Thursday, December 13, 2018

JPMorgan Chase and RAGA, who combined to steal our home of 25 years in Alabama, help dish out the cash that threatens democratic norms in Wisconsin


Jessica Medeiros Garrison and Luther Strange
What happens when JPMorgan Chase and the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) join forces? Recent events in Wisconsin indicate it could produce signs that your democracy is on its last gasps.

The issue has particular resonance here at Legal Schnauzer because we were the targets of a wrongful foreclosure -- launched by Chase Mortgage, likely in retaliation for my reporting on GOP corruption -- that cost us our home of 25 years in Birmingham, Alabama, and forced us to live like refugees in Missouri. Jessica Medeiros Garrison, a Republican operative and glorified thief/street tart in Alabama, clearly was involved via a defamation lawsuit where my reporting never was proven to be false, as a matter of law.

We recently presented evidence that Garrison, one-time campaign manager and paramour for former Alabama AG Luther Strange, had financial ties to JPMorgan Chase during her time as executive director at RAGA -- and those ties likely made it easy for her to help launch an attack on our mortgage. Garrison, it turns out, has a habit of bouncing from place to place when the heat starts turning up under her chair, as we reported:

Until January 2016, Garrison was senior advisor to RAGA and the affiliated Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF). Before that, she was executive director of RAGA and president of RLDF. Garrison started shifting away from those positions when The New York Times exposed RAGA as a glorified shakedown outfit.

Garrison also started lowering her profile when her extramarital affair with Strange -- which former Alabama Senate President Lowell Barron, among other sources, has confirmed -- became so widely known that it made her more of a liability than an asset.

As for Wisconsin, residents have seen the democracy-crushing influence of JPMorgan Chase and RAGA, both of which seem to operate without the slightest sign of a moral compass. Lame-duck Republicans have passed a series of measures designed to weaken Wisconsin's incoming Democratic governor (Tony Evers) and attorney general (Josh Kaul).

Vox.com, noting that Wisconsin-like chicanery also is under way in Michigan and North Carolina,  reports that "The Wisconsin power grab is part of a bigger Republican attack on democracy":

Michigan Republicans are currently weighing similar plans, and both are following in the footsteps of North Carolina Republicans, who passed a power-stripping bill after a Democratic victory in the 2016 governor’s race. State Republicans in three of the country’s most vital swing states are displaying open contempt for the most basic principle of democracy: that when you lose an election, you have to hand over power to your opponents. The national party hasn’t condemned these power grabs, giving the state legislatures tacit permission to rewrite the rules.

These power grabs highlight one of the most disturbing facts about American politics today: The Republican Party has become institutionally indifferent to the health of democracy. It prioritizes power over principle to such an extreme degree that it undermines the most basic functioning of democracy.

In the long run, the GOP’s turn against democracy could well be a greater threat to the American experiment than anything President Donald Trump has done.

Who is driving this train of GOP dysfunction? According to a report at The New York Times, that would be JPMorgan Chase and other corporations:

Walgreens portrays itself as the friendly neighborhood drugstore. It gives flu shots to children, helps communities after storms, donates to charity — and makes feel-good advertisements trumpeting its various good deeds. . . .

So you might think that an organization that claims to care about community values would speak up. But Walgreens has not. Neither have other corporate supporters of Wisconsin Republicans, like Microsoft, Dr Pepper Snapple, J.P. Morgan Chase or Humana. It’s yet another example — alongside soaring C.E.O. pay and stagnant worker wages — of corporations abdicating the leadership role they once played in America.

What about RAGA's role in the Wisconsin mess? It's been right there, with wallet wide open, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Train:

This Washington, D.C.-based group, which raises unlimited amounts from special interests to help elect state GOP attorneys general throughout the country, has been the biggest spender in the 2018 Wisconsin attorney general’s race.

The Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) made reported independent expenditures through the Wisconsin Freedom Political Action Committee (PAC), which doled out more than $2.8 million to support GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel’s reelection bid.

Most of RAGA’s spending was for three television ads which attacked Schimel’s Democratic opponent, Josh Kaul. The ads claimed Kaul had not prosecuted serious crimes in Wisconsin and had plea bargained for light sentences for drug dealers as a federal prosecutor in Maryland.

When RAGA's guy (Schimel) lost, JPMorgan Chase helped fund an effort to undermine democracy in Wisconsin. Can we say "sore losers"?

None of this surprises my wife, Carol, and me -- given our experiences with the same forces in the theft of our home. Is it a big step from stealing a mortgage to cheating he voters of Wisconsin?

For JPMorgan Chase and RAGA (with affiliated scum suckers like Jessica Garrison) the answer apparently is no.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Time honors "guardian" journalists as Person of the Year, but the recognition comes five years late and largely ignores abuses right here on our home turf


A group of journalists it calls "The Guardians" are Time magazine's 2018 Person of the Year, according to an announcement yesterday. The award, specifically, honors those who, via hard-nosed, challenging reporting, "have taken great risks in pursuit of greater truths."

Leading the list is slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and he is joined, among others, by five staffers who were killed in a newsroom shooting at Annapolis, Maryland. We certainly view the award as appropriate, but based on our personal experiences in Alabama, it's a case of "better late than never" -- and it largely ignores the risks taken by those who dare report uncomfortable truths about the powerful via non-traditional media, such as blogs, here in the United States.

From the Time article, titled "The Guardians and the War on Truth":

The stout man with the gray goatee and the gentle demeanor dared to disagree with his country’s government. He told the world the truth about its brutality toward those who would speak out. And he was murdered for it.

Every detail of Jamal Khashoggi’s killing made it a sensation: the time stamp on the surveillance video that captured the Saudi journalist entering his country’s Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2; the taxiway images of the private jets bearing his assassins; the bone saw; the reports of his final words, “I can’t breathe,” recorded on audio as the life was choked from him.

But the crime would not have remained atop the world news for two months if not for the epic themes that Khashoggi himself was ever alert to, and spent his life placing before the public. His death laid bare the true nature of a smiling prince, the utter absence of morality in the Saudi-U.S. alliance and—in the cascade of news feeds and alerts, posts and shares and links—the centrality of the question Khashoggi was killed over: Whom do you trust to tell the story?

Those are powerful words, straight from today's headlines. But how late are they? Well, sheriff's deputies beat and doused me with pepper spray inside my own home outside Birmingham, Alabama, on the evening of Oct. 23, 2013, and abducted me for a five-month stay in jail -- all with no warrant or any other form of legal process. I became the only journalist in the western hemisphere to be imprisoned that year. In other words, an attack on a free press happened in Alabama, while nothing of the sort happened in places like Venezuela, Paraguay, Honduras, and Mexico.

Time's Person of the Year article is important reading, but it's about five years late -- long after abuse of a journalist appeared right on our doorstep. Like Jamal Khashoggi, I faced retaliation for reporting on matters of critical importance -- rampant corruption in state and federal courthouses throughout Alabama, Mississippi, and the Deep South.

How is this for irony? The Time article comes eight days after a Legal Schnauzer post that asked, "Could something like the Jamal Khashoggi murder happen here?" The answer is, without a doubt, yes. From that post:

The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi --which Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered, according to the CIA --might be the most barbaric act against an individual in most of our lifetimes. But if you compare events leading to the murder with events surrounding my kidnapping and five-month incarceration in Shelby County, Alabama, you see enough similarities to think maybe the Khashoggi murder wasn't so "out there," after all.

In one respect, the Khashoggi incident was less radical than what happened to a U.S. journalist (me) in the Deep South: At least the Saudi criminals had the decency to abduct Khashoggi in a public place; Shelby County deputy Chris Blevins broke into our house, in broad daylight, to nab me -- an act unlawful on so many levels that it's hard to list all the state and federal laws it violates. And yet, U.S. Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins (Northern District of Alabama) has found sheriff's deputies under the state constitution, have immunity to commit such acts, as being within "the line and scope of their employment." (No kidding.)

On top of that, we've pointed to evidence that suggests Republican thugs who orchestrated my abduction included my wife, Carol, in the Rob Riley-Liberty Duke lawsuit because the plan was to kidnap and murder both of us. If so, Carol's ability to remain free and get word out to the press -- plus the thugs' apparent reluctance to break into our house a second time -- probably is all that saved us.

Were we slated to be beheaded and dismembered, as Khashoggi reportedly was? Likely not, but who knows, maybe the Saudis have given Alabama thugs ideas to implement in their future endeavors.

American politicians are seeking some kind of sanctions for Saudi Arabia's crown prince over the Khashoggi murder , but what about American criminals like Rob Riley and Liberty Duke who sought arrests for Carol and me without the slightest legal grounds for doing soTime's report gives the false impression that journalists face dangers mostly overseas:

And in prison in Myanmar, two young Reuters reporters remain separated from their wives and children, serving a sentence for defying the ethnic divisions that rend that country. For documenting the deaths of 10 minority Rohingya Muslims, Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone got seven years. The killers they exposed were sentenced to 10.

This year brought no shortage of other examples. Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam was jailed for more than 100 days for making “false” and “provocative” statements after criticizing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in an interview about mass protests in Dhaka. In Sudan, freelance journalist Amal Habani was arrested while covering economic protests, detained for 34 days and beaten with electric rods. In Brazil, reporter Patricia Campos Mello was targeted with threats after reporting that supporters of President-elect Jair Bolsonaro had funded a campaign to spread false news stories on WhatsApp. And Victor Mallet, Asia news editor for the Financial Times, was forced out of Hong Kong after inviting an activist to speak at a press club event against the wishes of the Chinese government. Worldwide, a record number of journalists—262 in total—were imprisoned in 2017, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, which expects the total to be high again this year.

It's important for Time's readership to know about these abuses. The reference to a journalist in Sudan being detained for 34 days and beaten with metal rods sounds familiar -- except I was detained for 154 days and beaten (inside my home) with fists and covered in pepper spray. I still suffer serious health fallout from that assault, and that likely will not change in my lifetime. The same applies for Carol.

Why is it news when a journalist is beaten and jailed in Sudan, but not when something much worse happens in Alabama? Is Time afraid of upsetting the conservative political criminals -- including former Trump AG Jeff Sessions and current federal judge Bill Pryor -- who are behind the attacks on Carol and me?

Is it only an atrocity when it happens under a black regime in a "third world country," but it's not worth reporting when thugs who reek of white privilege carry it out in Alabama?


(NoteLegal Schnauzer needs your help. Loyal readers have sustained this blog for years, and support is urgently needed now that my wife, Carol, is recovering from a fainting spell, which led to a recent broken arm. The healing process has started for Carol, but statements from her doctors indicate this likely was fallout from political thugs cheating both of us out of our jobs [and health insurance] in Birmingham -- and the stress of dealing with financial wreckage that comes from being targeted for right-wing attacks.  If you are able to help along our journalism journey, please click on the yellow donate button in the upper right corner of the blog, under the "Support the Schnauzer" headline. We are deeply grateful for your support through the years.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Michael Flynn memo from Mueller investigators suggests Jeff Sessions and other members of Trump Transition Team could be in "deep trouble"


Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions
Recent soul-rattling developments in the Robert Mueller investigation produced headlines over the weekend such as "Trump implicated in two felonies." That is big news, of course, and it came from Mueller's court filing last Friday on former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen. If you have strong ties to Alabama, as we do, the most intriguing news might have come three days earlier when Mueller released filings about former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. The Flynn sentencing memo suggests the Mueller probe could be taking a south-bound turn, in the direction of former Trump attorney general and U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

An article at lawandcrime.com -- titled "Here is what could be under some of those redactions in the Flynn memo" -- points a finger heavily in Sessions' direction. According to reporter Ronn Blitzer, much of the hidden material clearly refers to members of the Trump Transition Team, and that gets into Sessions territory. Prominent members of the Transition Team included Sessions and his former chief of staff, Rick Dearborn, along with Michael Flynn. Blitzer writes:

The release of the heavily redacted sentencing memo that Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s office filed in the case of Michael Flynn has had the political world abuzz, not just over what was revealed in the memo, but what was not. Pages worth of text were blacked out, leaving people to guess what they’re about, but a look at context—and not-too-distant history—may shed some light on the mystery.

Page 3 of the memo’s addendum includes the following sentence: “The Defendant assisted the SCO’s investigation on a range of issues, including interactions between officials in the Presidential Transition Team and Russia, [REDACTED].”

The next paragraph is under the subheading Interactions Between the Transition Team and Russia. The last three lines or so of that paragraph are blacked out with redactions.

Clearly, some of this hidden information has to do with members of the Trump transition team. Now, as Law and Crime Network legal analyst Linda Kenney Baden said in a segment Wednesday afternoon, “When you give substantial cooperation or substantial assistance, you’re not giving it to get the person that’s underneath you, you’re getting the person that’s above you.”

Who on the Transition Team was most likely to have had interactions with Russian officials -- and was high-level enough that Flynn would have known about them? Blitzer provides insight:

In that same segment, former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi named one person who was on that transition team who fits the bill.

“That filing is incredibly telling. There are a lot of red flags and loud gongs that suggest that the president of the United States and other senior officials are in deep trouble, including former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”

In a separate statement to Law and Crime, Rossi specified that he was referring to the question of, “Did Sessions lie and omit contacts with the Russians that Flynn knows about[?]”

The now-former Attorney General had recused himself from the Russia investigation due to his connection with the Trump campaign, but recall that he was also accused of covering up his own contacts with Russia. During his Attorney General confirmation hearing, Sessions said he did not have any contacts with Russian officials. It later came out that he had meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign. Sessions later said that the meetings were in the context of his role as a Senator, and had nothing to do with the Trump campaign. Former officials said otherwise, telling the Washington Post that intelligence revealed that Sessions and Kislyak discussed Trump’s policies on Russia and U.S.-Russia relationships under a Trump administration.

If Flynn told Mueller’s office about other communications that Sessions may have had during the transition period, that would certainly fit the bill for a higher-level official’s conduct that Mueller would not want public at this time.

USA Today, in a piece titled "Michael Flynn re-emerges as a major witness in Robert Mueller inquiry -- and at least two others," also says the Flynn documents have ominous tones for members of the Transition Team. Write Kevin Johnson and Bart Jansen:

Mueller's conclusions, legal analysts said, probably served as a blunt warning to members of the administration who worked closely with the national security adviser and were consulted on his Russian contacts, specifically involving Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. 
Flynn's cooperation was secured last year as part of his guilty plea to lying to the FBI in part about his pre-inaugural contacts with Kislyak related to sanctions imposed by the Obama administration for Russia's interference in the 2016 campaign. 
"The message that this sends, given Flynn's central role in the transition (to the Trump administration), is that if transition members are not fully lawyered-up yet, they should do so now," said Ilene Jaroslaw, a former federal prosecutor who once worked closely with Mueller's top aides in the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney's Office. "This document, even though it is heavily redacted, speaks louder than any public statement or press conference could ever accomplish."

Monday, December 10, 2018

Expert testifies that Missouri lawyer David Shuler did not believe in his own client, leaving Scott Wells with a bogus guilty verdict and possible five life sentences


Scott J. Wells
(Fourth in a series)

Missouri resident Scott J. Wells was found guilty of child sexual abuse in 2004 -- facing a likely punishment of five life sentences, plus 55 years -- and public records indicate his attorney (my brother, David Shuler) exhibited dubious judgment and committed a litany of technical errors that left his client in a dire position. Perhaps David Shuler's most grave error was failing to react to testimony from one of four complaining witnesses that Wells had scars on his penis. A second attorney, Daniel Dodson of Jefferson City, took over the case and easily was able to prove the penis testimony was false -- leading Judge Don Burrell to overturn his own guilty verdict at a new-trial hearing.

Dodson, acting as an expert witness in Scott Wells' subsequent legal-malpractice lawsuit, said David Shuler failed to meet the standard of care required of a criminal-defense lawyer in ways that go well beyond legal and strategic blunders. In fact, Dodson said, David Shuler did not believe in his client, and that led to a bogus conviction, damaging Wells in myriad ways.

State of Missouri v. Scott J. Wells (No. 31302CF5509) shows that a prosecution's case can implode in a hurry when a defense attorney is alert enough to show that at least one key witness has produced unreliable testimony. It also shows the peril a criminal defendant can face when his own attorney -- in this case, David Shuler -- is not fighting for him.

Dodson's deposition testimony in Wells' legal-malpractie claim against David Shuler illuminates both of those issues. At one point, Dodson describes Shuler's level of malpractice in the underlying criminal case as "staggering." Below is testimony from Dodson's deposition, and it provides a rare look at one attorney's unvarnished opinions about the performance of another attorney. The testimony begins on page 91 of the first document embedded at the end of this post. The questioner is Scott E. Bellm, from the Turner Reid Duncan firm of Springfield, representing David Shuler:


Bellm: Of course, your goal at the [new trial] hearing that day was to convince the Court that -- not necessarily of Mr. Wells' innocence, but to convince the Court that there was evidence, testimony, witnesses out there that should have been used at trial, and those witnesses may very well have made a difference in the outcome. That's the standard you were operating that day, true?

Dodson: Well, that. Again, the scars on the penis evidence was the thing that could have been done right there that had to have been done. And it's hard to describe, but your focus in this case -- first of all, you have to go in with -- to present yourself, even if you don't believe it, as if I'm here to tell you, the trier of fact, that this man didn't do what he's accused of. And when something like that comes up, the penis evidence, it's obvious to me that David Shuler thought Scott Wells did it, and that, well, if she says there were scars on his penis, obviously there were scars on his penis. It didn't even occur to him to ask that question.

Bellm: Well, let's -- let me ask you this: There was just one witness who said that he had scars on his penis, right?

Dodson: That's correct.

Bellm: Which one was it?

Dodson: Off the top of my head -- it was not one -- I think it was the cousin of the stepdaughter.

Bellm: Okay.

Dodson: I don't think it was either of the natural daughters or the stepdaughter.

Bellm: So there was a total of four victims?

Dodson: Four complaining witnesses. I have a problem with the term victim, of course.

Bellm: I understand. One of them testified that he had a scar on his penis. So if what you are telling me is right, if he were able to prove, unconditionally, at trial, that that isn't true, then that would obviously impeach the credibility of one of the three complaining witnesses, true?

Dodson: One of the four, yes.

Bellm: One of the four, I'm sorry. Would not necessarily have affected the other three complaining witnesses and the felony counts relating to what he allegedly did to those three girls?

Dodson: It would not necessarily have directly affected them. But keep in mind here that there was evidence, most of it not pointed out by Shuler. First of all [complaining witness] Brittany Wells had told the same story, like, two years before or a year before and nobody believed her because she was all over the map with the allegations, her demeanor and everything said there's something wrong here and there's no great reason to believe this.

Daniel Dodson
It was after contamination by her that little sister made allegations. This was all -- there was plenty of evidence of contamination and reasons for the other ones to have come up with it. And the most attenuated one, the cousin who made the scars allegation, probably going in, was the most credible.

And once that little smoking gun comes up that says this one's up a tree too, the rest fall, and they did fall. And that's -- again that's what Judge Burrell said in chambers. I don't think he made it clear in the record, but that was the reason. Once he saw the penis evidence, he's like, I can't stand behind these findings of guilt.

And there would be some argument -- the only argument against considering that an acquittal is that, well, the prosecutor might have been able to refute that, but not in this case, because that was evidence where the smoking gun was there. I mean, the way to prove that Scott Wells didn't have scars on his penis was there in the courtroom.

(Note: We ran this post for several hours last Thursday, but it never went out via social media because I wound up wrestling with a stomach virus and had several legal documents to prepare, so it became a day of distractions. I decided to take the post down and save it for today. Sorry for the confusion.)


(To be continued)


Previously in the series:


* Court finds Missouri lawyer David Shuler provided ineffective assistance of counsel (11/13/18)

* Missouri attorney David Shuler took no action at trial . . . (11/27/18)

* David Shuler, unable to react to false testimony that Scott J. Wells had scars on his penis . . . (12/4/18)















Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Reporting on Steve Marshall's acceptance of illegal campaign funds in Alabama AG race shines light on the theft of our home via a wrongful foreclosure


Jessica Medeiros Garrison and Luther Strange
Reports on the funneling of illegal campaign cash to Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has unearthed evidence that might shine light on the theft of our house in Birmingham via a wrongful foreclosure.

Marshall, appointed AG in February 2017 before scandal-plagued governor Robert Bentley left office, defeated Democrat Joseph Siegelman in the November midterms despite national reports that he had accepted $735,000 from the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), which officials from both parties said violated Alabama law.

The Alabama Ethics Commission failed to resolve the issue before the Nov. 6 election, so complaints are pending, both with the ethics commission and the Montgomery County district attorney's office. Before the election, Siegelman noted that Marshall could be forced from office if the ethics commission applied state law properly.

How might this connect to the theft of our home? It comes around to Jessica Medeiros Garrison, an Alabama GOP operative and former executive director of RAGA. Garrison perhaps is best known for serving as campaign manager and mistress for Marshall's AG predecessor (and former U.S. Senator) Luther Strange. She used my accurate reporting on her extramarital affair with Strange to file a baseless lawsuit against me and to write a preposterously defamatory article about me at the women's fashion magazine, Marie Claire.

It all could spell trouble for JPMorgan Chase, which is the largest bank in the United States and the sixth largest in the world.

As for Garrison's lawsuit, it produced a $3.5-million default judgment from Jefferson County Circuit Judge Don Blankenship -- a black man who apparently has  no problem ignoring the rule of law to serve the interests of white elites. Blankeship's ruling has no basis in fact or law, and under the Alabama Constitution and relevant case law, is void because I never received notice of Garrison's application for default judgment or the hearing on said issue. The docket in the Garrison case shows I never was notified of her efforts to get a default judgment, which she applied for three times, and her "gift" from the court is a nullity that can be attacked as void at any time.

Until January 2016, Garrison was senior advisor to RAGA and the affiliated Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF). Before that, she was executive director of RAGA and president of RLDF. Garrison started shifting away from those positions when The New York Times exposed RAGA as a glorified shakedown outfit.

USA Today, in its Nov. 3 article that touched on the illegal contribution to Steve Marshall's campaign, shined light on corporate entities that have succumbed to RAGA shakedowns:

[Marshall's] GOP primary challenger, [Troy] King, raised $2.2 million, while Marshall’s Democratic opponent in the general election, Siegelman, has raised more than $606,000, much of it via small donations. About 83 percent of Siegelman’s campaign funds come from within the state, compared with 74 percent for Marshall’s, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of state campaign finance data. . . .

RAGA’s contribution represents about 20 percent of Marshall’s total fundraising. King sought a temporary restraining order barring the Marshall campaign from spending the RAGA money, arguing Alabama’s Fair Campaign Practices Act of 2010 banned political action committees active in the state’s elections from taking contributions from other PACs. Filings with the IRS show RAGA accepts contributions from super PACs such as the General Electric PAC and JP Morgan PAC.

This is where the mess hits close to (our) home. How? Our mortgage was held by Chase Mortgage, an affiliate of JPMorgan Chase,, which has dumped cash on the RAGA of Jessica Medeiros Garrison (former executive director) and Luther Strange (former member of the executive committee).

How is JP Morgan PAC tied to RAGA in the 2018 election cycle? From Troy King's letter to the Alabama Ethics Commission:

Now, during the 2018 election cycle, according to RAGA’s public filings with the Internal Revenue Service, RAGA’s PAC has again accepted a number of contributions from other PACs, including, earlier this year, nearly $16,000 from the J.P. Morgan PAC plus another $50,000 in PAC contributions in the last quarter of 2017. RAGA’s PAC has now, during this election cycle, made hundreds of thousands of dollars of contributions to Steve Marshall for Alabama, Inc.

Public documents show that in March 2014, when both Garrison and Strange were directly involved with RAGA, JP Morgan PAC gave $50,000 to the association. (See page 15 of the document embedded at the end of this post.) That was roughly one month before RAGA made a donation to the Luther Strange campaign, in the amount . . . of $50,000. It also just happened to be the same time frame in which our house went into foreclosure.

Did JP Morgan PAC make a direct contribution to Luther Strange, after it was more or less laundered through RAGA? The public does not know because the whole purpose of PAC-to-PAC transfers is to disguise the original source of funds -- and that's why they are illegal under Alabama law.

The Strange re-election campaign eventually returned the $50,000 to RAGA in 2014, so even "Big Lutha" seemed to acknowledge the donation likely was illegal. Steve Marshall has shown no signs of taking such a step, suggesting he is more corrupt than Luther Strange -- and that is quite an achievement.

Here on (our) home front, the question is this: Was Jessica Garrison in a position with RAGA to pick up the phone, contact someone at Chase Mortgage, and have a wrongful foreclosure launched on our home -- perhaps with Luther Strange's assistance? Did she, in fact, do that, causing us to lose not only our home, but just about all of our possessions due to brazen theft during an unlawful eviction after we were forced to move to Missouri?

If the answer to those questions is yes -- to borrow a phrase from Lindsey Graham -- there will be "holy hell to pay."


RAGA 1st Quarter 2014 by on Scribd



Tuesday, December 4, 2018

David Shuler, unable to react to false testimony that Scott J. Wells had scars on his penis, handed his client a guilty verdict and a possible five life sentences


Daniel Dodson
(Third in a series)

Public records indicate Missouri resident Scott J. Wells paid Springfield attorney David Shuler (my brother) about $17,000, plus expenses, to defend him in a child sexual abuse case. What did Wells get for his expenditure? He got a guilty verdict -- so flimsy it later fell apart before the same judge who found Wells guilty -- and was looking at five life sentences, plus 55 years. It all could have been avoided if David Shuler had thought to ask one obvious question. But Wells had to hire another lawyer, to the tune of about $60,000, to get David Shuler's "handiwork" cleaned up and the verdict overturned, due to ineffective assistance of counsel.

State of Missouri v. Scott J. Wells (No. 31302CF5509) is a horrifying story of what can happen in our "justice system" when four little girls accuse a man of sexually abusing them, it goes to trial even though their stories are repeatedly changing in discovery, a judge issues a guilty verdict -- and that collapses only when, in a post-trial hearing, one of the complaining witnesses is shown to have clearly lied. The lie had been obvious at trial, but David Shuler was too incompetent, too indifferent, too compromised (or a combination of all three) to ask the question that would have set his client free.

After the guilty verdict had been tossed, Wells asked Shuler in writing to return his money; after all,  the court had found Shuler's representation fell to the level of ineffective assistance of counsel, but Shuler refused. He kept roughly $20,000 for "services" that left his client staring at five life sentences (and then some) -- for a crime he did not commit.

In preparation for this series of posts, I sent David Shuler an email asking why he had refused to return Scott Wells' money. We've shown that Mr. Shuler owns more than $1 million in Missouri real estate, so it doesn't appear he would miss the money Scott Wells paid him -- and which Shuler definitely did not earn. But David Shuler has not responded to my queries. (More on the subject of Shuler's fees in an upcoming post.)

Daniel Dodson, the Jefferson City attorney who got the Scott Wells guilty verdict overturned, served as an expert witness for Wells in his legal-malpractice claim against Shuler. At one point, Dodson describes the level of malpractice in the underlying criminal case as "staggering." Below is testimony from Daniel Dodson's deposition in the malpractice case, and as you will see, Dodson does not mince words about David Shuler's performance. The testimony begins on page 42 of the first document embedded at the end of this post. The questioner is Scott E. Bellm, from the Turner Reid Duncan firm of Springfield, representing David Shuler:

Bellm: Can we agree that it was not -- maybe in hindsight, things might have been done different, but it was not necessarily a breach of the standard of care for him to waive the jury [trial]. . . .

Dodson: No, I think it was a trial strategy -- a trial strategy borne of not knowing anything about doing these cases and generally having a make-up -- Mr. Shuler's make-up -- he's probably still not tried a jury trial and may never do it. He's not a jury trial lawyer.

Bellm: In any event, even if he had not waived jury and they would have had a jury trial, there's no way in the world anybody in this room or anywhere else could ever predict one way or the other what the outcome would have been?

Dodson: With David Shuler as his lawyer, I can predict what the outcome --

Bellm: Or with anybody?

Dodson: I can predict what the outcome would have been in this case with proper preparation -- there was so much -- I had forgotten half of what came up in that transcript, and I didn't get to half of my witnesses that came up. In this case, I think it was rather obvious that Scott Wells wasn't guilty and that there were so many holes and so many problems and then the stuff that came up in trial that wasn't reacted to, I think the case was a winner.

Bellm: You believe, as you sit here today, that had a different lawyer with different skill sets, different preparation, if that lawyer would have tried this case in Greene County back in August of --

Dodson: 2004.

Bellm: -- four, in front of a jury of unknown people, that you can say with any degree of certainty that there would have been an acquittal of all 14 charges?

Dodson: There may not be certainty in this business, but I can tell you that I believe there would have been an acquittal in front of a jury or in front of Judge [Don] Burrell.

Bellm: If all -- of all charges?

David Shuler
Dodson: If it had been properly prepared, yes, absolutely. I think when we stopped the [new trial] hearing for a pause, and Burrell called us back eventually into chambers and said, I have heard enough, and I do think, ultimately, based on what he said -- and I tried to appeal it, but it just -- it wasn't right for appeal, I think, ultimately, if we had gone back to trial, having been compromised by Shuler's representation, having had all of my potential trial strategies exposed in that hearing, there was a possibility we could have lost, and that's why we compromised out {settled] the case.

But I think eventually we would have won on appeal, because I think what I think Judge Burrell did was, as the trier of fact, find that he had a doubt about his own verdict beyond a reasonable doubt. And I think eventually there would have been an acquittal, based on the fact that the original trier of fact set aside his own finding of guilt. I think it would have.

Bellm: And in all fairness, Judge Burrell had the benefit of hearing evidence that you understand, likely, probably would not have been admitted at trial?

Dodson: He did, but I don't think he considered it. I think he considered -- and I think, you know, the crux of this case is the scars on the penis evidence, and that is what did it. Based on what he said in chambers, he said, when I heard that and heard that she said he had scars on his penis for the first time and that -- and he didn't even have the fact that Shuler didn't remember, but Scott will tell you that Shuler didn't even ask.

Part of defending a case like this is having a belief in your client, if your client says he didn't do it. And Shuler didn't have enough of a belief in his client that he had any doubt that this girl was correct about the scars on the penis and didn't even ask Scott if he had scars on his penis, and therefore, did not react and put in evidence which was, frankly, right there behind his zipper, that this young woman was completely up a tree.

Bellm: And you agree with me that the first time this testimony was ever given was during the trial?

Dodson: It was.

Bellm: And --

Dodson: But I can tell you when I got that transcript, the first thing I did -- I was at my home in Maryland -- I still lived out in the Washington, D.C., area, and I had this transcript and I saw that, and I immediately called Scott Wells and said, do you have scars on your penis?

And he said, no.

And I said, did Shuler ever ask you if you had scars on your penis?

And he said, no.

Now, that's an immediate reaction, if you're a defense lawyer, capable of defending these cases.

Bellm: And he may have asked him and he may have said no, but there is no way to know what weight or credibility the fact finder would have given that testimony?

Dodson: I'm sorry?

Bellm: If David would have asked Mr. [Wells] that question --

Dodson: He indicated he wasn't sure if he did. If David had asked Mr. Wells that question --

Scott J. Wells
Bellm: That's not my question. My question is: If David would have asked Scott Wells on the stand, in light of this new testimony during trial, he had had scars on his penis, and if Mr. Wells would have said no, then the fact finder would be free to give his testimony whatever weight and credibility that he chose appropriate?

Dodson: I don't think, especially in this case, a judge-tried case might have been better, because first of all, if the prosecutor didn't do something to refute it, you're basically in a position with a presumption of innocence and a reasonable doubt standard to take that at face value unless it's questioned. But the evidence was there.

I sent Scott to a doctor, because frankly, I didn't want to see his penis, and got a report that said he has no scars on his penis. That couldn't have been done that day. The appropriate scenario would be, judge, let's go back into chambers, my client has something he wants to show you, and the evidence would have been irrefutable at that point.

That's not a matter of just asking Scott. It's a matter of being aware of what's going on and at least asking your client to figure out that you have exculpatory evidence right there, frankly, in his pants.


(To be continued)


Previously in the series:


* Court finds Missouri lawyer David Shuler provided ineffective assistance of counsel (11/13/18)

* Missouri attorney David Shuler took no action at trial . . . (11/27/18)














Monday, December 3, 2018

Could something like the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi happen here? Our experiences in Alabama and Missouri suggest the answer is "Yes"


Jamal Khashoggi
The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi --which Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered, according to the CIA --might be the most barbaric act against an individual in most of our lifetimes. But if you compare events leading to the murder with events surrounding my kidnapping and five-month incarceration in Shelby County, Alabama, you see enough similarities to think maybe the Khashoggi murder wasn't so "out there," after all.

In one respect, the Khashoggi incident was less radical than what happened to a U.S. journalist (me) in the Deep South: At least the Saudi criminals had the decency to abduct Khashoggi in a public place; Shelby County deputy Chris Blevins broke into our house, in broad daylight, to nab me -- an act unlawful on so many levels that it's hard to list all the state and federal laws it violates. And yet, U.S. Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins (Northern District of Alabama) has found sheriff's deputies under the state constitution, have immunity to commit such acts, as being within "the line and scope of their employment." (No kidding.)

On top of that, we've pointed to evidence that suggests Republican thugs who orchestrated my abduction included my wife, Carol, in the Rob Riley-Liberty Duke lawsuit because the plan was to kidnap and murder both of us. If so, Carol's ability to remain free and get word out to the press -- plus the thugs' apparent reluctance to break into our house a second time -- probably is all that saved us.

Were we slated to be beheaded and dismembered, as Khashoggi reportedly was? Likely not, but who knows, maybe the Saudis have given Alabama thugs ideas to implement in their future endeavors.

How similar were the Khashoggi murder and the Schnauzer kidnapping? Let's examine some of the underlying issues in both:


The judiciary as an "entry drug" for corruption

Over 11-plus years, this blog has provided details -- the kind that probably have never been reported before -- showing that American courts are awash in sewage. My research indicates perhaps the No. 1 indicator of a backward, third-world country is a corrupt judiciary -- specifically, the lack of due process, equal protection, and the rule of law. Our reporting shows the world's foremost democracy is becoming more and more like a banana republic.

Mugshot of U.S. journalist Roger Shuler
Jamal Khashoggi recognized similar, deep-seated problems in Saudi Arabia -- and speaking out about the entrenched judiciary likely contributed to his demise. Here are some of his quotes from a recent report at Newsweek:

[We shouldn't] minimize the issue of judicial reform to women only, even though it is important. . . . Since the time of King Abdulaziz, they have refused codifying the laws. And they think codifying the laws is secular. . . . This is what I mean by reform, by true reform of the judiciary, is to codify the law, introduce due process in the court system and make judges [obey] --what is the word? --a codified law…. This is the reform that is needed.

Making judges obey a codified law? Heck, Khashoggi was talking about judicial reform that would be way more advanced than anything we have in the United States. We have a codified law in America, but no one makes judges obey it. We've seen multiple instances where judges clearly have not even read the applicable law and/or did not consider it in their rulings.


Attacking your job -- your ability to make a living -- as a form of retaliation

We've written numerous posts about the cheat jobs Carol and I experienced in the Alabama workplace -- her at Infinity Insurance, me at UAB -- and evidence makes it clear they were political hit jobs, payback for my reporting at Legal Schnauzer, especially about the Don Siegelman case. Khashoggi had similar experiences in Saudi Arabia. From a report at Bloomberg:

In the 2000s, [Khashoggi] was twice fired from his post as editor-in-chief of the Saudi Al-Watan daily newspaper, which under his leadership ran stories, editorials and cartoons critical of extremists.

Yet he didn’t stay long without a job. In between, he served as an adviser to the Saudi ambassador to London, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, a former long-serving intelligence chief, and stayed on as the prince’s media aide after he was appointed the Saudi envoy to the U.S.

“I got fired from my job twice because I was pushing for reform in Saudi Arabia,” Khashoggi said in a March appearance on Qatari-run Al Jazeera’s “Upfront” program as he explained the worsening environment for journalists under Prince Mohammed. “It wasn’t that easy but people were not being put in jails. There was a breathing space.”

Of thugs and jails

Alabama thugs targeted me for jailing -- essentially arresting me for blogging. Statements from the last days of his life indicate Khashoggi spent a lot of time looking over his shoulder, as any "breathing space" dissipated under the regime of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. From a report at the UK Daily Mail:

Khashoggi also criticised Prince Mohammed's lack of 'proper advisers'.

'He is moving toward a Saudi Arabia according to him, a Saudi Arabia according to Mohammed bin Salman only,' said Khashoggi, who was himself a contributor to the Washington Post newspaper.

Khashoggi described two of the prince's aides, including the since-dismissed media adviser Saud al-Qahtani, as 'very thuggish'.

'People fear them. You challenge them, you might end up in prison, and that has happened,' he said.

Lies, lies, everywhere there's lies

Almost from the moment Khashoggi's disappearance hit the press, Saudi officials produced a string of lies -- finally admitting it was a case of premeditated murder. A recent unmasking of Saudi lies came when a Turkish official said Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi consulate. So much for Saudi claims that Khashoggi was the victim of a rogue extradition mission that turned into a "brawl." Can't have much of a brawl when one of the participants already is dead from strangulation.

Rob Riley and his daddy, former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley
Alabama GOP thug Rob Riley took a similar tack after I was thrown in jail. In an interview with Sara Rafsky, of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Riley told lies of Trumpian proportions. Here is a memorable whopper from Rafsky's article, titled "Censorship in Alabama's Shelby County":

Riley said in a telephone interview he has a right to seek injunctive relief in a defamation case and there is legal precedent for doing so. He said someone who decides "to make up a lie, destroy someone's reputation, that's not journalism."

Riley told CPJ: "Shuler has a history of making up things and writing things that are outlandish lies...I am going to pursue every avenue possible to me in the courts to defend my name, my family and my business...He has no proof this is true. He has just decided to be a cyber-bully and make stuff up and I've had enough."

Is any of that true? Not one word of it. Notice that Riley does not cite any case to support his claim that the law allows for a preliminary injunction in a defamation case -- in a matter where the complained of article has not been proven to be defamatory before a jury trial, as required by law. Riley can cite no such law because there is no such law.

Notice that Riley tells a reporter that my reporting consists of "outlandish lies." Did he ever say -- under oath, in a court of law -- that my reporting on his relationship with lobbyist Liberty Duke was false. Anyone can check the public record and find the answer is "No."

Is there much difference between the oily Rob "Uday" Riley and lying royal officials in Saudi Arabia? Not that I can see.


(NoteLegal Schnauzer needs your help. Loyal readers have sustained this blog for years, and support is urgently needed now that my wife, Carol, is recovering from a fainting spell, which led to a recent broken arm. The healing process has started for Carol, but statements from her doctors indicate this likely was fallout from political thugs cheating both of us out of our jobs [and health insurance] in Birmingham -- and the stress of dealing with financial wreckage that comes from being targeted for right-wing attacks.  If you are able to help along our journalism journey, please click on the yellow donate button in the upper right corner of the blog, under the "Support the Schnauzer" headline. We are deeply grateful for your support through the years.)