Monday, May 9, 2016

Bill Baxley claims reports of a plea deal in the Mike Hubbard case are false, but that might not be the final word on the subject, as trial date approaches

Bill Baxley
Bill Baxley, one of the attorneys for Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn), says reports that a plea-bargain deal has been reached in the speaker's criminal case are false. Does that mean the trial on 23 felony ethics charges will begin, as scheduled, on May 16 in Lee County? Not necessarily.

Several reports last week made it seem Baxley's statements had put the matter to bed. The headline on one read: "Breaking: Hubbard's Attorney Confirms Plea Deal Report is False." Another claimed Baxley had "totally shut down" the Hubbard plea deal "rumors."

It's true that, even if a plea deal has been reached, Hubbard can back out until the court accepts it. That means, no matter the status of any plea deal at the moment, a trial still could take place.

According to multiple reports on the Web, the plea deal would call for Hubbard to plead guilty and receive an 18-month prison sentence (six months suspended) in exchange for cooperating with state and federal officials in investigations of Gov. Robert Bentley, Senate President Del Marsh, and former Gov. Bob Riley.

Baxley has called such reports "preposterous," claiming there is "not one grain of truth" to any of them.

We can think of at least two reasons that Baxley's statement should not be taken as the final word on the subject:

(1) Baxley might not know what he's talking about -- The plea-deal reports originated with attorney Donald Watkins, who has provided insightful coverage on a number of Alabama scandals at his Facebook page.

A veteran of numerous high-profile criminal cases, Watkins is well acquainted with the behind-the-scenes process leading to a trial date. Here is what he said about the usual plea-deal process:

Plea deal talks occur in every criminal case. Hubbard’s case is no exception. In high-profile cases, these discussions are usually initiated, in the first instance, through behind-the-scenes intermediaries, rather than direct talks between the trial attorneys. This approach affords prosecutors and defense counsel “plausible deniability” in the event a plea deal is reached in principle and becomes public, or falls through the cracks, before the defendant formally enters his/her guilty plea in court. This approach also allows prosecutors and defense counsel to truthfully say to inquiring reporters that there is “no plea deal” until such time as a deal has been presented in court.

Watkins notes that a guilty verdict on any one of the 23 counts could put Hubbard in prison for two to 20 years. With convictions on roughly half of the counts, the speaker could be looking at a virtual life sentence--although we suspect even a high sentence would be reduced at some point for such a high-profile (white?) defendant.

A trial is extremely risky for Hubbard. Meanwhile, the plea deal described publicly would require him to spend only one year behind bars and give him a chance to pick up the pieces of his life. Writes Watkins:

Again, my sources stand by their account of a plea deal. Hubbard is not bound by any tentative deal reached by intermediaries unless and until he announces it in open court and Judge Walker accepts it. Lawyers in high-profile cases handle plea deals in this fashion in order to avoid the appearance of weakness in their PR spin and trial positions in the event their client elects to proceed with a trial and take his/her chances with a jury verdict.

The deal . . . is an incredibly attractive one for Hubbard and prosecutors. It allows both sides to declare victory.

(2) Baxley might not be telling the truth -- I've seen Bill Baxley in action--up close and personal, you might say. He represented GOP operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison in her defamation lawsuit against me. I saw numerous signs that Baxley and the truth are distant acquaintances, at best. Here are several examples of Baxley engaging in dubious actions in my case:

Donald Watkins
(a) He accused me of criminal behavior toward his client -- In a letter to me dated August 16, 2013, Baxley stated that my efforts via e-mail to request an interview or seek comment from Garrison constituted the crime of harassing communications. In a post about two weeks later, I showed that Baxley's assertions were way out of line with the actual law. Does Bill Baxley have a habit of making untruthful statements for dramatic or threatening effects? In my experience, the answer is yes.

(b) He accused me a second time of criminal behavior toward his client -- Not content to accuse me of harassment, Baxley sent a second letter that accused me of stalking. Again, I showed in a post that Baxley had careened wildly off the legal tracks. More untruths, used for purposes of drama or threats? I would say yes.

(c) He attacked my credibility via another blogger -- In August 2013, Dothan blogger Rickey Stokes posted an attack piece against Legal Schnauzer, claiming that my reports about Jessica Garrison's extramarital affair with Attorney General Luther Strange were "highly questionable." Stokes said he came to that conclusion after conversations with two unnamed sources, one of whom Stokes said he "would trust with my life in his hands."

Well, I certainly can be fooled, but I wasn't fooled by this. What is Bill Baxley's hometown? Dothan. His brother, Wade (who died in March 2015) was a prominent lawyer there, and his nephew, Hamp, still practices law there. I promptly wrote a post noting that Stokes' sources likely were from the Baxley family. More importantly, I noted that the sources probably did not tell Stokes that a member of the Baxley family represented Jessica Garrison.

A little more than a month later, Stokes admitted in a public forum that Bill Baxley had hoodwinked him; Baxley had been his source, without admitting that he had a vested interest in getting a hit piece printed about me.

Here is part of what Rickey Stokes wrote in the forum:

As to the Dothan Baxley family contacting me about the article, the answer is NO. As to Bill Baxley and I having a telephone conversation over this matter, yes. My entire adult life I have known Bill and Wade Baxley. . . .

That relationship is what resulted in the phone call. And yes, after a conversation with Bill explaining some things to me, not that he was filing a lawsuit against anyone, but answering some questions, resulted in my article.

Translation: Bill Baxley conned Rickey Stokes into writing an attack piece, filled with false information, against me. That raises this question: If Jessica Garrison's defamation case was so strong, why did Baxley feel the need to con a blogger into trying to discredit me? Answer: Garrison's case was not strong, and as a matter of law, court proceedings showed that my reporting was neither false nor defamatory.

Here is one other thing to keep in mind about Bill Baxley and the Hubbard case. For some reason, Baxley (who was a Democrat in his political days) has jumped in bed with some of the sleaziest Republicans Alabama has to offer. We're talking Jessica Garrison, Luther Strange, and others connected to what should be called the Riley Raw Sewage Company. (Motto: "If you don't smell like s--t already, you will when we get through with you.")

Both Baxley and Rob Riley have represented Hubbard at various times in the pre-trial process. Evidence suggests Baxley, Bob Riley, and Rob Riley were involved in various schemes to obstruct the Lee County grand jury. Baxley denounced the plea-deal reports via a May 3 interview with Leland Whaley at radio station WYDE in Birmingham. This is from Whaley's bio at the WYDE Web site:

Leland has worked in public service as a District Director for then US Congressman Bob Riley. Leland was a key campaign manager for Bob Riley’s successful 2002 race for Governor. Leland served in the Riley Administration as Assistant Director in the Alabama Development office overseeing the effort to preserve and recruit military jobs in the Base Realignment and Closure Process. Leland also directed the Alabama Film Office for ADO. Leland has advised dozens of conservative organizations, causes and candidates and has lectured on communication strategy throughout the state of Alabama.

When Baxley wanted to get his message out about the plea deal, he turned to a true-blue Riley-bot. Why might the crusty old lawyer have done that? According to Donald Watkins, a plea deal could result in Hubbard unearthing everything he knows to investigators about Bob Riley--and possibly son, Rob Riley, and daughter, Minda Riley Campbell.

Mike Hubbard
Such a thought probably makes several Riley sphincters tighten. Perhaps Baxley wants a trial--in which evidence suggests Hubbard is likely to be found guilty--in order to save several Riley butts.

If Baxley has a trace of decency about him--and that has not become apparent to me--perhaps he knows Hubbard's life could be in danger, and he is trying to protect the speaker.

It's also possible Baxley knows reports that Hubbard already has admitted guilt could taint a jury pool if a trial does take place.

Finally, I see three ways Hubbard can get off on these charges, even though it's hard to imagine he has a legit defense on any of them:

(1) Luther Strange's office can screw up the prosecution (a real possibility);

(2) Someone could slip cash to the judge, a prosecutor, or two-three jurors, especially the foreman, to buy a not-guilty verdict (a real possibility). If you think such stuff doesn't happen in America's "justice" system, you are kidding yourself;

(3) White, conservative jurors ignore the evidence and law, and refuse to convict one of their own--especially one with a cute blonde wife, a couple of white  kids (including one with the adorable name of "Riley"), and extensive ties to the area's economic and cultural Colossus, Auburn University.

Was Baxley's conversation with Donald Watkins another con game intended to protect his new-found friends in the GOP? Will Donald Watkins fall for it, as did Rickey Stokes?

I doubt it. I suspect Watkins is way too smart for that. Watkins wrote with great deference about Baxley, but I imagine he can see right through a con man.


Anonymous said...

Word is hubs will serve his time in Lee county jail where he has high ranking pals who will allow him to go home in the evening. Alabama justice.

Anonymous said...

Did Baxley make these comments before or after he'd had six Jack Daniels before noon?

Anonymous said...

I would like to see a trial, but I think Hubbard would be a fool to let one happen.

Anonymous said...

The Rileys always figure out a way to keep their Teflon coating from being penetrated. I figure that will happen again, while Hubby goes up the river for the rest of his natural life.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we could ask Lucy Baxley about the value of her ex husband's word:,168321&hl=en

Anonymous said...

Does Hubbard have the money to pay his legal bill to fight these charges? Is anyone else helping pay Hubbard's legal bills?

What if there is a federal train coming at Hubbard? What if Hubbard just thinks there might be a federal train on the way?

Bill Baxley probably has a guess as to whether Hubbard can afford to fight, but Hubbard knows whether he can. Bankrupt and bunking with Bubba for 5 to 10 in the pen ain't no way to go.

Anonymous said...

Has Rickey Stokes ever contacted you to apologize for running a bunch of garbage that Bill Baxley spoonfed him?

legalschnauzer said...

No, never received any such contact from Rickey Stokes, @3:05.

One thing kind of weird: Rickey said his post was based on two sources, but then he says in the forum, his source was Bill Baxley.

legalschnauzer said...

All good questions, @2:58. I wonder if White Arnold & Dowd maybe drained Hubby dry with all of their pre-trial BS and delays, etc.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Schnauzer, are you aware the Panama Papers database is being released on the Web today? I bet you will find a number of Alabama entities on that list.

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, I've been told about the release today, and our research team already has found a number of Alabama names and addresses on there. Will be piecing it together, but there definitely is an Alabama angle to that.

Anonymous said...

Gawd I would love to be there when Maria Beka Callas and Luciano Mike Pavarotti sing on the same stage.

Anonymous said...

2:58 here again. The pre-trial motions and delays would be expensive, but it might be you'd get people in the know to confirm that actually preparing for a trial such as this (not to mention actually taking it to trial) would be a whole different level of expense.

A smart guy with relatively limited means might take a gamble and blow his wad at the pretrial delay and motion stage, maybe thinking that someone else will stick a broomstick in the spokes before things get rolling downhill.

Possible unpredicted unknowns might include the Governor getting caught up in a hot mess or two at the same time, and with possibly some of the same players at least peripherally involved in that. Whoops!

Anonymous said...

One thing kind of weird: Rickey said his post was based on two sources, but then he says in the forum, his source was Bill Baxley.

One of the possibilities is more interesting than the others!




John Little said...

Damn man, you really ought to try writing more articles that don't end up being about all the injustices you've suffered personally. Might be more effective.

legalschnauzer said...

John: This is my blog, I'm the author. You are surprised that it includes information about my personal experiences? That's strange because I checked your Web site, and it's pretty much all about you.

Here's a little test for you. Go back to the archives here, to when the blog started in June 2007, and count how many posts have anything to do with my personal experience. You will find the percentage is pretty small.

Are you saying the injustices I've suffered aren't real, or they don't have some connection to the matters at hand?

It's a matter of public record that I was cheated out of my job at UAB for writing--on my own time and resources--about the Don Siegelman prosecution. I've paid a pretty high price for writing about matters of public interest that have nothing to do with me.

You would have to search long and hard to find another blogger--in Alabama or any other state--who has paid such a price for writing about subjects that do not involve him personally.

Of course, if you don't care for the personal angles here, you are always welcome to read another blog. But I suspect you will find those blogs also include material about the author's personal experiences, thoughts, or opinions.

John Little said...

You are right Roger! I should turn my sites into political news sites and make each post an expose on how I've been wronged in my life. It'll be so much better. I see what you're saying now! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

The trial will be delayed again. Mcgregor's civil suits are the driving force. The Alabama Supreme court thought they had finished Mcgregor with their March ruleing.
He has to be shut down to limit liability in his civil suits.They need more time.

legalschnauzer said...

John: I see you resort to becoming a smart-aleck when you've been beaten at an argument. Must have learned that in law school.

I just shake my head when someone reads Roger Shuler's blog and says, "There is too much in here about Roger Shuler's experiences, thoughts, analysis, opinions, etc." Seems a little like subscribing to Sports Illustrated and complaining about all the articles on sports.

Legal Schnauzer has been ranked one of the top 50 law blogs in North America, so I think I will stick to my own instincts (

BTW, I have almost 34,000 profile views on my Web site, and you have 394, so I'd say the wrong person is doling out advice here. The statistics and rankings indicate I have one of the most read and influential independent (not affiliated with any law school or law firm) law blogs on the continent--with zero input from you.

As for your site, I would never suggest you change it in any way. That's because I could not care less about your site--and apparently a whole lot of people feel the same way.

legalschnauzer said...

Are you saying, @11:00, that McGregor has filed lawsuits? I wasn't aware that any had been filed. I'm not a lawyer, but I think he should have gone the civil route a long time ago, although there might be immunity hurdles with some defendants.

Anonymous said...

11:00 here
My observation of the people in Auburn, whom he would sue , did some things I consider protecting your assets. This happened 3 years ago. We will know Monday.

e.a.f. said...

Interesting read. Given the trail date is 16 May, I'll be sure to "tune in" to your blog.

A "deal" makes sense, but admitting it may not be until its over and sealed. If a deal is "done" the others would be very unhappy about it, so the longer it is kept secret, the better.

If a deal is "done", I'm sure they will notify us when the good gentleman is in protective custody.

John Little said...

Roger. I don't really care about my rank, and I don't care about yours. Especially the way you do. A rarely updated brochure page is not a daily political news blog. I visit your blog once a month, more or less, because I find value in your efforts to expose corruption. Some of it is funny. But damn you are paranoid and too intent on relating everything to your own perceived persecutions. My original point is that it's off-putting. I've seen that I'm not alone in thinking that. I think you'd do better without it. But whatever man. In the end I really don't care. Just occasionally inspired to post a comment on the internet. And not concerned about identifying myself as so many here seem to be. I do hope you ran and checked to see if I had been on Ashley Madison. Lol.

legalschnauzer said...

Sounds fine, John. Hope you continue to find value in LS. Thanks for the conversation, especially since you were bold enough to use your real ID. That adds a lot of value to any dialogue--and no, I didn't check to see if you are on Ashley Madison--although I can if you want me to.

John Little said...

Just don't confuse me with Zeb. No relation!