Thursday, April 3, 2014

Journalist Felt Caught Between "Rock And Hard Place" During Five-Month Struggle For Freedom?

Why did it take five months for me to be released from jail? I don't know of a simple answer to that question, but a new report from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) shines light on that and other issues.

Reporter Michael Rooney wrote the article, titled "Blogger Roger Shuler released after five months in jail." Rooney addresses the challenges I faced in dealing with a court order that, according to commenters from both the left and right, ran contrary to long-established First Amendment law.

One of the fundamentals of civil contempt law in Alabama is that the subject must be capable of complying with the order. Here is how one article puts it:

Civil contempt refers to a willful, continuing failure or refusal of a person to comply with a court’s order, ruling, or command, including a subpoena. In order for there to be a civil contempt the ruling, order, or command must still be capable of being complied with before Alabama contempt charges will be justified.

In jail, with no access to a computer or the Web, I was not physically capable of complying with the court's order. That's why so much of the burden wound up falling on my wife, Carol. From the RCFP article:
Shuler said he did not take down the materials sooner because he did not have adequate information or resources to purge the contempt.

“At my Nov. 14 hearing, the only hearing I had in the case, the court gave me no direction on how I could purge myself of contempt," Shuler said. "I noted that I had no computer or Web access to take down the posts, even though I knew it was unlawful to be forced into taking them down. The court's response was more or less that I had to resolve that problem myself. With that kind of response from the court I felt caught between the proverbial ‘rock and a hard place.’”

Shuler also explained that “I also was limited by that fact that Carol and I had no experience dealing with issues related to jail and arrest."

"Neither of us ever had been close to being incarcerated before," he said. "We simply did the best we could with an extremely stressful, unfair situation.”

As Rooney notes, the RCFP was one of several organizations that issued briefs saying the take-down order was inappropriate from the outset:

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press . . . argued that the process by which the court issued the take-down order was problematic.
"It appears that there was no full adjudication on the merits or default judgment ever issued against the Shulers on the defamation claim," the letter states. "As such, the temporary restraining order and preliminary injunctions amount to unconstitutional prior restraints."


Anonymous said...

Shelby County being in Alabama's 18th judicial circuit where Shuler was charged and held without bail is not in the same circuit, the 17th judicial circuit from which Shuler's presiding judge is from.

QUESTION. Is it not true that each judicial circuit has their own presiding judges to assign cases within their jurisdictions?

Explain the initial judicial movement, and by who, which began that process to remove out of the Alabama's 18th circuit's jurisdiction and court records from supreme court how moore came to select claude.

Is this prosecuting process normal procedures where Shelby County picks and chooses criminal cases to prosecute or not; does this not rise to the level of some type of selective prosecution violating individual's civil rights, first amendment freedom of speech?

A reply would be appreciated...

Larry Smith Asheville said...

This question of default or default judgment I kept asking in the Roger Shuler thread at Daily Kos, before I (who called myself Buncyblawger) was unceremoniously banned LOL!
Nobody seemed to know but this rather scabrous lawyer named "Cthulhu" spoke as though he were an intimate friend of the Rileys. Go take a look, Roger.
I would have written my congratulations sooner, except my back has been on lockdown for a week. And my doc wants to cut on me.
The whole sordid thing strikes me as a tyranny against a man and his wife and a massive assault against the 1st Amendment's speech clause.If this thing is not litigated and reversed, other judges and other states will see the monstrosity as precedent and follow it.
Anyway, I got to know you through your blog only recently when I was googling around for the comment appropriate to your case, which goes "There is no crueler tyranny than that which is exercised under cover of law, and with the colors of justice ..." - U.S. v. Jannotti, 673 F.2d 578, 614 (3d Cir. 1982).
And if I had known the material were going to be taken down I would have mirrored it. I did say enough on my blog that if I were in Alabama the old shysters, Moore and Neilson, would have been after me too.
The best to the both of you, and yours. Get yourselves a schnauzer pup and enjoy life a little while you slay the dragons in Alabama. Yours truly, Larry Smith

Anonymous said...

Alabama's Code
Title 12 Section 17 Chapter 24
Circuit Courts Presiding Judge

Each Alabama county's circuit shall have a presiding judge who is elected out of the total of said circuit.

Presiding judge is responsible not only for all court proceedings and clerking, with exception of clerk's office personnel, but authority over the sheriff's office too etc etc.

SO? How did Moore come to get involved subsequently with Claude; accordingly there must be a paper trail from start of arrest to Moore's desk and back..
Is this not public records....

Has Alabama law been circumvented for selective political
prosecution? Civil and criminal laws will demand upholding chain of evidences i.e. custody of flow of official enforcement and judicial records Shuler's case as prescribed by Alabama law.

Did somebody just pick up the telephone and call someone else to call Moore to get him to act without equal protections and due process?

iohann said...

you need to provide a means to contribute by postal mail.

legalschnauzer said...

The address is:

Roger Shuler
5204 Logan Drive
Birmingham, AL 35242

Anonymous said...


Melinda McClendon Saddles The Horse With Bob Riley
Ricky Stokes

Posted by: RStokes
Date: Mar 10 2014 3:48 PM

"The Bob Riley PAC solicited and met with people to challenge District 29 Senator Harri Anne Smith. The PAC wanted someone who would sell their heart and soul to Bob Riley, and sell the people of District 29 out to Bob Riley."
"This weekend there was a push poll being conducted in District 29 area. The poll was funded and orchestrated by the Bob Riley PAC."
"Some of the area rich fat cats who want to get richer, those being Mack Dove, John Watson, John Downs, Jimmy Raines and others, who attempt to throw their money around to get what they want. They are part of the Bob Riley cult. They are fair weather friends. As long as you do what they say they support you. When you stop they throw their support money in an effort to destroy you."
"The Riley cult is in full swing."
"And remember....the only thing Bob Riley did for this area of the state, was to give money to build a building for Movie Gallery. Guess what? Movie Galley never moved in the building that, Oh..John Watson built and John Downs occupies!!!!"
"If you fall for the Riley cult, then District 29 deserves what we do not get."

Anonymous said...

"Nixon was determined to "stonewall" it, fearful that the truth about Watergate could lead to the exposure of the previous illegalities sanctioned by the White House. "The cover-up is the main ingredient," he said. "That's where we gotta cut our losses."
"It almost worked. With notable exception of reporters such as Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, the media
for a long time paid scant attention to Watergate. George McGovern tried to make an issue of it during the campaign and failed."
"What came to be known as "Watergate" began in the wee hours of June 17, 1972.... For the first time the men closest to the president were compelled to testify in public...."
"A "Watergate" Lexicon, popularizing its own vocabulary
of words and phrases identified with scandals; and too, words' with suffix's "gate" for any scandal." Time-Life Our American Century.

Anonymous said...

Lanny Breuer Assistant U.S. Attorney General Criminal Division, along with Kevin Perkins Assistant Director FBI, and Timothy Fuhrman FBI Special Agent In Charge referring to Alabama said:
"I [Lanny Breuer] have said before that we will follow the facts where they lead and root out corruption wherever we [USDOJ] finds it."

Does this mean that the USDOJ is involved in Rog and Murph's case[s]?

Anonymous said...



"WE THE PEOPLE", all the little people, thanks roger for helping us to re-appreciate our individual rights.

e.a.f. said...

Lets see, a reply would be appreciated, well from whom. The best people to give that reply ought to be the judges involved in all of this.

Given the manner is which the judges acted, it is a very good thing Mr. Shuler had a wife who wanted him at home. If Mr. Shuler had not had a wife to "take care' of the things the judges wanted done, from the looks of it, Mr. Shuler might have been in jail for a long time. The American legal system is truly weird.

Michelle Looney said...

e.a.f. at 10:43:
GREAT POINT. There seems to have been calculated planning and consideration in the arrest and accusation processes in this case. A chosen few are schooled and licensed to participate in the American gaming sport called–– "justice & the courts."

If it's all about winning, call it a sport.

Were all Americans properly schooled in the laws they are required to live and "play" by, would the USA still be housing 25% of the global prison population?

Without courts, prisons, and complicated tax and healthcare systems, would the American economy completely collapse?


Anonymous said...

e.a.f. April 4, 2014 @ 10:43 PM

e.a.f., you are exactly right in your comments, to which I'm sure we all agree.

But. The questions raised were designed to have from the initial arrest until first appearance a specific understanding of Alabama's written law process requirements.

Point. On the surface, without someone's official experience to explain Mr. Shuler's process has all the appearances of lacking "due process", whereby if such afforded others, why not Mr. Shuler?

Alabama Judicial System has in place a step by step process for a paper trail moving from one point to another for case summary action purposes' histories.

Same as ABCs, judicially the process don't provide for defendant be denied A_Cs "due process".

Therefore shouldn't someone down there aid and assist Mr. Shuler in obtaining his rightfully owed legal paper trail copies in both his cases.

That was the intent of my request for a reply, Shelby County Court clerk's office by law must, after having given sworn oath adhere to the laws of the State of Alabama, right?

Please advise follow up. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I have got to say it. Shame on the ACLU and on the RCFP.

Amicus briefs while someone is rotting in jail without representation?

There are choice words for that special kind of cowardice.

I know you are grateful and thankful Mr. Shuler and I don't blame you. I would have been desperately grateful for even that half-full cup myself if I were sitting in jail.

Your kind of writing isn't even my cup of tea. I don't agree with your approach sometimes.

But when the best advocates we have can best be described as embarrassed and parochial, they deserve an internet flaming!

The ACLU is anemic and the RCFP is a group of spoiled, self-serving sneerers who lend back-handed legal defense while holding their noses for anyone not associated with even the worst of the mainstream media companies.

Anonymous said...

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Thanks for being a good man, Roger.

Anonymous said...

Are you aware that (while you were in jail) the father of State Rep. Bill Poole - chairman of the education money committee and thus one of the most powerful legislators in Alabama - was found shot in the office in Demopolis he shared with . . .Judge Claud Neilsen?

BTW the senior Poole is a partner in a prominent New Orleans firm even tough he practices from Dempopolis. And he is a prominent man a former president of the university of Alabama national alumni association, and close to Paul Bryant Jr. Just thought you might like to know.

legalschnauzer said...

I was not aware of that. Thanks for sharing. Mr. Poole survived the gunshot, I gather? Not sure what to make of this news, but I hope Mr. Poole has a full recovery.

Anonymous said...

Poole survived the gunshot, but there has been radio silence from media ever since the event. It was originally rumored as a suicide attempt, but Poole was shot the chest. Just like Ralph Stacy.

And this was in Claud Neilsen's office. While he was handling your case.

legalschnauzer said...

Very sorry to hear about this. Being in jail puts you pretty much on a news blackout, so I'm catching up on a lot of things. Hope Mr. Poole is fully on the mend.

Anonymous said...

He may very well be on the mend. No way to know as Alabama media hasn't written a story since the morning he was shot in Claud Neilson's office.

BTW Poole Sr's law firm is the lead firm in Louisiana on the BP case . . .and they were the lead firm on the Katrina one as well.