|Judge Bill Pryor|
Chief Justice John Roberts, in authoring the opinion in Shelby County v. Holder, said our country has changed, implying that places like Shelby County are much more enlightened now than they were in 1965.
That might be true, to an extent. But anyone who thinks Shelby County is a bastion of forward thinking--where people of all colors, religions, genders, and political affiliations are treated fairly and equally under the law--might want to view the video at the end of this post.
It was filmed during one of at least four visits that sheriff's deputies made to my home in Shelby County last week. Why are deputies suddenly so interested in the house that my wife and I have owned since 1990. As I reported on Friday, I can think of no legitimate law-enforcement purpose for the visit. And why are two and three deputies involved, with multiple vehicles?
I can only conclude, at this point, that it's part of an intimidation and harassment campaign driven by my recent reports here at Legal Schnauzer about photos of U.S. Judge Bill Pryor that appeared in the 1990s at a gay porn site called badpuppy.com.
The intimidation campaign drew the attention of the national press this weekend when Alan Colmes' Liberland blog wrote a piece titled, "Is A Whistleblowing Alabama Blogger Being Harassed by Law Enforcement?" From the article:
Roger Shuler’s blog Legal Schnauzer has not shied away from turning over a few rocks to reveal scandal in Alabama’s political and judicial arenas. He recently revealed what his sources confirm to be a photograph of 11th Circuit Court Justice William Pryor that had been posted to gay porn site badpuppy.com — and the story has gone viral (as have not one but two provocative follow-ups). In what seems to be a bit more than coincidence, Shuler had several unexpected visitors earlier this week that may be tied to a different bit of darkness upon which he shed a bit too much sunshine for a couple GOP players’ taste.
The Colmes blog notes the thuggish appearance of the deputies' actions, which were caught on video in Friday's post--and again at the end of this post:
Yes, the multiple vehicle schtick is overkill. It’s not much of a stretch to conclude that Shuler, a legal blogger with a growing following, is being harassed by people who are none too happy with his reporting — but also neither smart nor savvy when it comes to the power of the Internet and social media.
As for Shelby County v. Holder, it focused primarily on America's historic racial divide. But the VRA is part of an almost 50-year effort to ensure civil rights for all Americans, especially those who might seem different for any number of reasons.
Consider your humble blogger. I am a white, male Protestant with no disabilities, so I would seem to fit into the mainstream. But I also am a liberal in a county that is overwhelmingly conservative--in a state that has largely been taken over by one-party Republican rule.
To make me even more of an oddball here, I am a journalist, with a degree in the field and more than 30 years of professional experience. That proved useful when my wife and I experienced a colossal cheat job in Shelby County court--started when a neighbor with an extensive criminal record filed a bogus lawsuit against me over a property-related matter--and that inspired me to start a blog about legal and political corruption.
How did that go over with the Shelby Count power structure, which has been dominated for years by members of the GOP? Not too well, especially when I went beyond personal issues to report on political prosecutions during the George W. Bush years, such as the ones involving former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and former Mississippi plaintiffs' lawyer Paul Minor.
Conservative forces were not just angry about Legal Schnauzer; they decided to make me pay, by cheating me out of my job at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), where I had worked as an editor for almost 20 years. That was in May 2008, and the same forces (or their associates) cheated my wife out of her job at Infinity Insurance in September 2009.
How do I know political and legal entities were behind this? For one reason, a member of UAB's human-resources staff admitted to me in a tape recorded conversation that I was targeted because of my reporting on the Siegelman case. (You can check out a video on that subject here.)
Now, I seem to have committed another sin against conservative orthodoxy by revealing that Bill Pryor, he of the uber right-wing views and the controversial Bush-era nomination,
has connections to the gay porn scene of the 1990s.
I have reported extensively on corruption in the Shelby County Sheriff's Department under Chris Curry. In fact, Curry's band of rogues is largely responsible for a bogus sheriff's deed that has been our house since 2008. (You can check out videos of the sheriff's sale here.)
Experience has taught me that Sheriff Curry and his crew are lawless thugs. And I'm not the only one who seems to hold that opinion. We are aware of several federal lawsuits that allege racial discrimination against the department during Curry's tenure. We will be reporting on those cases in a series of upcoming posts.
Is Shelby County a uniformly awful place? Not at all--or Mrs. Schnauzer and I would not have lived here for 23 years. Here is what I wrote about my home area back in June, after the Roberts court issues its ruling on the VRA case:
What kind of place is Shelby County, Alabama, in 2013? And in terms of justice issues (such as voting), should the public be confident the rule of law will prevail in this burgeoning area south of Birmingham?
As a resident of Shelby County since 1990, I feel qualified to take a crack at those questions. What are my answers? Well, Shelby County is a prosperous, pretty place that features lots of gorgeous trees, mountains, and bodies of water--I can throw a rock from my backyard and almost hit the natural splendor of Oak Mountain State Park. The county, especially in the northern section closest to Birmingham, features numerous fine places to shop and dine, with some of the most attractive neighborhoods you will find anywhere.
But what about those pesky justice issues? In that regard, Shelby County is a cesspool. The county seat is in a little hellhole called Columbiana, and when you take one step into the city limits, it's as if you've entered a time warp and gone back to . . . oh, about 1912.
Like most Americans, I am thankful for the genuine progress our country has made since the VRA was passed almost 50 years ago. But are we really out of the woods on matters of discrimination? Should we be confident that the rule of law will protect civil rights for all? Are local law-enforcement agencies filled with enlightened protectors of the constitution--or glorified brown shirts?
We invite you to take a look at the following video, filmed last Thursday, and decide for yourselves: