Thursday, June 29, 2017

Blake M. Shuler, my nephew, pleads guilty to possession of marijuana and paraphernalia, then changes his plea to "peace disturbance," but still gives my family the black eye of a legitimate criminal record

Blake Shuler
My wife, Carol, and I seem to come from law-abiding stock. Carol doesn't remember anyone in her family being charged with a crime; it might help that, on her father's side, the family is relatively new to this country. Carol's grandfather Tovich came to the U.S. directly from Serbia, not speaking any English, and somehow found his way to Bibb County, Alabama -- where he worked as a coal miner, then opened a successful restaurant, only to see it burn down at the outset of the Great Depression. Relatively speaking, his was a rags to riches to rags story.

On my side of the family, I had not been aware of anyone who had committed a crime. But that changed recently, and since I've reported dozens of posts about misconduct in other people's families, it seemed only fair to report on bad behavior in mine.

My nephew, Blakely "Blake" Myers Shuler, was arrested on March 20, 2016, and charged with possession of marijuana and paraphernalia. Blake is the 25-year-old son of my brother, Paul, who works as a radiology technician at Mercy Hospital in Springfield. I'm not sure if Blake works, but he was arrested in the small town of Clever, MO.

Paul signed papers that sought to have Carol and me declared "incapacitated and disabled" (IND and DIS, under Missouri law), which could have made us wards of the state -- ineligible to vote, file a lawsuit, or manage our own financial and health affairs.

There is little doubt that the IND and DIS lawsuit was the idea of my brother lawyer, David Shuler, and Paul probably went along with it. Since discovering David's vile, nasty letter that he wrote to the judge in our eviction case, I'm not surprised at any underhanded stunt he might pull. (The letter is embedded at the end of this post.) I've long thought Paul probably was cut from a little better cloth than David was, but I've seen evidence that suggests that is not the case, and we will be reporting on that shortly.

Paul's IND and DIS lawsuit was dismissed, by the way, so even his own attorney decided there was no legitimate case there. For the anonymous commenters who periodically crawl out from under a rock to claim I've never won a lawsuit, here is evidence that they are wrong. Carol and I won the IND and DIS lawsuit against us, and it wasn't even close. For the record, we would have won every legal matter that involved us if they had been managed by honest judges, who actually followed the written law. Such judges, as many of our readers know from personal experience, are hard to find.

More importantly, if the first legal action involving us -- filed AGAINST us by Mike McGarity, a neighbor with a lengthy criminal record -- had been decided correctly under the law, none of the other cases would have happened.

As for Blake Shuler, records show he initially pleaded guilty to the two charges against him. My brother, David, eventually represented him. and via some peculiar legal maneuvering, Blake got the drug charges dropped and pleaded guilty to "peace disturbance" -- even though there is zero evidence in the record that he disturbed the peace.

Either way, my nephew has a criminal record -- even though it's for something he didn't do, and charges were dropped on what he apparently did do. Perhaps my brother, Paul, should have been paying more attention to his own son and spending less time filing bogus lawsuits against Carol and me.

Is there irony in all of this? Yes, indeed. Regular readers know that I was arrested ("kidnapped" is the more accurate term, given no warrant ever has surfaced) and thrown in the Shelby County, Alabama, Jail for a five-month stay, from Oct. 23, 2013 to March 26, 2014. There is one caveat to that story: I never committed a crime and never was charged with a crime. My arrest was based on alleged "contempt of court" based on failure to abide by a preliminary injunction in a defamation lawsuit (a 100 percent civil matter). Such injunctions have been unlawful under the First Amendment for more than 200 years, but word of that apparently has not reached the corrupt swamp of Alabama.

Public documents show that we never were lawfully served with the complaint, and we were not summoned to appear in court until well after the temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction had already been issued. It's funny when I think how many times contrarian commenters have said things like, "Why didn't you appear in court?" Well, last time I checked, most people don't appear in court when they haven't been summoned.

U.S. Post Office in Clever, MO
Bottom line: I spent five months in jail, with my mugshot plastered all over the Web, and I was not even charged with a crime -- and I sure as hell did not commit one. The same applies to Carol. She has been arrested twice because of the unlawful eviction from our first "home" in Springfield, Missouri, the eviction where Carol wound up with an arm broken so severely that it required trauma surgery for repair. She was the VICTIM of an assault, but thanks to corrupt Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott, she faces charges of "assaulting a law enforcement officer." This is an obvious example of a "cover charge," where cops press charges against a victim of their brutality to discourage a civil complaint.

Did Carol actually commit an offense? Anyone can view the Probable Cause Statement and Misdemeanor Information in her case -- they are public documents -- and see they present zero admissible evidence that she violated any law. Missouri Circuit Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto dismissed the trespass charge, and the "assault" charge should be tossed soon. But for now, Carol still is having to fight a charge for which there is no evidence, not even enough to meet the low threshold of probable cause.

Let's close by considering a couple of other points of irony:

(1) My brother, David, came to the legal aid of Blake Shuler in a drug-possession case -- as he should have, in my view -- but David hasn't lifted a finger to help Carol and me, legally. In fact, the letter embedded below shows he has gone out of his way to hurt us. No member of my family has even inquired about Carol's well-being or voiced the slightest concern about what happened to her, the victim of gross police abuse.

(2) While corrupt cops, lawyers, and judges have made it appear via the Web that Carol and I have engaged in criminal activity, their own documents show that we haven't. So how ironic is it that Blake Shuler -- the son of my brother who tried to have Carol and me committed -- came along to produce a genuine criminal record to go under the Shuler family name?

Yep, the Shulers no longer can claim to have kept their distance from true criminal activity -- and that has nothing to do with Carol or me.

On a broader note, I know from my own five months in jail, that marijuana possession is one of our most frequently prosecuted crimes. Possession and probation violations -- with inmates often being on probation for possession -- were the two most common reasons people were in jail during my stay in Shelby County, Alabama. (I was the only inmate I could find who was in jail for blogging.)

A legitimate debate can be had about whether marijuana possession should be a crime at all. That's an issue for another day, but for now, public documents in the Blake M. Shuler case provide a rare inside glimpse of how a possession case can unfold in the Heartland. It shows how our "justice system," even in a tiny outpost like Clever, MO, can become fundamentally dishonest when a lawyer enters the picture.

We sought comment for this post from Blake Shuler, his parents, and his lawyer, but they have not responded to our queries.

(To be continued)


Anonymous said...

Marijuana should be legal. Ridiculous that this kid has to wind up with a criminal record because of a drug that should be legal.

legalschnauzer said...

@7:58 --

For the record, I'm with you on medical marijuana. I'm "undetermined" on overall legality. While I was in jail for five months, it was disturbing to see how many people were incarcerated on possession charges, and I wondered if this was a good use of our laws and resources. My nephew's situation provides the flip side. He was stopped while driving when a cop twice saw him cross over the center line. The MJ and paraphernalia were found during that stop. Based on records, it's not clear if he had been drinking, puffing the MJ, or just doing a bad job of driving. (Will have more info on this in upcoming post.) We already have a ton of bad drivers on the road, and I'm concerned that adding "driving while high" by making MJ legal will only make that worse.

Anonymous said...

Is this really newsworthy?

legalschnauzer said...

I think it is, and I think that will become more apparent in upcoming posts. Yes, it's a family story on one level, but it's also about how possession cases can happen, and how they are handled (in some cases). Given MJ possession is one of our most commonly prosecuted "crimes," and jails are filled with people facing possession charges (I know because I've been in jail with a lot of those folks), I think this has national implications. It's also a cautionary tale about the dangers of keeping the wrong stuff in your vehicle.

Anonymous said...

Where in the hell is Clever, MO? Never heard of it.

legalschnauzer said...

Very small place, south of Springfield and west of Nixa. Pop. is about 2,400. Seems smaller than that.

Anonymous said...

I assume your nephew's case involved a vehicle?

legalschnauzer said...

@10:11 --

Yes, a traffic stop was at the heart of it. A key part of the story: Be very careful about what you carry around in your vehicle. If I understand Alabama law correctly, it can be illegal to carry even prescription medication, if it is not in the right container. I talked to several inmates while in jail who had traffic stops, and cops found prescription meds that were not in the proper bottle. That law sounds stupid to me.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm . . . maybe this is a little payback for your brothers trying to have you and Carol committed? Ouch!

legalschnauzer said...

@10:47 --

I wouldn't say it's payback, but they deserve payback for a lot of things -- things I haven't reported yet, but I will be reporting very soon.

Anonymous said...

Looks like this happened just a few months after you and Carol were evicted and beaten -- and we know at least one of your brothers was involved in that. Karma, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Trust me, your nephew is going to love you for this.

legalschnauzer said...

@10:54 --

First, I've never met my nephew, but I feel bad that his life (so far) apparently has not gone down a very productive path. Perhaps this episode, and my reporting on it, will help get him on a better path. His father apparently isn't capable of doing that. Maybe Blake will look back on this someday and realize that his unknown uncle actually did something positive for him. I've never done drugs or alcohol, but if we were to meet, we might find that we have more common ground than most people might think.

Anonymous said...

When you try to contact a subject for a comment on a story, what methods do you use to contact them? Do you use email, do you call, do you try and contact them at their place of work?

legalschnauzer said...

@11:08 --

Depends on the story, the subject, and what appears to be the best way to reach them. Most often, I use email.

Anonymous said...

Clever Missouri?

Clever is just down the road a piece from Possum Trot!

In Christian County MO no less!

The jokes almost write themselves!

legalschnauzer said...

@1:24 --

Gee, I don't think I've ever been to Possum Trot, and I grew up in these parts. Thanks for sharing.

So, the Christian County sheriff was stockpiling food in preparation for the end times? Why am I not surprised? The longer I stay in SW Missouri -- and God willing, it won't be much longer -- the more Birmingham seems like Cambridge, Mass. I swear Missouri has become nothing more than Mississippi with sucky weather.

Anonymous said...

You can't seem to keep your family disputes out of your reporting. Journalism or autobiography? Guess it doesn't matter much. I'm sure your relatives see you as a crazy embarrassment. They're all wrong and you're always right. Right?

Anonymous said...

So the Ashley Madison staff really don't care about you. They aren't trolling you or trying to hack you. Not a one. The IP addresses that resolve to Toronto could be anywhere in central Canada. Trust me, you're missing what's really happening. You're just lucky you live where you live.

legalschnauzer said...

@4:18 --

Well, clue me in, what am I missing, what's really happening?

Why am I lucky to live where I live? What does that mean?

How do you know these things?

legalschnauzer said...

@4:15 --

Let's try to illuminate things with a few questions:

(1) It's my blog, I write it, so you are surprised there might be some autobiographical components to it?

(2) You refer to family disputes in a comment on today's post. Are you saying there is some sort of dispute about today's post? Are you saying my nephew didn't get caught with weed and paraphernalia? There's some disagreement about the facts related in this post?

(3) If you are referring to disputes described in other posts, which ones are you talking about? In which ones do you think I'm in the wrong? Why?

(4) I assume you've read the letter my brother, David, wrote; it's embedded at the end of this post. You think an ex parte letter like that, to a judge, is appropriate? Can you point out anything remotely similar that I've written?

Tim S. said...

The letter from your brother is written in "good-ole-boy-speak", commonly heard all over the hot, deep South, even in Louisiana. I would say the letter is shocking but not in these parts; I'm beginning to wonder if there are places without Republican greed and corruption.

It sounds as though your darling nephew (I'm sure he is) should have been charged with DUI/DWI, (or some version of driving while impaired) obviously the most serious and dangerous charge, but for some reason this wasn't the big outcome from the traffic stop?

legalschnauzer said...

Tim --

Yes, my brother's letter was low-class, but when you consider he sent it ex parte to a judge, it's wildly inappropriate and prejudicial and probably violates bar rules.

My nephew was stopped for suspected DUI. He failed several parts of the field test for impaired driving, but he passed the breathalyzer. He wound up being charged with MJ and paraphernalia possession, and pled guilty to that on his own. My lawyer/brother got involved and got the guilty plea withdrawn, and the state accepted a guilty plea for "peace disturbance."

That's odd because, records show, one thing Blake did right was be respectful to the cops, etc. I see no evidence that he disturbed anybody. He just got caught with weed and a bong (or something) in his car after a cop stopped him for driving over the center line twice.

I'm guessing, from the records, that he was "driving while high," but this small-town police department didn't have whatever equipment is needed to test for that. But he apparently was OK re: alcohol. Will have more posts coming. It's a little slice of "small-town justice" in middle America.

Tim S. said...

With weed possession being the revenue-maker that it is, I'm almost positive this small town police department has an arrangement set up with a local emergency room for THC level testing. When this is not possible, most jurisdictions use the testimony of the arresting and/or testing officers, including the results of field sobriety tests.

In my comment above, just to clarify, I was speaking of the communication between an officer of the court (brother) to the presiding judge. Outrageous, to say the least.

e.a.f. said...

they're still arresting people for possession of weed? What a waste of time and money. On the other hand it keeps the private prisons full and corporations making money. Having the charge reduced gets a fine and its all over with. He does look a tad on the white side to me, so perhaps that is why he was able to have a reduced charge.

On 1 July in Canada, we will be 150 years old and weed will be legal next year. Our federal government has introduced legislation this month. The cabinet minister responsible for getting it through our parliament, the former police chief of Toronto. they know the war on drugs was a failure and is never going to work. Its best to put weed into the main stream and get it out of the hands of the Hell's Angels. It is frequently alleged in Canada they run the trade.

As it stands now, weed is sold in stores all over the country. Most of them have business licenses from the city in which they are located.

The U.S.A. needs to stop wasting time and money on fighting the war on drugs.

kudos to you for reporting on your own family. if people don't like it, they don't have to read the blog. why shouldn't some one write about their family and friends. Keeps things interesting.

So as Canada steams up to 1 July and the Americans to 4 July , I'll stay here. We have a national health care system which works, the best looking world leader, and next year weed will be totally legal. The best news though, is the most corrupt provincial government in Canada is out of office, in British Columbia as of today! Mind you we do corruption differently here than in the U.S.A. We didn't have a Jeff Sessions type but we had others. More like the big Luther type.

legalschnauzer said...

Memo to @7:57 --

You are welcome to contact me directly, via phone or e-mail, and I would be glad to discuss.