Monday, July 31, 2017

An Alabama newspaper asks, "What's next for Jeff Sessions?" and my answer is, "How about prison?"

Jeff Sessions and Sergey Kislyak
Are you likely to catch a break from the mainstream media (MSM) in the Deep South if you are a far-right, white Republican? Few semi-conscious Americans will be surprised to learn the answer is a resounding and disturbing "Hell, yes." But more than a few Americans should be disturbed by the brazenness and myopia with which an Alabama newspaper yesterday reported on an individual who might soon be known as one of the most unpatriotic political figures in U.S. history.

The newspaper in question is The Birmingham News (, and the politician is Trump attorney general and former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). Not content to write one favorable article about the sleazy Sessions, wrote two. Both were nonsensical puff pieces, indicating the Alabama MSM is nothing more than a water boy for the ugliest, most racist tendencies of the GOP.

First, published a story with the following headline: "What's next for Jeff Sessions? Senate, governor runs suggested." Someone apparently wrote that headline with a straight face, ignoring mountains of evidence that Sessions has committed federal crimes in the six months-plus that he has served as AG -- and possibly while during the 2016 presidential campaign. In other words, the obvious answer to "What's next for Jeff Sessions?" is "prison." At the very least, the answer should be "indictment."

If you are a white conservative with racist tendencies -- and such tendencies have been reported for decades about Jeff Sessions -- the Southern MSM thinks you are incapable of committing crimes. If you are a Democrat, especially one with dark skin, the MSM can barely contain its glee when you step in legal doo-doo -- and Southern prosecutors are likely to ignore similar crimes committed by white folks.

Just consider the case of former State Rep. Oliver Robinson (D-Birmingham), who already has been indicted and entered a guilty plea for accepting bribes in the Birmingham Superfund scandal. Various news reports point to Drummond Co. VP David Robertson, Balch Bingham partner Joel Gilbert and U.S. Sen. Luther Strange (Jeff Sessions' replacement) being involved in the Superfund scandal. Strange's one-time campaign manager and mistress, Jessica Medeiros Garrison, left her "of counsel" position at Balch and wiped out most of her social-media presence when "Big Lutha's" name surfaced in connection to the Superfund case. Have any of them been indicted? Nope. But Oliver Robinson, the former basketball star at UAB, is headed to the slammer.

On top of all that, Sessions himself is closely tied to the Balch firm, indicating he might be connected to the scandal -- or, at the very least, he is disqualified from taking part in the investigation.

Here is something curious about the article, which says Senate and governor runs are "suggested" for Jeff Sessions: It doesn't quote anyone who suggests Sessions should run for either job -- unless you count Mo Brooks, who is nuttier than a truckload of Snickers bars. The one political-science expert quoted, from Athens State University, says he doubts Sessions would run for either post. So this is a classic case of a story "with no 'there' there." Why run it then? The only conceivable answer is that is fulfilling its duty as a toady for the right wing, probably running the story at the request of Sessions or one of his associates -- perhaps Jessica Garrison or someone else with ties to the felonious Balch Bingham firm.

Is reporter Paul Gattis forgetting a few events regarding Sessions? As a matter of fact, yes:

* Sessions lied to Congress, in response to a question from U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) about meetings with Russian officials;

* Sessions revised his statement to Congress, and still lied about it;

* Sessions lied on his security-clearance application about meetings with Russians;

* Sessions' Department of Justice approved a dubious settlement in a money-laundering case, a deal that was overwhelmingly favorable to Russian interests;

* U.S. intelligence intercepts captured Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak telling superiors that he had discussed policy and campaign issues with Sessions in 2016. has forgotten all of that, which came to light in the past six months? This is the same "news organization" that repeatedly trumpeted the conviction of former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman for "crimes" that do not exist, in a case that was brought well after the statute of limitations had expired?

What about yesterday's second article favorable to Sessions? It's by the esteemed John Archibald, with the title, "Jeff Sessions makes America find its backbone again." Get a load of this, from Archibald:

Sessions, for those who thought he was just Alabama's Hermey the Misfit Elf, this week became the guy who allowed Republicans to see through the pea-soup fog of Trump town. He might just have helped his country find its backbone.

Who woulda thought?

Last week was a watershed week. Not just for the beleaguered attorney general who has been bullied by the president like a math club kid in gym class, but for the country.

Given the choice between the bully and the bullied, a lot of Americans -- big and small -- sided with Sessions.

That Jeff Sessions.

He may not be the hero America needs right now, but he's the hero America deserves.

Sessions didn't faint when Donald Trump went "boo," and that makes Sessions a hero? It means Sessions helped America "find its backbone"? Sheesh, can a story be any more overwrought and off target than this?

Luther Strange and Jessica Garrison
Let's interject a little reality here: By taking verbal abuse from Trump, and not stepping down (yet), Sessions has essentially said, "I went to the trouble of selling out my country to become America's 'top law enforcement officer,' and I'm not going to give up the job without pushing for a few more 'reforms' that take us back to the 1970s."

That gets us down to the heart of the matter. Polls consistently show the South is the most patriotic region in the country. But here you have a Southern newspaper supporting a politician who apparently sold out his country to -- not Paraguay or Denmark -- but Russia. He might have helped engineer the theft of an American election -- by foreign interests. If that proves to be true, one word to fit Jeff Sessions would be "traitor."

It's enough to suggest that Southern patriotism, in many cases, is phony. And the phoniest Southerner of all might be Jeff Sessions.

Missouri deputy, in her own mixed-up lingo, admits we had filed a Notice of Appeal, which put a stay on the eviction that led to cops breaking Carol's arm

Debi Wade
A Missouri deputy admits in an investigative report that we had filed a notice of appeal, and under state law, that put a stay on our eviction -- as I've argued all along. That's just one of roughly a half dozen grounds upon which the eviction was unlawful, meaning deputies pointed an assault rifle at my head, caused most of our belongings to be stolen, and shattered Carol's left arm -- all with no grounds to be on our rented property.

Officer Debi Wade apparently was too ignorant of the law to get it correct in her statement. But she essentially admits that I was right -- the eviction was stayed. Here are her words, and we will straighten things out after that:

Mr. Shuler was being very argumentative and was adamant that there was a court ordered stay on the case but otherwise appeared to be following the deputies' directives once outside of the residence.

Although I had checked for any changes in the case earlier that morning, I told [Mr. Shuler] that I would check on it again to ensure nothing had changed. I looked up the case on and found no change to the case since I had last looked. Mr. Shuler had made a motion to stay, but the judge had not ruled on it yet. therefore there was no court ordered stay at that time. I called into the office and asked our paralegal to contact our attorney's office to verify that they were not aware of any changes to the case and was told to proceed with the execution. I came back and attempted to tell Mr. Shuler my findings, but he did not want to listen to reason, only to argue with us.

This is a textbook example of police ignorance and incompetence, so let's briefly address each highlighted section above:

(1) Wade confirms what I've reported on this blog multiple times -- that I stated repeatedly the execution was stayed because we had filed a Notice of Appeal;

(2)  Wade must have checked while wearing a blind fold. Anyone can click on, key in my name, and click on case number 1531-AC04535 (Trent Cowherd v. Roger Shuler). There is a docket entry on 9/8/15, the day BEFORE Wade checked, saying "Notice of Appeal Filed." There was an entry on 9/9/15,  "Correspondence Filed" -- stating the Missouri Court of Appeals had filed correspondence to acknowledge receipt of our notice of appeal. Based on Wade's statement and the docket, both of those items were present when she looked, clearly showing there WAS a significant change in the case. Debi Wade either didn't see it, or she never looked and is lying about that.

(3) I don't recall ever exchanging a word with Debi Wade. I communicated about the stay with Sheriff Jim Arnott, who repeatedly turned his palms upward and shrugged his shoulders -- doing a nice imitation of a baboon, although most baboons are smarter and better looking than he is.

(4) Wade says she found no changes when she double checked, but as we show in Item No. 2 above, two key changes were in the record. Jose Feliciano could have seen them.

(5) Wade claims "Mr. Shuler had filed a motion to stay," but that's not what I had done; I had filed a Notice of Appeal, and under Missouri law, such a notice (with a bond) stays execution. In our case, there was no money judgment, so there was no bond. This is a sickening lie on Wade's part, the kind that should put her behind bars. She couched it as a motion, upon which a judge typically must rule. But it was a notice of appeal, requiring no action from a judge. Once it's filed, execution is stayed, and no court order is required. Wade has proven she is a dim bulb, but I doubt this was an innocent mistake. It's an intentional effort to misstate Missouri law.

(6) Wade states she called a paralegal to check with an attorney in the office. No one made me aware of this, and I doubt it is true. All the attorney or paralegal had to do was look up RSMo. 534.350. Anyone who deals with evictions regularly should know that law by heart. Wade's own words indicate no one in the office was smart enough to even look up the correct law. And it's mind blowing that deputies who apparently work evictions regularly had to ask about the relevant law, and I had to make them aware that execution was stayed.

(7) Wade says someone in her office told her to proceed with the execution, even though the record at the time clearly showed we had filed a Notice of Appeal. Not only that, the record showed the Missouri Court of Appeals had received our notice and placed it on the docket. It's going to be fun to find out who instructed Wade to go ahead with the eviction; that person is going to have some splainin' to do.

(8) This last nugget tells us that many cops not only are stupid, they aren't very good people. Wade resorts to smart-aleck mode, claiming I didn't "want to listen to reason." It wasn't a matter for "reason" or "debate." I just wanted the facts (that we had filed a notice of appeal) and the law (that the notice had put a stay on execution) to be applied correctly. Debi Wade takes her own ignorance and frames it as my unwillingness to reason. Here we are, almost two years later, and Wade's own words prove I was right.

Other documents in the record show that we timely filed a Notice of Appeal, and Missouri deputies had every reason to know the eviction was stayed. We will examine them next.

(To be continued)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Reports that Minnesota cops shot and killed Justine Ruszczyk after she slapped their patrol car make Carol and me feel lucky to be alive here in Missouri

Justine Ruszczyk
Carol and I are saying extra prayers of thanks -- for being alive -- after reports this week that cops in Minneapolis shot and killed a woman after . . . she slapped their patrol car, apparently trying to get their attention.

The shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk on July 15 was a stunner, even with the dozens of high-profile cases of police brutality around the country in the past three years or so. Ruszczyk, who was from Australia and had been using the name Justine Damond in anticipation of her upcoming marriage, was a victim of police stupidity and brutality.

Such cases never seem to end. Just yesterday, we had reports that cops in Mississippi shot and killed a man while trying to serve a warrant . . . at the wrong house.

In the Ruszczyk case, she called 911 twice to report what sounded like an assault in an alley behind her home. After seeing a patrol car arrive, Ruszczyk went outside in her pajamas to speak with the cops. Officer Mohammed Noor, sitting in the passenger seat, apparently was startled by a noise and shot across his partner in the driver's seat -- striking and killing Ruszczyk, who was standing beside the vehicle.

According to a search warrant discovered this week, the noise came when Ruszczyk slapped the car, apparently trying to get the officers' attention. How can a woman in pajamas, who had alerted cops to a possible crime, come across as such a threat that she winds up dead?

That is one of many questions that has been racing through our minds as we think back to Sept. 9, 2015, and a potentially deadly encounter with cops. We had been targeted for an unlawful eviction that day -- even though a judge had issued only an interlocutory (non-final) order, and we had filed a notice of appeal that, by law, put a stay on the eviction. Roughly a week before the eviction, cops claimed (via my lawyer/brother, David Shuler) that I had called 911 threatening to shoot anyone who tried to evict us. Cops now admit I never made such a call, and court documents present zero evidence that I made such a threat. Even if I had, any forceful action to protect our property from unlawful intrusion would have been proper under Missouri's Castle Doctrine Law.

The 911 call attributed to me, which we now know never happened, caused a virtual SWAT team of cops to arrive at our duplex apartment -- bursting through the front door, with assault weapons and pistols flying in all directions. I was sitting in a chair, with my hands folded in my lap, as Officer Scott Harrison pointed an assault rifle at my cranium.

Carol and I knew at the time we were just a flick of a trigger finger away from being killed. But that understanding has been driven home further by the Justine Ruszczyk story.

Here's the scary part: We've seen, from firsthand experience, that a lot of cops are not very bright -- but we entrust them with all kinds of lethal weaponry. In the Ruszczyk case, a reasonable person can understand that it's jarring to be sitting in a vehicle and hear a loud, unfamiliar noise. But how can your first reaction be to fire a weapon in the general direction of the sound -- across your partner's body, for criminey's sake? The officers knew someone had reported a possible crime, and they should have known it was a woman. Didn't it make sense that the woman would be trying to contact them at the scene? Didn't it make sense to be on the lookout for her, so maybe she wouldn't have to slap your vehicle to get your attention.  This is from a St. Paul Pioneer-Press story:

A woman approached the back of a Minneapolis police car and “slapped” it shortly before an Australian woman was shot and killed by an officer, according to a search warrant filed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

The search warrant obtained by Minnesota Public Radio doesn’t specifically say that the woman was Justine Damond, but: “Upon police arrival, a female ‘slaps’ the back of the patrol squad … After that, it is unknown to BCA agents what exactly happened, but the female became deceased in the alley.”

Gotta love that cold, clinical language. The female became deceased in the alley? No kidding. I wonder how that happened. Notice there is no mention that she "became deceased" after a cop fired a gun in her direction. You can almost sense the warrant applicant trying to phrase this so that Ruszczyk herself could be blamed, at least a little bit, for "becoming deceased."

We've come across similar nonsense in records about our eviction. Consider this narrative from Officer Jeremy Lynn, describing what he saw as he burst into our home:

Once inside I observed a white male wearing a gray T-shirt and green shorts, sitting in a chair in the living room. The chair was approximately 15 feet from the front door. I also observed that the male was sitting very still and deliberate. His posture was very stoic as he started at me, emotionless. It was also very obvious that he was sitting in such a manner to make himself a threat.

Geez, the guy sounds disappointed that I didn't give him a reason to shoot me. He also makes every effort, in his last sentence, to place a supposed threat at my feet, even though officers now admit (and they had every reason to know then) I had directed no such threat toward them.

How much danger were Carol and I in that day? We've talked often of this very possible scenario: Baxter, our little boy kitty kat, was alive then and typically was prancing around somewhere near our feet. What if I had instinctively tried to reach for him, to protect him, as thugs were crashing into our home? What if he had been on my lap, and I tried to grab him as he jumped down? Would Carol and I be dead now because of such a sudden move?

Here is our policy: A lot of Americans (especially white ones) tend to view police favorably because they think cops offer protection against street thugs (usually viewed as someone with dark skin). Experience has taught us a couple of things:

(1) We will take our chances any day with a street thug over a stupid, heavily armed, and possibly corrupt cop. I've never had a street thug cause me harm. Cops have brutalized both Carol and me, inside and around our homes.

(2) Cops almost always take a sticky situation and make it worse. I've yet to see an instance where a cop has helped solve a problem. They seem much more likely to cause a problem -- or make one worse.

I'm guessing Justine Ruszczyk would have similar sentiments -- if she were able to share them with us now.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

My nephew, Blake M. Shuler, faced a harsh lesson of American life: Driving erratically, with a chemical substance on board, is a good way to get arrested -- even if it's part of a dubious search in tiny Clever, MO

Blake M. Shuler
How did my nephew, Blake M. Shuler, manage to get in trouble with the law, in the tiny burg of Clever, Missouri (pop., 2,400; and it seems smaller than that)? The answer reminds me of perhaps the No. 1 lesson I drew from my unlawful five-month incarceration in Shelby County, Alabama.

Blake's story, however, has a twist, suggesting he might have been the target of an unlawful -- and not so clever search -- in Clever, MO. (Feel free to groan; it's a bad joke.)

What about my own lesson from life behind bars? Well, inmates have a lot of time on their hands, so they tend to sit around and ask each other, "Why are you in here?" My answer -- that I was "arrested for blogging" -- never failed to bring howls of laughter. "Oh, you're the blogger guy," a newbie invariably would say. "I've already heard about you. You're famous." I never knew I was all that funny, or famous, until I went to jail.

Time and again, inmates would answer the "Why are you in here?" question with a story that had at least two components: (1) They were driving, or riding in, a vehicle that somehow attracted the attention of cops; (2) Somebody had a "chemical substance"  in the vehicle, and cops found it when they searched the car.

That usually drew this response from me: "Well, did the cops have grounds under the Fourth Amendment to search the vehicle?" (I'm a law geek, even in jail.) That usually put looks of "Hell if I know" on the faces of assembled inmates. Their attitude tended to be: "The cops searched my vehicle, whether they had a right or not, and now I'm in here, so what difference does it make?" Good point. Even inmates -- maybe especially inmates -- understand that our rights are being eroded, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it in many jurisdictions.

What, you're going to find a lawyer to fight for your rights? Hah, don't make me laugh. Heck, I was arrested for blogging, which only violated more than 200 years of First Amendment law, and I couldn't find a lawyer to fight for me.

Anyway, Blake M. Shuler ran afoul of the law because of the two factors noted above. This is from a Clever PD (not be confused with a clever PD) incident report: (The report is embedded at the end of this post; BTW, my apologies for using the same bad joke twice.)

On 3/17/2016 at approximately 2330 hours I, Officer Thompson (DSN 1803) was patrolling south bound on State Highway P when I observed the white Toyota Avalon driving in front of my patrol car cross the yellow line of the Highway on two separate occasions. I activated my emergency lights and sounded my siren to perform a traffic stop. The Avalon stopped south of Highway 14, on Highway P.

I exited my patrol car and made contact with the driver, Blake Shuler, and the front-seat passenger, Chelsea Cox. Upon contacting the occupants of the Avalon, I smelled the odor of what, based on my training and experience, to be consumed alcohol. I informed Shuler the reason for the stop and asked if he had been drinking. He said, yes, one beer. I asked what they were doing out tonight. He said we have been downtown and I am dropping my girlfriend off. I told the occupants to stay in the vehicle and I would return.

When reading this, my first reaction was, "Ah, c'mon Blake, you can make up a better story than that. How many drivers in human history, upon being pulled over, have told cops, 'I had one beer.'" But wait, it might have been true in this case, and that raises this question: Was my nephew the victim of an unlawful search? Here's more from the incident report:

I walked to my patrol car and requested Officer Bennett (DSN 1804) to respond to my location with a preliminary breath tester. While he was en route I requested Christian County Dispatch to run a record check on Shuler and Cox. They returned with a valid license and no [warrants].

Officer Bennett arrive on scene and we approached the driver's door of the Avalon. I instructed Shuler to step out. I told him I had reason to believe he was operating a motor vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant and requested he take a preliminary breath test; he agreed to take the test. The test returned positive for the presence of alcohol. I informed Shuler of the results and advised him of Missouri implied consent. He agreed to take Standardized Field Sobriety Test. Shuler and I went to the paved area of Bumper to Bumper Auto Parks, where he performed the sobriety testing. He failed three portions of the test. I placed Shuler under arrest for suspicion of driving while impaired. I transported him to the Clever Police Station while Officer Bennett remained on scene with Cox and the vehicle.

OK, things don't look so good for Blake at this point. But here is where it gets interesting, raising constitutional questions:

We drove to City Hall, where Sergeant Stoops (DSN 1802) administered a breathalyzer test on Shuler. The test returned negative for alcohol.

Well, what do you know? My nephew wasn't drunk. And he might have been the first driver in history to tell the truth about having only one beer. This story has a happy ending, right, with Blake and his girlfriend being sent on their merry way -- Blake having been proven innocent of the "offense" for which he was arrested? Not exactly. The report continues:

I transported Shuler back to his vehicle, where Officer Bennett informed me he had located what he believed to be marijuana and paraphernalia inside the Avalon. I informed Shuler that I had 364 days to charge him with a crime for the recovered contraband. I told Schuler (sic) he was free to leave and he exited the scene.

Now, wait a minute. How does that happen? My nephew was arrested for "driving while impaired," and the official breathalyzer proved that he was not impaired -- at least not by alcohol. In fact, that test came back "negative for alcohol"; it didn't even prove he'd had one beer.

So, get this: While Blake M. Shuler was proving his innocence of the charge for which he was arrested, an officer from the Clever PD -- a different officer from the one who stopped Blake and found probable cause to arrest him -- was going through Blake's vehicle and found what he "believed" to be marijuana and paraphernalia.

Let's review what these cops did: One of them took Blake away from his vehicle, to administer a breathalyzer test that proved Blake was innocent. Meanwhile, a second cop -- who apparently never smelled the "consumed alcohol" that caused Blake's problems in the first place -- took it upon himself to search the vehicle. What happened? While one cop was learning that Blake was innocent of the charge in question, a second cop was finding evidence to hit him with another charge.

Does that sound fair to you? It doesn't to me. Does it sound like cop No. 2 sort of jumped the gun on his vehicle search? I would say he sure as hell did. Here's more from the report:

I returned to Clever City Hall and logged the recovered contraband into evidence. On 3/23/16, I issued Schuler (sic) citation # 150535206 for possession of marijuana and citation #150535207 for possession of paraphernalia. I sent him the citations via the United States Postal Service.

End of report.

What happened next? What constitutional issues might have been in play? Did anyone stand up for Blake M. Shuler's constitutional rights?

Stay tuned.

(To be continued)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

No one should waste sympathy on Jeff Sessions because he and Donald Trump have histories of shady dealings, like two snakes who deserve each other

Jeff Sessions
Some Republicans are trying to rally around Jeff Sessions after Donald Trump directed withering criticism at his attorney general for recusing himself in the Russia investigation, opening the door for the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Support for Sessions in far-right circles perhaps has grown amid reports that Trump referred to his AG as "beleaguered" and is considering Rudy Guiliani as a replacement.

This morning, Trump even blasted his AG for having a "very weak position" on prosecuting Hillary Clinton's "crimes." CNN responded with an article saying Trump's public bullying of Sessions was embarrassing.

If you are thinking about extending your sympathy to Sessions, don't bother, says Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin -- and she's a conservative. In an op-ed piece titled "Don't Waste Your Sympathy On Sessions," Rubin says Sessions entered the Trump hornet's nest with his eyes wide open. And besides, the two are a lot alike. Writes Rubin:

Republicans are rallying around Sessions, whispering that he has been humiliated and suggesting that Trump is undeserving of such a loyal adviser. Sorry, but this is a pair who deserve one another. Sessions knew exactly what he was getting into when he teamed up with a candidate who insulted Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and POWs and attacked a federal court judge on the grounds that his ethnicity prevented him from doing his job. Sessions apparently didn’t think anything was amiss when Trump invited the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails. Sessions was willing to stick by him after the “Access Hollywood” tape revelation. Once in office, Sessions did not flinch when Trump impugned our intelligence services, gave code-word classified information to the Russian foreign minister and fired the FBI director. Sessions violated the broad language of his recusal to participate in James B. Comey’s firing and incorporated by reference Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein’s absurd, pretextual memo saying that Comey treated Clinton unfairly. Sessions isn’t motivated to quit or sound the alarm bell when Trump threatens Comey, lies about tapes or attempts to intimidate the special counsel.

Ouch! As you can tell, Rubin is not one to pull punches. She proceeds to land a few more solid blows, which tend to hit right in the solar plexus:

Sessions is the last person who deserves our sympathy. He was willing to sell his political soul to enable Trump, and he has enabled him every step of the way. Unlike Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who plays a vital role in insulating the military from Trump and literally preventing nuclear war, Sessions is not maintaining the integrity of the Justice Department. He has normalized and rationalized conduct that flies in face of the rule of law.

As Bob Bauer put it in commenting on the interview in which Trump degraded Sessions, “The President displays an ethical posture defined by a narrow and intense concern with his own interests. This is an ethics that may have served him well in business. However, it will have disastrous consequences when carried over into the exercise of his public responsibility as President—a duty to act on behalf of others.” And Sessions sees nothing is amiss? He thinks it is appropriate to lay down a “red line” with a special counsel, threatening to fire him if he (as is essential) explores Trump’s finances to determine illegality and/or ways in which Trump might have been compromised?

That sound you hear is me, grinning from ear to ear. I like this woman, Ms. Rubin. She sees Sessions for what he is -- a con artist, with the kind of misguided "moral compass" that has given Alabama one of the nation's most corrupt justice systems. Now, Sessions is on his way to doing the same thing for the entire country. From Rubin:

Sessions, precisely because he was close to Trump and the darling of the far right, at any point along the way could have taken a principled stand, refused to participate in Trump’s efforts to shut down the Russia investigation and decried efforts to bully the special counsel — who was appointed by his own department (by Rosenstein in the wake of Sessions’s recusal). No, we have zero sympathy for Sessions. He is no victim; he’s a perpetrator.

Jeff Sessions take a principled stand? He wouldn't begin to know how. His whole career has been built on one flim-flam after another. He is Alabama's gifted flim-flam man, and the whole country is getting to "enjoy" him -- hopefully, for only a little while longer. Then, perhaps, we can look forward to his indictment.

With Bunn family ties to Paul Bryant Jr., and Bryant's role in boosting UA enrollment, the Megan Rondini story gets uncomfortably close to Crimson Tide

Paul Bryant Jr.
Reporting on the Megan Rondini story, so far, has largely steered clear of the vaunted University of Alabama football program. But our research indicates the connections between the alleged rape and eventual suicide of Rondini and the UA football team might be closer than many Crimson Tide fans would find comfortable.

For one, the family of alleged rapist T.J. "Sweet T" Bunn Jr. was among the earliest donors to a fund-raising effort that helped launch a 14-year era of dominance for the Crimson Tide, mostly under Coach Nick Saban. Second, UA football "godfather" Paul Bryant Jr. -- the son of the late Hall of Fame coach, Bear Bryant -- was out front in an effort that led to massive enrollment gains via heavy recruitment of non-resident students, such as Megan Rondini.

In fact, the ties between the Bunn family and Bryant appear close enough to raise this question: Did the Bunns seek Bryant's help -- he holds the state's most famous name, after all -- to help quash a possible criminal case against "Sweet T"?

How close are the Bunns and Bryant? When UA launched in March 2002 a $100-million fund-raising campaign for athletic-facility improvements, chairman of the Crimson Tradition Fund (CTF) was Paul Bryant Jr. Among the original 27 donors who formed the foundation of the CTF were Terry and Sonny Bunn -- the heads of ST Bunn Construction and the father and uncle, respectively, of "Sweet T" Bunn Jr. From a press release about the CTF's founding:

The Crimson Tradition Fund Committee, chaired by Paul Bryant, Jr., is comprised of the following University of Alabama supporters: Owen W. Arnonov, Montgomery, Ala.; Randy Billingsley, Mobile, Ala.; Paul W. Bryant, Jr., Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Sonny Bunn, Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Terry Bunn, Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Angus Cooper, II, Mobile, Ala.; Gary Neill Drummond, Birmingham, Ala.; Elise Durbin, Birmingham, Ala.; Melissa Durbin, Birmingham, Ala.; William E. Ezell, Fairhope, Ala.; Wayne H. Gillis, Birmingham, Ala.; Joe Kelley, Nashville, Tenn.; John J. McMahon, Jr.; Birmingham, Ala.; Robert W. (Bud) Moore, Catherine, Ala.; Ozzie Newsome, Baltimore, Md.; Thomas L. Patterson, Birmingham, Ala.; Johnny Plott, Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Farid Rafiee, Huntsville, Ala.; Ambassador Joseph M. Rodgers, Nashville, Tenn.; Richard Scrushy, Birmingham, Ala.; Britt Sexton, Decatur, Ala.; Bart Starr, Birmingham, Ala.; Ted Taylor, Prattville, Ala.; Michael D. Thompson, Birmingham, Ala.; Stanley Verciglio, Birmingham, Ala.; Duncan Williams, Memphis, Tenn., and James W. Wilson, III, Montgomery, Ala.

One year after forming the Crimson Tradition Fund, UA hired Robert Witt as president. Bryant was on the Board of Trustees then, and chaired the committee to hire a new leader for the Tuscaloosa campus. From a 2013 article at

Before the football resurgence, the University of Alabama also began a growth period that started with the hiring of Robert Witt as president in 2003. Bryant, in his role on the board of trustees, was part of the process in luring Witt from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Megan Rondini
"The trip that I was involved in was when they took our plane and hired Dr. Witt," Bryant said. "I was president of the committee, went to Fort Worth to meet Dr. Witt and it just happened that his then-wife (Anne C. Witt) had graduated from high school with me, her parents were here in town and had both been on the faculty, and her mother was and still is a good friend of mine.

"That was a good coincidence. I don't think it had anything to do with our ability to get him."

When Witt arrived in Tuscaloosa, one of his primary objectives was clear:

Witt began an aggressive growth campaign, building new student housing and increasing enrollment. In the 10 years since Witt, who became chancellor of the UA system last March, became president, Alabama has increased enrollment from 19,600 to 34,800, added more than 300 new faculty (a 22 percent increase) and added more than 600 new staff employees (a 17 percent increase), all while seeing state funding decrease $58 million in the last five years. In the last 10 years, UA has added 5,000 new beds in on-campus housing with the construction of new dormitories funded by bond issues.

According to documents obtained from open-record requests, UA's revenues have grown from almost $600 million in 2007 to more than $782 million in 2012.

The idea of greatly enhancing enrollment, which eventually focused heavily on out-of-state students, did not originate with Witt. It came from Bryant. As the article put it, "Witt's vision fit Bryant's mission":

"We had a period of time before Dr. Witt where we were losing students to other schools, to Auburn in particular," Bryant said. "I'm not talking athletics, I'm just talking about students.

"A lot of my friends' children weren't coming to Alabama, (friends) that had been to Alabama. And the one, I won't call it a charge, but the one suggestion I had for Dr. Witt that I wanted to see, when he was hired, was that my friends would send their children to Alabama, and that the leaders in the state would come from the University of Alabama.

"That's what he set out to do with recruiting, first off particularly recruiting in-state -- you have to do that first -- and then he broadened it."

That effort to "broaden" student recruitment eventually reached Austin, Texas, where it attracted a promising young student named Megan Rondini. Megan's experience at UA appears to have been mostly positive until she encountered T.J. Bunn Jr. one evening at Innisfree Irish Pub. That led to a sexual encounter that Megan insisted was not consensual, and when she sought justice, her efforts were met mostly with a stonewall from university officials and local law enforcement.

Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide
In frustration and despair, she returned to her home state and eventually took her own life. UA will go into the 2017 football season as the most powerful program in the country. But some of its most influential boosters have ties to the tragic story of Megan Rondini. Her parents have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit that likely will be pending for all of the 2017 season and beyond. That might create a shadow that could hang over Crimson Tide football for quite a while.

Could the lawsuit help uncover uncomfortable truths, much like the Jerry Sandusky scandal did at Penn State? It certainly might. The Rondini story already is closer to UA football than many fans might want to think.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Family of federal judge R. David Proctor, including son Luke Proctor and his wife, has benefited to the max from ties to perjurious Trump AG Jeff Sessions

Luke and Dana Skerry Proctor
We know that one of Judge R. David Proctor's sons worked for Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate. But Proctor's other son also has apparently benefited from the family's ties to Sessions, who now faces a criminal complaint related to false statements, about meetings with a Russian ambassador, he made during his confirmation hearings as Trump attorney general.

Sessions is accused in a citizen complaint of violating federal statutes regarding perjury, making false statements, and obstruction of justice. Most recently, Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak was caught on intelligence intercepts stating that he discussed campaign and policy issues with Sessions during the 2016 presidential race. The U.S. House and Senate, plus the FBI, are conducting "Kremlingate" investigations that could lead to even more serious criminal allegations against Sessions.

The evidence is mounting that Sessions sold out his country to get Donald Trump elected. That, of course, has profound implications, it sure could throw a wrench into the resumes of Jake and Luke Proctor. Jake Proctor is a 2016 graduate of the University of Alabama, and he worked for then-U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions in summer 2015.

Jake Proctor apparently is well on his way to becoming a political snake or whore -- or both. He posted photos to Facebook of himself at Donald Trump Inauguration events from January 2017. In roughly 180 days in office, Trump has established himself as probably the most corrupt president in U.S. history -- likely the only one to be "elected" with the help of a foreign adversary. So much for political principles. Jake Proctor's only principle, it seems, is, "I'll support whoever the perjurious Jeff Sessions supports." That path to power might crumble under young Mr. Proctor before long.

Luke Proctor, Jake's brother, is cut from the same cloth. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2013, and that is a nice achievement, to be sure. But did Luke Proctor -- like his brother, a Briarwood Christian School graduate -- deserve to be there? Well, he almost certainly gained entrance to the academy via a Congressional nomination -- and that likely came from then-U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions?

Was Luke Proctor truly among the most qualified cadets to enter West Point in 2009? Maybe he was. But his nomination likely did not come just from a home-state U.S. senator; it came from a senator who owed Proctor's father a nice favor -- in fact, several nice favors. After all, David Proctor (while in private practice) helped Sessions get black federal judge U.W. Clemon removed from a 1990s case in which Sessions (as Alabama attorney general) was a defendant.

Such judge shopping has been described in a federal-court opinion as "unethical behavior." But Proctor and Sessions did it anyway. They are tied together in racism, and the public record suggests the Proctor family has been receiving favors from Sessions ever since.

Luke Proctor, it appears, has enjoyed the fruits from a poisonous tree. This is from a newsletter for West Point parents, while he still was in school;

Cadet Luke Proctor (‘13, Birmingham) visited Chicago in March along with other cadets in the Black and Gold Leadership Forum. While in Chicago, members of the Forum had a chance to visit CNA Financial -- the seventh largest insurance company in the world, have lunch at the prestigious Chicago Club, enjoy a guided tour of the Chicago Board of Trade, meet with the CEO of the McCormack Foundation (a nonprofit organization dedicated to philanthropy), eat breakfast at the Union League Club, talk with both the CFO of Navistar International Corporation and CEO of Morris Communications, and visit with several members of the West Point Society of Chicago.

Looks like Cadet Proctor wasn't interested in visiting any social-justice or civil-rights organizations. I'm sure Chicago has a few, but those must be for people who don't have special ties to Jeff Sessions.

Our research indicates Luke Proctor currently is stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas. In fact, 1st Lt. Luke Proctor (5th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery) appears as a reporter for the Fort Bliss Bugle. Gee, do we have a budding journalist on our hands? If so, Luke Proctor isn't likely to learn about the pursuit of truth from his father -- or from his political benefactor, the perjurious Jeff Sessions. And he certainly isn't going to learn about it from Sessions' boss, Donald Trump.

Luke Proctor isn't the only family member who leans toward the writing life. His wife, Dana Skerry Proctor, has worked and studied at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP), where she has been in the M.A.T. in Teaching English program. She holds a B.A. in English and American Literature from New York University and has served editorial internships at HarperCollins and St. Martin's Press.

That's a pretty impressive resume, and such internships in Manhattan certainly do not come easily. Did Mrs. Proctor have a certain U.S. senator among her references, and did that help her land such snazzy positions?

If Jeff Sessions has not helped her yet, he almost certainly will in the future -- unless, of course, Sessions winds up in federal prison first. That might take some of the shine off any references he might give.

We sought comment from Judge Proctor for this story, and asked for copies of documents where Jeff Sessions assisted his family members. Proctor has not responded to our queries.

In written statements, Missouri deputies essentially admit I made no 911 call, but they still point to an alleged threat that apparently originated from thin air

Officer Jeremy Lynn
The Missouri deputy who claimed I had called 911 and threatened to shoot anyone trying to evict Carol and me back tracks from that statement in a written report dated 9/10/15, the day after our eviction that led to deputies breaking Carol's arm and bringing bogus criminal charges against her.

What have we learned? Officers essentially admit that I never made a 911 call, as I've stated all along. Officers still claim I made some kind of threat, and they apparently used that as an excuse to act like a SWAT team, with assault rifles aimed, pistols flying, and a team of what appeared to be 6-8 cops. But it remains unclear how they knew about any "threat," who reported it, to whom I allegedly made the threat, what evidence the person presented to cops, and why such a threat (if I made it, and I didn't) would be unlawful under Missouri's Castle Doctrine Law. It also remains unclear why officers, if the "threat" was of such concern, took no action at the time it supposedly was made, showed no signs that they took it seriously.

In an e-mail written just eight days before the deputy's written report, on September 2, 2015, my lawyer/brother David Shuler said Deputy Scott Harrison had contacted him to express concern about our upcoming eviction. This is part of David's e-mail:

[Harrison] said he posted the notice to vacate on the Cowherd property. He also said he was concerned because his dispatch contacted him and said you had called 911 and threatened to shoot anyone coming on the premises to get you out. I certainly hope that you did not really do that, but he asked me to make you aware that they take such threats seriously and that you are setting up a potentially dangerous situation.

What did Harrison say eight days later? Here it is, from an investigative report obtained during discovery in the pending "assault on a law enforcement officer" case against Carol:

Extreme caution was used while attempting to serve this eviction due to information reported to law enforcement about verbal threats made by Roger Shuler "to shoot anyone who attempts to evict him from his residence." Information was broadcasted (sic) to all city and county officers by 911 Dispatch on 08/12/2015 at 11:37 a.m. regarding this threat made by Roger Shuler.

What do we learn here:

* Information was "broadcast" via 911, but it says nothing about me making a call to 911.

* It claims someone reported my alleged "verbal threats," but it doesn't say who or how they knew. This appears to be hearsay to the nth degree, but cops used it to point an assault rifle at my head and wind up breaking Carol's arm?

* The report about the alleged threat came on 8/12/15, roughly three weeks before David Shuler sent an e-mail to me about it. Why the delay?

Harrison is not the only deputy to address the 911/threat issue in his written statements. These are the words of Officer Debi Wade, author of the Probable Cause Statement against Carol:

The next day (08-12-15) Deputy Harrison notified me that dispatch had put out information regarding officer safety information stemming from a call that they received about Roger Shuler at 4070 S. Fort. Although not verbatim, the information given to officers was that Roger Shuler told someone that he would kill any law enforcement officer that came in an attempt to evict him from his residence.

Notice two things here: (1) Now, we have 911 dispatch receiving a call "about Roger Shuler," not from Roger Shuler; (2) Wade claims I relayed a threat to "someone," but we don't know who. Officers brought enough weaponry for an eviction to put our lives at risk, based on this?

A written statement from Officer Jeremy Lynn adds new elements to the cops' story:

There was reason to believe there could be issues with the eviction due to past statements and sentiments posted by Mr. Shuler online. There was also a 911 call received in regards to Mr. Shuler, stating there would be violence with anyone who tried to evict him from his home.

What have we here? (1) Now, I'm a threat because of "sentiments" I had expressed online. Is Lynn claiming I threatened online to shoot somebody? If that's his claim, I would sure like to know when I did that; (2) The 911 call now was "received in regards to Mr. Shuler," not from Mr. Shuler. These folks can't keep their stories straight.

Finally, we have the words of Officer Christian Conrad: (The incident report, including all of the deputies' written statements, is embedded at the end of this post.)

I was informed that Shuler was anti-law enforcement and had made threats to assault or kill law enforcement if they attempted to remove him from his home.

Ah, so now, I'm sort of an anti-government terrorist, you know the kind that holes up at a cabin in Montana, while black helicopters fly overhead.

This is laughable, but Conrad isn't the only Missouri cop who portrays me as a menace to government. We will look, in an upcoming post, at others who do the same.

For now, here is the key point: Too many cops are blindingly stupid, especially about matters of the law. And that can put the public at risk. In written statements about our eviction case, cops give the impression that "Hey, we taped an eviction notice from the landlord or his lawyer on your door, so therefore it's valid, and you'd better get prepared to leave." They seem to have no idea that an eviction is a legal process, that it must be authorized by the court.  A landlord or his lawyer cannot unilaterally evict anybody.

In our case, we've seen no evidence of a valid court order, signed by a judge, authorizing our eviction. In fact, the docket plainly shows the judge issued an interlocutory judgment, meaning it was not final, with additional issues, including our breach of contract counterclaim, set for hearing on Oct. 1, 2015. That suggests there could not be a valid court order, signed by a judge, because she had issued no final ruling in the case.

Officer Scott Harrison
Here is a critical point that seems beyond the grasp of law enforcement: If a tenant "reasonably believes" an eviction is unlawful -- and cops are about to invade his home with no grounds for doing so -- he has a right under Missouri's Castle Doctrine Law to resist, including use of deadly force. In our case, we knew of at least four grounds upon which an eviction would have been illegal, so we had every right to resist via force.

In essence, law enforcement was getting its panties bunched over an alleged "threat" to take LAWFUL action. Under such circumstances, what law enforcement saw as a "threat" was more like a "vow" -- to respond lawfully if cops insisted on acting unlawfully.

Experience has taught us that many cops are too stupid to think through stuff like this. Perhaps they have the brain power to patrol beats, and the brightest among them might be capable of investigating crimes that already have happened. But to be involved with a delicate civil matter, like an eviction . . . states have delegated that authority to sheriffs, but there is no way deputies or their bosses should be involved. They either aren't smart enough to grasp the law, or they are too corrupt to apply the law correctly -- and that can cause innocent civilians to be hurt; we've been hurt, and Carol has a scar of 12 inches or more on her left arm to prove it.

How dense can cops be? We have more evidence coming up next.

(To be continued)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Intelligence intercepts show Jeff Sessions discussed campaign issues with Russians during 2016 race, indicating he lied to Senate and on security clearance

Sergey Kislyak and Jeff Sessions
A Russian ambassador told his superiors that he discussed campaign and policy issues with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, according to a report this evening from The Washington Post. Sergey Kislyak's statements, caught on intelligence intercepts, run contrary to public statements from Sessions, the Trump attorney general and former U.S. Senator from Alabama.

The report adds to the already substantial evidence that Sessions lied during his confirmation hearings before Congress and on his security-clearance application. CNN and The Hill are among major news outlets to pick up on the report this evening.

It also adds to our numerous posts about Sessions' under-handed actions while serving as U.S. attorney and attorney general in Alabama, long before he leaped onto the international stage during the Trump campaign. We've reported extensively on (1) Sessions' use of political prosecutions against Democrats in the Southern District of Alabama; (2) His hiring of a federal judge's nephew to force the judge's recusal, in a case where Session's AG office was accused of gross prosecutorial misconduct; current U.S. Judge R. David Proctor (Northern District of Alabama) assisted in that blatant form of "judge shopping," which has been described by one circuit court as a "breach of ethics"; (3) Sessions' persistent support of U.S. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor, including pushing Trump to appoint Pryor to the U.S. Supreme Court, even though Pryor has nude photographs in his background that appeared at the gay-porn Web site in the 1990s -- and he almost certainly lied about it during his own confirmation process; (4) Reports from a former Alabama law-enforcement official that Sessions was caught on surveillance making frequent late-night visits to Pryor's residence in Montgomery, suggesting the two had a homosexual relationship.

As a journalist and resident of Alabama for 35-plus years, I know of many reports that suggest Sessions has virtually no moral compass, so the latest evidence that he lied to Congress and on security-related documents is a surprise only because it is so brazen and international in scope. From the WaPo report:

Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions — then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump — were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials both in the United States and in Russia. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign.

One U.S. official said that Sessions — who testified that he has no recollection of an April encounter — has provided “misleading” statements that are “contradicted by other evidence.” A former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.

Sessions has said repeatedly that he never discussed campaign-related issues with Russian officials and that it was only in his capacity as a U.S. senator that he met with Kislyak.

The full implications of the intercept reports is difficult to gauge this evening. But it certainly suggests that America's top law-enforcement officer is a liar of monstrous proportions -- and he is willing to lie about his interactions with representatives for a foreign adversary. From CNN:

Sessions originally never disclosed any interactions he had with Kislyak, but a meeting first came to light in March when the Post reported that he met with Kislyak at an event during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Sessions met with Kislyak for a second time during the presidential campaign, this time in his Senate office in Washington. This meeting, in September, also wasn't publicly known until the Post reported about it in March.

Sessions did not disclose either meeting when he applied for his security clearance. He also did not mention it when he was asked about contact with Russians during his Senate confirmation hearings earlier this year. Sessions denied any campaign-related meetings with Russians at the confirmation hearings, saying, "I did not have communications with the Russians."

That last statement sounds more and more like Bill Clinton's famous claim: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky." Republicans for years have howled about the Clinton statement, which was proven to be false. They might not find much amusing in the deepening Sessions quagmire. From The Hill:

One current U.S. intelligence official told the Post that Sessions' remarks about his contacts with Kislyak were “misleading” statements that are “contradicted by other evidence.”

Kislyak, officials told the Post, has a reputation for accurately describing his conversations with U.S. officials to his superiors in Moscow.

The latest news on Sessions is profoundly important, a source tells Legal Schnauzer. "At this point, America's number one law enforcement official is not credible or trustworthy. What does that say about America? The Trump administration?" But it goes beyond that, says our source:

Here's the one link I hope is not missed. And that is, I think that one of the reasons Trump appointed Sessions to be the Attorney General of the United States is his participation in pre-election campaign efforts to get Trump elected which, for Sessions, included his willingness to have contacts with Russian agents and to act in complicity with those agents in working to get Trump elected and to defeat Mrs. Clinton.

Trump rewarded Sessions for his "loyalty" and willingness to use Session's connections with Russians to get Trump elected and Clinton defeated.

Trump rewarded Sessions for his complicity with the Russians. Now that Trump sees that Sessions is going down, he shuns Sessions.

Robert Mueller expands Trump investigation, causing GOPers to squawk as they conveniently forget Ken Starr's ever-widening probe of Bill Clinton in the 1990s

Donald Trump and Robert Mueller
The Trump White House, and a number of its conservative backers, blew a collective fuse yesterday, with reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is expanding his investigation to include a look at Trump family finances. It's unclear where the issue is headed, but it certainly unleashed a wave of Republican hypocrisy.

According to a report at, Mueller is examining a wide range of business transactions involving Trump and his associates. From Bloomberg:

FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said.

The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Trump, summoning his inner Don Corleone, issued a warning that Mueller would be wise to avoid scrutiny of family finances.  From

President Trump warned special counsel Robert Mueller from investigating his family’s finances beyond the scope of the probe into ties between his administration and Russia in an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday.

“I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia,” Trump told the Times.

Trump during the interview said he wasn’t ruling out firing Mueller as special counsel on the probe into Russian meddling in the presidential election.

He did not say that he would order the Justice Department to fire Mueller or under what circumstances he would fire him, but he indicated Mueller investigating his family's finances would cross a line.

It's not like there isn't a mountain of evidence pointing to shady financial dealings involving Trump, as splendidly reported by Craig Unger in a New Republic piece titled "Trump's Russian Laundromat." Writes Unger:

A review of the public record reveals a clear and disturbing pattern: Trump owes much of his business success, and by extension his presidency, to a flow of highly suspicious money from Russia. Over the past three decades, at least 13 people with known or alleged links to Russian mobsters or oligarchs have owned, lived in, and even run criminal activities out of Trump Tower and other Trump properties. Many used his apartments and casinos to launder untold millions in dirty money. Some ran a worldwide high-stakes gambling ring out of Trump Tower—in a unit directly below one owned by Trump. Others provided Trump with lucrative branding deals that required no investment on his part. Taken together, the flow of money from Russia provided Trump with a crucial infusion of financing that helped rescue his empire from ruin, burnish his image, and launch his career in television and politics.

Where does hypocrisy enter the picture? Republicans who want to rein in the Mueller investigation of Trump, were more than happy when Ken Starr ran wild with his investigation of President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. From a recent CNN report, comparing the Starr and Mueller probes:

Ken Starr had been appointed by a three-person panel of judges in 1994 to investigate a scandal involving land development deals in Arkansas from the time before Clinton became president.

Starr, a conservative Republican who had served as Solicitor General of the United States, took over from Robert Fiske and proved to be an aggressive prosecutor. Over time, Starr broadened the scope of the investigation to include a number of issues, including accusations that had been brought against the President about sexual harassment. In the course of the investigation, Starr's team asked President Clinton about whether he had an affair with a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky who was about half his age. Clinton, seeking to protect himself and his marriage, lied under oath. He also lied to the nation when he said "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky."

The most damaging information against Clinton came after Starr had expanded his investigation multiple times, to include issues that went way beyond the probe's original focus -- the Whitewater land deals and the death of deputy White House counsel Vince Foster.

As the CNN report notes, Whitewater happened years before Clinton became president. In fact, Bill Clinton was not even governor of Arkansas when the Whitewater deal commenced. But Republicans, at the time, gave "thumbs up" to a probe that had nothing to do with Clinton's role as president, or even his campaign for president. And they were fine when Starr expanded the probe to include issues that were far removed from Whitewater and Vince Foster.

So try to wrap your head around the hypocrisy present in this press release yesterday from a group called Americans For Limited Government:

July 20, 2017, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement urging the scope of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to be limited:

“Robert Mueller was originally tasked to investigate Russia’s supposed interference in the 2016 U.S. election campaign. His appointment was directly tied to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ original recusal on all matters related to the 2016 campaign. The Attorney General’s recusal does not include reported ongoing investigations conducted by the Department of Justice unrelated to the election. As a result, Attorney General Sessions should bind the Special Counsel to only pursuing matters for which Sessions has recused himself from overseeing as the nation’s top cop. If Robert Mueller has not found any criminal matters to investigate pursuant to Russian interference in the election, then his tenure as special counsel should end.”

Who in the hell is Rick Manning? His bio indicates he once served in the George W. Bush administration and was an NRA lobbyist for nine years. I don't know where Rick Manning was during the Whitewater probe, but it's hard to imagine him having any problems with Ken Starr's activities going way beyond their original focus.

One difference between the Starr and Mueller investigations should be noted: Starr was an independent counsel, and Mueller is a special counsel. The differences between the two roles is explained in this recent article by Frank Bowman at Slate.

Still, Trump's inflammatory words about Mueller have raised concerns, even among those on the right, who are knowledgeable about government ethics. From an article at

The former White House ethics lawyer to President George W. Bush on Thursday said that Congress needed to make it clear to President Trump that firing special counsel Robert Mueller would mean his impeachment.

In a Twitter post Thursday evening, Richard Painter, who also serves as vice chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said that if Trump fires Mueller, it should be "bye-bye" Trump or "bye-bye" Congress.

"Congress must make it very clear: Bye-bye Mueller, bye-bye Trump. Otherwise bye-bye Congress 2018. Americans are fed up," Painter tweeted Thursday.

Painter was not the only GOPer to voice concerns about Trump:

Others besides Painter warned Trump not to fire Mueller on Thursday. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said firing the former FBI director would be a "mistake."

“It would be a mistake to fire Bob Mueller," Rubio told reporters Thursday.

Rubio, of course, is the guy who raised the supposed correlation between hand size and penis size during the Republican presidential primaries of 2016. When Rubio becomes a voice of maturity and reason, Trump likely is on shaky ground.

The notion of Republicans griping about an expansion of Robert Mueller's Trump investigation should be seen as a joke -- sort of like Marco Rubio's presidential campaign. But now it seems many GOPers are so encrusted with dishonesty and hypocrisy that they can't even get the joke.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Carol arrived for a court appearance yesterday in Springfield, MO, only to learn cops and prosecutors are dragging their feet on turning over discovery

Carol Tovich Shuler
My wife, Carol, had a court appearance yesterday and arrived to find -- get this -- the prosecutors and cops who brought the bogus "assault" case against her are stonewalling on discovery.

Let's allow that to settle in for a moment. Prosecutors and cops deal every work day with allegedly criminal matters. They know discovery is the process where both sides gather evidence -- via interrogatories, depositions, requests for production of documents -- to make their cases. For a defendant, like Carol, it's a critical component to proving her innocence, avoiding jail time, and restoring her good name.

Now, let's allow this to percolate a little more. Prosecutors and cops waited until the last possible day to beat the one-year statute of limitations and bring trespass and "assault on a law enforcement officer" charges against Carol, related to our unlawful eviction on September 9, 2015, in Greene County, Missouri. (Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto already has dismissed the trespass claim.) They waited another four months-plus to seek Carol's arrest -- and that came only after they knowingly had sent a summons to the wrong address, causing Carol to be hit with a failure-to-appear charge.

In short, the "legal professionals" had 16 months to get their case prepared and have evidence ready -- knowing it likely would be requested in discovery -- and they either don't have it or are griping about turning it over. Here is a message for Nicholas Jain, the chief prosecutor in Carol's case, and his boss, Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson: If your case is so weak that you don't want to turn over discoverable information, don't bring it.

Defendants once were not entitled to much discovery for criminal cases. That changed in 1963 with a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case styled Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. (1963), In Alabama, the right of defendants to discovery is spelled out in Rule 16, Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure (ARCP). The key passage is in the comments to Rule 16:

Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963), requires the state to disclose any information it has which is favorable to the defendant. Requiring the disclosure of evidence in the state’s possession which is material to the preparation of a defense is an extension of this requirement of due process.

Since the defendant may not know exactly what evidence the prosecution has, it would be difficult to know whether it would be material to his defense. The state is, therefore, required to disclose exculpatory evidence.

Missouri law is even more straightforward, as found at Rule 25.04, Missouri Supreme Court Rules. It states, in part:

If the court finds the request to be reasonable, the court shall order the state to disclose to the defendant that material and information requested which is found by the court to be relevant and material to the defendant's case.

Public Defender Patty Poe, who is representing Carol, told us yesterday that she had filed discovery requests with Nicholas Jain, and he had responded to some requests, while objecting to others -- claiming we were not entitled to certain information. Poe works dozens of cases like this at a time, and she seems to know Carol is entitled to a broad range of information, anything that would be material to her defense.

Poe intends to file a Motion to Compel, designed to force Jain to turn over discoverable information. A hearing is set on that motion for August 16. (See, No. 1631-CRO7731.) If Judge Palmietto orders information be produced, and Jail fails to comply, that could be grounds for sanctions, including dismissal of the case against Carol, Poe said.

If the case is tossed in the trash (where it belongs) on those grounds, we would be fine with that. It should be dismissed on multiple other grounds, under Missouri's Castle Doctrine Law, plus violations of Carol's constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment (unlawful search and seizure) and Sixth Amendment (failure to allow Carol to confront her accuser). Police actions in our eviction represent a Forcible Entry and Detainer under Missour law, and the case against Carol should be dismissed on those grounds, too.

What are we seeking in discovery, and what are the likely basis for Jain's objections? We will examine that question in an upcoming post.

For now, our primary discovery requests, and the prosecution's responses, are embedded below.