|Virginia Emerson Hopkins|
Imagine you are involved in a legal case, and you (or your attorney) make a citation to law that you know is correct -- and you know it's a winner. You know this because . . . well, (A) You can read; and (B) It involves legal issues that are present in your case.
You, however, are dealing with a crooked judge so what can he do? You've boxed him into a corner. But he wants to cheat you, and he can't counter with a legal argument because you are right -- and he knows it. So, the judge issues an order that says he "disagrees" with your citation to law -- and that's it. No explanation, no citation to law that shows you are wrong (this isn't an option because there is no such citation). Nothing. Just "I disagree," maybe with a little dig at your status as a commoner who cannot possibly understand the mystical vagaries of the law.
It all reminds me of "We Just Disagree," the 1977 hit from English singer-songwriter Dave Mason, who performed with Traffic, Fleetwood Mac, Steve Winwood, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, and at least two former Beatles.
Who could turn a classic song into an evil courtroom sham? Leave that to U.S. Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins, of the Northern District of Alabama, who is so crooked that she's creepy -- and to my knowledge, I've never seen her. She must squeak when she walks from all the oil and grease dripping off of her.
Hopkins' disagreeable con game came in her order on our Rule 59 Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment in "The Jail Case," which centers on my wrongful arrest (a kidnapping, really) and five-month incarceration in Shelby County, Alabama. (The Rule 59 motion, two amendments to it, and Hopkins' order are embedded at the end of this post.)
Hopkins dismissed our complaint primarily on two grounds: (1) Statute of limitations, claiming we had filed the lawsuit too late; and (2) State immunity, claiming deputies, under the Alabama Constitution, are protected from suit -- even when they intentionally, maliciously, and violently break the law.
In other words, we backed Hopkins into a corner, where she could not counter with a valid citation to law. So, what did she do?
(1) She cited law -- correctly by the way -- that governs Rule 59 motions. From her order (Doc. 168-1, dated 8/27/18):
Rule 59 motions should only be granted on grounds of newly discovered evidence or manifest error of law or fact. Jones v. Thomas, 605 Fed. App'x 813 (11th Cir., 2015).(2) Since our Rule 59 motion and amendments presented 74 pages of examples where Hopkins committed "manifest errors of law or fact," she could not explain all of that away. So, she didn't even try. Here's what she did, directly from her order:
Plaintiffs do not assert that there has been any change in controlling law or that there is newly-discovered evidence. Rather, they assert that the undersigned has made errors of law and of fact. The undersigned has carefully considered all of the arguments that the Plaintiffs have made but disagrees. Plaintiffs simply misunderstand either the opinion or the law or both. Accordingly, the Motion To Alter Judgment is due to be denied.As you can imagine, Hopkins was not about to admit that she made 74 pages worth of errors. And she could not back up her rulings with actual citations to law. So, she resorted to what we now will call "The Dave Mason Trick." It involves a judge essentially saying, "There ain't no good guy, there ain't no bad guy; there's only you and me, and we just disagree."
Note the little dig that we "simply misunderstand the opinion or the law or both." That's a curious way of putting it, given that Hopkins seems to be admitting there is a difference between her opinion and the law.
She sure as hell is right about that, and we will show you why in an upcoming post.
For good measure, let's check out a video of Dave Mason performing "We Just Disagree." The video has more than 7 million views, and they don't make songs like this anymore:
(To be continued)