Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Manafort, Gates, and Papadopoulos take body blows for Team Trump, but Jeff Sessions might prove to be the big loser as "Mueller Monday" kicks off with a bang

Jeff Sessions leads a Trump campaign foreign-policy meeting in 2016,
with George Papadopoulos two chairs to his left.
(From nbcnews.com)

"Mueller Monday" produced indictments against two Trump campaign officials, and a plea deal for a third. But the biggest loser might be a Trumpista who was not named in yesterday's criminal unveilings.

Trump attorney general and former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) might have had the worst day of all -- even though he is not facing criminal charges, yet. That's because the most damaging news for Team Trump was the guilty plea of campaign adviser George Papadopoulos. And his direct supervisor during the Trump campaign was . . . Jeff Sessions.

Multiple legal experts noted that Papadopoulos was described in legal documents as a "proactive cooperator" and suggest he likely has been helping gather evidence for Special Counsel Robert Mueller. A former Watergate prosecutor "guaranteed" Papadopoulos has been wearing a wire and playing "dial-a-crook" for months. CNN's Jeffrey Toobin said Papadopoulous has been wearing a wire since his arrest in July, through October.

Legal journalist Marcy Wheeler writes that Papadopoulos could help prove that Sessions lied to Congress. And Jill Simpson, a prominent activist and opposition researcher, says that could shine a dreadful light on Alabama's toxic legal and political environment.

It all starts with close ties between Sessions and Papadopoulos, which are reflected in the photo at the top of this post -- showing Papadopoulos two seats to Sessions left. From an article by Lucia Brawley at verifiedpolitics.com:

Attorney General Jefferson “Jeff” Beauregard Sessions III swore up and down Congress that he did “not recall” having meetings with agents of the Russian government during Trump’s campaign, but his story just broke down completely.

Convicted Trump foreign policy advisor, George Papadopoulos, who pled guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about his dealings with Kremlin agents during the 2016 election, reported directly to Sessions — along with willing Russian spy asset, Carter Page, and other suspicious characters on the campaign’s foreign policy team.

During a press conference today, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pretended that the Trump campaign barely had any dealings with “volunteer” Papadopoulos. The evidence that Papadopoulos reported to Sessions instantaneously put the lie to her assertions.

Gee, Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied to the public? Who saw that coming? Lucia Brawley apparently did:

Sessions testified before the Senate in June, but as far back as March, The Washington Post had revealed that Sessions was Papadopoulos’ direct supervisor, as well as that of the rest of Trump’s bumbling foreign policy team:

For the first time, Trump also listed members of a team chaired by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) that is counseling him on foreign affairs and helping to shape his policies: Keith Kellogg, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Walid Phares and Joseph E. Schmitz.

Marcy Wheeler takes a deep dive into the Sessions-Papadopoulos muck. She comes up with an Intercept article titled "George Papadopoulos's plea deal spells very, very bad news for Attorney General Jeff Sessions":

Sessions has repeatedly testified to the Senate that he knows nothing about any collusion with the Russians. . . .

But the Papadopoulos plea shows that Sessions — then acting as Trump’s top foreign policy adviser — was in a March 31, 2016, meeting with Trump, at which Papadopoulos explained “he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin.” It also shows that Papadopoulos kept a number of campaign officials in the loop on his efforts to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin, though they secretly determined that the meeting “should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal,” itself a sign the campaign was trying to hide its efforts to make nice with the Russians.

Papadopoulos also learned, on April 26, that the Russians “have dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.” A key part of Papadopoulos’s cooperation must pertain to what he told the Trump campaign about these emails. According to his complaint, he originally claimed he hadn’t told anyone on the campaign about the dirt on Clinton because he didn’t know if it was real. But as his plea makes clear, after being arrested, he “met with the Government on numerous occasions to provide information and answer questions.” There would be no reason for Papadopoulos to lie about the significance of the emails in January unless he did so to hide his discussions of them with the rest of the campaign.

That suggests the campaign knew, a month before Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. took a meeting with a Russian lawyer to get dirt on Clinton, that the Russians had already told Papadopoulos about dirt in thousands of stolen emails.

That appears to put Sessions in an uncomfortable spot -- at the heart of RussiaGate, tied to a former underling who likely has been wearing a wire. Writes Wheeler:

Sessions’s claims about such meetings came in sworn testimony to the Senate. During his confirmation process, Sessions was asked a key question by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.: “If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?”

“Senator Franken, I’m not aware of any of those activities,” Sessions responded. “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn’t have — did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.”

The question, however, was about Sessions’s knowledge of such communications, and we now know he was in a meeting in which they were discussed.

In Jill Simpson's view -- and she has followed Sessions for years in Alabama -- the former senator deserves any typhoon that might be headed his way. From a post yesterday on Simpson's Facebook page:

Maybe all those conversations Jeff had with and about Russians helping with the campaign will come back to him. If not I am quite certain the young man who plead guilty has told Mueller everything Jeff did.

Simpson then points out that Sessions and his influence on the Alabama State Bar are big reasons the state's court system is monstrously corrupt:

The Alabama Bar needs to clean out Jeff's good old boys at the state bar office. They aided him in staying in office for months, doing large amounts of damage to our country,  when they knew he committed perjury -- not just once, not just twice, but three times. 
The Alabama State Bar members should throw Jeff's ethics folks out on their asses; to not do so, makes our state bar look like a bunch of idiots. Y'all know they are the same weasels who screwed with me and placed me on disability for missing a hearing while awaiting surgery. These creeps need to be brought before the Alabama Bar themselves for protecting Jeff Sessions; when complaints were filed, all they have done is sit on their ass and protect a Russian traitor.

George Papadopoulos might soon help prove that "Russian traitor" is not just a figurative term when it comes to Jeff Sessions. We might soon learn that Sessions did, in fact, sell out his country to a foreign adversary -- and then lied about it to Congress.

Monday, October 30, 2017

List of Alabama politicos tied to North Birmingham Superfund bribery scandal grows to include Richard Shelby, Luther Strange, Gary Palmer, Robert Bentley, Jabo Waggoner, and Jessica Medeiros Garrison

The Superfund amigos: Jeff Sessions, Luther Strange,
and Richard Shelby
(From wkrg.com)
Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby lead a cavalcade of Alabama politicians with ties to the North Birmingham Superfund scandal, according to a new report from Mother Jones (MoJo).

Joining Sessions and Shelby on the list of ignominy are U.S. Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), former Gov. Robert Bentley, State Sen. Jabo Waggoner, U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL), and Strange's one-time mistress and campaign manager Jessica Garrison. Notice a pattern? Yes, we're looking here at all white, conservative Republicans.

Could this bunch have Superfund ties that are close enough to raise questions about criminal conduct? Could they join former State Rep. Oliver Robinson (a black Democrat) on the list of public officials to be indicted? Could they join Balch Bingham lawyers Joel Gilbert and Steven McKinney, plus Drummond Co. executive David Roberson, on the list of four indictees so far?

Are any white public officials going to be held accountable? Are we supposed to believe that the black guy, Oliver Robinson, acted as a lone wolf, with none of these white politicos being aware of bribes that were paid to him? Is U.S. Attorney Jay Town, who has said he does not expect more indictments, protecting certain individuals based on race -- perhaps under instructions from his boss, Trump AG Jeff Sessions? Will the racism that has tracked Sessions career like a second coat of paint rear its ugly ahead again?

We don't have answers to all of those questions, but the MoJo article makes it clear that the involvement of Alabama GOP politicians is broader and deeper than was widely suspected. Here is a brief look at the role of each known player, as described by MoJo:

Jeff Sessions

During his 20 years as a U.S. senator, Sessions pocketed hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars from both Drummond Company, the corporation at the heart of this scandal, and its Birmingham-based law firm, Balch Bingham. But his ties to Drummond and Balch extend beyond the usual political contributions. Last year, according to documents obtained by Mother Jones and the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight, Sessions intervened to oppose the Environmental Protection Agency action at issue in the bribery case, and he did so just weeks after conferring with Balch lawyers.

Robert Bentley and Jabo Waggoner

Drummond was a major political benefactor of former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, who resigned in April amid an embarrassing sex scandal. Bentley’s administration fiercely battled the EPA’s Superfund push in North Birmingham, yet he was hardly alone. Among the state officials who assisted Drummond and Balch was one of the longest-serving members of the state Legislature, Republican Sen. J.T. “Jabo” Waggoner, who in 2015 successfully introduced a resolution opposing the EPA actions at the 35th Avenue Superfund site. According to the Justice Department, the measure was in fact authored by Balch’s Joel Gilbert.

Luther Strange

Then-Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, who in September lost a Republican Senate primary runoff to former state Supreme Court Judge Roy Moore, sent detailed letters to the EPA in October 2014 and January 2015 opposing its efforts in North Birmingham. Drummond gave Strange a $25,000 campaign contribution less than a week before the first letter and another $25,000 donation a month after the second. Strange’s Senate office did not respond to requests for comment.

Strange’s ties go deeper still. The head of his Senate campaign’s finance team, Mike Thompson, was one of two directors of the Alliance for Jobs and the Economy, the outfit that made payments to Robinson’s nonprofit. The other was Drummond’s David Roberson. US Attorney Jay Town recently told the Birmingham News that Thompson “is not the subject or target of any investigation run out of my office.”

Richard Shelby and Gary Palmer

[From Balch newsletter]: “Balch has worked on a multitude of strategy options for congressional engagement concerning EPA’s latest Superfund actions,” the item boasts. “Recently, Balch has met with Senator Jeff Sessions and presented to the National Mining Association on the emerging issues in Superfund, including the aerial emission deposition theory.” The firm informed its clients that “key members of the Alabama congressional delegation will issue a letter on this topic shortly.” The newsletter directed clients with questions to contact Steve McKinney, one of the now indicted Balch attorneys. 
True to Balch’s word, in February 2016, weeks after the newsletter’s publication, Sessions, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), and Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) sent a letter to the EPA condemning the use of the “air deposition theory” at the 35th Avenue site. Attached to the letter was a copy of Waggoner’s ghostwritten resolution. In July 2016, according to an EPA spokesman, officials from the agency briefed staffers for Sessions, Shelby, and Palmers’ regarding the status of the 35th Avenue site.

Jessica Medeiros Garrison

[Jeffrey] Wood, [Ed] Haden, and other Balch lawyers spearheaded high-profile legal fights with the Obama-era EPA. Wood and Haden represented Republican members of Congress in a 2016 court filing siding with West Virginia as it fought EPA carbon emission standards at coal power plants. The lawsuit appeared to be coordinated by coal behemoth Murray Energy and the fossil fuel industry-funded Republican Attorneys General Association. RAGA’s executive director at the time, Jessica Medeiros Garrison, was simultaneously an attorney at Balch from 2011 through 2016. She has also worked for Sessions.

If it's proven that any of these actions were coordinated with bribes paid to Oliver Robinson, could that mean criminal action on the part of the above politicos? It sure looks that way.

The bigger question might be this: Is an effort under way in the highest reaches of the U.S. Department of Justice to make sure white politicians skate, while the black guy takes the heat? That's  called a race-based cover-up, and it's exactly the kind of thing Jeff Sessions might find attractive. Could he wind up taking a bunch of Alabama's "finest" down with him?

Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Ashley Madison customers revealed: William B. House, VP and controller on team that revitalized HealthSouth, appears at cheaters' Web site

William and Christine House
The controller and regional vice president for HealthSouth Corporation appears as a paying customer at the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site.

William B. House has been with HealthSouth since 2005. Before that, he was director of finance at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. House earned a bachelor's degree in management and finance from the University of Louisville and an MBA from Georgia State University.

After going through an accounting scandal in the late 1990s and early 2000s, HealthSouth has emerged again as a major player in rehabilitation medicine. From the company Web site:

HealthSouth is one of the nation’s largest providers of post-acute healthcare services and through the acquisition of Encompass Home Health and Hospice, an industry leader in home-based patient care. Our priority is to deliver high quality patient care and our team of experts has extensive experience in today’s most advanced therapeutic methods and technologies. HealthSouth leads the way, consistently outperforming peers with a unique, intensive approach to rehabilitation, returning patients to full strength in less than average time.

From the company's Wikipedia page:

HealthSouth Corporation, based in Birmingham, Alabama, is one of the United States' largest providers of post-acute healthcare services, offering both facility-based and home-based post-acute services in 36 states and Puerto Rico through its network of inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, home health agencies, and hospice agencies. . . . HealthSouth states that its "hospitals provide a higher level of rehabilitative care to patients who are recovering from conditions such as stroke and other neurological disorders, cardiac and pulmonary conditions, brain and spinal cord injuries, complex orthopedic conditions, and amputations"; and that subsidiary Encompass "provides a comprehensive range of Medicare-certified home nursing services to adult patients and, in some markets, in-home hospice services and home care services for pediatric patients with severe medical conditions".

HealthSouth was involved in a corporate accounting scandal in which its founder, chairman, and chief executive officer, Richard M. Scrushy, was accused of directing company employees to falsely report grossly exaggerated company earnings in order to meet stockholder expectations.

At the company's height in 2003, it recorded nearly $4.5 billion in revenue, dominated the rehabilitation, surgery and diagnostic services market and employed more than 60,000 people at 2,000 facilities in every state of the U.S. along with its facilities in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Puerto Rico and Saudi Arabia. The company was the largest publicly listed healthcare company in the United States based on the number of locations and . . . revenue.

By mid- to late 2006, HealthSouth, which never had to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection, completed its recovery and relisted its stock on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol HLS. The company currently operates one division: inpatient rehabilitation. The company formerly operated an outpatient rehabilitation, surgery center and diagnostics division. The company also previously owned and operated several acute care hospitals that specialized in orthopedics, but sold all of those hospitals by 2006. The former outpatient division also operated an occupational medicine division until 2001, when it was sold. HealthSouth also sold its Long-term acute care facilities in May 2011. The long-term hospitals contributed around $200 million in revenue.

Bill House appears to be one of the executives who helped HealthSouth get back on its feet. He is married to Christine M. House, and they live at 1739 Lake Cyrus Club Drive in Hoover -- in a house that has an appraised market value of $502,300.

If House is smart enough to help save HealthSouth, why was he dumb enough to sign up with a scam outfit like Ashley Madison? We wanted to pose that, and other, questions to House, but he has not responded to our queries.


Article with links to 1-40 in Ashley Madison series

(41) David Armistead, director of enterprise sales, TekLinks, Birmingham (10/19/17)

Coverage of Charles Todd Henderson case shows Alabama's somnolent press provides cover for white elites who tear at the fabric of public institutions

Charles Todd Henderson and Yareima Akl
One reason Alabama has such a toxic political/legal environment is that its mainstream media (MSM) tends to provide cover for white conservative elites who cheat citizens and sully public institutions. A classic example is coverage of last week's Charles Todd Henderson trial, which ended with Jefferson County's elected Democratic district attorney being convicted of perjury and blocked from taking office.

That means Gov. Kay Ivey will appoint Henderson's replacement, who surely will be someone more palatable to former Gov. Bob Riley and members of his political machine. Don't be surprised if Brandon Falls -- a Riley favorite who lost to Henderson in last November's election -- gets the nod. That would effectively overturn the will of Jefferson County voters -- many of them black Democrats -- who clearly favored the relatively unknown Henderson. But those voters did not count on this: The Rileys and their allies are terrified of a real prosecutor, one who might scrutinize financial shenanigans from their home base in Jefferson County.

The whole point of the Henderson prosecution, which was brought just days before he was to take office after beating Brandon Falls, was to ensure the Rileys stood protected. But you would never know that from reading coverage at the state's primary MSM news site, al.com.

How corrupt are the Riley's actions? Imagine if last Saturday the Alabama Crimson Tide laid a beating on the Tennessee Vols, only to discover that the scoreboard operator was a UT grad who reversed the score as time wound down, giving Tennessee the victory. Can you imagine the howls of outrage?

That's essentially what happened to Henderson, but you hardly hear a peep about it. And that is largely thanks to al.com. Both their reporter who provided daily coverage (Ivana Hrynkiw) and their columnist who provided "analysis" (John Archibald) were utterly lacking in accuracy, inquisitiveness, and critical thinking. In other words, they were in the hip pockets of the conservative elites who lord over their "news organization."

Let's consider a few pearls from Hrynkiw:

(1) In an Oct. 20 article about Henderson's conviction, Hrynkiw wrote:

Transcripts show Henderson twice denied staying with Mrs. Akl at her apartment, but surveillance evidence showed Henderson had stayed at the apartment on several occasions.

Hrynkiw apparently is referring to a private investigator's report from the divorce case involving Henderson campaign aide Yareima Akl. Prosecutors alleged that Henderson lied under oath when asked at a divorce-case hearing if he ever had spent the night at Akl's residence -- and he answered no. But a simple reading of the PI report shows the surveillance report is filled with huge time gaps, and it does not prove Henderson ever spent a night at Akl's home.

(2) In an Oct. 17 article as testimony began, Hrynkiw wrote:

In September 2016 at the Akls' trial, Henderson testified and told Mr. Akl's attorney he had not spent the night at Mrs. Akl's home. Evidence had surfaced that he and Mrs. Akl were in a romantic relationship, according to court records, and photographs had been taken by a private investigator of the two outside Mrs. Akl's apartment.

First, the Sept. 26 proceeding has been described in the press as a hearing. A transcript of the proceeding describes it as a deposition. I've seen nothing to suggest it was a trial. More importantly, Hrynkiw writes that evidence had surfaced of a romantic relationship, but Henderson was not even asked about such a relationship at the hearing. He was asked if he had ever spent the night at Ms. Akl's home, nothing more.

John Archibald
As for evidence, Hrynkiw apparently is referring to the PI report, which provided no proof that Henderson had spent the night or that he had a romantic relationship with Ms. Akl. The report describes Ms. Akl carrying campaign signs (surprise, she worked on his campaign!), watering plants, taking out trash. Does it describe Henderson and Akl holding hands, hugging, kissing, whispering sweet nothings in each other's ears. No, no, no, and no. It all sounds about as romantic as a trip to the proctologist.

Finally, Hrynkiw hints that a photo of the two outside Ms. Akl's apartment proves something. What, pray tell does it prove -- that they can stand upright?

Now, let's turn to Archibald, who always can be counted on to pick up his pom-poms and don a cheerleader's skirt whenever right-wing prosecutors are chasing individuals who are white, black, or Democrats -- or some combination of the above.

(1) In an Oct. 20 column, Archibald does his best cheerleading routine under the title "Jeffco DA guilty of perjury, but that's just the tip of the slimeberg." Under that subtle headline, we find the following:

Henderson began a relationship with Akl while the woman was embroiled in a heated divorce. She worked on his campaign and they became close. They began to date and spend the night together and call each other girlfriend and boyfriend.

They began to spend the night together? Where does Archibald get this? A PI report certainly does not prove it.

(2) In the same column, Archibald writes as follows:

And in the midst of it, acting as if he did not know Akl or her 10-year-old child, Henderson asked a judge to appoint him as the child's guardian ad litem in the divorce. He was supposed to look out for the child's interests as the parents fought it out. It's a position that must be unbiased, that cannot be tied to a parent.

Uhhhh . . . it's been reported in multiple places -- and a transcript clearly shows -- that Ms. Akl's attorney (Daniel Chambers), not Henderson, asked Judge Patricia Stephens to appoint Henderson as guardian ad litem.

(3) Still in the same column, Archibald writes:

Stephens was a devastating witness. She cried as she recounted a closed-door meeting with lawyers after Henderson testified that he and Akl never spent the night together. She was shown evidence then that it was a lie.

What evidence was she shown that it was a lie? Archibald doesn't say. But it couldn't have been the PI report because it doesn't come close to proving a lie. Maybe Archibald, and others, were "assuming facts not in evidence." That's not how a criminal trial is supposed to work, and Archibald should know that.

Meanwhile, Archibald hints that a witness crying on the stand was the deciding factor in a criminal prosecution? Really, that's how court cases are decided now?

(4) Finally, Archibald cackles at the notion Henderson was the victim of a political prosecution:

So forgive me if I give short shrift to the chorus of Democrats who swore in the last few weeks that Henderson, himself a Democrat, was a victim of some kind of political prosecution.

Here are questions a commenter raised at this blog the other day, and perhaps Archibald should ponder them: Would Charles Todd Henderson have been prosecuted for perjury if he had not run for DA as a Democrat in Jefferson County? Would Henderson have been prosecuted if he had not beaten Bob Riley-favorite Brandon Falls in last November's election?

Readers of "The Great Archie" should pose those questions to him. Does he have the integrity to answer honestly? I doubt it. But anyone with the slightest integrity and knowledge of Alabama's toxic political scene knows the answers. They are "no" and "no."

And that means Henderson was, in fact, the victim of a political prosecution -- even if John Archibald has his pigtails in a knot and his mind set in concrete.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs site, which has attacked me for accurate reporting on data leak, has been known to threaten customers who disputed bills

A Web site known for its "have an affair" logo threatened to send paperwork to users homes if they disputed their bills. The threats, which the company admitted to using for years, obviously meant customers were at risk of having their spouses find out about efforts to seek affairs.

Ashley Madison, based in Toronto, Canada, claims the practice has been discontinued. But would anyone want to trust a company that has made millions from promoting marital cheating -- and been ordered to pay $11.2 million to settle federal class-action lawsuits from a 2015 data breach?

As the journalist who has written more about Ashley Madison (AM) customers than anyone else in the news world, I frequently receive comments critical of Legal Schnauzer for reporting on those whose poor judgment caused them to associate with a sleazy business. The criticism generally comes under three or four headings: (1) These are private individuals, so their efforts to seek affairs should not be uncovered; (2) Such journalism causes harm to innocent wives and children; (3) Customers aren't hurting anyone, so it isn't fair to identify them; (4) The only purpose of such reporting is to embarrass or harass customers.

Those arguments were hollow all along, but now they are shredded as we learn Ashley Madison itself harassed and threatened to embarrass its own customers, especially those who raised disputes about billing.

Many of the criticisms we've received appear to come from ISPs in Canada, and we have come to sense that they are bots -- either automated or human -- who are programmed or assigned to attack the one journalist in North America who has dared to report on the customers AM has abused. Now, we learn that AM's customer abuse went much deeper than we realized. From a report at CNN:

For years, the "have an affair" website Ashley Madison threatened to send paperwork to users' homes if they disputed their bills -- potentially revealing cheaters to their spouses.

Avid Life Media (now known as Ruby Corp.), the company that runs the website, has confirmed to CNNMoney that these tactics were employed by Ashley Madison until recently. "That past practice stopped when our new CEO Rob Segal and new President James Millership took the helm," company spokeswoman Debra Quinn said.

In other words, "Now that we've been caught, we're going to stop threatening our customers." Reminds me of my nephew when he was a toddler. When his mother (my sister) told him to stop doing something, he would keep right on doing it . . . until she stood up and approached him with a displeased glint in her eye. "Me be good boy now," he would say.

AM pledges to "be a good boy now," but threats to customers were not the only dubious strategy for which the company has been known. From CNN:

Segal and Millership took charge of the company in April. On Monday, those executives revealed another questionable Ashley Madison tactic that they had ended: Many of the "women" on the site had actually been "fembots" -- computer programs imitating women. Avid Life Media said it has been trying to turn itself around ever since a hack last year revealed its users' identities and damaged the company's reputation.

How did the threats to customers come to life? CNN provides the answer:

CNNMoney received a tip from one former Ashley Madison user. He shared two emails he got from customer service representatives when he disputed credit card charges back in 2012.

This former customer, now a 29-year-old lawyer living in Iowa, shared his story but asked to remain anonymous. He said he started a free profile on Ashley Madison -- and immediately got attention.

"I was constantly bombarded with messages from what appeared to be real women," he said. "I purchased about $40 in credits so that I'd have the ability to respond to about a dozen messages in my inbox."

"However, no one responded back. Not one person," he said.

He found that strange. Then he discovered complaints from fellow Ashley Madison customers who all figured out they had been duped by computer programs posing as women.

Suspecting he was fooled too, he complained to Ashley Madison and demanded a refund. But the company gave him a stern response. "If you initiate a charge back, all records will be mailed to your home. We do fight all charge backs," it said in an email. (See copy of such an e-mail at the end of this post.)

How did things turn out for the duped lawyer. Being single, he seemed to weather the storm. It's likely things did not turn out so well for some of his married brethren:

"At the time, I was a single male and wasn't cowed by the threat, but I'm sure others were silenced by it," the man told CNNMoney. He said he filed a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC is investigating the company, according to Reuters -- but it's unclear what aspect of the company is under scrutiny.

Other Ashley Madison users have complained about this policy for years on anonymous online forums.

One person, writing as "Shadowman," posted this on DatingSiteReviews.com in 2012: "They automatically opt you in to recurring charges when your credits expire, and don't make it clear where to opt out. Even though they bill you anonymously, they will . . .  mail (!) you correspondence if you dispute charges. I'm guessing that would suck."

Others complained about similar situations.

"I was not successful with bank dispute because they said they would have to call me at home to ask more questions," one anonymous user posted on a Yahoo Answers forum in 2012. "Yeah right. So that when I talk on phone about it, my family can know. I had to close the dispute."

How far have AM bots gone in harassing me -- apparently trying to thwart my reporting? Well, I'm pretty sure they played a major role in causing hundreds of my documents at Scribd to be wiped out and essentially stolen. My wife and I frequently are targets of bogus spam reports to Facebook, and that likely comes, in part, from AM bots.

Both Scribd and Ashley Madison might soon be facing lawsuits over my stolen intellectual property. I plan on getting that material back and making the thieves wish they had not stolen it in the first place.

That Ashley Madison has a documented history of harassing its own clients for complaining about bills should be useful in a lawsuit that will essentially claim they harassed me for reporting on their sleazy activities.

(From cnn.com)

Statement at the heart of Todd Henderson perjury case was not proven false, and even if it had been, it was not material to the divorce proceeding in question

Charles Todd Henderson and Yareima Akl
We have shown there were no facts presented at trial to support a conviction of elected Jefferson County District Attorney Charles Todd Henderson. At the heart of the first-degree perjury charge was an exchange in a divorce proceeding, where Henderson was asked if he had ever "spent the night" at the home of campaign worker Yareima Carmen Vallecillos Akl. (Henderson and Akl now are married.) Our review of the proceeding transcript, a private investigator's report, and witness statements at trial show there was no proof Henderson swore falsely when he answered "no."

If there were no facts to support the conviction, what about matters of law? That is simple because there was only one issue of law in the case: Was Henderson's statement, if false, material to the divorce proceeding in question? Under Alabama law, a statement is "material" if it could "have affected the course or outcome of the official proceeding?"

In the Henderson case, it was not proven that he swore falsely, so the material issue should not have come into play. But since a jury wrongly determined that Henderson did swear falsely, let's examine the issue of law -- whether his statement was material. Based on the timing of the divorce lawsuit and statements from Patricia Stephens, judge in the Akl v. Akl divorce case, Henderson's statement was not material.

One troubling question: Why was Stephens' testimony at the Henderson criminal trial so radically different from her statements during the Akl divorce proceeding? We will address that question in a moment.

First, let's look at the timing of the divorce lawsuit -- which the husband (Charbel Akl) filed against the wife (Yareima Akl) -- compared to the timing of the Henderson/Mr. Akl friendship, which developed over the course of his political campaign.

According to press reports, the Akls separated in 2014, and Mr. Akl filed for divorce in May 2015. Was concern about an adulterous relationship between Henderson and Ms. Akl a driving force behind the divorce complaint? It's hard to see how. Evidence at trial showed Henderson and Ms. Akl did not meet, did not know each other, until August 2015 -- three months after the divorce complaint had been filed.

How, then, could a question about adulterous behavior involving Henderson and Ms. Akl -- even though it wasn't asked -- be material to the court proceeding? After all, they didn't know each other when the divorce complaint was filed. It's hard to see how such a question, even one inartfully asked, could be material. Mr. Akl's actions make it clear he wanted a divorce before his wife came to know Henderson.

Another question: Why did Mr. Akl wait roughly 14 months after filing for divorce to pursue surveillance on Henderson and Ms. Akl. If infidelity were an issue in the marriage, why didn't he seek a PI's services before the separation, or at least before filing for divorce?

A PI didn't enter the picture until roughly three months before the 2016 election. Does that mean surveillance was driven more by political concerns, rather than anything related to the divorce case? Was the surveillance ordered, and paid for, by someone other than Mr. Akl?

(Here is a question of legal construction: Alabama law says a statement is material if it "could have affected the outcome or course of the official proceeding?" Does the term "official proceeding," in this case, mean the Akl divorce as a whole or just the hearing in which Henderson is alleged to have sworn falsely? We haven't been able to find case law that answers that question. Either way, it doesn't appear to us that the Henderson statement was material.)

What about the statements of Patricia Stephens, who was judge in the Akl divorce case. A transcript of the hearing in question makes it clear Stephens considered questions about the relationship between Henderson and Ms. Akl to not be material. When Virginia Meigs (attorney for Mr. Akl) started asking off-the-radar questions, Stephens seemed baffled. From the transcript (p. 13):

THE COURT: We're here today to get testimony to divorce these parties and to make a determination on who is going to be the primary custodian. So I'm just not sure where we're going with all of this testimony from Attorney Henderson.

MS. MEIGS: Well, Your Honor, I'm leading up to foundation, and I can't just -- the rules of procedure require that I lay the proper foundation.

THE COURT: For what, though? For their divorce? For child custody? Foundation for what?

MS. MEIGS: The relationship between the two parties, Your Honor.

THE COURT: A relationship -- I'm just not sure where you're going.

Meigs proceeded to ask the "spend the night" question, and Stephens seemed to become more baffled:

THE COURT: We're back on the record. I don't know where Attorney Meigs is going with this line of questioning. If the child wasn't present, I don't care who spent the night at her house on Friday night, Saturday night. I need to know who is a better parent, and we already know that these two folks want a divorce. So I'm just not sure where you're going with this line of questioning.

Here, Stephens all but says she does not consider the line of questioning to be material. She says it's already established that the parties want a divorce -- and if the child was not present, she doesn't care who might have spent the night with whom. Still, the judge gave Meigs some rope:

MS. MEIGS: I would say, Your Honor, that the best interest of the child is at issue today.


MS. MEIGS: And as a result, we need to evaluate both parents.

THE COURT: Absolutely.

MS. MEIGS: Their character and fitness as a parent. And if one parent is acting in an adulterous way with the child present at times, then --

THE COURT: Ask that question, then. If that's what we need to know, get it out.

Strangely, Meigs never asks the question, even after being told by the judge to ask it. So, we are left with the "spend the night" question, and Stephens flatly stated that she did not care about that, unless the child was present. It appears she did not care because she did not consider the question to be material.

Stephens' testimony at the Henderson trial took a different tone. Why? That is hard to figure, unless someone made it worth her while to change her tone. Why did Henderson's defense attorneys seemingly let her get away with it? That also is hard to figure. From an al.com report about Stephens' trial testimony:

In her testimony, Stephens said that "there would not have been a [guardian ad litem] appointment" for Henderson if she knew of his relationship with Mrs. Akl. Mrs. Akl's attorneys requested Henderson be appointed as GAL, and Stephens granted their order in January 2016. He was removed from the position in May.

According to Stephens, Mr. Akl's attorney Virginia Meigs opposed a GAL being appointed at all because the couple did not have the money to pay for one.

What do we learn here? Stephens thought Henderson should not have been appointed GAL because he and the mother in the divorce case knew each other. But Stephens apparently had no quarrel with Henderson because she acknowledges the mother's attorneys had asked for him to be appointed. And we see no signs that Henderson deceived the court; perhaps Stephens did not ask enough questions. Then we have this from al.com:

Stephens said before appointing Henderson as the Akls' child's GAL, she did not know of any relationship, or acquaintanceship, between Henderson and Mrs. Akl. If she knew that the two knew each other, she would not have appointed him.

"I need a [GAL] who will tell me the good, the bad, and the ugly about each parent," she said.

Stephens said she was in "stunned disbelief" after she learned of Henderson's and Mrs. Akl's relationship at the September 26, 2016 hearing, where he denied staying the night with her.

Again, Stephens says Henderson should not have been appointed GAL in the Akl's divorce. But is it a crime to be an inappropriate choice as GAL? No. Does Stephens point to anything that goes to perjury, the point of the criminal case? No.

Judge Patricia Stephens
What about Stephens' claim that she was in "stunned disbelief" after learning at the Sept. 26 hearing that Henderson and Ms. Akl were friends? According to an account at al.com, Stephens already knew, long before Sept. 26, 2016, that the two were friends. In fact, the judge removed Henderson as GAL because she knew Ms. Akl had campaigned for Henderson.

So, why was Judge Stephens in "stunned disbelief" after learning about a friendship she already knew about? Is this the same judge who, when the "spend the night question" was posed at a hearing, said she didn't care about that, as long as the child was not present?

How is this for an ironic question: Did Judge Stephens, in fact, commit perjury at the criminal trial by claiming to be in "stunned disbelief" over a friendship she already knew about?

It appears she came closer to perjury than Henderson did.

(To be continued)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Karl Rove and his Chamber of Commerce associates are working behind the scenes to help Democrat Doug Jones get elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama

Doug Jones
Major Republican political figures -- including Karl Rove, Tom Donohue, and Bill Canary -- are working behind the scenes to help get Alabama Democrat Doug Jones elected to the U.S. Senate, according to a prominent activist and opposition researcher.

Jones will face Republican Roy Moore in a Dec. 12 special election to fill Jeff Sessions' old seat. Jill Simpson, who helped bring the Don Siegelman political prosecution to light, says pro-business Republicans have made it clear they do not support Moore, who appeals mainly to the religious right/culture war wing of the party. The corporatists are throwing their support behind Jones, in part because he helped them in both the Siegelman and the Alabama bingo prosecutions, via his cozy relationship with GOP operative Rob Riley.

We've already reported that Rove helped funnel government-assignment jobs to Jones during the George W. Bush administration. Now, Simpson says, the Jones-GOP ties go much deeper than that. She also says the Jones-Rob Riley alliance is much tighter and disturbing than most progressives realize. From a Simpson Facebook post yesterday: (With editing for clarity and brevity.)

What a hoot, I have never seen anything like this -- the Karl Rove, Tom Donohue, and Bill Canary Chamber of Commerce types claim they are staying out of the Moore/Jones race, when secretly they have all hands on deck helping Doug Jones. Doug is the Chamber of Commerce candidate in Alabama. Many progressives in Alabama have been viciously mistreated by the chamber, so that will not bode well for Doug. Many progressives have even been investigated by the chamber for working against Republicans, but by golly, the corporate guys are not helping Roy the Republican this time. Right now, it is all out war between Rove Republican elites -- Doug Jones is their guy -- and the Bannon Religious Right/White Republicans, and Roy Moore is their guy from the South and Heartland.

Rove owes Jones, Simpson says, for the Alabamian's help in working with the Eric Holder DOJ to ensure that Rove would not have to testify under oath about the Siegelman case. Writes Simpson:

The Rove Republicans behind the scenes are doing everything they can to help Doug Jones, and if he gets elected, he will owe them, just like they owe him for saving Rove from having to testify under oath -- by cooking the deal between the Riley/Sessions crowd and Holder. 
I might add Holder helped them go after progressives, creating Team Themis while at the DOJ. Even this article shows they are doing stuff with the press to say that not supporting Roy is a way they are supporting Doug for helping them keep Siegelman in prison. 
They might fool some DNC folks, but they won't fool true progressives, who fought in the trenches to keep an innocent man out of prison. As y'all know, I am not a Roy Moore fan either, but I want our progressives in Alabama to know Doug is going to be the Chamber/Rove guy, so don't expect anything out of him for us. If you want to vote for a DNC/Republican candidate, go for it. But don't expect him to do anything for Progressives.

Jones is so ethically challenged that he even has undercut his own law clients. Writes Simpson, in an Oct. 12 Facebook post:

Jones recently appeared on The Tavis Smiley Show and mentioned that he had worked with federal prosecutors. You might want to ask who he worked with, and when he worked with them. It was during the Siegelman and Scrushy case, plus he helped some on the Eric Rudolph and 16th Street Baptist Church bombing cases. Doug has a history of yapping and whispering to the feds.
Karl Rove
(From onwardstate.com)
It might be fun for reporters to start pulling contracts of all the work he did for the U.S. Government, from when he left his U.S. attorney job. You might just be surprised at who employed him. He hinted at it on the Smiley show, as he has to know every detail will come out. Republicans know he was a snitch to the Bush prosecutors and FBI guys he hung out with. He was Mr. Law and Order, even when representing his own criminal defendants. Bless their hearts, they had no idea he had work with the feds.
This is going to be fun to watch play out. My question has always been: Isn't it a conflict to represent the U.S. Government and to be helping the FBI, while also representing criminal defendants faced with federal charges? No wonder his clients got in so much trouble; their lawyer, Doug Jones, was working both sides. If you doubt me. look at the timelines of his biggest cases, plus the Scrushy/Siegelman case.

How ugly is Doug Jones' alliance with Rob Riley? It's real ugly, writes Simpson, filled with Democrats who have knives left between their shoulder blades. From her Oct. 23 Facebook post:

Jones went to work for the top political Republican firm in the state, Haskell Slaughter,  and while yapping about his firm's clients to the Riley Gang, the firm went belly up. Rob Riley wanted to replace Haskell Slaughter with his own outfit as top Republican firm in the state -- and Rob is the behind-the-scenes puppet master of the Jones campaign. The Rileys want the lobbyist funds Jones can provide for connections to his Senate office. Plus, Haskell Slaughter's biggest client, Milton McGregor, almost went to prison, thanks to Doug and Rob yapping to the feds about Milton. The Rileys were angry with Milton because he would not pay them under the table by hiring Rob -- Doug Jones' big buddy --  to do nothing, while Rob's daddy was governor. Milton has said time and again that the Rileys tried to get him to pay Rob bribe money and he refused.

Jones and Rob Riley went to considerable lengths to undermine Montgomery lawyer Tommy Gallion (a longtime McGregor ally) as a power player and take away his business. Jones and Riley also undercut Ronnie Gilley in the Alabama bingo case. Writes Simpson:

I knew Doug and Rob were setting up Milton, in order to help the Poarch Creek Indians and the Holder DOJ in the bingo case. I warned Tommy Gallion, after some of Doug Jones' e-mails got back to me through local reporters. 
Doug and Rob were planning to get rid of Gallion, the most power political handler in the state at the time, as they wanted his clients and business. I told Gallion about it, as he had helped me in the Siegelman matter. Gallion talked to Doug, who denied everything I was saying and even called me; I heard Doug denying it, but I knew he was lying, as my sources were reliable, and I had folks at DOJ and John Conyers' office confirming what Doug and Rob were up to. 
Within a couple of months, it came out out Holder's investigators were listening in on Gallion's line to every word he and Milton McGregor were saying. Milton was charged exactly as I had warned Tommy. Plus, Doug Jones apparently got Ronnie Gilley to confess to a bunch of bullshit, and then Doug was removed as his lawyer when Ronnie learned Doug and Rob were behind the deal in the first place. A woman Ronnie trusted contacted me, as she heard I had warned Gallion, and he didn't listen because Doug was such a good bullshit artist. 
I got contacted by the FBI in south Alabama, who told me to be careful, as I might get hurt for telling what I knew. It was a very scary time for me. Doug Jones and Rob Riley were taking their power trip, as they wanted to run our state with the Riley Gang -- and for whatever reason, felt they needed rid of Gallion. 
That my friends is a bad deal. So I write about it now, as Doug Jones and Rob Riley really are a tag team from hell.

Press reports show no proof was presented at trial that Charles Henderson "spent the night" at Yareima Akl's apartment -- and transcript shows "fuzzy" question didn't even ask about alleged "adulterous" relationship

Charles Todd Henderson and Yareima Akl
(From al.com)
How does Charles Todd Henderson stand convicted of swearing falsely about a romantic relationship with Yareima Akl when he wasn't even asked about such a relationship during the proceeding in question? That apparently is what can happen when a corrupt attorney general brings criminal charges, a crooked judge oversees the case, and a jury with the collective intelligence of a tree stump reaches the verdict.

As we've shown for 10-plus years on this blog, such outcomes happen with disturbing regularity in Alabama courts -- both state and federal. The Henderson outcome is particularly disturbing because it effectively overrides the will of Jefferson County voters, who elected him last November in an upset over nine-year incumbent (and Bob Riley appointee) Brandon Falls. Of course, we've seen this story before with the Riley Political Machine. In 2002, the will of Alabama voters determined that Don Siegelman (like Henderson, a Democrat) had won a second term over Riley -- only to have overnight vote manipulation change the outcome.

In the Henderson matter, Riley Inc. apparently got caught napping -- convinced Falls would prevail over the little-known Henderson. When that didn't happen -- and they were faced with the possibility of an unfriendly DA in their home county -- members of Team Riley apparently turned to a political ally, former Attorney General Luther Strange, to bring bogus charges that now will keep Henderson from ever taking office. For good measure, the Alabama Supreme Court appointed corrupt Chilton County Judge Sibley Reynolds to hear the case.

How bogus were the charges against Henderson, and how unjust is his conviction? Well, a transcript from a hearing in the Akl divorce case shows Henderson was not asked about a romantic relationship with Ms. Akl? A private investigator's report that supposedly showed Henderson had "spent the night" at Ms. Akl's apartment did nothing of the sort. And based on press reports of the trial, no witness presented a shred of evidence that Henderson swore falsely in the divorce hearing; in fact, most witnesses reportedly testified to issues that had zero relevance to the perjury charge.

Upon what was the perjury charge based? A transcript of the hearing shows the following exchange between Henderson and Virginia Meigs, attorney for Charbel Akl, who was Ms. Akl's husband:

Q Okay. Now, since she has been campaigning for you, has there been a time where you have spent the night at her apartment?

A No.

Q No?

A No.

We must remember that this was a criminal case, where the standard is guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt." Also, language in court cases generally is held to its "plain and ordinary" meaning.

What is the plain and ordinary meaning of the question Meigs put to Henderson? That is simple: During the time Ms. Akl had been campaigning for him, had Henderson ever spent the night at her apartment? According to press reports, no evidence was presented at trial to show Henderson's answer ("No") was false.

In fact, Henderson's attorneys argued the question was "fuzzy," and evidence shows that to be the case; even Meigs was confused about what she was asking. This is from later in the transcript, during an exchange between Meigs and Judge Patricia Stephens:

MS. MEIGS: And as a result, we need to evaluate both parents.

THE COURT: Absolutely.

MS. MEIGS: Their character and fitness as a parent. And if one parent is acting in an adulterous way with the child present at times, then --

THE COURT: Ask that question then. . . .

This shows Meigs meant to ask Henderson about adulterous behavior, but that's not what she asked. She didn't ask, "Did you have an adulterous and sexual relationship with Ms. Akl?" Even when the judge told her to ask that question, Meigs didn't ask it. Instead, she left the earlier question on the table: Did Henderson, during the time of  his campaign, ever spend the night at Ms. Akl's apartment?

Can someone spend the night at someone's home without engaging in sexual or adulterous behavior? The answer, obviously, is yes. Could Henderson have slept on the couch, in a chair, on the floor? Of course. Is it any wonder Henderson might have been confused by Meigs' "fuzzy" question? Does this exchange, or anything else presented at trial, provide proof that Henderson answered Meigs' question falsely? Based on press accounts, the answer is no.

Let's consider the private-investigator's report that reportedly was entered as evidence. (A summary of the surveillance report, prepared by J. Hammock of Comprehensive Investigative Group, can be viewed here.) In a synopsis on page 2, the PI states, "I find activities consistent with an extra-marital relationship between Yareima Akl and Charles Todd Henderson." Does evidence in the report support that finding, beyond a reasonable doubt? Not even close. Consider:

(1) The PI states, on July 23, 2016, he began surveillance at 5:45 p.m. and observed Henderson's vehicle at Akl's apartment complex, terminating surveillance at 10 p.m. During this time, the PI does not report seeing Henderson, just his vehicle.

The PI reports that surveillance continued at 9 a.m. the next day (July 24), and about 1:25 later, Henderson was spotted leaving Akl's apartment, with Akl and two other people. The PI followed them to a function at a church and then at a restaurant, following them back to Akl's apartment Surveillance was terminated at 5 p.m.

The Skinny: There is more than a 15-hour gap from when the PI saw Henderson's vehicle and when the PI saw Henderson himself. This is supposed to prove Henderson spent the night? The question is absurd on its face.

(2) Surveillance continued on Aug. 6, 2016, from 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., with Henderson's vehicle observed in the parking lot of Akl's apartment, and Henderson driving Akl's vehicle, and entering and exiting the residence.

Surveillance continued at 4:15 a.m. the next day (Aug. 7), with both vehicles observed in the same positions as the night before, both covered in dew. Surveillance ended at 11 a.m.

The Skinny: There is almost a four-hour gap between the end of the Aug. 6 surveillance and the beginning of observations on Aug. 7. Does this prove Henderson spent the night? Does it preclude the possibility that he went home and returned the next morning, with or without dew on his car? Of course not.

(3) Observations continued at 6:30 a.m. the next day (Aug. 8), with the PI noting the same parking positions as presented at 11 a.m. the day before.

The Skinny: There is a gap of more than 19 hours in the surveillance. But this is supposed to prove Henderson spent the night? Did we mention this case is absurd?

(4) Observations continued at 7 p.m. on Sept. 2, with Henderson and Akl arriving in his vehicle at about 9:20 p.m. Akl enters her apartment, and Henderson leaves the area.

Surveillance continued from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. the next day (Sept. 3), with no observations reported.

The Skinny: Why did the PI even include this entry? It plainly shows Henderson did not spend the night. This entry should be an embarrassment to PIs everywhere? Somebody actually paid money for this? (BTW, who did pay for the surveillance? I see no explanation of that.)

(5) Observations continued from 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Sept. 16, showing no activity involving Henderson and Akl.

The next day (Sept. 17) surveillance and "activity checks" are conducted throughout the day, with Akl observed exiting a truck and entering the residence (closing blinds and turning off interior lighting) at 8:25 p.m. Simultaneously, Henderson exited the truck and entered the apartment, with lighting turned back on. Surveillance was terminated at 1 a.m.

At 7:15 a.m. the next day (Sept. 18), Henderson is observed leaving the apartment in the truck.

The Skinny: There is more than a six-hour gap in surveillance. Did Henderson have plenty of time to leave the residence and return? Of course. Does this entry prove he spent the night? Of course not.

(6) On the morning of Sept. 23, Akl is observed dropping her minor child at school and returning home. A "sweep" of the apartment parking lot showed Henderson's vehicle was present at 9:20 a.m.

The Skinny: What does this prove about the issue at hand -- spending the night? Nothing that we can discern.

(7) Observations are continued at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 23, Henderson's truck is spotted, but Henderson is not seen -- and neither is Akl, nor her vehicle.

Surveillance continues at 5:30 a.m. the next day (Nov. 24). Akl and her child are observed taking out trash, watering plants, and leaving the area in Henderson's vehicle. They are tracked to apartments in Hoover and return at 9:08 p.m., with an additional juvenile female. Henderson is not observed.

The Skinny: Henderson is not seen, so this clearly provides no evidence of spending the night.

What do we learn from these seven surveillance entries? Mainly, we learn that PIs must lead a pretty boring existence. We don't learn of any proof that Henderson spent the night at Akl's apartment. And we certainly receive no evidence of a romantic relationship. Were Henderson and Akl reported holding hands, kissing, hugging? No, no, and no.

Finally, we look briefly at witnesses who testified at trial.

Tom Coram, an investigator for the attorney general's office, testified about phone records he analyzed between Henderson and Akl. If anything, this testimony suggests the two did NOT spend much time together at her apartment. Why would they be talking on the phone if they were together, under the same roof?

Two expert witnesses, Gary Lee Bloom and Jacqueline Morette, testified about the duties of a guardian ad litem (GAL) in a divorce case. Both essentially stated that Henderson did a poor job as GAL in the Akl divorce matter. Being a bad GAL, however, is not a crime. Even if it were, Henderson was not charged with it. Did Bloom or Morette present any testimony about the matter at hand -- Henderson's alleged perjury? Based on press reports, the answer is no.

Patricia Stephens, judge in the Akl divorce case, testified that she would not have appointed Henderson as GAL if she had known he and Ms. Akl were friends. Did she say anything about Henderson's supposedly false statement about spending the night? Based on press reports the answer is no. Is it possible, Henderson was less-than-forthcoming regarding his GAL appointment? Yes. Is that a crime? Nope.

That prosecutors called these witnesses is a sign of how weak a case they had.

What does our review of the facts show in the Henderson case?

(1) He was not asked about a romantic or sexual relationship with Ms. Akl, so he could not have lied about it.

(2) A private investigator's report did not come close to proving that Henderson lied about the real matter at hand -- whether he spent the night at Ms. Akl's residence. Based on the PI's report, there is overwhelming doubt that Henderson lied about the one factual issue in the case.

(3) Based on press reports, no witness produced the slightest evidence that Henderson swore falsely on the question at the heart of the prosecution. In fact, it appears no witness testimony was connected to perjury at all.

What about the relevant law in the Henderson case? That brings us to the question of whether Henderson's supposedly false statement was material to the underlying divorce case. We will examine that issue next.

(To be continued)

Monday, October 23, 2017

Missouri public defender system, which is handling Carol's "assault on a cop" case, is so slammed with work that it can't take on new Greene Co. murder case

Jeremy Lynn
The Missouri public defender's office that is handling my wife Carol's "assault of a law enforcement officer" case says it is too busy to take on a recent Greene County murder case.

Rod Hackathorn, head of the public defender's office in Springfield, sent a letter to the court last week, saying his staff is handling such heavy caseloads that they cannot take on the case of Dameon Clinghan, who has been charged with first-degree murder in the Oct. 7 killing of Tyler Rambo. The public defender's office has sent several such letters recently, stating that its office is violating Missouri Supreme Court rules because of excessive caseloads.

How does that make us feel about the quality of Carol's representation? Not very good. Missouri has the second most poorly funded public defender's system in the country, which is one reason Carol was not anxious to have the system represent her. In fact, Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto pretty much forced Carol to fill out a PD application.

Funding woes certainly are a major factor behind the overwhelming caseloads. But our experiences suggest other factors are in play:

(1) Corrupt cops and prosecutors don't help -- Carol's case is a classic "cover charge," designed to thwart her efforts to achieve civil justice for the police brutality that left her with a shattered left arm. The case never should have been brought because even the alleged "victim," Officer Jeremy Lynn, admits he caused contact with Carol, not the other way around -- meaning she could not have assaulted him, under Missouri law. But Sheriff Jim Arnott, who was on the scene for our eviction, stood five feet away as his officers body slammed Carol butt-first to the ground, yanking viciously on her arms, and verbally stated, "She assaulted a police officer." In other words, the police brutality was so obvious and disturbing that Arnott felt the need to concoct a "cover charge" on the spot.

Prosecutor Dan Patterson waited until the last day before the one-year statute of limitations ran out, to file charges based on Arnott's bogus claims. Talk about collusion.

A reasonable assumption would be that Arnott and Patterson are aware the public defender's office is overwhelmed. And a citizen might think, knowing that, the sheriff and PA would bring only cases that had at least a whiff of merit. But dumping bogus cases like Carol's on a system that already is struggling to stay afloat, just makes the situation worse -- and it is a disservice to Missouri taxpayers.

(2) Calcified judges don't help -- As we've reported previously, Judge Palmietto has made correct rulings and asked probing questions that indicate she has the integrity and intellect to handle Carol's case properly. But we don't understand why the judge is acting so slowly. If the public defender's caseload is excessive, one can assume judges' dockets also are overloaded. You'd think that might motivate Palmietto to dismiss the charges -- especially since Carol, while acting pro se,  filed documents in March, April, and May that, by law, should have forced the charges to be dropped months ago. Palmietto has stated in court that she is aware those motions have been filed, but we've seen no sign that she has considered them. Since Carol's injuries were disclosed in court about a month ago, Palmietto has made statements indicating she suspects the charges against Carol are bogus. So, why hasn't she considered motions that are on the docket, make the lawful ruling to dismiss the charges, and do everyone in a swamped system (including herself) a favor?

(3) Public defenders themselves sometimes don't help -- Patty Poe, Carol's attorney, is one of those overwhelmed public defenders. So why does Poe seem reluctant to have Carol's case dismissed. She repeatedly has discussed with us various options for the case going to trial. But the case, by law, can't go to trial. Carol has spelled out for her five or six grounds upon which the charges must be dropped, but Poe seems reluctant to take action on them.

Poe does seem willing to do at least a limited amount of discovery, which we appreciate, and it has yielded some valuable information. But discovery, which is for producing facts, should not be necessary because this case must be dismissed as a matter of law. Poe, in her own self interest, should want Carol's case booted ASAP. So, why hasn't she taken action?

It should not be hard. As already noted, the so-called "victim" has made statements in writing to show that Carol did not assault him -- as the offense is defined under Missouri law. Will Poe file the appropriate motion? She hasn't yet, but she soon will receive pressure from us to do just that.

Bottom line: Inadequate funding is a major cause of what has been described as a "constitutional crisis" with Missouri's PD system. But members of the "justice system" contribute to the problem by bringing bogus cases and allowing them to linger much longer than they should on the docket -- even when facts and law plainly show they must be dismissed.

Perjury conviction of elected Jefferson County DA Charles Todd Henderson shows Riley-driven corruption hangs over Alabama courts like slime

Charles Todd Henderson hugs his wife, Yareima,
after Friday's guilty verdict was announced.
(From al.com)
Just when it seemed the Don Siegelman political prosecution would go down as the smelliest court case in Alabama history, along comes the Charles Todd Henderson case to emit an odor almost as foul. Evidence strongly suggests -- surprise! -- the Riley GOP Political Machine is at the heart of both cases.

Henderson, the duly elected Democratic district attorney of Jefferson County, was convicted last Friday of first-degree perjury in a case that would have to improve significantly to reach the level of "putrid." The case against Henderson reeked from the moment his indictment was announced on Jan. 13 of this year. That's because it came roughly two months after Henderson had the audacity to beat Republican Brandon Falls, who held the position for nine years, after Gov. Bob Riley appointed him in 2008.

As long as Falls was in office, ex-Gov. Riley -- along with children Rob ("Uday") and Minda -- did not have to worry about anyone in law enforcement taking a critical glance at their unsavory activities. But that changed with Henderson's unexpected victory, suggesting an unfriendly DA might investigate the Rileys, leading to possible prosecution, conviction, and prison time.

Modern Alabama history tells us that when an election does not go the Rileys' way, they resort to underhanded tactics to steal it. In the Siegelman matter, that meant overnight vote manipulation in the 2002 governor's race -- followed by a Karl Rove-driven federal prosecution to ensure Siegelman would not beat an unpopular Bob Riley in 2006. In the Henderson case, it meant turning to a political ally -- former Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange -- to bring a bogus perjury case that would keep Henderson from taking office. And with a conviction, Henderson is precluded by state law from serving in an office that he won fair and square.

Why do we say the case against Henderson was bogus? Well, it was clear at the time of indictment the case was driven by politics; after all, the indictment did not even specify the false statement Henderson allegedly made under oath in a divorce case involving his campaign worker, Yareima Akl. The role of politics in the case is even more clear now that Henderson has been convicted. That's because a review of the trial plainly shows the prosecution was not driven by facts or law. That leaves only one driving factor -- Riley-based politics.

First, two hideously corrupt political figures ramrodded the proceedings. Luther Strange, who brought the case, has so many ethics complaints pending against him that investigators can't keep up with them all. Sibley Reynolds, the Chilton County judge who was assigned after Jefferson County judges recused, has a documented history of making wildly unlawful rulings. (See here, here, and here.) My record on predictions is so-so, but I knew when the Alabama Supreme Court appointed Reynolds -- likely with the assistance of Riley bot Jim Main -- that Henderson would be convicted.

That, in fact, happened -- even though the conviction has zero support in fact or law. And that turns our attention to political chicanery, which is easy to detect in the Henderson matter because Alabama perjury law is so simple. Here is how it's defined at Code of Alabama 13A-10-101:

A person commits the crime of perjury in the first degree when in any official proceeding he swears falsely and his false statement is material to the proceeding in which it is made.

What about specifics in the Henderson case? It presented two straightforward questions:

(1) Did Henderson falsely reply "no" when asked under oath if there had been a time when he "spent the night" at Ms. Akl's apartment"? and

(2) Was that answer "material" to the proceeding in which it was held -- the divorce case involving Ms. Akl and her now ex-husband, Charbel Akl?

What does it mean for a statement to be "material" under Alabama law? Here is the definition under Code of Alabama 13A-10-100:

MATERIAL. A statement is "material," regardless of the admissibility of the statement under the rules of evidence, if it could have affected the course or outcome of the official proceeding. It is no defense that the declarant mistakenly believed the falsification to be immaterial. Whether a falsification is material in a given factual situation is a question of law.

The question in No. 1 above is the only issue of fact in the Henderson case. Question No. 2 is the only issue of law. Sounds simple, right? So, how did an Alabama jury reach a verdict that is so palpably wrong and unjust?

We can think of numerous possible answers to that last question. But even al.com columnist John Archibald, whose analysis of the trial was comically wrong-headed, suggested potential jurors showed the combined curiosity and intelligence of a week-old burrito, during the voir dire process.

Perhaps that's why they fell for bogus contentions from prosecutors and the press that Henderson had lied under oath about a romantic relationship with Ms. Akl? (The couple now is married.)

In fact, Henderson was not asked, in the question where he was alleged to have committed perjury, about a romantic relationship with Ms. Akl. And he was not asked throughout the relevant proceeding about such a relationship.

In other words, jurors apparently convicted Henderson of lying about a romantic relationship when he was not even asked about one.

That's what serves as "Alabama justice" in an age of crooked Republicans, such as Bob Riley.

How does Charles Todd Henderson stand convicted of perjury when the facts plainly show he did not "swear falsely" to the question put to him? We will address that question in an upcoming post.

(To be continued)