Thursday, November 29, 2012
Allan Armstrong Still Practices Law In Alabama, Despite A History of Cocaine And Alcohol Abuse
Our reports on the notorious William E. Swatek have shown that you don't need much in the way of ethics to remain a lawyer "in good standing" with the Alabama State Bar.
Now another lawyer, Allan L. Armstrong, teaches that you can keep rocking along with a bar card in our state, even if your judgment is clouded by all sorts of substance abuse. And we've seen signs that J. Scott Vowell, the presiding judge of Jefferson County Circuit Court, will take steps to protect you.
We already have shown that Armstrong has an alcohol problem that dates back at least 12 years. He twice has been arrested for DUI, driving left of the center line, and carrying a concealed weapon--once in 2000, and again in 2001.
Now we learn from a source that Armstrong has been treated for cocaine abuse. The same source also tells us that, within the past year or so, police officers removed Armstrong from Sammy's, a Birmingham strip club, for trying to start a fight. (See video at the end of this post.)
Does this subject hit close to home? Yes, it does. Armstrong and his legal compadre, Darrell Cartwright, served as "legal counsel" for Mrs. Schnauzer and me in our lawsuit against unethical debt collectors. We had never heard of either attorney until Cartwright contacted me via e-mail after reading about our experiences with debt collectors on this blog. He solicited our business, and unfortunately, we decided to hire him and Armstrong.
That's ironic because we later learned that Armstrong had his own problems with debt, to such an extent that he went through a bankruptcy.
Cartwright and Armstrong proceeded to cheat us in a way that almost had to be intentional. They filed deeply flawed documents, without our knowledge, that caused us to lose a case where we had tape-recorded evidence of the collectors' unlawful actions.
We didn't know at the time about Armstrong's financial, legal, and substance-abuse problems. But now that we've learned about them through various court documents, and a knowledgeable source, some troubling questions come to mind: Did collectors, knowing our lawyer had financial and alcohol/drug problems, pay him to sell us down the river? Did someone have Cartwright contact me, knowing he and Armstrong ultimately would cheat us?
I suspect the answer to both questions is yes? Why? Well, for one reason, Mrs. Schnauzer and I have a pending legal-malpractice claim against Armstrong and Cartwright, and their response to it has been curious--as has the actions of the court.
Armstrong and Cartwright are refusing/avoiding service, and they have been for months. We paid the fee to have a sheriff's deputy serve papers, and that was unsuccessful. We had a special process server appointed, and his efforts to serve papers also were unsuccessful. The server reported that he made multiple visits to the Armstrong and Cartwright homes, when they clearly were home, and service was refused.
We then filed documents to have the court send the papers via U.S. mail, pursuant to Rule 4(e) of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure (ARCP). Under that rule, service is deemed complete "when the fact of mailing is entered of record"--and the case docket shows that the mailing was entered in the record on July 19, 2012.
Despite evidence to the contrary, Jefferson County Circuit Judge J. Scott Vowell has entered an order claiming that service has not been perfected. I've filed multiple motions showing that service, in fact, has been perfected--despite Cartwright and Armstrong's best efforts to avoid it. So why does Judge Vowell persist in ignoring the obvious?
Has he grown senile, with his retirement looming in a matter of weeks? Is he intentionally providing cover for crooked members of the legal tribe, hoping we will give up and drop the case? Given that Jefferson County Domestic Relations Court has been ravaged by corruption during Vowell's tenure as presiding judge, I would say the latter is the most likely scenario.
Speaking of curious, my wife and I are pro se litigants, and therefore are not allowed to file documents electronically. That means we must rely on the U.S. mail to receive orders and other documents in our case. But we now have failed to receive at least three of Vowell's orders in the mail. I only learned about them after visiting the courthouse and looking up the case on a public computer. It seems extremely unlikely that our mail service is so poor that we would not receive three orders sent from the court--unless, of course, the court intentionally is not sending them.
Perhaps it should be noted that Vowell and his wife, Cameron McDonald Vowell, are major donors to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), the institution that unlawfully terminated me for writing truthfully on this blog about misconduct among our state's legal, judicial, and political figures. Is it possible that the Vowells know who caused me to be cheated out of my job? Is it possible the Vowells even played a role in it? Is Scott Vowell "massaging" our legal-malpractice claim, even though he knows he has a personal interest that requires his recusal in the case?
I would say the answer to all three questions likely is yes.
As for Allan Armstrong's cocaine problems, our source on the story is Birmingham resident Jeff Scruggs. You might remember Scruggs as the fellow who received multiple death threats from Armstrong via voice mail. You also might remember Scruggs as the fellow who, in his divorce case, identified Armstrong as his wife's "paramour," cited Armstrong's threats, and sought a restraining order.
Scruggs makes it clear that he does not hold Armstrong in high regard. But he has reason to know about issues in Armstrong's past--and perhaps his present. At last report, Scruggs' ex wife now lives with Armstrong, and the Scruggses share custody of a child.
Jeff Scruggs has reason to know the kind of person that hides behind Allan Armstrong's facade as an "officer of the court." The picture that Mr. Scruggs paints is not a pretty one, as you can tell from viewing the following video.
I have left multiple messages for Armstrong, seeking comment for this post. He has failed to respond.