Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Name of former Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange pops up in opiods-lawsuit negotiations, just as social media for Jessica Medeiros Garrison, his one-time campaign manager and mistress, disappears


Jessica Medeiros Garrison and Luther Strange

Luther Strange, former U.S. senator and attorney general of Alabama, is playing a central role in a tentative multibillion-dollar settlement with a company at the heart of the U.S. opiod crisis, according to a report from Associated Press.

The news roughly coincides with the disappearance on social media of Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Strange's one-time campaign manager and mistress. A source contacted us on Sept. 6 to say Garrison's social-media presence had gone pretty much dark. Earlier, the same source noted this had happened several times before, especially when Garrison or Strange were connected to potentially touchy situations. Does this suggest now that Garrison and Strange are trying to hide something that could have a negative impact on his involvement with the opiod case?

That question is filled with irony because the AP report indicates Strange got involved with the opiod case, in part, because of his ties to the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), for which Garrison served as executive director before bailing out in January 2016 and winding up in an of-counsel position with Birmingham law firm Balch and Bingham. Garrison exited at Balch in early 2017, about the time news reports had Luther Strange involved up to his neck in the North Birmingham Superfund bribery scandal.

How did Strange get involved with the opiod case? It appears he had connections to the Sackler family, the owners of Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin. From the AP report:

The opioid crisis has hit virtually every pocket of the U.S., from rural towns in deeply conservative states to big cities in liberal-leaning ones. But a curious divide has opened up.

The nation's Republican state attorneys general have, for the most part, lined up in support of a tentative multibillion-dollar settlement with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, while their Democratic counterparts have mostly come out against it, decrying it as woefully inadequate.

Exactly why this is so is unclear, and some of those involved suggested it can't necessarily be explained by the fact that the Republican Party is considered more friendly to big business.

Some of the attention has focused on the role played by Luther Strange, a Republican former Alabama attorney general who has been working for members of the Sackler family, which owns Purdue Pharma.

People familiar with the negotiations say he was at a meeting of the Republican Attorneys General Association over the summer, sounding out members about a settlement months before a tentative deal was struck this week.

Why would Strange (and Garrison, for that matter) feel compelled to offer a helping hand to the company behind OxyContin? It appears to involve cold, hard cash, according to AP:

Purdue has been generous in recent years to RAGA, contributing more than $680,000 to its campaign operation from 2014 through 2018. The company also gave to the organization's Democratic counterpart, the Democratic Attorneys General Association, over the same five-year period, but far less: about $210,000.

Strange would not comment Friday.

The proposed settlement with the Stamford, Connecticut-based drugmaker could ultimately be worth up to $12 billion, though critics doubt it will be close to that much.

Nearly half the states and lawyers representing some 2,000 local governments have tentatively accepted the settlement deal, according to people familiar with the talks. Under the deal, the company would declare bankruptcy and remake itself as "public benefit trust," with its profits going toward the settlement. An Associated Press survey of attorney general offices shows 25 states and the District of Columbia have rejected the current offer.

Purdue is perhaps the highest-profile opioid maker, but governments are also suing other drugmakers, distributors and pharmacies to try to hold them accountable for a crisis that has claimed more than 400,000 lives in the U.S. since 2000, including deaths linked to illicit drugs such as heroin and fentanyl.

The first federal trial over the toll exacted by opioids is scheduled to start next month in Cleveland.

Why would Strange refuse to comment on his role in the Purdue negotiations? Perhaps he was concerned that uncomfortable questions might arise about his ties to RAGA and Jessica Medeiros Garrison? Perhaps Strange is trying to help the Sackler family get off lightly, and he doesn't want to address questions on that subject? Reports AP:

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, was one of the lead negotiators on the settlement and said that Strange played a big role.

"He was lawyer to the family, and so we had multiple discussions with the family in which I indicated that a supermajority of states could agree to a deal if the Sacklers would simply provide more certainty as to the payment," Stein said in an interview. "Almost all states would agree to the deal if the Sackler family would guarantee it 100%. Just make a payment. Those were discussions we had. The Sacklers rejected those offers and said it was take it or leave it, and I'm leaving it."

This much seems clear: The negotiations are tense enough -- with enough big dollars at stake -- that Jessica Garrison does not want anyone nosing around in her social-media profile. Our source says he has seen such behavior before, as he noted in a 2017 email:

The same week Luther Strange was accused in print of being involved in a bribe, Jessica Medeiros Garrison's Facebook was taken down without a trace.

She did this once before - the same week Luther got the senate appointment from Bentley.

When something is up they don't want anyone going through her old Facebook posts. There must be bombs in there.

We sought comment from Jessica Garrison, but she has not responded to our queries.

Monday, September 16, 2019

More than 12 years ago, we came face to face with judicial corruption in Alabama, and now a new report about allegations of sexual misconduct against Brett Kavanaugh suggests SCOTUS harbors liars and cheats


Brett Kavanaugh and Donald Trump

Democratic presidential candidates are calling for the impeachment of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the wake of a New York Times report over the weekend about new allegations of sexual misconduct in Kavanaugh's background.

Those who have followed this blog from its earliest days know the latest on Kavanaugh might be a national (even international) story, but it hits close to home here at Legal Schnauzer.

Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, and Julian Castro were among 2020 presidential hopefuls who called for Kavanaugh's impeachment, claiming the new revelations provide fresh evidence that he lied under oath to Congress in his confirmation hearings last fall. From a report at CNBC:

2020 presidential contenders including Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Beto O’Rourke on Sunday called for the impeachment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh after an article in The New York Times surfaced a previously unreported allegation of sexual misconduct against the justice when he was a undergraduate at Yale University.

“I sat through those hearings. Brett Kavanaugh lied to the U.S. Senate and most importantly to the American people,” Harris wrote. “He was put on the Court through a sham process and his place on the Court is an insult to the pursuit of truth and justice. He must be impeached.”

Warren said Kavanaugh’s nomination was “rammed through the Senate” without proper analysis into the slew of misconduct allegations against him.

“Confirmation is not exoneration, and these newest revelations are disturbing,” Warren wrote. “Like the man who appointed him, Kavanaugh should be impeached.”

Later in the day, O’Rourke weighed in as well.

“We know he lied under oath. He should be impeached,” O’Rourke tweeted.

The latest allegations against Kavanaugh grew from a book excerpt the Times published on Saturday. From a report at Vox:

[These presidential-candidate reactions] were prompted by a New York Times piece published this weekend, which featured an excerpt from an upcoming book by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly. (The book's title is The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation.)

That excerpt details an incident similar to the one described by Kavanaugh’s former Yale classmate, Deborah Ramirez. Ramirez had alleged that Kavanaugh drunkenly exposed himself and forcibly thrust his genitals in her face without her consent, something Kavanaugh denied. A second Yale classmate has now levied a similar allegation from another party attended by Kavanaugh:

We also uncovered a previously unreported story about Mr. Kavanaugh in his freshman year that echoes Ms. Ramirez’s allegation. A classmate, Max Stier, saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student. Mr. Stier, who runs a nonprofit organization in Washington, notified senators and the F.B.I. about this account, but the F.B.I. did not investigate and Mr. Stier has declined to discuss it publicly. (We corroborated the story with two officials who have communicated with Mr. Stier.)

How does the Kavanaugh story touch on personal ground here at Legal Schnauzer? We invite you to read our first post, titled "Is Your Honor Really Honorable?" and dated June 3, 2007. The post does not include the name of Shelby County, AL District Judge Ron Jackson, but it is based on Jackson's failure to abide by his oath to uphold the law in our first courtroom experience -- a criminal trespass case against our criminally inclined neighbor Mike McGarity.

In a series of subsequent posts, we provided details about how Jackson butchered the law in State of Alabama v. Mike McGarity. Perhaps the most thorough examination came in a post titled "The trial of former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard suggests confederate principles, and distrust of U.S. Constitution, never have died in the Deep South":

All of our legal problems flow from the date a criminally inclined individual named Mike McGarity moved next door to us. McGarity, his kids, and his guests started trespassing on our front yard with regularity, essentially turning it into the neighborhood playground, without asking what we thought about the use of our own yard. When I informed McGarity multiple times that we did not want him, or anyone connected to him, coming on our property, his response was, "I'm going to sue you for harassment. . . ."

When my warnings only drew threats from McGarity, I consulted an attorney named Bill Lewis, and he made it clear that McGarity was violating both criminal and civil law -- trespassing by a person is a crime; an intrusion by a person, thing, or substance can be a tort. Lewis said a civil case might cost $10,000 or more, so it didn't make much sense to go that direction, especially since McGarity was committing a crime. Lewis said he would write a letter to McGarity, explaining the criminal statute, and stating that McGarity would receive no more warnings. Lewis said he hoped that would take care of it, but it would be up to us to swear out a criminal complaint with the sheriff if the trespassing continued, and we wanted it stopped.

McGarity continued to trespass, along with a cast of thousands, so we felt we had no choice but to swear out a complaint. We met with an attorney in the Shelby County DA's office, she filled out paperwork for the complaint, and we took it to the clerk's office to be sworn.

McGarity pleaded not guilty and refused to discuss a settlement, which District Judge Ron Jackson had encouraged us to reach, so the case went to trial. McGarity was charged with criminal trespass (third degree), which is not even a misdemeanor under Alabama law; it's a violation.

The applicable law hardly was complicated -- although McGarity and his attorney, William E. Swatek, apparently couldn't grasp it -- and here is how we spelled it out:

The issues at hand are covered under Code of Alabama 13A-7-4, and the offense has two components:

(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."

Law doesn't get much simpler than that, and these two issues were easily resolved at trial. The trial transcript shows that McGarity admitted he had knowingly entered upon our premises. As for the second part, it helps to have some definitions. My research indicates that being "licensed" to enter premises refers to someone who has a professional reason to be there -- a fireman, meter reader, police officer.

Being "privileged" to enter premises 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. If your dog gets loose and winds up on my yard, you have a right to retrieve him. If you see someone on my property who appears to be in medical distress, you have a right to come and check on him.

As for "invited," that's pretty obvious: It applies to someone who knows he is on friendly terms with the owner/occupants of the premises and has reason to believe he is welcome.

McGarity never claimed he had been invited to enter our property, and he never claimed to be licensed or privileged. In essence, he confessed to the crime, but Judge Jackson still acquitted him. (Bet you didn't know that could happen in an American court; well, it can, and it has.)

How does a judge acquit a defendant who has unwittingly confessed to the offense as charged? He does it by going off the rails, completely outside the law, making stuff up on the bench and pulling it out of his ass, as he sees fit: Here is our description of how Jackson went rogue:

For some reason, the court focused on only one instance of McGarity trespassing, even though our complaint said we had witnessed him trespass on multiple occasions. McGarity admitted he had received Bill Lewis' warning letter via certified mail, but he said he wasn't sure of the date it arrived -- that it might have come after the one trespassing incident the court considered.

Here is what Jackson said to Carol and me: "I'm going to find that you had to give written warning, and there is reasonable doubt about whether the warning was received prior to the trespass. Therefore, I am going to acquit. But Mr. McGarity, you certainly are on notice now, and if you return here on these issues, the result might be different."

Jackson said this as if he was trying to be a thoughtful, even-handed judge. But the acquittal allowed McGarity to sue us for malicious prosecution, which is a tort that essentially means a case was brought without probable cause. Heck, testimony showed that we had not only probable cause, we had actual cause -- McGarity admitted to breaking the law as charged.

So was Jackson's ruling legally sound? Not even close. Jackson held that we had to give McGarity written warning. In fact, Alabama case law holds that we had no responsibility to give McGarity a warning at all. (This makes sense under the concept of private property, one of our most cherished American ideals. If a homeowner or occupant had to give a warning to keep unwanted individuals off his premises, we essentially would have no private-property rights. Someone could place a massive tent on your front yard and host a party for thousands, and when confronted, say, "Hey, you didn't warn me not to do this, so I lawfully can use your land for whatever I want.")

What is the real law, which Judge Jackson ignored? This is 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."

Under the Fourteenth Amendment, we were entitled to due process, which means (in part) having an impartial arbiter. That Jackson could not get this simple law right indicates he was somehow compromised. We also were entitled to equal protection, to have Alabama law applied to us as it would be to anyone else. That obviously did not happen.

The bottom line? Under the law, we had no obligation to warn McGarity, either verbally or in writing. And he admitted under oath that we had warned him multiple times verbally. In other words, we went over and beyond what the law calls for in an effort to resolve this problem, and we still got screwed because Jackson found we had to provide written warning -- which we did, but McGarity claimed he had not received it prior to the one trespassing incident the court considered. (The truth? McGarity almost certainly received the written warning from Bill Lewis that day, and McGarity got pissed and went on our yard to try to figure out a way to run a fence up to the street, between the properties. That was a problem, of course, because McGarity had built his fence on our property, taking up about 400 square feet of our back yard -- and extending the fence, in a straight line, meant it would cross our driveway. Ooops. For some reason, Bill Lewis' office could not find the returned certified-mail receipt, so we (the prosecution) could not prove when McGarity received the warning.)

How does Brett Kavanaugh connect to our reporting on State v. Mike McGarity?  Since exposing Ron Jackson as a crook, we have reported on numerous other corrupt judges -- at both the state (J. Michael Joiner, G. Dan Reeves, Don Blankenship in Alabama; plusJerry Harmison and Margaret Palmietto in Missouri) and federal levels (William Acker Jr., Abdul Kallon, Mark Fuller, Gerald Bard Tjoflat)

Now, more than 12 years after our first point, the entire country might be forced to reckon with the notion that our "justice system" is awash in deceit -- even at the highest levels, as Brett Kavanaugh has shown, judges cannot be trusted to act with honor and integrity.

Montgomery's Baron Coleman -- after calling a political figure a "whore" and a "bitch" and hinting at burning down her house -- loses his talk-radio gig, but he's already found a landing spot, beginning today


Baron Coleman

Alabama lawyer and talk-show host Baron Coleman, who is making a bid to become one of the most insufferable pricks in the right-wing mediasphere, has lost his radio gig in Montgomery roughly one month after calling a female political figure a "whore" and a "bitch" and hinting he might burn her "damned house to the ground."

Coleman's departure is the good news. The bad news is that, according to a Coleman post on Facebook, he has another radio gig already lined up -- and it starts today, on WRBZ (95.6 FM and 1250 AM). Citizens of Montgomery, which might be the most corrupt city per capita in the United States, should be ashamed their community has media executives and sponsors who are willing to give voice to a bomb-throwing hack like Coleman.

Word of Coleman's exit from his News and Views program at Montgomery's WACV (93.1 FM, 9 a.m. to noon, weekdays) came via a Facebook post last Thursday, according to a report from Yellowhammer News (YH) The post was dated Sept. 12, not even a month after we reported on August 13 about his profane tirade against Becky Gerritson, executive director of the Eagle Forum of Alabama -- all because she dared disagree with him about medical marijuana (he's for it, she's against it). Here is how Coleman announced his exit from WACV:

As of this afternoon, I no longer work at Bluewater Broadcasting or News Talk 93.1FM WACV.

The on-air staff and sales professionals at Bluewater are some of the finest people in the world. I've had an amazing experience at Bluewater for the past five years, but it's time to move on.

I'll be making an announcement very shortly (days, not weeks) about my next step, but I'll be available to you again in the same format in the very near future.

In the meantime, I'm on Facebook and available by text, phone, or email if you need me.

Notice that Coleman makes no attempt to apologize to Gerritson or admit the words he directed at her were horrifically inappropriate. YH sought comment from Bluewater executives, who shrugged off the whole episode and gave no indication that Coleman deserved to be fired. Reports YH:

Yellowhammer News also reached out to Bluewater Broadcasting president and general manager Rick Peters, who downplayed Coleman’s departure but revealed Coleman’s sometimes co-host political consultant Jack Campbell and station host Joey Clark would be taking the time slot.

“No big whoop,” Peters said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “Irreconcilable differences. It’s a free country. People come and go. Been through it a hundred times. Baron’s a good broadcaster and will do fine for himself. Jack Campbell, who’s been there from the beginning will continue with News and Views. Joey Clark will be joining the show from 9-noon.”

Peters says it's "no big whoop" that one of his on-air "talents" called a woman a "bitch" and a "whore" and suggested her house could mysteriously burn to the ground. Sounds like Bluewater has stringent standards for the broadcasters it puts on the air.

Here is how Coleman announced his new landing spot in the Montgomery market:

The last couple of days have been wild.

I made the choice to leave Bluewater and WACV after more than five years. And to put a rest to any rumors, nobody was fired and it had nothing to do with any controversies or news stories from the past months or years.

I left Bluewater on my own accord and my own terms.

It was just time.

And, in the end, this is a better move for me, for David Mowery, for my family, and for everyone involved in the program.

I hope you’ll find the new show on WRBZ at 95.5 FM or 1250 AM, the WRBZ station app, the TuneIn Radio app, or online at wrbzradio.com.

It will be the same show. The same advertisers. The same intellectually honest and philosophically consistent content.

You’ll still be informed and entertained.

Even the hours are the same: Nine to Noon.

I’ll see you on Monday.

Again, no hint of remorse for his vile attack on Becky Gerritson. No sign of an apology to Bluewater for violating about every rule of broadcasting decorum while behind its microphone.

That's real Southern conservative "manhood" right there. And that might to go the real story about Baron Coleman. His verbal assault on Gerritson shows he is a non-talent as a broadcaster. We already have seen signs that he is a half-wit as a lawyer, one who keeps political company with felons and Grindr devotees like Ali (Akbar) Alexander.

But those are mere quibbles when compared to the deeper story on Baron Coleman. The sad truth? He's a rotten human being. How do we know? His own words tell us.


(To be continued)

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Former Balch Bingham partner Clark Cooper has been reduced to selling mattresses, but Jefferson Co. Judge Carole Smitherman might wind up the biggest loser in the scheme to ruin solo attorney Burt Newsome


Judge Carole Smitherman

An Alabama judge could face a petition to remove her from office for her handling of a lawsuit where she appears to have favored a large, scandal-plagued law firm in downtown Birmingham that reportedly attempted to steal the lucrative collections business of a solo practitioner, according to reports at banbalch.com.

Burt Newsome -- the solo attorney who allegedly was targeted, falsely arrested, and defamed in a scheme designed to allow Balch and Bingham to swipe his business and ruin his law practice -- has filed a 100-page appellate brief with the Alabama Supreme Court. It is unmasking details that might turn a common man's stomach and become Exhibit A of just how seedy Alabama's "justice system" can get.

Bad actor No. 1 in what banbalch,com calls "The Newsome Conspiracy Case," is former Balch partner Clark A. Cooper, who apparently led the effort to undermine Newsome's law practice. Writes K.B. Forbes at banbalch.com:

Balch and Bingham partner Clark A. Cooper, who was abruptly fired on March 3, 2017,  by the embattled law firm, appears to have been the spearhead of the conspiracy that targeted and defamed Burt Newsome, a successful attorney who serviced banks, in an alleged attempt to steal his business.

The defamation occurred after a staged arrest in which Newsome’s mugshot was allegedly distributed via email to several bank executives on a Saturday afternoon by Cooper.

According to Newsome’s appellate brief filed with the Alabama Supreme Court, Cooper looks like a habitual liar who tells half-truths and contradicts his own testimonials.

Need more specifics? Forbes provides them:

Balch  and Bingham likes to boast that they have over 200 attorneys throughout the Southeast. Why in heaven’s name did Balch target a one-man office, sole-practitioner attorney in Shelby County who services banks?

In 2012, Burt Newsome was minding his own business, and had not a shred of animosity towards Balch and Bingham.

Was Balch and Bingham really that desperate?

Clark A. Cooper, the Balch and Bingham partner who allegedly spearheaded the conspiracy against Newsome in an attempt to steal his successful business servicing banks, appears to have falsely claimed that Newsome’s bar license was in jeopardy to banking executives in 2013.

Cooper, who was fired by Balch in March of 2017, allegedly sent emails to banking executives with Newsome’s mugshot on a Saturday afternoon, two-days after Newsome’s staged arrest, writing, “Not sure how this will affect his law license.”

Newsome had been set up in a staged arrest, yet 48-hours later Cooper appears to have already found Newsome guilty.

Cooper reportedly has been reduced to selling mattresses. But before this seemy mess is over, Judge Carole Smitherman might be the biggest loser. Reports Forbes:


Clark Cooper
Balch and Bingham’s trail of rotting carcasses may have one more soon: Judge Carole Smitherman.

A petition for the removal of Balch’s biggest stooge from the bench is a realistic option now that it is known she dispatched 44 retaliatory orders in the Newsome Conspiracy Case all based on a counterfeit order.

Judge Smitherman, who sealed the Newsome Conspiracy Case for over 500 days to allegedly hide criminal acts and perjury, engaged in what appears to be judicial fraud.

She held the counterfeit order as the central pillar in a case, and demonstrated lop-sided bias for Balch and Bingham.

Entities linked to Balch and Bingham and the alleged co-conspirators in the Newsome Case funneled over $30,000 in campaign contributions to her and her husband, State Senator Rodger Smitherman. Shockingly, the Senator sat in on numerous secret hearings of the Star Chamber, where the Newsome Conspiracy Case was heard.

Judge Smitherman stupidly trusted Balch and Bingham, who allegedly have made her now look like the most corrupt, dumbest, and most worthless jurist in the State of Alabama.

What about the counterfeit oder and its central role in the scheme to ruin Burt Newsome? Forbes provides details:

Burt Newsome, the attorney who allegedly was wrongly targeted, falsely arrested, and defamed by Balch and Bingham and other co-conspirators has filed a 100-page appellate brief with the Alabama Supreme Court, and it is a devastating indictment of the Keystone Cops at Balch and Bingham.

The cornerstone of all defendants’ legal arguments, the 44 retaliatory orders signed by the Queen of the Star Chamber, Judge Carole Smitherman, and the order for summary judgement against Burt Newsome is all based on a counterfeit order.

A fake, bogus, 100% fictitious order.

And where did the counterfeit order come from?

When Newsome was wrongly arrested in 2013 in a staged arrest by the son of a long-time Alabama Power executive, Newsome vigorously fought the phony criminal charges against him.

In April of 2014, the bogus criminal case collapsed and was dismissed with prejudice.

On February 19, 2015, Newsome filed a request to have the staged criminal case and records expunged, and was granted that petition in September of 2015, since “neither the district attorney nor the victim filed any objection to the Petition for Expungement within 45 days,” according to the judge’s order.

Almost a year later, in the summer of 2016, the legal representatives of the co-conspirators in the Newsome Conspiracy Case presented to Judge Smitherman the counterfeit order stating that the expunged criminal case had been resurrected from the dead while making all sorts of scurrilous and false accusations inside the fabricated order against Newsome.

The counterfeit order was allegedly “signed” by another judge in Shelby County, who had no knowledge of the case, without a hearing, without any supporting transcripts, and most importantly never, ever filed in the state judicial information system.

Forbes provides perspective on the chicanery that seems to blossom and thrive in the Birmingham metro legal community:

The counterfeit order is worse than the ghost-written letters of the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal because it is blatant judicial fraud.

The bogus criminal case against Newsome remains expunged and even the Alacourt electronic records system declares that “no case detail available.”

We always have said the secretive and unconstitutional Star Chamber where the Newsome Conspiracy Case was tried was possibly hiding criminal acts and perjury.

Judge Smitherman and her husband State Senator Rodger Smitherman received over $30,000 in “contributions” from entities linked to Balch and Bingham and the co-defendants at key intervals during the case.

The Queen of the Star Chamber is not only a Balch and Bingham stooge; she is a fool, an utter fool who engaged in judicial fraud.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Jeannine Dorroh, sr. accountant at Southern Research in Birmingham, is the eyewitness who saw Mike McGarity attack and assault me with a roadside sign


Jeannine Dorroh
Jeannine Dorroh lives in Birmingham, AL, and is a senior accountant at Southern Research (SR). She lives in Broken Bow South, the same Shelby County neighborhood where Carol and I lived for 25 years.

Dorroh was pulling her vehicle out of the neighborhood one morning when she looked to her left and saw Mike McGarity, our neighbor with a lengthy criminal record, strike me in the back with a roadside sign. Dorroh's window was rolled up, and I didn't want to scare her by walking up to her vehicle after she had seen such an unusual event. I mouthed the words, "Did you see that?" and she nodded her head yes.

As I was walking away from the neighborhood entrance/exit, I noted her license-plate number and wrote it down as soon as I got home. I called the Shelby County Sheriff's Office, and a deputy soon arrived at our house to take a report of what McGarity had done. The deputy said he had spoken with McGarity and received a radically different version of events from mine.

I rolled up my sweatshirt to show him the bleeding welt on my back. "I didn't put that there myself," I said. I also informed the deputy of an eyewitness and gave him the license-plate number I had jotted down.

We obtained a copy of the deputy's report a few days later, and it included Jeannine Dorroh's name and address, which was a couple of streets over from ours. I called her one evening, explained who I was, and she was kind enough to state what she saw and express concern about my well-being. I told her I was going to be OK, but explained our difficulties with McGarity in the past, and this was just an extension of those.

Mike McGarity
I tape-recorded the conversation and have her statement, word for word. (A video with our phone conversation is embedded at the end of this post.) When you hear her voice, and learn about her background, it becomes clear this is a highly intelligent woman who is used to dealing in details. I would put her word up against Mike McGarity's any day of the week. Here is how our conversation began:

Roger Shuler (RS): I was the guy I think you saw get hit in the back with the sign the other morning . . . .

Jeannine Dorroh (JD): I told the officer what I saw. He came to my house and I gave my statement.

RS: We've had problems with this guy, he lives next door to us . . . It's a long-running thing; It's not been much fun.

JD: I looked out the window (of my vehicle) and I saw you two conversing, and all of a sudden you were walking away, and the other gentleman hit you in the back of the head. (He actually struck me in the upper back, but from Dorroh's vantage point, it probably looked like the blow landed on the back of my head.) I was shocked when I saw that. First, I thought you were joking, and then I saw it wasn't a joke. Then, you came up to my window, and said, "You saw that?," and I said, "Yes, yes I did. . . .

RS: I appreciate you being honest about it.

JD: Are you OK?

RS: I've got quite a welt on my back. If you have a second, I can tell you what caused the whole deal. . . . As you know weeds grow high down there, and it's hard to see, and people put up signs that aren't supposed to be there. It's against the law to put a sign in a state right-of- way, and it makes it hard to see when you pull out. So I went down there to remove the signs, and he followed me. He follows me and my wife. He started putting the signs back up, and I said, "Mike, those signs are gong to come down. It's against the law, and I can't see around them. He started saying, "I'm going to fight you" and called me names, and I shot back a thing or two, but didn't threaten him, and I started walking away, and you saw what he did.

With Jeannine Dorroh's help, we've established what really happened. We've also learned that McGarity resorted to his natural instincts and lied to the deputy who took a report. That's not a surprise to Carol and me because we've seen McGarity lie under oath in court.

Jeannine Dorroh pretty much puts the kibosh on McGarity's efforts to sell a phony story. We will address that issue in an upcoming post.

As we've reported previously, McGarity works in operation services at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama (BCBSAL), and he has a lengthy criminal record, which includes at least eight convictions. (All convictions that we have found are misdemeanors, although several are offenses that involve  violence or sex.) In this most recent incident, McGarity committed a felony assault and filed a false report with a law-enforcement officer, although neither was prosecuted. (More on that in upcoming posts.)

Does BCBSAL care that one of its employees engages in such unsavory and dangerous behavior, while having a sketchy record that pre-dates his employment at the company? We posed several questions about McGarity -- including whether he disclosed his criminal history on his job application -- to Koko Mackin, vice president of corporate communications at BCBSAL. She has not responded to our queries.

We take that to mean the company does not care about such issues.


(To be continued)




Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Personnel from Burrell Behavioral Health claim in 911 call that I threatened to shoot evicting deputies, but that is contrary to notes in their own medical records


Burrell Behavioral Health
I threatened to shoot any Missouri sheriff's deputy who attempted to evict Carol and me back in 2015, according to the statements of two Burrell Behavioral Health employees in a 911 call they made. Mental-health workers might get their jollies from spreading such rubbish, but when the story is not true -- and this one wasn't, on multiple grounds -- it becomes a problem, both for the patient and the entity that violated his rights to medical confidentiality.

In this instance, I obviously knew the Burrell employees' statements were untrue, but I only heard the 911 call via limited discovery we received in the bogus "assault on a law enforcement officer" case brought against my wife, Carol.

Had the Burrell folks bothered to check their own records, they would have learned: (1) My lawyer-brother, David Shuler, called a Burrell supervisor and concocted the "threaten to shoot" story without providing any evidence that I actually said that; in fact, David is one of the last people on earth with whom I would discuss such a subject, or any subject of substance; (2) Records from my caregiver, a psychiatric nurse named Matt Charles, show I never made such a statement to him, and he repeatedly describes me as "not having suicidal or homicidal thoughts."

We learn about a level of coordination between my brother and certain Burrell employees that is downright devious. The Burrell personnel had every reason to know my brother was lying, and they had no lawful grounds to speak to him anyway.

How did Burrell case manager Joshua Davis and social worker Kathryn Mays (she was whispering in Davis' ear throughout the 911 call) come up with such a tale? For one, they admit near the end of the 911 call that my "relatives" (which is shorthand for David) called Burrell with the allegation that I had threatened to shoot eviction-minded cops. (Video of the 911 call is embedded at the end of this post.)

They also admit that someone at Burrell talked to David, even though we had rescinded our release that allowed them to communicate with any of my family members. We did that after Mays reported to us that David called and claimed I had asked him to call her. I never asked David to call her, and we knew then that he was pulling the kind of con games for which lawyers have become known.

In other words, we had reported David as an unreliable source of information about us, but Burrell personnel apparently took his words as gospel and placed the 911 call. That caused Greene County Sheriff's Office (GCSO) deputies to arrive for our eviction with a squadron of officers (6 to 8, at least), armed with assault rifles, handguns, and all sorts of weaponry that could have gotten us killed.

Did Davis and Mays intentionally spread false information via the 911 system? They say in the call that Mays had last seen me during an appointment with Matt Charles on August 4, 2015 -- and I threatened on that date to go all Rambo against cops. They also claim I had a gun, even though (at the time) I had never owned a gun, other than a BB gun I received as a Christmas gift when I was about age 12.

Now, let's compare the Davis/Mays 911 statements against Matt Charles' notes in my medical records from that appointment on 8/4/15 (five days before our eviction):

Progress Note

MRN: 151401

PATIENT: Roger Shuler

DATE OF BIRTH: 11/25/56

Date of service: 08/04/15

Time of service: 10:10 am. to 10:33 a.m.

Service Code: 9214


CHIEF COMPLAINT:

Follow-up for medication management


HISTORY OF PRESENT ILLNESS:

Patient reports that he has been feeling okay since his last visit. He states that "nothing much has changed." He reports that his mood has been good and he has been sleeping well at night. He denies having suicidal or homicidal thoughts. He denies any problems with anxiety or panic. He denies hallucinations.

Patient continues to be preoccupied with legal issues. He states that his current landlord has been causing problems for him and his wife. He states that their lease recently expired, and they have not signed a new lease. He is under the impression that the lease was to go month to month at this point; however, he is not certain his landlord is going to want him to stay there. [Note: I had the month-to-month "impression" because that's what the lease said.] He is concerned that his mother and brother have "said things about me and my wife" to the landlord and that they are going to try to evict him.

Patient has some difficulty describing the details of the situation. Patient continues to perseverate on the issues that occurred in Alabama. He reports that he is unwilling to go through another situation such as that, where he was "harassed by the police and their goons." He states that he would protect himself if this ever were to occur again. He is very evasive when asked about what he means by "protecting himself." 

Does Matt Charles say I threatened to shoot anyone? No. Does he say I had a gun? No. Does he say my brother, David Shuler, had called Burrell with the "threaten to shoot" story? Yes, he does -- in an update the next day, 8/5/15 -- as we reported in an earlier post. Does he note any evidence to suggest David's story is remotely true, or that Burrell had any lawful grounds to communicate with David? Nope.

For the most part, I think Matt Charles gives a pretty fair summary of things at that time. But I do take issue with at least three items. It's possible that the medical-records process at many facilities is much more sloppy, and much less accurate, than most of us would like to think:

(1) Charles states: "Patient has some difficulty describing the details of the situation." Given adequate time, I had no problem describing "the details of the situation," as I've done on this blog numerous times. As you can tell from the time stamp on Charles' notes, our meetings usually lasted 15 to 20 minutes. I did not have time to go into great detail about a complex tenant-landlord situation, and I don't recall Charles asking for a lot of details. I did make it clear that the the planned eviction was unlawful, but did Charles seem interested in details about the law? Not that I could tell, and I didn't have time to tell him anyway.

(2) Charles states: "[Patient] is very evasive when asked about what he means by 'protecting himself.'" This came near the end of our session, and I did not have time to go into details. Also, I was -- in my view -- being honest, not evasive. I didn't know what we could do to protect ourselves, but Charles' own account indicates it did not involve a gun or shooting anyone. I think it's axiomatic that a homeowner (or renter) is entitled to protect himself against unlawful intruders, which the cops were going to be, in this instance. If I'd had more time, I likely would have tried to explain the legal options we had, including filing a notice of appeal that would have put an automatic stay on execution. In fact, that is what we did, but cops ignored the stay and evicted anyway -- breaking Carol's arm in the process.  In other words, the cops acted just as unlawfully as we had feared they would.

(3) Charles states: "Patient continues to perseverate on the issues that occurred in Alabama." Perseverate is a fancy verb that means "to repeat or prolong an action, thought, or utterance after the stimulus that prompted it has ceased." In my case, a simple way of saying it would be that I "continued to think about certain key events in Alabama after they had happened." As regular readers know, those events included my unlawful arrest (for blogging) and incarceration of five months, the loss of our home of 25 years to a wrongful foreclosure, and a forced move to Missouri (where certain of my family members proved they had developed into backstabbers.) Does Matt Charles think we are supposed to have a robotic reaction to such jarring events? We are supposed to snap our fingers and forget about trauma that creeps into our lives? After all, I already had been diagnosed with PTSD (by a physician) for a reason. Matt Charles left Burrell a few months after this appointment, but I really would like to ask him, "What does your use of the term 'perseverate' mean? Do you think it's abnormal to continue thinking about traumatic, life-altering events after they happened -- even when the victim knows the events happened way outside the law? Is the war veteran supposed to 'switch off'' memories of horrific scenes he might have witnessed?" As for me, I would be concerned about the sanity (and maybe the honesty) of anyone who claimed they could switch off thoughts about such events.

Charles describes me throughout his notes as "not homicidal," so I'm not sure why the "protecting himself" comment would raise concerns about any activity outside the law. And, in fact, the record is clear that Carol and I acted within the law 100 percent.




Monday, September 9, 2019

The finances of federal judge Gerald Bard Tjoflat are all tied up with JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, but that does not keep him from hearing cases involving those parties -- and ruling in their favor


Gerald Bard Tjoflat

How does a federal judge get away with unlawfully ruling on cases where he has a financial stake in one of the parties? Gerald Bard Tjoflat, an 89-year-old geezer from the Richard Nixon/Gerald Ford era, still serves on the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta (covering Alabama, Georgia, and Florida), and his hatchet job on "The House Case" -- where we lost of our home of almost 25 years in Birmingham via a wrongful foreclosure -- provides a classic example of how ethically bankrupt our federal courts have become.

One of the basics of American law is this: A federal judge automatically is disqualified from hearing a case in which he or an immediate family member has a financial interest. But our research shows Tjoflat has been hearing such cases for decades -- almost always ruling in favor of his own pocket book.

That was the situation in "The House Case," where one of the defendants was Chase Mortgage, which held the mortgage on our home. We are aware of at least one other such case, involving an alleged wrongful foreclosure, where a three-judge panel led by Tjoflat ruled against a Daphne,, AL couple named Karun and Ursula Jackson -- while ruling in favor of the Jacksons' mortgage company, Bank of America (BOA).

How does this happen? The decision on whether to hear a case often is left to the crooked judge himself -- with little or no oversight waiting in the wings. We invite you to follow us on the money trail for details about how Gerald Bard Tjoflat has made a habit of scamming the American people, especially those who live in the Deep South.

The money trail begins with Tjoflat's financial disclosure forms, One of the most recent disclosure forms we can find on the Web for Tjoflat is from 2012. It shows he has investments in the following entities:

(1) Alliance Bernstein Global Techology (Mutual Fund)

(2) Columbia Marsico Focused Equities Fund (Mutual Fund)

(3) Manulife Financial (401K)

(4) Quaker Strategic Growth Fund (Mutual Fund)

(5) Merrill Lynch Wealth Management (401K)

(6) Rogers, Towers, Bailey, Jones and Gay P.A.(401K)


What holdings are included in these financial instruments? Let's take a look:


(1) AllianceBernstein (AB) Global Technology -- This instrument now is called the AB Global Thematic Growth Fund, and a 2014 document from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) shows it has a forward currency exchange contract with JPMorgan Chase Bank. In 2017, AB picked long-time JPM Chase executive Seth Bernstein as its CEO

(2) Columbia Marsico Focused Equities Fund -- A report from Kiplinger's says two of this fund's largest positions are in JPMorgan Chase and Vestas Wind Systems of Denmark. This fund also is intimately connected to Bank of America, with founder Thomas Marsico buying the firm back from BOA in 2007, seven years after selling it to the No. 2 U.S. bank.

(3) Manulife Financial (401K) -- Manulife, based in Toronto and operating as John Hancock in the United States, issued a $750-million U.S. public offering in 2017. JPMorgan Securities LLC acted as one of the joint book-running managers for the offering.

(4) Quaker Strategic Growth Fund -- According to MarketWatch, JPMorgan Chase is among this fund's top 10 holdings. According to mutualfunds.com, Bank of America also is among the fund's top holdings.

(5) Merrill Lynch Wealth Management -- According to brightscope.com, Bank of America is the largest fund in this plan.

(6)  Rogers, Towers, Bailey, Jones and Gay P.A. -- This appears to be a retirement fund for a Florida-based law fim, and information about the fund does not appear to be publicly available.


The public record is clear: Judge Gerald Bard Tjoflat's finances are tied up with JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America -- and it's hard to imagine he does not know it. Does that keep him from hearing cases involving those two parties? Nope. Does it keep him from ruling in favor of those two parties? Definitely not -- and we have the evidence to prove it.


(To be continued)

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Audio of 911 call reveals my lawyer-brother David Shuler concocted story about "threats" toward cops, and Burrell Health spoke to him against our wishes


Burrell Behavioral Health
A 911 call that I supposedly made, threatening to shoot any sheriff's deputy who tried to evict Carol and me, actually came from an administrator at Burrell Behavioral Health -- a guy I never had met. The call was based on statements from my lawyer-brother David Shuler and not on anything I said.

In other words, my brother put his words in my mouth, made the whole "threat" story up, and caused a bevy of cops to barge into our home with assault rifles and handguns -- damned near getting Carol and me killed. And yet, the words I've repeatedly heard about David's efforts are that "he's just trying to help."

A copy of the 911 call, obtained in discovery for the bogus "assault" case against Carol, shows David has a strange way of helping. (A video of the 911 call is embedded at the end of this post.) And get this: We had cancelled any releases allowing David (or any other family member) to speak with Burrell personnel -- and we did that after catching him in an earlier lie.

In other words, Burrell had no lawful grounds to talk to David, and case manager Joshua Davis admits that on the 911 call. Burrell spoke with David anyway, violating our directive and probably violating state and federal law, and apparently placed a wildly defamatory 911 call at his insistence.

Joshua Davis is the primary voice from Burrell heard on the 911 call, although Kathryn Mays, a social worker who had been assigned to my case, can be heard whispering to him through the phone line. I've never met Joshua Davis and spoke with him briefly via phone one time. So, where did he get this misinformation about me? It apparently all came from David, my brother.

Did anyone at Burrell bother to check with me, to see if David's story was remotely accurate, if I had spoken with him about cops and evictions and guns? No, they did not ask me a thing about communications with David, and no, I did not talk with him about any of those subjects.

We had canceled our releases for David and other family members after Katherine Mays told me that David had called her, saying I'd asked him to do so. I told her that was a flat-out lie, and we immediately withdrew permission for Burrell to speak with him.

Did Burrell trample my patient rights by speaking with someone I had withdrawn permission for them to speak with -- and then placing a 911 call filled with false information, at my brother's insistence? It sure looks that way to me -- and it's all on the 911 call.

At 4:11 on the video below, Joshua Davis (with Kathryn Mays whispering information in his ear) had the following conversation with a 911 dispatcher named Maggie:

Maggie: When was the last time you talked with him (me)?

Josh: My caseworker is sitting here with me, she talked with him on 8/4/15 . . .

Maggie: That's when he said this?

Josh (w/ helpful whispers from Kathryn Mays): He said that, and he's also made threats to relatives, I believe, and they called and wanted to let us know and that would have been Aug. 6-7.

Maggie: The relatives called you?

Josh: Yes. We couldn't really speak to them because we don't have any releases, but we did make a hotline call to the Department of Mental Health.

Maggie: What hotline was it?

Josh: The Department of Health and Senior Services.

Maggie: I do have some contacts, if you would like that after they [cops] talk to him . . .

Josh: Do you have any other questions?

Maggie: Do you have Roger's phone number?

Josh: (205) 381-5673.

Did anyone from the Greene County Sheriff's Office bother to call me or stop by our apartment after this call? Nope, they just came barging into our home on eviction day, even though the eviction had been stayed by our notice of appeal and there was no final court order, approving the eviction.

What about Kathryn Mays' claim, during her whispering session, that I threatened to shoot officers during a visit with my caregiver, Matt Charles, on Aug. 4, 2015? I have Matt Charles' notes from that session, and he never includes a word about me threatening to shoot anyone. Earlier in the 911 call, even Joshua Davis admits I never made such a statement.

That apparently all came from David Shuler, and I never discussed any such subject with him.


(To be continued)




Wednesday, September 4, 2019

11th Circuit appellate panel, led by Nixon-era geezer Gerald Bard Tjoflat, cheats us on the wrongful-foreclosure "House Case" by ignoring changes to procedural rule that have been in place for 25 years


Gerald Bard Tjoflat

You might think that when changes are made to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure (FRAP), U.S. judges would be capable of keeping up with them. But that apparently is too much to ask of the three-judge panel, led by Richard Nixon-era geezer Gerald Bard Tjoflat, which cheated us raw in "The House Case" -- a federal lawsuit over the theft of our Birmingham home via a wrongful foreclosure.

The Tjoflat panel based its denial of our appeal on a 1980s version of FRAP 3, holding in its 2017 ruling that a mistake in the declared scope of our Notice of Appeal meant the court had no jurisdiction to hear the full appeal:

“The notice of appeal must . . . designate the judgment, order, or part thereof being appealed.” F. R. App. P. 3(c); Osterneck v. E.T. Barwick Indus., Inc., 825 F.2d 1521, 1528 (11th Cir. 1987). “Where the appellant notices the appeal of a specified judgment only or a part thereof,” moreover, “this court has no jurisdiction to review other judgments or issues which are not expressly referred to and which are not impliedly intended for appeal.” C. A. May Marine Supply Co. v. Brunswick Corp., 649 F.2d 1049, 1056 (5th Cir. 1981). Otherwise, because the intent to appeal is not clear, prejudice would likely fall upon the adverse party. Id.

As shown in the green highlighted areas above, the panel relied on case law from 1987 and 1981, respectively, ignoring important changes made to FRAP 3 in 1993. We described those changes in our Motion for Panel Rehearing: (See here and here.)

A 1993 advisory committee amendment to FRAP 3, plus a string of case law, has changed the landscape for notice of appeal requirements and made the panel’s cited law obsolete. 
A case styled Bogle v. Orange County, 162 F.3d 653 (11th Cir., 1998) holds: “The test for determining the sufficiency of a notice of appeal is "whether it is objectively clear that a party intended to appeal." Fed. R.App. P. 3(c) advisory committee's note (1993 amendment). Signs that the Shulers’ intended to appeal are all over the documents filed with this court and served on adverse parties.

Our intent to appeal the entire district-court dismissal is objectively clear in our appellate brief -- and the Tjoflat panel admits this. From our Motion for Panel Rehearing:

As the panel notes, the Shulers make it clear in their appellate brief – in two places – that they intended to appeal the dismissal, in its entirety. In their “Statement of Jurisdiction” on page 1, the Shulers’ state regarding the Eleventh Circuit: “. . . this court has jurisdiction to consider an appeal of the district court’s order dismissing the case. . . .

In the “Statement of the Issues” on page 2 of their appellate brief, the Shulers specifically raise three issues on appeal, including this: Did the district court unlawfully dismiss the Shulers’ case . . . ? It could not be more clear that the Shulers intended to appeal the dismissal, plus all orders leading up to that.

Do objectively clear statements in the appellate brief override a flawed Notice of Appeal? Case law flowing from the 1993 committee amendment to FRAP 3 shows the answer is yes. In fact, the Bogle finding goes beyond that, invoking the U.S. Supreme Court in the process. From our panel-rehearing motion:

Bogle then mentions the notion that an appellate brief may serve as a notice of appeal (“Assuming that an appellate brief may serve as a notice of appeal.”) That notion later was confirmed with clarity by the U.S. Supreme Court in Smith v. Barry, 502 U.S. 244 (1992), finding: “In this case, we hold that a document intended to serve as an appellate brief may qualify as the notice of appeal required by Rule 3.” Thus, the Shulers’ appellate brief lawfully serves as a notice of appeal, and the panel admits that the brief shows the Shulers’ intent to appeal the entire district-court case. 
Barry further holds: “Courts will liberally construe the requirements of Rule 3. . . . Thus, when papers are "technically at variance with the letter of [Rule 3], a court may nonetheless find that the litigant has complied with the rule if the litigant's action is the functional equivalent of what the rule requires." The Shulers’ appellate brief, where they mention in two places their intent to appeal the entire district-court case, clearly serves as the functional equivalent of Rule 3 requirements.

It cannot be disputed that current law, under FRAP 3 and its progeny: (1) Allows statements in an appellate brief to override a flawed Notice of Appeal; (2) Allows an appellate brief to qualify as a Notice of Appeal; and (3) Calls for the requirements of Rule 3 to be liberally construed, especially where the litigant's actions are the "functional equivalent of what the rule applies."

Do you need more evidence that Tjoflat and the Gang screwed us, big time? Consider the holdings of Rinaldo v. Corbett, 256 F.3d 1276 (11th Cir., 2001). Consider this from our panel-rehearing motion:

Rinaldo v. Corbett, 256 F.3d 1276 (11th Cir., 2001) drives home the totality element of the Shulers’ appeal: “When a district court enters a final judgment, `all prior non-final orders and rulings which produced the judgment' are merged into the judgment and subject to review on appeal." The record shows the district court entered a final judgment – meaning all non-final orders and rulings which produced the judgment are merged into the judgment and subject to review on appeal – especially where the Shulers’ appellate brief makes clear their intention of appealing the entire district-court case.

And then, we have this:

Rinaldo holds: “Now, Rule 3(c)(4) directs that "[a]n appeal must not be dismissed for informality of form or title of the notice of appeal, or for failure to name a party whose intent to appeal is otherwise clear from the notice." Fed. R.App. P. 3(c)(4). Explaining this new subsection, the 1993 Advisory Committee Notes state that: “Finally, the rule makes it clear that dismissal of an appeal should not occur when it is otherwise clear from the notice that the party intended to appeal. If a court determines it is objectively clear that a party intended to appeal, there are neither administrative concerns nor fairness concerns that should prevent the appeal from going forward.” There can be no dispute that the Shulers intended to appeal. They say so in their notice of appeal and they say so again, twice, in their appellate brief. And the law is clear this presents no fairness or prejudice concerns for adverse parties.

If this were a case of incompetence in the 11th Circuit, that would be alarming enough. But this involves intentional cheating, which probably rises to the level of fraud on the court. And that, by law, should give us grounds to reopen "The House Case," along with all of the other federal matters -- including our employment cases against UAB and Infinity Insurance -- where we were intentionally cheated due to fraud on the court.

As for Tjoflat, our research reveals a clear reason why he tends to favor big financial outfits like Chase Mortgage, which wrongfully foreclosed on our home of almost 25 years.

We will provide details in upcoming posts.


(To be continued)

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Audio evidence shows Missouri Deputy Scott Harrison committed perjury in Carol's "assault" trial -- putting Judge Jerry Harmison's guilty verdict on shaky ground


Deputy Scott Harrison
Corruption and incompetence among law-enforcement and correctional officers has become a hot topic since the so-called suicide of alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein in New York City. But it's not a new topic here at Legal Schnauzer, and we've seen a shocking level of dishonesty play out under oath in a court of law.

A Missouri sheriff's deputy committed perjury in my wife Carol's "assault on a law enforcement officer" trial in Greene County. That means, by law, the guilty verdict against Carol is due to be vacated or set aside, and Deputy Scott Harrison is subject to criminal prosecution.

Harrison's false statement under oath is one of several such statements cop-witnesses for the state made in Carol's trial. But Harrison's is the one we can prove -- right this minute, with no additional investigation or discovery -- is perjurious. Other deputies' sketchy statements generally were inconsistent -- their trial testimony differed from written statements in incident reports -- so it would take some research to determine what might rise to the level of perjury. Either way, they apparently committed perjury or filed false police reports, both of which are crimes.

At least one statement from Harrison -- the deputy who burst into our apartment and pointed an assault rifle at my head during an unlawful eviction in September 2015 -- leaves no doubt. This is from page 3 of Judge Jerry Harmison Jr.'s judgment in Carol's case: (The judgment and Carol's Motion to Vacate Judgment That Was Procured by Fraud, Perjury, etc. are embedded at the end of this post.)

Harrison stated he initially focused on Roger Shuler once the front door was open because Roger Shuler had called and expressed threats to law enforcement on August 12, 2015.

We have recorded evidence that Harrison's statement is false, and we presented that evidence in a recent post, with more relevant posts to come. (The video/audio is embedded at the end of this post.)

How is perjury described under Missouri law? It can be found at RSMo 575.040, and Carol cites it in her Motion to Vacate:

Perjury is defined at RSMo. 575.040:

1. A person commits the crime of perjury if, with the purpose to deceive, he knowingly testifies falsely to any material fact upon oath or affirmation legally administered, in any official proceeding before any court, public body, notary public or other officer authorized to administer oaths;

2. A fact is material, regardless of its admissibility under rules of evidence, if it could substantially affect, or did substantially affect, the course or outcome of the cause, matter or proceeding;

3. Knowledge of the materiality of the statement is not an element of this crime, and it is no defense that:

(1) The defendant mistakenly believed the fact to be immaterial.

Is there any doubt that Harrison's statement was material? Absolutely not. At least two deputies -- including Jeremy Lynn, the "victim" of Carol's assault -- stated they were only on the scene because of Harrison's false claim that I had made a threatening 911 call. The only problem? Audio evidence shows that Josh Davis and Kathryn Mays -- a case manager and social worker at Burrell Behavioral Health, respectively -- made the 911 call. And I had nothing to do with it.

Carol and I, of course, knew all along I never made a 911 call or a threat to law enforcement -- and I've reported that here -- but how did we obtain evidence to prove Harrison's trial statement was false? Carol explains in her Motion to Vacate:

During the course of discovery in the instant case, the Shulers obtained a copy of the 911 call – it was among the 2-3 discovery requests the prosecution actually produced, and Shuler didn’t get it until almost the trial date – and the call came from Josh Davis, a case manager at Burrell Behavioral Health, with Kathryn Mays, a social worker, whispering instructions in his ear. Roger Shuler had nothing to do with the 911 call, and he never made a threat re: cops or anyone else to a member of his family – contrary to the hearsay testimony presented by multiple prosecution witnesses in this case.

As for the important element of materiality, here are details about that, from the Motion to Vacate:

Harrison’s statement clearly was false, with intent to deceive the court, and it was material. The other three cop-witnesses also testified in some fashion, via hearsay, about such threats from Roger Shuler, and two of them – Debi Wade and Jeremy Lynn – stated at trial that they were present for the Shulers’ eviction only because of a “threat” Roger Shuler never made and/or a 911 call he never placed. Carol Shuler wound up falsely accused of “assaulting” Jeremy Lynn, but he was only there because of Scott Harrison’s bogus 911 story. Debi Wade went on to falsely testify that Carol Shuler charged into her “like a bull” – a canard even prosecutors apparently did not believe because they did not charge Carol with it. 
Also, Wade falsely testified that Carol flailed around in the back seat of a patrol car – even though Carol was seat-belted – suggesting Carol produced a comminuted fracture (broken in more than two places), a feat that likely is physically impossible and has never happened in human history. This was not a hairline fracture of the arm; it was about as bad a trauma-induced break as is found in medicine. Bottom line: The officer who falsely claimed Carol Shuler assaulted him and the officer who authored a bogus Probable Cause Statement on the subject were only present at the Shulers’ eviction because of Scott Harrison’s phony 911 story. It’s very likely Harrison’s perjury is the reason Carol Shuler was found guilty of an offense even the “victim” (Jeremy Lynn) admits she did not commit.

Let's drive this point home because it's important: The officer who falsely claimed Carol assaulted him (Jeremy Lynn) and the officer who wrote a false Probable Cause Statement on the subject (Debi Wade) stated under oath that they were only present because of Scott Harrison's phony 911 story.

X-ray of comminuted fracture
in Carol Shuler's left arm.
Without the 911 canard, one deputy likely would have been on the scene -- and he might have stayed in his vehicle, scratching himself in indelicate places throughout the eviction. Our research indicates that's how most Missouri evictions are handled, with one deputy usually providing a "presence" to help ensure a tense process remains peaceful. In our case, we were confronted with a heavily armed SWAT team, whose members wound up brutalizing Carol and breaking her arm so severely that it required roughly eight hours of trauma surgery for repair.

Do courts view perjury during a criminal trial as a serious matter? On paper, they sure do? What impact can a finding of perjury have on a verdict? On paper, it can turn the results upside down.

How could Scott Harrison's perjury affect the judgment in Carol's case? We will examine that subject in an upcoming post.

And what about the Missouri Attorney General's Office? That likely is where a case of suspected perjury should be reported. Do they take it seriously?We have our doubts, but we intend to find out.


(To be continued)













Thursday, August 29, 2019

Federal judge Gerald Bard Tjoflat has a financial stake in JPMorgan Chase, whose subsidiary launched the wrongful foreclosure on our house in Birmingham, meaning he was disqualified from hearing our appeal


Gerald Bard Tjoflat

By the time a three-judge panel of the U.S. Eleventh Circuit -- led by 89-year-old Gerald Bard Tjoflat -- denied our appeal in "The House Case," my wife Carol and I had been cheated enough in court to be highly jaded about the whole process. The ruling came in December 2017, and we would have been shocked if any court ruled correctly, according to facts and law, in one of our cases. But the finding in Shuler, et al v. Garrison, et al was so off-the-charts crooked that even we were taken aback.

"How could federal judges -- three of them -- be so brazen about ruling contrary to black-letter law?" we said to ourselves. The answer to that question now is apparent. Tjoflat had a financial stake in the case, and he ruled in favor of his own pocketbook. That, of course, is wildly unlawful; a cornucopia of law holds that a federal judge is not to hear a case in which he or an immediate family member has a financial interest. Tjoflat, however, ignored that rule in "The House Case," and our research indicates he's been ignoring it for years, maybe decades. We are aware of at least one Alabama case from last year -- and it, like "The House Case," involved an alleged wrongful foreclosure -- where Tjoflat heard a case in which he had a financial stake. That case is styled Jackson v. Bank of America, NA, 898 F. 3d 1348 (11th Cir., 2018), which we wrote about back in May.

This is not a "no harm, no foul" situation, where Tjoflat (in at least a few cases) rules against the party where his financial interests lie. Rather, Tjoflat has an astonishing record of ruling in favor of the large financial institutions in which he has invested -- as we will spell out in upcoming posts.

How did "The House Case" intertwine with Tjoflat's financial incentives? Chase Mortgage, a division of JPMorgan Chase, held the mortgage on our home of almost 25 years in Birmingham and launched the wrongful foreclosure -- with assistance from a number of legal/political entities and individuals in Alabama. According to his financial disclosures, which are available online, Tjoflat holds stock (and perhaps other forms of securities) in JPMorgan Chase.

That casts considerable illumination on the Eleventh Circuit's bogus dismissal of our appeal. Tjoflat ruled in a way that would protect his own financial bottom line. Court corruption does not get much uglier than that.

It's not like the governing law on "The House Case" appeal was complicated. I did not help matters by mistakenly indicating on our Notice of Appeal that we intended to appeal only a portion of the district court's ruling. But current statutory and case law is clear that such a mistake is not grounds for dismissing an appeal -- especially if the appellate brief makes clear, as ours did, the intent is to appeal the entire case. Here is how we described it in a previous post:

The Tjoflat panel based its denial of our appeal on a 1980s version of FRAP 3, holding in its 2017 ruling that a mistake in the declared scope of our Notice of Appeal meant the court had no jurisdiction to hear our full appeal:

“The notice of appeal must . . . designate the judgment, order, or part thereof being appealed.” F. R. App. P. 3(c); Osterneck v. E.T. Barwick Indus., Inc., 825 F.2d 1521, 1528 (11th Cir. 1987). “Where the appellant notices the appeal of a specified judgment only or a part thereof,” moreover, “this court has no jurisdiction to review other judgments or issues which are not expressly referred to and which are not impliedly intended for appeal.” C. A. May Marine Supply Co. v. Brunswick Corp., 649 F.2d 1049, 1056 (5th Cir. 1981). Otherwise, because the intent to appeal is not clear, prejudice would likely fall upon the adverse party. Id.

As shown in the green highlighted areas above, the panel relied on case law from 1987 and 1981, respectively, ignoring important changes made to FRAP 3 in 1993. We described those changes in our Motion for Panel Rehearing: (See here and here.)

A 1993 advisory committee amendment to FRAP 3, plus a string of case law, has changed the landscape for notice of appeal requirements and made the panel’s cited law obsolete.

A case styled Bogle v. Orange County, 162 F.3d 653 (11th Cir., 1998) holds: “The test for determining the sufficiency of a notice of appeal is "whether it is objectively clear that a party intended to appeal." Fed. R.App. P. 3(c) advisory committee's note (1993 amendment). Signs that the Shulers’ intended to appeal are all over the documents filed with this court and served on adverse parties.

Our intent to appeal the entire district-court dismissal is objectively clear in our appellate brief -- and the Tjoflat panel admits this. From our Motion for Panel Rehearing:

As the panel notes, the Shulers make it clear in their appellate brief – in two places – that they intended to appeal the dismissal, in its entirety. In their “Statement of Jurisdiction” on page 1, the Shulers’ state regarding the Eleventh Circuit: “. . . this court has jurisdiction to consider an appeal of the district court’s order dismissing the case. . . .

In the “Statement of the Issues” on page 2 of their appellate brief, the Shulers specifically raise three issues on appeal, including this: Did the district court unlawfully dismiss the Shulers’ case . . . ? It could not be more clear that the Shulers intended to appeal the dismissal, plus all orders leading up to that.

In short, Tjoflat and his crooked crew used outdated law, directly counter to their own precedent in Bogle, to cheat us. To make matters even more seamy, Tjoflat dismissed both "The House Case" and the Jackson case in ways that meant the cases would not even be considered on the merits. What does that tell us? It tells me that Tjoflat knew both Carol and I, and the jacksons, were cheated raw in the district courts, so he concocted ways to dismiss the appeals without calling attention to the butcher jobs we experienced at the trial level.

What about details of Tjoflat's financial holdings -- the ones that, by law, disqualified him from hearing our appeal? Stay tuned. That information will be revealed in upcoming posts.


(To be continued)