|Gerald Bard Tjoflat|
The folks who are ramrodding my wrongful-termination lawsuit against UAB deserve credit for one thing: They aren't trying real hard to hide their dirty work.
As I reported yesterday, my appeal before the U.S. Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta was denied primarily because the court claimed I had not filed a Rule 56(d) motion seeking discovery--when, in fact, the record clearly shows I did file such a document. Also, the trial court violated black-letter law by granting summary judgment to the university without giving me an opportunity to obtain discovery that would prove my case--and the appellate court said that was perfectly fine.
The Eleventh Circuit has plenty of bad judges, but even they are not stupid enough to issue such absurdities on their own. Someone clearly is interfering with the judicial process in my case, and that's not a real good idea. For one thing, it's a crime--the formal term is obstruction of justice. For another, some folks take exception to interference with their personal affairs--particularly on matters that involve their ability to earn a living.
But the person who is ramrodding my case--we will call him "The Obstructor"--apparently has no concerns about his actions. That's because he's sending out clues that Stevie Wonder couldn't miss.
I've written before that I am convinced the "random assignment" of cases to federal judges is a myth. Does anyone seriously think that U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller just happened to get the Don Siegelman prosecution? My guess is that thousands of cases each year, civil and criminal, are intentionally assigned to certain judges for one reason or another. That means, of course, that numerous parties have their due-process rights violated before the cases even start.
For me, it was not an accident that 84-year-old Reagan appointee William M. Acker Jr. got my case. Three employment lawsuits were filed against UAB in May 2010 in the Northern District of Alabama. They involved business professor Glenn Feldman, engineering instructor Petru Simionescu, and yours truly. All three of them were assigned to Acker. What are the chances of that happening by random selection? Pretty much zero.
Someone in the legal community runs interference for UAB and has pull in the clerk's office to get certain cases assigned to Acker.
I now have evidence suggesting that the same forces can play games with the appellate process. Of the 17 active judges on the Eleventh Circuit, what are the odds that two of the three judges on my panel also heard the Siegelman appeal? I'm not a math whiz, so I won't attempt the odds, but I would say it's extremely unlikely. But there on my appeal are two very familiar names--Gerald Bard Tjoflat and J.L. Edmondson.
I have written probably a dozen or so posts that roundly criticized Tjoflat and Edmondson, and their unlawful rulings on the Siegelman appeal. Those posts have appeared on this blog and at probably a half dozen Web sites around the country. No other journalist that I am aware of has been more consistently critical of Tjoflat and Edmondson, by name, than I have.
One of my posts was titled "How the Eleventh Circuit Cheated Don Siegelman: A Summary." Another was titled "Federal Judges On Siegelman Appeal Prove to be Both Corrupt and Lazy." As you can see, I wasn't being subtle about my analysis of these judges' work.
So who wound up hearing my appeal before the Eleventh Circuit? Why, Tjoflat and Edmondson, of course.
It's hard to imagine a more flagrant violation of the due-process right to have my case heard by an impartial observer. (Actually, it's not hard to imagine a more flagrant violation; just imagine Mark Fuller hearing the Don Siegelman case.) I've developed this quaint sense that constitutional rights should be taken seriously, so I filed a motion to have Tjoflat and Edmondson recuse themselves--along with a petition to have their bogus ruling reheard and overturned. (You can read both the recusal motion and the petition for rehearing at the end of this post.)
My efforts to seek justice through the court system will be futile, of course. I've known that since the day Acker told me in open court, with Mrs. Schnauzer present, that he was going to cheat me. And he later added: "I know that UAB and the people over there are anxious about this." How did he know that? The Obstructor, or his affiliates, were at work and told him.
I've also known, from following the Siegelman case, that appellate judges are prone to protect their corrupt trial-court brethren. So I'm not at all surprised by what has transpired on my UAB case. I am disappointed that The Obstructor and Co. couldn't be a little more clever about it.
Consider the brazenness that is present here: One of the obstacles for anyone suing a state entity is immunity, in its various forms. It's a complicated subject, so I won't go into too many details, but this is clear under the law: A state actor loses qualified immunity in his individual capacity when the plaintiff alleges violation of "a clearly established constitutional right." I alleged multiple violations of the First Amendment right to free speech, so the individual state actors in my lawsuit were not protected by immunity--and I had the right to gather evidence via discovery that would prove those violations.
The trial court, however, has not allowed me to conduct discovery, thus giving the individual defendants a form of bogus immunity, and the Eleventh Circuit says that is fine. In a roundabout way, the courts are saying the First Amendment is not "a clearly established constitutional right"--and I address that issue on pages 7 and 8 of the rehearing petition below.
The First Amendment is not part of the constitution? You can see why it's hard to take these proceedings seriously.
What kind of person would interfere with someone's legal affairs? What makes The Obstructor tick?
Well, I am convinced that his thought processes are different from yours and mine. I, for example, wouldn't dream of pulling his stunts, for several reasons:
(1) I have better things to do;
(2) I know it's illegal, and I don't see myself as being above the law;
(3) I value my own physical well being. Our society has a couple of qualities that make it combustible--our justice system is dysfunctional, and our streets are soaked with guns. An individual who knows you have wronged him can easily obtain the firepower to inflict pain upon your person. As a citizen of the US of A, I know I can be gunned downed, accidentally or otherwise, at most any moment. But I don't want to tempt fate by giving someone a genuine reason to smoke my fanny.
The Obstructor apparently has no such concerns. Perhaps he's connected to the "justice system" in a way that makes him think he is untouchable.
If I were him, I wouldn't be so certain about that.
UAB--Eleventh Circuit En Banc