diane Feinstein her family and all the members of the BLOB are not in any way whatsoever, AND have never been in spite of the "holohoax" as the pictures shows the "Goyim."

"... Israeli Soldiers Break Silence

by Stephen Lendman,"

We The People can either accept the BLOB's Agendas for another fifty, sixty, one hundred years, or stop the insanity.

Anonymous said...

"... Here, thanks to our good friend,

Dennis Gartman,

is a home run from Paul Ryan's speech:

.. College graduates should not have to live out their 20’s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at the fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get on with their life.


The reason this is notable is simple: recall that the one catalyst that could throw the presidential election, that many already say is a slam dunk for Obama, into a tailspin is the S&P crashing in the months, weeks or days heading into November. Certainly this fact is not lost on Wall Street. And what is Wall Street best known for?

Is Cashin Cashin' In On Obama?

Legal Schnauzer and ALL LS "readers" whether cognizant or not of the incredible reporting here at Roger's BLOG, the BLOB is not about to say "Hey the trillions of countless wealth and your 'souls goy' too, are not what we need anymore to continue a global gulag of all the goyim on planet earth."


This act and then add another act, DO NOT CONSUME for about one week, sit and DO NOTHING.

Then the BLOB has no more blubbering piles of protoplasm to continue in ITS' criminal racket of thievery sold as democracy.

Redeye said...

"Huge numbers of white Alabamians reflexively vote GOP on court races, probably because they want judges to be "tough on crime."

In huh, and "tough on crime" is code for protect us from Wille Horton.

jeffrey spruill said...

Interests of law firms all over the nation will definitely cause Erik Prince to send his BOYS in!!!

Earmarked right to Judge Henry Coke Morgans court after splitting the statute---FBI guys reading this you REALLY screwed up my case---into separate offenses so as to be able to go to trial.

legalschnauzer said...

Redeye at 2:13--

As usual, you hit the nail on the head. White folks are terrified of "Willie Hortons," even though quite a few muggers, robbers and such are white. And if whites are terrified of street crime, they ought to vote Democratic. I'm pretty sure stats show street crime dropped significantly during the Clinton years. Dems promote smart policing tactics that actually reduce street crime. GOP merely talks a tough game.

While white folks remain terrified of "Willie Horton," they aren't remotely afraid of the "Jamie Dimons" who are robbing us blind and befouling our political and business systems.

I'm convinced our appellate courts in AL are all GOP mainly because white folks want "conservatives" on the bench to make sure "Willie Hortons" wind up on death row.

Never mind that Jamie Dimon probably is much more dangerous than Willie Horton could ever be to the public at large.

jeffrey spruill said...

Amen Mr. Schnauzer!

Some of the most vicious,ferocious and violent criminals are either walking around in three piece suits or are wearing black cloaks.

jeffrey spruill said...

I meant robes Mr. Schnauzer.

These white collar criminals have me so pissed that I can't see or think straight!

jeffrey spruill said...

Erik Prince will definitely send in his BOYS to protect law firms nationwide:

Erik Prince is from Holland,Michigan which is located in the western part of Michigan.

Anonymous said...

is there any issue, no matter how relevant to society at large, that you don't eventually connect to your own petty life?

legalschnauzer said...

If my life is so petty, why are you reading my blog?

Anonymous said...

Morbid fascination. You came to my attention a couple of years ago. Do you ever reflect on the fact that, for all of your life's troubles, you have never accepted a scintilla of personal responsibility? It's always -- always -- the fault of someone evil, incompetent, blah blah blah. But no court anywhere has agreed with you on a single issue you have put before them. As far as I can tell, you're unemployed and bankrupt. Is it at all possible that some of this -- any of it -- might be your own fault?

legalschnauzer said...

You're all knowing, so why don't you tell me. What has been my fault?

Also, tell me this: Are you aware of any court case involving me that has been decided correctly, under the law?

I await your reply, with morbid fascination.

Anonymous said...

Of course, you're correct. When an appeals court finds against you, it's because the judges misruled. And when someone fires you, it's because you were a victim of malicious intent. And when someone sues you for not paying your bills, it's because they had an illegitimate claim. And when anything -- ANYTHING -- bad happens to you it's because you're a noble soul, Christ-like, who is beaten down by evil that men do. You're absolutely right. Tell me, does being a martyr occupy you full time.

jeffrey spruill said...

Mr. Schnauzer:

Do you reckon anon@5:34 PM is one of those COWARDLY FBI guys that don't want don't want the system exposed for the corrupt morass that it is & your blog is waking people up to this fact!

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 7:06--

Based on your reply, it seems you can't tell us anything that was my fault. And you can't point to any court case involving me that was decided correctly. Just as I figured.

Receiving a lecture on "personal responsibility" from someone who hides behind the name "Anonymous" on an Internet forum is rich with irony.

I'm sure that floated right over your head, ye omniscient one.

legalschnauzer said...


I don't know if Mr. 5:34 is FBI or not. But I do have intel that suggests he is from your general neck of the woods--Charlottesville, VA. I seem to recall that Robert Vance Jr. went to UVA, either to law school or undergrad. Perhaps Mr. 5:34 is an old college chum of our august judge. Some of us can't afford to go to "Mr. Jefferson's University," so we have to hang around with other members of the great unwashed. Judge Vance is too big a coward to speak for himself, so maybe he has to enlist the help of his cowardly chums from C'ville.

jeffrey spruill said...

I do believe Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson has an office in Charlottesville, VA.

So just to remind folks at how faulty his memory is concerning his interview with Bush- Thursday-July14,2005 I will link to Judge Wilkinson's Wikipedia page:

legalschnauzer said...


I'm betting that Mr. Anonymous from Charlottesville is a member of the Virginia State Bar, someone who takes offense at anyone writing truthfully about a judge, especially his buddy Robert Vance Jr.

(Vance, by the way, did go to UVA law school, and Princeton undergrad. How special!)

These are people of privilege who look at you and me as lower life forms, who are not deserving of equal protection and due process under the law.

Mr. Anon, it appears, is an elitist smart ass, who thought he could sass me without his location becoming known. Didn't work out that way. In fact, I probably have the information to track him down right to his desk. Wouldn't that be fun!

Makes me think that little Bobby Vance is circulating word to his legal buddies that a mean old blogger is picking on him.

Maybe they can answer this question: Why is it that Bobby Vance went to Princeton and UVA, but he can't rule correctly on the simplest matters in court? Did Bobby Vance get a poor education for his money or is he just crooked?

jeffrey spruill said...

In fact, I probably have the information to track him down right to his desk. Wouldn't that be fun!


Sure would!

legalschnauzer said...

Oh, I've got the IP address. I can track Mr. Anon right to his place of employment. Maybe he will decide that sassing me wasn't such a good idea. Maybe he will decide he should have let Bobby Vance fight his own battles. Will Bobby Vance help his comrade out of this pickle? We'll see.