Friday, September 26, 2014

Judge overrules himself on prior-restraint case involving Alabama Gas, proving my arrest and resulting incarceration were unlawful

Robert Vance Jr.
 An Alabama judge overruled himself this week, finding unlawful his earlier ruling that prevented the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper from reporting on documents it had received from a public-records request about potentially dangerous gas lines.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert Vance Jr. found that his first ruling represented a prior restraint that is forbidden under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Vance struck down his own temporary restraining order (TRO), and Alabama Gas Company withdrew its request for a preliminary injunction, essentially admitting it never had a case for preventing the practice of journalism based on lawfully obtained documents.

In a roundabout way, both Vance and Alabama Gas added to the mountain of evidence that proves my arrest last October, and the resulting five-month incarceration, were unlawful.

Ironically, Vance's actions came just days after a special prosecutor in the Alabama Attorney General's Office was quoted in court documents as saying "the Riley machine" was "going down" in a Lee County grand-investigation. Special Prosecutor Matt Hart was referring to former Republican Governor Bob Riley and his close associates, apparently including son Rob Riley.

Hart's words have special resonance here at Legal Schnauzer because Rob Riley filed the defamation lawsuit that sought a TRO, preliminary injunction, and permanent injunction against me. We now know, from Judge Vance's actions, that everything Rob Riley sought in his lawsuit was unlawful. We also know that my incarceration--based on an alleged refusal to obey a TRO and injunction that stood contrary to roughly 200 years of U.S. law--also was unlawful. (The court did not even have jurisdiction over me because I never was lawfully served with the complaint, and I filed a motion seeking to quash service; unbelievably, I was arrested before the court addressed that issue.)

How can you be arrested on the orders of a court that has no jurisdiction over you? How can you be held in contempt of court for allegedly violating a court order that is unlawful in the first place? You can't. Was Judge Vance going to send Montgomery Advertiser reporters and editors to jail for doing exactly what the First Amendment says they can do? Was Judge Vance going to incarcerate reporters and editors from USA Today, which is working with its Gannett News Service colleagues in Montgomery and other locations on the gas-line series? Of course, not. (You can read reporter John Kelly's opening article in the series here.)

Why did Vance come to his senses and make a lawful ruling? One reason might be that the Montgomery newspaper could afford to hire prominent media lawyer Dennis Bailey, while I was representing myself. I was correct all along on the applicable law, but I still spent five months of my life unlawfully behind bars. So much for the notion of "equal protection under the law" in American courts.

(By the way, I am not a fan of Judge Vance. I've seen him rule contrary to law in a legal malpractice case I brought against Birmingham attorneys Jesse P. Evans III and Michael B. Odom. I've reported on a case styled William B. Cashion and Western Steel Inc. v. Mark Hayden et al, where Vance essentially stole a case that had been assigned to another judge and proceeded to rule over and over in favor of a party represented by the Birmingham firm of Maynard Cooper and Gale, which has contributed heavily to Vance's campaigns. I think so little of Vance that I actually supported Ten Commandments Judge Roy Moore over Vance in a race for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Vance, a Democrat in name only, is proof that court corruption in Alabama is not limited to Republicans.)

As for Rob Riley's lawsuit against me, why did Circuit Judge Claud Neilson, specially appointed by the Alabama Supreme Court, order me to jail? Why did even right-leaning legal analysts, such as Ken White of Popehat blog, heavily criticize Neilson's actions? Why was New York Times reporter Campbell Robertson apparently so embarrassed by Neilson that he failed to identify the judge by name in his article about my case?

Claud Neilson
The answer to those questions might be coming to light now, as we learn that Deputy Attorney General Sonny Reagan stands accused of leaking grand-jury information to individuals indicted or under investigation in a wide-ranging criminal probe. Reagan, a former legal advisor to Bob Riley, certainly qualifies as a member of "the Riley machine." And if the charges against him are proven--they were brought by Acting Attorney General Van Davis--it will show that those close to the Rileys have a tendency to obstruct justice in order to serve their own purposes--and to protect themselves.

Was Rob Riley keeping with that apparent tradition when he filed a defamation lawsuit against me--and asked a court to incarcerate me based on a TRO and injunction that almost two centuries of American law say is unlawful? Did Rob Riley's lawsuit have everything to do with intimidation and almost nothing to do with defamation? Given that Riley and his codefendant sought and received some $34,000 in sanctions against me and my wife--sanctions that are no more supported by law than the bogus TRO and injunctions--was his lawsuit really about financial terrorism?

As the Sonny Reagan saga unfolds, perhaps we will learn that the answer to all of those questions is a resounding yes.


e.a.f. said...

How can you be arrested "unlawfully"? Well real easy. YOu just get the cops you know to do it, arrest you that is. Whenever people ask, how could that happen? Its real easy, someone just went out and did it.

The question might be better phrased why can the "legal" system continue to do "unlawful" things. The how is not really an issues, its the why.

I know what you are saying in your post. But the answer for me has always been very easy. They didn't like you, wanted to shut you up and by abusing their authority, they did it.

We can only hope that some day you and Mrs. Schnauzer are able to re-coup some of the money you lost during this exercise of abuse of authority.

It maybe some of the "system" in Alabama are concerned the federal government may step in. By appearing to "clean up" their act, now, they may be left alone, so that they can at a later date get "back to business".

In the meantime enjoy the victories for the legal system! What once was the great American Legal System, now reminds me of the one in Egypt, you know with the defendants in a cage, being convicted by judges not listening to the facts. They have 3 reporters in jail for that right now, one being a Canadian.

Its one of the reasons I follow this blog. Where the Americans go, Canada isn't far behind, and that includes bad political events. So when the Alabama legal system starts to look like the Egyptian legal system, I get real queezie.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad Vance finally got this right, but you have to wonder why it took two tries.

Anonymous said...

I wish you could have had this Bailey fellow representing you in court.

legalschnauzer said...

That probably would have been a good thing, @3:31. But I'm guessing he charges $300 an hour or more. Gannett, I'm sure, can afford those rates, but many regular Americans cannot.

Robby Scott Hill said...

The Alabama State Bar is a continuing criminal enterprise, which protects "The Enterprise." Tony Montana once said, "Capitalism is getting FUCKED." Montgomery Advertiser gets the law enforced in their favor because Gannett's management shares key managers with the CIA & can afford a great team of lawyers. You were jailed, Muhammad Ali was banned from the ring, my father could not be served a hamburger when he was being inducted into the Army at MEPS Montgomery, Alabama during the Vietnam War & I was denied access to the Alabama Bar Exam because the Alabama Supreme Court is full of shit. We will never have the same access to justice as the Montgomery Advertiser because we have no financial resources with which to proceed. I pledge allegiance to the Flag of
The United States of AmeriKKKa & to the Republicans who rob us blind. One nation under Roy Moore's God. Corruptible, with bigotry & injustice for all.

Anonymous said...

You do not want a lawyer to represent you Roger, you have been doing the job better than any lawyer.

And, even during your five month GITMO you did not get the support from the lawyers of America that could have and definitely should have, protected you. Crystal Cox was able to get representation from the best in the west, UCLA's school of law Chairman!

But not you, proving the British Accredited Registry membership is about belonging to a criminal class that gets special privileges, like the apartheid in Israel.

Anonymous said...

Possibly the most insightful statement ever made by a journalist was from Gary Webb, who killed himself in 2004, years after the CIA and media rivals destroyed his career and credibility.

I was winning awards, getting raises, lecturing college classes, appearing on TV shows, and judging journalism contests. And then I wrote some stories that made me realize how sadly misplaced my bliss had been. The reason I’d enjoyed such smooth sailing for so long hadn’t been, as I’d assumed, because I was careful and diligent and good at my job. The truth was that, in all those years, I hadn’t written anything important enough to suppress.

Now Hollywood is making a film, called Kill the Messenger, about the San Jose Mercury News reporter. Webb briefly created a national scandal in 1996 by exposing how the CIA-backed Contras in Latin America had funded their guerrilla war through trafficking crack cocaine to African American communities in the US, with the knowledge of the CIA and other US agencies. The scandal quickly subsided because the CIA and other journalists – from the New York Times, the Washington Post and especially from the LA Times, who had been scooped on their own patch by Webb – waged a campaign of vilification. The toll eventually led Webb to take his own life.

You got off with only a low sanction amount, $60K for asking USBank that submitted NO NOTE in the court, got the plaintiff a $60K sanction, go figure how the figures go.

Going down hard, America, the entirety of the worst of the criminally insane: Jurisprudence

Anonymous said...

Judge Neilson was acting as somebody's puppet in that Riley lawsuit against you, LS. Jim Main, of the Alabama Supreme Court, is a prominent member of the Riley Machine, and I wouldn't be surprised if he helped set up that whole thing. After all, it was the Supreme Court that assigned Neilson, right?

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, @4:00, the Alabama Supreme Court appointed Neilson. BTW, I share your suspicions. I also share Robby Scott Hill's feelings about the Alabama State Bar.

Anonymous said...

What happened to you should be the subject of a federal investigation. The only U.S. journalist incarcerated in 2013? In Alabama?

The public needs to know how that happened, and who was behind it.

Anonymous said...

Bob Riley was behind it.

Anonymous said...

Actually Schnauzer, what happened to your family and you is a standard operating procedure.

Wherever America put the puppet masters, Iran way back when, to do to people what is done to keep people as slaves.

Energy is more valuable to the owners of Earth as pure energy and people only get in the way, or must be cannon fodder.

People are for culling after the growing of the stock.

But, the Mid-East has grown-up in this time of the Global Terror War staged by 9-1-1 USA.

So has the earth globally, grown-up around USA's globalization.

And, found out exactly what your family and you have, Schnauzer.

Time to take out the garbage.

Garbage has been in control of the systems which America tried to shove into all the lives of all the billions of earth people.

Like your family and you, though Schnauzers, rejecting the injustice to serve truth as the best ingredient of being human.

Earth is growing up and America has discovered this truth.

Iran and Israel may have a moment that seriously defines America's stupidity, get prepared.

e.a.f. said...

Anonymous at 4:33.

Federal investigation? Surely you jest! This is America and some lowly blogger going to jail for attempting to exercise his First Amendment rights simply isn't worthy of the time and money an investigation would require.

The story made it all over the place, but in the U.S.A. all those civil rights types, federal departments, lawyers' associations, they didn't give a rats ass. In all of the U.S.A. not one lawyer stepped forward. Democracy as Americans hopped it was, has been dead a very long time.

If you want to see people who want democracy and something akin to First Amendment Rights, check your news and see the citizens of Hong Kong doing battle with the police. Those people are fighting to attain what Americans and Canadians have so willingly given up.

legalschnauzer said...

A question for @6:46. Bob Riley was behind what? I'm not sure I follow you.