Thursday, August 30, 2018

The kind of campaign payments that are biting Donald Trump on the ass, thanks to Michael Cohen, could wind up haunting U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL)

Michael Cohen
Thanks to Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former personal attorney, Americans now know a political candidate can step in deep doo-doo if he directs payments to someone for "the principal purpose of influencing an election." That, analysts say, is a violation of campaign-finance law -- a federal crime both for the one who made the payment and the candidate who ordered it.

The law bit Trump on the fanny last week when Cohen reached a plea agreement in which he admitted to discussing or making hush payments to two women who alleged they had extramarital affairs with candidate Trump. In the process, Cohen implicated Trump in a criminal conspiracy, and that raises all kinds of troubling questions for the White House.

What if Donald Trump isn't the only office holder who could be facing such questions? What if they might apply to a prominent politico from Alabama? If payments intended to cover up sexual misconduct constitute a crime, what about payments intended to uncover alleged sexual misconduct against an opponent?

That last question could apply to U.S. Doug Jones (D-AL), who pulled off one of the biggest political upsets in the modern era, mainly because multiple women came forward to claim his opponent, Roy Moore, had acted in an improper manner with them over the years, mostly while they were under-age.

Roy Moore has been running for public office since 1982, but female accusers did not come forward until 2017 -- a span of 35 years. Why did they come forward when Moore ran against Doug Jones? Were financial incentives involved?

A D.C.-based watchdog group already has filed a complaint that Jones violated campaign-finance laws. That complaint focuses on the Highway 31 super PAC, which allegedly failed to disclose its donors before the 2017 special election. From a report here at Legal Schnauzer:

The Campaign Legal Center is accusing the Highway 31 super PAC of engaging in a "secrecy scheme to spend $4.2 million in the race" to aid Jones, a spokesman for the center told

Highway 31's sole report to the Federal Election Commission before the election said it spent $1.15 million but raised no money. The group, headquarted in Birmingham, claimed its vendors lent them the money on credit.

Moore has filed a lawsuit that could take the issue in a different direction, especially if it unearths information that the female accusers were paid "to influence the outcome of the election." From our report in May about the lawsuit:

Roy Moore's lawsuit, against three women who accused him of sexual misconduct before Alabama's 2017 U.S. Senate special election, has been treated as pretty much a joke in several corners of the media world. Moore's complaint contains little of substance and is filled with the "craziness" for which "Ten Commandments Roy" has become known, says one columnist. The complaint sets out no facts to prove a conspiracy, makes Moore look like a "sore loser" (to Democrat Doug Jones) -- and, hey, the defendants are mostly fictitious -- writes another.

Doug Jones
Moore's complaint is a nothing-burger that makes him look like a crybaby, the two analysts essentially conclude. I'm one of the last people on earth who ever will be accused of defending Roy Moore -- and I don't intend to do that here; his brand of right-wing, pseudo-religious political zealotry leaves me stone cold, and I believe the Alabama Supreme Court and Alabama State Bar were hideously corrupt on his watch as chief justice.

But I disagree with the analysts above about Moore's lawsuit. I believe it does have substance, it provides more than enough information to get past the Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss stage (which is all a complaint really is designed to do), and it could pose a serious threat to major political players -- including Doug Jones; his right-wing compadre Rob Riley; Bush family associates (including perhaps Karl Rove?) -- if it's proven they cooked up false stories about Roy Moore to turn the election.

Moore's complaint does not name Doug Jones as a defendant, but it does list 19 "fictitious defendants," which means room is left to add defendants, as discovery allows:

Moore probably knows his accusers did not cook up a scheme to cost him the election on their own. And even if they did, they probably do not have the power and deep pockets that could make this a national story. By naming 19 fictitious defendants, Moore's lawyer essentially is leaving space for the names of those who really did concoct a scheme to spread false and defamatory stories about Roy Moore -- if, in fact, such a scheme existed. It might be difficult to prove the stories are false, but it could be easy to prove a conspiracy -- by using discovery to seek emails, text messages, memos, phone records, etc. If such discovery points to names like Doug Jones, Rob Riley, Karl Rove, the Bush family (Jeff Sessions, Richard Shelby?) -- well, copious amounts of feces could start hitting the political fan.

We raised the issue of possible illegal payments in the Jones-Moore race back in May, months before the Michael Cohen plea-deal came out:

I don't pretend to be an expert on all the possibilities here, but discovery in the Moore lawsuit certainly could unearth evidence of election fraud and (if the accusers were paid or compensated in some fashion) campaign finance violations. Could that cause some corrupt low-life types to wind up in federal prison? I would not rule it out.

As with most lawsuits, it all will come down to discovery -- or the fear of discovery, by one side or the other. If the case lands with a judge who allows thorough and wide-ranging discovery, certain "fictitious defendants" might become very nervous.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Alabama appellate court affirms most of the convictions against former Speaker Mike Hubbard, but the question remains: What took them so long?

Mike Hubbard
When an appellate court issues a ruling in a high-profile criminal matter, the finding itself usually is the big news. But that is not the case in Michael Gregory Hubbard v. State of Alabama.

The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday upheld convictions on 11 of 12 ethics-law violations against Hubbard, former speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives. That should not have been a surprise to anyone -- although Hubbard lawyer Bill Baxley claimed to be "shocked" -- given the mountain of evidence pointing toward Hubbard's guilt. But the primary question in this case was: What in the world took the court so long?

A jury of Hubbard's peers in Lee County convicted him on 12 of 23 counts in June 2016. Yes, that is more than two years ago. Hubbard filed his first appellate brief in May 2017, which is roughly 15 months ago. Yes, courts can be slow, but they aren't that slow.

A number of observers have speculated that the all-Republican appellate courts -- perhaps with the assistance of the right-leaning Alabama State Bar -- were stalling on the Hubbard ruling until after the 2018 midterm elections in November. The thinking apparently was that not even an Alabama court could be so shameless as to overturn all of the convictions in the Hubbard case -- so, with an affirmance virtually a given, Republican leaders feared that releasing the appellate ruling before November could damage GOP hopes at the ballot box.

(What's that you're saying? American courts are supposed to be above such unseemly political considerations? Hah, your mind must be stuck in another place and time. Alabama courts are the place where integrity went to die, and courts in many other states aren't much better.)

So, we are left with this question: If the Hubbard ruling was delayed by political considerations, why did the Alabama legal hierarchy change directions and release the 160-page opinion now, as the calendar has not even hit Labor Day?

That suggests something happened to change certain privileged white, conservative minds. What could that have been? Well, others have been engaging in speculation about the Hubbard delay for months, so I feel entitled now to join the fray.

Hubbard is a card-carrying member of the Riley Inc. political machine, so former Gov. Bob Riley and his cronies (including oily lawyer/son, Rob Riley) probably want to see the former speaker get off. Is that because of a deep and abiding affection for Hubbard. Probably not. A number of political insiders have stated that Hubbard, if he actually is headed to prison, is likely to dish enough dirt to make sure a number of politicos go down with him. Thoughts of a bitter and talkative Hubbard in an orange jumpsuit could be causing indigestion in some quarters.

Alabama appellate courts (and the Alabama State Bar) are infested with Jeff Sessions/Bob Riley butt-sniffers who would have no problem helping a crook like Hubbard go free. But we get the impression that the right-wing legal gangsters who have turned Alabama into a justice cesspool are reluctant to draw attention to themselves right now. And that probably explains release of the Hubbard ruling this week, as opposed to, say, early 2019.

I have a guess or two about what might have raised enough concern -- even fear -- to cause Alabama legal elites to stop sitting on the Hubbard ruling -- and here they are:

(1)  The Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen Connection -- Manafort, Donald Trump's former campaign chair, was found guilty last week of financial crimes. Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney, reached a plea agreement on the same day involving campaign-finance violations. Could those events be causing consternation in Alabama legal circles?

Well, both men have connections to Alabama -- Manafort via his work with Sessions and other pro-business types in a failed attempt to land an Air Force refueling tanker contract, an effort that had ties to Russian oligarch and reputed mafioso Oleg Deripaska; Cohen via his efforts to help Tennessee businessman Franklin Haney get a stalled nuclear plant in northeast Alabama off the ground.

It's likely Manafort and Cohen will reach an agreement to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Trump-Russia investigation, and federal agents already have raided Cohen's home and office to seize documents. Could all of that direct Mueller's attention to Alabama and the possible corrupting influences of Russian interests on the state's corporate, political, and legal climate? Did such concerns cause the Hubbard ruling to be issued sooner rather than later?

(2) Joseph Siegelman and the Fear of God -- We have posited that some of the state's conservative elites (including a Democrat or two) are not too keen on Joseph Siegelman's run for Alabama attorney general. That's because certain elites played roles in the political prosecution of Joseph's father, former Gov. Don Siegelman. Joseph Siegelman is not even 30 years old, but he won the Democratic primary and will face the GOP incumbent Steve Marshall in November. Marshall appears to be the clear favorite, but if Joseph Siegelman were to pull an upset and take office with a mindset to extract retribution from those who caused his father to unlawfully spend more than six years in federal prison . . . well, that could cause sleepless nights for a few prominent Alabamians.

On top of that, Marshall was appointed by Robert "Luv Guv" Bentley, the state's hideously corrupt former governor -- and that was a deal that caused even some Republicans to wretch; it could be a major turnoff for large blocks of voters.

Also, the peculiar death of Marshall's wife, Bridgette Gentry Marshall, in late June still has not been fully put to bed. One gets the sense that a scandal -- involving his wife's death or some other issue -- could bite Marshall between now and November 6. If that were to happen, it could throw the election in Siegelman's direction and lead to a clean-up effort the state desperately needs, but certain elites are determined to avoid.

Are my theories far-fetched? Maybe. Are they completely out to lunch? I don't think so.

Jill Simpson -- whistle blower, opposition researcher, and retired attorney -- probably knows more than any other human about the corrupting influences that plague Alabama's public infrastructure, and she shared her thoughts about the Hubbard decision in a Facebook post.  Simpson seems to be on a wavelength not all that far from my own:

I figure Hubbard will appeal this case to the Alabama Supreme Court, but hats off to the Alabama Appeals Court for going ahead and deciding -- and maybe the Supreme Court will decide quickly, affirming the convictions against Hubbard, and we can all see him locked up. 
It is time for lying Mike Hubbard to go to jail. Mike sent out over a million emails lying about me as the Siegelman witness, plus mail circulars that even made it to my family home, to my sick, elderly mother before she died. It was full of lies about me ,told by Rob Riley and Mike Hubbard. 
I spent many years after that event seeing that all of the stories of Hubbard's wrongdoing came out in the press. I worked behind the scenes to see the stories told on his corruption within the Republican Party. Moral of the story: Lie about me. and I am going to out your misdeeds. 
The Alabama Resistance and I were viciously attacked by the same gang of thugs that went after [Hubbard prosecutor] Matt Hart and Roger Shuler, who saw the stories told on their bad behavior. These Alabama Gang thugs were run by Jeff Sessions, Billy Canary, Rob Riley, Baron Coleman, Ali Akbar, Stacy McCain, and [Hubbard lawyer] Lance Bell, with help from Tripp Vickers and Mark Moody at the Alabama Bar.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

As head of Senate committee, John McCain had evidence of Bob Riley's footprints in the Jack Abramoff Indian gaming scandal, but he kept it under wraps

John McCain and Bob Riley
(From Selma Daily)
Since his death on Saturday, U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) largely has been portrayed in the press as a heroic figure, a man of exceptional integrity in the swampy confines of  our nation's capital. But numerous examples can be found of McCain acting with poor judgment and shaky ethics. One of the most glaring examples involves a former Alabama governor and the gaming industry -- and McCain's actions helped ensure Alabama would be a political sewer for years to come.

We're talking about Gov. Bob Riley (2003-11), the raging GOP hypocrite who claimed to be against gambling but rode into office on a wave of laundered Indian gaming dollars -- and a little overnight election theft. As chairman of the Senate committee investigating the Jack Abramoff scandal, McCain had evidence that Riley was involved but chose to keep that out of his report -- keeping attention away from the Alabama governor and largely letting him skate, even though he was one of the scandal's primary beneficiaries.

McCain released the "Gimme Five" report on the scandal in September 2006, but roughly 17 months later, Sam Stein of Huffington Post reported that McCain covered up an email that showed Riley's involvement. (The email, between Abramoff and partner Michael Scanlon, is embedded at the end of this post.) This is from a February 2008 Legal Schnauzer post about the HuffPo scoop:

Huffington Post obtained a copy of a 2002 e-mail in which Abramoff explains to an aide what he would like to see Riley do in return for the "help" he received from Abramoff's tribal clients:

An official with the Mississippi Choctaws "definitely wants Riley to shut down the Poarch Creek operation," Abramoff wrote, including his announcing that anyone caught gambling there can't qualify for a state contract or something like that."

McCain and his staff had access to this information before issuing their report--showing a direct link between Abramoff and Riley. But McCain's committee sat on the information.

What impact did this have on Alabama politics. It likely changed the course of state history in the 2000s:

Stein notes the political implications of the committee's failure to expose the Abramoff-Riley connection. Word leaked prior to the 2002 election that [Don] Siegelman was under federal investigation, and he lost the Alabama gubernatorial race to Riley by fewer than 3,000 votes.

Riley took office in January 2003 and won re-election in 2006, while McCain kept the Abramoff connection safely under wraps.

Would the prosecution that landed Siegelman in prison have ever happened if McCain had not provided cover for Riley? That is one of many interesting questions raised by Stein's story.

Stein showed in a follow-up post that McCain did more than just protect Riley. He financially backed the Riley campaign and received an endorsement from the governor in return. From a March 2008 Legal Schnauzer post on the subject, quoting Stein:

And yet, McCain took steps beyond merely protecting Riley from his Abramoff probe. Despite knowing that there were questions surrounding the ethical conduct of the Alabama governor, McCain actively supported his campaign. McCain's Straight Talk America PAC contributed $10,000 to Riley's re-election coffers. The Arizona senator attended Riley's inauguration and touted him as having "every potential to be a national figure."

Why take these steps? For starters, the two men do have past history. While they clashed on the topic of campaign finance reform, they served together in Congress on the Joint Armed Services Committee. And months before the 2006 campaign, they traveled together to Iraq. There are personal ties as well. McCain's Alabama legal advisor, Matt Lembke, was a Riley confidant during his controversial 2002 race against then Gov. Don Seigelman (who has since been arrested on a highly-controversially, politically tainted, corruption charge). Troy King, meanwhile, was appointed the state's attorney general by Riley and now serves as McCain's Alabama chairman.

McCain thought Bob Riley had the potential to be a "national figure"? This is from the same guy who went on to pick Sarah Palin as his VP running mate. In retrospect, Riley is not keeping such great company here. Here is more about McCain's possible calculations in protecting Riley:

Stein reports that McCain might have had his own career in mind when he took steps to protect Riley:

Around the time that McCain sat on the Abramoff email and was making donations to Riley's gubernatorial campaign (as well as other Alabama GOP officials), the governor was signing into law legislation that moved Alabama's 2008 primary from June 3 to February 5 (Super Tuesday). At the time, the move made the state - alongside South Carolina - a southern barometer for any Republican White House candidate. Since then, however, other states followed Alabama's lead, diminishing its impact. And following Riley's re-election, much talk in political circles centered on him being a viable vice presidential choice.

All told, there was a political balance in Alabama which McCain likely did not want to disturb. "If you are fixing to run for president, you don't want to step in the own [shit] you've created," said a source close to the Riley-Abramoff-Siegelman case. "You don't want to be the guy who is known for the downfall of Bob Riley."

Monday, August 27, 2018

Tributes to John McCain tend to whitewash portions of his long career where "maverick" tendencies were overshadowed by poor judgment and shaky ethics

John McCain and Sarah Palin
One could not scroll through cable-news networks the past two days without seeing a tribute to U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who died on Saturday of brain cancer. Most of the tributes focused on McCain's status as a long-term senator, a one-time GOP presidential nominee, and perhaps America's most famous prisoner of war. Much of the programming portrayed McCain as a "maverick," a man of honor who placed integrity over political considerations.

The McCain story, however, was not as pristine or heroic as the tributes would have you believe. From his choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate, to his "improper relationship" with a female lobbyist, to his unseemly cash-driven dances with Russian and gaming interests, McCain frequently showed dreadful judgment and ethics that were more than a little shaky.

In fact, McCain engaged in an apparent cover-up that had a profoundly negative impact on the already toxic political culture of Alabama. McCain's tendency to be a poor judge of character and competence was on full display in Alabama during the run-up to his 2008 run for the White House.

McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as a VP running mate might go down as the most glaring gaffe in American political history -- and Laura McGann, of Vox, writes that the decision led to the current Republican Party turmoil swirling around Donald Trump:

The party of Donald Trump began almost 10 years ago to the day, when John McCain tapped Sarah Palin to join his ticket.

It’s one of the most important moments of McCain’s career. He proved willing to empower a demagogue when he thought doing so would improve his political fortunes, exactly the sin so many of his colleagues in the Republican Party have committed since Trump won their party’s nomination. . . .

Palin’s big moment in front of a national audience was at the Republican National Convention. Her big opener was to ask the crowd: “What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?” Her answer: “Lipstick.”

Her showdown with Joe Biden at the first vice presidential debate was the most anticipated moment of the campaign. The debate began with a handshake between the two candidates and Palin asking Biden, “Hey, can I call you Joe?” It went downhill from there. She stumbled through or garbled talking points on basic policy questions, weaving in half a dozen references to “maverick” and “a team of mavericks.” The event drew 70 million viewers — the largest audience for a vice presidential debate in history.

Palin’s run solidified the Republican Party’s comfort with a candidate who would say absurdities. When Katie Couric wanted to know what newspapers she read, Palin answered, “Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.”

Even though McCain and Palin were bested by Barack Obama and Joe Biden, Palin inspired a slew of copycats, unleashing a political style and a values system that animated the Tea Party movement and laid the groundwork for a Trump presidency.

During the 2008 presidential campaign against Barack Obama, The New York Times reported that McCain had been involved in an "inappropriate relationship" with a female lobbyist name Vicki Iseman. From The Times:

Early in Senator John McCain’s first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.

A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.

When news organizations reported that Mr. McCain had written letters to government regulators on behalf of the lobbyist’s client, the former campaign associates said, some aides feared for a time that attention would fall on her involvement.

Mr. McCain, 71, and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, 40, both say they never had a romantic relationship. But to his advisers, even the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity.

The Times report hardly was a model of journalistic clarity. We called it "wishy-washy, at best, never directly stating that McCain and Iseman had an affair." We also noted it made ample use of anonymous sources , a common journalistic practice for which Times reporter Campbell Robertson bashed me after Alabama political thugs had me kidnapped and incarcerated for five months over a case of alleged defamation (which never was proven in court) involving the relationship between GOP operative Rob Riley and lobbyist Liberty Duke.

Iseman wound up suing The Times, and the two sides reached an out-of-court settlement.

As for Russia, McCain engaged in dubious dalliances with the nation's oligarchs some 10 years before the Trump crime family made it "fashionable." Considerable evidence suggests McCain's tough talk on Russia was mostly for show. The 2008 McCain campaign used the services of Paul Manafort, the former Trump adviser who now is a convicted felon, and the candidate met twice with Oleg Deripaska, the Russian aluminum magnate who has alleged ties to organized crime. From an article at

McCain actually met twice with Deripaska, a Russian businessman and Putin ally whose visa was blocked by the United States amidst intelligence community concerns about his ties to Moscow. The meetings were arranged by Manafort and his lobbying firm partner Rick Davis, who later would become McCain's campaign manager, according to interviews and documents. Deripaska, a metals magnet, is president of United Company RUSAL, and is considered to be one of the richest men in the world worth an estimated at $5.1 billion, according to Forbes.My sense is that Davis and Manafort, who were already doing pro-Putin work against American national interests, were using potential meetings with McCain --- who didn't know this and neither did we until after the fact -- as bait to secure more rubles from the oligarchs,” John Weaver, one of McCain’s top advisers at the time, told Circa in an interview this month.

Davis was McCain's campaign manager in both 2000 and 2008. Manafort, who was Trump's campaign manager for a brief time, resigned in August 2016, over questions of prior work with Ukrainian political parties.

John McCain boards a yacht in Montenegro.
Deripaska would show up by McCain a second time, during an official trip to Montenegro, another place where the Davis-Manafort firm was offering advice.
Deripaska and Davis joined McCain and other officials at a dinner hosted by the country’s government in August 2006, and some of the attendees went on to take a cruise aboard a yacht where drinks and pastry were served in honor of McCain’s 70th birthday.

The yacht’s host was another lobbying client, Raffaello Follieri, a young Italian who gained fame by dating the American actress Anne Hathaway. In 2008, shortly before McCain lost the presidential election, Follieri pleaded guilty to conspiracy, fraud and money laundering.

Why would McCain meet twice with a Russian billionaire who has been described in the press as a mobster? McCain aides have spent years skirting that question. But when the United States issued sanctions earlier this year against dozens of Russian oligarchs, there was little room for doubt that Deripaska is an unsavory character. From a report at The Hill:

Among those hit by the penalties was Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire aluminum magnate who once had ties to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

According the Treasury Department, the sanctions on Deripaska, 50, were prompted by allegations of threatening the lives of business rivals, illegal wiretapping, extortion and racketeering.

Less than two months before the 2008 presidential election, The New York Times reported on McCain's longstanding ties to the gaming industry. From our post, providing a summary on the issue:

Those of us in Alabama already know about Republicans and their sleazy ties to gambling. But what do we learn specifically about McCain from today's Times piece and the investigative work of reporters Jo Becker and Don Van Natta Jr.?

* He has gambled at least once a month for most of his adult life, and weekend betting marathons in Las Vegas have been regular events;

* Only six members of Congress have received more financial support from the gaming industry than McCain--and five of those are from the gambling-rich states of Nevada and New Jersey;

* Mr. "Fiscal Responsibility" McCain, has voted twice for casino tax breaks that have cost the government $326 million over 12 years;

* Sig Rogich, a Las Vegas GOP kingmaker, raised some $2 million for McCain;

* Several McCain associates benefited financially from the [Jack] Abramoff investigation. John Weaver, McCain's chief political strategist, made $100,000 over four months in 2005 for serving as a consultant to a tribe caught in the inquiry.

All of this does not come as a surprise to us here at Legal Schnauzer. The marriage between Republican greed and big gaming dollars has infected Alabama politics for years.

One of the ugliest chapters in John McCain's professional life involved Alabama and gaming. That will be the focus of an upcoming post.

Until then, we could use a comic break. A video below of the classic Saturday Night Live skit about the Palin-Biden debate (featuring Tina Fey as an unforgettable Sarah Palin) is just the ticket.

That's where Jason Sudeikis, as Joe Biden, uttered these famous words:

"Look, I love John McCain. He's one of my dearest friends. But at the same time, he's also dangerously unbalanced. I mean let's be frank, John McCain -- and again, this is a man I would take a bullet for -- is bad at his job and mentally unstable. 
"As my mother would say, 'God love him, but he's a raging maniac' -- and a dear, dear friend."

(To be continued)

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Despite Trump endorsement, billionaire Foster Friess falls short in GOP primary for Wyoming governor -- but he might soon have cause for concern in Alabama

Foster Friess
An endorsement from Donald Trump was not enough to keep a billionaire backer of conservative causes from losing in Tuesday's Republican primary for governor of Wyoming. On a national level, the story suggests Trump's coattails might have grown flimsy. Closer to home, the story resonates because a growing body of evidence suggests the moneyed candidate in question -- perhaps unknowingly -- has contributed to corruption in Alabama's "justice system."

Foster Friess -- a financial backer of Karl Rove's Crossroads America, Rick Santorum's political campaigns, and the Daily Caller Web site -- finished second to state treasurer Mark Gordon, who will face Democrat Mary Throne in November's general election.

How has Friess possibly contributed to corruption in Alabama? That would be through the National Bloggers Club (NBC), an umbrella group for mostly obscure right-wing bloggers. Ali Akbar, a felon who went on a six-year spree of crime and fraud, somehow became head of the NBC -- and that largely explains Friess' unsavory impact on Alabama's already toxic political and legal environment.

How did Akbar, with multiple criminal convictions and a documented taste for seeking gay sex via the Grindr geosocial networking app, come to represent those hallowed GOP family values?  Perhaps Foster Friess asks himself that question from time to time, as he counts his billions. (Note: Akbar seems to be in the process of changing his name to Ali (Akbar) Alexander. That might be a wise move for a convicted felon and Grinder devotee, who has expressed a desire to run for public office.)

For now, our interest is in Akbar's apparent connections to two attacks on Alabama progressives:

(1) My kidnapping and five-month incarceration in 2013-14 for the "crime" of  blogging about mostly GOP-related corruption in Alabama's legal and political arenas;

(2) False allegations of misconduct (related mostly to a serious neck injury) against whistle blower, opposition researcher, and retired attorney Dana Jill Simpson, which caused her to be placed on inactive/disability status with the Alabama State Bar.

What makes Akbar (and perhaps the NBC) a suspect in these two instances. We are still researching the specifics, but we know this much:

(1) Akbar threatened Simpson, bragging online that he was going to come to Alabama, "dine with the Governor and then spend the afternoon cashing in favors with Alabama lawyers."

(2) Akbar was pissed at Simpson because she had written a letter to Obama campaign counsel Robert Bauer, in which she revealed Akbar's homosexual relationship with GOP guru Karl Rove.

(3) Akbar was pissed at me for reporting on the Simpson letter, and threatened a baseless lawsuit, via a Montgomery attorney and radio host named Baron Coleman.

Ali (Akbar) Alexander, Foster Friess, and
Robert Stacy McCain
(4) Akbar's statement about "cashing in favors with Alabama lawyers" appears to be a reference to the Alabama State Bar. (What better way to seek favors from lawyers than through the state bar?)  It suggests Akbar has the pull to get the Alabama State Bar to improperly target certain individuals -- such as Jill Simpson and me. How could that be, how could Akbar have such ties?

(5) As already noted, Akbar has used the legal services of Baron Coleman. Tripp Vickers, assistant general counsel with the State Bar, once worked with Coleman at the Montgomery law firm of Sasser, Sefton, and Brown.

(6) Vickers directed the dubious process that brought Simpson's legal career to a halt. As for me (and my wife, Carol), evidence we've collected so far indicates Vickers was involved in interfering with at least one of our pending federal lawsuits, per a statement from Fultondale attorney Greg Morris.

We still are gathering facts on all of this, which could lead to a RICO lawsuit. This much seems clear: Foster Friess might never become governor of Wyoming, but he soon could have reason for concern about events in Alabama. It seems someone has used Friess' financial resources to conduct some seriously underhanded business.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Criminality closes in on the White House as the Trump gang besmirches the U.S. presidency -- and it all has ties to Alabama's toxic political environment

Paul Manafort, Donald Trump, and Michael Cohen

In perhaps the worst 24-hour period for the presidency in U.S. history, the Donald Trump administration yesterday was laid bare as a hothouse for grifters. Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was found guilty of financial crimes, and the president's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, reached a plea deal in which he admitted to discussing or making hush payments to two women who alleged they had extramarital affairs with candidate Trump. Cohen stated that he acted at the "direction of the candidate" for "the principal purpose of influencing the [2016 presidential] election" -- indicating Trump engineered a federal crime, a violation of campaign-finance laws.

No one should be surprised that this whole sordid tale has tentacles that reach Alabama, which often has been Ground Zero for conservative-driven corruption for more than 20 years -- dating at least to Karl Rove's effort to turn the Alabama Supreme Court over to the GOP in 1994.

How bad was Donald Trump's Tuesday? Perhaps no one put it more succinctly than U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who stated on Twitter:

White House looks increasingly like a criminal enterprise with the convictions today of President Trump’s former campaign manager and personal lawyer—and the inclusion of the President as an unnamed, unindicted co-conspirator in the Cohen plea agreement.

What about Alabama ties to this sleazefest? Let's start with reports that Trump is enraged at Rudy Giuliani for failing to accept an attorney-general appointment, causing former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to take the job and leading (in Trump's mind) to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel. From a report at

As Robert Mueller‘s investigation continues to loom over the White House, a new report suggests that President Donald Trump is blaming Rudy Giuliani for allowing the Russia probe to become such a headache for his administration.

Vanity Fair‘s Gabriel Sherman reports that several Trump administration officials have told him that the president has become increasingly panicked over the Mueller probe, resulting in an increased frequency of his tweetstorms on the subject. One adviser says that recent developments have especially caused Trump to rage more and more over Jeff Sessions‘ recusal from investigations on Russia.

Giuliani’s performances on television have been decidedly mixed since coming on board as the president’s attorney. Despite that, however, Trump — according to this new report — thinks Giuliani would have been effective in the attorney general role that he offered the former New York mayor.

From Vanity Fair:

According to a person to whom the conversation was described, Trump loudly said to his lawyer: “It’s your fault! I offered you attorney general, but you insisted on being secretary of state. Had I picked you, none of this would be happening.” (The White House declined to comment.)

As for Manafort, Alabama political insider Jill Simpson said his ties to the state go back at least 12 years and efforts to win a U.S. Air Force refueling-tanker contract for European interests with ties to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Among the Alabama conservative heavyweights involved in that effort were former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, former Gov. Bob Riley, and former Business Council of Alabama president Bill Canary. Writes Simpson, on her Facebook page:

I have been after Manafort's bunch since I first came forward in fall of 2006, with how his firm with Rick Davis and the Alabama Gang ( the Riley and Sessions bunch) were working to sell our EADS refueling tanker to Putin through Oleg Deripaska. In 2008 Wayne Madsen helped me as an opposition researcher to get out the story of what they we're doing, and, folks, we are never letting up.

Yesterday's events could lead to more Alabama-related news, related to Chattanooga money man Franklin Haney and his efforts, with help from Michael Cohen, to get a stalled nuclear reactor off the ground in north Alabama. Writes Simpson:

I am hopeful that this results in Cohen telling on everyone involved in the nuclear deal in Scottsboro, Alabama. I am hopeful we learn how the Riley-Sessions Republican money man, Franklin Haney -- working for the Alabama Gang Crime Family -- tried to give Cohen $10 Million to get $5 billion from the U.S. government. Plus, Cohen could tell  how the idiots tried to sell access to the facility to Qatar, so that Qatar could become a full-blown nuclear power. 
Many of us in the Alabama Progressive Democratic Resistance have spent years tracking Cohen's buddy, Felix Sater, and his deals with AmCham Russia -- which is tied to the Riley-Session deals with Oleg Deripaska and EADS. 
U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) and the whole legislative gang running for national office from Alabama . . . well, we have been watching as they have tried to help put this nuclear-power plant deal through. One has to wonder why state attorney general Steve Marshall is not investigating that matter?

It's possible that no American has lived through a news cycle quite like the one we saw unfold yesterday. Charles P. Pierce, of Esquire, provides perspective:

Nobody can deny that this already is the single most awesome infrastructure week ever.

For a long moment on Tuesday afternoon, the Deputy Finance Director of the Republican National Committee (Michael Cohen), and the president*'s longtime fixer, was copping a plea; the president*'s former campaign manager was getting slugged for bank fraud; the president* himself was off to another wankfest, this time in West Virginia; and the folks at Hardball went to the electric Twitter machine and told us that Omarosa has another secret audiotape to reveal on that show Tuesday night.

I lived through Watergate. I lived through the Saturday Night Massacre, when it looked like the Constitution was being barbecued over an open flame. There never was anything like this.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Terror tactics continue against Birmingham lawyer Burt Newsome and his family, likely driven by looming RICO lawsuit that could unmask Alabama crooks

Burt and Regina Newsome
Someone is conducting a coordinated terrorism campaign against Birmingham attorney Burt Newsome and his family. Like much that is wrong with Alabama, it appears connected to big businesses -- and the large law firms who cater to them. For us here at Legal Schnauzer, the whole thing smells both foul and familiar.

Roughly three weeks ago, one or more thugs targeted Newsome's wife, Regina, for a smash and grab on her vehicle while it was parked at a Vestavia Hills fitness center. Now, someone has sent a threatening package to the Newsome home -- in the form of five sets of luggage and numerous items of clothing.

What is threatening about that? Well, some curious numbers are involved -- and the "gift" of luggage, of course, sends the message that someone is (or should be) going somewhere. We'll let, which broke the story, explain:

You would think the thugs behind the alleged targeted break-in of the vehicle driven by Burt Newsome’s wife were beyond stupid in this day of high-definition video surveillance and phone tracking software.

But now come the real sick, idiots who sent the Newsome family a threatening package: Five pieces of luggage and numerous clothing outfits. There were approximately three dozen outfits for mom and the young Newsome children.

The message was crystal clear: get ready to pack and leave town.

The full message is not clear, but makes some educated guesses -- and notes that the scheme should leave useful evidence behind. As for the curious numbers, the Newsomes are a family of six -- a father, a mother, and four children. The five sets of luggage suggest someone is, or might be, missing:

Were they threatening the family? The father, Burt Newsome? Was he going to be injured, killed or murdered? Or were the wife and children going to “disappear” on a permanent vacation?

All done through an online retailer, the purchase can be tracked using IP addresses and metadata. Even a hacker’s digital trail can be traced.

Our sources tell us at least two law enforcement agencies are investigating the threat, and the online retailer is probing the matter, too.

How did Burt Newsome run afoul of someone with evil intent -- and more power than brains? We explained, in our post about the smash-and-grab incident:

Regina Galiulina Newsome apparently was targeted while at Lifetime Fitness for a tennis lesson, according to her Facebook page. The incident, on July 30, came nine days after former Balch Bingham partner Joel Gilbert was convicted of bribery in the North Birmingham Superfund scandal. It also came after reports of a possible RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) lawsuit related to Balch's efforts to essentially steal Burt Newsome's lucrative collections practice and ruin his law business.

Was Regina Newsome targeted in an effort to intimidate her husband into forgoing a RICO lawsuit that could expose some prominent political figures -- including former U.S. Senators Jeff Sessions (now Trump attorney general) and Luther Strange, plus Strange's one-time mistress and campaign manager, Jessica Medeiros Garrison?

It has been widely reported that Sessions is closely tied to Balch Bingham, and the firm long has been one of his largest financial backers. Earlier this month, Mother Jones reported that Sessions and his office coordinated their attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Superfund case, working more closely with Balch than was previously known. Does that mean the terror campaign against the Newsome family could go right to the top of the U.S. Department of Justice? If Jeff Sessions feels threatened by a possible RICO lawsuit from Burt Newsome, the answer could be yes.

How does all of this hit close to home here at Legal Schnauzer? Well, we know a thing or two about what it's like to be targeted by Alabama's white-collar business/legal thugs -- who seem to spend much of their time drunk on entitlement and power. Here is background from our smash-and-grab post:

This all hits close to home because I was the victim of an even more outrageous intimidation effort. In fall 2013, I essentially was kidnapped from our Birmingham home -- deputies unlawfully broke into our home (without stating they had a warrant or showing a warrant) and beat me up and arrested me on a civil matter, with not even a whiff of a criminal allegation. It was related to my reporting on this blog about the "close relationship" of GOP politico Rob Riley and lobbyist Liberty Duke, so I essentially spent five months in the Shelby County Jail for blogging -- apparently the only U.S. journalist in history to be so targeted. The bogus arrest caused us to lose our home of 25 years to a wrongful foreclosure.

Ironically, both my arrest and the Regina Newsome smash and grab came as concerns about possible RICO cases against right-wing political figures were circulating in news accounts.

We have no doubt Strange and Garrison were involved in my arrest, plus the theft of our home, and we would not be surprised if Jeff Sessions and his protege, U.S. Judge Bill Pryor, also were involved. We have pending federal-court cases -- The Jail Case and The House Case -- in both matters.

You will notice that the attacks on my wife, Carol, and me resulted in us losing our home and being forced to leave town, now living like refugees in Springfield, Missouri -- where I grew up, but where we certainly do not want to be now. As notes, the luggage scam sends a signal that perhaps the Newsomes would be wise to "leave town." That makes me think some of the people who have attacked Carol and me also are involved in targeting the Newsomes.

Robert Stacy McCain and
Ali (Akbar) Alexander
Thugs used a combination of a kidnapping (and bogus incarceration) with a wrongful foreclosure to force us out of town, as we explained in a January 2017 post:

We timely paid on our home for 23-plus years, and only ran into a crunch after both of us were cheated out of our jobs. Chase Mortgage had granted us a forbearance to work out the payment issues, and we were moving toward resolution, when I was arrested -- beaten and doused with pepper spray inside my own home and stashed in the Shelby County Jail for five months. By the time of my release on March 26, 2014, our house already had been declared in default, and any realistic chance to save our house had been lost.

How did RICO figure into our situation? I'm still not sure how that happened, but various online entities combined to create a narrative (a false one, BTW) that  I was pushing for a RICO lawsuit against a group of right-wing bloggers.  Here are specifics:

Someone concocted a scheme in fall 2013 that made it look like I was pushing for a RICO lawsuit, on behalf of progressive activist Brett Kimberlin, against the right-wing National Bloggers Club (NBC), led by GOP and Karl Rove-affiliated felon Ali (Akbar) Alexander. It all grew from comments left at the Web site Breitbart Unmasked, by someone calling himself "RogerS." Conventional wisdom in right-wing circles was that I was "RogerS," and this was just days before my arrest. In fact, I was not RogerS, and I had no involvement in the Kimberlin matter.

How is this for irony?

(1) Our research indicates RogerS made his debut at Breitbart Unmasked, suggesting a RICO lawsuit against the NBC and certain of its members, on Oct. 16, 2013;

(2) I was arrested on Oct. 23, 2013, one week later;

(3) In a post dated Oct. 24, 2013 -- the day after my arrest -- a blog called Patterico's Pontifications (written by an NBC member) apparently was the first to suggest publicly that I was RogerS;

(4) Who was first to write about my arrest? That never has been clear, but NBC member Robert Stacy McCain (The Other McCain) likely broke it, either at his blog or at American Spectator. McCain's Wikipedia page notes that he "resides on the Atlantic Seaboard." Does that mean he makes it a regular practice to check arrest records for Shelby County, AL? That would seem odd, so perhaps a GOP insider, connected to the bloggers' club, knew my arrest was coming and gave McCain a tip?

This much is certain: Talk of RICO lawsuits makes bad guys nervous, and it can lead them to take unlawful and irrational acts. It is becoming more and more clear that is what drove -- at least in part -- my arrest and incarceration, plus the loss of our home. I suspect it also is driving the terror campaign against Burt Newsome and his family.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Rudy Giuliani's absurd "truth isn't truth" statement may be a sign of creeping totalitarianism, and we've seen it brewing in courtrooms for roughly 18 years

NBC's Chuck Todd (left) reacts to Rudy Giuliani's proclamation
that "truth isn't truth"
Rudy Giuliani might have dropped the most memorable (and absurd) statement of the Trump era yesterday when, in reference to a possible interview involving the president and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, he said "Truth isn't truth."

The statement almost drew a guffaw from Chuck Todd, host of MSNBC's Meet the Press. (The Todd/Giuliani interview is embedded at the end of this post.) Richard Painter, Trump critic and former White House ethicist under George W. Bush, said such attempts to distort the truth are a sign of totalitarian leadership in the making. Here is Painter from an interview with Al Sharpton yesterday on MSNBC's AM Joy. (See YouTube video, starting at the 23:20 mark.):

This is a rehash of what Kellyanne Conway said when she talked about "alternative facts." There is such a thing as objective truth. And those on the extreme left and extreme right have consistently attacked the notion of objective truth. This is the way Hitler talked in his political campaigns. This is a distortion of the truth, combined with extreme racism and extreme religious bigotry. It is very dangerous for our country. The White House is not going to fix this problem. It is up to the United States Congress to address it. The Constitution has an impeachment clause. The Congress is not investigating. It is their obligation to hold hearings. . . . They aren't doing anything; they are sitting on their rear-ends, griping about Hillary Clinton's emails and the FBI. I hope voters throw every last one of them out the door.

We have come to admire Painter as a rare voice of Republican reason and integrity. But we know from firsthand experience that distortion of the truth did not start in the United States with Donald Trump's rise to power. We've seen it in Jeff Sessions' Alabama and Eric Greitens' Missouri -- especially in courtrooms, where the equivalent of  "truth isn't truth" might be "facts aren't facts and law isn't law."

We could give at least a half dozen examples, but let's focus for now on the case that started our legal headaches -- the criminal trespassing case we brought against Mike McGarity (the troublesome neighbor and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama employee) who threatened to sue us for attempting to protect our own property rights and refused to stay off our yard despite what he admitted were repeated warnings.

Ron Jackson, former Shelby County district judge, found McGarity "not guilty" of the offense, even though he admitted to committing it. We're not kidding -- the guy was acquitted after admitting he was guilty as charged, and that gave McGarity grounds to sue us for a disfavored tort called malicious prosecution. It essentially refers to a case, either criminal or civil, that is brought without probable cause (or probable grounds). We had not only probable cause, we had actual cause, so no reputable attorney would have filed such a case. But McGarity managed to get a disreputable attorney -- William E. Swatek, with his long disciplinary history via the Alabama State Bar -- and that lawsuit cost us tens of thousands of dollars, led to us being cheated out of jobs, me being kidnapped and thrown in jail, my wife Carol's arm being broken, etc.

How badly were the facts, law, and truth distorted in our criminal trespassing case against McGarity? We addressed that in a post from October 2016:

Our legal woes started when we had the misfortune of having a career criminal named Mike McGarity move in next door to us. Our charming neighbor apparently hid his ugly past during the job screening process at his employer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. (In blunt terms, he likely lied on his job application, and the lax process at BC/BS let him get away with it.)

McGarity, his kids, and guests -- having already sassed us when we asked him to keep his barking coon hound under control ("You just need to get earplugs") -- proceeded to trespass on our property on an almost daily basis. When we called to let McGarity know his presence was not welcome on our yard, McGarity replied, "I'm going to sue you for harassment" and "we're going to keep on coming,"

When we asked a Birmingham lawyer named Bill Lewis to write a letter, explaining the law to this dunderhead, it seemed to have no effect. The trespassing continued, and the last line of Lewis' letter was, "You will receive no more warnings."

With all that in mind, we felt we had no choice but to pursue a case against McGarity for criminal trespassing, third degree. The alternative was to wait until someone got hurt on our property, have them sue us, and watch our homeowners-insurance premiums go through the roof. (Allowing trespassers to freely roam your property is a bad idea, for a lot of reasons, perhaps the biggest one is financial.)

The "Giuliani moments" came when the case hit the courtroom:

District Judge Ron Jackson had encouraged both parties to work out a settlement, but McGarity refused to discuss it. That meant the case went to trial, and a transcript shows that McGarity confessed to the crime as charged. How do we know? Well, the elements of criminal trespassing, third degree, are about as straightforward and simple as law gets. Here they are, straight from Code of Alabama 13A-7-4:

Mike McGarity
(1) "A person commits the crime of trespass in the third degree when he knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises."

(2) "A person enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises when he is not licensed, invited or privileged to do so."

Our research indicates "licensed" refers to someone who has a professional reason to enter property, such as a meter reader. "Privileged" refers to someone who tries to address an unexpected occurrence. For example, if your hat flies off your head and lands in my yard, you have a right to retrieve it. "Invited," as it sounds, refers to someone who who has a good relationship with the owner and has reason to believe he is welcome to enter.

The transcript shows that McGarity admitted to entering our property, he made no claim to being licensed or privileged, and he made no claim that he was welcome. In fact, he admitted we had verbally warned him multiple times to stay off our property, along with others entering from his yard. Translation: McGarity admitted to the crime of criminal trespass, third degree.

How nutty can this stuff get? Imagine O.J. Simpson admitting in court that he killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, only to have Judge Lance Ito rule, "In this case, I'm going to acquit." Judge Jackson did the equivalent of that in our case -- proving that he lives in GiulianiVille, a land where "truth isn't truth," "facts aren't facts," and "law isn't law":

Judge Jackson, however, found that -- in this instance -- we had to give McGarity written warning. We did that, of course, in the form of Bill Lewis' letter. But a woman from Lewis' office testified that she could not find the certifield-mail receipt that proved when McGarity received the letter. McGarity claimed he had not received the written warning prior to trespassing, and Jackson found that created enough reasonable doubt to acquit -- even though the judge essentially read McGarity the proverbial "riot act" from the bench about the dire consequences of any future trespassing.

We later discovered that Jackson got the law laughably wrong -- except it's not funny when you are the victim of a judge's corrupt rulings. Here is the actual law from a case styled Chambers v. City of Opelika, 698 So. 2d 792 (Ala. Crim. App., 1996):

The appellant has cited no authority for his position that to be guilty of criminal trespass the intruder must be aware that he or she had no license or privilege to enter or to remain on the premises. There is authority, however, that states that when those premises are private and not open to the public, there is no requirement that the prosecution prove that a prior written or verbal warning was given to the intruder.

In other words, we had no obligation to warn McGarity at all. We certainly did not have to warn him in writing, as Jackson found. The same holds true for any homeowner -- or renter, for that matter. It is the would-be intruder's duty to make sure he has lawful grounds to enter. McGarity never did that, and Jackson turned the law on its head in order to reach an "acquittal."

We suspect Richard Painter has his history in order when he says efforts to distort objective truth are a sign of a totalitarian government. But our experience teaches that such efforts are not limited to Donald Trump or the presidency. Our courts -- at every level -- appear to be infested with them. We've seen that in an up close and personal way.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

U.S. 11th Circuit simplifies Alabama immunity law, making it clear officers are not protected when they act with malice, bad faith, or beyond their authority

Chris Blevins
Alabama has recognized so many forms of legal immunity over the years that it causes mass confusion for anyone trying to get a grip on the subject. In my research, I've encountered probably 8-10 (maybe more) forms of immunity that can apply to Alabamians. Some are based on state law, some on federal law, and some . . . heck, I don't know where they come from.

A 2010 opinion from the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals (covering Alabama, Georgia, and Florida) helped cut through the clutter by proclaiming that Alabama now recognizes only two forms of state immunity -- and it's clear neither affects the Shelby County law-enforcement types who are defendants in our "Jail Case." (Various forms of federal immunity, of course, still apply in Alabama, but those are not a factor in the Jail Case.)

U.S. District Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins wrongly dismissed our state-law claims against former Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry and deputies Chris Blevins, Jason Valenti, and Mike DeHart. How do we know Hopkins got it wrong? Well, we spelled it out in two previous posts. (See here and here.) And a case styled Grider v. City of Auburn, 618 F.3d 1240 (11th Cir., 2010) provides even more clarity. (Hopkins' judgment, and our Rule 59 motion -- plus our two amendments to the motion -- are embedded at the end of this post.) From the Grider ruling:

“As for Plaintiffs' state-law claims, Alabama recognizes two types of state-law immunity: "state-agent immunity" and "discretionary-function immunity. Brown v. City of Huntsville, 608 F.3d 724 (discussing Alabama's two types of state-law immunity). First, state-agent immunity under Alabama's common law protects state employees, as agents of the State, in the exercise of their judgment in executing their work responsibilities." Ex parte Hayles, 852 So.2d 117, 122 (Ala.2002). In Ex parte Cranman, 792 So.2d 392 (Ala. 2000), a plurality of the Alabama Supreme Court restated and clarified the scope of Alabama's state-agent immunity doctrine, which may apply to all Defendants.”

State-agent immunity, according to Grider, does not apply to the law-enforcement defendants in the Jail Case. Discretionary-function immunity, however, does apply. From Grider:

“Second, there is statutory, discretionary-function immunity for law enforcement officers in Alabama. Brown, 608 F.3d at 741. Specifically, § 6-5-338 of the Alabama Code contains a provision immunizing law enforcement officers from tort liability for conduct within the scope of their discretionary law enforcement duties. Ala.Code § 6-5-338(a) (1994) "Every peace officer ... shall have immunity from tort liability arising out of his or her conduct in performance of any discretionary function within the line and scope of his or her law enforcement duties." Wood v. Kesler, 323 F.3d 872, 883 (11th Cir. 2003).

Does discretionary-function immunity provide absolute protection for law-enforcement officials? Absolutely not, as the Grider court makes clear, citing a case styled Ex parte Cranman, 792 So. 2d 392 (Ala., 2000). From Grider: (Citations omitted, but they are included in court documents below.)

Cranman's test for state-agent immunity also governs whether law enforcement officers are entitled to statutory, discretionary-function immunity under § 6-5-338(a). This includes the Reynolds burden-shifting framework, first requiring the defendant law enforcement officer to show that he was acting within the ambit of his discretionary functions and then shifting the burden to the plaintiff to show "bad intent" — that the officer acted willfully, maliciously, fraudulently, in bad faith, or beyond his or her authority — in order to defeat the officer's discretionary-function immunity. ("The restatement of State-agent immunity as set out in Cranman, now governs the determination of whether a peace officer is entitled to immunity under § 6-5-338(a)."). Thus, Plaintiffs can pierce both state-agent immunity and discretionary-function immunity by showing that Defendants . . . acted "willfully, maliciously, fraudulently, in bad faith, beyond his or her authority, or under a mistaken interpretation of the law."

Can we show in the Jail Case that Blevins and Co. acted in such a fashion -- maliciously, fraudulently, in bad faith, etc.? Given that Blevins broke into our home, without a warrant, and beat me up while making an arrest that involved no criminal allegations, much less felony allegations . . . I would say there is no doubt we can prove the officers acted in a manner that removes the cloak of state immunity.

(To be continued)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

A vote for Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Supreme Court could cost U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) a chance to be re-elected as a Democrat

Doug Jones
U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) could find himself blocked from running as a Democrat for re-election in 2020 if he votes to confirm Donald Trump's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS), an Alabama political insider says. The state Democratic Party blocked former Congressman Artur Davis from running as a Democrat for the Montgomery County Commission in 2015, and Jill Simpson says a similar fate could await Jones if he votes to place Brett Kavanaugh on the nation's highest court.

Alabama Democratic Party leaders have an obscure administrative tool they can use against candidates who stray too far outside party boundaries. It was used against Artur Davis, and Doug Jones could find it staring him in the face, blocking his path to re-election as a Democrat.

Jones was met with heckling over the Kavanaugh issue when he conducted a town hall on Monday night at Birmingham's Parker High School. A woman tossed a pair of stuffed lips toward Jones and said he could "kiss my ass" if he votes to confirm Kavanaugh. Jones has said he is undecided on the Kavanaugh vote.

Simpson -- an opposition researcher, whistle blower, and retired attorney -- said heckling might be the least of Jones' worries if he votes for Kavanaugh. Jones rode into office last December largely on the votes of progressive Democrats -- especially minorities and women -- and he courted them by touting his role as a prosecutor in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing case. The anger and feeling of betrayal among those voters will be palpable, Simpson says, if Jones votes for Kavanaugh -- a strong right-winger, former George W. Bush administration official, and longtime friend to GOP henchman Karl Rove.

In fact, Simpson says Jones' failed attempt to overthrow the Nancy Worley and Joe Reed leadership team on the Alabama Democratic Party was designed to have Jones-friendly leaders who would not fight back if he sides with Republicans on key national issues. Simpson wrote the following on a recent Facebook post:

I have a feeling Alabama Democrats are starting to wake up to the fact Doug Jones isn't one bit loyal to the large number of Democratic folks who sent him to D.C., who worked so many hours under the leadership of Nancy Worley and Joe Reed to get him elected. That is apparent because of Jones' recent actions to overthrow their leadership, showing he is not the least bit grateful for their help; otherwise he would say he'd never consider voting for Brett Kavanaugh. 
Jones knows the Democratic Party, as it currently is organized, will seek to remove his behind from running in the future in the party, just like they did to Artur Davis when he betrayed the party. If Jones votes against our interest in D.C. and votes for Kavanaugh,  Joe Reed and Nancy Worley have the skill to take him off the ballot next election; they have pretty much done that with Artur Davis in the past, keeping him off a ballot after his Republican flip flop in the Siegelman case years back. 
Doug's big plan is to circumvent rules that the candidates must be real Democrats, who don't support far-right extremists for the Supreme Court, and I am hearing people in state leadership believe he is trying to install people at the leadership level who would accept his betrayal of Democrats by voting for Trump's nominee.  If Jones does that, he deserves being forever removed from running again as a Democrat, and we are going to need Nancy Worley and Joe Reed, as they had to do this same kind of deal with Artur Davis -- and they did it successfully.

The tool that could block Jones' re-election is called the Radney Rule. Artur Davis learned a painful lesson about the Radney Rule in 2015:

Former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis is taking the state Democratic party to court. The party has rejected Davis’ bid to run as a Democrat again.

The Alabama Democratic Party has the Radney Rule, which prevents a candidate from switching parties if that candidate has supported another party over the last four years.

In 2012 Davis ran as a Democrat for governor and lost in the primary. Davis then campaigned for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

The state chairwoman of the Democratic party says that is enough to bar Davis from running as a Democrat.

"He has definitely supported Republicans and he has definitely worked on the behalf of Republicans within the last four years. So the Radney Rule applied," Alabama Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Worley said.

A judge dismissed Davis' lawsuit in November 2015, and Davis has been pretty much a political non-entity ever since. (The court opinion is embedded at the end of this post.) Could such a fate await Doug Jones? Well, Jones never has switched parties and openly supported Republicans, as Davis did.
But Jones has longstanding alliances when some of the state's scummiest Republicans -- including Rob Riley, Jeff Sessions, Bill Canary, Bill Pryor, and Karl Rove. The language of the Radney Rule -- and the court opinion interpreting it -- is broad. That means Doug Jones could be playing with fire.

Artur Davis
Jill Simpson writes at Facebook that Doug Jones and Rob Riley essentially have been trying to take over both of the state's political parties. She says the Kavanaugh vote, and its repercussions, could sink those efforts:

As of now, this helps folks see that Doug Jones was never what he pretended to be in the first place -- and it explains Doug's actions, and his indecision, on the Kavanaugh matter. The lust for power of Doug Jones and Rob Riley, and their desire to control both parties of elites, is what messed up Alabama politics for nearly the past 20 years; it is an ongoing saga of deceit and corruption that is unfolding now before the public, on this Kavanaugh matter, and it's going to come to an end, one way or the other, on this vote.  
The time has arrived where both political parties want to end these two-faced political games played by Rob and Doug, who seek to confuse voters on where they stand. Both sides now agree the public deserves to know where politicians stand. Jones is going to be forced with the Kavanaugh decision to pick one side or the other. But either way, citizens will figure out that Doug is a two-faced jerk, as they watch him act like a snake in the grass, squirming around trying to figure out what the f___ to do from being exposed as a liar to both Republican or Democrats. Seeing Doug Jones exposed as a two faced jerk is a win for all in this state if it causes his political career to end pretty quickly.
Doug Jones and Rob Riley have wreaked havoc in our state for far too long, playing both sides -- and that is over with. This one choice of who goes on the Supreme Court ends any control they ever had, as folks see them clearly now. 
You will see me on the Progressive Democrat side demanding daily that Doug vote against Kavanaugh, and you will see state Republican chair Terry Lathan demanding he vote for Kavanaugh. Either way Doug votes, he has to choose which group of voters he serves. There will be consequences for however he votes. We have cornered this two-faced jerk, trying to play both sides. In the end, what matters is that we stop Doug Jones and Rob Riley from ever trying to control both of our state parties.