|Jessica Medeiros Garrison|
From that date until August 13, I published six posts about the affair, and I never heard from Garrison or her attorney, Bill Baxley.
My second e-mail to Jessica Garrison was sent at 1:50 p.m. on August 14 and included questions about two issues that have little, if anything, to do with Luther Strange. One issue was her purchase of a house that was appraised for almost $440,000 in the Crestline section of Mountain Brook. The other involved her business relationship with a man named Erik Davis Harp, who was indicted in 2009 as one of two kingpins in an illegal gambling ring based in Panama. According to published reports, leaders of the ring had ties to the Gambino and Genovese crimes families.
Here are the full contents of my second e-mail to Jessica Garrison:
I am a journalist in Birmingham, reporting on justice/legal issues at a number of Web sites, including the blog Legal Schnauzer. I have been reporting about your relationship with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange and would like to ask you a few questions for upcoming related articles:
(1) A document from your custody case, dated 5/23/12, states that you had a new address of 119 Main Street, Mountain Brook. Another public document shows that the property was sold at "public outcry" on two different dates, 6/12/12 and 7/20/12.
A. How could you have this new address in May when the property wasn't sold to you at public auction until June and July?
B. Was there really a public auction, where the property was available for open bids, or was the house somehow cherry picked for you? If so, who assisted in this matter, and why?
(2) Public records indicate you've had a business relationship with a man named Erik Davis Harp, formerly of Tuscaloosa. Published reports show that Mr. Harp was indicted for helping to run an illegal offshore gambling operation, based in Panama. Published reports further state that the operation had connections to the Gambino and Genovese crime families.
A. What was the nature of your business relationship with Mr. Harp? Is that relationship ongoing?
B. Given your public statements against gambling, and considering Luther Strange's strong opposition to gambling, how could you be connected to a gambling king pin with ties to major criminal factions?
I ask that you respond to this request by 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 16.
Once again, I gave Garrison ample time--more than two full days--to respond. Once again, she failed to respond. But this time, I did hear from her lawyer, Bill Baxley, alleging that my reporting was false and defamatory and that I was engaging in criminal conduct (harassing communications) against his client.
Let's briefly review what we know at this point: I published six posts about the Jessica Garrison/Luther Strange affair, over a period of one month, and I never heard a word of complaint from Ms. Garrison. I sent her an e-mail on August 14, focusing on two subjects: (1) Her purchase of a pricey house in Mountain Brook; (2) Her business relationship with a man who had been indicted in an international gambling probe.
Two days later, Bill Baxley dashes off a letter to me, threatening a lawsuit. Baxley's letter claims my reports about the Garrison/Strange affair are false and defamatory, and he demands a retraction.
The timing of all this, however, suggests Jessica Garrison's real concern is about something else altogether. And we see evidence that Bill Baxley shares that unspoken concern.
(To be continued)