|Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta|
We have shown beyond a reasonable doubt that the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals is filled with judges who are crooked. Their hatchet jobs on the Don Siegelman case and the Alabama hunting-club cases have been laid bare for the public to see.
But now we have a third case that might represent the most blatant example yet of corruption in the Atlanta-based court. And this case hits close to home.
We are talking about my lawsuit against the University of Alabama Board of Trustees and various individuals over my unlawful termination after 19 years on the job as an editor at UAB. I don't mean to claim that my case is more important than the others mentioned here. After all, the Siegelman case was a criminal matter, where the freedom of a former governor and a former CEO was at stake, and the hunting-club cases involved the abusive treatment of dozens of parents and children in domestic-relations cases. But the judicial butchery that is present in my UAB appeal is so flagrant as to almost be laughable--except it isn't funny when it's your career and ability to make a living that is on the line.
Mrs. Schnauzer and I have grown accustomed to receiving court-related mail and opening it to find jaw-dropping rulings inside. But the one we received a few weeks back on my UAB appeal was so out there that I could not suppress a guffaw.
"How stupid do they think we are?" I said, tossing the envelope and its contents into the air.
"I'm guessing we got more mail from the courts," Mrs. Schnauzer said.
The missus was right about that. But even she could not believe this "ruling."
A three-judge panel from the Eleventh Circuit butchered the appeal on at least a half dozen key points of law. But for now, we will focus on only one issue.
It involves a simple concept of law, one that must be taught in Law School 101: Summary judgment cannot be granted, or even considered, when the nonmoving party (me, in this case) has been given no opportunity to conduct discovery. In fact, summary judgment cannot be considered on an incomplete record, as happens when one party tries to stonewall the other in discovery.
We spelled this out in a post from earlier this year about the hunting-club case. The summary-judgment process is governed by Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), and a case styled Snook v. Trust Company of Georgia Bank of Savannah, 859 F. 2d 864 (11th Cir., 1988) has been controlling law for almost a quarter century in this part of the country. Here's how we explained it previously:
A bedrock principle of Rule 56 is that summary judgment cannot be considered, much less granted, until both parties have been given adequate opportunities to conduct discovery. In the U.S. Eleventh Circuit, which covers Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, that idea has been spelled out in a case styled Snook v. Trust Company Bank of Georgia, 859 F. 2d 865 (11th Cir., 1988). Snook states, in pertinent part:
"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."
Snook holds that a party need only notify a court that discovery is outstanding, via a Rule 56(d) motion, to avoid being the victim of premature summary judgment. That's exactly what I did in the UAB case, and it was not a matter of discovery being outstanding--no discovery had been conducted at all. U.S. District Judge William M. Acker Jr., a hopelessly corrupt, 84-year-old Reagan appointee who seems to have a knack for being "randomly assigned" to cases involving UAB, ignored all sorts of settled law to grant the university summary judgment at the trial-court level--and that did not surprise me at all. But I figured the Eleventh Circuit simply could not let something this flagrant stand.
It turns out I was wrong about that. And how did the Eleventh Circuit try to pull it off? By denying that a document exists--when the record clearly shows that it does exist. You can check it out at the end of this post, under the "Failing to Allow Discovery" section on pages 6-7 of the appellate ruling. Here is the key paragraph from the geniuses on the Eleventh Circuit:
Shuler never filed a motion under Rule 56(d) and did not identify any discovery relevant to the grounds for summary judgment. No amount of discovery would change the conclusion that the defendants are entitled to summary judgment on all claims.
The Eleventh Circuit's "reasoning" has only one slight flaw. I did file a Rule 56(d) motion, and it's clearly marked as Document 49 on the docket record--and you can read the motion below. I also notified the trial court of outstanding discovery, pursuant to Rule 56(d) in a second motion--and that is Document 51 in the record.
So appellate judges in Atlanta found that I did not invoke the protections of Rule 56(d) when, in fact, I did it twice. And lawyers wonder why so many citizens hold our courts in low regard?
I have filed a Petition for Panel Rehearing and for Rehearing En Banc (by the entire Eleventh Circuit) in my case, and that is pending. We soon will address other issues that the Eleventh Circuit botched on the appeal of my UAB case. But the ruling on discovery is the grand slam of judicial buffoonery--at least in my experience. And it cuts to the heart of what long has been going on with my unlawful termination.
I have tape-recorded evidence that proves I was cheated out of my job because of the content on this blog about the Siegelman prosecution. I've run a video of that evidence numerous times, and it is beyond dispute what really happened with my job. The courts don't want to allow discovery because it clearly would reveal a trail of e-mails and other communications, showing exactly who was responsible for what happened to me at UAB. That means the university, the trial court, and the appellate court all are playing an elaborate con game--with your taxpayer dollars.
When you consider that neither the trial judge (Acker) nor the appellate judges have any reason to know me or hold a grudge against me, it points to them acting at someone's direction. And if that is the case, it points to criminal activity--specifically a conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice.
The nuttiness present in the Eleventh Circuit's ruling almost is enough to make you laugh. But the ugliness going on behind the scenes probably is criminal--and there is nothing funny about that at all.
Here is the Eleventh Circuit's ruling, followed by my Rule 56(d) motion seeking discovery . . . the very motion that the appellate court claims I did not file.
(To be continued)
UAB App. Ruling