|William M. Acker Jr.
The judge in question is William M. Acker Jr., an 87-year-old Reagan appointee in the Northern District of Alabama. Acker presided over my discrimination/First Amendment complaint against the University of Alabama Board of Trustees after I had been fired at UAB for reporting accurately (on my own time, with my own resources) on the corrupt actions of disgraced federal judge Mark Fuller in the Don Siegelman case.
Acker violated simple procedural law and black-letter, Eleventh-Circuit case law to grant the university summary judgment without allowing any discovery in the case--without even setting a discovery schedule, as required by law.
Given Acker's age, some might explain this ruling as a sign of senility or some form of advancing dementia. But court records show that Acker knows the law requires discovery before summary judgment can be considered, much less granted. Records show that Acker, over and over, has ordered discovery, even in employment cases very much like mine.
So this wasn't an accident, or the result of an impaired judge. This was the result of a judge who is morally and ethically bankrupt, and his own words and actions prove it.
Let's first consider a case styled EEOC v. McPherson Companies, 914 F. Supp. 1234 (2012). It's an intriguing case involving alleged same-sex harassment on the job. In his memorandum opinion on summary judgment, Acker sets the scene as follows:
This Title VII case revolves around repeated churlish, childish, gross, sordid, vulgar, foul, disgusting, profane utterances in the workplace. The question in the case, however, is not how vile and obnoxious this workplace language was. It was vile and obnoxious enough to score nine on a scale of ten. This will become apparent as the story unfolds. The question for the court is rather whether this verbal mayhem morphed from a competition to see who could beat whom in the foul-mouth game into a cause of action under Title VII by an offended employee for same-sex sexual harassment.
How did Acker know the language was "vile and obnoxious enough to score nine on a scale of ten"? The parties conducted discovery, and facts obtained during the process show the language was, indeed, nasty. In fact, in footnote 6 of his opinion, Acker quotes directly from several depositions taken during discovery.
That establishes the obvious--discovery is necessary before a determination on summary judgment, even in an employment case, with William Acker as judge.
Now, let's consider Hunt v. 21st Mortgage Corporation (2013), a debt-collection case where Acker was asked to compel the defendant to turn over certain information in discovery. Acker granted plaintiff Charese Hunt's Motion to Compel, stating:
It is a widely known (and widely quoted) maxim that “the deposition-discovery rules [under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure] are to be accorded a broad and liberal treatment.” Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 507 (1947). “[E]ither party may compel the other to disgorge whatever facts he has in his possession.” Id. Thus, plaintiff’s motion must be granted so long as he meets the low bar set out for him in Rule 26: his request must be for “nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party’s claim or defense.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2).
In the context of my case against UAB, I was entitled to "broad and liberal" discovery. Instead, I was denied discovery altogether.
Acker goes on in Hunt to explain why the plaintiff not only must be allowed discovery in general, but why he is due to receive particular items in discovery:
The analysis of this low bar is uncomplicated. Among plaintiff’s claims is that defendant called him using an illegal automatic dialer, and among defendant’s defenses is that, on the contrary, it used manual dialing in all of its communications with plaintiff. Obviously, plaintiff is not required to take defendant’s word for it; it is precisely these types of factual disputes for which discovery exists.
Acker then chastises the defendant for claiming the "evidence is undisputed":
Second, defendant’s claim that “the evidence is undisputed” is one it must save for summary judgment or some other later stage of this litigation. Indeed, the very purpose of the instant motion is to make the evidence disputed. Plaintiff is not required to accept defendant’s claims that all calls were made manually; in short, he is free to argue before a jury, whether rightly or wrongly, that defendant’s assertion is a lie or an error, and that in fact defendant did make “numerous calls by illegal automatic dialers and/or predictive dialers . . . at all hours of the day and night. . . .” Should he choose to do so, he is permitted under the federal discovery rules to obtain information from defendant with which to support his argument.
This all raises some obvious questions: Why didn't discovery exist to address factual disputes in my case against UAB? Why was I not allowed, via discovery, to show that UAB's assertions were lies or errors? Why was I not allowed, via discovery, to obtain information to support my arguments?
The likely answer? Hunt was not facing powerful political defendants. I was, in the form of the Riley Machine, especially then "first son" Rob Riley, and Acker felt duty bound to protect his "conservative" brethren--no matter what the law says.
Finally, let's examine a case styled Huntley v. The Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama (2010). Like my case, this involves employment issues, discrimination, and UAB. The plaintiff, Dr. Horace Huntley, was a long-time history faculty member (now retired) who alleged he was denied tenure for discriminatory reasons.
University attorneys undoubtedly invoked some of the same arguments--qualified and sovereign immunity, etc.--that they used in an effort to avoid discovery in my case. Those arguments didn't work in Huntley because, as shown by Acker's own words in the Hunt case, the plaintiff was entitled to conduct discovery that would counter UAB's arguments.
Dr. Huntley was not successful in denying summary judgment to the university. But he was allowed to conduct discovery. From Acker's memorandum opinion in the case:
Additionally, Dr. Huntley admitted in his deposition that he is not a full-time faculty member: Q: Okay. So you are a part-time faculty member, correct? A: Well, I am – yes, I guess I am, you could say I am a part-time faculty member. (Doc. 35-1, at 26:3-7.)
How could Acker quote from Dr. Huntley's deposition? Because discovery had been conducted, and the deposition was entered into the record. That's the way a case against UAB must be conducted, under the law. But my case was not handled that way at all.
The concept of "equal protection of the laws" obviously means nothing to William Acker. I had to be singled out for a cheat job in court--on top of a cheat job in the workplace--because Acker's right-wing buddies from Riley Inc. were behind my termination at UAB.
No one connected to the Rileys was behind the alleged discrimination against Horace Huntley, so his lawyers were able to conduct discovery, as required by law. Acker wasn't concerned about what discovery might turn up in the Huntley case. But he sure as heck was concerned about what he knew discovery would turn up in my case. So he made sure that no discovery took place.
Is this infuriating for my wife, Carol, and me? Of course it is. With a termination on my employment record--not to mention a bogus incarceration, also driven by Rob Riley--it's been almost impossible for me to find a job. The ability to work, to support ourselves, essentially has been stolen from us--so that makes Acker's blatantly unlawful actions deeply personal.
But the thoughtful reader will realize this goes way beyond Carol and me. The right to "equal protection of the laws" supposedly is guaranteed under the due-process clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. It might be the single most profound provision in the constitution.
But a corrupt judge like William Acker has no respect for the law--or the oath he took to uphold it. This post, based on public records, makes that abundantly clear. If Americans stay silent about judges like Acker--if we allow rogues like him to chip away at our constitutional rights--we eventually will find ourselves living in a country that does not resemble a democracy.