Monday, September 24, 2018

Popehat blogger Ken White, a First Amendment "expert," admits I was in the right on Riley defamation case, so why does he claim I'm "creepy and crazy"?

Ken White, of Popehat blog
Have you ever had someone you don't know -- who clearly has not bothered to get his facts straight -- attack you on the Web? I have, and it's pretty unsettling -- especially when it comes in the aftermath of an arrest and incarceration even the critic admits is unlawful. And we are not talking about a garden-variety troll. This is a California-based attorney, who claims to be an expert on First Amendment law -- someone who should know better than to trash someone based on bad information that he admits is incomplete.

We're talking about Ken White, a Los Angeles lawyer who publishes the Popehat blog. White hardly is a household name, but he somehow managed to capture The New York Times' attention and bashed me in their pages to reporter Campbell Robertson -- while admitting the judge who ordered my incarceration (Claud Neilson) had gotten the relevant law wildly wrong.

We already have shown that White is a master of inconsistent thinking -- he acknowledges that our court system is prone to trample First Amendment rights, while attacking me -- the victim of exactly that kind of court. We recently discovered a Popehat post where the ever insightful Mr. White bemoans Americans' tendency to be inconsistent in their political speech. No kidding. Our response? Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle.

As it turns out, White's hit job on me in The New York Times was mild. He really got out the hatchet on several posts at Popehat, seemingly without caring that he did not know what he was talking about. What does it mean when someone more than halfway across the country launches an attack that amounts to little more than name-calling -- with little or no basis in fact? To me, it suggests the writer has an agenda and is too lazy or dishonest to admit he is not a but a neutral observer. In essence, he is appealing to his readers' emotions -- the facts and law be damned.

Evidence has surfaced in our pending federal civil-rights lawsuit -- we called it "The Jail Case" -- and it hints at who might have been, at least in part, behind my wrongful arrest and incarceration. Ken White has ties to the individuals in question and is part of the system that apparently enabled their chicanery. In short, we suspect Ken White has insight on the "who, what, and why" questions regarding my incarceration.

In an upcoming post, we will address the question: What did Ken White know, when did he know it, and what (if anything) has he done about it? Our guess is that Ken White has an insider's knowledge that inspired the cheap shots he's taken at me. How cheap are those shots? Let's take a look:

"Creepy, Crazy, and Vexatious" (From Popehat, Oct. 27, 2013 -- four days after my arrest)

Popehat sez:There are a few things you should know about Roger Shuler, who blogs at Legal Schnauzer.

First, Shuler is creepy and crazy. (I formed that opinion by reading his blog.)

Second, Shuler is a vexatious litigant, a serial pro se abuser of the court system. (I formed that opinion by researching records of his litigation history.)

Third, Shuler is currently in jail, arrested for contempt because he violated an unconstitutional preliminary injunction — a classic prior restraint — prohibiting him from defaming the son of a former Alabama governor.

Some people excuse or applaud the third thing because of the first and second things. They shouldn't. The First Amendment protects everyone — even creepy, crazy vexatious litigants. You should demand that the First Amendment protect people like that, because if it doesn't, it won't protect you when you need it.

Schnauzer sez: Does White cite anything I've written at my blog that would lead him to conclude I'm "creepy and crazy." Nope, not one word. My seventh-grade English teacher would have flunked me for that kind of piss-pour writing.

Does White explain why he considers me a "vexatious litigant"? Not really. He pulls a couple of things out of his ass from federal cases I've been involved in. But he admits he knows nothing about my history in state court, where all of our legal travails began. He doesn't even know that the first lawsuit in my courthouse trail was one a criminally inclined neighbor (Mike McGarity) filed AGAINST me. The public record, which White could have looked up, shows the neighbor's case had no basis in fact or law -- and was brought by a lawyer (William E. Swatek) who has a lengthy disciplinary record -- but I had to defend it. And that makes ME vexatious? I'm not sure White even knows the meaning of the "V word."

Evading service? (From Popehat, Oct. 27, 2013)

Popehat sez: There is one other factor that may have influenced the judge: that Roger Shuler is creepy, crazy, and a vexatious litigant. In this case Shuler has engaged in the sort of litigation conduct that would enrage any judge, and that might cloud good judgment. Shuler is one of those litigants who seems to think that if he can successfully evade service of process he'll never have to face the case. So he refuses to answer the door when Sheriff's deputies come to his house to serve papers. Judges don't like that. . . . Eventually, the Sheriff served papers on Shuler by running a traffic stop on him for a purported moving violation and serving the papers on him in his car by the side of the road.

Yeah, you read that right. Sheriffs serve legal process on people all the time. It's part of their job. But how often, for how many litigants, do you suppose the Sheriff runs a traffic stop to achieve service?

Schnauzer sez: How does White know I was evading service? Does he cite a law that requires a citizen to answer the door when someone -- deputy or other -- knocks? No, he doesn't because no such law exists. White admits in his last sentence that something about the deputies' actions smelled funny. He thinks I can't see that, too.? After all, I actually was there and saw what they were doing -- and it did not look anything like serving papers. In fact, I later learned -- from an attorney who had viewed the sealed file -- that no summons had been issued at the time, so the deputies were not attempting to lawfully serve us. The deputies likely were there to execute an arrest White admits was unlawful. But he seems to be bashing me for being smart enough to figure out we were dealing with corrupt law-enforcement officers.

Refusing counsel? (From Popehat, Nov. 13, 2013)

Popehat sez: The system is designed to chew up people who represent themselves. It's not fair, it's not right, but there it is — a fact that won't go away just because you're in the right. Shuler's rejection of a lawyer seems to be part of the pattern of misguided antics that has robbed him of the opportunity to litigate the First Amendment issues. . . .

If Shuler continues to refuse counsel, it's highly unlikely that he will successfully navigate a system that's indifferent to him at best and hostile at worst. Does he have a right to do it himself out of some sense of pride or justice? Sure. But his bumbling may serve to lock in the orders against him and, through bad precedent, weaken everybody else's rights a little. It's crazy.

I'm aware of at least one substantial rights organization other than the ACLU that has expressed to me an interest in helping Shuler — if he will accept help. If anyone has any power to persuade him, now would be a good time to start.

Schnauzer sez: How does White know I rejected any lawyer? He doesn't because I didn't. I met with two lawyers while I was in jail. The first offered zero strategy for getting me free and even less strategy for seeking damages against those who had kidnapped me and thrown me in jail. He also exhibited the professionalism of a third grader in need of Ritalin. The other presented financial terms that were sketchy and could have presented problems for us down the road.

I would have been happy to meet with other lawyers and take on competent, thoughtful  representation. But none was forthcoming, and when you are in jail, your options are limited.

In a post on Nov. 17, 2013, White claimed I had refused a court-appointed lawyer. I never was offered a court-appointed lawyer in the defamation case -- filed by GOP operative and his "close friend," lobbyist Liberty Duke -- and I'm not aware of any process in Alabama where you can get a court-appointed lawyer for a civil case. White seems to forget I was in jail because of a 100 percent civil matter. Is he reckless, lazy, dishonest, or all three?

As for White's claim that he knew of organizations who were interested in helping me, why didn't they contact me -- or why didn't he contact me. My number was in the phone book, my email address was listed on the blog, and my wife Carol was home communicating with people from coast to coast. I couldn't be reached, but Carol was easily reachable, for anyone who truly wanted to help.

White admits I was in the right, and he claims to be interested in First Amendment rights, but he apparently made no effort to reach out. Why is that?

(To be continued)

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