Thursday, May 14, 2015

Alabama deputy's own words show he conducted a bogus traffic stop to serve Rob Riley's lawsuit papers

An Alabama deputy admits in court papers that he conducted a "pretext" traffic stop of my wife and me to serve us court papers in a defamation lawsuit brought by Republican political operatives Rob Riley and Liberty Duke. The entry, however, indicates the deputy does not know the definition of a pretext stop, meaning the stop likely was unlawful from the outset.

It also adds to evidence that we never were lawfully served with the Riley/Duke complaint, and the court had no jurisdiction over either of us--even though Judge Claud Neilson ordered me incarcerated for five months.

A log of service attempts has a deputy admitting that he conducted surveillance on our house for approximately two hours prior to the traffic stop. The log shows that deputies tried to serve us 10 times in a six-day period--from Sept. 24, 2013, to September 29, 2013. This shows the extraordinary lengths the Shelby County Sheriff's Office took to serve court papers on behalf of Rob Riley, son of former Governor Bob Riley.

Would the Rileys consider this a proper and effective use of taxpayer dollars? The answer apparently is yes.

More importantly, Officer Mike DeHart seems to admit that, when conducting his traffic stop, he violated our Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. It also appears that DeHart more or less confesses to a crime.

My wife and I are white, but these issues raise the specter of race-based stops that created the phrase "driving while black." Even famous black males, such as comedian Chris Rock, have experienced the dangers of driving while black. Rock has started taking photos with his cell phone to help document such encounters with police.

As for our case, the full log of service attempts can be viewed at the end of this post. It shows attempts being made at almost 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., well after dark. On both occasions, deputies shined lights in our house for lengthy periods of time, the kind of behavior that would get a regular person arrested as a prowler.

An officer, maybe DeHart, makes an entry at 12:34 p.m. on 9/29/13 (a Sunday), stating he conducted surveillance on our house for roughly two hours. At 1:43 p.m. on the same date, DeHart makes the following entry:

Conducted a pretext traffic stop on the Shulers' blue Nissan after observing it roll thru stop sign at MacIan/Keith Drive; Stop was at North Shelby Library; warning issued for traffic violation and both parties were served with papers, which they discarded in the parking lot as they left.

DeHart is mistaken about several things here. One, he handed me a copy of papers, but he did not give papers to my wife, Carol. So, DeHart's own words show that Carol was not lawfully served. Two, DeHart apparently does not know the definition of a pretext traffic stop, meaning he did not lawfully serve me either.

The Web site addresses pretext stops and Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806 (1996), the primary U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) case on the subject. Here is how defines a pretext traffic stop:

A "pretext" or "pretextual" stop is a stop in which the officer detains the citizen for a minor crime (i.e. traffic offense) because the officer actually suspects the person of involvement in another, more significant crime (i.e. drug possession).

That definition is in keeping with Whren, which involved an officer who stopped a vehicle, on the surface, for a traffic violation--but the real reason for the stop was suspicion of illegal drug activity. In fact, a search subsequent to the traffic stop turned up crack cocaine, and SCOTUS found the pretext stop was legal because it's real purpose was to seek information about a suspected crime, the illegal distribution of drugs.

Comedian Chris Rock
(From WhoSay)
We noted in a recent post that Whren helps create an environment where officers are encouraged to lie about the real motives behind their actions--as we saw in the fatal shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina. The Web site also see problems with Whren:

The ruling in Whren v. U.S. demonstrates how easy it is for officers to [conduct pretext stops]. There are numerous minor infractions for which officers can legally pull over a car -- dirty license plate, broken tail light, changing lanes without signaling, loud muffler, etc. As such, officers frequently choose which cars to pull over based on suspicions that something more serious might be going on. Police officers make this decision based on age, race, and appearance. This is unconstitutional, but impossible to prove.

Chris Rock knows all about that.

Whether you agree or disagree with the finding in Whren, it's clear Officer DeHart's actions in our case creates problems. By definition, a legitimate pretext stop involves suspicion about a crime, one more significant than a traffic offense. But DeHart's own actions and words prove that he never suspected a crime, significant or otherwise, was connected to our car. That means DeHart did not conduct a lawful pretext stop under Whren, and he violated our Fourth Amendment rights.

Things could get even dicier for DeHart. The log of service attempts shows that DeHart was so desperate to serve us that he scoped out our house for two hours. Then, with tens of thousands of vehicles on the road in North Shelby County, DeHart just happened to pick out for a traffic stop the one for which he had court papers. Of all the cars on the road, DeHart just happened to notice ours "rolling through a stop sign."

Does that pass your smell test? It sure doesn't pass mine?

Could it point to criminal actions on the part of Officer DeHart? We will address that question in an upcoming post.


Serge said...

A cop surveilled your house for two hours in order to serve civil papers? That's incredible. Hell, they don't do that for meth dealers. Something is seriously fishy.

Wayne said...

They sure went to great links to serve you papers. That's nothing unusual for the Riley's to use tax dollars to satisfy their needs. I hope you sue the crap out of all involved in this charade.

Anonymous said...

If Neilson ordered your arrest without having jurisdiction over you, he might have serious problems on his hands. You really need to find a good lawyer and go after these SOBs. If they get away with this crap on you, they will pull it on other people.

Anonymous said...

Surely you don't think the Rileys give a crap about misuse of taxpayer dollars? They are narcissists and sociopaths--and the concept of a conscience means nothing to them. Mike Hubbard is the same way.

Legal Lib said...

I think the lack of jurisdiction might be the reason you've never seen a warrant. Any judge in his/her right mind would be reluctant to sign a warrant on a party over whom they have no jurisdiction. Judges can't get in trouble for much, but they could get in big trouble for that.

My guess is that no judge ever signed your warrant, meaning it was invalid, and that's why it never seems to appear.

If my guess is correct, that means the Shelby County Sheriff's Office unilaterally arrested you, without judicial authority. If proven, that would be a big problem for the sheriff's office.

Your assertion that you were more or less kidnapped, under that scenario, would be correct.

My big question: Who ordered that this be done? Obviously, Rob Riley was involved somewhere in the chain of command, but I suspect the orders came from well above him.

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for a fascinating comment, LL. I've never thought of it in those terms, but I suspect you are onto something. You've given me serious food for thought, and it's very much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Do you need a warrant if the judge issued a court order to have someone arrested for contempt?

legalschnauzer said...

I'm not a lawyer and I have very little experience with criminal matters, @11:14, but the article below suggests that a warrant is necessary for an arrest:

A court order is part of the record in a civil case, and a copy should go to all parties, but I'm not sure it naturally goes to law enforcement. Based on my research at this point, I believe a warrant is necessary to kick the law enforcement mechanism into action.

In my case, Officer Blevins stated in his written report that he had two warrants for my arrest. That indicates he felt a warrant was required.

Blevins never showed me a warrant and never told me he had a warrant. An ADA was ordered by a judge to turn over the warrants, but she said she didn't have them. (Again, her answer implies that the warrants were necessary).

Anonymous said...

A cop who comes to my house after dark and starts shining lights in the windows is liable to get shot. I'm betting a whole lot of people feel the same way. I would say those folks who pulled that stunt on you are lucky to be alive.

e.a.f. said...

Spent 2 hrs. "monitoring" your home? Gee you must be one dangerous person. Oh, right you are! You're a writer who tells some unwelcome truths.

Now we have a new crime, driving while being a blogger.
driving while being a journalist.

If someone sat outside of my home for 2 hrs. I'd have phone the security company to come and have a look at the person imitating an officer, might have been a "cover" to commit a B & E.

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for your insights, eaf. I would contact the Justice Department about all of this if I really thought they would do anything about it. The bogus traffic stops . . . the surveillance . . the unlawful incarceration . . . the foreclosure on our house (which I suspect was unlawful) . . . the death threats . . . the loss of jobs, incomes, and careers . . . Where does it end, and where does it lead? Just how much are elites supposed to get away with? Are they allowed to destroy regular, law-abiding citizens and get away with it? Sadly, it seems Obama is committed to having an utterly useless DOJ.

So, people like us are supposed to take justice into our own hands? Is that the lesson we are supposed to learn?

Anonymous said...

Of course Roger could have answered the door at any time and taken the court papers. He was home on at least two of the attempts, because he posted videos on YouTube. He then could have went to court and answered to the court case. Of course he decided to avoid service and hide. I don't think he is as confident about his sources as he claims.

legalschnauzer said...

Of course, you could take a grammar course because you obviously need it (he could have "went" to court).

While you are taking grammar courses, why don't you see if you can find any law that says a citizen is obligated to answer the door whenever anyone knocks.

Also, this all happened over a six-day period, and courts generally allow 60 days for service, so I hardly was "avoiding service," as a matter of law.

Since when is it hiding to be in your own home? Again, you have major problems with the English language.

Why don't you look up the amount of notice required under Alabama law for a hearing on a preliminary injunction. Let me know what you find out. Let me know if the court was giving lawful notice, even if I had taken the papers on that Tues. or Wed.

e.a.f. said...

An. 9:06 pm

avoiding being served is a time honoured practice just about every where. Many prefer to have their "ducks in a row" prior to "accepting" the papers.

When officers show up at your front door and you do not know why, it is frequently in a citizen's best interest to not open the door, unless the officer has a warrant or the citizen has their lawyer present. The police officer of today, is not the police officer you might want to open the door to. Or as Mother taught many of us, don't open the door to strangers. The person on the other side of the door was a stranger and you don't even know if the "officer" was an imposter.

As it was, the officers eventually did gain access to L.S.'s home and it did not turn out well. That booking picture leads me to conclude there are a few problems with the police in L.S.'s county. That is why people ought not to open their doors to police officers unless they have their lawyer present or there is a warrant.

The American Constitution has a few things to say about a person's home. Every citizen has the right to protection under that document. Only a fool would give up their rights voluntarily.

legalschnauzer said...

You are spot on, eaf. The notion of the helpful, caring officer is a thing of the past in the U.S. In fact, I'm not sure it ever existed in reality. This was the same sheriff's office that had unlawfully auctioned partial rights to our own home--so to say our trust was low would be an understatement.

Anonymous said...

If someone knocks on my door, I answer it. If they don't have business on my property, I politely tell them to leave and I have never had a problem. This whole notion of "stranger danger" is played up way too much. You can live in fear and keep yourself locked inside, but that isn't much of a life.

legalschnauzer said...

I can only speak for myself, @7:05, but I'm not advocating that people fearfully lock themselves indoors. I was outside regularly--working in the yard, running errands, going out with my wife. I loved our yard, and I was out there a bunch. But if I heard a knock and looked out to see it was someone representing an organization that I don't trust and I don't like and I know is corrupt, I'm not answering it--and I don't owe them an explanation.

James Greek said...

My mom got pulled over and arrested in Union City GA in 1999 and the cop was an ass to her. We were in fact, heading down I-85 visiting my grandmother. (We were living in Atlanta at the time) and my mom got pulled over and arrested for speeding and driving on a suspended license and she said the cop lied in the whole report. Union City cops are nothing but a pack of liars.