|Carol Shuler, from her Facebook page
News coverage has focused on my five-month incarceration and Judge Claud Neilson's repeated violations of First Amendment precedent that led to it. But I'm not aware of any reporter, mainstream or otherwise, asking this question: Why was Carol Shuler included in the lawsuit, and is there any evidence to suggest she should have been a named defendant?
The answer to the second part of that question is a resounding no. At the time of the Riley/Duke lawsuit, there was nothing on Legal Schnauzer to suggest Carol played any role in it. She didn't write it, she didn't edit it, she didn't administer it. She knew how to get into my e-mail account, to which the blog is based. But she had never gone beyond that; she had no idea how to reach the composing/editing page, which is the nerve center for any blog--at least those, like mine, that use the Google-based Blogger format.
It's not that Carol couldn't write a blog; she's plenty smart enough to write a gem-dandy blog--and she proved it by keeping Legal Schnauzer alive while I was in jail. I tried over the jailhouse phone to explain to her how to maneuver around in the composing/editing function--but a lot of that, she figured out on her own.
Aside from that, Legal Schnauzer has been my baby, in toto, from the outset. There is nothing in the blog to suggest that anyone else is responsible for its existence or its content. Carol has supported my efforts to expose the judicial corruption we've witnessed in various court cases--and to also examine dubious court action in cases involving other people, such as Don Siegelman, Paul Minor, Sherry Rollins, Bonnie Cahalane, and many others, I occasionally bounce ideas off her, and she is very helpful at pointing out typos and other glitches that need to be corrected. But her contribution and responsibility begin and end mainly with the fact she is my wife--that's it.
The plaintiffs tried to pull some laughable linguistic tricks in order to justify including Carol in their complaint. That can be seen in an Order on Petitions for Contempt, dated October 21, 2013. The order, which can be viewed at the end of this post, is signed by Judge Neilson. But evidence in the case indicates almost every order was written by attorneys from Riley's own law firm. The likely author of this order is Jay Murrill, from the Riley Jackson firm.
Assuming we are correct about that, let's consider some of Mr. Murrill's handiwork. It can be found in the last paragraph on page 3 of the order:
The testimony and evidence presented at the Oct. 17, 2013, hearing also showed that Respondent Carol Shuler is involved, to some degree, with "Legal Schnauzer," a forum website on which the aforesaid contempt took place. "Legal Schnauzer" purports to be a joint enterprise between Respondent Roger Shuler and Respondent Carol Shuler; it describes itself as "one couple's fight against injustice" and entries thereon reference "our reporting." Thus, there is evidence to conclude that Respondent Carol Shuler has also demonstrated a willful, continuing failure or refusal to comply with the TRO and Preliminary Injunction, though perhaps to a lesser degree than Respondent Roger Shuler.
What a crock of unadulterated horse feces. Let's take each of Murrill's points as they come:
* Legal Schnauzer "purports to be a joint enterprise" between my wife and me? -- There is not a single word on the blog, or anywhere else. to support that. Down the right-hand column on the front page, is a small "About Me" box, which provides author information--about my background, plus a link to my full profile. Below that, is my e-mail address for anyone who wishes to contact me, the author. Nowhere does it suggest that anyone other than me writes, edits and produces Legal Schnauzer. Nowhere does that section mention Carol Shuler, and nowhere does it suggest that anyone other than me is responsible for the blog's content.
* The blog describes itself as "one couple's fight against injustice." -- Murrill is really grasping here. That phrase is part of the blog's tagline because--surprise, surprise--Carol has been intimately involved in various court cases that largely evolved from a neighbor's continued trespass onto our property, which we jointly owned. The tagline says that Carol has been a major part of the story; it does not say, or suggest, that she plays any role in producing the blog. Consider this, which apparently is beyond Jay Murrill's comprehension: Tennis great Andre Agassi wrote an autobiography called Open in 2009, and it frequently mentions his wife, fellow tennis great Steffi Graf. (In fact, her career was even more outstanding than his.) The story, to an extent, is about Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf. But Andre Agassi wrote the book, and if someone had a problem with its content, they would need to address it to him or his publisher. The notion of suing Steffi Graf for something Andre Agassi wrote in Open is absurd and probably would result in sanctions for any lawyer who tried it. But Jay Murrill, at Rob Riley's apparent insistence, used that very trick with Carol.
* Entries at Legal Schnauzer reference "our reporting" -- Is Murrill just ignorant? Well the phrase "our reporting," which I do use here at times, is a form of what grammarians call the "royal we." It's a technique where a singular person uses a plural pronoun to refer to himself because . . . well, heck, I guess it just sounds better. In my mind, rightly or wrongly, I use the "royal we" at times because I am writing both in my voice and as the voice of an entity--a blog called Legal Schnauzer. It's not unusual to see an editorial writer refer to "our reporting," meaning his reporting (or that of a colleague), along with that of the newspaper he represents. Is use of the "royal we" an effective grammatical technique? I'm sure that could be debated. Am I using it correctly? That could be debated, too. Does anyone seriously think it means this blog is a joint reporting effort, that anyone other than me is involved? I doubt that anyone, other than Jay Murrill, thinks that. And as a lawyer, he should have enough education to know better.
So what is the real reason that Rob Riley sued my wife for an alleged tort with which she was not remotely involved? It's hard to see where there was any legal advantage to it. If Riley hoped to use Carol to get at "inside information" about me or the blog, the husband-wife privilege probably would have blocked that. In other words, communications between Carol and me are largely confidential under the law, and that likely would have been a dry hole for Riley--at least with a legitimate judge on the case, which Neilson was not.
That's not to say there wasn't a sinister and improper reason for including Carol as a defendant. But it certainly did not have anything to do with the law. Evidence suggests it was part of a terrorism effort to which Carol and I have been subjected now for roughly 15 years. It points, in my view, to motivations behind the Riley/Duke lawsuit that are even nastier and darker than most of the public can even imagine.
(To be continued)