My wife and I received documents in the mail on Saturday indicating Riley is seeking to have us held in contempt of court for reporting last Thursday on the lawsuit he has filed against us in Shelby County Circuit Court. Riley claims we have violated a preliminary injunction, with which we have not been served and for which we were not a party to any hearing.
Never mind that my wife and I have not been lawfully served with Riley's complaint, so the court has no jurisdiction over us. We only found out about the case when Shelby County deputy Mike DeHart violated any number of federal and state laws when he conducted a bogus traffic stop in order to "serve" us with the Riley papers. Also, never mind that the "prior restraint" doctrine, which grows out of the First Amendment right to free speech, generally forbids preliminary injunctions in defamation cases. (See video at the end of this post; the previous link is to an article by conservative legal scholar Eugene Volokh, author of the well-known blog The Volokh Conspiracy.)
What's the bottom line when someone seeks to hold a reporter in contempt of court? Rob Riley essentially is seeking to have my wife and me arrested for practicing journalism.
Yellowhammer News, a prominent conservative Web site, already has placed Riley's name among the likely candidates to seek Bachus' seat. But Riley's transparently thuggish tactics in the Legal Schnauzer lawsuit indicate he has utter disregard for the rule of law--meaning he is not fit to serve in any public office, much less the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Alabama Supreme Court assigned Claud D. Neilson, a retired judge from Demopolis, to hear Riley's claim. That indicates the case is so dirty that even the notoriously corrupt judges in Shelby County wanted no part of it. That's like having a trash can that is so filthy even a possum won't turn it over.
In Neilson, Riley seems to have found a judge who agrees with his Orwellian view of postmodern America. In the Riley/Neilson version of the United States, a journalist can be forbidden from writing on a subject--and be forced to remove all articles he's already written on a subject--even though no court of law has found the reports to be defamatory.
Based on documents we received in the mail Saturday, Neilson sees Alabama as a backwater out of Stalin's Soviet Union or Hitler's Germany, a place where the notion of a "free press" does not exist. In truth, Neilson probably knows his orders are unlawful, but he is a glorified prostitute for the Riley family, headed by former two-term Governor Bob Riley (2002-2010) and his horde of Karl Rove-connected acolytes, so he figures black-letter law can be ignored.
Like many Alabamians, the Rileys probably were caught off guard by Bachus' announcement last Monday that he would not seek re-election in Alabama's 6th Congressional District, which he has represented for more than two decades.
Our guess is that the Rileys got a five- or six-day heads up on the general public--after all, Bob Riley served in Congress from 1997 to 2003--and that coincides with the arrival of Shelby County deputies trampling on our property and pounding on our door at all hours. Mrs. Schnauzer and I thought they were trying to conduct an unlawful search warrant, based on my recent reports about photos of U.S. Judge Bill Pryor that appeared at the gay-porn Web site badpuppy.com in the 1990s. We now know the deputies were trying to serve us with papers in the Rob Riley lawsuit, which apparently was hurriedly prepared in an effort to present the kind of "family values" face the public will expect in Spencer Bachus' successor.
Who is likely to make up the competition for Bachus' seat. In addition to Rob Riley, Yellowhammer lists Alabama GOP chairman Bill Armistead, State Sen. Scott Beason, State Sen. Slade Blackwell, Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield, Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington, State Rep. Paul DeMarco, former State Sen. Steve French, Jefferson County Manager Tony Petelos, Orthopedic Surgeon Chad Mathis, State Sen. Cam Ward, and State Rep. Jack Williams. Yellowhammer says Petelos is unlikely to run, and Ward and Williams already have announced that they don't plan to run.
Among the other candidates, Riley clearly has the most name recognition. That means he is likely to be a force in the race, especially if he can keep his many ethical lapses out of public view. That clearly is what the lawsuit against me is designed to accomplish.
Why is Rob Riley pushing Judge Neilson to seal the case and forbid press coverage? For the moment, that probably is designed to make sure his likely GOP opponents don't know what he's up to. Most of those candidates, sources tell us, already know about the Liberty Duke affair and do not want our reporting on the subject to be forced underground.
In an effort to further limit the dissemination of Respondents' [the Shulers'] libelous statements, this Court has previously ordered that all filings, pleadings, and exhibits filed in these cases shall be filed under seal and that their contents shall not be published--either in writing or orally--in any medium to any third party. Accordingly, Respondents shall not publish or cause to be published in any medium--either in writing or orally--this Order, any filings, pleadings, and exhibits filed in these cases, or of the contents of said filings, pleadings, and exhibits.
In entering the Preliminary Injunction, the Court is mindful that Respondents have, as of the date of the hearing on the respective Petitions for Preliminary Injunction, not complied with the TRO (temporary restraining order). The Court is also mindful that Respondents re-published the libelous and defamatory statements about Petitioners on "Legal Schnauzer" on October 1, 2013. The Respondents are forewarned that the court will not tolerate non-compliance with its orders.
It's a matter of public record that we never were served with a copy of any TRO. And we were given insufficient notice about the so-called preliminary injunction hearing, so we did not attend.
That noise you hear is the sound of Rob Riley and Judge Neilson flushing the U.S. Constitution--plus years of U.S. Supreme Court rulings on prior restraint--down the toilet.
Is the public going to stand for this?
(To be continued)