Saturday, June 11, 2016

Does the conviction of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard indicate Southerners are starting to cast a critical eye at self-dealing, "conservative" politicians?

Mike Hubbard holds his head in despair
as he waits to pay bail at the Lee County
Jail last night in Opelika.
For roughly the past 22 years, a disturbing number of conservative politicians in the Deep South have acted as if they could get away with anything. No one embodied that spirit more than Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

It's little wonder that Hubbard and others in the GOP took on such arrogance. Since Karl Rove, Bill Canary, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce joined hands to steal . . . I mean, buy . . . the 1994 Alabama chief justice race for Perry Hooper, pro-business forces have taken over state courts across the South--touting "tort reform" as a way to attack large verdicts for plaintiffs, which came to entail "jackpot justice." If you tried to seek justice in federal courts, you would find benches stuffed with Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II appointees.

In short, both state and federal courts were stacked in the GOP's favor. Republican politicos knew they could step way over the boundary into unlawful territory and likely never be investigated, much less prosecuted. If they did somehow get indicted, they probably could lie under oath enough to escape punishment. After all, they were likely to go before GOP judges and majority-white juries who reflexively tend to pull levers for Republicans at election time.

A jury in Lee County, Alabama--with the help of Judge Jakob Walker's stern hand--might have signaled last night that era is starting to crumble by convicting Hubbard on 12 of 23 charges that he violated state ethics laws. The convictions automatically remove Hubbard from office; he was convicted on counts 5-6, 10, 11-14, 16-19, and 23. (See indictment at the end of this post.)

Hubbard took the stand in his own defense, but if he thought he could get away with spinning an elaborate web of lies, the Lee County jury had other ideas. In fact, the last day of testimony might have been the most devastating for Hubbard.

In March 2014, Hubbard had signed a proffer, which is an agreement between prosecutors and an individual about his knowledge of possible crimes. The individual's words are not to be used against him at trial, but if his future testimony contradicts information in the proffer, the prosecution can use that to impeach him.

Hubbard made numerous statements on the stand that differed with what he had agreed to in the proffer. So prosecutor Matt Hart received permission from the court to use the proffer in an effort to impeach Hubbard. Here is how Bill Britt, of Alabama Political Reporter, described part of that process:

The trial began with Lead Prosecutor, Matt Hart, cross examining Hubbard, using a proffer Hubbard signed in March, 2014. The Prosecution was able to impeach Hubbard on several points in his testimony before the court. During the trial, evidence showed Josh Blades had initiated the calls to help Bobby Abrams’ company with a much needed patent, and it was Blades who did most of the work…on State time. However, in 2014, Hubbard told Hart and others in a sworn statement, that only he had made calls concerning the patent.

In his proffer, Hubbard stated that he knew about the language that was inserted in the Medicaid portion of the General Fund Budget, that benefited his client APCI. But, in court this week, he said he didn’t know anything about it.

In short, Hubbard got caught lying under oath about Robert Abrams and his company, CV Holdings, and about a deal that would have given APCI a monopoly on Medicaid prescriptions in Alabama. If you look at the jury verdict, Hubbard was found guilty on Counts 5-6 (regarding APCI) and Counts 11-14 (regarding CV Holdings).

We don't know what went on behind the closed doors of the jury room. But we do know that six of the 12 guilty verdicts came on counts where Hubbard was proven to have lied under oath--either in his proffer or in his testimony before the jury.

Many Republican politicians have risen to power in the South on giant truckloads of horse feces. They claim to be Christian, while their behavior suggests they have never opened a Bible. They claim to be "pro family" while cheating on their spouses. They claim to support the middle class, while their votes almost always favor the business class. They claim to be "strict constructionists," while their actions show zero respect for the rule of law.

Mike Hubbard dumped copious amounts of horse feces in the Lee County Courthouse--and there is little doubt his corporate and political "friends" did also--but jurors from Hubbard's home county were not falling for it.

In the end, Hubbard walked away smelling like manure--while the jurors and Judge Walker helped usher in a scent that smelled (at least a little) like justice might be coming to the South.


Anonymous said...

Some politician said it was a "dark day" for Alabama. I believe it's the brightest day Alabama has seen in a long time.

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, that was state rep. Craig Ford. I think Ford either got his language screwed up or he is a typical Alabama Democrat, trying to cater to right-wing voters. I agree with you.

Robby Scott Hill said...

I'm mobile without the benefit of contact lenses today. Am I correct in assuming the counts he was found NOT GUILTY on were the ones involving "The families?" & now Bob Riley's neighbor from Clay County, Victor Gaston is the new Speaker giving Bob Riley someone in the Speakers office who is an even closer "friend" or frenemy.

legalschnauzer said...


The not guilty votes were:

* Counts 1-4 (Craftmaster)

* Counts 7-9 (SEAGD)

* Count 15 (Dax Swatek)

* Counts 20-22 (Bob Riley, Minda Riley Campbell, Bill Canary)

Anonymous said...

It's ironic in the photo that there's a guy behind Hubby in the classic orange jumpsuit. Kind of a "welcome to the club" moment.

Anonymous said...

Will there be an perjury charges coming out of this? Sounds like there should be.

legalschnauzer said...

That's a great question, @6:04. I don't know the answer, but you are right, there should be more than one perjury case coming out of this.

Anonymous said...

Here is interesting response to a question by asst. AG Van Davis:

Davis declined to comment when asked if the AG’s office is investigating other cases of public corruption or if anyone will be indicted as a result of Hubbard’s case.

Anonymous said...

Victor Gaston is from Mobile, not Clay County.

Robby Scott Hill said...

So Roger, could one summarize the trial by saying Hubbard was found not guilty in connection with his dealings with Bob Riley & his associates while being found guilty in his dealings with Bob Riley's competition and the result of the guilty verdicts is that someone even closer to Bob Riley is now Speaker?

Robby Scott Hill said...

This outcome makes me wonder if it wasn't planned in a Masonic Lodge or hunting club. Didn't ol' Bob wink at someone during the trial? Wonder if he was wearing his Masonic Ring & or signaled "KKK" with three knuckles outside his pants pocket & one finger and the thumb on the inside? It happens every week in some courtroom in Alabama.

Anonymous said...

Hey have you heard any rumors about how desperate Hubbard is to make some money now? Hear his legal bills are yooge and he just lost his state job. There are still
appeals to finance, not to mention commissary funds (soap on a rope and lots of prison calls to all his friends) if he actually has to report to prison.

Have you heard any rumors about him trying to put together a deal to finance a competitor to Uber? Does Hubbard want Governor Bentley to bond a few hundred million to finance a partnership between Google and Craftmaster to get into ridesharing? Headquarters could be in Opelika. Since Craftmaster and Hubbard aren't the best names to use rumor is the new name may be a combination of Google and Uber i.e. Goober! Is Bentley praying over this Goober scheme right now?

Heard it might be a combination prison and rideshare company deal. Since the new prisons are dead in the water right now you never know what Bentley will be feeling out next.

Maybe someone can find a trademark filing for Goober Rideshare.

If you haven't heard any rumors like this, maybe there aren't any rumors like this.

legalschnauzer said...

You might be right about that, Rob. He was found guilty for his dealings with four businessmen--Will Brooke, James Holbrook, Jimmy Rane, and Rob Burton. But he was not guilty for dealings with politicos--Bob Riley, M.R. Campbell, and Bill Canary.

If my memory is correct, Will Brooke is with BCA--so Hubby was convicted for dealing with him, but not for dealing with Canary. Strange.

This, too, is strange: He was not guilty re: consulting contract with SEAGD and guilty re: consulting contract with Edgenuity. What did the jury see different about those?

Plus, he was not guilty on the first four counts, all involving Craftmaster. If he was guilty on these others, hard to see how he was not guilty on Craftmaster.

I'm glad, and the public should be glad, for the 12 convictions. But it's a strange verdict if you take a deeper look at it.

Were you surprised the jury came back so soon? Seven hours to deliberate on 23 counts. That's pretty brief isn't it?

Robby Scott Hill said...

I was surprised by the speed of the petit jury deliberation & the trial itself, given the fact it took the grand jury 14 months to indict & my father died two weeks before getting to see the results of the grand jury. No matter how much education & experience you have in the courtroom, a cold drink, a homemade meal & some hot, juicy sex before lights out can have a real effect on justice.

legalschnauzer said...

Rob: You and @6:44 are a hoot. No wonder people come on here to read the comments and ignore the posts. Heck, I think even Mrs. Schnauzer does that.

Robby Scott Hill said...

In the end, lawyers, judges & juries are just human beings. A lot of innocent men have gone to prison & a lot of guilty men have gone free over a piece of ass or a ticket to a sporting event. Your blog chronicals the launch of the legal careers of several women who began their professional lives as the love interest of a police investigator, officer of the court or judge. Will be interesting to see how many folks involved in this trial will enroll in law school or police academy & wind up employed by the state.

Anonymous said...

Brooke is Canary's boss. Right?

Anonymous said...

"I'm glad, and the public should be glad, for the 12 convictions. But it's a strange verdict if you take a deeper look at it."

Alabama justice -- an oxymoron if there ever was one.

Anonymous said...

Still wondering about that pre-indictment proffer by Hubbard.

Did Hubbard think he had serious exposure to indictment? If not, then why did he do it?

One more thing about the proffer process in general. As I understand it anything discussed in the proffer could lead to later indictment of the person participating in the proffer if other evidence outside that given in the proffer evidence can be developed I.e. indirect or derivative use of the statements to develop other supporting evidence to replace that disclosed in the proffer.

Could this mean there indictments of others might be coming either directly or indirectly from Hubbard's 2014 proffer?

Until the trial I had never seen any media mention of this 2014 proffer. How many other proffers related to this are yet unknown?

Schnitzel_Republic said...

The short answer that most people in the state view ALL politicians as corrupted (doesn't matter if they are Republican or Democrat). They might have had some temporary moment of insane behavior to think to fix the corruption by Democrats....just vote Republican. And then six years later wake up to realize it's the same level of corruption. And today? We will all wake up in find some group of Democrats that swore they'd clean things up...deep into some prosecution case and facing 20 years in prison each for corruption at the state level. The fact is....neither group have NO fear of prison, and this ought to worry most honest Alabamians. Fixing this? I think it's unfixable.

Anonymous said...

Shazam! Mike Hubbard's Wikipedia page has been updated.

Anonymous said...

Quick observations

Robert Bentley is in hot water now. Will Bob Riley play a role in it like he did in Siegelman and Hubbard? Why is he connected in some way to every political prosecution in Alabama?

Hubbard should have taken he plea. The federal government is so powerful and they have unlimited resources to see your ass goes to jail. I hate it for him and his family but man you can't do that stuff man. It's crazy.

Didn't Hubbbard and Bentley see what happened to Siegelman? If they'd been keeping up with Legal Schnauzer they could have learned from others mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Correction State of Alabama not Federal

Anonymous said...

To Mr. Hill I don't think the Masonic Lodge had any hand in this conviction. Only someone with the knowledge of the secrets can say for sure. Not being in the courtroom for the whole trial I can not say, but you do bring up a good question. Being a member of a Masonic Lodge is serious business and is not taken lightly by a man who believes that giving his word means something. I almost wish I didn't know what I know about the lodge because by the time you learn the secrets there is no going back, not for a man who's word is his bond, anyway. Go in peace and sin no more.