Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Is Alabama's Republican AG Steve Marshall targeting Tuscumbia lawyer Billy Underwood because of his history of supporting Democratic candidates?

Billy Underwood
An Alabama lawyer who was indicted yesterday on a felony charge of bribing a juror has been a financial supporter of Democratic candidates for more than 20 years. That William J. "Billy" Underwood's indictment came from the office of Republican Attorney General Steve Marshall raises questions about a possible political prosecution -- especially as the 2018 elections heat up.

An online search of political donations shows that Underwood's history of supporting Democratic candidates dates to at least 1996, when he gave $500 to the Roger Bedford for U.S. Senate campaign. Bedford lost that race to Jeff Sessions, who now is U.S. attorney general under Donald Trump.

Underwood's office is in Tuscumbia, and his firm's Web site says he has practiced for more than 30 years, focusing on the areas of criminal defense, personal injury, and family law.

We were dumbfounded here at Legal Schnauzer when news broke yesterday of Underwood's indictment -- not because an Alabama lawyer might have bribed a juror, but because he might have been caught and stands to be prosecuted for it. In Shelby County, where Mrs. Schnauzer and I lived for 25 years, bribing a juror is considered "good lawyering." In fact, we're not sure it's even frowned upon, unless you bribe an entire jury pool.

In fact, we've seen up-close evidence of likely jury tampering. When Mike McGarity (our criminally inclined neighbor) sued me for malicious prosecution and conversion, a jury found that he had trespassed, but it awarded him $1,500 -- finding that I had "converted" objects that came on our property via trespass. And McGarity never had claimed any of the objects as his own or asked for their return.

To find me liable for "converting" objects that unlawfully were on my property . . . well, it almost certainly was contrary to law -- and it suggests that jury either was tainted or was dumb as a sack of Idaho taters. In essence, I was found liable for cleaning up trash out of my own yard -- and that doesn't pass any kind of smell test one might apply.

We've reported on a 1980s case where Shelby County lawyer Bill Swatek was found not guilty of perjury, even though the case file includes a document that proves Swatek lied to a bar committee when he testified that he did not know about a client's plan to tape record opposing counsel in a meeting. It's hard to imagine how a jury could have reached such a conclusion unless someone was bought off or otherwise tainted.

As for Underwood, it's possible he's a scumbag who has been buying off jurors for years. But here is a peculiar paragraph from al.com's report on the bribery charge:

Prosecutors haven't publicly identified the case in which Underwood is accused of bribing a juror. In a news release, Underwood said the charge involves "a prospective juror in a case where that individual never went to the courthouse and a jury was never empaneled."

How can you bribe a juror who never actually became a juror -- on a jury that never existed? If that case sounds a bit thin to you, maybe it is.

It becomes even more dubious when you consider Underwood's history of supporting Democratic causes. Here are some of Underwood's political donations, aside from Bedford for U.S. Senate, that our online search turned up:

* $1,500, to State Democratic Executive Committee of Alabama, 2007

* $1,500 to Deborah Bell Paseur for Alabama Supreme Court, 2008

* $300 to Gregory K. Burdine, Democrat, for State Rep., House District 1, 2013

* $500 to Roger Bedford, Democrat, for State Sen., District 6, 2013

Was Underwood targeted because he was seen as someone who might help bankroll a 2018 Democratic candidate, perhaps a potential opponent for Marshall or another prominent Republican? The answer to that question is not clear for now. But as usual, the whiff of something foul is in the air around Alabama politics.


Anonymous said...

This story shocked me, too. Don't think I've ever heard of a lawyer being charged with bribing a juror.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the lawyer really did bribe a juror?

legalschnauzer said...

Maybe he did, as I say in the post. My question: Of all the underhanded lawyers (and judges) in Alabama, why did this guy (a Democratic donor) get targeted by an appointed Republican AG who is running for election in 2018, in what shapes up to be a tough race.

Anonymous said...

Marshall's the guy who let Luv Guv and Home Wrecky Becky off with barely a slap on the wrist. But he wants to lock this guy up for years, I guess?

legalschnauzer said...

Yep, sounds like Marshall is cut from the same "let's play politics with the AG's office" cloth as Luther Strange.

Anonymous said...

If this is related to the Donald Glenn Tipper case , then it contains Big Lutha's fingerprints.

Anonymous said...

I apologize for this comment being off-topic for the current posting, but I wanted to avoid getting buried down the pages.

I was reading last night about a guy with the nickname "weev." He is a co-publisher of the vile neo-nazi website Daily Stormer, and one of the most detestable people on the planet.

What was curious is that he has been outing Ashley Madison, Adult Friendfinder and other such customers for the past couple of years. So my question is, how do you reconcile your pursuit of the same practice with that of a genuinely evil person?

legalschnauzer said...

@8:54 --

I've never heard of "weev" and have no idea who he is, or why he is interested in Ashley Madison info. I don't have to reconcile my work with "weev," you, or anybody else.

Does Jack Nicklaus have to reconcile the fact he plays golf with the fact Donald Trump -- a detestable, awful person -- also plays golf? I don't think so, and it shows your premise is ridiculous.

legalschnauzer said...

@8:29 --

I'm not familiar with the Donald Glenn Tipper case. So far, I don't think anyone has reported on what case it involved. Can you share info about the Tipper case, maybe a link or two? You might be onto something. How is Strange connected to Tipper case?

Anonymous said...

@8:54 --

Where is Weev outing Ashley Madison and Adult FriendFinder customers, and how is he doing it? Is he doing it online, at a specific Web site? Have a link?

legalschnauzer said...

Here is info about the Donald Glenn Tipper case, where Underwood was the defense attorney:


An attorney in Florence has been charged with first-degree rape and sodomy. Donald Glenn Tipper, 65, surrendered Tuesday at the Lauderdale County Detention Center and was released on $100,000 bond.

The charge was issued through Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange’s Office. The office’s Criminal Trials Division presented evidence to a Lauderdale County grand jury, resulting in Tipper’s indictment on February 1.

The charges stem from an alleged incident that happened in August 2011 with a client Tipper was appointed to represent.

The Attorney General’s office did not release further information. WHNT News 19 spoke with Tipper’s attorney, Billy Underwood, who said his client plans to plead not guilty. Underwood also said Tipper’s future is ruined no matter the outcome.

“As you and I both know anybody that’s charged with rape that’s a doctor or lawyer, their life ends the day that they’re charged, even if we have a jury trial and he’s acquitted, said Underwood. “Fifty percent of the people will always think he raped that girl, 50 percent will always say he didn’t. There’s no way for him to further go on with his life.”

legalschnauzer said...

Looks like the Tipper case ended with a guilty plea in Sept. 2016:


A former Florence attorney pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct prior to the start of his jury trial for rape and sodomy involving a client.

Don Tipper, who had to surrender his law license after he was indicted in January, pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge this morning in front of Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis O’Dell, who was assigned to hear the case.

The case was being prosecuted by the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.

Tipper was accused of raping and sodomizing a 28-year-old Florence woman who was his client.

Today's agreement came after O’Dell denied a motion by the prosecution to allow prior bad acts into testimony. The prosecutors said they wanted to call prior clients of Tipper’s who claimed they had had a sexual encounter with him.

O’Dell approved a motion to allow Tipper’s attorney, Billy Underwood, to introduce evidence of inconsistencies in statements by the client who brought the allegations against Tipper.

Anonymous said...

Aboard the Eliza Battle Bob Yancey had lowered a skiff into the water and Dr Foreman was dispatched to the Victoria which was flying the Whiskey signal flag seeking medical assistance. Aboard the Victoria the crew had the General restrained as he shouted,"No! Teddy" and became more incoherent. Meanwhile back on the Eliza Battle the crew was waiting for the Captain to return from Sickbay. Upon the Captain's return, Mary Mac inquired for the reason Underwood was indicted. The Captain replied that the Obama DOJ/ Big Luther investigation Never intended for Mike to be indicted and convicted. Mike was the catalyst to impanel the on-going Special Grand Jury in Lee County to force the Oath of Silence on the Bingo Trial Participants. The underwood indictment and the Henderson conviction are the Victoria's cases to prove Big Lutha was corrupt and have Mike's conviction overturned. Eliza Yancey asked why Hart presented enough evidence to indict and convict Mike. The Captain responded that Politics was the reason and the movie Hang 'Em High reveals the source. Mary Mac asked him to please explain. The Captain responded that Cooper did not want to hang the young boys, but when he looks to the man standing in the window of his castle, the man gives the nod. Mary Mac and Ms Chapelle, in unison, ask the Captain to please explain. The Captain responded that Mike made the same mistake Siegelman made in 2000. Mike attempted to pass legislation that would Reform the Retirement System of Alabama.

Anonymous said...

Aboard the Eliza Battle Bob Yancey was transporting the General to sickbay. Dr Foreman had joined the crew for a round table discussion. Mary Mac inquired about the General's condition. Dr Foreman replied that the General was under observation and the prognosis could be either psychological trauma or something triggered the recollection of trauma suffered in his past. Ms Chapelle asked the Captain to elaborate on his statement that Mike and Siegelman made the same mistake. Captain Marshall replied that Mike's mistake was to attempt to pass Bills; HB 524 and HB 525 in 2011 which would have stripped the CEO of the RSA of control by allowing the Gov. and the legislature to appoint 9 of the 13 board members. Sheldon asked the Captain for his opinion of who was behind the prosecution of Siegelman. The Captain replied that when Mike has cleared his name, more documents will become publicly available. The Captain continued that Mike's prosecution was a continuation of the Bingo Trials. Jill Simpson wrote that the Riley Machine and Doug Jones were feeding information to the Obama DOJ. But Simpson's sources are mistaken because we know that the FBI at nail hole 2 was communicating directly to the DOJ in Washington. Ms Chapelle interrupted the Captain to ask a question. "Captain, Are you saying that if we disregard all of Simpson's information about the people behind the prosecution of Siegelman, the remaining data would point to someone else?" The Captain replied that when the documents that the Judge in Siegelman's lawsuit is reviewing are made public, They will show that Canary had more than 2 girls.

Anonymous said...

In your opinion is it ok to bribe a juror? From the tenor of the article it seems that you have no problem with jury tampering.

legalschnauzer said...

@8:24 --

Of course, it's not OK to bribe a juror, and I don't know how you got the idea that I thought it was OK. History tells me there is a good chance Mr. Underwood did not bribe a juror and was targeted for political reasons. The hideously corrupt Alabama AG's office brought the charges, so that is a red flag, right there. You seem to be assuming Underwood bribed a juror, but I don't make that assumption.

Anonymous said...

@8:22 - Marshall had nothing to do with Bentley’s deal. He recused from the investigation almost immediately after being appointed. That deal was cut and approved by Ellen Brooks who was appointed special prosecutor. And, Rebecca Mason is still under investigation. She wasn’t charged with anything and has plead guilty to nothing

Mr Triton said...

Looked up weev, just another Anarchist that has latched onto the white nationalist thing going around. Where can I look up some of those email addresses on A.M.?

legalschnauzer said...

Mr. Triton --

A Google search probably would be your best bet for directions on finding that AM info.