Monday, April 15, 2013

U.S. Judge William Acker Jr. And His Corrupt Rulings Represent Ronald Reagan's Lasting "Justice" Legacy

Judge William M. Acker Jr. (right)
To what extent can a federal judge twist facts and the law--not to mention logic--in order to produce an unlawful result that he desires? In the case of U.S. District Judge William M. Acker Jr., a Reagan appointee from the Northern District of Alabama, he produces twists that even Chubby Checker could not imagine.

Acker might be 85 years old, but he can contort himself in impressive fashion when he really wants to cheat a litigant who comes before him. I know because I've been one of those litigants.

We recently used the words of a fellow federal judge to prove that Acker committed a monstrous cheat job in a lawsuit over my unlawful termination at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Acker granted summary judgment for the University of Alabama Board of Trustees and various individual defendants, even though no discovery had been conducted in the case. We used an opinion from U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith Jr., to show that cannot lawfully be done.

But that only scratches the surface of Acker's chicanery in my case. His 10-page memorandum opinion, in which he explains his "reasoning" for dismissing my case, reeks of deceit and disingenuous thinking. When Acker isn't engaging in gross distortions of fact and law, he is lobbing insults at me--apparently because I refused to hire an attorney and had the audacity to represent myself. I've read Acker's opinion probably 10 times, and I still discover new jaw-dropping material. Each time, I come away thinking, "This is the work of a diseased mind." (The full opinion can be read at the end of this post.)

How diseased is Acker's mind? Well, the contempt he holds for everyday citizens comes across most clearly in the numerous pot shots he takes at me. We will address those in a future post, but for now, let's examine what passes for "legal scholarship" in a Bill Acker opinion.

My complaint in the UAB case presented a number of problems for Acker. Perhaps the biggest one involved a legal concept called qualified immunity. Individual state employees generally are protected from lawsuit--they are immune--as long as their actions do not violate a "clearly established constitutional right." (See Hope v. Pelzer, 536 U.S. 730, 2002.)

The Eleventh Circuit has held that the determining factor is whether the complaint alleges a violation of a clearly established constitutional right. (See Chesser v. Sparks, 248 F. 3d 1117, 11th Cir., 2001) My complaint alleges that the university terminated me in violation of the First Amendment right to free speech on matters of public concern--specifically the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman.

It's hard to imagine more clearly established constitutional rights than those spelled out in the First Amendment. Since my complaint alleged such a violation, that meant the individual UAB defendants could not lawfully be dismissed from the case. In legal terms, they did not enjoy qualified immunity.

How did Acker get around that, seeing that he clearly wanted to let the UAB defendants off the hook? As our headline states, he pulled "facts" right out of his butt. That's a crass way of putting it, but the description fits here. This is from page 6 of Acker's opinion:

Shuler's allegations, taken as true, do not provide a basis for any of the individual defendants to know that what he or she did, or failed to do, in connection with the termination of Shuler (after determining he had engaged in blogging at work after he had been warned not to do so) constituted a constitutional violation or violations and should have been recognized as such by a similarly situated person holding a supervisory position at an institution of higher learning. This court has looked for, but not found, any constitutional protection for an imagined right to blog on the job.

This might be the biggest load of horse feces ever written by a federal judge. First, the allegations in my complaint are the determining factor, and under "Count One, Violation of First Amendment," I clearly allege that I was terminated for blogging about a matter of public concern. Nowhere do I claim to have a right to "blog on the job," and nowhere does UAB even allege that I was "blogging on the job."

After Acker issued his order, I filed a Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment, outlining Acker's numerous mistakes of fact and law. Such a motion is governed by Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and mine can be viewed at the end of this post. In item No. 10 ("Shuler Asserted a Valid First Amendment Claim"), I addressed Acker's contortions on the subject of qualified immunity:

This court dips into bizarre territory when it states that Shuler's "blogging on the job" was not a constitutionally protected act. Why is this bizarre? Because Shuler never claims that "blogging on the job" is a constitutionally protected act. In fact, Shuler claims that he was fired largely because he wrote a blog, on his own time and with his own resources, about matters of public concern--and that is a constitutionally protected act. In no pleadings filed in this case does Shuler claim a right to "blog on the job." He specifically states that he was not blogging on the job and that UAB's own grievance committee found this to be true. Even UAB and its defendants do not claim, in any court document, that Shuler was "blogging on the job." One can only imagine where Judge Acker pulled this notion from.

Actually, I don't have to imagine too hard to figure out where Acker got this notion. He got it from the various political and legal forces who pressured UAB to fire me in the first place. These same forces wanted to ensure that I also got cheated in court.

We already have presented evidence that Acker was influenced by unlawful, ex parte communications in my case--and we've shown that such conduct likely constitutes obstruction of justice and possibly other federal crimes. Acker's references to a supposed "right to blog on the job"--words which are not contained in any document filed by either party in the case--are a clear sign that the judicial process was hopelessly tainted in my case.

This is ugly stuff, but we can find one comedic twist to the whole sordid tale. Acker's own words reveal exactly what he is doing--the judge, in fact, largely unmasks himself.

We are left with this discomforting thought: Bill Acker is a horrible judge, but he might be an even worse criminal. As the Iran-Contra Affair and the Savings and Loan Crisis remind us, Acker has plenty of company from the Reagan era.

(To be continued)


Anonymous said...

Acker really needs to be impeached. Or better yet, he could do us all a favor and die.

Anonymous said...

So this is the legacy that Ronald Reagan left for us--judges like Bill Acker. I want to puke every time I read about someone wanting to name another federal building for Ronnie Reagan. Someday Americans will wake up and realize Reagan did enormous damage to our country.

Raymond said...

Got a kick out of your reference to Chubby Checker. I wonder how many folks under 40 didn't know what you were talking about. Glad you included a link to help em out.

Anonymous said...

"Bill Acker and the Corrupt Rulings"

Sounds like a good name for a rock band.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 8:22--

Good one. I'm sure they would have an excruciating, irritating sound--with lots of nonsense lyrics.

Gerry with a G said...

God, LS, I love your headline. I hated Reagan in the '80s, and I loathe his "legacy" now.

Anonymous said...

Didn't you get the memo? We never are to criticize Ronnie Reagan. All he did was good and pure.

Anonymous said...

Ronald Reagan is our greatest president--now and forever!!

Spasmoda said...

Looks to me like Acker outed himself here. He says you were claiming to have a right to "blog on the job," but even UAB did not contend you were "blogging on the job." I think you are right to ask, "Where in the hell did that language come from?"

Anonymous said...

You caught Acker crapping in his own nest. Love it! The guy has been a pox on the bench for decades.

Anonymous said...

At 9:22 that would be a negative! You must be getting Ronnie and Bush mixed up with JFK! Johnson excluded!

Anonymous said...

Instead of worrying about his impending death and his legacy to the world he has occupied he instead devises more ways to do innocent people in and to serve the masters/criminals he has served his entire life.

I wish I believed in hell, fire and brimstone in instances like this. Alas I do not, however I can wish for a tiring, long, miserable rest of his life.

Everyone knows that someone who has been a journalist for a university for 20 years would not jeopardize his position by blogging at work. And even I can understand if there is nothing in either parties filings that said you were fired for blogging at work then how the &^&**( did it get into his brief?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for publishing this memorandum opinion from Judge Acker. Perhaps the public now will understand what plaintiffs' lawyers have known for years. The wording in this opinion is pure Acker. He's an arrogant, pompous ass who gives favors for all sorts of defendants, not just UAB.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 9:44--

It's interesting to note that when I was placed on administrative leave, UAB's charges were pretty much totally that I was "blogging on the job." I told them right up front that I had never touched a keystroke on my blog while at work, and their own witness, an IT guy who had checked my work for more than a month, confirmed this at my grievance hearing. Once I reported here about a university HR official admitting I was targeted because of my blog content about the Siegelman case, UAB changed its tune. They alleged mainly that I had been insubordinate, that I had supposedly been warned not to do certain things and did them anyway. When asked in my grievance hearing for documentation of insubordination or related warnings, my supervisor said she didn't have any. After I caught one of their own admitting why I was terminated, UAB played down my blog in legal proceedings. It was mentioned some in their documents, but not a lot.

James Greek said...

Had he not missed his calling as a stand-up comedian. He could have been great for playing a judge on TV. in fact, he could have played Harry Anderson's role on Night Court!

Anonymous said...

Ben Slaughter was Acker's law clerk in this time frame. He would know exactly what went on in your case. Ben now is a junior attorney at Haskell Slaughter.