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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

What was Prosecutor Dan Patterson thinking when he brought State v. Carol Shuler, a criminal case that provides no evidence of a crime being committed?


Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson
Like many Americans, I have supported the death penalty at some point in my life. I once thought, contrary to substantial evidence, that it served as a deterrent to violent crime. I assumed cops, prosecutors, judges, and juries were competent and honest enough to pretty much always get it right in capital cases.

My views on the death penalty began to change about 17 years ago, when the legal travails described in this blog began. That's when, for the first time in my life, I came face to face with our "justice system" in a personal way. I saw the system is riddled with dishonesty, fraud, self-dealing, back-stabbing, criminality, and utter disrespect for the rule of law. I saw that our justice apparatus is so broken that it routinely turns out judgments that are unreliable, unjust, and contrary to facts and law. I learned our appellate courts too often are unwilling to correct the grossly unlawful outcomes that rial courts spew out.

Such a system has no business taking anyone's life, no matter how heinous we think their crimes, so I have become an ardent opponent of the death penalty. I've come close to concluding that such a system has no business taking anyone's freedom either, so I'm almost anti-incarceration, across the board. On top of that, such a system has no business depriving citizens of their money, their homes, their real property, their personal property, their children, and much more. In other words, I've pretty much concluded our civil-justice system has become such a sewer that it needs to be drained and closed.

It would be fine with me if we turned our jails and prisons into racquetball courts, community health centers, technical colleges, manufacturing plants. I'm fine with turning our courthouses into rec centers, schools, primary-care clinics, museums.

What are we to do about crimes and other wrongs? I'm starting to think Charles Bronson might have had the right idea with his "take matters into your own hands" approach.

Nothing drives home these points quite like the pending criminal case against my wife, Carol, here in Greene County, Missouri. We've written a string of posts that show there was no probable cause to arrest Carol, much less prosecute her. The so-called officer/"victim" in the one remaining charge against Carol admits he "caused contact" with her, not the other way around, meaning she did not assault him.

The court docket shows Carol, acting pro se, filed documents in March, April, and May 2017, that should have, by law, forced dismissal of the case. (See case.net, 1631-CR07731 - ST V CAROL T SHULER.) And yet, Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto told Carol in open court that she was not going to consider Carol's motions until she had a lawyer or waived her right to an attorney. Carol chose to have an attorney, and that's how we wound up with a public defender who seems to be developing a personal view of the law that is wildly out of touch with the real law.

Aside from that, Carol's representation issue has been resolved for quite some time, and we still see no sign that the judge has even read motions that have been sitting for four to six months.

How bad is the case against Carol, how much of a farce is it? Not only does the "victim" acknowledge that he wasn't victimized at all, a key element of the offense has been missing all along. (More on that in a moment.)

Those who fondly remember the classic TV sitcom Cheers, might recall public reaction when Shelley Long left the series for a movie career that proved to be stillborn. Many wondered, "What was she thinking?"

A similar question might be asked of Greene County Prosecuting Attorney (PA) Dan Patterson. "What was he thinking when he brought State v. Carol Shuler?" His case looks like a balsa-wood shed after an encounter with Hurricane Irma. Let's review where it stands:

The Probable Cause (PC) Statement and Misdemeanor Information (MI), taken together, more or less brought three charges against Carol:

(1) In the PC Statement, Officer Debi Wade claims Carol "barreled into her head-first." I witnessed this supposed event from about 15 feet away, and nothing even close to that happened. Patterson apparently agrees with me because his office did not bring the claim against Carol in the MI, its charging document.

Can Wade's claim, as an attorney close to the case has suggested, be incorporated into the charges against Carol -- even though the MI charging document makes no mention of it? The answer is no. (See State v. Metzinger, Mo. Ct. of App., 2015.) That means Wade's claim is dead on arrival; in fact, it never arrived at all because the prosecutor didn't bring it.

(2) Count 2 in the MI was a charge for trespass. It had a slight problem: The PC Statement, which is supposed to provide evidence to support the charge, said not one word about it. Public Defender Patty Poe moved for dismissal, and despite Assistant PA Nicholas Jain's spirited argument, Judge Palmietto booted that charge.

(3) Count 1 in the MI was for Assault of a Law Enforcement Officer, Third Degree. Under Missouri law, the issue in such a charge is: Did the defendant cause contact with a law enforcement officer? Carol is alleged to have pushed Officer Jeremy Lynn. But Lynn admits in his incident report that he "caused contact" with Carol, by grabbing her. This is the one remaining charge against Carol, but it should be booted soon.

What about that element of the offense that has been missing all along? Under RSMo. 565.083, a defendant commits the offense when "such person knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical contact with a law enforcement officer . . . ."

Notice that word in yellow: knowingly. It must be present for this offense to have been committed. What does "knowingly" mean? The answer is found in RSMo. 556.061 (Code Definitions), which reads, in part:

(31) "Knowingly", when used with respect to:

(a) Conduct or attendant circumstances, means a person is aware of the nature of his or her conduct or that those circumstances exist; or

(b) A result of conduct, means a person is aware that his or her conduct is practically certain to cause that result;

Was Carol aware that she was "assaulting" Jeremy Lynn? Hell, Officer Lynn's own words show HE wasn't aware she was assaulting him. So how could Carol be aware of it? Plus, court documents show we timely filed a Notice of Appeal (with fees), and the Missouri Court of Appeals had received our notice. Carol had a reasonable belief that put a stay on the eviction, and in fact, it did.

Despite that, Carol found a strange man breaking into her home -- without lawful grounds for doing so -- and grabbing her. Under those circumstances, Carol "knowingly" was trying to protect her home and its inhabitants -- as she is entitled to do under Missouri's Castle Doctrine Law. Jeremy Lynn probably is lucky he didn't get a frying pan smashed into his cranium, which Carol was entitled to do under the law. Either way, the "knowingly" element is missing, meaning the assault charge is kaput.

So, what does PA Dan Patterson have to show for bringing State v. Carol Shuler? He has:

(1) A "sort of" claim from Debi Wade that never even made it into the charging document;

(2) A trespass charge that had no evidentiary support, and was dismissed;

(3) An assault charge that even the "victim" admits, in so many words, isn't supported by evidence.

The people of Missouri, whose tax dollars support such prosecutorial nonsense, have every right to ask Patterson: "What in the hell were you thinking?"

And this is a guy who surely has helped send people to death row. He can't handle State v. Carol Shuler; he certainly should not be handling matters of life and death.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Wife of Birmingham attorney James F. Henry admits he's on Ashley Madison list, and attorney David M. Deutsch is not licensed in Alabama -- so double Oops!


James F. Henry
Birmingham attorney James F. Henry claimed our Ashley Madison post about him was false, apparently not realizing his own wife had left a comment on the post, admitting that his name was among the paying customers at the extramarital-affairs Web site. Oops!

Henry communicated his concerns via an e-mail from a lawyer named David M. Deutsch, whose name appears nowhere at the Alabama State Bar. Oops, again!

I did make one mistake on the post in question. I reported that Henry -- who is with the firm Cabaniss Johnston Gardner Dumas and O'Neal -- was married to Kelly Jo Henry. In fact, they had been divorced for several years, and Linda Henry -- the new Mrs. Henry -- corrected me on that matter via a comment on the post. Linda Henry had a number of interesting things to say in her comment, which her husband and his lawyer apparently had not read:

Linda Henry said...

Hi there! :)

When I heard you'd written an article about Jim, I came right on over to your little blog to see for myself! All in all, it's not bad! You know what they say about there being no such thing as bad press! ;)

I really am appalled to see that you've listed Jim's wife as Kelly, when I'm Jim's ACTUAL wife, Linda! Jim and Kelly divorced nine years ago. We've been married for almost 7 wonderful years! Call it silly, but these things matter to a girl!

I think it's nice that you included some info from his bio, and that you referenced a case of his. Heaven knows he's the hardest working man I know. He has definitely stepped away from many a family meal or outing to meet the needs of his clients! We understand, of course, we're just so blessed that he gets to do what he loves every day! :)

I suppose the purpose of the article was sort of "exposing" the Ashley Madison thing, but everyone's had access to the list for ages, so it's hardly news! I'd seen something on Ashley Madison on TV, was showing Jim, and so I'm the one who actually registered! Fortunately, Jim has a sense of humor about it! I'm a lucky girl! :)

Warmest regards,

Mrs. Linda Henry

March 23, 2016 at 10:11 PM

Mrs. Henry sounds like an awfully good sport, with a delightful sense of humor. I'd probably get a kick out of interviewing her for a Legal Schnauzer post. What would be the subject? I don't know, but it sounds like Mrs. Henry would be a hoot, regardless.

It turns out that Mr. Henry's lawyer should have visited with Mrs. Henry before dashing off an e-mail to me. That way, he would have known that Mr. Henry's name is, in fact, on the Ashley Madison list.

As for David M. Deutsch, I saw that he was not a member of the Alabama State Bar, so that prompted further research. I found a lawyer by that name at The Deutsch Law firm, with offices in New York City and Boca Raton, Florida -- with admissions in New York and Florida, and no other states.

Upon learning this information, I got back to Mr. Deutsch via e-mail:

Mr. Deutsch:

Is this you at the following link?

https://www.deutschpc.com/people

If so, your bio indicates you have bar admittance in New York and Florida, but not in Alabama. Why then, have you sent correspondence to me, indicating you represent James Henry, an Alabama resident? Are you practicing law without a license in Alabama?


That apparently caused some throat-clearing on Mr. Deutsch's end, because I received this response:

Mr. Shuler,

Thank you for your note.

I passed along the contents of your previous email to Mr. Henry.

Should Mr. Henry wish to pursue this matter further within the Court system, I have advised him to retain an attorney that is a member of the Alabama bar.

Best,

David

Did I let it rest at that? No, I did not. After all, they call me Legal Schnauzer for a reason. If someone encroaches on my territory, with bad or thoughtless intentions, I bark and I dig -- or maybe both. If the encroachment is serious enough, I might respond with a, "Get the hell off my lawn!" So, I fired back at Deutsch, thusly:

My question:

By sending correspondence to me, claiming to represent Mr. Henry, were you practicing law without a license in Alabama? You claimed to represent him and took action on his behalf, even though you are not licensed to practice law in Alabama. That sounds like a problem to me.

Did that draw a reply from Deutsch? Nope. Did he actually practice law without a license? Well, he claimed to represent Mr. Henry, an Alabama resident. And he took action on Mr. Henry's behalf by sending a law-related e-mail to me. Does that constitute practicing a law without a license? The answer is, "I don't know." That's a fairly murky area of the law, and my research has not led me to any solid conclusions.

But I'm going to keep digging -- and we plan to provide an update in a follow-up post.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Child drowns from falling into grease pit at Auburn, AL, ice-cream parlor, raising the tricky legal questions that are central to our nightmarish experience


Sadie Grace Andrews
(From al.com)
A 3-year-old girl died over the weekend when she drowned from falling into a grease pit at an Auburn, AL, ice-cream parlor. It's hard to imagine a more horrific form of accidental death, and it raises all sorts of legal issues -- many of which are present in our personal tale of trying to keep a criminally inclined neighbor and his brethren off our property.

Sadie Grace Andrews died about 1 p.m. on Saturday when the accident happened at Bruster's Real Ice Cream on East University Drive. A 911 call was placed about a missing child, and a quick review of surveillance video at the store showed what happened: Sadie and two of her siblings were playing when she apparently stepped or jumped on an unsecured lid that came loose and caused her to fall into the grease pit. From a report at al.com:

The grease trap is a six-foot deep, in-ground container. Sadie was playing in the area, which has picnic tables and a grassy area where children play, an official said. It wasn't the first time the Andrews family had visited the ice cream shop for the children to play and have treats. Lee County Coroner Bill Harris said Sadie stepped onto the lid of the grease trap, which apparently wasn't locked or secured, and fell in when the door opened. The door closed on top of her, he said.

Police said officers had already been dispatched to the scene because the girl was missing. When officers arrived, CPR was being was being performed. She was taken to East Alabama Medical Center, where efforts to revive her were unsuccessful, police said.

The tragedy raises a number of social and technical questions. For example, why weren't Sadie's parents better able to look after her? She was one of six children, so did the parents simply have more kids than they could watch? Also, why was an unprotected grease pit in an area where anyone could step on the lid?

These and many other questions likely will be raised in court proceedings. That's because the incident raises a number of legal issues that can become a costly thicket for many home and business owners. My wife, Carol, and I know because such issues -- and our efforts to protect ourselves from them -- led to the personal legal saga that is chronicled on this blog. All of the horror stories with which regular readers have become familiar -- my unlawful incarceration of five months, loss of our home in Birmingham to a wrongful foreclosure, Carol's broken arm here in Greene County, MO -- originated with issues like the ones present in Sadie Andrews' accidental death at the Auburn ice-cream parlor.

Why did such issues confront us? We had the misfortune of having a man named Mike McGarity move in next door to us in late 1998. McGarity has the trappings of a standard-issue suburban dad -- a wife, two kids, a job at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. But his belligerent and threatening tone, which we encountered regularly, hinted that something dark was going on. We eventually learned that McGarity, in fact, has at least eight criminal convictions in his background.

Bruster's Real Ice Cream in Auburn
(From dailymail.co.uk)
And yet, this menacing fellow decided he, his kids, his kids' friends, other adults, and a veritable cast of thousands (other neighborhood kids, many of whom we didn't know, didn't know their parents) should be able to turn our yard into a playground -- without bothering to ask for our permission. When I instructed McGarity to keep himself and his minions off our property, I was greeted with "I'm going to sue you for harassment" and "We're going to keep on coming."

Why was that a concern, aside from the fact McGarity had proven he's an ass, the kind of person we didn't want to deal with? (When asked to control the ear-splitting barking of  his coonhound dog, McGarity's reply: "You just need to get ear plugs."). Well, it involved the kinds of legal issues that will be confronting Bruster's Real Ice Cream in the months ahead.

One such issue is called "premises liability." Here is how findlaw.com defines it:

When someone enters your property, they have a reasonable expectation of not getting injured. This means that you, as a property owner (or non-owner resident), are responsible for maintaining a relatively safe environment. This is known as "premises liability." For example, a courier delivering a package may sue you for injuries if he slips and falls on an oil slick in the driveway.

Bruster's Real Ice Cream now faces major headaches over premises liability. Sadie Andrews and her family, under the law, had a reasonable expectation that the property owner would maintain a relatively safe environment. Instead, she stepped on the lid of a grease pit and drowned in the muck below.

What if McGarity, or another adult or child from his yard, had slipped and fallen on our property? The injured party likely would have sued us, even if we had maintained a safe environment. (Note: McGarity had already hinted that he was a litigious sort, threatening to sue us for harassment because we tried to exercise our right to keep him off our yard. This just added to the mountain of reasons we did not want him, or anyone affiliated with him, coming on our yard.)

What if a child had fallen on our concrete driveway and sustained serious head trauma? Our insurance rates likely would have skyrocketed, and we might have been dropped as an insured altogether.

Premises liability cases, under Alabama law, involve numerous variables, so its hard to predict the outcome of a particular case. But even if the homeowner prevails in court, the defense of such a lawsuit is likely to be expensive and might still count as a mark against you with an insurance company. The best idea is to try to prevent injuries on your property, and that's exactly what we tried to do. Little did we know, at the time, that McGarity was a hardened criminal, he has access to attorney Bill Swatek and his lengthy disciplinary record, Swatek receives favors from corrupt judges in Shelby County, and Swatek has ties to the national Republican political establishment (through his son, Dax, a GOP "consultant.")

A classic Alabama premises-liability case is styled Tuders v. Kell, 739 So.2d 1069 (1999). (Ironically, Rob Riley was one of the plaintiffs' lawyers in the case.) It involves two couples and a mother with two children (Tuders), who were passengers on a boat at Neely Henry Lake when a severe thunderstorm approached. With lightning beginning to strike, they sought the nearest available shelter in a pier and boat house, still under construction, belonging to Kell. About 15 minutes into the storm, the boathouse collapsed, killing three members of the Tuders party and injuring others.

The Tuders filed a wrongful-death and personal-injury lawsuit, based largely on principles of premises liability. The case went to the Alabama Supreme Court, and the landowner (Kell) prevailed. But one can only imagine how much it cost to defend the lawsuit, and it's likely Kell's insurance rates went way up or he lost his insurance altogether -- all because individuals decided to use his property without permission.

Another common legal issue, especially where children are involved, is called "attractive nuisance." Here is how it is defined at insurancequotes.org:

This law states that landowners can potentially be held responsible for a child injured on the landowner’s property due to an attractive nuisance. This is normally any kind of object that is potentially dangerous while simultaneously being inviting to children.

This likely will be an issue in the Bruster's case. Was Sadie Andrews attracted to the loose lid that wound up costing her life? Our situation also involved kids, and if one had gotten hurt on our property, could a lawyer have argued that trees in our yard served as an attractive nuisance? The answer is yes. That argument might not have prevailed in court, but the cost to Carol and me would have been enormous, either way.

A classic attractive-nuisance case in Alabama is styled Foster v. Alabama Power Co. 395 So. 2d 27 (Ala: Supreme Court, 1981). It involved a 15-year-old boy, who climbed on a transmission-line tower, came in contact with a high-voltage wire, and fell to the ground, sustaining permanent personal injuries. The power company prevailed at trial, upheld on appeal, but the cost of defending the case likely was huge.

The Andrews family
(From dailymail.co.uk.)
Our situation involved one issue that was not present in the Bruster's case: trespassing. As a business operating at midday, Bruster's was open to the public, so Sadie Andrews and her family had every right to be there. Our private property was not open to the public, so McGarity and his gang had no right to be there; they were trespassers.

In general, a landowner has no duty to trespassers, other than to refrain from wantonly or intentionally injuring them. That can change, however, when children are involved. Courts have wrestled with age as a factor with trespassing children -- some jurisdictions holding that liability adheres only when the child is under a certain age, such as 16 or 14.

Alabama has removed age restrictions, but a landowner still can be held liable for injuries to a trespasser, as spelled out in Lyle v. Bouler, 547 So. 2d 506 (Ala: Supreme Court, 1989):

A possessor of land is subject to liability for physical harm to children trespassing thereon caused by an artificial condition upon the land if

(a) the place where the condition exists is one upon which the possessor knows or has reason to know that children are likely to trespass, and

(b) the condition is one of which the possessor knows or has reason to know and which he realizes or should realize will involve an unreasonable risk of death or serious bodily harm to such children, and 
(c) the children because of their youth do not discover the condition or realize the risk involved in intermeddling with it or in coming within the area made dangerous by it, and

(d) the utility to the possessor of maintaining the condition and the burden of eliminating the danger are slight as compared with the risk to children involved, and 
(e) the possessor fails to exercise reasonable care to eliminate the danger or otherwise to protect the children.

Notice item (a), highlighted above. It says a landowner has a special duty to act if he knows children are likely to trespass. An article at alllaw.com says pretty much the same thing, calling it "Exceptions for Discovered Trespassers":

When people trespass with some regularity, property owners may begin to expect continued trespassing. In such a situation, the rationale of the general rule [that landowners owe no duty to trespassers] is destroyed. Now, the property owner can anticipate that dangerous conditions could pose safety hazards to people on the property. Thus, many states require property owners to warn discovered trespassers of dangerous conditions.

Mike McGarity and his gang of trespassers put us at significant legal risk, and we got cheated over and over again because we tried to protect ourselves from a menace with a criminal record.

Bottom line: We weren't aware of any dangerous conditions on our property, but what if McGarity or a child stepped in a hole that a ground squirrel had dug.? I saw such holes on our yard fairly regularly, and tried to fill them as soon as I spotted them. But what if I didn't get to such a hole in time, and a trespasser broke a leg? We likely would have been liable for damages -- and we certainly would have incurred major expense to defend a lawsuit from a belligerent criminal -- with access to a corrupt lawyer and crooked judges in Shelby County.

Is it any wonder we tried everything we could think of, under the law, to keep McGarity and his minions off our property? Is it any wonder Bruster's -- while not having to worry about the trespassing issue -- is likely to spend millions to settle a case that will revolve around issues of premises liability and attractive nuisance?

Reports of a $60-million connection between Paul Manafort and Oleg Deripaska could lead Mueller investigators to Sessions, Riley, and the Alabama Gang


Oleg Deripaska and Paul Manafort
Revelations last week that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has $60 million of financial connections to a Russian oligarch could shine light on corruption involving some of the biggest names in Alabama politics, according to a prominent whistle blower and opposition researcher.

That's because Alabama GOP luminaries such as Jeff Sessions (Trump attorney general and former U.S. senator), Bob Riley (former governor), and Bill Canary (head of the Business Council of Alabama) have worked with Manafort on a $40 billion-dollar Air Force refueling-tanker deal that was to include the oligarch, Jill Simpson says.

If Special Counsel Robert Mueller digs deeply on the ties between Manafort and Oleg Deripaska, it could lead to Jeff Sessions' office -- and from there to any number of individuals connected to Bill Canary and Bob Riley, Simpson says. Canary already has fallen out of favor with a number of business elites, including executives from Alabama Power, so any ties to the Trump-Russia scandal are not likely to help his standing.

Simpson, who testified before Congress about a Republican plan to conduct a political prosecution against former Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman, said Manafort worked closely with Alabama officials on a proposal that called for the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. (EADS) to build the Air Force tanker, in part, at a planned construction facility in Mobile, Alabama. Deripaska, a billionaire, is part owner of a company that was to provide aluminum for the project.

The Pentagon wound up choosing U.S.-based Boeing over EADS, perhaps in part because of EADS' ties to seedy characters, including the Gaddafi family in Libya and individuals tied to Vladimir Putin in Russia. From a 2011 post on the competition:

The Russia Connection -- The Gaddafi family reportedly developed ties to EADS through big-money interests in Russia. Prime among them is Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire who partly owns a company that was to provide aluminum for the EADS planes. Deripaska has close ties to Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, and Russian interests reportedly have a significant stake in EADS. Was the Pentagon comfortable with this arrangement, given the rise of organized crime in Russia? Probably not.

Did Alabama political figures jump in bed with Russian organized crime, tied to Putin, in an effort to land the tanker project for EADS? Are Alabama officials still connected to the Russian mob, now that Donald Trump appears to be Putin's chosen puppet in the White House?

An NBC report late last week could shine white-hot light on those questions.  From the report:

Paul Manafort, a former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, has much stronger financial ties to a Russian oligarch than have been previously reported.

An NBC News investigation reveals that $26 million changed hands in the form of a loan between a company linked to Manafort and the oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire with close ties to the Kremlin.

The loan brings the total of their known business dealings to around $60 million over the past decade, according to financial documents filed in Cyprus and the Cayman Islands.

Manafort was forced to resign from the Trump campaign in August 2016, following allegations of improper financial dealings, charges he has strenuously denied. He is now a central figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Investigators have said they are looking into Manafort's financial ties to prominent figures in Russia.

The Manafort-Deripaska relationship shows signs of money laundering. Reports NBC:

Lawyers specializing in money laundering said the loans appeared unusual and merited further investigation.

“Money launderers frequently will disguise payments as loans,” said Stefan Cassella, a former federal prosecutor. “You can call it a loan, you can call it Mary Jane. If there's no intent to repay it, then it's not really a loan. It's just a payment.”

The documents go on to reveal loans of more than $27 million from the two Cyprus entities to a third company connected to Manafort, a limited-liability corporation registered in Delaware.

In a recent post at her Facebook page, Simpson describes her research on Manafort and Deripaska:

This past winter and late last fall of 2016, I laid out exactly how Oleg Deripaska had washed (laundered) millions through Cyprus and the Caymans. Well turns out the grand total was $60 million, which was about what I thought. When folks got to looking closely at the $19 million Manafort was sued over -- which I had the paperwork on, as I track . . . Oleg for press folks . . .  well, oh my, it became obvious what was going on.  Oleg would give Manafort the money as a loan then mark it off the books for deals but never clear it for tax purposes, and when folks started looking at how Oleg sued Manafort in the Caymans but never filed a bar complaint, it was slowly becoming apparent that [the lawsuit] was all a big hoax.

How did Manafort and longtime GOP consultant Richard H. Davis develop connections to Alabama. Simpson says it developed via EADS and former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour:

I first started tracking Manafort and Rick Davis when they started dealing with Riley, Sessions, and Canary through Haley Barbour on the EADS tanker deal for Oleg Deripaska. I might add I went all the way to Russia to track what was up in 2008 with Manafort and Oleg and did a ton of stories. It will be fun to watch what the FBI does now that they realize how much Manafort was making working for Russian Government against our country.

Simpson has not been quiet about the ties between Manafort, Russia, and Alabama. She spelled them out to reporters who were looking into the Siegelman case:

I might add when I came forward [on the Siegelman case], I explained all this operation with Russia to 60 Minutes; it was how I got on the show. Folks said ugly things about me back then, but I told the truth on all I knew about Manafort and Rick Davis and the Riley/Sessions/Canary gang -- and their involvement with the top Putin Russian Business Spy Oleg Deripaska, who at that time was cooking a deal to get to supply the aluminum for U.S. tankers for EADS. 
I [talked] with reporters in New York and at the National Press Club about this. I might add I am the source that outed that whole story in 2008. Had I not known how they operated, from being a Republican back then, I never would have been able to out their whole Russian operation for progressives to push the FBI to investigate in 2016.

Simpson practiced law for 20-plus years, but she no longer is a member of the Alabama State Bar, thanks to a peculiar chain of events she apparently traces to the Alabama Gang, led by Jeff Sessions. She is firing back now as an opposition researcher, with information that could help FBI and Mueller investigators put Sessions and his cronies in a very bad place. She wrote the following to her Facebook readers:

Now y'all know how Oleg Deripaska became my hobby, as I have said many times in the last year -- since I was hired to [research] it . . . in late 2016 and early 2017, it is a heck of story and goes right to Jeff Session's doorstep. I might add that is why he and Russian ass-kissing buddies tried to destroy me in 2014 and 2015, but all the a-holes did was make me more determined than ever to see they went to jail. If I never work again, I am still satisfied I kicked their ass with my research in 2015, 2016, 2017.

Could that research, in fact, cause Sessions, Riley, Canary, and other Alabama politicos to wind up in federal prison? Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Ashley Madison customers revealed: Robert E. Tingle Jr., co-founder of Hoover-based accounting firm, appears at notorious extramarital-affairs Web site


Robert Tingle Jr.
The managing member of an accounting firm in Hoover appears on the Alabama list of paying customers for the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site.

Robert E. Tingle Jr. co-founded the Truitt Tingle Paramore and Argent firm in 1990. The firm's office is on Stadium Trace Parkway in Hoover. Tingle is married to Melanie N. Tingle, and the couple lives in Shelby County. They have two daughters. From Robert Tingle's bio at the firm Web site:

Robby co-founded the firm in 1990. As the managing member, he oversees business and personal tax management for clients. Robby also manages software implementation and instruction. He has deep expertise working with clients in several industries, particularly car dealerships and auto parts suppliers, veterinarians, manufacturing companies, closely-held businesses, and other professional services companies.

Truitt Tingle markets itself as a firm that clients can count on as a "friend":

Our mission is to earn clients for life by offering sound, proactive financial guidance, focusing on solutions that will help you manage and grow your operation. Equally important to us is building lasting relationships with our clients that reach beyond professional ties. We care deeply about you and your success.

Perhaps Mr. Tingle, via his activities on Ashley Madison, has taken that "friendly" notion a bit too far. Here is more about his background:

Robby earned his bachelor of science in business administration from Auburn University. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants. Robby is active in his church, including service on the church finance committee. He is married with two daughters. In his free time, he enjoys travel and golf.

According to her Facebook page, Melanie Tingle has a B.A. in English from UAB and an M.A. in secondary education from the University of Montevallo. and she has taught at Thompson Middle School for 12 years. From her bio at Alabaster City Schools Web site:

Melanie Tingle
I have been married for twenty-eight years to Robby Tingle. I also have two grown daughters and a son-in-law. In addition, I have a quirky, old dog named Nikki. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, writing, and cooking.

We sought comment from Robert Tingle for this post, but he has not responded to our queries.







Previously:

Article with links to 1-20 in Ashley Madison series

(21) Craig Oliver, attorney, Springfield, MO (1/24/17)

(22) Craig Lowell, attorney, Wiggins Childs, Birmingham (1/26/17)

(23) Thomas Mancuso, tax attorney, Montgomery, AL (2/16/17)

(24) Nicholas Arciniegas, attorney, Washington, D.C. (2/21/17)

(25) Griffin McGahey, vice president, High Cotton USA, Birmingham (3/16/17)

(26) Matthew Couch, attorney, Cabaniss Johnson, Birmingham (3/23/17)

(27) Dr. Keron Vickers, chiropractor, Birmingham (4/4/17)

(28) D. Paterson Cope, president, wealth management, Birmingham (4/20/17)

(29) Shawn Baker, developer, Blackwater Resources, Birmingham (4/24/17)

(30) David Deusner, attorney/forensics, Control Risks, Birmingham/Washington, D.C. (4/26/17)

(31) David J. Harrison, attorney, Geneva, AL (6/8/17)

(32) Michael Mullis, managing partner, Kelley and Mullis, Birmingham (4/12/17)

(33) David Healy, attorney, Ozark, MO (6/15/17)

(34) Tom Layfield, executive director of ALRBA, Montgonery, AL (6/19/17)

(35) Thomas T. Lamberth Jr., mortgage banker, BBVA Compass, Birmingham (6/20/17)

(36) Ron Ten Berge, exec. partner, Frontenac Private Equity, Chicago/Birmingham (6/28/17)

(37) Andy Schroeder, president, South Central Steel, Harpersville, AL (7/12/17)

(38) Richard Barsness, CEO, Incredible Pizza Co., Springfield, MO. (8/3/17)

Utah nurse achieves a measure of justice as abusive cop is fired, but in Missouri, sheriff and prosecutor cling to cover-up mode in the beating of my wife, Carol


Alex Wubbels' arrest
One Utah police officer has been fired and another demoted in response to the forcible arrest of a nurse, which was captured in a video that went viral on the Web. Detective Jeff Payne was fired on Tuesday (Oct. 10), and watch commander James Tracy was demoted yesterday -- all from a July 26 incident where Payne demanded that he be allowed to draw blood from an unconscious patient, and nurse Alex Wubbels refused, stating that it was against hospital policy.

It took the Salt Lake City Police Department 2 1/2 months to dish out punishment for egregious misconduct. Meanwhile, here in the Heartland, Missouri law enforcement officers (LEOs) have been stonewalling for more than two years on producing information about our unlawful eviction, on Sept. 9, 2015, which  resulted in my wife, Carol, being beaten so severely she was left with a broken arm that required trauma surgery.

The cover-up has been so intense that we still don't know the name of the officer who broke Carol's arm. And to take matters to grotesque levels, the Greene County Sheriff's Office (GCSO), led by Jim Arnott, pressed for "assault on a law enforcement officer" charges against Carol -- and Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson went along with it, bringing an obvious "cover charge" that is designed to discourage Carol from bringing a federal civil rights/police brutality lawsuit.

Why do I say the cover charge is obvious? The "victim" is Officer Jeremy Lynn, and a Probable Cause Statement alleges Carol "got physical" with Lynn by "repeatedly pushing him." Curiously, Lynn states in his own investigative report that he grabbed Carol, and she tried to pull away from him. The key element in the relevant Missouri statute says the accused must "cause physical contact" with an officer, without his consent. Well, Lynn admits he caused contact with Carol, not the other way around; that means Carol is innocent -- and both Arnott and Patterson should have known that before bringing the charge. That it was brought anyway points to an ulterior motive -- and hence, the cover charge.

What happened to Nurse Wubbels was dreadful, and she has said multiple times the incident left her "scared to death." But compared to what has been done to Carol, Wubbels got away relatively unscathed. Carol has been arrested twice, taken to jail twice, had her arm shattered, probably had a concussion that never was diagnosed or treated, and still faces bogus criminal charges. Thankfully, none of that happened to Wubbels.

Here is another place where the two cases diverge: In roughly 2 1/2 months, Wubbels received some measure of justice, with disciplinary action taken against the officers who committed or oversaw her abuse. It's been 25 months since Carol was beaten -- and that's what it was, a vicious beating -- with no sign of justice on the horizon.

The cop who beat Carol hasn't even been identified, much less punished. The GCSO's own procedures manual calls for a wide-ranging investigation after a "critical incident" that results in a "serious physical injury." But we've seen no sign of any investigation.

We have, however, seen numerous signs of a cover-up. The most obvious is the cover charge Carol still is fighting in criminal court, with her next appearance set for Nov. 22. But Carol's efforts to obtain discovery for her defense offer other glaring signs of an attempted whitewash.

X-ray of comminuted break in
Carol Shuler's left arm

Here are a few examples from "State's Response to Defendant's Motion for Disclosure . . . " For the sake of brevity and clarity, we will paraphrase both Carol's request and the State's response. (The document is embedded at the end of this post, where the non-paraphrased version can be read.) Let's look at just a handful of obvious requests, which should not be matters for much debate. But as you will see, the prosecution isn't anxious to produce the material requested:

What about the names?

2. Request: Full names and addresses for all GCSO personnel who were on the scene during the eviction.

Response: We've provided the names and addresses for persons the state intends to call as witnesses and provided their written and recorded statements. Any information beyond that is not material.

The Skinny: Everyone on the premises is a possible witness to an alleged crime. But the prosecution seriously thinks identifying all such witnesses is "not material."


Who's that talkin'?

8. Request: Copies of all communications, in any format, between or among GCSO officers re: the eviction, either before, during, or after 9/9/15.

Response: We've provided law enforcement reports, and that should be sufficient. Anything else is not material.

The Skinny: This goes directly to the motives of deputies and the GCSO leadership. It's hard to imagine anything being more material than this.


Images, we want images!

9. Request: Copies of any video recordings or still images taken during the eviction -- including recordings from dash cams, body cams, or any other recording device.

Response: We're not aware of any such evidence relating to the offense with which the defendant is charged.

The Skinny: The prosecution doesn't say this material is non-existent, it just claims not to be aware of its existence. Perhaps that's because the prosecution hasn't looked for it? And get a load of that phrase highlighted in yellow above. The state says it knows of no such evidence, relating to the assault charge against Carol. Well, that's no surprise, since Carol didn't assault anyone. But Carol was the victim of an assault, and it's hard to argue with a straight face that she isn't entitled to evidence that would prove she was victimized.


Who's on the outside?

28. Request: Copies of all communications, in any format, between GCSO personnel and external parties about the Shulers and their eviction. Possible external parties include, but are not limited to, Springfield attorneys Craig Lowther and David Shuler, Springfield landlord/businessman Trent Cowherd, and Springfield resident Don Schlueter, and any political/legal figures from Alabama.

Response: We have provided names of witnesses the state intends to call, along with their written and recorded statements. Any information beyond that is -- wait for it -- "not material.

The Skinny: Carol is accused of a crime that even the "victim" admits she did not commit. That suggests someone was out to set her up. Lowther, Cowherd, and David Shuler clearly were involved in arranging the unlawful eviction, and Carol is entitled to know who else might have been communicating with the GCSO, encouraging them to falsely arrest and imprison her.


That last request is particularly important, and here's why: Unlike the Wubbels case in Utah, this does not involve just police misconduct.  It involves apparent misconduct by two or more attorneys, a landlord/businessman whose last name is fairly prominent in the community, and perhaps political/legal figures who are corrupt and influential.

For example, we've met with several Missouri attorneys and come away with the impression that they would be happy to sue the sheriff and his deputies, but they are reluctant to go after the lawyers, landlord, and perhaps other scoundrels involved.

All of that makes our task a bit more difficult than what Nurse Wubbels faced in Utah. But I can't help but be reminded of -- and inspired by -- the words of the late great Tom Petty:

Well I know what's right
I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin' me around
But I'll stand my ground
And I won't back down






Wednesday, October 11, 2017

David and Gina Shuler, who own more than $1.161 million in Missouri real estate, are seeking financial assistance for their son's therapy on GoFundMe


Jack Shuler
Is it OK for wealthy people to seek crowd-sourcing funds for their own family needs, which public records indicate they easily could pay for themselves?

That question was at the heart of our recent post about Gina Hayes and David Neal Shuler (my lawyer/brother and sister-in-law), who have started a GoFundMe (GFM) page to raise funds for their disabled son's therapy. Jack Shuler, 15, has Hurler syndrome.

Different people might answer the question in different ways. But the individual who tipped me off to the story -- I call that person a Source Close to the Situation (SCTS) -- had strong feelings on the matter, and they were not favorable to Gina and David. Said SCTS:

Here's my bitch of the day. Gina and David are on gofundme raising money for rehab for Jack. Now i feel sympathy for Jack, but gina and david don't need any sort of financial assistance. what does david make a year? $250,000??? or more. Gina probably made $100,000 before she retired [as an air-traffic controller]. my god they live in Millwood in a house appraised at $634,000. disgusting.

people like them don't deserve any help with medical bills when so many are suffering with no help. outrageous. arrogant. privileged.

It didn't take me long to decide I agreed with SCTS. In fact, I could even add a few descriptive terms to describe David and Gina's actions -- "shameless," "tasteless," "conniving," "self-centered," "attention-seeking."

David Shuler and older son, Noah,
on a ski vacation.
(From facebook.com)
My understanding is that David and Gina have not let much cramp their style. They have taken vacations to California, Utah, and various parts of Europe, family members have told me.

How wealthy are these folks who claim on GFM to need money? As SCTS notes, they live in Millwood, a golf-course/tennis club community southeast of Springfield, MO. Their residence, 3825 San Poppi Ct., is listed as being in Ozark, MO. Greene County property records show the residence is appraised at $621,300, so SCTS was almost right on the nose.

That figure, however, does not reflect the house's actual market value. It has 4 bedrooms. 4.5 baths, 5,557 square feet, and Zillow puts the market value at $718, 345.

The residence is only the beginning of Gina and David Shuler's real-estate holdings. They own seven properties in Greene County, Missouri, totaling more than $1 million. The exact appraised total is $1,161,500. A reasonable estimate of the market value is $1.3 million.

Here is a list of the properties, and their appraised values:

(1) 3825 San Poppi (residence)
      Sq. feet: 5557
      Appraised value: $621,300


(2) 4135 S. Parkhill Ct. (duplex)
      Sq. feet: 1676
      Appraised value: $137,900


(3) 4112 S. Ferguson Ave. (duplex)
      Sq. feet: 1941
      Appraised value: $146,600


(4) 3817 E. San Poppi Ct. (lot)
      Acres: 0.2429
      Appraised value: $63,000


(5) 2001 N. Boonville Ave. (duplex)
      Sq. feet: 1384
      Appraised value: $55,000


(6) 310 E. Camino Dr. (duplex)
      Sq. feet: 1114
      Appraised value: $66,900


(7) 304 E. Camino Dr. (duplex)
      Sq. feet: 1227
      Appraised value: $70,800


Do these folks really need help via donations at GFM? The financial figures noted above probably don't come close to their total net worth, which likely includes cash, savings, investments, personal property, real property in other counties or states (the $1 million is just in Greene County, MO), and other assets.

Couldn't Gina and David Shuler take out an equity loan or second mortgage on just one of their properties and pay for their son's therapy themselves? Could they cut back a bit on snazzy vacations and make the payments themselves? If the answers to those questions are yes, why are they asking for money on GoFundMe? Do their actions represent a special kind of gall, even fraud?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Doug Jones, now a U.S. Senate candidate, colluded with Rob Riley to funnel damaging information about Milton McGregor to DOJ on Alabama bingo case


Milton McGregor
U.S. Senate candidate Doug Jones, a Democrat, conspired with Republican operative Rob Riley to funnel information to the Department of Justice (DOJ) about the Alabama bingo prosecution and VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor, a retired attorney and prominent whistleblower said in a recent Facebook post. McGregor happened to be one of the largest clients for Haskell Slaughter, the firm where Jones worked at the time.

In other words, Dana Jill Simpson said, Jones was willing to stab his own law firm, and one of its most important clients, in the back -- all, apparently, to help advance the interests of the Riley Political Machine and associated white, conservative elites.

Disloyalty seems to be a recurring theme in Doug Jones' back-channel machinations of recent vintage. Exhibit A is former governor Don Siegelman, whom Jones charged $300,000 for criminal defense and then bailed out of the case because of a conflict, apparently without returning any of the money. Exhibit B is Milton McGregor, and according to Simpson, Jones played a role in making sure federal investigators wiretapped the VictoryLand owner and Haskell Slaughter lawyer Tommy Gallion.

Simpson says she contacted Gallion to report what she had learned about Jones and Riley's activities with the DOJ, and neither Gallion nor McGregor believed Jones would stoop to such a level. Writes Simpson:

But a couple of months later, it all came out that, indeed, [Jones] would -- and the feds had been listening in on Mr Gallion and indicted Milton on bullshit that cost him millions to defend, even though he won.

The McGregor-related chicanery started with Rob Riley developing a pipeline to Justin Shur, a DOJ lawyer who became the primary prosecutor on the bingo case. According to Simpson, Jones gathered information about McGregor and passed it along to Riley, who passed it along to Shur. That led to McGregor and Gallion being wiretapped, with McGregor being indicted.

Simpson says she went through contacts in D.C. to get Justin Shur removed from the bingo case. She writes (with editing for clarity):

I got Justin Shur thrown out of that case when I discovered what was going on and provided information to folks [at DOJ] that he had been partying it up with Rob [Riley's] folks.

Shur wound up leaving the DOJ and now works in private practice at the D.C. firm of  MoloLamken. Exactly what kind of partying were Shur and the "Riley folks" doing, and who was included among the Riley folks? That's a question worth pursuing.

Here are a few other key questions in all of this: Was the information Jones provided accurate? It apparently did not sway a federal jury, which cleared McGregor of all charges. Was Jones privy to  information because McGregor was a client of Haskell Slaughter, where Jones worked? If so, did Jones betray his own firm and did he betray attorney-client confidentiality? Should this be the subject of a complaint to the Alabama State Bar, and could it lead to serious sanctions against Doug Jones -- perhaps including disbarment. How would that look to those who might consider voting for him in the U.S. Senate race?

Doug Jones
As Jones squares off against Roy Moore for the Dec. 12 general election, he undoubtedly will be appealing to progressive voters, especially blacks, playing off his connection to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing case.

Liberals who might buy that appeal should look closer at Doug Jones' record of disloyalty. Jill Simpson already has predicted that Jones likely will receive the backing of pro-business, white conservatives -- the Karl Rove acolytes who supported Luther Strange over Roy Moore in the GOP primary. Is it possible Jones will take his marching orders from them, as opposed to acting on behalf of liberal voters?

It seems not only possible, but highly likely.

Readers of a certain age probably remember one of the classic scenes from The Graduate. It involves Mr. McGuire and Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman):

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.

Benjamin: Yes, sir.

Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?

Benjamin: Yes, I am.

Mr. McGuire: Plastics.

Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?

I just want to say one word to you about Doug Jones: Disloyalty.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Lawyer James F. Henry, of Birmingham's Cabaniss firm, contends our Ashley Madison report is false and defamatory, but his claim springs a number of leaks


James F. Henry
An Alabama lawyer claims via e-mail that our post about his presence on the Ashley Madison list is false and defamatory. That's curious because his wife left a comment on our post, admitting his name was on the list and making light of the whole thing. It's also curious because the e-mail came from a lawyer who does not appear on the membership roll of the Alabama State Bar, suggesting he might have been practicing law without a license.

James F. Henry, from the Birmingham firm of Cabaniss Johnston Gardner Dumas and O'Neal, asks that our post -- about his name appearing on the list of paying customers at the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site -- be removed. Our post on Henry is dated March 23, 2016, when he was with the Bradley Arant firm in Birmingham. Why did Henry just now conclude that a fairly old post is false and defamatory? An answer to that question eludes us.

We've had a number of peculiar encounters with Ashley Madison types and their lawyers, demanding this and threatening that. The most recent came from Andy Schroeder, CEO of South Central Steel in Harpersville, AL. So far, nothing has come of any of them, and that might prove to be the case with the James F. Henry missive. But Henry's claim could be the oddest of an odd lot.

The e-mail, on Henry's behalf, came from a lawyer named David M. Deutsch. When I searched for Deutsch's name at the Alabama State Bar, I came up with nothing -- and that made me go "Hmmm." A general Web search turned up a lawyer by that name at the Deutsch Law Firm, with offices in New York City and Boca Raton, Florida.

Here is Deutsch's introductory e-mail to us on James F. Henry's behalf:

To Whom It May Concern:

Please be advised that we represent James Henry. It has come to our attention that the following article was posted and available for public view on your blog:

http://legalschnauzer.blogspot.ca/2016/03/ashley-madison-customers-revealed-james.html

There are a number of false statements made in the post listed above:

1. Mr. Henry was not a paying customer of Ashley Madison.

2. Posting a picture of Mr. Henry's house and speculating on its value in conjunction with your false statements is a violation of Mr. Henry's privacy.
3. Mr. Henry has been divorced from Kelly Henry since 2007. You falsely state that he was married.

4. Additionally, you falsely imply that Mr. Henry was neglecting his family and his clients. In addition, you falsely speculate about whether Mr. Henry has children and imply that he may be neglecting them.

The continued publication of this defamatory post is causing ongoing compensatory damages and emotional distress.

We respectfully request that the link be removed from the blog. Your prompt assistance to this matter would be greatly appreciated.

If I can provide you with any further information, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Best,

David

I've had a fair amount of practice in dealing with stuff like this, so it didn't take me long to respond:

Mr. Deutsch:

You have cited nothing that is false or defamatory in the post, and it will not be removed.

1. Mr. Henry does appear on the list of Ashley Madison paying customers. That's what the post says, and it is true. His current wife admits in a comment on the post that it's true. You might want to check that out.

2. Posting a picture of a house, a picture that is available to anyone with an Internet connection, is an invasion of privacy? You must be joking. I guess you are going to sue the real estate firm that put the photo on the Web, or Google Earth, which puts millions of house photos on the Web?

3. You will notice that the post includes a comment from Linda Henry, who corrects the marital information and admits her husband's name is on the AM list. Mrs. Henry says he was married at the time of the post -- to her, not the other wife. Via that comment, I corrected the information about his wife's name. Overall, the post is accurate in regards to marital information.

4. This is as baseless and ridiculous as your other assertions.


A note: Anyone who files a groundless lawsuit against me will be met with counterclaims, bar complaints, and any other appropriate response. You have not, and cannot, point to anything inaccurate in the post -- and it will not be removed. You might have been wise to check with Mrs. Henry before dashing off this e-mail.


Regards,


Roger

James F. Henry's wife, Linda Henry, left a comment on our post, admitting her husband's name is on the Ashley Madison list? Yep, I'm not imaginative enough to make this stuff up, folks. Perhaps this thought flashed briefly through Mr. Deutsch's cranium after reading my response: "Yikes, that pokes a slight hole in the defamation claim we were planning."

Actually, that's not the only problem Mr. Deutsch would have bringing a defamation claim on Mr. Henry's behalf. More on that -- and Mrs. Henry's comments, which apparently were news to Mr. Henry and his lawyer -- in an upcoming post.


(To be continued)

Luther Strange and Jeff Sessions talk tough on immigration, but new evidence suggests they use EB-5 visa program to help put cash in their own pockets


Jeff Sessions and Luther Strange
(From altoday.com)
U.S. Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) and Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions talk tough about immigration, but recent reports show they make money from a program that essentially sells visas to wealthy foreigners, mostly Chinese.

Strange's financial stake in the EB-5 visa program came to light via a Sept. 18 article at altoday.com titled "Luther Strange's disclosure exposes double talk on immigration." State Auditor Jim Zeigler spoke out three days later about the visa scandal surrounding Strange, who lost to Roy Moore in a GOP runoff for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Strange, who was appointed to the seat by former Gov. Robert Bentley, will remain on the job until Moore and Democrat Doug Jones meet in the general election on Dec. 12.

A source tells Legal Schnauzer that Sessions also makes money from the EB-5 program, and it was Sessions' Senate seat that Strange was hoping to fill on a permanent basis. From the altoday.com article on Strange:

Since going to Washington back in February, Strange has worked hard on earning his immigration stripes. In May, he introduced legislation to force sanctuary citizens to pay for the president’s border wall. “They can either follow the law,” Strange said while announcing his bill, “or fund the wall.”

What’s surprising however, is finding out the senator has a personal equity ownership in an EB-5 visa development project — a controversial program in which wealthy foreign nationals can purchase visas.

Established in 1990, the EB-5 Visa program allows real estate developers to sell legal immigration status to wealthy foreign nationals for $500,000, thus allowing the very rich to buy their way into legal status. Under the program, those foreign nationals, their spouses and their unmarried children under 21 years old are able to apply for green cards.

The Web site then exposed a key entry on Strange's required "New Filer Report" of Feb. 8, 2017, showing he owns an “indirect 16.665% ownership” in Sunbelt EB-5 Regional Center, a multi-million dollar Limited Liability Company. It sells visas giving legal status to wealthy foreigners and their families who then by-pass legal immigration requirements.

Strange's duplicity caught the eye of Jim Zeigler, as outlined by Alabama Political Reporter (APR):

“Strange has been talking against illegal immigration in his campaign, but it is only talk,” Zeigler said. “He did not put his money where his mouth is.”

“Luther Strange is making big money off wealthy foreigners, enabling them and their families to come to America, get legal, and compete against American businesses,” Zeigler said. “This is exactly the type of self-serving that we do not need in Washington.”

Jeff Sessions also is involved in the scam, a source tells Legal Schnauzer:

If you start tracking the evil elf, the only immigration program he has ever been for is the EB-5 program, which his political mafia is running. I might add he is behind almost all the bills for the program; it was in his committee,  and Luther Strange is a part owner of the Sunbelt EB-5 Regional Center that sells visas to Chinese and Russians. 
Roy Moore and Mo Brooks told on them, so here is the deal: It was Luther and Jeff that set up Sunbelt EB-5 Regional Center, and  for each visa, they get paid half a million to a million -- plus their lobbyists and lawyers get paid to put it through. And their senate jobs are used to get immigration folks at DHS to do what they want, so they get donations for putting through visa deals. 
I might add they benefit from passing laws that send folks home, and building a wall makes more folks want to pay their half a million to come back. They also make off with the investment money they are given. It is a huge elaborate scam system involving our immigration deal. . . .  The harder they make it to come here, the more they can charge folks to get a visa.

Are Strange and Sessions (and Donald Trump, for that matter) really tough on immigration? Evidence continues to surface that they view immigration as a money-making scheme.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Missouri judge orders prosecution to produce excessive-force complaints against deputies who were present for eviction that led to Carol's broken arm


Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto
Prosecutors must produce all citizen complaints from the past three years alleging excessive force against deputies who were on the scene for our unlawful eviction in September 2015, a Missouri judge ruled yesterday.

The prosecution had argued that such information was not material to the "assault of a law enforcement officer" charge against my wife, Carol. But Public Defender Patty Poe argued that the encounter with police left Carol with a broken arm that required hospitalization and surgery, making the histories of involved officers material to the pending criminal case.

Poe had asked in her Motion to Compel for such complaints against all Greene County Sheriff deputies over the past five years, but she acknowledged at oral argument that request might be a bit much. Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto agreed that it was overbroad, but she narrowed it to complaints over the past three years, against all officers who were present for our eviction. (Motion to Compel is embedded at the end of this post.)

Either way, we take the ruling as a significant victory for Carol. It appears to be an acknowledgement from the judge that this case is at least as much about violence committed against Carol as it is any alleged criminal act on her part. In fact, the case is 100 percent about violence against Carol because evidence shows that the victim, Officer Jeremy Lynn, acknowledges he "caused physical contact" with Carol -- and that is the central element in RSMo 565.083, Assault of a Law Enforcement Officer, Third Degree. That Lynn admits causing physical contact means Carol is innocent of the charge against her.

From Carol's arrest on Jan. 30, 2017, until Sept. 20, 2017, this case ambled along under the false assertion that Carol had perpetrated an assault, rather than being the victim of police brutality. The tone of the case began to shift during the September hearing -- away from a "cover charge," created by cops to discourage a federal civil complaint, and toward reality -- when Poe raised the issue of Carol's injuries in open court for the first time.

Prosecutor Nicholas Jain vigorously objected to any notion that he must produce citizen excessive-force complaints against deputies. But Judge Palmietto's ruling yesterday means he will have to do it, at least for officers who were on the scene of our eviction -- and that includes Sheriff Jim Arnott.

One issue is getting the prosecution to identify all of the officers on the scene that day. So far, they have identified only four deputies -- Debi Wade, Jeremy Lynn, Scott Harrison, and Christian Conrad. But more officers than that were present, so it appears prosecutors, cops, or both are trying to protect somebody.

Our understanding is that Jain is digging for other material -- dispatch logs, dash-cam recordings, electronic communications between and among officers -- that both sides have agreed he must produce.

Carol's hearing yesterday -- part of a "cattle call," with numerous other cases being heard -- was brief. But Judge Palmietto did ask the public defender about information regarding the eviction itself. I took that to mean the judge has some interest in whether the eviction was lawful, whether cops had any lawful grounds to be on the property. The answer, of course, is they did not. (See herehere, here, here, and here.) In my view, that is a critical aspect of this case, so I'm hopeful the judge sees it that way, too. Apparently the prosecution is gathering information on that issue.

The veil of corruption that has shrouded this case from the outset slowly is being peeled back. Will that process continue, and if so, what will it reveal?

That question is particularly intriguing because the issue of whether Carol assaulted an officer, in essence, already has been determined; the "victim," Jeremy Lynn, admits in his incident report that he "caused physical contact" with Carol, and under relevant Missouri law, that means she could not have assaulted him. Here are Lynn's own words:

There was a female, however, that had been trying to force the door closed and she was standing just behind the door and trying again to force it closed. She was very aggressive and fighting against the door. She was grabbed by her arms and restrained to stop her from harming one of us or herself. During this process she was pulling her arms away from me and tried to push me back with her arms and body. She was told to calm down repeatedly and ignored those commands. She was eventually handcuffed and taken outside.

Carol and her attorney have not yet filed a motion regarding Lynn's statement, but when they do, it will mark about the sixth ground upon which the charge against Carol must be dropped. Lynn's statement shows that he initiated contact with Carol, and she tried to get away from him, as opposed to "getting physical" by pushing him, as alleged in charging documents.

As it becomes clear to the court that the prosecution has no case, attention should turn fully to what this matter is really all about -- gross physical abuse against Carol and creation of a "cover charge" to help cover up that abuse.




Wednesday, October 4, 2017

California woman settles for $6.7 million after rogue cops left her with a broken ankle -- in a case similar to what we've experienced in Missouri and Alabama





A California woman settled an excessive-force lawsuit for $6.7 million last week after cops had broken into her home without a warrant and wound up breaking her ankle.

If those facts sound familiar, it's because they are eerily similar to what cops in Missouri and Alabama have done to my wife, Carol, and me. (See video above of the California incident from a police body cam.)

A cop prepares to kick in Danielle Burfine's door
(From mercurynews.com)
The breaking-into-a-home-without-a-warrant part is straight from the playbook of Shelby County, AL, deputies, who in October 2013, beat me in my own garage, doused me with pepper spray, and hauled me to a five-month stay in jail -- all over a civil case of alleged defamation, involving a preliminary injunction that has been prohibited by roughly 230 years of First Amendment law. Deputy Chris Blevins never showed a warrant, or even stated his reasons for being on our property, and later could  not produce a copy of any warrant when I was hit with a bogus resisting arrest charge.

The breaking-a-bone part is straight from the playbook of Greene County, MO, deputies. who broke into our home for an unlawful eviction in September 2015 and broke Carol's left arm so severely that it required trauma surgery for repair.

At the heart of the California case is a Santa Clara woman named Danielle Harmon Burfine, who refused to allow entry to her home without a warrant -- and cops wound up kicking in the door and roughing her up. Why were cops on the premises? This is from a story at sfbay.ca:

They were there to arrest Harmon Burfine’s 15-year-old daughter on suspicion of arson in connection with a fire that caused an evacuation and $350,000 in damage at a Santa Clara high school roughly a week earlier on April 4.

After forcing entry into the plaintiff’s home, officers grabbed her and swung her to the ground, smashing her ankle up against a stone wall. She suffered a fracture, and the injury may be permanently disabling, according to her attorneys.

After multiple surgeries Harmon Burfine developed a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, in which the chronic pain in her injured leg has spread to other limbs.

City attorney Brian Doyle said in a statement that while there was “significant disagreement about the extent of the injury” they do not dispute the claim that Harmon Burfine suffered a broken ankle when police entered her home without a warrant.

How mind-blowing is this case? Here is more from sfbay.ca, starting with a quote from city attorney Doyle:

Doyle said:

“The City’s insurer determined that the most prudent course of action was to pay an amount that would result in a settlement.”

But as a result of the settlement, evidence disputing the injury claim will never be presented at trial, according to the city. Santa Clara police Chief Michael Sellers called that disappointing in the city’s statement:

“I fully support the police officers who acted in good faith to arrest this arsonist wanted on felony charges.”

What do we have here? The city's insurer considered the police misconduct so egregious that it was willing to pay $6.4 million to make the case go away -- probably out of concern that a jury trial might result in a much larger damages figure than that. But you have the police chief saying he supports the officers, who "acted in good faith." Breaking a woman's ankle is "acting in good faith"? What kind of loons are serving as police chiefs and sheriffs in this country?

They are the kind of loons who are clueless about the law they are supposed to uphold. We've written multiple times about Payton v. New York, a 1980 U.S. Supreme Court case that generally prohibits warrantless entry into a private home to make an arrest. But this dumb-ass police chief in California doesn't know about Payton -- and neither do dumb-ass sheriff's in Alabama and Missouri? Sheesh, no wonder the rule of law is on life support in the Age of Trump.

What impact might the California settlement have on our cases? None, that I know of. We've already filed what we call "The Jail Case" over the abuse directed at me in Alabama, and service is being conducted (we hope) by the court as we write this. We also have "The House Case" over the wrongful foreclosure on our home of 25 years in Birmingham -- and it currently is on appeal before the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta. We soon will be filing a federal lawsuit in Missouri over the brutality inflicted on Carol in Greene County.

Could one or more of our cases result in damages like those in the California case? I have no idea. In my view, the California case sends two messages:

(1) Governmental entities (cities, counties) that do not keep rogue law-enforcement officers under control put themselves at risk of serious liability;

(2) At least one insurer, in one California jurisdiction, thought it wise to pay $6.7 million rather than risk an even bigger damage award if the case went to trial.

An argument can be made that Carol and I have suffered worse abuse than did Ms. Burfine. For example:

(1) We were arrested; she was not;

(2) We spent time in jail -- me for five months -- and she did not;

(3) Neither of our incidents involved criminal matters; her daughter was a suspect in an arson case;

(4) Cops had no grounds to be on our property, much less breaking into our homes; cops had no grounds to break into the Burfine home, but they did have grounds to be there, due to her daughter's status as a criminal suspect.

I applaud Ms. Burfine and her attorneys -- Michael Haddad and Julia Sherwin, of San Francisco -- for holding the bastard cops accountable. We intend to pull all necessary levers to seek accountability in our cases.