|Jessica Garrison and Luther Strange|
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, al.com 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 badpuppy.com.
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.