Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Here Is The Best of Legal Schnauzer for 2012

Murphy Shuler:
A watchdog at work

The photo at right always brings a smile to my face. It is Murphy Abigail Shuler (1993-2004), the beloved schnauzer who inspired this blog, in the midst of fulfilling her solemn duty as watchdog over our home.

As you can tell, Murphy took her watchdog role seriously. And it's my prayer that her spirit lives on in our reporting her at Legal Schnauzer.

Which of our posts in 2012 did the best job of capturing that spirit? After conducting a month-by-month review through our archives, and keeping a number of criteria in mind, here are my choices.

As Casey Kasem would say, "On with the countdown . . . "

10. How Did An Alabama Woman Wind Up In Jail From The Fallout Of A Divorce Case? (September 20)

Summary: Clanton resident Bonnie Wyatt winds up in the Chilton County Jail because of an alleged property-related debt from her divorce settlement.

Why It Matters: Readers seemed to respond with a collective "WTF" when we reported on Judge Sibley Reynolds' actions--and with good reason. The Alabama Constitution outlaws the imprisonment of individuals for debts. And case law specifically states that a litigant is not subject to contempt of court, much less imprisonment, for failure to pay a property-related debt from dissolution of a marriage. In other words, Reynolds butchered the law--and our audience seemed to get it, right off the bat. Blog stats show that the Bonnie Wyatt story deeply resonated with readers--and it's still going on, despite recent positive developments.

Number of Comments: 62

Comment to Remember: "Reynolds is the epitome of evil. He routinely destroys families in the 19th Circuit. He's been doing it for years."

9. Alabama Lawyer With Strong Ties To GOP Turns Up Dead At Construction Site (February 16)

Summary: Attorney Chace Swatek, 35, is found dead beside a roadway in his hometown of Pelham. He is the son of William E. Swatek, the notoriously unethical lawyer who is at the heart of my personal legal woes and has a 30-year history of disciplinary actions from the Alabama State Bar. We go on to report that Chace Swatek died in the middle of a walk from his house to a CVS drug store, and a source later reveals that the death likely was caused by inhalant abuse, also known as "huffing."

Why it Matters:  The body of a young lawyer, the member of a well-known Shelby County family, is found behind a stack of water pipes on the side of a road--and officials still have not released a cause of death. What happened? Were his father's long-standing ties to legal corruption a factor? Some readers took my posts as a personal affront, apparently because I was the only Alabama journalist to actually report on Chace Swatek's death, while noting what public documents undeniably show--that his father is a dirt bag.

Number of Comments: 103

Comment to Remember: "I do feel compassion for you and your wife and I'm sorry for your troubles. However, the Swatek family didn't do this to you. Bill Swatek did this to you. His wife and children are just the collaterals that you continue to try to hurt to get to Bill. I get it. I guess the saying now should be that the keystroke is mightier than the sword . . . "

8. Sex, Drugs, and Violence Are At The Heart Of Divorce Case Against Siegelman Judge Mark Fuller (May 18)

Summary: The wife of U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller files for divorce, amid allegations that "his Honor" engaged in extramarital affairs, abuse of prescription painkillers, and domestic violence.

Why it Matters: Fuller has a lifetime appointment that comes with frightening powers. He can take your belongings, lawfully or unlawfully. He can send innocent citizens to prison, as he did in the political prosecution of former governor Don Siegelman. How does a judge conduct himself when the robes come off?

Number of Comments: 30

Comment to Remember: "The FBI has dirt to leak on everyone, including the Alabama State Bar. Fuller gets his records sealed so our beloved State Officials can carry on the charade that they are of better character and fitness than the general public. The lawyer class only includes some lawyers, the rest of us were forced out of practice, disbarred or in my case never even allowed to take the bar exam. Only the politically dangerous law students are refused entry to the exam room and I wear that as a badge of honor."

7. Did Moral Bankruptcy Finally Catch Up To Carol Garrison In Her Role As President Of UAB? (August 23)

Summary: UAB President Carol Garrison abruptly announces her resignation on the second day of fall classes.

Why it Matters: UAB is Alabama's largest employer and brings in more federal research dollars than the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa and Auburn University combined. UAB, because of its hospital and vast biomedical-research enterprise, arguably is the most important institution in our state. Garrison served for more than a decade, in spite of rampant corruption on her watch. She clearly was forced out, and the public still does not know why. During her reign, Garrison signed off on my unlawful termination at UAB, even though the university's own grievance committee found I should not have been fired.

Number of Comments: 21

Comment to Remember: "UAB's grievance process sounds like a con game. A committee of your peers can find in your favor, as happened with you, but then the administration can overrule. This whole process really stinks and is ripe for abuse."

6. Did the Alabama State Bar Retaliate Against Lawyer Jennifer Paige Clark By Harassing Her to Death? (October 10)

Summary: Lawyer Jennifer Paige Clark is found dead in her Mobile home, nine days after the Alabama State Bar suspended her license. Cause of death remains unknown.

Why it Matters: Public documents strongly suggest that the bar had no legitimate grounds to investigate Ms. Clark, much less to suspend her license and seek disbarment. She was aggressively representing her parents in a pair of property-related matters, one in Flowery Branch, Georgia, and one in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Did bar officials launch a harassment campaign only because Jennifer Paige Clark was doing her job effectively? Was their real concern that her discovery methods apparently unearthed corruption in two states?

Number of Comments: 32

Comment to Remember: "Jennifer Paige Clark was not the first Jones (Law School) Graduate to get into trouble with the State Bar over those condo developments. The Staff at the State Bar has become the bitches of those multi-million dollar condo developers because so many lawyers and judges are part owners of those condos and/or do highly paid legal work for them."

(To be continued)


Anonymous said...

Excellent stuff, LS. This reminds me why I look forward to reading this blog each day.

Ryan said...

It's odd that the Swatek crowd attacked you for reporting on Chace's death, but your reporting actually gave a hint of importance to his life. I think I saw 1-2 paragraphs about it in the Birmingham News. That was it. If they supposedly cared about Chace, you would think they would want to know why and how he died.

Anonymous said...

No Rollins, no Siegelman? Say it ain't so!

I assume they must be in the top five?

Anonymous said...

I detect a Robby Scott Hill comment there on the Fuller story. Always love his stuff. You guys have sort of a Johnny Carson/Ed McMahon thing going on. Or maybe it's Tom and Dick Smothers. Or maybe it's Huntley/Brinkley. Not sure, but it's a nice tag team. Way to go, RSH.

Sharon said...

Great pic of Murphy, LS. And a nice beginning to your list. God, I had forgotten all about Chace Swatek and the number of comments that story drew.

Bo said...

Headline of the year has to be the one on Fuller. "Sex, Drugs and Violence . . . " Can't go wrong with that. Who wouldn't want to read that post?

Anonymous said...

"Reynolds is the epitome of evil."

That comment nails it!

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 10:49--

You assume correctly.

TLR said...

All of these stories either were ignored in the MSM or received very shallow coverage. This list is a reminder of why your work here is so important. Same goes for reporters like Andrew Kreig and Scott Horton.

Anonymous said...

I still think your coverage of Chace Swatek's death was mean spirited. I don't think you had any motive other than to hurt his family.

TLR said...


I suspect the Swatek folks who attacked with their comments already knew how Chace died--or at least had a real strong suspicion. They just didn't want it shared with the rest of the public.

That's how elites think. Any troubles they encounter must be kept within their social circle. They must not be revealed to the less privileged.

Anonymous said...

Roger, I love all of your reporting. I look forward to continue to help where I can.

Happy New Year!

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks so much. Readers play a huge role in all of this, and I spotlight that tomorrow in our top five.

Anonymous said...

I definitely want to know what caused Carol Garrison's ouster at UAB. I think your reporting in general, or your termination, or both, had something to do with it.

You don't can a university president on the second day of fall classes. A university president definitely does not "resign" of her own free will on the second day of fall classes.

Funky stuff was going on with Garrison, and I think your story had something to do with her exit. If not, she was involved in some other form of scandal, which is now being covered up.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 12:10--

Don't know if my situation played any role in Garrison's ouster, but I agree something interesting is behind it. I don't much like unresolved stories, and that's one I hope to crack in 2013. The closest to a reason I've heard so far is that Garrison did not get along with Robert Witt, the new chancellor. But I don't, for one second, believe that is the only reason she was forced out.

The situation with the chancellor could have been massaged in a way that would have given Garrison 6-12 months to step down, receiving some honors, etc., along the way, a nice send off. Instead, she got her knee caps taken out, and that's not how it's usually done in higher ed.

I'm told her resignation was announced one day, and she was out of the office the next--not to be seen again. That's very strange.

There is a "rest of the story" on that one, I'm convinced.

Anonymous said...

If Garrison was out that fast then It was something significant. LS, do you know the names of the other parties in the Ga and AL cases that Ms Clark was helping her parents with?

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 2:02--

I know the other party in the AL case was the Sunrise Village Condominium Association. It was damaged in a hurricane (Ivan, I think), and the issue was that some owners wanted to rebuild and others wanted to level the place and sell out so something else could go on the land.

I believe the other party in the GA case was the City of Flowery Branch. I think it had to do with the city screwing up a drainage issue that caused water damage on property that the Clark family owned. Will have much more coming soon on the Jennifer Clark story.

Anonymous said...

The grown up Murphy is certainly a proud protector. Great photos to remind of loyalty-love. Thank you for sharing the memories.

People that make believe they have manufactured a system of 'reality,' and it is an an unreal drama livelihood facade of false power to experience whatever the moment surprises, are not loyal.

Opportunists have stolen our public reality. We are not a public that pays taxes and then has the benefit of choosing how this money works.

This is what you have exposed LS, the anti-love dressed up as though human beings in leader positions, they call their tribal cult ~elite.

Fair weather hounds not even close to a Murphy pup or adult.

Redeye said...

Thanks for being the media we wish we had instead of the media we have.


legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for sharing, Redeye. Some very blunt comments from Dillard University president about the situation at ASU.

Here is the URL for Walter Kimbrough's op-ed piece in the Montgomery Advertiser:

Anonymous said...

The educational system also collapsed. It is about all our so called systems, collapsing.

Looking at the "news" at the links provided ~a good review of how bad the university situation is in careers as presidents~ Kate Middleton the commoner now being sold as the new model for all women to seek - being a commoner that gets to be a queen, etc.

The subtle brainwashing is very dark and thus, when reading about "education," it is the news now that is to save our possibility to finally evolve into the greater cultured civilization.

Thank you LS. You are indeed the very funny thought 'being the media we wish we had.' The people who post at your site- brilliant for the majority, that is how it is when energy attracts the same 'vibe.' Learning how to be the people we wish we had via your reporting, too.

Anonymous said...

This is all pure sociobiology. How the “Rich Tribe” corrupted democracy to diss the “Poor Tribe.”


Anonymous said...

What about the developer who wanted to buy Sunrise Village?

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 3:02--

I will have to check my notes on that. I have a lot of background material, and numerous posts are in the works. I believe I have info on developer, but the name doesn't come to me at the moment.