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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Ashley Madison records show Alabama tax attorney Thomas Mancuso has been looking for a woman who wants "to be licked" or "taken from behind"

Thomas and Judy Mancuso
A summary of an Alabama tax attorney's activities on the Ashley Madison (AM) extramarital-affair Web site shows he is looking for a woman who wants "to be licked," wants "to be taken from behind," and wants "to play with me in your mouth."

Thomas Mancuso, of Montgomery, is married to Judy Mancuso, but that hasn't kept him from seeking more than a little adventure on the side.

Records show that Mancuso signed up for AM at 3:51 p.m. on March 3, 2014, using a computer with an outbound IP address of, located on or near State Dock Road, Montgomery, AL 36104. His Ashley Madison account number is 24474963. (The full summary is embedded at the end of this post.)

What is Mancuso looking for in a partner? Well, he is quite explicit. From his AM profile description:

don't be too shy . . . say or show what you like . . . be aggressive if you like . . . or tell me to take control and seduce you . . . if you want to be licked, then lead me there . . . want to be taken from behind . . . then flip to your stomach . . . I will figure it out . . . want to play with me in your mouth . . . then do it . . . want to scream when you cum . . . that makes me nuts.
Mancuso then puts his slightly kinky side on display, and in perhaps his most impressive move, he points to his wallet:

want me to pull your hair . . . sure . . . your butt spanked softly . . . love to do it . . . and best of all, I am first class, have money, no nut case but very adventuresome, don't need you to go dutch, etc., etc.

We sought comment from Mancuso for this post, but so far, he has not responded to our queries.

Missouri thugs violated state law and my wife's Fourth Amendment rights by ordering her arrest for "failure to appear" when she had received no notice from court

Carol Tovich Shuler
How could my wife, Carol, be arrested in Missouri for failure to appear when the case docket shows she was not notified of a court appearance? The answer is, "She couldn't." But she was, and that is a violation of Missouri law. It also represents a grotesque violation of Carol's Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. (The U.S. Supreme Court has found that an arrest is the "quintessential example of a seizure of the person.")

If I have a say about it, someone is going to pay dearly for this abuse of Carol's constitutional rights. It's bad enough that the charges against Carol -- assault on a law enforcement officer and trespass -- are bogus and not supported by probable cause, as we will show in upcoming posts. But as a simple procedural matter, her arrest runs contrary to Missouri law.

How do we know? Please follow us for a brief explanation of the law that governs such issues.

It might seem strange to you, as it does to me, that courts could be allowed to send a summons -- for which you are subject to arrest if you fail to appear -- via first-class mail. You might think that a document that carries with it the potential loss of freedom would require some form of personal service, via certified mail, a process service, or a "peace officer." But you (and I) would be wrong. Missouri allows service of a summons via first-class mail, per Mo. Sup. Ct. Rule 21.08. Here's how it reads, in pertinent part:

A summons may be served by:
(a) The clerk mailing it to defendant's last known address by first class mail; or
(b) An officer in the manner provided in Rule 54.13 or Rule 54.14.

If the defendant fails to appear in response to a summons and upon a finding of probable cause that the defendant has committed a misdemeanor, the court may issue an arrest warrant.

Rules 54.13 and 54.14 refer to personal service in the state and outside the state, respectively. The highlighted section notes that an individual is subject to arrest if she "fails to appear in response to a summons." But Carol did not fail to appear "in response to a summons." The court's own records, as found at case.net (Case number 1631-CR07731), show she did not receive a summons. Last time I checked, it's hard to respond to something you did not receive, especially when you have no reason to believe it even exists.

To summarize, a summons in Missouri may be served by first-class mail or personal service. But if the court opts to serve by first-class mail, that comes with an extra burden: It must receive acknowledgement that the summons actually was received. If that doesn't happen, the court must turn to one of the other methods allowed by law, and that means some form of personal service.

In other words, a subject who does not acknowledge receipt of a summons -- and in Carol's case, she did not acknowledge because she did not receive the summons -- cannot be subject to arrest. The court must try again, via personal service, to make sure the summons actually is received. The relevant law can be found at Mo. Sup. Ct. Rule 54.16, which reads in pertinent part:

Acknowledgment of Service By Mail

Service of the summons and petition upon a resident or nonresident defendant of any class referred to in Rule 54.13(b)(1)(2) or (3) may be made by mailing a copy of the summons and petition by first class mail, postage prepaid, to the person to be served, together with two copies of a notice and acknowledgment conforming substantially to Civil Procedure Form 4B or Civil Procedure Form 4C and a return envelope, postage prepaid addressed to the sender. If no acknowledgment of service under this Rule 54.16 is completed and returned to the sender, service of the summons and petition shall be made as otherwise provided by statute or rule. Unless good cause is shown for not doing so, the court shall order the payment of costs of service on the person served if such person does not complete and return within thirty days after mailing, the notice and acknowledgment of receipt of summons.

We call your attention to the highlighted section above, which states in real clear English that if the subject does not return acknowledgement, the court cannot haul off and arrest her; it must attempt a form of personal service that is allowed by law.

What does this tell us? Carol was the victim of a wrongful arrest and imprisonment. Her constitutional rights were trampled. And it adds to the evidence that charges were brought against her for an unlawful reason -- probably in retaliation for my reporting about Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions and his status as a closeted homosexual.

Who ordered Carol's unlawful arrest? We aren't certain at the moment, but we have a real strong suspect, maybe more than one. I'm more than a little fed up with the abuse we've received from courts and law enforcement, and I am determined to see that the responsible person (or persons) is held accountable for this one.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Trump AG Jeff Sessions likely will be dragged into Michael Flynn scandal after serving as chairman over Flynn on two national-security committees

Jeff Sessions
(From UK Independent and Getty Images)
Could Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions be drawn into the scandal that caused National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to step down? It looks like the process to scrutinize Sessions, as part of Flynn's communications with Russian officials, already has started.

Sessions, of course, was a long-time Republican U.S. Senator from Alabama. Could that bring the Flynn scandal to The Heart of Dixie, with Sessions having already brought Alabamians into the Trump administration? According to a report today in the UK Independent, some Alabamians might soon be wishing they never had ties to Sessions. The former senator might soon be toxic for reasons other than his well-known racist statements and actions of yesteryear.

In an article titled "Jeff Sessions faces scrutiny over Michael Flynn’s calls to Russia," the Independent notes that the AG was sitting on the same national security council as Flynn when the latter sought to reassure the Russians that sanctions would be overturned.

The issues with Sessions actually go deeper than that. In March 2016, Trump appointed Sessions to head his campaign's National Security Advisory Committee. Let that sink in: Sessions was Trump's chief on national-security issues DURING THE CAMPAIGN, at a time when we now know from U.S. intelligence reports that Russian interests were trying to undermine the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Guess who served on that campaign committee with Sessions? Why it was none other than Michael Flynn. From a Trump campaign press release, dated October 7, 2016:

Today, Donald J. Trump announced the appointment of several key members to his national security advisory council following a roundtable meeting in New York. Mr. Trump’s national security team is comprised of some of the brightest minds in foreign policy, nuclear non-proliferation, combating ISIS and rebuilding our national defense. . . .

New members of the national security advisory council include: KT McFarland, Congressman Mike McCaul, Senator Tom Cotton, Senator Richard Burr, Jim Woolsey, Tom Barrack, Congressman Darrell Issa, Senator Bob Corker, Senator Jim Inhofe, Charlie Glazer and John Ashcroft.

These new members will add to the already strong team comprised of Senator Jeff Sessions, General Mike Flynn, Tom Stewart, Bert Mizusawa, Bob McEwan, Chuck Kubic, Jay Garner, Keith Kellogg, Gary Harrell, Bob Magnus, Jim Hoskins and Rudy Giuliani.

Creating a safe America is important to every American and Donald Trump’s plan will make the U.S. safe again.

In the wake of Flynn's resignation, every member of that committee soon should be under investigation, including its chair, Jeff Sessions. Notice some of the conservative stalwarts serving with Sessions and Flynn on that campaign committee -- Rudy Giuliani, John Ashcroft, Tom Cotton, Bob Corker. What did they know, and when did they know it?

Here's more from today's UK Independent report:

Jeff Sessions is once again in the spotlight after it was revealed he sat on the same Trump campaign national security council as Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who was forced to resign after admitting he called the Russian ambassador to reassure them that sanctions would be overturned.

The Attorney General, who was sworn in last week despite opposition from Democrats and civil rights activists, is now being asked to recuse himself from his role at the nation’s highest office after speculation is swirling that he may also have been involved in the Russia-related scandal.

That is despite revelations that Mr Sessions would lead the investigation against Mr Flynn.

Speculation is swirling that Sessions was involved in the Russia scandal? Gulp. That sound you hear is Jeff Sessions and his cronies stepping in a big pile of doo-doo. And the doo-doo might be much deeper than we now can imagine.

As David Corn, of Mother Jones, reported yesterday, Flynn's communications with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak go way beyond the ones after Trump was elected:

Flynn's departure should not end the demands for an investigation. One tantalizing and somewhat overlooked aspect of the Post story that did him in was the fact that Flynn hobnobbed with Kislyak during the campaign. The paper reported that the Flynn-Kislyak conversations "were part of a series of contacts between Flynn and Kislyak that began before the November 8 election and continued during the transition, officials said." And the paper noted, "Kislyak said that he had been in contact with Flynn since before the election, but declined to answer questions about the subjects they discussed."

This is the mystery that now needs an answer: What was Flynn talking about with the Russians during the campaign?

Who was Flynn's director chairman/supervisor during his talks with Kislyak? That would be Jeff Sessions. And the white-hot light is starting to turn on him.

U.S. Judge R. David Proctor's cheat job in "The House Case" starts early and ends late -- with lots of cheating throughout the middle passages, for good measure

Judge R. David Proctor and
his wife, Teresa
(From Facebook)
The cheat job that U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor has administered in our "House Case" is like a horribly written three-act play -- Proctor cheats in the beginning and the end, with lots of cheating in between.

Let's start by reviewing "Act 1." Proctor reveals himself to be a con man right off the bat, and he continues in that vein throughout. For now, we will focus on two major issues as the curtain rises on our "diabolical play."

A corrupt judge cannot get even the basics right
Reciting the standard of review on a Motion to Dismiss is the first order of business, and Proctor gets it wrong -- and continues to get it wrong on almost every page of his 45-page memorandum opinion. (Proctor's opinion and our Motion to Alter are embedded at the end of this post.)

Proctor cites the two U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) cases -- Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal (known, jointly, as "Twombly and Iqbal") -- that have caused mass confusion in federal courts. At their core, Twombly and Iqbal require a complaint to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Plaintiffs now must “nudge their claims across the line from conceivable to plausible,”

That's fine and dandy, but no one seems to know what it means, least of all Judge R. David Proctor. How does something go from conceivable to plausible? Most people of average to high intelligence would shrug their shoulders. Many judges, like Proctor, just wing it. If they are conservative and favor defendants (such as corporations, institutions, moneyed interests), they are likely to use Twombly/Iqbal as an excuse to kick out complaints that likely have merit. If they are liberals, they probably ignore Twombly/Iqbal.

Either way, the public probably is left with the impression that judges don't have a clue what they are doing. And the public would be right. If you skim the 45 pages of Proctor's opinion, you will find repeated use of words such as "conclusory" and "formulaic." That is the language of Twombly/Iqbal -- many people have no idea what those words mean either -- and the law does not make it clear.

It is clear that many observers -- from law-review authors and editors to lawmakers, even judges -- want to get out of this mess. Several measures have been introduced in Congress to overturn Twombly/Iqbal. But with conservatives in the majority, and their corporate backers pushing for easy dismissal of valid lawsuits, nothing has gained traction yet.

In a rare show of forward thinking, courts are moving away from Twombly/Iqbal on their own. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals -- which covers Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, and governs our case -- has interpreted Iqbal to mean that a "heightened pleading standard" no longer exists. From a case styled Randall v. Scott, 610 F. 3d 701 (11th Cir., 2010):

We conclude that the district court erred in applying a heightened pleading standard to Randall's complaint. After Iqbal it is clear that there is no "heightened pleading standard" as it relates to cases governed by Rule 8(a)(2), including civil rights complaints.

First, ours is a civil-rights case. Second, Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) has determined the bar that plaintiffs must clear to survive a Motion to Dismiss -- and it has applied since the federal rules were adopted in 1938. Rule 8 holds that a plaintiff must provide:

"a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief."

Our complaint easily meets the Rule 8 standard, and Proctor acknowledges, on page 7 of his opinion, that Rule 8 governs the case. He also acknowledges the 11th Circuit's finding in Randall. If anything, our complaint provides too many factual allegations and details.

Even SCOTUS is moving away from Twombly/Iqbal, and it did so in a Deep South case, originating in Mississippi. From a case styled Johnson v. City of Shelby, 135 S. Ct. 346 (2014):

We summarily reverse. Federal pleading rules call for a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8(a)(2); they do not countenance dismissal of a complaint for imperfect statement of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted. . . . [The rules] "are designed to discourage battles over mere form of statement. . . . Rule 8(a)(2) indicates that a basic objective of the rules is to avoid civil cases turning on "technicalities."

SCOTUS gets even more emphatic in Johnson:

Petitioners stated simply, concisely, and directly events that, they alleged, entitled them to damages from the city. Having informed the city of the factual basis for their complaint, they were required to do no more to stave off dismissal for want of an adequate statement of their claim.

No one who reads our complaint can seriously claim we did not inform defendants of the factual basis for our lawsuit, and in the words of the nation's highest court, we "were required to do no more to stave off dismissal."

Johnson did not specifically overturn Twombly/Iqbal, but it clearly rejected the pleading standard set out in those two cases. And we are talking about a U.S. Supreme Court ruling here.

Bottom line: Proctor got the pleading standard wrong, both at the Eleventh Circuit level and at the national level, via SCOTUS. You can't get much more wrong than that.

Proctor ignores a simple standard that he took an oath to uphold
A simple rule in reviewing a Motion to Dismiss -- the equivalent of "three strikes and you're out" in baseball -- is this:

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), all factual allegations are viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the nonmoving party.

We are the nonmoving party here. The Motions to Dismiss were filed by defendants. Proctor must, by law, view factual allegations in a light most favorable to us. He fails to follow this straightforward and longstanding principle over and over.

We will point out examples in upcoming posts. But for now, we've established that Proctor acts corruptly in the early stages of his opinion. And things don't get any better as they move along.

(To be continued)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

U.S. Sen. Luther Strange's appointment of Kevin Turner as chief of staff emits the foul odor of blackmail and a "secret" that must be kept under wraps

Luther Strange's campaign team, with Kevin Turner in
the middle and Jessica Medeiros Garrison to his left.
(From Alabama Political Reporter)
One of Luther Strange's first acts as a U.S. senator appears to be driven by blackmail. That's quite a start for the "Big Lutha Era" on the Capitol Hill, but it should not surprise anyone because Strange has been ethically challenged for years.

Strange has appointed Kevin Turner, his former chief deputy in the Alabama attorney general's office, to be his chief of staff in D.C., according to a report at Alabama Political Reporter (APR). Turner, once an attorney at the Birmingham firm of Bradley Arant, abruptly left the AG's office after reports that he was interfering with the Mike Hubbard investigation by trying to have chief prosecutor Matt Hart removed from the case.

Turner landed at the Venable LLP law firm in Washington, but his bio already has disappeared from the firm's Web site, and his LinkedIn page already shows him as Luther Strange's chief of staff. Boy, that happened in a hurry.

How did it happen? Well, blackmail -- or fear of blackmail -- might have played a big role. Consider these words from an August 2014 Legal Schnauzer post, that drew heavily on a report by Bill Britt at APR. The title of our post was "Top Aide To AG Luther Strange Might Be Using "Secret" To Derail Alabama Corruption Probe." How underhanded can Kevin Turner be? The following provides an idea:

The chief of staff to Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is trying to derail a corruption probe of House Speaker Mike Hubbard, former Governor Bob Riley and his children, and more, according to a new report at the Alabama Political Reporter.

Bill Britt reports that Chief of Staff Kevin Turner is leading an in-house plot to have chief prosecutor Matt Hart removed from the case. Turner, who used to be at the Bradley Arant law firm in Birmingham, is holding a secret over Strange's head as leverage to get Hart off the case, Britt reports.

Turner was holding a secret over Strange's head? That sounds like serious stuff, with criminal implications. Here is more from the post:

Inside the Attorney General’s Office, the effort to sabotage the Grand Jury, by eliminating Hart, is thought to be the work of Strange’s closest ally, Turner.

The seemingly unbreakable bond between Strange and Turner is rumored to be based on more scandalous motives, and not mere loyalty. As Strange’s driver and body man during the 2010 campaign for AG, there is speculation that Turner holds a dirty secret over his boss' head. Whatever the reason may be for Strange’s particular loyalty to Turner, there are more than a few questions raised by Turner’s recent actions against Hart.

What secret could Turner have acquired while serving as Strange's "driver and body man" during the 2010 campaign? Well, we broke the story of Strange's extramarital affair with 2010 campaign manager Jessica Medeiros Garrison, whose divorce from Tuscaloosa City School Board president Lee Garrison dovetails with her activities on the Strange campaign. We addressed that issue in an October 2014 post titled "Could Jessica Medeiros Garrison's sealed divorce file help shine light on "secrets" in State House probe?" From the post:

Where does Jessica Medeiros Garrison fit into this picture? She managed Luther Strange's 2010 campaign, which would have more or less made her Kevin Turner's supervisor at the time. Any "dirty secret" that Kevin Turner has on Luther Strange, probably would be known to Garrison.

What's the nature of this secret? Is it personal, professional, political, financial--a combination of all the above? We don't know, but Garrison's divorce case ended in October 2009, and a related child-custody case went into 2011--all in the general time frame of the 2010 campaign for attorney general.

Could the sealed Garrison divorce file include information about the secret? It certainly could, and if so, that means it's relevant to the Lee County investigation--and Kevin Turner's actions that appear to be unethical (at best) and maybe criminal (at worst).

How likely is it that Kevin Turner's "secret" involves Luther Strange's affair with Jessica Garrison? The evidence suggests it is very likely. How likely is it that Turner is a mediocre attorney, and his career at Venable was going nowhere fast -- and when Strange was appointed to fill Jeff Sessions' U.S. Senate seat, Turner made a quick play for the chief of staff post, and Strange had little choice but to go along with it. After all, published reports indicate Strange would be wise to keep Turner's heart happy and his mouth shut.

Based on all the intel we've received, Luther Strange, as AG, ran a wildly dysfunctional office in Montgomery. It looks like he is heading down the same path in D.C.

Why did the state of Missouri wait until the last possible day to bring criminal charges of trespass and assault on law enforcement officer against my wife?

X-ray of Carol Shuler's broken arm,
shattered by Missouri deputy
We have presented evidence that the arrest of my wife, Carol, in Missouri might have been an act of retaliation for our reporting on Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions and his closeted homosexuality. That, however, is not the only instance of curious timing regarding Carol's arrest on bogus charges of trespass and "assault on a law enforcement officer."

Their is no probable cause to support the charges in the first place. I know because I've read the probable-cause statement from Deputy Debi Wade, who supposedly was present when we were unlawfully evicted on September 9, 2015, and a male deputy shattered Carol's left arm so severely that it required trauma surgery for repair -- and she is expected to regain only 75 to 80 percent usage.

I say Officer Wade "supposedly" was present because her probable-cause statement is pure fantasy. I'm not sure there is a single truthful statement in it, and it says right at the top that false statements are "punishable by law." One female office was present that day, and I suppose that was Debi Wade. But it's curious that Wade created the probable-cause statement because I saw the whole event where Carol was brutalized and had her arm broken -- and she and Wade never made contact with each other. At least two male deputies -- Scott Harrison and the unknown officer who broke her arm -- made contact with Carol. Why didn't one of them make the probable-cause statement?

Sheriff Jim Arnott pointed at Carol after she had been slammed to the ground and beaten and claimed she had "assaulted a police officer." He ordered her taken to jail, where someone finally noticed she was in severe pain and both of her arms were purple and had her taken to a nearby emergency room. That's where X-rays showed her arm had been broken, the bone snapped in two and completely displaced. Why didn't Arnott make the probable-cause statement? Evidence is overwhelming that Arnott committed a federal crime by ordering a baseless arrest, and that evidence only is getting stronger now that Carol, the victim of an assault, has been arrested for an assault.

Deputy Debi Wade
(From facebook.com)
We will examine the probable-cause statement in a series of upcoming posts. But for now, let's look at procedural oddities connected to Carol's arrest:

* The statute of limitations for bringing misdemeanor criminal charges in Missouri is one year, and the incident was on September 9, 2015. A review of the docket at case.net (Case number 1631-CR07731) shows Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson did not file the charges until Sept. 8, 2016. In other words, he waited until the last possible day to bring charges. If this were a case of true assault on an officer, even of the misdemeanor variety, why would a PA let the alleged perpetrator remain free for almost one year?

* Carol failed to appear at an arraignment because, as the court docket shows, she never received notice of the hearing. That prompted someone, probably Greene County Circuit Clerk Thomas Barr, to order her arrest, on October 31, 2016. Deputies did not attempt to make the arrest until January 27 of this year and actually made it on Jan. 30. Why would officers wait almost three months to make an arrest that had been ordered last October? Did those who swear to "serve and protect" wait until our Legal Schnauzer reports on Jeff Sessions (and federal judge Bill Pryor) to take action? Was there collusion between corrupt individuals in Alabama and their brethren in Missouri? Was Carol's arrest, in fact, an act of retaliation?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Judge R. David Proctor's corrupt opinion in "The House Case" suggests Jeff Sessions & Co. have engaged in obstruction of justice and perhaps other crimes

R. David Proctor
Did Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions, or someone affiliated with him, commit a federal crime in the days before Sessions was sworn in? A recent ruling from U.S. Judge R. David Proctor in our wrongful foreclosure/defamation lawsuit -- we call it "The House Case" -- suggests the answer is yes. We have filed a motion to have Proctor's unlawful handiwork overturned. If Proctor persists in cheating my wife, Carol, and me, we intend to take any action necessary against him -- and that would include filing a criminal complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice.

We use the term "criminal complaint" because Proctor's 45-page memorandum opinion of January 13 is so filled with lawless findings it suggests someone -- Proctor, Sessions, someone connected to Sessions -- is engaging in obstruction of justice and perhaps other crimes. (Dismissal Order and Memorandum Opinion are embedded at the end of this post.)

How ugly is this? We know Proctor and Sessions have engaged in unethical conduct that goes back at least 20 years, when Proctor (while in private practice) helped get black federal judge U.W. Clemon removed from USX Corp. v. Tieco Inc., a case where Sessions (as Alabama's attorney general) had been named as a defendant. We also know that at least four individuals with strong ties to Sessions -- GOP operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Trump communications assistant Cliff Sims, U.S. Judge Bill Pryor, and GOP lawyer/operative Rob Riley -- are defendants in our two pending federal lawsuits. Those would be "The House Case" and "The Jail Case," which focuses mainly on my unlawful five-month incarceration in Shelby County and currently is under appeal before the Eleventh Circuit.

Both cases, somehow, wound up before Proctor at the trial level. What are the chances of that happening? So small it suggests that they were not randomly assigned, meaning we were deprived of our constitutional right to have the cases heard by an impartial arbiter. Proctor is anything but impartial -- in fact, by law he must recuse himself -- and evidence suggests the cases were unlawfully assigned to him so that he could protect Sessions' associates, and maybe Sessions himself.

Jeff Sessions
We filed a Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59 (also known as a Motion to Reconsider) last Friday, and it shows that Proctor's findings are incorrect on every major point at this stage in the proceedings. Many of his findings are incorrect, regardless of the stage in the proceedings. (Motion to Alter or Amend is embedded at the end of this post.)

How corrupt is R. David Proctor? We will be undressing him in a series of upcoming posts. I am more than a little fed up with being the victim of judicial cheat jobs, and I intend to make sure Proctor is held accountable, one way or another.

The case at the center of this post involves the unlawful theft of our home of 25 years in Birmingham. "The Jail Case" involves my kidnapping and loss of freedom for five months. If Proctor thinks we take these matters lightly -- if he thinks we are too stupid to recognize his corrupt rulings -- he is in need of a serious reawakening.

(To be continued)

Friday, February 10, 2017

No one should be surprised at the corrupt deal between Bentley and Strange; we showed long ago, via their extramarital affairs, that they are morally weak

"Luv Guv" Bentley and his girlfriend
Gov. Robert Bentley's appointment of Attorney General Luther Strange to replace U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is being portrayed in the press as perhaps the most flagrantly corrupt act in modern Alabama history. Considering our state's history of political corruption, that's quite an "achievement" for Bentley. Heck, even U.S. News and World Report had to hold its nose while covering the story.

But Legal Schnauzer readers should not be surprised by any of this. We broke stories that first showed Bentley and Strange are ethically challenged. We even broke the story that Cooper Shattuck, a Bentley sycophant and possible replacement for Strange as AG, has the moral underpinnings of a gila monster. (Our apologies to gila monster lovers around the globe.)

All three of these "gentlemen" have engaged in extramarital affairs while serving in prominent public positions. "Luv Guv" Bentley is known for groping the nether regions and massaging the boobs of his married adviser, Rebekah Caldwell Mason. Mason and her husband accompanied the governor to the Donald Trump inauguration on state aircraft, along with an unidentified "special guest." I'm a pretty square guy, but even I can't ignore the kinky fumes put off by that arrangement.

Strange had a well-publicized affair with Jessica Medeiros Garrison, his one-time campaign manager. We are hearing reports that Strange also sunk his claws into another young female staffer who, like Garrison, went through a curious divorce just as she was getting comfortable in LutherLand. (We intend to apply a full-court press to crack that story; when and if we do, you will be reading about it here.)

Our guess is that Garrison is desperate to land some kind of Senate job under Strange, even though her child-custody order requires her to stay within 60 miles of ex-husband Lee Garrison, who resides in Tuscaloosa. Maybe Lee Garrison, who recently announced he would not seek re-election to the Tuscaloosa City School Board, can get a job with Strange and they all can move to the northern Virginia suburbs as one big dysfunctional family. I write that last sentence only slightly in jest. I would not be at all surprised if it happens. After all, Luther Strange has a lot of reasons to make sure the Garrisons keep their power-hungry tastes sated -- and their mouths shut.

As for Shattuck, Bentley's former legal adviser and former general counsel at the University of Alabama, he had an affair with Lisa Waldrop, assistant director of media and communication at Shelton State Community College. Shattuck also was known for boosting the career of young staff lawyer Katie Osburne, elevating her over much more experienced UA attorneys for reasons that were hard to decipher.

How's this for irony? Bentley and Strange ran for public office as "Christian, family values" conservatives of exceptional moral fabric. Shattuck used to be an assistant pastor at First United Methodist Church in Tuscaloosa until he and Waldrop apparently were booted when their affair became widely known. All three have proven to be "men of the flesh" -- quite literally.

Luther Strange and his girlfriend
As for Bentley's appointment of Luther Strange to replace Jeff Sessions, here is how U.S. News reported the foul odor coming from the Deep South:
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has appointed his state’s attorney general, Luther Strange, to fill just-confirmed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat, apparently ignoring widespread concern about the appearance of a corrupt trade.

The Alabama attorney general’s office is conducting an investigation related to Bentley, against whom Strange requested impeachment efforts be stalled in November, citing “related work” by his office. Now, Bentley will be able to pick Strange’s replacement, too.

“I have learned you can’t be surprised in politics, and especially in Alabama politics,” says state Rep. Allen Farley, a fellow Republican who serves on the Alabama House Judiciary Committee, which Strange asked to delay impeachment work.

“If you think something can’t happen, you haven’t been here long,” Farley says. “There are a lot of meetings that aren’t public.”

U.S. News provided details about the deep doo-doo in which Bentley and his paramour, Ms. Mason, reside:

Bentley is caught in a complex web of scandals involving an alleged affair with a now-former senior aide whose husband is an appointee and the alleged retaliatory firing of a state official who cooperated in the corruption prosecution of a state legislature leader later sentenced to prison.

Farley says he’s willing to give Strange – who will be up for re-election in 2018 – the benefit of the doubt that “it’s just one of those things where it appears there could have been collusion."

He recalls the committee being “right in the middle” of its impeachment probe when “all the sudden we get a letter from the attorney general asking us to step down. And shortly after that, this occurs, where Luther is going to put his hat in the ring.”

Farley says he’s also trying to remain optimistic that impeachment work will move forward, though he’s concerned Bentley’s pick for the new state attorney general will slow-walk or nix that office’s probe.

None of this should be a surprise. Why should the public trust Bentley and Strange when we showed long ago that their spouses should not trust them?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

How sick is this? Don Siegelman returns home on the same day one of his nemeses, Jeff Sessions, is confirmed as nation's top law-enforcement officer

Don Siegelman arrives at the Birmingham airport.
(From wbrc.com)
How ironic is it that former Alabama governor Don Siegelman was released from federal prison and returned to Birmingham on the same day former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) was confirmed as our nation's attorney general and chief law-enforcement officer? The juxtaposition illustrates the rot in our "justice system" -- and with Sessions elevated to a position of huge influence, the situation is not likely to improve any time soon.

Siegelman's return to Birmingham had to be bittersweet. His release was a rare positive development in a case that is widely known as the most outrageous political prosecution in U.S. history -- and supporters greeted him downtown with waves and cheers. That he was in prison for a "crime" that does not exist is, well . . . "American tragedy" is not too strong a term. That we've seen no sign that Siegelman and his family ever will be compensated for the wrongs committed against them -- or that the criminals responsible ever will spend a minute behind bars -- makes the tragedy even more stark.

No wonder our country allowed Vladimir Putin to put a baboon like Donald Trump in our White House. (Sorry for the insult to baboons; one of them would make a much better president  than Trump.)

As if Siegelman's mind and body have not been assaulted enough already, his release on home detention came as Jeff Sessions took a position for which he is not remotely qualified. (A baboon certainly would be smart enough not to appoint him.) On top of that, Sessions played a major role in the prosecution that unlawfully sent Siegelman to prison.

It was Sessions, after all, who helped push President George W. Bush to nominate Mark Fuller to the federal bench. And it was Fuller who, despite his well-known animus toward Siegelman that required his recusal, presided over the case and repeatedly made pro-prosecution rulings that in many cases were wildly contrary to law.

The dozens of butchered rulings that led to the Siegelman conviction have been laid bare at news outlets, large and small -- none more so than here, where we undoubtedly have covered the case more extensively than anyone else. In fact, we posted a multi-part series titled "The Cheating of Don Siegelman," which might be the most fact-filled indictment of our court system ever written.

(Of course, the "honorable" Judge Fuller was forced off the bench following his arrest on charges that he beat his wife in an Atlanta hotel room in summer 2014. This came after allegations surfaced in the divorce from his first wife that he had abused her and their children, while regularly ingesting copious amounts of alcohol and prescription painkillers, and engaging in extramarital affairs -- and that's a story we broke at Legal Schnauzer. So much for Jeff Sessions' ability to make wise personnel decisions. He wouldn't know a competent, ethical person if they landed on his little gay crotch.)

With all of that in mind, there is no need to recount today the many ways Siegelman was railroaded and cheated.

All any semi-coherent citizen needs to know is this: The case against Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy (former CEO of HealthSouth) was brought almost one full year after the five-year statute of limitations (SOL) had expired. Prosecutors wrote the indictment in such vague fashion, the defendants didn't know what they supposedly had done wrong.

Defense lawyers sought a bill of particulars, which would have forced the prosecution to provide specifics on the charges. Fuller, who published reports have concluded was assigned to be "hanging judge" in the case, denied the motion. Even child rapist Jerry Sandusky was granted such a motion during his criminal case in Pennsylvania. Nothing goes to Fuller's crookedness like denial of a bill of particulars.

When it became clear during the trial that the alleged wrongdoing had occurred way outside the SOL, defense lawyers moved for the case to be dismissed on those grounds. Fuller denied that motion, too, meaning a prosecution that, by law, could not begin would go to a dazed and confused jury that somehow ignored the complete lack of evidence regarding a quid pro quo and voted to convict anyway.

How could all of this nutty stuff happen in a court system that supposedly guarantees due process and equal protection? The public needs to know, but the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has been stonewalling on turning over records that could reveal uncomfortable truths about the Siegelman case.

Efforts to seek documents via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) have been ongoing for almost 10 years. So far, hardly any relevant records have been produced. Joseph Siegelman, Don's son and an attorney at the Cochran Firm in Birmingham, is seeking information about the apparent failure of then U.S. Attorney Leura Canary to abide by her recusal.

If even a sliver of justice is to come for Don Siegelman, the best bet might be via his son's FOIA activities.

For now, Siegelman has said that he feels like a "refugee," and his adjustment to life outside of prison likely will take a while. (I know. I spent five months in jail for the "crime" of blogging, in a case driven by some of the same GOP thugs present in the Siegelman case. I also lost my job at UAB for reporting, on my own time and with my own resources, about the Siegelman case. Journalism is dangerous in Alabama, folks.)

The public, however, should not give up on the possibility that the criminals behind the Siegelman prosecution will someday be unmasked -- even if Jeff Sessions, for now, is in charge of the DOJ.

Is there still hope for the U.S. justice system? It looks bleak at the moment, but maybe Joseph Siegelman will prove to be the guy to change the complexion of things.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

GOP operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison claims under oath that Legal Schnauzer's reporting on her affair with Luther Strange cost her at least $10 million

Jessica Medeiros Garrison
Alabama Republican operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison claims my reporting about her extramarital affair with Attorney General Luther Strange cost her about $10 million, according to a transcript of testimony in her defamation case against Legal Schnauzer and me.

In fact, Garrison tosses around copious amounts of curious numbers, all suggesting she has a high opinion of her value as a political consultant/campaign manager. What has she actually accomplished? Well, she got a Republican appointed to statewide office in Alabama. But how hard is that? I probably could scoop up a dead armadillo off the highway and get him elected attorney general if he had an "R" by his name -- unless he had been caught fondling Rebekah Caldwell Mason's boobs.

Heck, Garrison doesn't even have a particularly impressive won-loss record. She helped Strange win in 2010, but she also was on board when he lost the lieutenant governor's race to Jim Folsom in 2006. So she's 1-1 in getting a Republican elected in Alabama? Whoa, let's print out some money for that girl -- she's special!

Keep in mind that this is the same woman who told fashion magazine Marie Claire that she offered to forgo a $3.5-million default judgment if I would pay $1 and remove the offending posts -- even though none of them have been proven false or defamatory, as a matter of law, because there was no trial in the case, much less a jury trial as required under decades of First Amendment law.

Let's take a closer look at some of the eye-raising numbers Garrison pulls seemingly out of thin air. (The transcript is embedded at the end of this post.)

Meet Jessica Garrison, the $10-million gal

Garrison suggests that she has been close to being hired by a high-profile business or organization. Does she name the outfit or provide any other details? Nope. But we have this, from page 68, when lawyer Bill Baxley asks her to quantify her damages:

There are more things I want to do in life and I feel like -- I mean, I have some pretty big goals for myself and I feel like -- like there's one opportunity that I would like to try to pursue now and I can't really seem to get their attention and I can't -- if you look me up, if I were -- this would be a high-profile thing. I wouldn't hire me because even if it's not true, I'm tainted. I've got this thing over my head that she could -- well, maybe there's a little truth to it, maybe. So I just can't help but think that this particular opportunity that I would like -- they were going to meet with me and they haven't. They haven't called and I just can't -- you know, if I were them, I would do all my due diligence and look me up and it's not pretty.

Garrison barely can speak a coherent sentence in this court snippet, but she's supposed to be worth millions? Garrison then proceeds, on pages 69-70, to explain how valuable she would be to this unknown outfit. Asking the questions this time is Judge Don Blankenship, otherwise known as "The Court":

THE COURT: Ms. Garrison, let me ask you a question and let's just go back for a second to what your counsel just asked you about, the amount of money you've had to expend coming to court, traveling and the like to prosecute this lawsuit. Also taking into account the mental anguish that you've gone through and what you think you'll go through, how much of a dollar value would you put on that?

THE WITNESS: I would put a lot.

THE COURT: What's a lot?

THE WITNESS: I would put $10 million.

THE COURT: What do you think you base that on?

THE WITNESS: I think that I could ultimately be in a position where I would be compensated a million dollars a year and I think I've got at least a good ten years of whatever -- that new opportunity I hope eventually I get to. I think I've got at least ten years of work under my belt still to go.

So, we have a mythical organization that is itching to pay Jessica Garrison $10 million over 10 years, but she gives us no details about it -- what does it do, where is it located, who are its leaders, how is she to handle the job, given the restrictions regarding location from her child-custody case?

That's a lot to swallow for now. But we will return shortly with another episode of Jessica Garrison's Wide World of Cash.

(To be continued)

My wife's arrest in Greene County, Missouri, coincides with our recent report about U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions' late-night visits to Bill Pryor's residence in the 1990s

Jeff Sessions
The arrest of my wife in Missouri coincides with a recent report here at Legal Schnauzer about U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) being caught by a law-enforcement surveillance team making frequent late-night visits to the residence in Montgomery of then Alabama attorney general (and current federal judge) Bill Pryor. The arrest also came close on the heels of our report that Sessions is a closeted homosexual, and the Obama administration was prepared to drop the "G bomb" on him if he attempted to block Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Is that a coincidence? I don't think so, and it's not the only case of "curious timing" connected to Carol's arrest.

The question becomes even more profound when you consider Sessions is Donald Trump's nominee to be U.S. attorney general, and the Senate today is scheduled to vote on the Sessions nomination. So, as Sessions is poised to become this nation's chief law-enforcement officer, we see signs that he (or someone associated with him) ordered a bogus arrest on the wife of a blogger who had written a post that is unflattering -- and alarmingly true.

Does Jeff Sessions act like an organized-crime thug against those who might dare to report on his sketchy past? Americans had better be asking themselves that question before it is too late. In fact, it might already be too late -- unless a law-enforcement agency is able and willing to prove that Sessions essentially ordered a law-enforcement hit, which would be a felony, on the wife of a journalist.

Here are the basics on a possible tie between Sessions (and perhaps other political forces in Alabama) and Carol's arrest:

* January 11, 2017 -- We publish a post that Sessions is a closeted homosexual, and it so widely known that the Obama administration was prepared to out him if he tried to block the SCOTUS nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. Once that threat became known to Sessions, Sotomayor was confirmed with relative ease.

* January 26 -- We publish a post about Sessions' late-night visits to see Bill Pryor, who appeared nude at the gay-porn Web site badpuppy.com in 1997. Pryor has gone on to become a notoriously homophobic and anti-LGBT judge on the U.S. Eleventh Circuit and was considered a favorite to receive Trump's nomination to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. That nod went to Neil Gorsuch, of Colorado, and there is evidence to suggest our reporting on Pryor's gay-porn past sent his chances into a death spiral.

* January 27 -- Around 6 p.m., we start receiving persistent knocks on our door. We aren't aware of anyone who is needing to see us, so we ignore the knocking. Finally, we realize Greene County deputies are on the premises, and they likely are the knockers. We can't figure out why they would be there until I check Missouri online court records and see Carol has been charged with "assault on a law enforcement officer" and "trespass" related to the unlawful eviction (on September 9, 2015) that left her with a shattered left arm, requiring trauma surgery to repair.

* January 30 -- Cops return and arrest Carol. She is released on $1,000 bond that evening and appeared in court to plead not guilty on Monday (February 6).

Bill Pryor, with and without robe
Did Jeff Sessions, or someone connected to him, order a bogus arrest against Carol? Were conservative forces in heavily Republican southwest Missouri more than willing to go along with it? Have Alabama GOP political operatives been in touch with individuals in Missouri (including an alleged "friend," even relatives) to enlist their assistance in harming us? The answer to all three questions, in my mind, is a resounding yes.

If that's the case, it would mean Sessions is a criminal, likely surrounded by criminals. And by the time you read this, Jeff Sessions might already be attorney general of the United States.

God help our country.

(To be continued)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Transcript from Jessica Medeiros Garrison defamation lawsuit shows she lied under oath about my reporting regarding Luther Strange and the parentage of her son

Jessica Garrison and Luther Strange
A transcript of a hearing in Jessica Medeiros Garrison's defamation lawsuit against me shows she lied under oath, falsely stating that I reported Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange was the father of her son.

Garrison has made similar comments in the press, for an article in the fashion magazine Marie Claire and related stories at al.com and Yellowhammer News. But this is the first time we've been able to show that she, an attorney, lied under oath in a court of law.

The transcript recently came into our possession due to proceedings in one of two federal lawsuits we have filed related to my unlawful incarceration ("The Jail Case") and the wrongful foreclosure on our home of 25 years in Birmingham ("The House Case"). A defendant in "The House Case" filed a transcript of testimony from Garrison and Strange in her defamation suit, which resulted in a $3.5-million default judgment in her favor -- even though I never received notice of her default application or hearing, meaning the judgment is void and can be attacked as such at any time.

In his testimony, Strange did not mention the parentage of Garrison's child. But Garrison mentioned it and claimed I had reported Strange was the biological father of her son. A review of all relevant posts here at Legal Schnauzer shows I never made any such claim. In fact, I interviewed Garrison's ex husband, Tuscaloosa City School Board president Lee Garrison, and quoted him saying the child is his. (The transcript, dated March 19, 2015, is embedded at the the end of this post.)

On pages 56-57 of the transcript is this exchange between Garrison and her attorney, Bill Baxley:

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.

There you have it: With Bill Baxley's help, Jessica Garrison  perjured herself regarding my reporting on her relationship with Luther Strange and the birth of her son. Why does that matter? An order from Judge Don Blankenship in the defamation case suggests almost all of Garrison's $3.5-million award was based on alleged posts about Luther Strange being the biological father of her son. Except there are no such posts at Legal Schnauzer.

The post Garrison had in mind probably was this one, dated May 29, 2013 and titled "Strange's 2006 Payments To Former Campaign Aide Coincided With Pregnancy And Birth Of Her Son." From the post:

Luther Strange paid almost $19,000 to a former campaign aide after he lost the 2006 lieutenant governor's race in Alabama. The payments appear to mirror those that Strange, as attorney general, now claims constitute a crime by former state senator Lowell Barron and his former campaign aide.

Strange's payments to Jessica Medeiros Garrison coincide with her pregnancy and the birth of her child in early 2007. . . .

The indictment against Barron indicates the attorney general's office built its case against Lowell Barron on three theories related to Alabama's campaign-finance and ethics law: (1) Barron made the payments to Rhonda Jill Johnson after a losing campaign in 2010; (2) Barron, therefore, could not claim the payments were reasonably related to performance of his official duties; (3) The payments were personal in nature.

Public records show the attorney general himself made payments to Jessica Medeiros Garrison after a losing campaign in 2006. That means the payments could not have been "reasonably related to performing the duties of the office held," and therefore must have been personal in nature.

Let's review: The post says Strange's payments to Garrison, after a losing campaign, coincided with her pregnancy and the birth of her child in early 2007. All of that is true, and Garrison does not deny it in her defamation-case testimony. I note that Strange's payments after a losing campaign suggest the payments were "personal in nature" -- and that is a legal phrase taken directly from the Lowell Barron indictment, prepared by Strange and his staff.

Nowhere does the post state, or even suggest, that Strange is the biological father of Garrison's child.

Here is how the post in question ends:

Were the 2006 payments to Jessica Medeiros Garrison and her company personal in nature? Well, she was pregnant at the time the payments were made -- and she gave birth to Michael Lee Garrison on March 27, 2007.

Again, the legal question is this: Were the Strange payments to Garrison personal in nature? That's the very issue Strange's office raised against Lowell Barron, and that's why my post is written the way it is.

This is, after all, a blog about legal issues -- and that's what this post is about. It says nothing about, directly or indirectly, the parentage of her son. But Jessica Garrison later would lie under oath and claim that it did.

The Strange-Garrison transcript includes a lot of interesting information, and we will address that in upcoming posts.

(To be continued)

Missouri judge Margaret Holden Palmietto gives the impression that she is as dubious of assault and trespass charges against my wife, Carol, as we are

Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto
My wife, Carol, appeared before a Missouri judge yesterday and -- get this -- the judge seemed dubious of the assaulting-a-law-enforcement-officer and trespassing charges against Carol.

At least that's my interpretation. Could I be wrong? Sure. But something the judge said -- and the way she said it -- surprised us, in a positive way. We're not used to getting positive vibes in a courtroom, so maybe I just don't know how to handle (or interpret) them.

Here is a report on Carol's brief appearance, which was in a "cattle call" format, with maybe 15 defendants there while we were present. By the way, it was in the smallest court room I've ever seen. Maybe it's considered a hearing room, and not a court room; not sure about that one, but some people have walk-in closets that are bigger than this room. Jurors in this room probably would have to sit on each other's laps.

The event for Carol was advertised at case.net (Case Number 1631--CRO7731, State v. Carol T. Shuler) as a "bond appearance hearing." We thought that odd because Carol already had made bond, and that was reflected in the docket. We discovered yesterday afternoon that the record had been updated to say yesterday's hearing included an arraignment.

Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto, an appointee of Democratic Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, read the charges to Carol, gave her information about the Greene County Public Defender's Office, and set another appearance for 9 a.m. on March 15.

Along the way, Palmietto said the following: "I assume you plead not guilty?" Carol answered yes, but the question caught both of us off guard. Maybe that's because we thought it was only a bond hearing, and it would not involve any questions of such substance.

Palmietto did not actually roll her eyes, but given the tone of her voice, one could imagine her doing that. It was if she was saying, "Dumb-ass deputies and cops bring these kinds of bogus claims against people they abuse all of the time, and the dumb-ass prosecuting attorney lets them slide through every time. Listen, honey, you and I both know these charges are bullshit. You don't look anything like the kind of person who would 'assault' a cop. I knew there was no way you were pleading guilty to this pile of feces."

Is that interpretation wishful thinking on my part? It could be. Did Palmietto use the "I assume" phrase because almost everyone who comes before her pleads not guilty, and her mind has become trained to expect that? That could be, too.

But is it possible we actually have a judge with more than a few brain cells -- one who doesn't automatically buy everything cops or prosecutors put in front of her? Maybe the judge read the probable-cause statement, looked at Carol, and noticed the obvious incongruity?

My amateur psychology on a judge can only go so far, so I will leave it at that for now. But we learned enough about the charges yesterday to leave with a revised version of what might have been going through Judge Palmietto's mind: These charges are worse than bullshit; they are a fraud on the court system and the public -- and they would have to improve drastically to reach the level of bullshit.

(To be continued)  

Monday, February 6, 2017

Jessica Garrison's $3.5-million default is based on sworn testimony from her and Luther Strange, but docket shows a damages hearing never took place

Jessica Medeiros Garrison and Luther Strange
(From marieclaire.com)
A $3.5-million award for Alabama GOP operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison against yours truly and the Legal Schnauzer blog, according to court documents, is based on sworn testimony from Garrison and Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange at a default-judgment damages hearing, for which I did not receive notice.

We recently received a copy of the docket in Garrison's defamation case as part of the proceedings in our ongoing federal lawsuit over the wrongful foreclosure on our home of 25 years in Birmingham -- we call that "The House Case," along with a second pending federal case we call "The Jail Case," related to my unlawful five-month incarceration in Shelby County and related issues.

Guess what the docket shows in the Garrison defamation case? It shows that the testimony from her and Strange never took place. Yep, the docket makes no mention of a damages hearing, upon which Jefferson County Circuit Judge Don Blankenship based his multimillion-dollar award, and it makes no mention of testimony from Garrison or Strange at all -- that I can find. In other words, according to the docket, Garrison's hefty award is based on . . . well, absolutely nothing.

To be clear, this doesn't even include the fact that Garrison's judgment is void because I did not receive three days' notice of her default application and hearing, as required by Alabama law. I know, for a fact, that I never received such notice, and the docket indicates Garrison never even sent it. As a nullity, Garrison's judgment violates principles of due process and can be attacked and declared void at any time. You can rest assured that it will be attacked as such quite soon. (The docket and transcript from the Strange/Garrison testimony is embedded at the end of this post.)

Yes, you can view the Strange/Garrison transcript at the end of this point, but we are left with this glaring question: Is the transcript real? Did such a hearing take place?

Strange and Garrison claim that my reporting on their extramarital affair is false and defamatory. But it never has been found false and defamatory by a jury, as required by decades of First Amendment law, because there was no trial (jury or otherwise) in the Garrison case.

I'm hardly alone in reporting, or speaking out publicly, about the Strange/Garrison affair. Former Alabama Senate President Lowell Barron spoke about it last year on a Web-radio broadcast and said the subject is so sensitive that it affects the way Strange can do his job. Is Jessica Garrison going to sue Lowell Barron? Doesn't look like it. Is that because she knows Barron's statements are true? A reasonable person certainly could answer yes.

As for the transcript of the damages hearing, it is dated March 19, 2015. When you check that date in the docket, you find . . . nothing. According to the docket, nothing took place in the action on that date. In fact, I can't find a reference to a damages hearing, or testimony from Strange and Garrison, anywhere.

Lowell Barron
I'm not a lawyer, of course, but I think it's pretty well understood among "The Great Unwashed" that court dockets are important documents. They are supposed to provide an accurate record of everything that takes place in a court case.

The records below seem to show two versions of what could have happened: (1) No damages hearing took place, and Strange and Garrison did not testify, meaning there are no grounds for the judgment against me; (2) Someone made a mistake, suggesting the Jefferson County Courthouse staff can't keep track of their own cases. I've had a $3.5-million judgment hanging over my head, issued by a court that apparently is infected with gross incompetence.

How can such a judgment stand? My answer is, "It can't, especially when it's void anyway."

That's one of numerous questions that the docket and Strange/Garrison transcript raise. We will be addressing others in upcoming posts.

(To be continued)

Chase Mortgage and Huntsville lawyers made no effort to discover flaws in Liberty Duke's judgment, which would have nixed lien she claimed on our property

Rob Riley
If you own a home with a mortgage, you are in a trustee relationship with the mortgage company. Under Alabama law, that means the mortgage company is charged with the "duty of fairness and good faith in its execution to the end that the mortgagor's property may be disposed of to his pecuniary advantage in the satisfaction of his debt." (See Springer v. Baldwin Cty. Fed. Sav. Bank, 562 So. 2d 138 [Ala. Sup. Ct., 1989].)

In brief, the mortgagee (the company) must deal with the mortgagor (you, the homeowner) with fairness and good faith. That is generic language, and we have not been able to find any case law that provides specifics. So, that raises this question, which we've been wrestling with since our home of 25 years in Birmingham went through a dubious foreclosure in summer 2014: Did our mortgage company (Chase Mortgage), as part of its duty to deal in fairness and good faith, have an obligation to make sure any judgment liens on our property were legitimate and asserted according to law?

The language of Springer suggests the answer is yes. If that is the case, Chase Mortgage failed miserably in its duty to us. That's because Alabama lobbyist Liberty Duke apparently filed a judgment lien on our property and wound up with $7,112 in surplus foreclosure funds that otherwise would have been ours. (The actual surplus was $9,615.82, but it appears bankers and lawyers sucked off more than $2,500 in "fees.")

Duke's lien grew from a "judgment" against me in the defamation case she and GOP thug Rob "Uday" Riley brought. But a cursory review of the record reveals all kinds of problems with Duke's "judgment."  We will focus, for now, on three major flaws. Did Chase Mortgage and its representative, Robert Wermuth from the Huntsville law firm of Stephens Millirons, make any effort to discover these flaws, which would have invalidated Duke's lien? Sure doesn't look like it.

Here are the three glaring flaws in question:

(1) Final judgment? What final judgment?

A judgment lien, such as Duke's, must be based on a final judgment. But Judge Claud Neilson never issued a final judgment in the Riley/Duke lawsuit. Here is how we explained it in an earlier post:

"Neilson didn't issue a final judgment, one that could be appealed at all. After all, there was no trial, no jury, no discovery -- nothing that generally is associated with a trial on the merits. After a hearing on November 14, 2013 -- and the document setting the event called it a "hearing," not a "trial" -- Neilson issued a piece of paper titled "Final Order." But here is what Alabama case law says about such matters: (See Civil Appeals 101, Christian and Small.) (Document setting the Nov. 14 "hearing" is embedded at the end of this post.)

"With limited exceptions, an appeal can be taken only from the entry of a final judgment. Ala. Code § 12-22-2. What constitutes a final judgment may seem simple, but in fact it can be difficult to determine. As you might expect, an order adjudicating fewer than all of the claims is not a final judgment. Lloyd v. Cook, --- So. 3d ----, 2010 WL 3075280 (Ala. Civ. App. Aug. 6, 2010). The title of the order is not important. If a trial court enters an order labeled as a final judgment, but the order does not fully dispose of all claims or fully declare the rights of the parties, the judgment is not a final judgment from which an appeal may be taken. Alfa Mutual Ins. Co. v. Bone, 13 So. 3d 369 (Ala. 2009); Hall v. Reynolds, --- So. 3d ----, 2009 WL 1716912 (Ala. June 19, 2009). By the same token, a judgment that conclusively determines the issues before the trial court, even if not labeled “Final Judgment,” will support an appeal."

Did Neilson "fully dispose of all claims or fully declare the rights of the parties"? Not even close, as we explained in our earlier post:

In the Riley matter, Neilson gave my wife, Carol, and me no opportunity to bring claims, much less have them heard and fully disposed. And he certainly did not declare the rights of the parties because we were treated as if we had no rights. (See Neilson's "final order" at the end of this post.) I was in the midst of a five-month stay at the "Shelby County Sheraton" (the jail), thanks to Riley and Duke's unlawful efforts to seek a preliminary injunction that has been prohibited by more than 200 years of First Amendment law, and the time for appeal lapsed during my incarceration. I had no access to a piece of paper or a functioning writing implement, but even if I'd had the basics for preparing an appeal, there was nothing to appeal -- because Neilson issued no final judgment.

Without a final judgment, there could be no judgment lien on our property. Did Chase Mortgage and its lawyers have a duty to check for that? If they were to deal with us in "fairness and good faith," the answer seems to be yes.

(2)  As a matter of law, there was no finding of defamation

Under decades of First Amendment law, a finding on alleged defamation only can be made via a trial, usually a jury trial. A case styled Balboa Island Village Inn v. Lemen, (Cal., 2007) spells it out clearly:

Defendant in the present case objects to the imposition of an injunction prohibiting her from repeating statements the trial court determined were slanderous, asserting the injunction constitutes an impermissible prior restraint.   We disagree. As explained below, an injunction issued following a trial that determined that the defendant defamed the plaintiff that does no more than prohibit the defendant from repeating the defamation, is not a prior restraint and does not offend the First Amendment.

In the Riley/Duke case, Judge Neilson acted as a one-man censor, which is prohibited by a case styled Bernard v. Gulf Oil, 619 F.2d 459, 460 (5th Cir. 1980). A finding of defamation can be made only at trial, by a jury (and not a one-man censor), and that never happened in the Riley/Duke case. As a matter of law, my posts were not false nor defamatory, meaning Duke had no legal grounds for her judgment lien. Chase Mortgage and its attorneys, who had a trustee relationship with us, apparently never bothered to see if there was any legal basis for Duke's lien.

(3) There was no monetary judgment against me, only an unlawful award of attorney fees

Contrary to what Riley and Duke would like you to believe, Neilson issued no monetary judgment against me. Instead he granted $33,875 in attorney fees ($24,425 for Riley, $9,450 for Duke).
However, Alabama law prohibits an award of attorney fees against pro se parties, such as Carol and me. (The "final order," the setting for a "hearing," and Duke's certificate of judgment are embedded at the end of this post.) From an earlier post on the subject:

Alabama law prohibits the awarding of attorney fees against pro se litigants. Here is how Code of Alabama 12-19-272 (Alabama Litigation Accountability Act) addresses the subject:

"No party, except an attorney licensed to practice law in this state, who is appearing without an attorney shall be assessed attorneys' fees unless the court finds that the party clearly knew or reasonably should have known that his action, claim or defense or any part thereof was without substantial justification."

Did the court find that I had brought a claim or defense without substantial justification? Nope. In fact, I brought no claim at all -- Riley and Duke sued me (and Carol), not the other way around. And we were given no opportunity to even bring a defense.

We are left with a lien that had no basis in law. There was no final judgment upon which a judgment lien could be based, no finding at trial of defamation, and no monetary damages (only unlawful award of attorney fees) that would support a lien.

Under the law, I've never owed Liberty Duke a penny, but Chase Mortgage and its representatives allowed her to abscond with more than $7,000 of our surplus mortgage funds.