|Jessica Garrison and Luther Strange|
Is Garrison going to sue Barron and, for that matter, Echols? After all, that's what she did to me after I broke the story of the affair with Strange, for whom she served as campaign manager. Garrison received a $3.5-million default judgment against me, but that might only deepen her quandary regarding Barron. That's because Garrison's public statements indicate she does not put much value on her own default judgment.
History suggests that Garrison and her GOP allies (Bill Pryor, Jeff Sessions, Luther Strange, Rob Riley, etc.) don't necessarily stop at dubious lawsuits in their efforts to silence those who might air their dirty laundry. Is Garrison going to participate in a scheme to have Barron kidnapped and thrown in jail? Is she going to help have Barron's home wrongfully forced into foreclosure, placing him on the brink of homelessness?
My wife, Carol, and I experienced all of that not long after my reporting on the Garrison/Strange affair--plus Garrison's documented ties to organized crime. We do not know what, if any, role Garrison played in the abuse we suffered, but let's just say the timeline is interesting--and we intend to learn more.
Here is a sample of what we know for now:
* I break the story of Garrison's affair with Strange on July 17, 2013;
* I break the story of Garrison's ties to Erik Davis Harp, who was indicted for his role in a Panama-based gambling ring, on August 22, 2013;
* I break the story of the gambling ring's ties to the Genovese and Gambino crime families on August 26, 2013;
* I break the story of Garrison's apparent sweetheart deal on a $400,000 home in Mountain Brook on October 22, 2013.
The very next day--October 23, 2013--Shelby County officers enter our home, beat me up inside my own garage (without presenting a warrant, stating they had a warrant, or even stating their reason for being on the premises), essentially kidnapped me and hauled me to the Shelby County Jail for a five-month stay that had zero support in fact or law.
You can see what I mean about an "interesting timeline" regarding my incarceration. And the curious events do not stop there.
When I was released from jail on March 26, 2014, Carol and I immediately were faced with threatened foreclosure on our home of 25 years. Under Alabama law, the sole purpose of a foreclosure is to collect an alleged debt. If it is conducted for any other reason--with an ulterior motive--it is a wrongful foreclosure, and that is illegal. [See Reeves Cedarhurst Development Corp. v. First American Fed Savings, 607 So. 2d 180 (Ala. Sup. Ct., 1992: "A mortgagor has a wrongful foreclosure action whenever a mortgagee uses the power of sale given under a mortgage for a purpose other than to secure the debt owed by the mortgagor."]
So, back to our question: Will Garrison sue Lowell Barron? We doubt it. For one, Barron's statements are true. For another, Barron has proven he has the resources to fight back against Strange and Garrison. Barron has shown that neither Strange nor Garrison can hold up to adversarial questioning under oath--and aggressive gathering of documents--about their relationship.
Finally, Garrison's own words indicate she knows her default judgment against me isn't worth much more than a plug nickel. Consider this from an article by Rob Holbert at Lagniappe Mobile after publication of Garrison's PR-attack piece at maireclaire.com.
Garrison said she is fighting to have Google remove searches that would take people to Shuler’s stories about her. With the defamation judgment against him, she hopes that will soon happen. As for collecting any of the $3.5 million award, Garrison laughed and said she hasn’t gotten a dime and never expects to since Shuler’s various run-ins with the law, loss of employment and foreclosure on his home have left him with little money.
“We told him if he would take the articles down and apologize to the people involved, he could satisfy the judgment for $1, but he wouldn’t do it,” Garrison said.
This might actually contain a kernel of truth, which would be unusual (in my experience) for Garrison or Holbert. Davy Hay, a Clanton-area lawyer who represented me briefly, stated via e-mail that Garrison lawyer Bill Baxley said the lawsuit could be resolved if I paid $1 and removed the offending posts. I never heard anything about an apology, and I never received anything in writing from the other side--so I did not consider it a legitimate settlement offer. Plus, I was not about to remove blog posts that I knew were true. Garrison essentially was using the same "extortion against journalist" strategy that Rob Riley used, with a bogus $3.5-million judgment substituting for a jail term as the extortionate mechanism.
(On a side note, Davy Hay was portrayed in various quarters as my "legal champion." [See here and here.] That did not turn out to be the case. "Legal chump" might have been a more accurate description. Hay did little, if anything, to help me fight the Garrison lawsuit, and he wound up bailing out and leaving me hanging, contrary to a written contract that we had. More on that experience in an upcoming post. I know many Alabamians have received similar treatment from lawyers who are supposed to be their "legal champions.")
Even if I had thought the $1 offer was legit, I was not about to accept such a proposal. As we've shown here on multiple occasions, the default judgment is void because (according to Hay's review of the file) I never received--or was even sent--notice of the default-judgment hearing. Also, the record shows there was no trial, no jury, no discovery, no adversarial proceeding of any kind--and, as a matter of law, that means my reporting was not false or defamatory.
How do I interpret Garrison's $1 offer? Here's what I think:
* It's essentially an admission that she never had a case--and she did not come close to proving her case;
* It's essentially an admission that the $3.5-million default judgment has no basis in fact or law, meaning members of the legal tribe schemed with Judge Don Blankenship to corruptly produce a bogus finding;
* She's not about to take on Lowell Barron. After being thrown in jail, and being forced from our home, I had almost no ability to fight the Garrison lawsuit. I suspect Barron has the resources not only to fight Garrison--but he would chew her up (along with Strange) and spit them both out. In the process, their political careers would be finished.
Jessica Garrison v. Lowell Barron? Don't make me laugh.