Thursday, September 28, 2017

Heavy.com publishes "five fast facts" on Luther Strange's wife, but it butchers facts about my reporting on Strange's extramarital affair with Jessica Garrison


Luther and Melissa Strange
A New York-based Web site known for its "fast facts" published an article on Tuesday about the wife of U.S. Sen. Luther Strange -- and it had a few problems with "facts." I know because it addressed our reporting here at Legal Schnauzer about Strange's extramarital affair with former campaign manager Jessica Medeiros Garrison. On that subject, heavy.com's reporting might have been "fast," but it certainly did not deal in "facts."

As part of its election-day coverage on the Strange vs. Roy Moore U.S. Senate runoff, heavy.com ran an article about Strange's wife, with the title "Melissa Strange, Luther's wife: Five Fast Facts You Need to Know." On the same day, the Web site also ran similar factoid-filled pieces on Luther Strange; Roy Moore; and Moore's wife, Kayla.

The item on Melissa Strange included "fast fact" No. 2, which carried this title: "A Blogger Claimed Strange Had an Extramarital Affair With a Campaign Aide, Who Won a $3.5 Million Settlement." That segment apparently was based totally on Garrison's "as told to" article with writer Liz Welch, published in October 2015 at the Hearst-owned fashion magazine and Web site Marie Claire. With that in mind, it's no surprise that the heavy.com segment is factually challenged.

Factual problems begin with the headline; there was no settlement in Garrison's defamation lawsuit against me. There also was no discovery, no trial, and no jury -- only a determination by Jefferson County Circuit Judge Don Blankenship, who essentially acted as a one-man censor in the case. U.S. law long has held that defamation cases must be determined at trial, before a jury. That's because of the First Amendment's exalted status in American law -- and no judge, by law, can unilaterally act as a one-man censor. But that is exactly what Blankenship did in the Garrison case

There also was no judgment on the merits in the case. It was a default judgment, the fallout from my unlawful five-month incarceration in Shelby County (Oct. 23, 2013 to March 26, 2014). That helped lead to a wrongful foreclosure on our house of 25 years in Birmingham, and with insufficient time to save our house after my release from jail, Carol and I were forced to move to Springfield, Missouri, where I grew up.

Living like a refugee in Missouri, I could not defend myself against Garrison's allegations. In fact, I never received notice of her default application or the default hearing -- and the docket shows such notice never was sent. You'd be surprised how hard it is to appear at court hearings when you receive no notice that they are being held. That's what led to the default judgment.

None of this is mentioned in the heavy.com article, written by Daniel S. Levine. The author clearly has zero knowledge of relevant law in the Garrison case, and it appears he made no effort to research it. But aside from the law, Levine can't get his facts straight -- and that's because he relied on a lousy original source, the Marie Claire article.

In fact, the Marie Claire article is so bad that it is the subject of a defamation claim in a federal lawsuit that currently is on appeal in the U.S. Eleventh Circuit. That's right, I am suing Garrison, Marie Claire, and Hearst for defamation -- but Levine did not bother to learn about that.

Let's check out the beginning of the section about my reporting on the Strange-Garrison affair:

Strange and Melissa have been married for over 30 years, but in a 2013 blog post, Legal Schnauzer blogger Roger Shuler, claimed he had an affair with former campaign staffer Jessica Garrison. The post was titled “AG Luther Strange Has A Messy Extramarital Affair With Ex Campaign Aide Jessica Medeiros Garrison” and was published in July 2013.

Read literally, that says I claim to have had an affair with Jessica Garrison. My response? (A) You'll never hear that claim coming from my mouth; (B) The sentence is so poorly written that it becomes inaccurate to an absurd level. Then, we have this:

Garrison responded with an interview for Marie Claire and a lawsuit for $3.5 million. Garrison told Marie Claire that Melissa knew it wasn’t true and even called her.

The byline on the article says, "By Jessica Garrison, as told to Liz Welch." Garrison is listed as the author, with Welch essentially serving as her stenographer. We can find no indication that Welch asked Garrison a single question, so it was not an interview. And there is no evidence that either checked the court docket for the simplest facts. For example, Garrison claims there was a trial in the case -- but if there was, it was held without me, the defendant. A check of the docket, of course shows there was no trial.

What about this?

The rumor continued to follow her, even though it wasn’t true. She sued and the judge awarded her $3.5 million.

Levine makes a blanket statement that my reporting on the Strange/Garrison was not true. But there is zero evidence from an adversarial proceeding to prove that. As noted earlier, there was no discovery, which means Blankenship's default judgment was rendered on the basis of almost no evidence. Luther Strange and Garrison supposedly testified at a hearing, but I wasn't present, so there was no cross-examination. (And there is substantial evidence that Garrison committed perjury.) As we've shown in multiple posts, the ultimate finding of the court -- under relevant law -- was that my reporting was neither false, nor defamatory. But you don't read that at heavy.com.

You also don't read that, as a matter of law, Garrison's $3.5-million judgment is void because I was not noticed on her default application or hearing -- and I have an unlimited amount of time to attack it. In other words, Garrison's judgment isn't worth a nickel, much less $3.5 million.

Finally, we have this:

Shuler vowed to fight the judgement. He was previously jailed for five months after his reporting on former Governor Bob Riley’s son. Shuler continues to report on Alabama politics today.

First, I haven't just vowed to fight the judgment, I have fought the judgment, via the aforementioned federal lawsuit. But more importantly, consider that second sentence, in yellow. Shouldn't any journalist who writes that -- or any citizen who reads it -- say, "How does a journalist get thrown in jail for writing about Rob Riley, or anyone else"?  The answer: He can't, under the law. I was thrown in jail based on a preliminary injunction -- issued by a judge, no trial, no jury -- that has been prohibited by more than 200 years of First Amendment law. But Levine apparently did not bat an eyebrow when writing the sentence in yellow.

Strangely, Levine acknowledges that he checked my blog before writing his piece, but he must not have looked for the multiple posts (such as this one) that show the Marie Claire article is pretty much a fact-free piece of rubbish.

Heavy.com does serve up some heavy irony, which it apparently does not recognize. Let's consider this from the introduction to the piece about Melissa Strange:

[Luther] Strange has been serving as Alabama’s Senator since President Donald Trump chose Jeff Sessions to be his U.S. Attorney General. The 64-year-old Strange was appointed by Governor Robert J. Bentley shortly before he resigned due to a sex scandal.

How did the public come to learn about the Bentley sex scandal? Because I broke the story, here at Legal Schnauzer -- roughly seven months before the mainstream media picked up on it.

Without knowing it, heavy.com acknowledges my track record of accurately reporting on subjects that many other news outlets won't touch. The Strange/Garrison story is a classic example of such reporting.

But you wouldn't know that from reading heavy.com. It apparently is so busy being fast that it can't bother with being factual.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

When you say "our reporting" is that because of your multiple personalities, or is there an actual team of reporters there at yall's fine institution?

Anonymous said...

Heavy seems to be light in factual content.

legalschnauzer said...

@8:16 --

It's called the "Royal We," commonly used when referring to oneself and a larger entity. In this case, it refers to me and the blog, Legal Schnauzer. That's the blog where my reporting is published, thus "our reporting."

There is a lot of debate about whether the Royal We is a proper grammatical use, and it's not something I want to use in many situations, but it seems to fit (to my ears) when a journalist is referring to himself and the entity for which he reports. I was taught that no story is done alone -- it involves sources, desk editors, copy editors, researchers, composing-room personnel, etc. It's a team effort, no matter how you slice it, so I don't see this as work that I do by myself.

As for you, do you have a comment about the actual substance of the post or are you a frustrated grammarian?

Anonymous said...

"Heavy" actually relied on Marie Claire for facts? It's a fashion magazine, for chrissakes.

Anonymous said...

When is Jessica Garrison going to sue Lowell Barron?

legalschnauzer said...

@12:17 --

You ask a good question. Barron, of course, is former prez of Alabama Senate, and he said unequivocally in April 2016 that Strange and Garrison had an affair. It came in an interview with Marcus Echols on BlogTalk Radio. Here is URL to my post on the subject:

https://legalschnauzer.blogspot.com/2017/09/heavycom-publishes-five-fast-facts-on.html

From the post:

Echols asked Barron about the current sex scandal involving Gov. Robert Bentley and former advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason, which includes revelations that Mason and her husband, Jon, have made roughly $1 million since Bentley took office in 2011. Barron was quick to compare it to the Strange/Garrison relationship:

"[Mason] got $500,000 in his campaign . . .That's the same thing Luther Strange did; he paid his mistress, Ms. Garrison, $450,000 to $460,000 during his campaign. They were fussing at me paying my assistant a $50,000 bonus when my campaign was over . . . these people have done much worse . . . With the evidence out on Bentley now, it's pretty obvious what has been going on behind closed doors with him and the young lady they say is really the governor. . . . It's just sad."

Anonymous said...

No I just think the "we" and "our" is hilarious because you post anonymously to yourself so often.

legalschnauzer said...

@12:17 --

Here is a really interesting quote from Lowell Barron about how the Garrison affair, which might be Alabama's worst-kept political secret of all time, affected Strange's performance in public office. Barron said the feds would have to go after Bentley because Luther couldn't do it as state AG. And, in fact, the AG's office screwed up the case:

"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...

Didn't Garrison state under oath that you reported her son was Lutha's biological child, even though you reported no such thing?

Where I come from, that's called perjury.

legalschnauzer said...

@12:32 --

That's called perjury where I come from, too. It's called perjury where everybody comes from. Almost all of the bogus $3.5 m judgment was based on the notion that Garrison suffered emotional stress because of reporting about her son being Strange's biological child. But I never reported that. Under the law, that means her statements were "material," and thus perjury. Here is URL to post I wrote on the subject:


https://legalschnauzer.blogspot.com/2017/02/transcript-from-jessica-medeiros.html


legalschnauzer said...

@12:32 --

This is straight from the court transcript, with Bill Baxley asking the leading questions and with Garrison not having to worry about facing cross-examination:


Q. Did [Shuler] write -- did he make innuendos about you being paid when you were giving birth to your son?

A. Yeah, that -- there was a blog post at some point where I remember walking away thinking he is trying to make people believe that the birth of my son -- that the payment, that lump sum lieutenant governor's campaign payment that I told [Strange] to hold and just pay when all the bills -- he tried to make it sound like that was some type of payment tied to the birth of my son.

Q. Did he make innuendos about who the father of your child was?

A. Right, right, as if that were Luther's son and that was some type of -- I don't know how you phrase it, but something to do with -

Q. Was that true?

A. No, no, no, not true at all.

Anonymous said...

Here is my favorite Lowell Barron quote on this subject:

"Running for political office based on who is the most religious. . . . Ted Cruz is another example; it just came out that he's had five or six affairs. These are corrupt people hiding behind God. We are electing scummy, crummy people. The people who voted for Bentley and Luther Strange need to look in the mirror and say, 'I'm responsible for this foolishness, and I'm going to be better informed voter in next election.'

"There is nothing Christian about any of our current leadership. The speaker is indicted on 23 felony counts. Luther Strange carried on an infamous relationship with Jessica Garrison, and he's still in office. It goes on and on."

legalschnauzer said...

@12:28 --

Can you point to a single anonymous post I've written here? I think you are going to have a hard time finding one.

legalschnauzer said...

@12:42 --

Thanks for sharing. That's a great quote from Barron, a classic.

Look at GOPers electing Roy Moore on Tuesday. Alabama voters haven't learned their lessons

Anonymous said...

After losing to Roy Moore, was Luther Strange immediately bounced from the Senate?

legalschnauzer said...

@12:56 --

No, Lutha still is an Alabama senator until after the Dec. 12 general election. Lutha's there until Roy Moore or Doug Jones is elected to take his place. Not sure when the new senator actually will take office, but Lutha's it until that happens.

In the meantime, I'm guessing Lutha's office hours will be rather limited.

Anonymous said...

Lutha's AG office dropped the Lowell Barron case when it looked like the judge would force Strange himself to testify. That tells you all you need to know about Big Lutha. He crumbles when it looks like the heat might get turned up.

He can't handle being questioned under oath about his relationship with Jessica Garrison.

legalschnauzer said...

@1:30 --

Yep, that tells you everything you need to know about Tall Lutha. He actually will testify in court if he knows the questions will be softballs from Bill Baxley. But if there is the possibility of unfriendly cross-examination (or unfriendly direct examination), Luther folds his tent.

That's why Carol and I were targeted with a wrongful foreclosure that forced us out of Alabama. That meant I wouldn't get noticed on court hearings and would not be present to cross-examine Lutha or Garrison.

They are a couple of lying con artists, with no integrity and even less courage. And with any luck, we will see them wind up in the Big House from the Superfund case or one of the other scandals involving Lutha.

legalschnauzer said...

Speaking of the Superfund scandal, news is breaking this afternoon about more indictments -- two lawyers from Balch Bingham and one exec from Drummond Co.

It appears Luther Strange and Jeff Sessions might be connected to this case, and Jessica Garrison went into social-media hiding when news broke of Lutha being present when John Rogers was offered a bribe. Sessions, Strange and Garrison all have strong ties to Balch. Garrison just left her "of counsel" job there a few weeks back.

How far will the indictments go?

http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2017/09/two_balch_bingham_lawyers_and.html#incart_big-photo

Anonymous said...

Oh there's plenty, but you wouldn't approve the comment if I did point them out.

legalschnauzer said...

You're saying there are anonymous posts on here? What alternate universe do you live in, or what "chemical enhancements" are you smoking? We've published 3,456 posts, and every one is under my name. Check down the right side of the front page, under "About Me," where it has my name and basic bio information. Methinks you are clueless or somehow impaired. No wonder YOU are anonymous.

Anonymous said...

The Drummond indictment is a long time coming. Hope they protect the witnesses. Hope they keep digging for coal secrets...

legalschnauzer said...

@6:49 --

Agreed. My favorite part was where defense lawyer for one of the Balch indictees said, in so many words, "My client wasn't bribing anyone, he was just doing legal work." Hah! What a fine line between "legal work" and bribery. Here's a lawyer admitting they are essentially the same thing.

Anonymous said...

What evidence is there, other that Lowell Barron's accusations, that prove the affair between Luther and Garrison?

Anonymous said...

The title for the 2nd "fact" says that she SUED you for $3.5 million. The word settlement does not appear anywhere in the post. So, did they change the wording or are you just making things up?

Anonymous said...

Aboard the Eliza Battle Captain Marshall was playing a game of checkers with Dr Foreman. Mary mac ,Eliza Yancey and Ms Chappelle were learning the sex of Nannie Dee's child using a Ouija Board. Captain Marshall was doodling on the checkerboard when Admiral Tyron entered : carrying a empty Jack Daniels bottle and a sheet of paper. Admiral Tyron inquired as to what the Captain was writing and the Captain replied that he was recording events,that had happened concerning the war, to assist him in anticipating the Victoria's next move. Admiral Tyron added that he had found the bottle and note at the ship's bow. The note read"Auburn land thieves PEEHIP lawsuit". The conversation was interrupted by the Ladies shouting "It's a Boy". Captain Marshall sarcastically replied that maybe he needed to use the ouija board to develop a war plan. Sheldon added that the checkerboard with the scribbling reminded him of a I Ching hexagram. John and Thomas Yancey with their infinite wisdom suggested the checkerboard be placed over the Ouija board and invite the Victoria's crew over for a game of checkers. Sheldon said that by observing the moves that the Victoria's Commander makes compared to the events on the Captain's Hexagram,the Eliza Battle's crew could extract information from the Commander. Captain Marshall instructed Bob Yancey to hoist the Gin ensign . The Captain informed the crew that the Eliza Battle was going to bleed the monkey. Mary Mac added that the Ladies would host a baby shower for Nannie Dee also.

legalschnauzer said...

@7:46 --

Heavy.com corrected the article, indicating they read my post. The original title said "settlement," but if you look near the author's name, it says the story was updated on Sept. 28 (today). One update was to show that Luther Strange lost. But they also corrected the title. That's one of the magical things that journalists can do in the digital age. In the print era, you couldn't go back and fix things. You can fix things now.

legalschnauzer said...

@7:33 --

Look it up yourself. You can do a search on this blog and find everything I've written on the subject. The story was not based on Lowell Barron's statements. He made those long after the story had been broken.

e.a.f. said...

lets not get facts confused with the news especially if its heavy and fast.

heavy.com is weighed down with too much b.s. to be reliable when it comes to Strange, his wife, his mistress, and you. Oh, I'm very clear you're not the one with the mistress.

it is kind of funny, if it weren't for the fact, there aren't a lot of facts and people read heavy.com to obtain facts.

Anonymous said...

Look at you, digging the ditch. How are you ever going to pay the 3.5 million dollars you owe? You are an idiot. Desperate for likes, followers, clicks. That is what is behind your posts. Not content. Not important information. Scandalous posts that you think will get more the most attention. And it is so embarrassing for you. Because what you are reporting on, is stuff only YOU think is important. For instance; Luther lost. Why is he news?? OH WAIT! A court found you guilty of lying about a smart capable woman. (You are a Trumper all the way.) You don't report news. You are only looking out for you. -You don't post the truth. So this comment wont be posted. But it will be posted regardless. WE ARE COMING FOR YOU. Did you see me today? The cats are inside right?

legalschnauzer said...

@11:54 --

Please quit sending comments like this one, and the one last night. I'm going to need abdominal surgery from busting a gut laughing at you. You are an absolute riot -- the two funniest comments in the 10-year history of this blog, and we've had some doozies. Can't wait for more.

Robby Scott Hill said...

Well, well, allow me to retort @ 11:54. Roger may not be a Trumper, but He is my ally. People have always suspected that Robby Hill has a hidden agenda & he does. It's Statehood for Northern Alabama. The whole time I lived in Montgomery, I was looked down upon as a "North Alabama Hillbilly." Why do I get invovled in helping Roger criticize Democrats as well as Republicans? Because the People of Northern Alabama were written off by the Democratic Party long before this little spat between Democrats & Republicans. When the Democrats in Montgomery don't give is a real choice like running Doug Jones against Roy Moore, I'm going to side with my fellow Hillbilly every time. Ol' Roy may be a bigot, but he's practically family. He had to struggle sacking groceries at Piggly Wiggly for Mary Hardin just like I did. He had to join the military because he couldn't find a decent job in Gadsden like I couldn't. He was spurned by the Gadsden Country Clubbers just like I was. I'm always working behind the scenes to get a fellow son of Northern Alabama elected or appointed. Steve Marshall is Attorney General now & Roy Moore will be US Senator. Once enough of us are in place, North Alabama will become the 51st State & Puerto Rico, the 52nd & we will no longer have to be financially raped by The Enterprise & watch our money go to Fort Rucker to fuel The Machine. The endgame was always Statehood for North Alabama & a Federally recognized Reservation for its Cherokees. We will get what we want God & Great Spirit willing & the Creek don't rise.

Robby Scott Hill said...

We have suffered so people in Shelby & Baldwin Counties could build more stately mansions for too long. Split this wicked state in half & let the People of Alabama's Northern Counties start over. Montgomery has mismanaged our wealth & resources, wasting them on whores, drugs & bling. We need statehood now!

Robby Scott Hill said...

And hundreds of millions on crony jobs & contracts so guys who can't keep it in their pants can pay child support & attorney fees under sealed court orders while I'm struggling out here. We need change!

Robby Scott Hill said...

The Southern Alabama Bosses have no idea of the deep seated anger & resentment that's slowly cooking & boiling against them in the younger generation because people with high school diplomas up through law degrees who have served their country in the military & other endeavors can't find work & keep getting beaten down by their corrupt system. That system cannot stand for much longer. It's well past time to do away with it. The Northern Counties don't get shit. We don't get good roads, we don't decent schools or government funding in general. It winds up in the hands of some fat, doughy, lilly white, asshole lawyer on behalf of the beach mouse or the black bear & the poor animals get fucked out of their money too because most of it goes to "attorney fees" & "scientific studies." It's time to separate & make North Alabama the 51st State.

Robby Scott Hill said...

By the way, I was in a truck stop in Colorado & another trucker from the South recognized me from the blog & asked me what I was doing up here. I told him how the Alabama Legal Community had blackballed me & all I could get into was truck driving. We had an interesting discussion about hunting clubs & such and so forth. Maybe I need to run for office. It seems we are heroes to Working Class because we just keep right on going after they sue us & blacklist us. Sure, Luther cost you some money, but you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you cost him even more than that. Bentley is gone & the State Bar is rid of Keith & Tony. This is working. Keep on blogging!

legalschnauzer said...

Rob @7:25 --

A trucker up in Colorado recognized you from Legal Schnauzer. Now that's pretty cool. What did he think of what had happened to you, being blackballed from becoming a lawyer?

legalschnauzer said...

Rob @7:19 --

Did you notice in the heavy.com article on Melissa Strange that one of Luther's kids works (or did work) for Jo Bonner, and the other works for Jeff Sessions. And U.S. Judge R. David Proctor has a kid who has worked both for Sessions and Strange. These honky elites will tell you they earn these kinds of jobs, but that's bullshit. It's nothing but patronage for "crotch fruit" of the ruling class. As Ann Richards famously said about the first George Bush: "He was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple."

legalschnauzer said...

@5:57 --

Statehood for North Alabama, a very interesting idea. I've often wished that Birmingham was not brought down by being in Alabama. Maybe the city could be part of the State of North Alabama. UAB could become UNAB -- the University of North Alabama at Birmingham -- and have its own board of people from the upper half of Alabama. UNAF (UNA at Florence) and UNAH (UNA at Huntsville) could be in the same system with UNAB.

Robby Scott Hill said...

Yeah, we'll leave Tuscaloosa out of it because they are a big part of the problem.