Thursday, July 7, 2016

How does Mike Hubbard face $1.6 million in restitution and fines after convictions for crimes, while I face a $3.5-million default judgment for blogging?

Jessica Medeiros Garrison and Luther Strange
The State of Alabama is asking a circuit judge to impose more than $1.6 million in restitution, fines, and fees on former House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who was convicted on 12 counts of ethics-law violations. A sentencing motion indicates Attorney General Luther Strange considers this part of a "strong, meaningful" sentence for Hubbard, while defense attorney Bill Baxley said the sentencing motion -- which includes a recommended five years behind bars -- is "too absurd to respond to."

Lee County Judge Jacob Walker III is scheduled to sentence Hubbard tomorrow, with a hearing to begin at 10 a.m. This much we already know: Essentially, Strange and Baxley agree that the proposed sentence is tough, with Baxley claiming it is overly harsh. But I've had a first-hand experience with Strange and Baxley that leads me to a very different conclusion, one filled with irony and a strong hint that both of these "august attorneys" are dishonest and corrupt -- part of Alabama's problems, not the solutions.

More importantly, their words and actions suggest Alabama's court system remains a disgusting, dysfunctional sham -- one that cuts corners for white conservative elites (even a criminal like Mike Hubbard), while gouging everyday folks.

What colors my view of the $1.6 million the state seeks from Mike Hubbard, who was found by a jury of his peers to have committed criminal acts that repeatedly betrayed the public trust? You might recall that Jefferson County Circuit Judge Don Blankenship imposed a $3.5-million default judgment on me in April 2015, in a defamation case brought by former Strange campaign manager Jessica Medeiros Garrison. So Mike Hubbard might have to cough up $1.6 million related to 12 counts of criminality, while I have a $3.5-million default judgment hanging over my head in a civil matter where the public record shows I committed no wrongful act.

Let me explain: Garrison filed suit in fall 2013, claiming posts at Legal Schnauzer about her extramarital affair with Strange were false and defamatory. Garrison even went to the women's fashion magazine Marie Claire to brag about her $3.5 million default judgment and made the laughable claim that she was standing up for other women who've had something mean written about them in the press. The article was filled with inaccuracies and defamed me in more ways than I can count.

Here are just a few of the problems with Garrison's $3.5-million "windfall":

* A lawyer who reviewed the file said the record showed no one even attempted to serve me with notice of the default-judgment hearing, so it's little wonder I didn't appear. That means Blankenship's ruling, as a matter of law, is void. A scrap of toilet paper has more legal clout than his opinion.

* As a matter of law, my reporting never was found to be false or defamatory. First Amendment law requires that a jury trial be conducted in a defamation case -- that a judge, acting solo, cannot lawfully make a determination that published matter is defamatory. In Garrison's case, there was no trial and no jury, so there could be no finding that my work was false and defamatory. This has been stated many times in case law, including Bernard v. Gulf Oil, 619 F. 2d 459 (5th Cir., 1980), which held: "The essence of prior restraint is that it places specific communications under the personal censorship of the judge."

* Blankenship, who acted as a personal censor in the Garrison case, issued an order indicating almost all of the $3.5 million was granted because Garrison (and maybe Strange) claimed I had reported that her son is the AG's biological child. Unfortunately for Garrison, I reported no such thing. That means there is no legal basis for the judgment, and it largely was the product of perjury on Garrison's part.

Judge Don Blanenship
What about the irony in all of this? While Strange recused himself from the Hubbard case, his office was in it all the way. In the Garrison lawsuit, the AG even testified in a hearing regarding Garrison's lawsuit -- apparently because he knew I would not be present, and he wouldn't face any unpleasant cross examination. As for Baxley, he was Garrison's attorney in the lawsuit, and he has to know the $3.5-million has no basis in fact or law. Baxley has a duty, under Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers, to act with honesty and a sense of fairness toward the opposing party and the tribunal. And yet, he allows a bogus $3.5-million default judgment to sit there because it serves someone's corrupt agenda. Strange is doing the same thing.

Don't be surprised if something fundamentally dishonest is going on behind the scenes in the Hubbard sentencing. We already know Strange sought 50 years behind bars for defendants in an ethics-law case less than two years ago. But his office has recommended that Hubbard be incarcerated for no more than five years. That is a stunningly lenient recommendation -- and Strange's own previous requests prove it -- so the public already has reason to believe that Hubbard is receiving favorable treatment. Judge Walker does not have to follow the prosecution's recommendation--he can go above it or below it -- so he needs to hit Hubbard with at least 10 years, which would be meaningful punishment for the crimes committed.

Strange and Baxley, in roundabout ways, are telling the public that $1.6 million is a severe punishment for Mike Hubbard following his conviction on 12 criminal counts. Meanwhile, they both played major roles in Jessica Garrison's default judgment, and they seem to be saying $3.5-million is a proper amount for a journalist whose reporting never has been found to be false or defamatory at trial -- and whose constitutional rights to due process and equal protection were raped by a judge from the Democratic Party (Don Blankenship), who should be above such corrupt actions.

What does the rule of law mean to Strange and Baxley? The answer appears to be "absolutely nothing" -- and it will be interesting to see how that plays out in the Hubbard sentencing.


Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone expects honesty or consistency from Bill Baxley or Luther Strange.

Anonymous said...

I bet Hubbard gets less than five years.

Anonymous said...

I know Don Blankenship fairly well, and I've always considered him to be a man of honor. That's why I'm so disgusted with his handling of the Garrison lawsuit. Don knows default judgments are disfavored under the law, and he should know you were not notified of the default-judgment hearing, making his order void. He also should know that a $3.5 million judgment is absurd. Someone wanted him to do that to "shock and awe" you, and I'm sad to see that he went along with it.

I fear someone made a proposal that would benefit his career and ensure his ongoing presence on the bench, so he went with it -- at a terrible cost to justice.

Anonymous said...

The answer to the question in your headline is simple. Mike Hubbard is/was part of the white elites who rule Alabama, and you wrote unfavorable things about the white elites who rule Alabama. This is all about who is in what club -- and you were in the wrong club.

I'm in the wrong club, too. But I didn't have the temerity to call out people like Rob Riley, Luther Strange, and Bill Pryor.

Anonymous said...

You should appeal that judgment or get it overturned or something. Shouldn't be that hard to do, right?

legalschnauzer said...

Attempting to get justice in an Alabama courtroom always is hard. Appellate courts routinely respond to valid claims with a one-page "Affirmed, No Opinion" ruling. I've received several of those myself. Also, it's easier said than done when the case is in Alabama, and we now live in Missouri -- after being forced to leave our home state like refugees from Syria. In due course, I intend to challenge this, yes, but it's much more difficult than you might think.

Anonymous said...

Seems like your judgement is way over the top. Blogging can get you in that much trouble? That is totally scary dude. Any idea as to why you think it is so high?

Anonymous said...

I really hope you are appealing the judgement. Agree with others that you should appeal. Makes no sense. Not sure who you ticked off with your blogs but they must be powerful and I guess they are pissed.

Anonymous said...

Rumor vs. fact. What justifies a slander charge and legal issues? Rumors have circulated since the beginning of time. Facts stand on their own. We live in a country that guarantees free speech. How many have been jailed or fined for repeating rumors or publishing rumors or facts? One thing is for certain: the Rethuglicans have no limit to the depths they will stoop to destroy people's lives - even from their own tribe. The sad part is that they are using the system for personal and revenge issues, at the cost of tax-paying citizens, many who are struggling to make ends meet in their own lives. Where is the law against this type of fraud and legal abuse?

Anonymous said...

Maybe the bullies picked on you, Roger, because they knew you couldn't fight back; that you didn't have the support, money or connections to fight them. That's the working, scheming nature of bullies. And that's exactly what you're up against with these colluding criminals who have politics & power in their pockets. They made you an example didn't they? Anyone who wants to expose their dark and dirty secrets will think again after seeing what they've been able to do to you for telling the truth. Consequently, the stagnation and decaying pond called government continues to grow.

legalschnauzer said...

@12:27 -- I agree that's how bullies work, and that's how they perceived Carol and me. But I would submit that they did not do a good job of researching their targets. I have fought back, and I will fight back, and they would have known that if they'd done a little research on their adversary. I might not have their resources and connections, but I have "powder" to fight back with, and I ca make it sting.

To borrow a word from George W. Bush, I think they "misunderestimated" us.

legalschnauzer said...

@10:33 -- Good points and questions. As for who I ticked off, Rob Riley filed one bogus defamation case against me, so that hints Riley Inc. is pissed off. Jessica Garrison filed a bogus defamation case against me, so that hints Luther Strange is pissed off. Bentley reportedly is trying to trump up criminal charges against Donald Watkins and me, so that indicates he and RCM are pissed off. Bill Pryor's pissed off because I unearthed the gay-porn photos that he thought would never surface.

The list of pissed people is pretty long.

legalschnauzer said...

@9:04 -- Yes, it is scary. Don't know how much of this blog you've read, but if you get a chance to go back to some of other stories -- many of which don't involve me at all -- you'll find the whole thing reads like something Edgar Allen Poe might dream up.

I think the $3.5 million was plucked out of thin air so that it would scare and intimidate me. Of course, it's built on perjury. Most of it appears based on Garrison's claim that I wrote Luther Strange fathered her child. I never wrote that.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it funny the two names springing up in Hubbard's trial articles are Bob Riley and Bill Canary? They had to make a "show of support" on the witness stand but would you be surprised if Hubbard's ruination was planned by the same players in a back room somewhere to shut him up? Seems he was tossed under the bus by his own kind. If he goes to prison he can't talk. Maybe he'll "tell all" before that happens. Once the truth is told, the opposing side quite often has lost its leverage.