Thursday, February 22, 2018

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is indicted on charges related to photograph taken during his extramarital affair -- and he could face up to seven years in prison


Eric Greitens mugshot


The sitting governor of Missouri -- a "family values" Republican, with presidential ambitions, and a spectacular biography that includes a stint as a Navy SEAL -- has been indicted on charges related to an admitted extramarital affair that became public last month.

Gov. Eric Greitens was booked earlier today on a felony invasion of privacy charge for allegedly taking and transmitting a non-consensual photo of his partly-nude lover shortly before his campaign for governor started, according to a report at stltoday.com:

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner's office announced the indictment Thursday afternoon. A Post-Dispatch reporter saw Greitens being led down a hallway by several St. Louis city deputies on the first floor of the Carnahan Courthouse in downtown St. Louis at about 3:45 p.m. Officials later confirmed Greitens had been taken into custody and then booked at the St. Louis Justice Center.

Greitens, a Republican, declared his innocence in a written statement, and alleged the indictment is a "misguided political decision" by a "reckless liberal prosecutor." Gardner is a Democrat.

Greitens' legal team immediately filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, on grounds that any activity Greitens engaged in was "consensual."

Judge Rex M. Burlison allowed Greitens' release on a personal recognizance bond that permits him to travel freely throughout the United States. Greitens was scheduled to travel to Washington this weekend for an annual meeting of the nation’s governors.

Online court records indicate Greitens is due back in court on March 16.

Members of the Missouri House, which is led by Republicans, released a statement that they will conduct a joint investigation of the allegations against Greitens. The statement noted that any impeachment proceedings would begin in the House.

Circuit Attorney Gardner explained the legal grounds for the indictment. From stltoday.com:

Gardner, in her statement announcing the indictment, said the grand jury found probable cause to believe Greitens violated a Missouri statute that makes it a felony if a person transmits the image contained in the photograph or film in a manner that allows access to that image via a computer.

"As I have stated before, it is essential for residents of the city of St. Louis and our state to have confidence in their leaders," Gardner said in the statement.

Earlier reports indicated Greitens took the photo and then erased the image. But today's indictment suggests his actions went much further than that. It also suggests Greitens lied to the public:

Gardner's written statement Thursday indicates there is now an allegation that he did in fact "transmit" the image at some point.

"This statute has a provision for both a felony and misdemeanor," Gardner said in her statement. "The law makes it a felony if a person transmits the image contained in the photograph or film in a manner that allows access to that image via a computer."

Under Missouri law, the crime of “invasion of privacy” includes creating “an image of another person” by any means, “without the person’s consent, while the person is in a state of full or partial nudity and is in a place where one would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

That offense alone — taking a compromising photo without a person’s consent, even without disseminating it or threatening to — is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail.

Invasion of privacy becomes a felony offense in Missouri if the person taking the nonconsensual picture subsequently "distributes the image to another or transmits the image in a manner that allows access to that image via computer." In that case, the crime is a Class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.

Vox News reports that the offense could be a Class D felony, which carries a term of up to seven years in prison.

The Kansas City Star has called for Greitens to step aside, at least temporarily:

We are not yet prepared to call for the governor to resign. But he should seriously consider declaring to the legislature — as allowed by the state constitution — that he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

Lt. Gov. Mike Parson would then serve until the case is resolved.

We take no joy in writing this recommendation. But Missourians deserve a full-time governor devoted to their welfare, not one focused on a felony accusation in court.

Greitens can blame no one but himself for this problem. He must make the problem his own and figure out a way to protect Missourians from the impact of his unacceptable behavior.

Birmingham civil-rights lawyer Chevene Hill wants info about his professional background removed from post re: status as a customer at Ashley Madison


Chevene Hill
When we left Birmingham civil-rights attorney Chevene Hill, he was denying having paid for an account at Ashley Madison, threatening me with a cease-and-desist order, and asking me to call him.

I did call him, and Hill said little about his name appearing on the list of paying Ashley Madison customers for Alabama. He did try to rework the draft of an article I sent him, namely by asking me to remove his picture, remove any references that he went to Miles College School of Law, and remove any references that he used to work at NBC 13.

All of that information is on the Web and is easily available to anyone who wants to look for it. I told Hill that his background information was relevant to the story, and I likely was not going to remove it. Hill was not too pleased with that response, and a circuitous conversation ensued, including some language you don't generally hear in church.

Ultimately, Hill promised to send me a comment for my post via email, but I never received one.  Our back-and-forth was one of the more interesting experiences I've had in reporting on 45 to 50 posts about Ashley Madison customers. Here are the highlights:


Chevene Hill (CH): "I know I can't stop you from running it, but there are some things I would like you to take out of it. Any reference to Miles College and any reference to NBC 13, that needs to come out of it.

Roger Shuler (RS): "I've got your request, but journalistically, I can't think of any reason to take those out."

CH: "Journalistically, they have no relevance to anything you're trying to talk about. If you're going to play the journalism card, let's be responsible. Don't start this shady bullshit; you just want to run it for the hell of it. . . . My resume has nothing to do with whatever it is you're trying to report on.

RS: That's your take on things. I don't agree with it.

CH: You tell me how . . .

RS: I'm asking you for a comment. In any news story . . .

CH: No, I'm not going to let you dance around it. I asked you a direct question. How does my background have anything to do with your story?

RS: It gives people an idea of who you are. If I write an article about Donald Trump, his background is important.

CH: I'm not Donald Trump, I'm not the president. My work history and law school has nothing to do with it. What kind of comment do you want? I'll work with you if you work with me.

RS: It can be whatever comment you want to make.

CH: This bullshit isn't journalism. You didn't call me before you ran this.

RS: I haven't run it. I'm calling you pre-publication.

CH: I will work with you and give you some type of statement. It has to be edited. I don't want my picture in it, and I don't want this stuff about law school and NBC 13 in there.

RS: I understand your request, but I don't agree with it. The information is on the Internet and on your LinkedIn page, so it's public information.

CH: If I have to file some kind of invasion of privacy . . . I don't want to spend the money on it. But if I got to, I got to.

RS: I can't give you any advice there.

CH: If you're going to run it, take the NBC 13 out. I wasn't a lawyer back then.

RS: I hear you, but I can't promise that. I think it's relevant to the story.

CH: As I said before, I don't recall being on this goddamned site, so what am I supposed to comment on.

RS: I don't know. You don't have to comment at all.

CH: You're the journalist, quote unquote, ask the question. What am I commenting on, that this is bullshit?

RS: If that's what you want to say . . . . I can't put words in your mouth.

CH: You're really terrible. This is bullshit, first of all. I'm trying to work with you, man. Ask me a question, maybe I can answer it. You're just trying to paint a picture of these lawyers being out there on Ashley Madison. I'm asking you to ask me a legitimate question. You're trying to slander me, for whatever reason, to get hits on your fucking blog. Basically, that's what you're trying to do.

RS: That's your take, it's not accurate. The question is, "Were you on Ashley Mad . . .

CH: Why am I involved in it?

RS: Your name shows up on the list of Ashley Madison . . . that's just fact. If you think somebody put you on there by mistake, maybe you need look into that.

CH: What is your story about?

RS: Did you read the draft I sent you?

CH: I see all my information on here, and what the hell does that have to do with anything. What's the point?

RS: If you feel there's no point, feel free to make that comment.

CH: I'll give you a comment.

RS: You can see what the story says.

CH: I'm going to say this as a professional courtesy: You suck as a journalist, Roger. I'll give you a comment.

RS: I can't put words in your mouth.

CH: Where do I send my comment.

RS: Back to this email.

CH: I'll send it, I sure will. 
RS: Good, thanks.

Did Hill send a written comment via email, as he promised? If he did, I didn't receive it -- and he had my email address. I have to give him credit for an interesting dialogue, although I still have no idea why he's so sensitive about Miles Law School and NBC 13? Furthermore, I can't figure what made him think it's a good idea to try to tell a journalist how to write a story.

For those who might engage in public-relations careers, here are three big no-nos: (1) Never try to tell a journalist how to write a story; (2) Never insult a journalist; (3) Journalists tend to be foul-mouthed creatures, but it's best not to use foul language with them; (4) Don't threaten journalists with cease-and-desist orders and invasion of privacy lawsuits; most journalists have taken courses in communications law, and such threats are not likely to impress them -- or scare them.

In short, Mr. Hill could use some help with his PR game. I have no idea if he is a good, bad, or indifferent lawyer -- but as a professional courtesy, I can say he kind of sucks as his own spokesperson.

Our experience, plus recent excessive-force cases around the country, suggest Troy, AL, cops probably falsified reports in KeAndre Wilkerson beating


KeAndre Wilkerson

Much remains unknown about the late December police beating of Troy, Alabama, teen KeAndre Wilkerson. But our experience, plus findings in several 2017 civil-rights criminal cases that grew out of similar events, suggest you can almost count on one thing: Cops engaged in dishonest behavior while trying to cover up their dirty deeds.

We recently reported on five excessive-force cases that resulted in convictions or guilty pleas for law-enforcement officers (LEOs) across the country -- and three of them involved falsifying of police records. Our experience here in Missouri -- where cops brutalized my wife Carol so severely during an unlawful eviction in September 2015 that they broke her left arm into more than three pieces -- follows that path.

Investigative reports, obtained for Carol's defense in the bogus "assault of an LEO" charges against her, are filled with lies or intentional efforts to withhold evidence -- the kind that should send several cops to state or federal prison. But we will narrow it to just two examples that show how desperate cops can get when they know they are in big trouble for excessive force:


(1) The 911 call I never made

Deputies from the Greene County Sheriff's Office (GCSO) brought roughly six to eight officers and multiple assault rifles and other weaponry to our eviction. Their explanation was that I had placed a 911 call, threatening to take physical action against anyone who tried to evict us.

That story apparently originated with Deputy Scott Harrison, via a communication with my lawyer-brother David Shuler. This is from a September 2016 post on the subject:

But let's examine the more important issue: Numerous readers and friends have asked me, "Why did the Missouri cops enter your apartment like a SWAT team, and with an attitude that led to Carol's arm being broken?" David's e-mail, I think, helps explain that. Here it is:

Roger: Per your request and your threat to sue me, I am doing my best to stay out of your business. As a good faith effort to stay out of your business, I would appreciate it if you would not respond to this e-mail. A deputy called me today and asked me to have you contact him. He said he posted the notice to vacate on the Cowherd property. He also said he was concerned because his dispatch contacted him and said you had called 911 and threatened to shoot anyone coming on the premises to get you out. I certainly hope that you did not really do that, but he asked me to make you aware that they take such threats seriously and that you are setting up a potentially dangerous situation. He stressed to me that he would like to help you find housing and that he did not want you or anyone else to get hurt. His name is deputy Harrison and his phone number is 501-6092. He is very concerned and stressed to me that he did not wish for you or anyone else to get hurt.

So that established the myth that I had made a threatening call to 911. Except that the cops' own investigative reports show I never made any such call. The call came from an administrator at Burrell Behavioral Health, and his information came from . . . both of my brothers, Paul and David Shuler, From a post on the subject:

Do the documents provide any evidence that I actually communicated an unlawful threat to anyone? Nope. But officers used information based on fourth- or fifth-hand hearsay to justify barging into our home and pointing assault rifles and pistols at us. . . . 

In other words, an individual from Burrell Behavioral Health and my brothers (Paul and David) damned near got us killed.

Records show that the 911 call came at about 10:22 a.m. on Aug. 12, 2015, from a Burrell Health case manager named Joshua Davis. Here is the key note regarding the call:

CLR (caller) is a Burrell case manager. SUS (suspect) threatened to shoot anyone who came to evict them. There is an eviction notice on the door.

SUS: DOB 1956. MW, 55-60, gray hair, he owns a gun, prescription medication for PTSD and depression. Last spoke to Roger on 8/4/15. Roger's relatives called Josh with Burrell to report threats. Burrell made a Dept. of Health and Senior Services on (sic) 8/7/15

Roger's phone number is 205-381-5673.

So, did I place a threatening call to 911, as a Missouri cop claimed? Nope. The call came from a Burrell Health case manager and was based on fourth- or fifth-hand hearsay that had nothing to do with me. How riddled with inaccuracy is this report? It said I owned a gun. Is that true? Nope.

Don't be surprised if a similarly outrageous lie surfaces in the KeAndre Wilkerson story.


(2) A female cop claims Carol "barreled, head first" into her

Here is what Officer Debi Wade claims happened in the moment before her colleagues body slammed Carol to the ground and yanked viciously on her limbs in a motion that broke her left arm:

Just as she appeared to be getting into the passenger side door to the car, [Carol] started screaming that she needed her cat's litter box. I was trying to tell her that I would go back into the residence for it, when she suddenly took off on a dead run toward the front door of the residence. Knowing that Deputy Harrison would be exiting that door at any moment, I feared that she would catch him off guard, so I jogged up behind Carol and attempted to tell her I would get the litter box for her. Just as I caught up to her, she suddenly pivoted and barreled into me head first. I was caught off guard, and as my left arm automatically came up to block my face in a reactive manner, I automatically turned my body to my right in an attempt to blade my gun side away from her while I regained my footing. At this time both Lt. [Christian] Conrad and Deputy Harrison came in from either side to secure Carol's arms and place her in handcuffs.

By "secur[ing] Carol's arms," Wade means "breaking Carol's arm" -- and we think it's likely that an officer other than Conrad and Harrison, an officer who remains identified only as "Mr. Blue Shirt" to us, was involved.

Did such a "barreling head first" incident actually happen? Of course not, as anyone who has ever known Carol could attest. Here's how I explained it in an earlier post:

A Missouri deputy claims in a Probable Cause (PC) Statement that my wife, Carol, "barreled into [her] head first" in the moments before another officer broke Carol's arm during an unlawful eviction in September 2015. The claim, from deputy Debi Wade, is preposterous -- and it apparently was designed to buttress a bogus "assault on a law enforcement officer" charge against Carol, which led to her arrest in January.

I use the term "preposterous" to describe Wade's claim for two reasons: (1) She places the "barreling" event near the front door of our duplex apartment, and I saw everything that happened in that area, from the front seat of our car, parked about 15 feet away in the driveway. Carol never initiated contact with Wade, and I never saw Wade make contact with Carol, unless it was to help her off the ground after another officer had body slammed Carol and broken her left arm by yanking on both arms in an upward and back motion; (2) Greene County Prosecuting Attorney (PA) Dan Patterson apparently does not believe Wade's account because, in his Misdemeanor Information (MI) filed with the court, he charged Carol with only one count of assault on an officer -- and that allegedly was against a male officer named Jeremy Lynn, and it was inside our apartment, just as officers had thrust open the door.

Carol is not charged with assaulting Wade, so one has to wonder why Wade included false information that even the PA does not believe -- or at least, he does not believe it amounted to a criminal offense. It also raises questions about Wade's credibility, especially when you consider all the other hokum in her PC Statement.

Yes, Wade's story was so wild that even a prosecutor apparently did not believe it, so Carol is not charged with the "barreling" business. (Probable Cause Statement and Misdemeanor Information are embedded at the end of this post.) I know it didn't happen because I saw the whole thing from about 15 feet away. And with multiple cop cars on the scene, it's likely at least one dash cam caught the incident on video, which will prove Debi Wade is a liar of the most foul variety. And she could face criminal charges for that.

When the lies start flying in the KeAndre Wilkerson case, don't be surprised if they get so wild that you are forced to suspend belief.









Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Nicholas Jain stays silent about dropped charge and breath score in his DUI case, plus on questions about drugs, his pilot's license, and political connections


Nicholas Jain
Missouri prosecutor Nicholas Jain had shown a tendency to appear transparent about the drunk-driving conviction in his background, while carefully avoiding certain questions related to it. That trend continued as we posed a few follow-up questions.

Public records at case.net (11BA-CR00648 - ST V NICHOLAS DAVE JAIN) leave quite a few questions unanswered. So we sought answers to those questions via an email to Jain. (Links to previous posts in our serious are here, here, here, and here.)

Mr. Jain:

Court records indicate that you were required to pay into a victim's fund. Was a person injured, or his property damaged, as part of your DUI? Records also suggest a charge was dropped, with you pleading guilty to DUI. What was the dropped charge? If you took a breathalyzer test, what was the score on that?

Thank you,

Roger Shuler

Here is Jain's response:

No one was injured and there was no property damage. Most criminal cases require a civil judgment to be paid to the Crime Victim's Compensation Fund. In this case it was $10.

You will notice that Jain's response did not address all the questions posed. So we responded with this:

What was the dropped charge, and what was your breath score?

How did Jain respond? With silence.

We still had a few questions, so we sent one more email:

Mr. Jain:

I have a few follow-up questions:

(1) Public records show you were ordered "not to enter a private motor vehicle after consuming intoxicants and to submit to a chemical test at the request of any law enforcement officer." You were to "reimburse any law-enforcement agency for laboratory charges related to drug testing." Were drugs involved in your DUI?

(2) You appear to be using an MU student e-mail address? Why?

(3) You appear to have a pilot's license. Was your drunk-driving record disclosed to authorities who oversee such licenses? Is it routine for a convicted drunk driver to be given the license to fly an airplane? Here is public information about your pilot license:

NICHOLAS DAVE JAIN

Medical Class 3 (Expires: Nov 2018)

Address: 1033 E KINGSBURY ST, Springfield city, MO 65807

Pilot License: Private - Airplane Single Engine Land

Since you've proven you have problems with the responsibility of driving a motor vehicle, how is the public suppose to feel about the fact you've been given authority to fly airplanes?

(4) You seem to be granted courtesies that others in your position would not receive? Do you have special political connections, maybe because your father is a doctor? Do you have supporters among politicians from your home area around Kennett? Has your father made donations to any politicians in the Kennett area? If so, who are they and would you please identify them? Who were your references on applications you've filed for various educational and professional pursuits?

Nicholas Jain did not answer our questions about the dropped charge and his breath-test score. He did not address any of the issues raised in questions 1-4.

How to sum this up? Jain was quick to say that no one was injured and there was no property damage as a result of DUI. But other questions -- whether he disclosed his DUI to authorities who oversee pilot's license, whether drugs were involved in his DUI -- went untouched.

Certain issues connected to the drunk-driving offense seem to be sensitive for Mr. Jain. A reasonable person might say, "I wonder why that is?"

We intend to find out.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Whistle-blowing blog in Morgan County, AL, has helped bring down Sheriff Ana Franklin, who has a federal lawsuit and FBI investigation hot on her trail


Ana Franklin
An Alabama sheriff, with an apparent tendency to violate the public trust, has announced she is not running for re-election. The public can thank a small-town blog for that, and it's another example of the Web press' power in the Heart of Dixie, whether the site is located in Birmingham or a north Alabama burg of fewer than 15,000 people.

Legal Schnauzer has helped bring down or neuter a number of prominent political figures, including "Luv Guv" Robert Bentley,  Bentley aide Rebecca Caldwell Mason, U.S. Sen. Luther Strange, and federal judges Mark Fuller and Bill Pryor. But we can't take any credit for the exit of Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin, the only female sheriff in the state. All of the credit for that goes to morgancountywhistleblower.com, a blog published by Glenda Lockhart, of Hartselle.

Ana Franklin was elected sheriff of Morgan County in 2010 and soon developed a reputation for playing fast and loose with public funds and playing rough with critics of her office. One of those critics was Glenda Lockhart, and her persistent reporting on Franklin's dubious actions led to a recent announcement that Franklin would not stand for re-election when her term expires in 2019. From an al.com report on Franklin's decision to step down:

Ana Franklin, the only woman in Alabama currently serving as a county's top cop, is not running for re-election.

Franklin was first elected Morgan County Sheriff in 2010, taking office the following January. She plans to serve the remainder of her second term, which ends in January 2019.

"Today is a difficult day for me and comes only after endless hours of painful, deliberate thought and constant prayer over this decision," Franklin said in a video message posted to her Facebook page today. I have decided that I will not be seeking a third term as your sheriff.

"I am truly honored and blessed to have been given this opportunity to serve the people of my county," Franklin continued. "I love Morgan County and the people I work with. I love the office of sheriff and what that office means to the people."

How nasty has the environment become in Morgan County? As al.com notes, even The New York Times has taken notice, with a piece last December about a federal investigation that revolves around Franklin:

Franklin's seven years in office haven't come without controversy. Most notably, Franklin was found in contempt of court last year because she loaned $150,000 of the jail's inmate feeding funds to a crooked used car lot. She's the subject of a federal investigation, as reported recently in The New York Times. The sheriff and her office have been blasted by the local Morgan County Whistleblower blog.

How did Franklin draw Lockhart's attention and become the primary focus at one of the state's best-known investigative blogs? The New York Times explains:

Ms. Lockhart first took an interest in the sheriff after deputies came to her rural home in July 2011 to investigate a supposed disturbance. What happened next is in dispute, but she and her husband, Harold Lockhart, say the officers found nothing but refused to leave when asked.

Deputies arrested the couple after Mr. Lockhart, a retired military police officer, said he had had enough and was calling his lawyer. The Lockharts successfully sued the sheriff for false arrest. And while the sheriff was not present for the arrest and later said she knew nothing about it, Ms. Lockhart did not forget.

Franklin's questionable handling of public funds soon surfaced, and Lockhart and her blog were there to make sure the public knew about it:

There was, however, more than enough evidence to link the sheriff to Priceville Partners L.L.C., a get-rich-quick scheme that spread a toxic cloud over the business community.

A used-car dealership offering title loans, Priceville Partners had begun opening branches around the county, and investors were welcome. Ordinarily, law officers might investigate rather than invest in a business co-owned by the likes of Greg Steenson, who had done prison time for a multimillion-dollar check-kiting scheme. But several officers from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, along with Morgan County deputies, became financially involved, records show. One agent texted another asking if he wanted a one-month $7,000 profit on a $10,000 investment. Sheriff Franklin’s father worked there; her daughter did the bookkeeping.

The sheriff invested $150,000. She would later say that she had not known Mr. Steenson was a co-owner, even though her daughter said that was clear from her first day on the job.

Sheriff Franklin eventually admitted the money had been withdrawn from an account earmarked for feeding inmates.

In 2016, Franklin chose to launch an under-handed attack on the Lockharts -- and it might have proven to be the sheriff's undoing:

In October last year [2016], armed with a warrant, the sheriff’s drug task force seized Ms. Lockhart’s computers and electronic devices, court records show. In preparing for the raid, the sheriff hired an unusual spy — Ms. Lockhart’s 19-year-old grandson, Daniel Lockhart, who aspired to work in law enforcement.

Glenda Lockhart
Mr. Lockhart said the sheriff’s technology expert had instructed him on how to plant spyware. The raid took place about a week after he said he installed the software.
Mr. Lockhart had been living with his grandparents and working in their business. He gained access to the office after hours, he said, by telling Ms. Lockhart that his girlfriend needed an office computer for homework. Ms. Lockhart said she later discovered the spyware on her home computer as well and took it to the F.B.I., which has retained it.

Sheriff Franklin admits to hiring the grandson, but denies that she or anyone in her office asked him to install spyware. “We have absolute proof, ” Mr. Lovelace, the sheriff’s lawyer, wrote to The Times. He produced an analysis of Ms. Lockhart’s business computers by a firm he hired that, he said, found no spyware. Several parts of that report were omitted, he said, because of a continuing criminal investigation that he was not at liberty to describe.

The sheriff’s denial is undercut by four people who told The Times separately that they had knowledge that the sheriff’s office taught Mr. Lockhart how to install the spyware. Among them was Ricky Brewer, the sheriff’s former technology officer, who said he told the F.B.I. that his replacement acknowledged giving the grandson the software.

The sheriff's problems, even if she steps down as announced, might just be getting started. From The New York Times:

Here in Morgan County, Ms. Lockhart has filed a federal lawsuit accusing Sheriff Franklin of violating her right to free speech, invading her privacy and slandering her, charges the sheriff denies. Ms. Lockhart’s computers, containing vital company records, were returned only after a court hearing.

Glenda Lockhart's small-town blog keeps marching along. Meanwhile, Sheriff Franklin is headed out the door, with a federal lawsuit, an FBI investigation, and all sorts of unpleasantness on her tail.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Lawyer who defended federal judge Mark Fuller against wife-beating charges throws his support to Joseph Siegelman's opponent in Alabama AG race


U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (right) has thrown his support to
Chris Christie (left) over Joseph Siegelman in the Democratic
primary for Alabama attorney general. Also supporting Christie
is Sirote Permutt lawyer Barry Ragsdale, who defended former
federal judge Mark Fuller against wife-beating charges. Fuller,
of course, corruptly sent Don Siegelman to prison. Jones reportedly
worked behind the scenes to soothe his GOP friends by making sure
Fuller did not go to prison. In short, Christie's campaign is supported
by friends of wife-beating, corrupt judge Mark Fuller.
(From facebook.com)

Joseph Siegelman's opponent in the Democratic primary for attorney general of Alabama is drawing support from a Birmingham attorney who defended a former federal judge on wife-beating charges that eventually forced him off the bench.

How bad are the optics on this for AG candidate Chris Christie? According to prominent whistle blower and opposition researcher Jill Simpson, they hardly could be worse.

In a post at her Facebook page, Simpson reports that Barry Ragsdale, of the Birmingham firm Sirote Permutt, hosted a campaign kick-off party last week for Christie at B&A Warehouse. That's the same Barry Ragsdale who defended former U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller as he faced wife-beating charges that eventually led to his exit from the bench. And that's the same Mark Fuller whose corrupt handling of a federal bribery case caused former governor Don Siegelman (Joseph's father) and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy to be wrongfully convicted and spend about a combined 12 years in prison.

Chris Christie, an attorney with the wildly corrupt Birmingham firm of Bradley Arant, actually wants a boost from supporters of a wife-beating federal judge -- right here in the midst of the #MeToo movement, ushered in by male abusers such as Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, Steve Wynn, Matt Lauer, Dr. Larry Nassar, and more? How thick must Christie's tin ear be?

Mark Fuller
Christie apparently isn't the only "Democrat" with a tin ear. Simpson reports that U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, who once was Don Siegelman's defense attorney, supports Christie -- who is the preferred candidate of those who support notorious wife-beater Mark Fuller. Billy Beasley, the brother of prominent Montgomery tort lawyer Jere Beasley, also supports Christie, Simpson reports. Jere Beasley has made it a practice to work with GOP lawyer/thug Rob Riley on a number of personal-injury and nursing-home cases. And Jones jumped in bed with Riley to help snag a nice chuck of $51 million in attorney fees generated by a federal lawsuit against HealthSouth and related firms.

Rob Riley, of course, is noted for proclaiming, well in advance, that Mark Fuller would prove to be a "hanging judge" in the Don Siegelman case.

What is Jill Simpson's take on the support Joseph Siegelman's opponent is receiving from the unholy trinity of Barry Ragsdale, Doug Jones, and Billy Beasley? Here is part of it (with editing for clarity):

I heard from some old Republican and Democrat friends . . . that Doug Jones' buddy,  Chris Christie who is running for AG in Alabama against Joseph Siegelman, had a campaign kick-off party at B& Warehouse. Guess who the host and MC was for that event? Judge Mark Fuller's lawyer, Barry Ragsdale, Dougie and Christie's buddy.

Yep, "beat your wife "Judge Fuller's lawyer Barry Ragsdale is helping Democrat Chris Christie, along with Doug Jones. I never would have been able to prove that Fuller's bunch of lawyers are helping Doug the DINO with AG Candidate Christie but for Religious Republicans explaining, "Hey, this is what happened the other night." I'm certainly glad for the tips I got on this.

It also was explained to me how Doug ran interference for the GOP Alabama Gang against putting Fuller in jail with the Democrats in D.C. I knew Doug had helped Fuller, but never knew all the details -- but now I do. I am hearing if that y'all watch this election, it is all going to come out all the connections involving Jones -- as the Republicans are mad about the last election and are going to be putting out how Christie is being helped by a wife beater's attorney.

I use to tell folks Doug was constantly working against us in D.C., and folks in the Siegelman camp would say, "No, he loves Siegelman," and I would say, "No he does not." Every step of the way he was back stabbing us, and folks in D.C. were telling on him and his folks -- and y''all watch this race closely; you will see Doug is helping the guy against Joseph, and Christie is part of the Alabama Gang and is tied to them through his firm (Bradley Arant).

Also, as it turns out Christie is tied to Mark Fuller, who shackled and chained Don Siegelman. Barry Ragsdale was Christie's MC and host of activities at the campaign kick-off, and it was noticed by Republicans and Democrats all over the state -- and they do not approve of of Ragsdale representing and trying to keep known wife beater Mark on the federal bench -- after he dragged his wife at the time all over a room in the fancy Ritz Carlton in Buckhead.

I might add Barry Ragsdale is well known for protecting creepy now removed federal judge Mark Fuller all over the state -- and this stage performance at Christie's campaign is really being talked about as clearly it was a FU message to Joseph and Don Siegelman. . . .

I also want folks to know I am very proud to have been the one who wrote the first article in the nation demanding President Obama and Biden remove Fuller to show zero tolerance for judges who beat up on women -- and I want each and every one of my friends and fellow progressives to know I had Barry Ragsdale and Doug Jones working against me. 
They were Fuller's protectors, along with the Riley folks and Alabama Gang of Republicans, which in my opinion is ran by Sessions, Rove, and Canary. Make no mistake, Alabama Progressives, a vote for Chris Christie is a vote for Fuller's protectors. I might add it has always been a sick, sad joke to me how folks act like Jones and Ragsdale are good Democrats, when these are the folks who fought against me so hard when I was trying to hold wife- beating Judge Mark Fuller accountable. I have a lot of battle scars from that fight, but by golly I removed Fuller -- and Alabama Democratic women would be foolish to support anyone Ragsdale supports. My God, he tried to keep a wife-beating judge on the bench, and now, he supports Chris Christie, as does Doug Jones.

Why is Joseph Siegelman's run for the AG's office generating blow back from establishment Democrats and Republican? The answer, to me, is obvious. Many of those establishment types -- Rob Riley, Bob Riley, Jeff Sessions, Doug Jones, Bill Canary, Mark Fuller, Leura Canary and many more -- were deeply involved in the crooked prosecution that caused Don Siegelman to land in prison.

Barry Ragsdale
The establishment knows that a real attorney general, such as Joseph Siegelman, still could pursue any number of civil or criminal claims that are not barred by the statute of limitations. And that means a Joseph Siegelman tenure as AG could help put some of them -- and their brethren -- behind bars, where they belong. No wonder they support Chris Christie, who likely is to serve as their protector.

Andrew Kreig, of the Justice-Integrity Project, already is following what promises to be a fascinating AG race in Alabama:

Joseph Siegelman, son of a former Alabama governor convicted in one of the nation's most notorious political prosecutions in recent American history, [has] announced his candidacy to become their state's next attorney general.

The young Democratic attorney faces many obstacles in the deep Red state before emulating his father — former Gov. Don Siegelman, now 71 and recovering from emergency open heart surgery Feb. 9 — in winning their state's top elective law enforcement post. The elder Siegelman . . .  was Alabama attorney general for a term in the late 1980s before election as lieutenant governor for two terms. . . .

His son, managing partner of a Cochran Law Firm office in Birminghan, faces a long shot but highly dramatic and nationally important race to overcome a Democratic opponent in a June primary and, in November, the winner of a four-person Republican primary.

Although Joseph Siegelman will doubtless continue to frame his race in terms of justice for all Alabamians his father's conviction is known to virtually every voter. It is not just an implicit part of the current candidacy but will surely weigh on the minds of voters.

Commentators will note, as here, that political figures from the long-running prosecution are still part of Alabama's landscape on both Republican and Democratic sides of the attorney general race. . . .

But there's more, much more, to the upcoming race, including divisions among Democrats and Alabama's ongoing massive problems with public corruption.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Ex Alabama Rep. Micky Hammon gets three months in prison for essentially stealing more than $50,000, showing our justice system is hopelessly broken


Micky Hammon
A former Alabama lawmaker yesterday was sentenced to three months in prison and ordered to pay more than $50,600 in restitution for converting campaign funds to his personal use. The downfall of former House Majority Leader Micky Hammon (R-Decatur) represents another sad chapter in Alabama's culture of corruption. But it also provides more evidence of gross inequities in our justice system -- whether it crosses jurisdictional boundaries from Alabama to Michigan, or whether it's contained in The Heart of Dixie.

How soft was the court's treatment of Hammon, who became majority leader when Republicans took over the Alabama House in 2010 and maintained that position until 2017? (He was a close ally of former House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who has been convicted on corruption charges.) Prosecutors actually asked U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson to order no prison time for Hammon. When is the last time you've heard of federal prosecutors going that easy on a defendant? Heck, even Thompson could not believe it -- and he could not abide by the request. Reports al.com:

Thompson said he found the recommendation for no prison time unusual. The judge indicated he thought that would send the wrong message to other public officials. He said Hammon violated the trust of those who gave to his campaign.

"I don't see how I cannot give him some time in prison," Thompson said.

Thompson ordered Hammon to serve three years of supervised probation after release.

[Stephen] Shaw, Hammon's attorney, asked Thompson to reconsider the sentence or allow Hammon to serve it on weekends. Shaw said that would allow Hammon to continue to work.

Thompson said the sentence was reasonable, fell within guidelines and was "sufficient but not greater than necessary."

The guidelines allowed the judge to impose a fine of up to $20,000, but he imposed no fine, citing Hammon's inability to pay.

Hammon wound up pleading guilty to one count of mail fraud. From the al.com report:

Former Alabama House Majority Leader Micky Hammon of Decatur was sentenced to three months in prison today and ordered to pay $50,657 in restitution for converting campaign contributions to personal use.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson sentenced Hammon this morning in Montgomery. Hammon will report to a federal facility to begin his sentence on March 29."

"Converting campaign contributions to personal use"? That's a polite way of saying Hammon stole funds intended for campaign purposes and used them for personal reasons. So did Hammon get off unbelievably easy? The answer is yes, and we can compare his case to three others -- showing the justice system makes little or no effort to produce even the appearance of fairness or "equal protection under the law."

(1) Don Siegelman -- The former governor was sentenced to more than six years in federal prison, even though no evidence pointed to him benefiting by one penny from a contribution that went to a campaign fund for an education lottery. No evidence pointed to an unlawful "explicit quid pro quo" -- the standard required for a bribery conviction involving a campaign-contribution -- and no such jury instruction was given. On top of that, it's undisputed that the government brought its case almost one full year after the five-year statute of limitations had expired, meaning the Siegelman case never should have gone to trial, much less ending with a conviction.

Bottom line? Siegelman spends six-plus years in federal prison, while not pocketing any money. Hammon steals more than $50,000 and is sentenced to three months -- and prosecutors don't want him to serve any time. Fair? Don't make us laugh.

(2) Charles Todd Henderson -- The duly elected district attorney of Jefferson County, Henderson is set for sentencing on March 8 after his conviction last October on perjury charges. Evidence at trial, however, showed Henderson did not come close to committing perjury -- suggesting either the case was fixed, or jurors were smoking a powerful form of meth during deliberations. Here is how al.com described the Henderson trial:

Henderson's perjury case was based on information he was in a relationship with Yareima Carmen Valecillos Akl during her divorce with then-husband Charbel Akl. Henderson was appointed in January 2016 as the guardian ad litem of the Akls' young child, but was later removed from the position.

After his removal, Henderson testified during the Akls' September divorce trial and twice denied staying with Mrs. Akl at her apartment, but surveillance evidence showed Henderson had stayed at the apartment on several occasions.

Just a slight problem with al.com's version of events: It's not true.  As we've shown in several posts (see here, here, and here), the key question in the Henderson case came when he was asked if he had ever spent the night at Ms. Akl's home. Did a surveillance report prove Henderson spent the night at Akl's home? Not even close, as we reported multiple times. In fact the private-investigator report showed huge gaps in the surveillance -- four hours, five hours, 15 hours, 19 hours -- when Henderson clearly could have left, with PIs having no idea where he was.

The conviction in the Henderson case is a joke, and it must be overturned on appeal if the Alabama court system cares about maintaining any signs of competence or fairness. For sure, Henderson should not spend one moment in prison, and he should be returned to the position he won fair and square -- as a Democrat, over Republican incumbent Brandon Falls.

(3) Legal Schnauzer -- I spent five months in the Shelby County Jail (from 10/13 to 3/14) as fallout from a defamation lawsuit filed by GOP operative Rob Riley and lobbyist Liberty Duke. In essence, I was incarcerated for reporting on this blog about a personal relationship involving Riley and Duke -- and my reporting, by the way, has never been proven false or defamatory as a matter of law.

My case involved nothing remotely criminal. My arrest was based on a preliminary injunction and contempt order, both of which have been prohibited by more than 230 years of First Amendment law. I spent five months in jail for practicing journalism, becoming the first U.S. reporter to be incarcerated since 2006. I was the only journalist in the western hemisphere to be incarcerated in 2013.

But get this: I spent two more months in jail -- for lawfully practicing journalism, in a totally civil matter -- than Micky Hammon will spend for essentially stealing more than $50,000. Don Siegelman spent almost six more years behind bars than Hammon will spend -- and the record is clear that Siegelman committed no crime and was the target of the most grotesque political prosecution in American history. The Charles Todd Henderson perjury case is a travesty -- clearly driven by the Riley political machine, upset that Henderson beat their boy (and protector) Brandon Falls -- but there is no telling what kind of sentence Henderson will receive from wildly corrupt Judge Sibley Reynolds.

The American "justice system"? Ain't it grand?

It is, for some reason, if you're Mickey Hammon.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Ashley Madison customers revealed: Birmingham civil-rights attorney Chevene Hill, a graduate of Miles College School of Law, appears at notorious Web site


Chevene Hill
(From facebook.com)
A civil-rights attorney in Birmingham, AL, appears as a paying customer at the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site, according to publicly available records.

Chevene Hill has been a licensed attorney for about 10 years, earning his law degree at Miles College. Before going into the law, Hill worked as a photographer for 14 years at NBC 13 in Birmingham.

What type of cases does Hill handle? He represented the plaintiff in a 2011 case styled Hatcher v. Precoat Metals, 812 F. Supp. 2d 1287 (ND Alabama, 2011). Here are the facts, drawn from a memorandum opinion by a magistrate judge (internal citations omitted):

On or about December 10, 2007, plaintiff and Slitter Supervisor Grady Smith ("Smith") were standing with Allen. Smith asked, "Do anybody know any jokes about cars[?]"  Allen replied that a Ford was known as a "[f]ucking old rebuilt Dodge." Plaintiff and Smith laughed. Smith then asked plaintiff if he knew a joke. Plaintiff said that Ford stood for "[f]ound on the road dead." Plaintiff and Smith laughed again. Then Smith said, "I got one," and said that Pontiac stands for "Poor old nigger think it's a Cadillac." No one laughed at this joke, and the conversation ended. Plaintiff reported the "Pontiac Joke" to group leader Mike Walker, Rob Nemeth ("Nemeth") and Reverend Reginald Mann. A few days after the Pontiac Joke incident, management held an hour and a half meeting to discuss the racial slur. During the meeting, Smith began crying, looked at plaintiff, and apologized for telling the joke; Smith further said that he would never use the racial slur again. Plaintiff did not accept the apology, but never heard another racial slur at defendant's facility. Although plaintiff believed Smith received no disciplinary action as a result of his inappropriate joke, in fact Smith was required to attend sensitivity training in February 2008. Plaintiff was returned to work under Smith's supervision. Plaintiff further states that this Pontiac Joke incident was the worst thing to happen to him at Precoat Metals.

About a year later, Hatcher had a change in job status:

As a result of a business slow down, Precoat Metals, on November 14, 2008, and again on November 21, 2008, reduced its workforce from a three shift operation to a two shift operation that resulted in the layoff of eighteen employees. As a consequence of these lay-offs, several employees in plaintiff's Slitter Group had to be occasionally assigned different weekly duties in order to compensate for the smaller workforce. The two junior employees who previously held the Packer position were laid off, and plaintiff was assigned to fill the position of Packer. Nemeth stated that he assigned plaintiff the Packer responsibilities because his plan was to utilize plaintiff in doing setups and operating when needed and to cross-train plaintiff in learning the computer system. Plaintiff claims that he was made to do this job without assistance, although it had been common practice to have at least two people working in the area. Neither plaintiff nor any other employee received a change in pay or a formal job title change due to this realignment. Plaintiff states that he felt as though this was a demotion, although he concedes that no one ever told him he had been demoted.

Hatcher's situation at work then turned ugly -- and physical:

According to Mr. Hatcher on or about November 20, 2008, after taking a fifteen-minute break. Donald Gordon ("Gordon"), the shift supervisor, approached him and accused him of being away from his work for over an hour. Plaintiff told Gordon that he was on a fifteen-minute break and was returning from the bathroom. Gordon responded by grabbing plaintiff by the arm. Plaintiff told Gordon not to touch him; Gordon responded by grabbing him again. The next day, Tim Zell ("Zell") called a meeting with plaintiff, Gordon, and Anthony Fleischmann ("Fleischmann"). Zell told plaintiff that, "I want this shit with you and Gordon over and done with." When plaintiff tried to explain what happened, Zell told him, "Look at it this way; I can make it where you were laid off." In his deposition, however, plaintiff stated that no one ever told him that complaining about something would cost him his job. Plaintiff claims that he informed James Haas ("Haas"), a plant foreman, about the incident. Haas reportedly told Nemeth what happened, and plaintiff was moved back to the packer position.

Hatcher filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC and wound up being laid off in 2009 amidst another work slowdown. Hatcher filed a lawsuit, with the primary claim that he faced retaliation for filing an EEOC complaint.

The magistrate found against Hatcher, dismissing the case at summary judgment because Hatcher failed to produce evidence that pointed to a specific manager who knew about his EEOC complaint and discriminated against him because of it.

As for Chevene Hill, his Facebook page says that he is married, but we can find no public records with details about his wife. We sought comment from Mr. Hill, and the two of us wound up having a back and forth via email.

Here is our email exchange:

Chevene Hill (CH): "Mr. Shuler, I just read your email about your Ashley Madison story. I have no desire to be a part of your story, I have never spent money on an Ashley Madison account, nor do I recall having ever tried to contact or respond to any person that may be on this site. I request that you remove any information about me, my law practice and clients, including images about me from your story.

Roger Shuler (RS): "You're included as a paying customer on the Alabama list at Ashley Madison, so that is the genesis of the story."

CH: "I request not to be a part of your story."

RS: "I'm sorry, but your name is on the list, and that makes you part of the story."

CH: "Look, I don't want to have to file for cease and desist orders. So LEAVE ME OUT OF IT."

RS: "If you want me to use that as your response/comment, I will be glad to do that."

CH: "Call me."

I did call him, and we had a rather unpleasant exchange on the phone, with Mr. Hill using some colorful and "unlawyerly" language. It proved to be one of the most curious episodes in my coverage of Ashley Madison.


(To be continued)


Previously:


Article with links to 1-40 in Ashley Madison series

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

(42) William House, VP and controller, HealthSouth, Birmingham (10/26/17)

(43) Olin B. Barnes III, VP, One Resource Group, Birmingham (11/1/17)

(44) T.J. Bunn Jr., ST Bunn Construction, Tuscaloosa (11/2/17)

(45) Todd Deffenbaugh, VP and controller, Express Oil Change, Birmingham (11/6/17)

(46) Richard D. Crites, lawyer and reserve deputy, Springfield, MO (11/13/17)

(47) Mark C. Trudeau, CEO, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, St. Louis, MO (11/15/17)

(48) Peter Blasi, lawyer, Evans Blasi, St. Louis, MO (11/16/17)

(49) Todd Wiesehan, director of resource management, Christian Co., MO (11/22/17)

(50) Spencer Desai, lawyer, Carmody MacDonald, St. Louis, MO (11/27/17)

(51) Johnny Aycock, assistant to the president, University of West Alabama (12/19/17)

(52) Chris McIntyre, district judge, County County, AL (1/3/18)

(53) William W. Smith, lawyer, Smith and Alspaugh, Birmingham (1/10/18)

(54) Jake Reinbold, lawyer, Turner Reid Law Firm, Springfield, MO (1/11/18)

Investigators appear with questions at Missouri's capital city, apparently turning up the heat on Gov. Eric Greitens over his admitted extramarital affair


Eric and Sheena Greitens
Investigators visited Missouri's capital yesterday, posing questions to several lawmakers about Gov. Eric Greitens and his admitted extramarital affair. One lawmaker in Jefferson City said he was asked about issues that go beyond Greitens' affair with his former hair stylist.

Greitens, a one-time Navy SEAL who was seen as presidential timber before the affair went public, might be under increasing pressure as he tries to save his current job. From a report at stltoday.com:

Investigators working for the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office were in Jefferson City on Wednesday, three state lawmakers said.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner, a Democrat, announced last month that her office would conduct a criminal investigation into claims Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican, took a compromising photograph of his lover and threatened to release it if she spoke about the affair.

Greitens lived in the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis at the time of his 2015 extramarital affair. He has acknowledged the affair but has denied allegations of possible blackmail.

The reason for the investigators’ visit was unclear.

Greitens has been acting in typical right-wing fashion, proposing a budget that would slash higher-education funding, while enhancing spending on road projects. But the visit from criminal investigators might bring the affair back into the public eye:

Rep. Nate Walker, R-Kirksville, told the Post-Dispatch he had spoken with investigators Jack Foley and William Tisaby mid-afternoon Wednesday. Walker was an early backer of Greitens during the 2016 campaign but was among a handful of House Republicans who called for Greitens’ resignation last month.

“Yes, I did meet with them,” he said of the investigators.

Walker would not say what types of questions the investigators asked, but signaled the issues they were interested in went beyond revelations surrounding the extramarital affair.

“They’re looking into some things in the governor’s office,” he said. “They asked a lot of questions. … Good investigators investigate everything.”

Walker was not the only lawmaker facing queries about the governor:

Sens. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, and Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, also said investigators from the prosecutor’s office were in the Capitol on Wednesday.

“Two came to my office,” Chappelle-Nadal said from the Senate floor, adding that Foley was one of them.

“There are two that are in the building,” Schaaf added.

Schaaf, a frequent critic of Greitens, said he wanted to shed light on the ongoing investigation.

“If they are in the building talking to people … I thought I should get that into the public sphere,” Schaaf said.

How ugly could this get for the governor with the almost super-human bio? The answer is "very." How far and fast could he fall? The answer, again, could be "very":

Greitens has rejected the calls for his resignation that followed his public acknowledgment of the affair. The allegations of blackmail were made public by the ex-husband of the woman who had a relationship with Greitens.

The ex-husband released audio last month that he described as a secret recording he made of his then-wife telling him about the non-consensual photo and the threat.

Greitens has denied any criminal wrongdoing. But he has declined multiple times to say whether he took a photograph. At a news conference last week, Greitens said he wanted to move past the controversy.

“We’re ready to move forward,” he said.

Greitens might want to "move forward." But it appears the circuit attorney has other ideas.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Missouri prosecutor Nicholas Jain goes silent when confronted with questions about his dubious judgment in bringing case against Carol without probable cause


Nicholas Jain
In answering our questions about his drunk-driving record, Missouri prosecutor Nicholas Jain raised the issue of individuals in his position showing good judgment. Jain is overseeing the case where bogus criminal charges have been brought in Greene County against my wife, Carol. Jain's statement about the integrity of prosecutors immediately raised more questions in my mind, so I posed them to Jain in an email.

I did not expect Jain to respond to these issues, but as a citizen who has been put through hell because of the corrupt acts of individuals in Jain's office, I thought it was important to raise them.

Mr. Jain:

Thanks for your response.

You mention the need for prosecutors to exercise sound judgment as it relates to each case you handle. As the husband of Carol Shuler, against whom you have been bringing a case for roughly 12-16 months, I have to ask this question: What does your handling of that case say about your judgment?

As a basis for that question, I point out this: Jeremy Lynn, the alleged "victim" in the "assault of a law enforcement officer" case, admits in his written statement that he grabbed Carol (inside her own home). In other words, Officer Lynn admits he "knowingly caused physical contact," that Carol Shuler did not. I'm sure you are aware that under RSMo 565.083 and case law, the issue of who knowingly caused/initiated physical contact is the central element to the offense. You've had information for months that shows Jeremy Lynn caused physical contact, and you don't even have probable cause against Carol Shuler, much less solid evidence of any offense. And yet, you have persisted in bringing a case that has no basis in fact or law. What does that say about your judgment? Has it really improved since 2011? (Statements of Jeremy Lynn and other officers are embedded at the end of this post.)

On top of that, Carol has been seeking discovery for months, and you have produced almost nothing -- you haven't even produced information you agreed in open court to produce, or information that you've been ordered by a court to produce. What does that say about your judgment?

Finally, you were present in open court when information about Carol's broken arm -- thanks to Missouri deputies beating her up -- was addressed, so it should be pretty apparent to you that the criminal case against Carol is nothing but a "cover charge," designed to protect rogue cops from being held accountable civilly. But you've gone along with it, so what does that say about your judgment?

In case you haven't seen it -- and on the off chance that you care -- I've attached copies of X-rays of Carol's arm, both pre- and post- trauma surgery. Perhaps you realize that you are helping to cover for the brutal cops who did this? Again, what about your judgment? [Items that were attached to the email are embedded at the end of this post.]

You are welcome to make any further response. But as a citizen and a journalist, I am appalled by the actions of you, Dan Patterson, and Jim Arnott in this case -- plus the officers on the scene, whom you have refused to identify. Do you really care about justice, or is your job about doing the corrupt bidding of those to whom you answer. As a fellow graduate of the University of Missouri (B.J., 1978), I'm sickened that you could go along with the scheme that has been heaped on Carol.


Roger Shuler

As expected, Nicholas Jain did not respond to these questions. After all, that would mean having to confront the notion that the same bad judgment that contributed to his drunk-driving convictions still is present in his taxpayer-funded public position. It also would have meant admitting that he was part of a process that brought a sham case against a citizen -- one where even the "victim's" own words prove no crime was committed.

That, however, did not end our discourse with Mr. Jain. We had other issues to address with him.


(To be continued)








Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Joseph Siegelman's run for attorney general of Alabama must have some of the state's nastiest political animals nursing quivery rectums


Joseph and Don Siegelman
Last week's announcement that Joseph Siegelman had qualified to run as Alabama attorney general has the makings of perhaps the most intriguing political news in . . . well, ever, at least in the 40 years I've had connections to the state.

As the son of former governor Don Siegelman, Joseph has a perspective on the "justice system" that probably is unique in post-modern America. His father was the target of likely the most flagrant political prosecution in U.S. history, and that surely has had a profound impact on Joseph Siegelman. What's it like to watch your dad shipped off to federal prison for six-plus years, for what we've called "a crime that doesn't exist" -- in a case that prosecutors brought almost one full year after the statute of limitations had expired?

It's hard for us to answer that question with certainty, but we suspect Joseph Siegelman would take his role as AG with the utmost seriousness. We suspect he would have plenty of motivation to investigate his father's case -- to ensure that justice delayed is not justice denied. And we suspect he would have a strong interest in deterrence, to make sure that future political thugs think twice before concocting a scheme like the one that sent two innocent men -- Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy -- to prison.

Joseph Siegelman surely will make a public statement to this effect: "I'm not seeking this office in order to gain justice for my dad or my family. My goal is to represent the interests of all Alabamians, to help provide us with a justice system that we can trust and respect." But the truth is this: The Don Siegelman case helped turn Alabama into a judicial and legal sewer, and it's unlikely the state ever can move forward unless the rule of law is restored. And Joseph Siegelman might be the only person who is willing, and capable, of turning over the rocks necessary to expose the bad actors in his father's case and hold them accountable.

We suspect the mere thought of Joseph Siegelman in the AG's office is enough to make some prominent sphincters pretty tight in Alabama right now. And we think that is a good thing -- an extremely good thing.

As a journalist, not a lawyer, I don't claim to be an expert on the duties of the attorney general in Alabama -- and I certainly am not an expert on the criminal and civil remedies that might be at Joseph Siegelman's disposal, if he were to be elected. I do know that the Don Siegelman case goes back to at least March 1999, roughly two months after he took office as governor. That means some elements of the case -- if a serious AG were to investigate -- likely would run afoul of various statutes of limitations (SOL). But my research indicates some elements of the case likely would fall inside the statute of limitations -- and that sound you hear is certain sphincters tightening as you read this.

For example, an investigation probably would produce heaping helpings of evidence pointing to civil cases of false arrest and false imprisonment. The SOL for each, in Alabama, is six years. The shackling of Don Siegelman in a Montgomery courtroom, plus his rough treatment in federal prison,  likely would support a civil claim for assault and battery, which also carries a six-year SOL. Keep in mind that Siegelman only recently passed the one-year anniversary of his release from prison.

Could the Alabama AG bring a case involving Don Siegelman in federal court? Given the apparent involvement of national GOP figures -- Karl Rove, Jack Abramoff, Michael Scanlon, Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist, Bill Pryor, Jeff Sessions, Bill Canary, and more -- the answer almost certainly is yes.

Did key figures act behind the scenes to ensure the U.S. Supreme Court did not overturn the Siegelman convictions and to make sure the Obama administration did not issue a pardon? If so, that means certain individuals in both parties might be experiencing tightness in their whities.

A federal civil-rights claim in Alabama generally is subject to the state's two-year SOL for personal-injury cases. But accrual of the claim is a matter of federal law (see Kelly v. Serna, 11th Cir., 1996), and a false-imprisonment claim does not accrue until the imprisonment ends. That already has been spelled out in a Northern District of Alabama case styled Antonio James v. City of Birmingham (2012). From the James ruling:

As to Count Two, alleging false imprisonment, the “running of the statute of limitations on false imprisonment is subject to a distinctive rule --dictated, perhaps, by the reality that the victim may not be able to sue while he is still imprisoned: ‘Limitations begin to run against an action for false imprisonment when the alleged false imprisonment ends.’” Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. at 389 (quoting 2 H. Wood, Limitation of Actions § 187d(4), p. 878 (rev. 4th ed. 1916). Construing the complaint in the light most favorable to plaintiff, this court presumes that he remained in the city jail until July 29, 2008. As such, the statute of limitations did not begin to run until July 29, 2008, and plaintiff’s false imprisonment claim is not time-barred.

Don Siegelman was released from federal prison on Feb. 8, 2017, so he has almost one full year to pursue a false-imprisonment claim -- with or without the assistance of the attorney general.

Our research indicates a false-imprisonment claim could provide a serious AG (such as Joseph Siegelman) with grounds to conduct a sweeping civil (or criminal, or both) investigation of the ugliness behind the Siegelman and Scrushy incarcerations.

How is this for possible irony? Siegelman's lawyers have been seeking information since 2006 about the alleged recusal of former U.S. Attorney Leura Canary -- via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) -- only to be stonewalled for 12 years. In fact, Joseph Siegelman has a FOIA lawsuit pending before U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala, and she has been sitting on it since last April.

The government's stonewalling could blow up in its face, like a stick of dynamite with Wile E. Coyote. A general principle of law is that the SOL is tolled when a party has been denied information to which it clearly is entitled. Also, Haikala's handling of the FOIA case suggests someone is unlawfully pulling her strings, which might give a serious AG (Joseph Siegelman?) grounds to investigate for obstruction of justice or its state equivalent.

Yes, a lot of time has passed since then-AG Bill Pryor launched an investigation of Don Siegelman. And yes, some avenues of investigation might be cut off by SOLs. But we suspect Joseph Siegelman, if he is elected AG, will have plenty of available avenues that are not time barred. On top of that, Don Siegelman mentioned last fall the possibility of pursing a federal RICO case against those responsible for his unlawful arrest and incarceration -- and that likely was long before anyone suspected Joseph Siegelman might be running for state AG.

All of that probably has some powerful and corrupt people connected to the Siegelman case sleeping a bit uneasy these days. We can't help but suppress a smile just at the thought of it.

By the way, Don Siegelman reportedly is recovering well from heart-bypass surgery late last week. Below is an interview he conducted with Cenk Uygur, of The Young Turks:





Monday, February 12, 2018

USA Gymnastics sexual-abuse case in Michigan -- plus my unlawful incarceration in an Alabama defamation case -- shows courts easily botch contempt law




A Michigan man's attempt to launch a courtroom assault on Dr. Larry Nassar, the physician at the heart of the USA Gymnastics sexual-abuse case, has wound up teaching an important lesson about the gross misapplication of contempt-of-court laws in the United States. Randall Margraves almost certainly did not intend to teach such a lesson -- but he did, and it's one that hits close to home here at Legal Schnauzer.

Margraves' actions amounted to about as blatant a case of contempt of court as one can imagine. It happened right under the nose of Judge Janice K. Cunningham, and based on Michigan law, Margraves was looking at up to $7,500 in fines and three months in jail. So, why did Cunningham ignore her oath to uphold the law and let Margraves off the hook? Given that judges in Michigan are subject to election, political considerations probably played a major factor.

Does that frost us, just a bit? It sure as heck does, given that I spent five months in an Alabama jail because of a preliminary injunction in a defamation case, the kind of injunction that has been prohibited by only 230 years or so of First Amendment law?

Why are preliminary injunctions forbidden in defamation cases? By definition, a preliminary injunction is a prior restraint on free speech and a free press. It involves a judge acting as a one-man censor, essentially saying, "You can't publish this, even though there has been no lawful finding that it is defamatory -- no discovery, no trial, no jury."

Also, a preliminary injunction leads to the possibility of a contempt finding, which inherently means fines and jail time. If that notion sounds un-American to you, that's because it is. So, how did I spend five months in jail on a contempt finding that has zero basis in law? Well, that's because Alabama is hideously corrupt -- a place where a political hack and legal neanderthal like Rob Riley can seek remedies not allowed by law, and a specially appointed corrupt judge like Claud Neilson will let him get away with it.

In a broader sense, my experience in Alabama -- viewed in a light with the Nassar case in Michigan -- shows that U.S. courts often make no serious effort to ensure law is equitably applied across jurisdictions. In other words, the notion of "equal protection of the law" is a joke in the U.S. justice system -- and judges tend to treat it with thinly disguised disdain.

How gross were Riley and Neilson's abuse of contempt powers in my case? About as bad as it can get, and we've spelled that out in several posts. (See here, here, and here.) Near v. Minnesota, 283 U.S. 697 (Sup. Ct., 1931), one of the seminal First Amendment cases of the 20th century, involved a Minnesota statute that provided for the "abatement" as a public nuisance of any newspaper that was found to produce "malicious, scandalous, and defamatory" content. The nation's highest court quickly found that the Minnesota statute collided with fundamental constitutional protections -- and one reason involved issues connected to contempt. From the Near opinion:

When a newspaper or periodical is found to be "malicious, scandalous and defamatory," and is suppressed as such, resumption of publication is punishable as a contempt of court by fine or imprisonment. Thus, where a newspaper or periodical has been suppressed because of the circulation of charges against public officers of official misconduct, it would seem to be clear that the renewal of the publication of such charges would constitute a contempt and that the judgment would lay a permanent restraint upon the publisher, to escape which he must satisfy the court as to the character of a new publication. Whether he would be permitted again to publish matter deemed to be derogatory to the same or other public officers would depend upon the court's ruling.

How dangerous is this to a society built largely on the foundation of a free press?

If we cut through mere details of procedure, the operation and effect of the statute in substance is that public authorities may bring the owner or publisher of a newspaper or periodical before a judge upon a charge of conducting a business of publishing scandalous and defamatory matter — in particular that the matter consists of charges against public officers of official dereliction — and unless the owner or publisher is able and disposed to bring competent evidence to satisfy the judge that the charges are true and are published with good motives and for justifiable ends, his newspaper or periodical is suppressed and further publication is made punishable as a contempt. This is of the essence of censorship.

There is that ugly word again -- censorship. I spent five months in an Alabama jail because Rob Riley and associated corrupt lawyers asked Judge Claud Neilson to act as a one-man censor in my case, contrary to centuries of First Amendment. And Neilson, showing absolute disdain for our constitution, agreed to act as a one-man censor -- using contempt powers he did not have as the weapon of choice.