Monday, July 3, 2017

America is heading toward July 4, but sleaze involving Luther Strange, Jessica Garrison, Balch Bingham, and Superfund scandal never seems to take a holiday

Jessica Garrison and Luther Strange
I'll take Potpourri for $100, Alex

Jessica Medeiros Garrison's social-media profile takes a hit

We reported late last week that Jessica Medeiros Garrison, one-time campaign manager and mistress for former Alabama Attorney General and current U.S. Sen. Luther Strange, had left her "of counsel" role at Balch and Bingham amid news reports about Strange and the Balch law firm having connections to Birmingham's burgeoning Superfund bribery scandal.

The next day, reported that Garrison had left Balch in May. That came in a story, titled "Will Jeff Sessions' Balch connections hang up corruption probe," in which reporter Kyle Whitmire notes that the Trump attorney general has close ties to Balch, and those could prove troublesome as a federal investigation moves forward.

Now, we learn that Garrison's social-media presence largely is no more. Her LinkedIn page remains, but her Facebook and Twitter accounts have gone dark. What does this mean? We're not sure, but it suggests that Balch and Big Lutha are in hot water -- and Jessica likely is in there, too.

Given Garrison's documented ties to organized crime, it never surprises us when we see signs that she is tied to corruption. And this could be getting deeply personal for your humble blogger. Documents from the bogus Missouri "assault" case against my wife, Carol, tied to our unlawful eviction in September 2015, show that members of my own family have taken extraordinary trips to stab Carol and me in the back.

Does that simply mean my relatives, particularly my brothers David and Paul, have become monumental dirt bags? That could be. But I long have suspected there is a "corruption highway" that has followed us from Alabama to Missouri, via a conduit that wanted to make sure I could not defend myself in certain courtroom matters (such as the defamation case that resulted in a $3.5-million default judgment for . . . Jessica Garrison; that judgment is void, as a matter of law, but I'm stuck in Missouri, unable to take care of it) or would not be in Alabama to report on bubbling dirt, such as the Superfund scandal.

If such a conduit exists, I long have suspected that Jessica Garrison is part of it. Now evidence is mounting that Garrison, with her ties to the Gambino and Genovese crime families, is going underground as light increasingly shines on the Superfund bribery scandal.

State Rep. John Rogers also goes underground as Superfund scandal generates heat

Jessica Garrison isn't the only one to go underground as the Superfund scandal heats up. So has State Rep. John Rogers -- sort of.

The scandal turned in Luther Strange's direction last Thursday, thanks to an Alabama Political Reporter (APR) story in which a source said Strange was present when a Drummond Coal representative offered Rogers a bribe.

Later that day, Rogers was to appear with U.S. Senate candidate Randy Brinson at a press conference in Montgomery to "out" Strange. Rogers failed to show, and according to APR's Josh Moon, he also started back tracking on the Superfund/Strange story. Wrote Moon, in a story titled "John Rogers' very curious 24 hours":

Rogers twice told the same story, Brinson said. He was offered control of a super PAC in exchange for fighting the superfund and Strange was present.

Again, Rogers was angry about it all. So much so that he agreed to appear with Brinson at a Thursday press conference to “out Strange.”

Rogers even organized the press conference at a Birmingham church, Brinson said.

So, why was Brinson left almost literally standing at the alter by himself in that church on Thursday afternoon, while at the same time Rogers was telling a TV reporter that Strange wasn’t present at the meeting where the bribe was offered?

“He was scared,” Brinson said. “When he called me Thursday, his voice was shaking. It wasn’t the same John Rogers. Something happened between Wednesday and Thursday and it scared him.”

Did someone threaten Rogers or those close to him? Rogers had told APR for its Thursday story that he did not want to talk on the record because "these people are dangerous." Rogers answered the phone when Moon called him on Thursday evening, but proceeded to talk mostly in circles. From Moon's Friday story:

I asked Rogers why he was telling people now that Strange wasn’t present, Rogers first told me he never said it to me. For the next several minutes, I recapped our conversations from the day before.

When I finished, Rogers said, simply, “I’m sorry.”

I asked him what happened, if someone had convinced him to change his story. He stammered for a couple of seconds, said he didn’t think so, then no, then said he had to go.

“It is frightening to contemplate the powerful forces who so rattled (Rogers) that he recanted his confirmation of facts reported by APR concerning an attempted bribe,” APR publisher Bill Britt said. “Screaming ‘fake news’ as Sen. Strange has done is standard fare these days, but it’s very disconcerting when a public official – one who turned down the bribe and worked for his constituents – is so scared that he takes these actions. It’s an affront to American principles and Alabama values.”

A lot of things have happened in Alabama over the past 20-plus years that are an affront to American principles. Alabama courts, both state and federal, routinely turn out judgments that are an affront to our constitution. I was kidnapped from my home by law enforcement and tossed in jail for a five-month stay -- for reporting on this blog about political and court-related corruption in Alabama.

Bill Britt is correct to use the term "frightening," and I know about that in an up-close-and-personal way. John Rogers likely is getting a taste of it now.

Bill Pryor supports dishonesty from law enforcement

U.S. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor perhaps is best known for two things: (1) Once being Donald Trump's No. 1 pick to replace Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court, but finishing no higher than third; and (2) Appearing in the "full monty" for photographs from his college days that wound up on the gay-porn super site

From a legal standpoint, Pryor might now best be known for signing off on an opinion that allows law-enforcement officers to conduct searches under false pretenses. In other words, it's fine for cops to lie in order to get into your home. Gee, that's just what we need -- more reasons for the public not to trust cops.

The case, decided last week, is styled United States v. Eric Spivey, et al. Here's how the Atlanta-based Daily Report Online describes it:

Judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit revealed a deep divide Wednesday over what constitutes a legal search.

Judge William Pryor, whom President Donald Trump recently considered for nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, wrote the majority opinion signing off on a search that police initiated under false pretenses.

Judge Beverly Martin wrote a sharply worded dissent saying the search in the case before them was not the kind of reasonable search the founders had in mind when they wrote the Fourth Amendment.

The third member of the panel broke the tie. Judge Danny Boggs of the Sixth Circuit, sitting by designation, sided with Pryor.

What was the "legal reasoning" that decided the case? From the Daily Report's Katheryn Hayes Tucker:

"This appeal presents the question whether deception by law enforcement necessarily renders a suspect's consent to a search of a home involuntary," Pryor wrote in his introduction.

As Pryor went on to explain, Eric Spivey and Chenequa Austin had twice reported to police burglaries of their Lauderhill, Florida, home.

"Two officers, one posing as a crime-scene technician, came to their house on the pretense of following up on the burglaries, but mainly, unbeknownst to them, to investigate them for suspected fraud," Pryor wrote. The couple let the police in without a warrant.

What the couple did not know was that police had already caught the burglar, who told them the home had evidence of credit card fraud and so much expensive merchandise such as iPads and designer shoes that he had to go back for more. The couple also didn't know the officers were really agents with the South Florida Organized Fraud Task Force. The agents found stacks of credit cards, card readers and an embossing machine, as well as a lot more high-end merchandise.

Ultimately, the pair pleaded guilty to credit card fraud related charges, conditioned on the right to pursue an appeal of the denial of their motion to suppress evidence. Pryor and Boggs upheld Judge William Dimitrouleas of the Southern District of Florida.

Pryor said the police officers' "ruse" was a "relatively minor deception that created little, if any, coercion."

Pryor admits the officers engaged in a "ruse," but he found it was OK because it was a "relatively minor deception." And some Americans wonder how we are headed toward a police state? Dissenting judge Beverly Martin, who was nominated to the federal bench by Bill Clinton and promoted to the appellate bench by Barack Obama, found Pryor's ruling abhorrent:

The ruse was not minor to Martin. Instead of a warrant, she wrote, the officers entered the home with a plan to "get around the Fourth Amendment's protections" to guarantee the right of people to be secure in their homes.

"This litigation could have easily been avoided. Instead of planning their ruse, the officers could have gotten a warrant," Martin wrote. "I am concerned that the majority opinion blesses the deliberate circumvention of constitutional protections, and in this way undermines the public trust in police. I therefore dissent."

How perverse was Pryor's opinion? Here is more from Judge Martin's dissent:

The two officers here had no warrant allowing their entry into the home of Eric Spivey and Chenequa Austin. Instead, they had a plan to get around the Fourth Amendment’s protections. They lied about their legal authority. They lied about their real reason for being there. And they took advantage of a public trust in law enforcement in order to search the Spivey/Austin home without a warrant. When Ms. Austin learned the true purpose of the officers’ presence in her home, she stopped cooperating immediately. Based on all the circumstances of her case, it is clear to me that Ms. Austin’s permission for the officers to enter her home was not voluntarily given.

Martin goes on to highlight the profound constitutional issues in play, the ones Pryor seems to shrug off:
The Fourth Amendment generally prohibits officers from searching a person’s home without a warrant. Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 586, 100 S. Ct. 1371, 1380 (1980) (“[S]earches and seizures inside a home without a warrant are presumptively unreasonable.”). One exception to the warrant requirement is where the person voluntarily gives consent for the officers to search. Illinois v. Rodriguez, 497 U.S. 177, 181, 110 S. Ct. 2793, 2797 (1990). The question before us here is whether Ms. Austin’s consent for the officers to search her home was voluntary. . . .

Eleventh Circuit precedent about consenting to a search emphasizes that the use of deception to get consent violates the Fourth Amendment because it is an “abuse” of the public’s trust in law enforcement. See id.; see also SEC v. ESM Gov’t Sec., Inc., 645 F.2d 310, 316 (5th Cir. Unit B May 18, 1981). . . .

Considering the totality of the circumstances under the standards set by our precedent, Ms. Austin’s consent was not voluntary. The officers used deceit, trickery, and misrepresentation to hide the true nature and purpose of their investigation as well as the authority they had to investigate the burglaries. This deception caused Ms. Austin to allow the officers into her home. And when the officers revealed the ruse to Ms. Austin, she immediately stopped cooperating.

Pryor, of course, was appointed to the federal bench by George W. Bush. Danny Julian Boggs, who joined him on the ruling, was appointed by Ronald Reagan.

As Americans worry about the latest on "Mika and Morning Joe," their rights to be protected from the actions of rogue cops are being eaten away -- with the help of a corrupt con man from Alabama named Bill Pryor.


Anonymous said...

"When Shuler was served with the papers from my attorney, he was already in jail for another defamation case. (Robert Riley, a lobbyist, sued Shuler for alleging he'd had an affair with lobbyist Liberty Duke.) When we met in court for a preliminary hearing, Shuler came in wearing an orange jumpsuit. He sat directly across from me, but never looked at me. He didn't seem to care that his lies could have destroyed my personal and professional life. I can only assume that his goal was to damage Luther politically, and that he thought using a woman who worked closely with the AG was the best way to do that. He didn't realize that he'd bitten off more than he could chew."

S C said...

Wow, talk about fireworks! One can only hope the feds will do their jobs when it comes to the statewide corruption.

legalschnauzer said...

@8:51 --

What's your point?

Anonymous said...

@8:51 --

Jessica, is that you? What happened to your social media stuff? Have you bitten off more than you can chew?

Anonymous said...

Congrats, @8:51. Looks like you can copy from Marie Claire, one of our all-time most trustworthy news sources. I'm impressed.

Anonymous said...

If John Rogers and his family were threatened, they need to report it to the feds. If they need around-the-clock security, they need to get it. Rogers is right -- these people are dangerous. They also are stupid, and they try to make up for their stupidity by being dangerous.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Schnauzer:

Garrison defamed you in that Marie Claire article, didn't she?

legalschnauzer said...

@10:57 --

Lord, yes. She:

(1) Claimed I had reported that Luther Strange was the biological father of her son, and I didn't;

(2) Claimed there was a trial in her defamation case against me, and there wasn't;

(3) Claimed I had stalked her, and I didn't.

This is all from a "lawyer," who should know better.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see Brinson kick Lutha's butt.

Anonymous said...

That quote from the Marie Claire article shows why Garrison has to make a living from political sleaze; she's a horrible lawyer.

She acts like it's normal for someone to be sent to jail over a defamation case, when in fact, the First Amendment has prohibited that for 200-plus years. Anyone who's studied constitutional law for five minutes should know that. But Garrison is an ignoramus.

It would be scary to have a dunce like her for a lawyer. Fortunately, I'm not sure she's ever practiced much real law. It's probably easier to bed down with Luther Strange and reap the "benefits" from that.

Anonymous said...

That opinion by Bill Pryor is an absolute joke. So glad the dissenting judge showed that the majority opinion is unconstitutional to the max.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope someone has the resources to take this Pryor ruling to SCOTUS and get it overturned -- although Gorsuch and his right-wing comrades are likely to support such nonsense. Pryor is not qualified to sit on any bench, unless maybe it's a park bench.

Anonymous said...

I'm from Missouri and not to familiar with the Alabama races - who is looking to challenge Strange in 2018 (or sooner - not sure about state statues in special elections)

legalschnauzer said...

@12:37 --

A special election will be held later this year to fill Jeff Sessions' seat, which Luther Strange currently holds via a smelly appointment by ousted "Luv Guv" Robert Bentley. Primaries are in August and general election in December. "Ten Commandments" Roy Moore leads in polls on GOP side. About 6-8 Democrats are running, but none of them has a chance. The likely winner will be Roy Moore, Luther Strange, or Mo Brooks. A field can't get much worse than that.,_2017

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget what happened in the Lowell Barron case, which Lutha brought as AG. The defense sought a subpoena to have Strange testify about his relationship with Garrison, and the judge had not yet ruled on it, so Strange and the AG's office dropped the case against Barron.

Lutha couldn't take the heat of testifying under oath about Jessica Garrison.

legalschnauzer said...

@12:54 --

You raise an important point. I wrote a post about Lowell Barron's interview with Marcus Echols, where Barron flatly stated that Strange and Garrison had an affair, and it involved dubious financial transactions. From that post:

Barron said he's seen evidence firsthand that the Garrison affair affects the way Strange does his job. During the trial in DeKalb County, Barron's lawyers filed a subpoena, seeking to have Strange testify about his relationship with Garrison and payments he had made to her. The judge in the case did not immediately rule on Barron's efforts to have Strange testify, and the issue still was on the table when the AG's office asked to have the case dismissed.

In the Echols interview, Barron suggested any investigation of Gov. Bentley will have to come from the U.S. Department of Justice because Luther Strange will be unable to do it at the state level, In fact, Barron said he is surprised the AG's office pursued an investigation of House Speaker Mike Hubbard, which produced a 23-count indictment on alleged ethics-law violations:

"Luther Strange is so compromised that he cannot go after the governor. What happened in my case . . . my attorney asked the judge to allow us to get Luther Strange to testify in my case. The judge left that open and didn't rule on it. Once the judge didn't rule on whether we could put Luther Strange on the stand, my case went away.

"Luther Strange cannot stand to be deposed or be put on the stand because his shenanigans with Ms. Garrison would come out in the open. This whole bunch is compromised. You can't have clean government when you are dirty. Nothing is going to happen [in the Bentley case] with the attorney general's office. I'm shocked they've done anything about the speaker."

Anonymous said...

Aboard the Eliza Battle Captain Marshall and Ms Chappelle were Discussing the Actions of the US Government during the disappearance of Lt McDonald. Ms Chappelle said she had a lot of respect for her Government and thought the Captain's opinion of events was confusing. The Captain replied that Ms Chappelle was an attractive, smart but very confused woman. Mary Mac asked everyone to quiet down because she wanted to hear the conversation. Ms Chappelle told the Captain to lay what he had on the table. The Captain asked Ms Chappelle if she knew a synonym for respect and she replied "deference", next question. The Captain replied that a synonym for deference was "Passivity" and the definition of passivity was the trait of remaining inactive. He added that Passivity was a dangerous way to treat Government. The Captain asked Ms Chappelle if she knew the origin off the word respect that she had used. She replied that it was from the 13th century Latin word respectus . The Captain told Ms Chappelle that's where she is confused but she gets it honestly. Mary Mac warned the Captain to be careful. Deference and the French use of respect came into use during the 14th century. They were introduced with the words renown and obeisance. In the 13th century Roman Empire , a class of rich families began to amass power. The feudal nobility introduced the verb respect to warn the people of these elite bourgeoisie. In 14th century France, King Charles the Wise began to enhance his power by emphasizing the divine nature of Kingship. During his reign, the Pope was stationed on French soil for 7 consecutive Popes.To utilize religion into his statecraft, the nouns respect, renown and obeisance were introduced into the language. Dictionaries will tell you that the word respect entered the English language through the French meaning of the word respectus . But they are mistaken. The meaning of the word respect entered modern english through a fairy tale.The book "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' has a passage describing the cat's many teeth and and long claws and the cat should be treated with respect. But actually the author meant to use respect as a warning. He should have written the cat needed respecting by using the verb noun of the verb respect. Speedo Sims and the Singing Demons tried to introduce Alabama to the correct use of respect by recording the song "RESPECT" in Muscle Shoals Alabama. Speedo could not get the tempo correct,but Otis Redding speeded it up and Aretha Franklin made the song the anthem of the Woman's Right's Movement. The privileged class of Alabama stole a page from King Charle's playbook. They used the fight against the godless communist to introduce religion into government. They only wanted the commandment to honor your father and mother added , but not the one to not commit adultery. Ole Roy said all or none and the ten Commandments were added. The Rich privileged class added " Born Again" to the language to get themselves out of the hole they found themselves in when they committed adultery. The privileged class wrapped them selves in the american flag and convinced people to show respect for your government as you would your elders The Captain informed Ms Chappelle that your elders need respect but your government needs respecting. Ms Chappelle asked the Captain where he learned about King Charles. The Captain asked her if she enjoyed the Pot-au-Feu that was served in the mess hall. She replied that Charlie was a excellent Chef, but the Captain did not answer her question.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know about her Genovese/Harp connections

legalschnauzer said...

@9:42 --

My understanding is that Garrison has business ties to Harp, and Harp's NY-based gambling ring (of which he was co-leader) had ties to Gambino and Genovese crime families. Is that a three degrees of Kevin Bacon kind of thing?

Would welcome more info from others.

Anonymous said...

Yes, and I'm pretty sure Harp's connections were well-documented - as in federal court

Anonymous said...

I'm curious about the possible similarities and differences between Bentley's ACEGov and the "Alliance for Jobs and the Economy" tax exempt which was mentioned in the DOJ news release in connection with the OLIVER L. ROBINSON JR. indictments.

Think about it.

How many of these games are busted the first time they are played?

Are these different games?

Or the same game?

Are these different players?

Or some of the same players?


Anonymous said...

Sometimes when it rains it pours- at least as far as Balch & Bingham getting a lot of free publicity in the press...

FBI investigating post-BP spill contracts: what we know Anna Wolfe , The Clarion-Ledger Published 6:08 p.m. CT July 4, 2017 | Updated 6:08 p.m. CT July 4, 2017

In the three years since Director Trudy Fisher's resignation, federal investigators have looked into DEQ's activities under her leadership. The probe looks at contracts granted by DEQ in an attempt to determine whether Fisher personally benefited from them, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the investigation, including several people who have been interviewed by the FBI.

Under Fisher, private contractor and attorney Amy Whitten reaped nearly $2 million in DEQ contracts, either directly with the agency or through subcontracts with law firm Balch & Bingham. Whitten, a well-known state contractor, had worked with a number of agencies and secured four previous DEQ contracts before Fisher took over the agency.

legalschnauzer said...

@2:58 --

Wow, very interesting. Thanks for sharing. I don't think that's the kind of publicity Balch Bingham had in mind.