Thursday, July 12, 2018

Alabama U.S. Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins screws up simple law in "Jail Case," proving she is a corrupt product of the Jeff Sessions/Richard Shelby sewer line

Virginia Emerson Hopkins
William M. Acker Jr. is dead and gone -- thank God -- but Virginia Emerson Hopkins seems hell-bent on claiming his title as the worst federal judge in Alabama, certainly in the Northern District. How is she doing it? By dismissing our "Jail Case" -- the one based on my unlawful five-month incarceration in Shelby County -- on grounds that aren't even close to being correct under the law.

It's pretty hard to dismiss the Jail Case, based on the facts or law. It's a matter of public record that I was, in fact, kidnapped from inside my home (no warrant, in violation of state law, the Fourth Amendment and the U.S. Supreme Court finding in Payton v. New York), and defendants were among those responsible for it. No one can seriously argue the arrest was lawful, given that Rob Riley and Liberty Duke filed a bogus defamation claim, seeking a temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction that have been prohibited as prior restraints under more than 230 years of First Amendment law.

Since Hopkins -- whose husband (Anniston lawyer Chris Hopkins) essentially bought a judicial seat for her, by giving generously to Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions -- can't cheat us on fact or law, how does she do it? By butchering simple procedural and statutory law that an orangutan should be able to get right. (Hopkins' "judgment," our Rule 59 motion in response to it, and an amendment to our Rule 59 motion are embedded at the end of this post.)

You might recall that Hopkins hardly has a judicial temperament, as we showed in a post about her screaming fit, for about 20 minutes, at Fultondale attorney Greg Morris when he appeared to represent us at a Rule 26 planning meeting. Now, we can show Hopkins doesn't have the brains or the integrity for the job, either. Given what we've learned about interference in the Jail Case from the Alabama State Bar, it would not be a surprise if Hopkins were collaborating with bar officials to cheat us.

Hopkins' first line of deceit involves the statute of limitations (SOL). She dismissed all six of our federal claims -- First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, False Arrest, False Imprisonment, and Excessive Force -- by finding that we filed our complaint after the two-year statute of limitations for claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 had expired.

It is standard around the country that the time bar for a Sec. 1983 claim is based on each state's statute of limitations for personal-injury cases. In  Missouri, that is five years; in Alabama, it's two years. So, it's undisputed that our case, in fact, is governed by a two-year SOL. But that is not the only time-related matter at hand. There also is the small matter of when the SOL begins to accrue. In other words, when does the two-year clock start clicking on a Sec. 1983 claim in Alabama, or any other state?

To answer that question, one must turn to federal law. Here is how the U.S. Eleventh Circuit (covering Alabama, Georgia, and Florida) put it in a case style Kelly v. Serna, 87 F. 3d 1235 (11th Cir., 1996):

“Deciding what statute of limitations applies to this action gets us only half way to our destination. Secondly, we must decide at what point the applicable statute begins to run. A statute of limitations begins to run when the cause of action accrues. Accrual of a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is a question of federal law.Mullinax v. McElhenney, 817 F.2d 711, 716 (11th Cir.1987).

As the Eleventh Circuit put it, Hopkins decided only half of the issue. Her memorandum opinion gives no hint that she even considered the second half -- the accrual half, which is extremely important, especially in a case where false imprisonment is alleged.

You might recall that I was incarcerated for more than five months -- from Oct. 23, 2013 to March 26, 2014. As you probably can imagine, being in jail cuts one off from the world. In the Shelby County Jail, inmates did not even have access to a functioning writing implement (a pen could be used as a weapon) or pieces of paper. Federal courts recognize this and have adopted a special rule that applies to cases involving allegations of false arrest/imprisonment. The U.S. Supreme Court has spelled out this rule, as has Restatement of Torts, a compendium of U.S. common law, which applies in courts across the country.

Here is how the nation's highest court put it in a case styled Wallace v. Kato, 549 US 384 (U.S. Supreme Court, 2007):

“The statute of limitations in a § 1983 suit is that provided by the State for personal-injury torts,e.g.,Owens v. Okure, 488 U.S. 235, 249-250, 109 S.Ct. 573, 102 L.Ed.2d 594 . . . For false imprisonment and its subspecies false arrest, "[t]he... cause[s] of action ... provid[ing] the closest analogy to claims of the type considered here," Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 484, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 129 L.Ed.2d 383, the statute of limitations begins to run when the alleged false imprisonment ends, see,e.g., 4 Restatement (Second) of Torts § 899.”

The Northern District of Alabama already has correctly interpreted and applied the law, in a case styled Antonio James v. City of Birmingham(ND of AL, 2012). From James:

“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, 549 U.S. at 389 (quoting 2 H. Wood, Limitation of Actions § 187d(4), p. 878 (rev. 4th ed. 1916).

You'd think that Hopkins might be able to figure out that a judge in her own building already has correctly applied the law regarding accrual of the SOL in a case alleging false imprisonment. But you would be wrong. You'd also think Hopkins might be able to consult Restatement of Torts, a volume that probably is found in every law library -- even in podunk counties -- around the country. You would be wrong about that, too.

In fact, Restatement of Torts provides probably the most clear and concise description of the matter -- and again, this is the U.S. common law, which applies all over -- and that's why we filed an amendment to our Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59. We wanted to provide the most plainly understood version of the law, in hopes that Hopkins and opposing lawyers in the case -- almost all of whom claimed our lawsuit was untimely filed -- might be able to grasp it. From Restatement of Torts:

“For false imprisonment, the statute [of limitations] begins to run only when the imprisonment ends, since the period of imprisonment is treated as a unit." Restatement (Second) of Torts § 899, (1979). See Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. at 389,127 S. Ct. 1091 ("The running of the statute of limitations on [common-law] 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."). The Restatement.

Law does not get much more clear and simple than that. Our Rule 59 motion is pending, so we will see if Hopkins can figure it out. Our guess is that she won't even try; she appears to be so bereft of integrity that she likely will figure out some other way to cheat us.

The law and the numbers, however, do not lie. Here is a summary, involving the dates in question:

* All parties involved agree that Alabama's two-year statute of limitations governs this Sec. 1983 case;

* Hopkins ignores federal law -- as stated by the U.S. Supreme Court and Restatement of Torts -- that governs when our complaint accrues, when the clock starts ticking on the two-year SOL;

* I was arrested on Oct. 23, 2013, so Hopkins wrongly claims our clock started ticking then -- that our complaint had to be filed by Oct. 23, 2015;

* But I was incarcerated for more than five months -- released on March 26, 2014 -- and under the law cited above, accrual of our complaint began on that date;

* Hopkins admits our complaint was filed on March 26, 2016, which means it was timely per Kato and the Restatement. 

It will be interesting to see if Hopkins continues to get this wrong because, if she does, that is a criminal act -- one that almost certainly is driven by extrajudicial forces that should have forced her disqualification from the case many months ago. Hopkins likely is tippy-toeing over the line of the nation's racketeering laws, involving obstruction of justice and other criminal acts. We've seen evidence that suggests officials with the Alabama State Bar also have stepped into RICO land.

We'd say Hopkins, and her cronies at the state bar, are dancing in dangerous territory, but we're not sure they are smart enough to understand that.

As for the second ground upon which Hopkins wrongfully dismissed our Jail Case, we will examine that in an upcoming post.

(To be continued)


Anonymous said...

This woman must have a few shingles loose. Why would she scream for 20 minutes at a lawyer representing you? Never have figured that one out. The lawyer, Mr. Morris, should file a complaint against her.

Anonymous said...

Simple, simple stuff. The law clearly says the SOL begins ticking in a false imprisonment case when the imprisonment ends. How hard is that? But Hopkins is too incompetent to get that right.

legalschnauzer said...

@9:27 --

Hopkins probably is incompetent, but that's not the central issue here. The issue is that she's being told to do this, and that gets into criminal territory.

Anonymous said...

I assume you filed a motion to recuse?

legalschnauzer said...

Yep. And guess what? Lynwood Smith, a judge who is related to defendant Rob Riley, determined Hopkins should not recusue. And presiding judge Karon Bowdre upheld that. Not kidding.

Will have a post on that shortly

Anonymous said...

My guess is that Hopkins is more of a crook than an incompetent.

Anonymous said...

Scary that a judge can't get something as simple as SOL correct in a case like this.

legalschnauzer said...

Even more scary to think that someone is telling her to do this, probably someone from the Alabama State Bar.

That's blatant obstruction of justice, which likely has been going on in our cases for years, and folks could wind up in the slammer over this.

Anonymous said...

Just common sense that the five months you were wrongfully incarcerated should not count against your statute of limitations.

legalschnauzer said...

@10:00 --

Yep. Almost every defense lawyer in the case claimed the SOL accrued when I was arrested, and Hopkins just bought it without bothering to check my citations to actual law regarding SOL on false imprisonment. The rule of law has no place in HopkinsWorld.

Yes, she is lazy and incompetent, but she is mostly crooked, being led around by the nose by Alabama State Bar and forces tied to Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions.

Anonymous said...

I see good news here. If Hopkins had to resort to an SOL argument, that seems to me she acknowledges that your complaint was well pleaded under Twombly and Iqbal. I'd say you've made it over the ridiculous "plausibility" hurdle of those cases, and you clearly are right on the accrual of SOL issue.

Anonymous said...

I hear Hopkins has retired from full-time duty, so it's possible she rushed through this to get it done before she hit the exits, which I think was in June. Pretty sure she's on senior status, so she'll still hear your case, more than likely.

Anonymous said...

So Lynwood Smith, Bob Riley's cousin, ruled on a case involving Rob Riley as a defendant? And he ruled in Rob Riley's favor?

What a joke!

legalschnauzer said...

@10:20 --

Yep, Smith ruled to keep the judge (Hopkins) who has been ruling in Rob Riley's favor -- and Judge Bowdre said that was perfectly fine.

I actually thought Smith and Bowdre might possibly be the rare Northern District judges with some integrity, but they have proven me wrong on that one.

Anonymous said...

If the defense lawyers all came up with the same SOL argument -- and they all got it wrong -- that makes me think they were colluding on their motions to dismiss.

That probably happens a lot.

legalschnauzer said...

@10:27 --

I think you are on target, and I bet it happens a lot, too. I also bet the collusion included Judge Hopkins and officials from the Alabama State Bar.

Anonymous said...

So, Chris Hopkins pretty much bought the judicial seat for his wifey by making campaign contributions to Shelby and Sessions.

I wonder if they even bothered to ask, "Does she have any qualifications?"

legalschnauzer said...

@10:46 --

I'd say there is no chance Shelby and Sessions asked that question, or any questions, before supporting Judge Hopkins' nomination.

They likely wanted the cash and did not care at all about the quality of the U.S. judiciary.

Our experience has been that Hopkins is not remotely qualified.

Anonymous said...

If I were a member of the legal profession, I would be embarrassed by judges who pull crap like this. Lawyers have a bad enough reputation as it is, without judges clearly acting in a corrupt manner.

legalschnauzer said...

@12:54 --

Good point. Sadly, we've turned our "justice system" over to lawyers, and they have proven over and over that they aren't trustworthy enough to handle it. They use the system to line their own pockets, without a single care about justice. As noted before, this is a system funded by taxpayers, and we are entitled to honest services, from judges who (by law) have a "trustee" obligation to all of us.

Anonymous said...

Well, I am a member of the legal profession and I have become convinced that most Federal district judges are simply people who are married to people with lots and lots of money who can purchase them a seat. So you got that part right.

Anonymous said...

I would like to touch base with you. We have had similar issues with VEH and may be able to offer some support. Please email me at

Unknown said...

How can I send you information on a case that Judge Hopkins presided over just recently and sentenced a man to 10 years for supposedly having a gun that the authorities never found AND he was never charged with. His charge was drug related.

legalschnauzer said...


My email address is

That probably would be the best way to send it.