|Charles Todd Henderson|
Charles Todd Henderson was booked into the Jefferson County Jail last Friday afternoon and released 12 minutes later on $2,500 bond. Henderson already had been sworn in and was scheduled to take office at 12:01 a.m. today. But the indictment means, under Alabama law, that Henderson will be suspended almost immediately upon taking office.
Riley appointed Brandon Falls as DA in 2008, and Falls was elected to a six-year term in 2010. That makes him a prominent member of Riley Inc., the term used for Riley acolytes, who (in many instances) have helped litter the Alabama political landscape with corruption. Falls was a heavy favorite to be re-elected in November 2016, but Henderson (a relatively unknown Democrat from Pleasant Grove) pulled an upset that rattled the Birmingham metro law-enforcement community.
Did it rattle someone enough that they conspired to bring dubious (bogus?) charges against Henderson? That's how it looks from here.
The charges against Henderson grew from his appointment early last year as guardian ad litem (GAL) in a divorce/child custody case styled Charbel Akl v. Yareima Carmen Valecillos Akl. A GAL usually is appointed to look after the best interests of a minor child in a court case. The indictment charges that Henderson gave a false statement under oath, material to a proceeding before Judge Patricia Stephens. From a report at al.com:
But on March 9 an attorney for the father, Virginia Meigs, filed a motion seeking to remove Henderson as guardian because of his relationship with the mother and an alleged bias against the plaintiff/father. "The mother/defendant has been actively participating in the political campaign of the Guardian Ad Litem ... for some time," according to the document.
Judge Stephens on May 20 removed Henderson as Guardian Ad Litem, a move that Henderson fought.
Then at the Sept. 26 trial at which Henderson allegedly perjured himself, the issue of whether there was a romantic relationship between Henderson and the mother, Ms. Akl, surfaced.
On Sept. 28, the day after the trial ended, the mother's attorney, Daniel Chambers, asked to withdraw from the case. Chambers' motion included information about evidence that the "defendant (mother) and the former Guardian Ad Litem (Henderson) have been in a romantic relationship."
Politics and romance allegedly have a role in the Henderson case. We might learn that Henderson did, in fact, commit perjury -- although this still would look like a case of selective prosecution because perjury, in our experience, happens all the time in court, with very few individuals ever being punished for it. In May 2012, we wrote a post titled "Lying under oath has replaced baseball as America's most treasured pastime." I've witnessed perjury numerous times in court cases, and I've yet to see a sign that anyone takes it seriously.
It apparently becomes serious when the alleged perjurer has beaten Bob Riley's personal choice for DA in Alabama's largest county. Could the issue become serious enough that individuals in the "justice system" might make up charges out of thin air? When you consider that these charges originated with the Alabama State Bar and the office of Attorney General Luther Strange -- both major centers of Riley influence -- the answer is yes. Jim Parkman, Henderson's attorney, noted that in the al.com article:
The indictment on first degree perjury was issued by a special grand jury called by Assistant Alabama Attorney General Matt Hart, who was the same man who led the prosecution of former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard.
"The timing of this indictment is strange," Parkman stated. "At 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, seconds after Martin Luther King Jr. Day comes to an end, Mr. Henderson is set to begin work as Jefferson County's new District Attorney. However, mere days before that should happen, the Attorney General's Office convened a grand jury that returned an indictment thereby preventing Mr. Henderson from setting foot in office."
"The Attorney General's Office in Montgomery seized the democratic process with this indictment," according to Parkman's statement. "They decided votes don't matter. they decided to take democracy out of Jefferson County. It's a perversion of the process that cannot and will not stand. The power of a few should not quell the will of the majority."
Parkman did not stop there:
Parkman stated that the charge is false and Henderson can't wait to get into court to fight the charge. "We call on Luther Strange and his office to do the right thing and bring this case to trial as quickly as possible so that the truth can be heard. Dragging out this process - denying Mr. Henderson the right to take office because of a pending indictment - is nothing short of oppression because it denies the clear will of the people." he stated.
How is this for irony? I have absolute proof that Jessica Garrison, Luther Strange's mistress and campaign confidant, lied under oath in her defamation lawsuit against me. I also have evidence that strongly suggests Strange himself lied under oath in the same case. If Jefferson County had a real DA (say, Charles Todd Henderson) and not a Riley surrogate like Brandon Falls, such cases might be pursued. Is that part of the reason Henderson is under indictment? (Note: The false statements under oath from Garrison, and likely false statements from Strange, came in a hearing well before the November 2016 election. Were Garrison and Strange convinced Falls would win re-election, and went into "cover our ass" mode when their protector lost to Henderson? We will be covering the Garrison/Strange testimony in a series of upcoming posts.)
What are the chances Henderson actually lied under oath? I'd say they are small. What are the chances that, if Henderson committed a wrongful act, it's the same thing that has been ignored in thousands of other cases, but became a criminal charge against him for political reasons? I'd say extremely high.