Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Alabama GOPer Rob Riley never has denied under oath the allegations that led to his defamation lawsuit

Rob Riley
Alabama attorney and Republican operative Rob Riley never has denied under oath the allegations that prompted him and lobbyist Liberty Duke to file a defamation lawsuit against me, my wife, and the Legal Schnauzer blog, a review of court records shows.

Duke filed an affidavit denying the allegations, but a check of court records in Shelby County, Alabama, shows Riley did not file a similar affidavit. In fact, the record indicates Riley never made a sworn statement denying the allegations.

(Note: I remain under a permanent injunction, issued by retired Circuit Judge Claud Neilson, and that prevents me from providing specifics here about the allegations. The injunction is unlawful and not supported by facts because the information in question never was found to be defamatory at trial. That's because there was no trial. To make life a bit simpler, I will abide by Neilson's order. Anyone not familiar with specifics in the case can check out a New York Times story on the subject. Also, Liberty Duke's affidavit can be read at the end of this post, and it addresses the specifics.)

Speaking of the Times article, it states that both Riley and Duke denied the allegations in my reporting. But reporter Campbell Robertson doesn't bother to state that only Duke filed a sworn statement on the matter; Riley never did.

The Times is not alone in making this omission. A number of news outlets made the same mistake, including some whose reporting otherwise was excellent. Al.com, the largest news organization in the state, also reported that Riley denied the allegations--without noting that his denials never were under oath. A few Web sites reported that Riley and Duke filed affidavits, but that is not true--the court record shows no Riley affidavit was filed.

Bill Swatek
Reporting on the case was difficult because Riley and Duke sought an order for the file to be sealed, and Neilson granted it. That meant the public was in the dark about the case for several months before the seal was lifted--after the ACLU and others pointed out it was contrary to Alabama law. My wife and I never were lawfully served with the complaint, so even we did not know much about the case--and we were parties to it.

Why would Liberty Duke file an affidavit, while Rob Riley did not? Does it have something to do with Riley's status as a lawyer, while Duke is a mere lobbyist? To help answer that question, we turn to the ugly history of our old "friend," William E. Swatek, who surely stands as one of the sleaziest lawyers in Alabama history.

In the course of an employment case involving a former Pelham police officer, opposing counsel caught Swatek surreptitiously tape recording them during a break in depositions. Swatek stated under oath in a bar investigation that the recording was his client's idea, and he knew nothing about it. The actual recording produced evidence that showed Swatek was lying, that he actually had planted the recorder and determined how best to use it. Swatek faced a criminal trial on perjury charges and was acquitted--even though a transcript from the recording showed he clearly was guilty. (You can view the transcript at the end of this post.)

Swatek had his law license suspended for 60 days, but the acquittal on a felony criminal charge allowed him to avoid disbarment.

The bottom line? A lawyer, such as Rob Riley, can face serious repercussions for lying under oath--including the loss of his license to practice law. For a regular citizen, such as lobbyist Liberty Duke, the potential repercussions are much less severe. In fact, as we noted in an earlier post, perjury almost certainly is the easiest crime to get away with in the United States. It hardly ever is investigated, perpetrators are extremely unlikely to face prosecution, and we suspect the conviction of a regular citizen is likely to produce little in the way of serious punishment.

Liberty Duke
Did someone convince Liberty Duke that it was worth the risk for her to file a false affidavit in my case? Did Rob Riley fail to file a similar affidavit out of fear it could wind up leaving his law career in a shambles?

I will let readers come to their own conclusions about those questions. But this much is clear: The well-publicized "denials" in the Riley/Duke lawsuit are not all that strong, especially when you consider that the central character--Rob Riley--never denied the allegations under oath.


Anonymous said...

When this was getting lots of press coverage, I think the general impression to the public was that Rob Riley swore under oath there was no affair. Now, we learn he never swore that under oath. And he never asked for a jury to hear his case. What kind of defamation case did he really have?

legalschnauzer said...

The public had that perception, @9:17, because that's how it was reported in the press. It's one thing to deny something in the press, or to have your lawyer deny it in court papers, but it's something else entirely to deny it yourself in a sworn statement, under penalty of perjury. Riley did the first two; he did not do the third.

Berle said...

Wouldn't that be one of the advantages of having the case sealed? You can give the impression you've denied something under oath when you really haven't?

legalschnauzer said...

You are probably right, Berle. I don't think the Riley/Duke crowd ever expected any of their handiwork to see the light of day.

That's one reason this was misrepresented in the press. Reporters could not see the file for themselves. They just had to take Rob Riley's word for it--and history tells us that's not worth a whole lot.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Rob was having affairs with multiple women and he couldn't keep them straight for an affidavit.

Anonymous said...

It's good to see Bill Swatek back in the news again. I'm sure he appreciates it.

Anonymous said...

I'm betting that Rob Riley isn't losing a lot of sleep over worries that he might be disbarred.

Anonymous said...

What's with Swatek and the motorcycle? Is that his "professional" look?

legalschnauzer said...

I think he represents a motorcycle club or something. Bikers must not be too picky about the lawyers they consort with.

Chas said...

Can you imagine if a black politician, say Larry Langford or Chris McNair, had been caught in the FEC scheme the way Rob Riley was? Can you imagine if they had participated in money laundering?

Equal justice, my ass!!

Anonymous said...

I love the part in that document where Swatek goes "Testing . . . one . . . two . . . three . . . " and then claims he knows nothing about the tape recording. Hilarious.

e.a.f. said...

In my opinion, they wanted you to "shut up" and they wanted to do it with the least amount of risk to themselves if things ever blew up.

Might have worked for awhile, but here you are still writing, still being read and some day they will be brought to justice. As the saying goes, what goes around, comes around.