The most high-profile such nomination is that of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court, as a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Senate Republicans seem determined not to give Garland a hearing or vote, so his nomination appears to be stalled.
The same apparently holds true for the nomination of Abdul Kallon to the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. But that's where any similarity in the two nominations ends.
Garland, by all accounts, is a highly qualified jurist, and he almost certainly is not nearly as liberal as conservative commentators want you to believe. (Not that there is anything wrong with liberal judges; in my view, we need more of them.) Kallon has proven, during his time as a district judge in the Northern District of Alabama, that he is a sham as a jurist. In fact, Republicans would be doing us all a favor if they would block his nomination. An ideal outcome would be for Kallon, somehow, to be booted off the federal bench altogether -- although I'm not sure how that could happen; gross incompetence is openly tolerated among U.S. judges, with their lifetime appointments.
My wife, Carol, and I have cast a combined four votes for Obama as president. But his appointment of Kallon to the bench almost caused us to become independents or agnostics or something other than the liberal Democrats we want to be. That Obama now seeks to promote Kallon almost gives us a case of the dry heaves.
How bad a judge is Kallon? Well, Carol and I have had a front-row seat to help us come to the conclusion that he is awful -- beyond awful, if that is possible. We've had three cases before Kallon in Birmingham, and that experience convinces us he has no business being on the federal bench--much less being promoted. (Three cases before the same bozo judge, in about five years' time? Is there only one federal judge for all of north Alabama? Has Kallon been assigned as our personal judge?)
I probably could write a treatise or two on all of the unlawful rulings we've seen from Kallon--roughly two dozen of them, is my guess--but one ruling on one issue in one of our cases reveals all you need to know about this judge. It's a simple, easy-to-follow legal concept, and Kallon's failure to get it right suggests (at least to me) that he's not just inexperienced and incompetent--he's also corrupt.
Even the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the court to which Obama made the nomination, found that Kallon got it wrong on the issue in question. In an unpublished opinion -- which courts often use to hide rulings that don't mesh with the actual law -- the Eleventh Circuit still managed to cheat us, by borrowing an idea from . . . Kallon. But the appellate court did confirm that Kallon butchered the one, simple issue that is the subject of this post.
The issue arose in Roger Shuler and Carol Shuler v. William E. Swatek, et al, a case about an unlawful sheriff's sale on our house back in 2008, robbing us of full rights to property we had owned for more than 20 years at the time of Kallon's rulings. (You can watch a video of the actual sheriff's sale at the end of this post.)
Kallon's primary finding is that he lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to hear our case because of something called the Rooker-Feldman Doctrine. What is that? Here is a short and sweet definition, from an August 2012 post:
The doctrine holds that lower United States federal courts other than the Supreme Court should not sit in direct review of state court decisions unless Congress has specifically authorized such relief. In short, federal courts below the Supreme Court must not become a court of appeals for state court decisions. The state court plaintiff has to find a state court remedy, or obtain relief from the U.S. Supreme Court.
For purposes of this post, we will assume Kallon got it right regarding my claims because I was a party to a state-law claim brought by our troublesome neighbor (the criminally inclined Mike McGarity) and his sleazy lawyer, Bill Swatek -- and therefore could not seek review of the state issues in federal district court. (In fact, Kallon butchered Rooker-Feldman on my claims -- as I explain in this post--meaning he did have jurisdiction to hear them. But to simplify things, we'll wipe my claims off the table.)
In his memorandum opinion, Kallon seemed to conveniently ignore that Carol also was a party to the federal claim. Kallon repeatedly uses the term "Plaintiffs," seeming to acknowledge there was more than one of us. But I'm not sure he ever mentioned Carol by name in his opinion--it was as if I was married to a ghost, and the ghost had played no role in owning a house with me for more than 20 years.
On page 7 (second paragraph), Kallon gives himself away--and proves that he is a glorified con man. The judge writes: "Shortly thereafter, McGarity filed suit against Roger Shuler, alleging malicious prosecution and conversion, seeking damages of $25,000."
You have the judge admitting that McGarity sued only me, and no opposing party in the federal matter argued otherwise. How could they? It's a matter of public record that McGarity sued me, and Carol was not a party to his state complaint.
What does that mean for Carol? It means her federal claims were not precluded by Rooker-Feldman -- and, by law, her claims (as the joint owner of our home) had to be heard. How did Kallon deal with that issue, which would have forced him to hear Carol's case and raise all sorts of uncomfortable truths about the actions of McGarity; his lawyer, Bill Swatek; and Sheriff Chris Curry and Deputy Bubba Caudill? He simply ignored it, did not mention it.
Our appellate brief shows, however, that we raised the issue in a Rule 59 Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment. And Kallon denied our motion, even though the law is clear he had to hear (at the very least) Carol's complaint.
Here is how we argued the issue in our Motion to Alter and the appellate brief:
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that “the Rooker-Feldman doctrine does not bar actions by non parties to the earlier state-court judgment simply because, for purposes of preclusion law, they could be considered in privity with a party to the judgment.” Lance v. Dennis, 546 U.S. 459 (2006). The district court ruling in the instant case is clear error, conflicting with U.S. Supreme Court precedent.
A three-judge panel at the Eleventh Circuit agreed with us, writing as follows in a "Do Not Publish" opinion:
A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction
We find no error in the district court's determination that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine precluded it from ruling on Roger Shuler's claim that the judgment against him in state court, resulting in the issuance of the writ of attachment, was invalid. Casale v. Tillman, 558 F.3d 1258, 1260 (11th Cir. 2009) (holding that a losing party in a state-court lawsuit may not seek an order in federal court that would "effectively nullify the state court judgment") (internal quotation marks omitted). However, Carol Shuler was not a party to the state tort action that resulted in Roger Shuler's liability to McGarity, therefore, the Rooker Feldman doctrine did not bar the district court from addressing her claims. See Lance v. Dennis, 546 U.S. 459, 464 (2006) (per curiam) (holding that Rooker Feldman does not apply "where the party against whom the doctrine is invoked was not a party to the underlying state-court proceeding").
So, there you have it -- even the Eleventh Circuit found that Kallon got it wrong, that he had to hear Carol's claims. And we are supposed to think Kallon is qualified to join the Eleventh Circuit, after that court found he butchered the simplest of legal concepts?
What does it say about Kallon when he got such an issue wrong? To me, it says he is corrupt and followed someone's "ex parte" instructions to make sure the issues in our case never got a hearing.
Similar corruption probably was present with the Eleventh Circuit. Even though they ruled correctly on the issue of Carol and Rooker-Feldman, they still found a way to cheat us, borrowing an idea from Kallon. And we will address that in an upcoming post.
Our experience in this case proves that, even when a court admits you are right, they still can find ways to make you a loser. Ain't "justice" wonderful?
For the purposes of this post, it's enough to show that Abdul Kallon should not be promoted.