Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard reveals defense attorney Bill Baxley to be a bumbling, crusty, slimy, old con artist--but we knew that already

Bill Baxley
If nothing else is accomplished in the trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, the public will at least know this: Defense attorney Bill Baxley is a bumbling, sleazy old con man. But Legal Schnauzer readers already knew that.

Consider the testimony of former Governor Bob Riley last Friday and yesterday. Prosecutor Matt Hart repeatedly placed e-mails between Hubbard and Riley on a large screen, providing easy viewing for everyone in the Lee County courtroom. Time and again, the e-mails showed that Riley and Hubbard used "the mantle of the speaker's office" to make money, much of it for Riley and his well-heeled lobbying clients.

It's hard to imagine a more blatant violation of the Alabama Ethics Law. In fact, the e-mails strongly suggest the kind of "quid pro quo" that might entail a violation of federal bribery law. We are left with two glaring questions: (1) Where have the feds been during all of this? and (2) Why hasn't Bob Riley been indicted?

Despite the damning evidence, which all non-sleeping, semi-sentient jurors should have seen, there was Bill Baxley telling us this was all about "friendship"--that Riley was doing this only because he "loves Hubbard like a brother."

We've seen this kind of skulduggery from Baxley before. After all, he represented Jessica Medeiros Garrison, GOP operative and former campaign manager for AG Luther Strange, in her lawsuit claiming that my reports about her extramarital affair with Strange were false and defamatory.

Let's consider some of the stunts Baxley pulled in that one:

* In a pre-suit letter to me, Baxley alleged that I was engaging in "harassing communications" against his client -- I had sent Jessica Garrison two e-mails, seeking interviews or comments about her relationship with Luther Strange and associated issues. As director of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) and Strange's former campaign manager, Garrison had been quoted in the press many times. She unquestionably was a newsworthy figure, and likely a public figure under the law. My e-mails were designed to seek her responses to questions on issues of clear public concern. Harassing communications, under Alabama law,  can only enter the picture if the communications is "intended to harass or alarm another person." My e-mails to Jessica Garrison didn't come close to reaching that threshold--but Bill Baxley is a con man. He tried to con me into thinking I was going to be investigated, or prosecuted, for a crime I had not remotely committed. Baxley is pulling a similar con game with the Hubbard jury, trying to provide cover for Riley and Hubbard, who engaged in an actual crime.

* In a second pre-suit letter, Baxley accused me of "stalking" his client -- This is another example of Baxley not letting the law get in the way of a dramatic threat. Baxley's second letter ended with this: "Cease stalking my client. Do not contact her again." Now, alleging that someone has engaged in stalking is a serious matter. Stalking is a felony that is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. It's a good idea to know the meaning of the word before throwing it around against someone else. Alabama's stalking statute reads, in part: "A person who intentionally and repeatedly follows or harasses another person and who makes a credible threat, either expressed or implied, with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily harm is guilty of the crime of stalking." I never followed or harassed Ms. Garrison, I never remotely threatened her, and I never did anything to cause her reasonable fear of death or serious bodily harm; I sent her two e-mails asking for interviews or comments on specific subjects. Again, Baxley was pulling a con, very much like the one he's pulling with the Hubbard jury now.

* Baxley conned Dothan blogger Rickey Stokes into writing a defamatory post about me -- Citing two unnamed sources, Stokes criticized my reporting on the Garrison story--calling it "questionable," and saying I had made up "something that wasn't true." A few days later, in a public forum, Stokes admitted that his source was Bill Baxley and that Baxley had not disclosed his representation of Jessica Garrison. Like we said, Baxley is a con artist--and Rikey Stokes fell for his tricks.

Bob Riley, on the stand in Mike Hubbard trial
(From alreporter.com)
* Baxley is a long-time associate of Claud Neilson, the "judge" who unlawfully had me kidnapped and thrown in jail -- For the five months I spent in the Shelby County Jail, I spent quite a bit of time asking myself, "Who in the heck is this Claud Neilson, a retired judge who was appointed to the Rob Riley/Liberty Duke case by the Alabama Supreme Court and clearly is acting as someone's rubber stamp?" Not long after my release in late March 2014, I found the likely answer. Neilson and Baxley had been colleagues for a number of years in the Alabama Attorney General's Office. Is it likely that Baxley helped arrange for Neilson to order my kidnapping and incarceration, intending to protect the interests of Riley Inc.--of which Mike Hubbard is a prominent member? The answer in my mind clearly is yes.

As for the Hubbard trial, how illuminating was evidence presented while Bob Riley was on the stand? Consider this report from Bill Britt, of Alabama Political Reporter:

Emails entered into evidence during former Gov. Bob Riley’s testimony on day nine, was a matrix of deals that benefited both Riley and Hubbard. Lead Prosecutor, Matt Hart, in email after email revealed a disturbing pattern where Riley would ask something from Hubbard, receive it, and vice versa, in a quid pro quo style transaction.

Under the Ethics Laws that Hubbard and Riley championed and passed, just one such action would result in a felony charge. These two men repeated the scheme numerous times.

Want more specifics? Here they are:

In emails concerning the Paris Air Show, the prosecution displayed how Riley arranged for Hubbard and his daughter, Minda Riley Campbell, to meet his billionaire client, Singapore Industries, at their palatial chalet at the air show. He expressed to his client that Hubbard was there as Speaker of the House, and that he would be speaking on behalf of the State, to show appreciation for the company’s investment in Alabama. In return, emails show that Riley solicited partners at Singapore Industries to visit the Abbeville site, to aid Hubbard with his SEAGD business.

Other emails showed that Hubbard passed legislation that provided tax credits on shipping material for Singapore Industries in Mobile. He wrote to Riley saying his legal advisor, Jason Isbell, had placed the bill in the jacket, and that Riley’s client would be pleased. He even attached the language to the bill which Riley forwarded to the President of Singapore Industries. The bill Riley wanted for his client was passed by the State Legislature.

What became apparent, is that Riley and Hubbard were working in concert to aide each other financially. This was further evidenced by Hubbard’s weekly meetings with BCA’s chief lobbyist, Billy Canary.

If you feel the need to take an industrial-strength shower after reading that, join the crowd. This is politics at its most greed-driven, back-scratching low point--at its most criminal. But Bill Baxley will continue telling the public, and jurors, that this is all good fun among friends--making the crimes exempt from Alabama's ethics law.

Folks have fallen for Baxley's con games before. Will it happen again?


Anonymous said...

Don't forget Baxley is also a drunk.

Anonymous said...

Man, Baxley's shorts must be scorched after this was published. Maybe his mistress/wife Marie can figure out a way to repair them

Anonymous said...

One of your best posts ever, LS. Made me laugh (at Bill Baxley) and made me cry (that Hubbard and Riley could pull this stuff and think they can get away with it). I pray the jurors will not fall for Baxley's con game.

Anonymous said...

Baxley just throws crap at the wall and hopes something sticks. That's what he did with you, it's what he's doing in the Hubbard trial.

Anonymous said...

Hah! Great headline, Schnauzer.

Anonymous said...

LS: Didn't you write at some point that you had information about Baxley being caught in a compromising position while on a junket to Las Vegas, and conservative interests have used that to blackmail him into becoming their lap dog?

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, I did write that, and I may write more soon, as the story unfolds. My primary source, so far, is a member of Baxley's family. That source says certain interests have photographic evidence of Bill engaging in embarrassing and "knee-dropping" activities that left him at the mercy of blackmailers.

Anonymous said...

Shocked to see Hubbard taking the stand this afternoon. What do you think, LS?

legalschnauzer said...

I'm surprised, too, @6:22. It's an unorthodox move in a white-collar case like this, in most any criminal case really. If it were me, I definitely would take the stand, although most defense lawyers would not recommend it. Makes me think one or two things are going on:

(1) Hubbard thinks he's in bad shape on at least 1-2 charges and feels he must testify to get a compete not-guilty verdict;

(2) Hubbard knows the trial is rigged, due to threats or payoffs or both, and he's testifying just to make it look like he's concerned.

Matt Hart, if he's any good at all, should be able to take Hubbard apart on cross. Will be interesting to see how that goes. Will tell us if AG's office is serious about getting conviction, or they just wanted to cause Hubbard lots of headaches.

Anonymous said...

Maybe someone decided that Bob Riley was so smarmy and un-credible that Hubby had to take the stand in an effort to limit the damage.

Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised at all. If you've ridden it out this long and don't have any fact witnesses to rebut the evidence the prosecution presented, what else are you going to do? If you're so arrogant to believe you can actually get off on all charges when faced with enough direct evidence to bury the courthouse, you're arrogant enough to believe you can talk your way out of it on the stand.

Also, for the record, I am far from a Baxley fan and can't stand anyone on that side of the case, but he is a really good attorney. He doesn't look, sound or move around like one, but you cannot sleep on him in the courtroom. That's just his shtick. He does the napkin thing in every case too. Also, I'm not sure how him sending you basically a "cease and desist" letter is evidence of him being a con-artist. Attorneys send those to people all the time. There's no rule or law that says an attorney has to be able to prove in a courtroom everything they allege in a letter to someone who is hostile/dangerous/threatening to their client. They represent their client, not you. The purpose of the letter is to scare you into stopping whatever it is that caused the letter to be written. I guess that could be considered a "con" if you fell for it, but were you injured by the words in their private letter to you?

legalschnauzer said...

Interesting thoughts about Hubbard taking the stand, @6:57. I have no doubt Hubbard is arrogant enough to think he can talk his way out of this.

I would agree with you on some of your points about Baxley, except he did far more than send me a cease and desist letter. He accused me of two crimes--stalking and harassing communications--and he had zero evidence to support anything of that nature. That's what makes him a con artist. I'm sure that something an attorney writes in a courtroom doesn't have to meet the standards of material presented in court.

I agree the purpose of the letter was to scare me, and no, I didn't fall for it because I sent a reply that called him out on the actual law--and that reply has been published here at LS.

Not sure if I was injured by the letter or not; if he showed it to third parties (members or employees of his firm), that could be defamation, which could mean damage. But that's not my point. The point is that the letter made all kinds of false accusations against me and indicated Baxley did not know even simple statutory law. That's why I call him a con artist.

Maybe the worst con was the one with Rickey Stokes. If Baxley's client had such a strong case, why did he feel the need to con Stokes into writing a false and defamatory post?

You and I may agree to disagree, but I've seen Baxley's act in court--I've been a party that he sued. I wasn't impressed with any part of his shtick. He's lacking when it comes to knowledge of the law, knowledge of the facts, simple fairness toward the opposing party as required by Rules of Professional Conduct, respect for the tribunal . . . and on and on.

I wouldn't hire him if he was the last lawyer on earth. I think he's just living off a rep. he built from fighting KKK back in the day. That rep. has long faded into the dust, much as Doug Jones' rep for fighting bigotry and evil also has faded. Now, Baxley and Jones are both buddies with Riley Inc. Shows how far they have fallen, and that's one reason our state has fallen into such disrepair.

Anonymous said...

The point is that the letter made all kinds of false accusations against me and indicated Baxley did not know even simple statutory law.

The conclusion does not necessarily follow from your assertion. Other conclusions are at least as likely.


Anonymous said...

Maybe the worst con was the one with Rickey Stokes. If Baxley's client had such a strong case, why did he feel the need to con Stokes into writing a false and defamatory post?

Try this little minor change in wording:

Maybe the best con was the one with Rickey Stokes. Complete the editing yourself.

Irrespective of what you think Baxley might have done to you, you underestimate him. Three Card Monte works on marks because they are busy watching what the con wants them to watch.

legalschnauzer said...

What other conclusions do you see, @2:06. Obviously, I'm pretty close to all of this, so maybe I can't see something you do see.

legalschnauzer said...

I think you misunderstand me, @2:11. I certainly respect Baxley as a con man; I have little doubt that he's good at it. I just don't respect him as a lawyer--unless, of course, your point is that a good con man makes a good lawyer. And you might very well be right about that.