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)

Monday, August 26, 2019

Eleventh Circuit's Gerald Bard Tjoflat, longest serving federal judge in U.S., hears matters where he has a financial conflict and should, by law, be disqualified

Gerald Bard Tjoflat

A fundamental of the American "justice system" is that no judge should hear a case in which he -- or a member of  his immediate family -- has a financial interest. That is particularly spelled out in the federal court system, but a Legal Schnauzer investigation shows a U.S. appellate-court judge in the Deep South has been violating that principle for years, maybe decades.

The judge in question is Gerald Bard Tjoflat, who serves on the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta (covering Alabama Georgia, and Florida), from his base in Jacksonville, Florida.
Tjoflat is the longest serving federal judge, still in active service, in the country. Richard Nixon nominated Tjoflat to a federal judgeship in 1970, and Gerald Ford elevated him to the appellate bench in 1975. Think about that; this guy has been hearing federal court cases pretty much since the Beatles broke up.

We've seen signs for several years that Tjoflat might be one of the most crooked judges in the country. He was on a three-judge panel that upheld abominably unlawful convictions in the political prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman. He was on a panel that upheld summary judgment for the University of Alabama Board of Trustees in my employment-discrimination/First Amendment case against UAB. How outrageous was that ruling? Black-letter law, including Eleventh-Circuit precedent, holds that summary judgment cannot be considered (much less granted) in a lawsuit until sufficient discovery has been conducted. In the UAB case, no discovery was conducted at all -- meaning there was no factual record in the case -- but the late (and monstrously corrupt) district judge William Acker granted summary judgment anyway. A Tjoflat-led panel upheld  the ruling, even though a case styled Snook v. Trust Company of Georgia, 859 F. 2d 865 (11th Cir., 1988) holds there can be no summary judgment without discovery; the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, in slightly different language, says the same thing -- so the principle is firmly established across the country.

That Tjoflat would intentionally botch such a long-held and simple concept suggests he is a deeply compromised judge. Now, we know why, at least in part: He makes a habit of hearing cases where he has a financial conflict. And he has an astonishing record of siding with the party where his financial interests lie.

We are aware of at least two Alabama cases (both since December 2017) where Tjoflat did not let clear financial conflicts keep him from ruling. One of those was "The House Case," where our home of 25 years in Birmingham essentially was stolen from underneath us via a wrongful foreclosure. The other, also a wrongful-foreclosure case, involved a Daphne, AL, couple named Karun and Ursula Jackson. In both cases, a Tjoflat panel ruled against the plaintiffs/appellants -- siding with large banks -- and the record suggests he had a financial incentive to do so.

Let's first examine Jackson v. Bank of America, NA, 898 F. 3d 1348 (11th Cir., 2018), which was the subject of a Schnauzer post in May of this year. Tjoflat authored the panel ruling that denied the Jacksons' appeal, ranting that their attorney -- Kenneth Lay of Birmingham -- had engaged in an abuse of the judicial process by producing "incomprehensible shotgun pleadings." From our May post:

Tjoflat used his opinion in Jackson v. Bank of America, NA, 898 F. 3d 1348 (11th Cir., 2018) to label the pleadings of Birmingham attorney Kenneth James Lay as frivolous "garbage." Tjoflat further claimed Lay and his clients -- Karun and Ursula Jackson, of Daphne, AL -- "obstructed the due administration of justice."

In short, Tjoflat was so incensed about the Jacksons' pleadings that the merits of their appeal hardly got considered. Is that because the Jacksons (and Lay) really conducted their appeal so poorly? Or was Tjoflat protecting his financial stake in Bank of America (BOA)?

The public record is clear that Tjoflat holds stock (or perhaps other forms of securities) in BOA. And yet, he heard the Jackson case and issued a one-sided ruling in favor of the bank, largely ignoring issues the Jacksons raised on appeal.

Was this a rare oversight on Tjoflat's part? Nope. Our research indicates he has made a habit of hearing cases where the law holds he should be disqualified. One of those cases hits close to home.

(To be continued)

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Kevin Newsom, a Trump-nominated judge who used to be at Birmingham's Bradley Arant, casts a vote that chips away at "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard

Kevin Newsom
While many Americans wonder if Donald Trump will attempt to buy Greenland or officially be named "King of the Jews," Trump-appointed federal judges are chopping away at the fundamentals of our democracy. Do Americans notice?

One such judge is Kevin Newsom, who now sits on the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta (covering Alabama, Georgia, and Florida) and used to work at Bradley Arant in Birmingham. An acolyte of former Trump attorney general and U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions and U.S. Circuit Judge Bill "Bad Puppy" Pryor -- both closeted gays, by the way -- Newsom served as Alabama's solicitor general when Pryor was AG.

Before that, Newsom worked at the D.C. law firm Covington Burling, which produced horrible Obama AG Eric Holder and brags about its ties to right-wing luminaries, such as Karl Rove. In what should be a surprise to no one, Newsom is a member of the Federalist Society, which has hand-picked many of Trump's judicial nominees.

What do these nominees stand for? It certainly is not the U.S. Constitution. Earlier this year, Newsom cast the deciding vote in a ruling that chips away at a bedrock principle of American law. People for the American Way (PFAW) addresses the case as part of  a blog series titled "Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears. From the post about Newsom's ruling, titled "Trump judge erodes the 'reasonable doubt' requirement for a guilty verdict." Writes analyst Paul Gordon:

In January 2019, Trump judge Kevin Newsom of the Eleventh Circuit authored a 2-1 opinion in U.S. v. Munksgard upholding a felony criminal conviction even though the prosecution had failed to prove a key element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Newsom cast the deciding vote to allow this constitutional violation.

Because tyrannical governments misuse the criminal law to imprison people for illegitimate reasons, the Constitution requires prosecutors to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That requirement applies to every element of the crime. So when the United States charged Matthew Munksgard with making false statements in 2013 and 2014 in order to get a loan from an FDIC-insured bank, the prosecution had to prove that the bank was, in fact, FDIC-insured during that time frame.

But all they did was show that the bank had been FDIC-insured in 1990 (when it was chartered) and in 2016 (at the time of the trial). For Judge Newsom, that was enough for a jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that it had been FDIC-insured in 2013-2014, because there is (according to him) a “universal presumption” that a bank is so ensured. 
This is straight from the Munksgard opinion, which Newsom wrote:

Matthew Munksgard admits to knowingly making false statements in order to obtain bank loans—indeed, four times over. Even so, he contends, the government failed to show beyond a reasonable doubt, as it had to, that the institution he swindled was FDIC-insured. This case presents the (irritatingly familiar) question whether the government presented sufficient evidence to prove that pesky jurisdictional prerequisite. The proof of FDIC insurance here—as in other cases in which we have rapped the government’s knuckles—was hardly overwhelming. And given the ease with which insurance coverage could have been demonstrated—certificate, contract, cancelled check, etc.—inexplicably so. Having said that, “overwhelming” isn’t the standard, and when we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the government, as we must, see United States v. Frank, 599 F.3d 1221, 1233 (11th Cir. 2010), we conclude—albeit reluctantly—that the proof was adequate to demonstrate Munksgard’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But let this be a warning to federal prosecutors: You are (as the author’s mother used to say) cruisin’ for a bruisin’. Don’t apologize—do better.

Even Gerald Bard Tjoflat, the hideously crooked geezer from the Richard Nixon era, seemed taken aback by Newsom's "reasoning." Writes Gordon:

But as Republican-nominated Judge Gerald Tjoflat pointed out in dissent, knowing the bank’s insurance status in 1990 and in 2016 does not tell us much about 2013 or 2014, because that status is up for renewal four times each year: It could have changed as many as eight times between the alleged crime and the trial. That is hardly proving its status “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In addition, the jury was instructed to only consider evidence presented in the trial, so they could not base their ruling on some “universal presumption.”

Judge Tjoflat correctly stated that:

"If the majority’s statement of the law were correct, the government would be relieved of its duty to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. That would violate the Constitution."

Nevertheless, Judge Newsom was willing to erode this bedrock of our liberty.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Missouri resident Scott J. Wells pleads guilty to baseless child-pornography charges after his own lawyer -- Brady Musgrave -- pressures, threatens, entices, and harasses him into entering a plea

Scott J. Wells

A Missouri resident recently pleaded guilty to baseless child-pornography charges after his own attorney pressured, threatened, enticed, and harassed him into entering the plea, family members say.

We have shown in a series of posts here at Legal Schnauzer that the government had no case against Scott J. Wells for a number of reasons, particularly because (1) The criminal complaint alleged no offense that was physically possible to perform; and (2) The indictment was deficient, merely copying from the relevant federal law without citing any "particulars" (specifics) about what unlawful actions Wells allegedly took.

Wells reportedly is seeking to have the guilty plea withdrawn this week, and that will require a judge's approval.

Why would attorney Brady A. Musgrave, of Springfield, MO, pressure his own client to plead guilty to charges the government clearly could not prove? Specifically, why didn't Musgrave file two simple documents -- a motion to dismiss due to a defective criminal complaint and indictment, plus a motion to suppress evidence that was obtained via a search at Wells' home that violated the Fourth Amendment?

Brady Musgrave
A Legal Schnauzer investigation has unearthed public documents that point to a possible motive for Musgrave's actions. Hint: It involves money -- and it should be a concern for anyone who considers using the legal services of Musgrave or his law firm, Jones and Musgrave.

How did Brady Musgrave con his own client into a bogus guilty plea? The tactics come under several headings, family members say:

(1) "If you go to trial and are convicted, you will be sentenced to 18-20 years in prison."

(2) "If you go to trial, you will be convicted."

(3) "The government can show that you made certain searches related to child porn." (Musgrave apparently did not explain how such a search would be unlawful. Wells was charged with receiving and distributing child pornography, and it remains unclear how conducting a simple Web search, by itself, would amount to proof of either offense.)

(4) "The government has 60-some images of child porn that were found on your computer during the search of your home." (Can the government prove Wells "knowingly" placed those pictures on his computer -- as opposed to them appearing via malware, viruses, etc. -- and exerted "dominion and control" over them; that Wells knew individuals in the photos were minors [under age 18]; or that the images even amounted to child pornography [which is unlawful contraband] as opposed to child erotica [which is not illegal.]? Our research indicates the answer to all of those questions is "no." And family members are not aware that any of Wells' three court-appointed lawyers has reviewed all of the government's evidence with him -- and none of them retained an expert witness to examine Wells' computer and determine if he caused certain images to appear there, apparently in the cache, or if someone else [maybe the government itself?] put them there.)

(5) "If you take a plea, given that you've been detained for more than two years, you might walk out of here a free man, with a sentence of "time served." (Never mind that you will have pleaded guilty to a crime you didn't commit, that the government can't prove you committed, and you have zero guarantees about the sentence you will receive.)

(6) "I will not file any pretrial motions because they would not be meritorious."

That last one is a flat-out lie. Anyone with functioning eyesight, three brain cells, and two days of law school should be able to file a motion showing the criminal complaint and indictment are deficient and due to be dismissed.

Musgrave is not the first lawyer to pull such a stunt on Scott Wells. While Wells was behind bars at Leavenworth, KS, Missouri lawyer Shane Cantin sent him a letter that included the following. (Full letter is embedded at the end of this post.)

Dear Scott:

. . . If the government is allowed to present testimony as outlined in the discovery file, you will be convicted as charged.

I see no viable defense to these charges. Further, because you proffered to federal agents with your prior counsel (federal public defender David Mercer), your admissions made during the proffer will be used to impeach you, should you testify at trial that you did not knowingly obtain an image of child pornography from the internet.

The government computer forensic expert will testify that the images found on your device did not come to that device by means of "pop-ups," nor were they saved in a location on your hard drive that would suggest otherwise. Further, the internet search history is consistent with a user seeking out images of child pornography. This is consistent with the forensic expert at the Federal Defender's Office who also examined the device. You will not overcome this evidence at trial, and you will be convicted.

(Notice that Cantin makes no mention of retaining an expert witness for the defense, countering the government's expert. Cantin's idea of a defense, it appears, is to allow the government's expert to go unchallenged. Gee, that's impressive.)

Wells' family members say Musgrave told them he agreed to take the case after Cantin's letter became part of the public record, prompting him to withdraw. The two met over lunch to discuss the case -- in clear violation of Wells' attorney-client privilege rights? -- and Cantin more or less offered the case to Musgrave, which he apparently accepted with fervor.

Family members say it is not clear that Musgrave ever was appointed by, or accepted by, the court, which might mean he isn't officially Scott Wells' attorney. Also, details of any plea agreement apparently are not remotely clear. In fact, Scott Wells might not even be aware of what he supposedly agreed to.

As for withdrawing the guilty plea, family members say Musgrave instructed Wells to write a letter to a judge. But if Musgrave is Wells' attorney of record, it appears he has a duty to file a motion to withdraw the plea and actually argue it before the court -- without applying pressure tactics to his client.

As for Musgrave's possible motive for selling his own client down the river, we will address those in upcoming posts? Did we mention they involve money?

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Corruption among cops and correctional officers is a hot topic after Jeffrey Epstein's "suicide," but we've seen this disturbing reality play out in an up-close way

Debi Wade
Corruption 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.

It's not a new subject here at Legal Schnauzer because we've seen the corruption firsthand, perhaps most glaringly in the case where Greene County (MO) deputies broke my wife Carol's arm during an unlawful eviction and then hit HER with the bogus charge of "assaulting a law-enforcement officer."

Why should this be a particularly troubling topic for anyone living in the US of A? Countless Americans wind up behind bars, based almost totally on the words and observations of law-enforcement officers (LEOs). Because of that, many of our countrymen tend to view LEOs as exceptionally honest people, who take their authority seriously. Those who hold that viewpoint might want to give it a second thought after examining the actions of Missouri deputies in the "assault on an LEO" case against Carol.

We've already shown that Judge Jerry Harmison Jr.'s guilty verdict against Carol was procured via perjured testimony from Deputy Scott Harrison -- and we will have more on that subject in an upcoming post. The perjured testimony, under Missouri law, is a fraud on the court and requires that the judgment be set aside -- or, based on U.S. Supreme Court law -- vacated. (More on that in an upcoming post.)

Harrison was not the only cop-witness in Carol's case to play fast and loose with the truth. In fact, his three colleagues -- Jeremy Lynn, Debi Wade, and Christian Conrad -- all made statements under oath at trial that conflicted with their written statements in incident reports or the Probable Cause Statement (which Wade wrote). That means they, too, committed perjury or they filed false police reports -- both of which are crimes -- and like Harrison, they are subject to criminal prosecution.

In her Motion to Vacate Judgment That Was Procured by Fraud, Perjury, etc., Carol examines the dishonest statements of cops under oath. This all presents disturbing evidence that cops -- despite their ability to deprive citizens of freedom -- are less truthful than the average person. (Carol's motion is embedded at the end of this post, along with video evidence that Deputy Harrison committed perjury.) We'll start with Debi Wade, and Carol's motion is supported with relevant exhibits:

DEBI WADE (Exh. C, No. 2) 
Per Probable Cause Statement (9/22/15): “Just as [Carol] appeared to be getting into the passenger side door to the car, she started screaming that she needed her cat’s litter box. I was trying to tell her that I would go back into the residence for it, when she suddenly took off on a dead run toward the front door to the residence. Knowing that Deputy Harrison would be exiting that door any moment, I feared that she would catch him off guard, so I jogged up behind Carol and attempted to tell her that I would get the litter box for her. Just as I caught up to her, she suddenly pivoted and barreled into me head first. I was caught off guard . . .” 
Per Incident Report (9/10/15):“I came up on her right side from behind her and was making an attempt to calm her down when she suddenly pivoted around on me and immediately charged into me head first. It happened so fast that it caught me off guard . . .” 
Per trial testimony (5/17/18): “Carol Shuler than charged Wade like a bull since she wanted in the residence, but the doors were being locked. Carol Shuler was handcuffed and placed in Harrison’s car. She threw herself against the cage and car door once in the vehicle.”

Summary: In her previous statements, Wade said she came up from behind Carol Shuler, and described Carol turning around and the two running into each other. Both Carol and Roger Shuler testified at trial that Wade and Carol never made contact with each other – that Wade was in front of Carol on the porch, and they were talking in a fairly standard manner, when “Mr. Blue Shirt” brutalized Carol and broke her arm. Neither version of Wade’s story actually happened, but assuming something like that did occur, Wade’s earlier statements describe an accident, where Carol Shuler turned around, not knowing Wade was there, and a collision ensued. Wade is describing an accident, which is not a crime and might be the reason even DA Dan Patterson did not charge it. At trial, Wade changes her tune, placing herself in front of Carol and making Carol’s alleged act seem more intentional. Also, Wade repeats the “throwing herself against the cage” canard, even though Dep. Harrison admits Carol might have been seat-belted the whole time, making it impossible for her to throw herself about.

Debi Wade wrote the Probable Cause Statement, so Carol's arrest and prosecution was based totally on her word. And yet, you can see that Wade is so reckless with the truth that she makes no discernible effort to ensure her accounts match each other. What about Jeremy Lynn, the guy Carol supposedly pushed as he unlawfully entered our residence, amounting to an "assault"? He's no better than Wade:

JEREMY LYNN (Exh. C, No. 1)

Per incident report (9/21/15): “Mrs. Shuler then grew very upset and became emotional and charged towards the front door. Lt. Wade tried to explain to her that she would get something if she needed it. Mrs. Shuler then tried to force her way past Lt. Wade with her head dropped. She intentionally ran directly into Lt. Wade. Lt. Wade then backed up and bladed herself away from her.”

Per trial testimony (5/17/18): “After backing her car back, [Carol Shuler] started back in the residence and was told she could not go in again. At this point, she lowered her head and charged Lieutenant Wade.” Lynn proceeds to say he “observed her thrusting around in all four directions and yelling loudly,” even though Harrison admitted Ms. Shuler may have been seat belted throughout her stay in the patrol car, which would have made such action impossible.

Summary: Lynn appears to have Lt. Wade in front of Ms. Shuler throughout this incident and insists Ms. Shuler engaged in a thrusting motion in the patrol car, even though Officer Harrison admits she may have been seat-belted the entire time.

The key point, regarding Lynn's statements, is that he has Wade in front of Carol throughout the "bulling incident" (which didn't happen) -- and that is consistent with testimony from Carol and me, and it directly contradicts Waid. These Keystone Cops can't even support each other's version of events.

Lynn's trial testimony regarding the alleged push also differed from his written incident report. This is from Harmison's judgment, about Lynn's trial statement: "Lynn grabbed the person behind the door [Carol] and pulled her out to apprehend her. Carol Shuler kept pushing Lynn and trying to pull away from him to resist custody."

Here are Lynn's own words from his incident report: "She was grabbed by her arms and restrained to stop her from harming one of us or herself. During this process she was pulling her arms away from me and tried to push me back with her arms and body."

We summarized Lynn's written statement in an earlier post:

What do we learn here?

(1) Lynn says he grabbed Carol by the arms -- he caused physical contact with her.

(2) Lynn says Carol was trying to pull away from him; she didn't "get physical" with him or "push him repeatedly," as Debi Wade claims. Lynn grabbed Carol, and she tried to pull away.

(3) Lynn then claims Carol "tried to push [him] back with arms and body." This is pure nonsense. Lynn already has stated Carol pulled away, and now he's claiming she "tried" to push him. How can one pull and push at the same time? Those are contradictory terms, and indicate Lynn's whole statement is rubbish.

For the record, Lynn claims Carol "tried" to push him, but he never says that she did push him. Under the law, the "push" issue is irrelevant. Missouri law clearly frames the question: Who caused contact with whom, against whose will?

Jeremy Lynn admits that he grabbed Carol, that he caused physical contact, not the other way around.

The bottom line: Officer Lynn said in his original written statement that Carol did not push him. At trial, under oath, he changed his tune and claimed she did push him -- even though, in both instances, he said Carol was trying to pull away from him. How can someone pull away and push someone at the same time? I took enough high-school physics to know that can't be done. One of Jeremy Lynn's statements is false, and either way, he committed a crime for which he is subject to prosecution.

What about Officer Christian Conrad? Well, he has a fractured relationship with the truth, too:


Per Incident Report (9/22/15): “Carol then went out to their vehicle and placed another bag in the trunk. She then began walking back towards the house and took off running towards the front door. Carol ran toward Lt. Wade on the front side walk . . . “

Per Trial Testimony (5/17/18): “Conrad later saw Carol Shuler charge Wade and run into her . . . On cross-examination Conrad verified he saw Carol Shuler “out of control” in the back of Harrison’s vehicle, as she was thrashing and screaming loudly.

Summary: Conrad contradicts Debi Wade’s original statement in every way. He has Wade in front of Carol, on the sidewalk and near the porch, and says nothing about Wade coming up from behind Carol. How could Carol be “out of control” in the back seat of Harrison’s vehicle, when Harrison himself admitted she might have been seat-belted the whole time (and Carol testified she was seat-belted the whole time.) The answer is “she couldn’t,” which suggests Conrad, Wade, and Lynn all committed perjury or filed false police reports.

We will repeat this point because it's profoundly important. Debi Wade was author of the Probable Cause Statement, so Carol's arrest was based entirely on Wade's word. That means it's kind of important that Wade get things accurately. And yet two of her cop colleagues -- Jeremy Lynn and Christian Conrad -- contradict her account on almost every point.

Prosecutors ultimately took jail off the table in Carol's case, so loss of freedom was not a possible punishment. But she's on two years of unsupervised probation -- with a guilty finding (unsupported by fact or law) on her record -- based on the word of cops who can't even agree with each other on what happened.

(To be continued)

Monday, August 19, 2019

U.S. 11th Circuit, led by Nixon-era geezer Gerald Bard Tjoflat, brazenly cheats us on appeal of "The House Case," citing law that has been overridden for 25 years

Gerald Bard Tjoflat

"The House Case," a federal lawsuit over the theft of our home of almost 25 years in Birmingham, AL, via a wrongful foreclosure, shows corruption runs strong and deep in federal courts -- at both the trial and appellate levels. The good news: Crookedness in "The House Case" is so brazen that it might mean a ruling can be attacked as void, and we have unlimited time to do that. The same concept might be used to breathe life back into other cases that were dismissed on unlawful grounds.

We still are researching this issue and will address it in future posts. But of all the cases of court corruption we've reported on this blog over 12 years -- some involving my wife Carol and me, some where I was not involved, other than as a journalist -- "The House Case" might be among the two or three most grotesque cases we've encountered.

We've already shown that U.S. Judge R. David Proctor butchered "The House Case" at the trial level in the Northern District of Alabama. (See here, here, and here.) The case might have been butchered even more grossly in the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, thanks to Gerald Bard Tjoflat, a Richard Nixon/Gerald Ford nominee who happens to be the longest-serving federal appeals-court judge in active service. Tjoflat has a long and disturbing history of serving on three-judge panels that issued shockingly unlawful rulings, which includes upholding the convictions of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy.

Tjoflat seems to be at his worst when the defendant/appellees include financial institutions, and our research reveals a likely reason Tjoflat almost always sides with banks, mortgage companies, brokerages, and the like -- as he did with Chase Mortgage in "The House Case." (Details about Tjoflat's conflicts re: financial institutions will be in upcoming posts.)

Our problems on "The House Case" appeal started with a mistake I made. For reasons I'll never fully understand, I stated in our Notice of Appeal that we were appealing denial of our Rule 59 Motion to Reconsider in the district court. I did not specify that we actually intended to appeal the entire case, especially the Order of Dismissal and all of the orders leading up to it. It was frustrating to learn that I had somehow screwed up our Notice of Appeal, but there is good news: Such a mistake essentially is a "no harm, no foul" matter, one that does not preclude an appellate hearing on our entire case, especially when the appellate brief makes it clear (as ours did) that our goal was to seek a full appeal.

We filed a Motion for Panel Rehearing (see here and here), seeking to overturn the three-judge panel's (Tjoflat, Stanley Marcus, Robin Rosenbaum) wildly erroneous ruling. How badly did Tjoflat and Co. botch our appeal? Well, they admit that our appellate brief shows out intent to appeal the entire case, including multiple unlawful rulings by both Proctor and Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins, who took over after Proctor finally acknowledge he had a conflict that required recusal -- and essentially meant he was disqualified from hearing the case at the outset.

Here is the gist of the Tjoflat panel's ruling:

In their appellate brief, however, the Shulers challenge three rulings outside the scope of their notice of appeal: Judge Proctor’s order dismissing their complaint, Judge Hopkins’ February 27 order insofar as it denied their Rule 15 motion, and Judge Hopkins’ order denying their Rule 60 motion. Defendants-Appellees (Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Luther Strange, Rob Riley, etc.) contend that under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 3(c) and related case law, we have jurisdiction over only the District Court’s denial of the Shulers’ Rule 59(e) motion. We agree.

“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. But we also recognize that “the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure ‘were not adopted to set traps and pitfalls by way of technicalities for unwary litigants.”’ Finch v. City of Vernon, 845 F.2d 256, 259 (11th Cir. 1988) (quoting Des Isles v. Evans, 225 F.2d 235, 236 (5th Cir. 1955)). We may thus show some leniency when an appellant’s exhibited intent is contrary to a technical mistake that would otherwise impede his appeal. See Pitney Bowes, Inc. v. Mestre, 701 F.2d 1365, 1374–75 (11th Cir. 1983); C. A. May Marine, 649 F.2d at 1056. This is especially so for pro se litigants. See Finch, 845 F.2d at 259–60.

How do Tjoflat and Co. start sliding off the road? They cite two cases, highlighted in yellow above, from 1987 and 1981. Those cases are more than 30 years old, and no longer are good law -- as we pointed out repeatedly in our Motion for Panel Rehearing.

On top of that, the Tjoflat panel admits that, even by 1980s law, "We may thus show some leniency when an appellant’s exhibited intent is contrary to a technical mistake that would otherwise impede his appeal" -- as ours was. The panel further admits, "This is especially so for pro se litigants" -- which we were.

In essence, the panel swallowed the Garrison/Strange/Riley argument completely, while admitting the argument is full of holes.

Unbelievably, the panel punished us for being too specific in our flawed Notice of Appeal. Get a load of this:

The Shulers’ notice of appeal specifies with precision what they are appealing, down to the relevant dates and docket numbers. This specificity indicates that appealing only the denial of their Rule 59(e) motion was not a technical mistake; their notice of appeal does not illustrate intent to bring a broader appeal. See Pitney Bowes, 701 F.2d at 1374–75. Further, allowing the Shulers’ brief to dictate the scope of this appeal would be unfair to the DefendantsAppellees, who from the notice of appeal could derive only that the Rule 59(e) motion was at issue. This appeal is therefore limited to the District Court’s denial of the Shulers’ Rule 59(e) motion.

Did the panel cite any law from this century -- any law that hasn't been overridden since the 1980s -- to support its finding? Nope. Did the Tjoflat Gang even respond to our Motion for Panel Rehearing? Nope, they just issued a document declaring heir bogus ruling was the "mandate" of the court. I can only assume that means they had no legitimate grounds to counter our rehearing motion, that they already had blown all the smoke they could up our fannies.

How thick was that smoke? We will answer that question in an upcoming post.

(To be continued)

Thursday, August 15, 2019

How did poster at 4chan, anonymous message board popular with right-wing trolls and white nationalists, scoop the world on the death of Jeffrey Epstein?

Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Manhattan

Some 40 minutes before Jeffrey Epstein's death broke on mainstream news outlets -- and before federal officials made the announcement -- it appeared at an anonymous message board favored by far-right trolls and white nationalists. How the news first appeared on 4chan remains a mystery and has helped heighten conspiracy theories swirling around the alleged sex trafficker's death.

At first, the post was thought to have come from an employee of the New York City Fire Department, but that does not appear to be the case. From a report by Jane Lytvynenko, of BuzzFeed News:

The New York City Fire Department looked into whether an employee posted about Jeffrey Epstein’s death on a notorious internet message board prior to officials announcing it to the public, BuzzFeed News has learned.

After telling BuzzFeed News the post was "under review," an FDNY spokesperson said authorities "determined this alleged information did not come from the Fire Department."

"An investigation is a formal act which brings about a process which includes interviewing witnesses, serving notice, determining credibility of witness statements — and that was not warranted nor did it take place here. This determination was made after a review of the incident. We looked at the information provided by [a BuzzFeed News] reporter and we looked at our own records and there was no match," said FDNY spokesperson Frank Dwyer, who added that the FDNY's Office of Healthcare Compliance conducted the review. "It doesn't match our medical records."

Authorities want to know who created the 4chan post, according to  report at NBC News:

Less than an hour before the first news reports surfaced that Jeffrey Epstein had been found unresponsive in his jail cell, a post about his death mysteriously appeared on a far-right message board.

Authorities now want to know who was behind the post, which contained medically accurate details about the financier and accused sex trafficker. . . .

"[D]on't ask me how I know, but Epstein died an hour ago from hanging, cardiac arrest. Screencap this," the post reads. The text was accompanied by an image of Pepe the Frog, an internet meme that is popular among far-right internet trolls. (See image at the end of this post.)

Troll posts looking to capitalize on the initial post immediately began pushing elaborate conspiracy theories about body doubles, which were later refuted by the original poster.

How did a 4chan user scoop some of the world's most vaunted news organizations with his "Don't ask me how I know" post? Reports BuzzFeed:

That message was posted 38 minutes before the first tweet about Epstein’s death from Aaron Katersky, an ABC News reporter, at 8:54 a.m. Five minutes later, the main ABC News account tweeted an article about Epstein's death.

After publishing the post, other 4chan users egged on the author. When they expressed doubt, the original poster added more information to the discussion thread, including a detailed breakdown of the procedures allegedly used to resuscitate Epstein, which suggest the poster may have been a first responder, medical worker, or otherwise privy to details about efforts to resuscitate the disgraced financier.

Dwyer told BuzzFeed News he “could not verify the accuracy” of information in the 4chan post. But he said any medical professional who divulges patient information without consent is in violation of a federal health privacy law, HIPAA, and that FDNY would look into it.

The 4chan poster appears to know his stuff about emergency-medical procedures. From BuzzFeed:

The full details of Epstein’s death won’t be known until the final coroner’s report is released, meaning the 4chan post laying out the alleged treatment he received cannot be fully verified. An EMS expert contacted by BuzzFeed News said the details in the post are consistent with standard practices. Information released by the Federal Bureau of Prisons also appears to line up with some of what was posted on 4chan.

Dr. Keith Wesley, an emergency medicine physician who has authored several EMS textbooks and articles, viewed the 4Chan post at BuzzFeed News’ request and said it lays out standard procedures for paramedics.

“This sounds like standard American Heart Association guidelines, which most EMS agencies use,” Wesley said.

Part of the post refers to “telemetry advised bicarb.” According to Wesley, this could mean the first responders were also speaking with the hospital as they were trying to resuscitate their patient.

“Telemetry implies the paramedics were in contact with a medical control hospital who then gave orders to give Sodium Bicarbonate, bicarb which is designed to reverse the acid buildup in the blood from prolonged cardiac arrest,” Wesley said in an email.

“If one of the medics posted this separately that’s a breach of protocol,” he added. “If there was identifying information on the patient, that is a violation of Federal HIPPA law.”

The 4chan post seems to come from an insider's point of view. How that insider wound up on 4chan might be the question of the moment:

The 4chan user made six posts about Epstein’s death. One of them claimed that attempts to resuscitate Epstein were made for 40 minutes before he was transported to the hospital, at which point medical personnel tried to revive him for another 20 minutes. Those details are at least partially consistent with the information regarding Epstein’s death that have been publicly released by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

“Pt transported to Lower Manhattan ER and worked for 20 minutes and called. Hospital administrator was alerted, preparing statements,” said the 4chan post.

“Staff requested emergency medical services (EMS) and life-saving efforts continued,” said a statement released by the Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Prisons on Saturday. “Mr. Epstein was transported by EMS to a local hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries, and subsequently pronounced dead by hospital staff.”

4chan post about Jeffrey Epstein's death

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

From feral to family: "Gabby, the Investigative Tabby" comes in from the wild to join our journalism family, enrich our lives, and sustain us in the fight for justice

Gabby, the Investigative Tabby
(Photo by Carol Tovich Shuler)

We would like you to meet the newest member of our Legal Schnauzer journalism team. (See photo of the handsome feller above.)

His full name is Gabriel Alexander Shuler -- "Gabby," for short. For journalistic purposes, he is known as "Gabby the Investigative Tabby," and he has been a monumentally positive and refreshing presence in our lives -- especially when you consider that Mrs Schnauzer and I have been the targets of legal and political corruption (in both Alabama and Missouri) for 20-plus years now.

Our pets have always been at the heart of our journalistic efforts. This blog started in June 2007, in large part, as a way to honor Murphy Abigail Shuler -- "The Original Legal Schnauzer," who was a source of endless joy during her 11-year journey with us, ending with her death in 2004.

Next came Chloe and Baxter, the biological brother-sister Tonkinese combo, who fell into our laps thanks to one of Carol's friends in Birmingham. The friend had her hair done in Hueytown and knew the hair dresser had two cats who needed a new home because of allergy issues in the family. The hair dresser preferred the cats go to a home with no children, so that seemed to put us near the top of the list for new Tonk parents. Chloe and Baxter joined our household in July 2004 -- and over the 11 and 12 years, respectively, that we had them -- showed cats (like dogs) can provide companionship, comfort, adventure, and hilarity in copious amounts.

What about Gabby? Well, his story proves that sometimes the best things in life appear out of nowhere, on your doorstep, unannounced -- and if you can overcome all of the problems and fears swirling in your life to extend a welcoming hand . . . well, it can be among the most rewarding experiences of your life.

Is Gabby really a journalist? Well, we tend to humanize our pets, so we like to think that -- when he isn't taking a nap, engaging in "grappling" sessions with yours truly, taking a nap, running like "a bat out of Joplin" (as folks tend to say here in the Missouri Ozarks) around our not-too-roomy living quarters, or taking a nap -- he is on the alert for any stories that might materialize in his little world.

In fact, Gabby has a "beat," as we call it in journalism. He is assigned to report on the activities of the birds, squirrels, and bunny rabbits that tend to frolic outside our window. Gabby keeps a diligent eye on their festivities, and while he hasn't written any posts about them yet, he considers himself more of a "long-form journalist," a documentarian, if you will. We hope to publish his first documentary in early 2020, just in time for Sundance.

It's appropriate that Gabby is on the wildlife beat because he came to us out of the wild. We were aware of a feral-cat community that nested near us here in Missouri. Most of the cats appeared to be full grown and were skittish around people. A handful would approach us, and we figured that meant they had been dumped after once having been family pets. Carol and I, and at least one of our neighbors, tried to keep the cats regularly fed.

After being in the area for a while, we started noticing a few kittens in the group. One ginger kitty was so bold that she marched right into our neighbor's apartment, and we hope they eventually adopted her.

While feeding the cats one day, I noticed a little gal (or guy) huddled on the periphery of the group, obviously needing food but unable to get any as the larger cats pounced on every morsel as soon as it hit the sidewalk.

This kitten, it turned out, was no dummy. He took several steps to make sure he could get some "noms," and before I knew it, my heart was taken in. (See photo at the bottom of this post.) One might say that moment changed his life forever. But it probably changed our lives even more.

(To be continued)

(Note: The Legal Schnauzer journalism family -- including "Gabby, the Investigative Tabby," needs your help. Loyal readers have sustained this blog for years, and support is urgently needed now, as we fight for justice and transparency on multiple fronts, for ourselves and for the many other victims who have been the subjects of our reporting. Perhaps most importantly, we want to make sure Gabby has no shortage of "noms" in his bowl.

If you believe America's broken court system needs to be restored; if you believe our courts should dispense justice for all Americans, not just an elite few; or maybe if you are a fellow animal lover who happens to enjoy a good legal tale now and then . . . we hope you will consider making a donation. 

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 -- and we are especially grateful now to have Gabby, so he can join in a big round of thanks.)

Gabby, the Investigative Tabby . . . in repose between
reporting assignments.
(Photo by Carol Tovich Shuler)


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Montgomery lawyer and radio host Baron Coleman calls Eagle Forum exec a "whore" and a "bitch" and threatens violence -- with language about guns, ammunition, and burning houses to the ground

An Alabama lawyer and conservative talk-radio host might have put his bar card and sponsors at risk recently by launching into a profane, threat-filled rant against the executive director of the Eagle Forum of Alabama. Yes, we are talking about an internecine feud among right wingers -- and it all started because of a disagreement about medical marijuana, of all things.

The episode has unmasked Baron Coleman as a bully, who makes Rush Limbaugh sound like Dale Carnegie and has a tendency to make alarming references to violence -- especially with tough-guy talk involving guns, ammunition, and threats to "burn your damned house to the ground." In fact, Coleman seems to have an obsession with fire and likes to boast about costing perceived enemies their jobs.

Based on our experience with Coleman -- see here, here, and here -- none of this is a surprise. Jill Simpson -- whistle blower, opposition researcher, and activist -- has stated publicly several times that evidence points to Coleman and his client-felon Ali (Akbar) Alexander being involved with my "arrest for blogging" in 2013 and multiple fires that were set at her property in northeast Alabama.

Baron Coleman
Coleman is the host of News and Views at Montgomery's WACV (93.1 FM, 9 a.m. to noon, weekdays), and it's hard to see how station owner Bluewater Broadcasting allows him to spew the kind of vitriol he directed at Becky Gerritson -- Eagle Forum executive, 2016 Congressional candidate, and co-founder of the Wetumpka Tea Party.

How did Gerritson cross swords with Coleman? It started with Coleman voicing his support for a medical-marijuana bill in Alabama. Gerritson had the temerity to appear before the state legislature in May and voiced opposition to the bill. Coleman, with his usual class, responded by calling Gerritson a "big pharma whore" and a "bitch."

For some reason, Gerritson took exception to that and filed a complaint against Coleman with the Alabama State Bar. She also sent a letter to sponsors of his radio show and encouraged them to consider whether they wanted to be affiliated with a guy who comes across as slightly deranged on the radio.

Clips from News and Views (see audio at the top and bottom of this post) suggest Coleman might be coming unhinged -- and they certainly suggest he might be dangerous. From the first clip, which aired on July 9, 2019:

I've got renewed vigor and purpose. . . . 
I've hired lawyers, and I'm pursuing a strategy of slash and burn, seek and destroy. If you come after me, you'd better be ready to go to the mat. . . . 
I never let someone come after me and don't take them out. Never. I will lose everything in search of making sure your life is hell. . . . 
I've got a new enemy, and her lawyer sucks, too. I'm going to destroy this bitch. I'm going to absolutely destroy her. Her life will never be the same. . . She has a bad lawyer who gave her terrible advice.

Having already called Gerritson a "whore," Coleman calls her a "bitch" and threatens to ruin her life. Gee, imagine how ugly it would get if Coleman weren't such an upstanding Christian and Catholic, with seven kids. Coleman then boasts about others he supposedly has destroyed:

Mike Hubbard is going to prison; we did battle for years. Matt Hart and I did battle, he lost his job. An AM radio host and I did battle, and he lost his job. I don't lose, and I will blanking destroy you and everything you hold dear. Don't come after me unless you are fully ready to engage. Do not send me half-ass letters; that will not end well.

If you threaten me, I will burn your damned house to the ground. Not in the physical sense, but I will have you running back to Texas, I promise.

Apparently aware that he might be digging his own grave, Coleman tried to walk back the "I will burn your damned house to the ground" line by adding "not in the physical sense." Could that mean he won't burn your house himself, but someone else might -- at his behest? That's how I read it -- and he has ties to a convicted felon named Ali (Akbar) Alexander. Coleman keeps some pretty seedy company, so perhaps these threats should not be taken lightly. Is anyone awake at Bluewater Broadcasting? Are they aware of the liability they could face if something happens to Becky Gerritson, her loved ones, or her property? (It could run way into the millions.) Does anyone pay attention to the filth Coleman spews forth on the airwaves?

It doesn't get any better with the second clip (embedded at the end of this post), which aired on July 10, 2019:

I am on fire, en fuego I am ready to destroy people, and I can't wait to get started. I am going to win. I do not lose, ever.

You come at me, you lose everything. You threaten me, I sue you or destroy you. That's it. there is no third option.

There is going to be some real fireworks across this state in the near future. Some once-proud organizations will be brought completely to their knees and bankrupted. That's what I do. I don't "F" around. . . .

Have your gun under your arm. Bring your ammo.

Do Bluewater Broadcasting officials think that kind of rhetoric is appropriate in an environment where we just experienced two mass shootings in one weekend? Do sponsors support that kind of talk in the wake of El Paso and Dayton? What about the liability they could face? Does anyone hold Baron Coleman to standards?

Monday, August 12, 2019

AG William Barr paid curious visit to federal jail in Manhattan, just two weeks before Jeffrey Epstein's "suicide," according to reports as prominent voices on social media express doubts about official story

U.S. Attorney General William Barr two weeks ago visited the New York City correctional facility where accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein supposedly committed suicide early Saturday, according to a report from a D.C.-based investigative journalist. That makes Barr, at a minimum, a person of interest in Epstein's death, writes Wayne Madsen. It also suggests the claim that Barr was "appalled" by Epstein's death is phony.

Several detention procedures were violated regarding Epstein's stay at the federal jail in Lower Manhattan, according to The New York Times (NYT).

A post at the subscription-based Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), published yesterday under the headline "Epstein-Barr:'Justice' in a quasi-dictatorship known as the United States," states:

The Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post reported on August 11, 2019, that Lewis Kasman, a one-time top accountant for Gambino family mob boss John Gotti – and who visited Gotti while he was incarcerated at the [Metropolitan Correctional Center, MCC] in 1992 – claims the MCC guards have a history of corruption. Kasman told the paper that MCC correction officers often deliver food or cellphones to wealthy inmates. Kasman dropped a major bombshell in his interview with the Post, claiming Attorney General Barr, whose father was the headmaster who helped arrange for Epstein’s first teaching job at the school in 1974, made a “hush-hush trip" to the MCC two weeks ago, about the time Epstein was found in his cell with bruises around his neck.” Kasman added, “When does that happen? The attorney general never visits jails. Something’s not right there.”

If Kasman can be believed, Barr’s visit to the MCC would make the Attorney General -- who claimed he was “appalled” over Epstein’s death and is in charge of the FBI and Department of Justice Inspector General investigations into Epstein’s death – a person of interest or even a prime suspect in Epstein’s death. There is scant reason to doubt Kasman since he has very little to gain as a former mob figure who turned state’s evidence.

Here is more from the New York Post article:

The jail where Jeffrey Epstein apparently hanged himself was a nest of corruption in the early ’90s, according to one of late mobster John Gotti Sr.’s top associates — who insists it’s still a place where almost anything can be bought if you have the bucks.

“If he killed himself someone had to have helped him,” said Lewis Kasman, a onetime close confidant of the Dapper Don who visited the godfather several times at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in 1992.

“There are cameras going 24/7 and they’re watching 24/7. Someone had to give [Epstein] the equipment to kill himself and he had to pay for it dearly,” said Kasman, who has kept abreast of conditions in the lockup.

Kasman added: “That facility for years had issues of corruption, with correction officers bringing in food or cellphones for wealthy people.”

The former Gambino bean counter noted that Gotti, who did time both in the jail’s 9 South and 10 South units, its most secure wings, still managed to get his favorite steak dinner sneaked in: “He had Peter Luger’s whenever he wanted.”

As for violations of detention procedures, The NYT reports:

Mr. Epstein was supposed to have been checked by the two guards in the protective housing unit every 30 minutes, but that procedure was not followed that night, a law-enforcement official with knowledge of his detention said.

In addition, because Mr. Epstein may have tried to commit suicide three weeks earlier, he was supposed to have had another inmate in his cell, three officials said. But the jail had recently transferred his cellmate and allowed Mr. Epstein to be housed alone, a decision that also violated the jail’s procedures, the two officials said.

What could all of this mean for the United States? For one, it suggests the White House, Justice Department, federal prisons, and federal courthouses are infested with organized crime -- which is not breaking news to us or our readers. Writes Madsen:

One of the biggest threats to Donald Trump’s presidency – his former good friend and fellow uber-wealthy sex pervert Jeffrey Epstein – died in a federal detention center in Manhattan of what was officially termed a “suicide.” Suspicious deaths of incarcerated politically-sensitive inmates are common occurrences in countries like China, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Russia, Egypt, Turkey, Israel, the Philippines, Uganda, Colombia, Guatemala, and now – the United States. These are countries where the rule of law is supplanted by the whims of government leaders eager to eliminate those who have knowledge of corruption at the highest levels of state power.

Epstein, who was arrested on July 6 at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey after returning from a trip to Paris, was being held at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons’ Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Manhattan while awaiting trial on federal charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. Epstein had been under a suicide watch after a previous incident where he was found unconscious with bruises on his neck from what was widely reported to have been a suicide attempt. However, MCC officials reported that Epstein’s suicide watch had been vacated just prior to his alleged suicide.

There are also reports that the surveillance camera system dedicated to the MCC’s Special Housing Unit (SHU) for high-profile inmates had malfunctioned, yielding no video evidence of Epstein’s so-called “suicide.” This, of course, is very unoriginal window dressing designed to establish the false narrative that Epstein evaded all maximum security prison controls in order to take his own life. Epstein’s death came a day after thousands of documents on Epstein’s recruitment of underage female sex slaves were released pursuant to a federal judicial panel’s order.

Some knowledgeable and influential voices have made it clear they do not believe the MCC's official story. Writes Madsen:

Although the usual suspects emerged to deride any notion of a “conspiracy theory” involving Epstein’s homicide, those questioning the MCC’s official story included former federal prosecutors, Justice Department officials, correctional officers, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, bipartisan members of the U.S. Senate and House, a former New York Police and Corrections Department Commissioner, former federal prison wardens and public defenders, former MCC inmates, and Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig, who tweeted: “People close to Epstein fear he was murdered . . . as Epstein told authorities someone tried to kill him in a previous incident weeks earlier. He was described as being in good spirits in recent days.” The skepticism about Epstein’s so-called suicide is punching holes right through the official story tellers – including certain quarters at the Washington Post and New York Times -- thus reducing their “conspiracy theory” accusatory pabulum to very weak sauce.

As for security cameras and guard checks, The NYT reports:

Eric Young, president of the national council of union locals that represents guards at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, said there were cameras in hallways and common areas, but not in the cells of the unit where Mr. Epstein was being held.

“From the moment you walk onto that property, you are under camera surveillance, ” Mr. Young said, adding that there should be video evidence of when the last checks were made and of anyone who approached Mr. Epstein’s cell.

Mr. Young said overnight checks in the protective unit are typically done every 30 minutes, but sometimes the schedule varies a bit, so that inmates cannot precisely predict when guards will come by their cells.

Mr. Young would not discuss whether the two guards on duty at the time of Mr. Epstein’s death were doing regular checks on him.

Prominent figures took to Twitter to express their doubts about the official story of Epstein's death, reports Politico:

The furious reaction from mainstream public officials as well as a swelling chorus of prominent voices on social media — it wasn’t just from professional conspiracy theorists or guys at the bar — as soon as news of his death broke showed how pervasive this reaction is.

“If we were living in a paranoid fantasy universe,” New York Times columnist Paul Krugman posted on Twitter, “I would be very suspicious about the Epstein suicide, even about whether it was really suicide. And you know what? The Epstein case itself shows that we *are* kind of living in a paranoid fantasy universe.”

“A guy who had information that would have destroyed rich and powerful men’s lives ends up dead in his jail cell. How predictably….Russian,” tweeted MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.

“Something stinks to high heaven,” agreed former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) “How does someone on suicide watch hang himself with no intervention? Impossible. Unless….” 
Actually, Epstein had been on suicide watch after an earlier incident on July 23, but was no longer.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

New Mexico real-estate agent, helping Jeffrey Epstein buy a ranch 27 years ago, saw signs the accused sex trafficker had a taste for young female flesh

Jeffrey Epstein and New Mexico ranch
(From The Daily Beast)

A New Mexico real-estate agent saw signs more than 25 years ago that accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein had a perverse taste for the flesh of underage girls, but she did not know what to make of it at the time, according a report yesterday at The Daily Beast.

Pat French encountered Epstein while the wealthy New Yorker was looking to buy a ranch in New Mexico. Epstein wound up buying from another agent, but not before leaving some disturbing and indelible images in French's mind. From reporter Michael Daly at The Daily Beast:

Saying something when you see something—the post-9/11 adage about terrorism—should also apply to the sexual abuse of underage girls.

Of course, not everybody could be expected to have understood the significance of what they were seeing before Epstein’s proclivities became widely known. That included realtor Pat French of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Back in September of 1992, French was on the way to take her tween-turning-teen daughter and a friend to see the first woman to lead the Cherokee tribe, when she stopped at a luxury hotel to drop off some papers to a mega-rich New Yorker who was shopping for a ranch.

When she rang the doorbell to the suite at the Rancho Encantado that September day in 1992, Jeffrey Epstein was not who answered.

“There were all these girls,” French told The Daily Beast this week. “A little bit older than my daughter. Not much.”

French made what seemed at the time to be a completely reasonable assumption.

“I thought, ‘Oh, these must be his daughters and friends he took along on the trip,’” French recalled.

In time, French realized her assumption was off target:

She did not know at the time that Epstein had no children.

The girls took the papers, which described properties that French thought might interest Epstein. He had told her he was seeking isolation.

“He wanted really far away from people,” French recalled.

French proceeded on with her daughter and friends to see Cherokee Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller receive an an award from the International Women’s Forum. Mankiller—now deceased, from cancer in 2010—was a leading champion of women’s rights as well as Native American rights and human rights in general. Mankiller was taking particular steps to combat the sexual abuse of children in her tribe. French never imagined that the girls she saw back at the plush Rancho Encantado were victims of evil such as Mankiller battled.

“I had no idea about this man,” French later told The Daily Beast.

Epstein wound up buying a ranch that came with political attachments:

French had no further dealings with Epstein. He chose to buy a ranch through another realtor, Rhonda King, who was also then a representative to the New Mexico state legislature. The purchase of the 10,000-acre Zorro Ranch came with an additional, instant political connection, as Epstein bought it from the realtor’s uncle, former Gov. Bruce King.

Epstein proceeded to build a 26,700 square foot hacienda-style hilltop mansion, the largest private home in Santa Fe County, perhaps the state. The former governor’s brother, New Mexico State treasurer David King, was quoted saying of Epstein, “He’s building what you want as a heavenly ranch.”

Epstein was reported to have bought $600 bed sheets. He was said to have his bread flown in from New York.

“They do have money,” a local builder remarked.

Money apparently helped provide cover for Epstein's dark side:

Visitors to the mansion included the leading candidate for governor in 2002, Bill Richardson, who was later quick to say that he was accompanied by his wife. Epstein contributed $50,000 to Richardson’s campaign. Epstein kicked in another $50,000 towards Richardson’s successful run for reelection in 2006.

Gary King, the former governor’s son, was running for state attorney general that year and Epstein donated $15,000 to his primary campaign. Epstein also donated $10,000 toward Jim Bacca’s campaign to become head of the land commission and $2,000 toward Santa Fe County Sheriff Jim Solano's bid for reelection.

In the meantime, Epstein was apparently flying in underage girls as well as fresh bread, usually through Santa Fe when he was using his Gulfstream, or the larger Albuquerque airport when using his Boeing 727. One of his accusers would say that she was raped at the ranch when she was 15.

No doubt people at the airports and ranch workers and folks in town saw the girls. But nobody seems to have contacted the authorities even after the news broke in July 2006 that Epstein was being charged in Florida with having sex with underage girls.

The following year, Epstein was allowed to plead guilty to just one count of engaging a minor in prostitution. This unconscionable deal allowed him to serve just 13 months of nights and weekends in a private section of the Palm Beach County Jail. A resident of Santa Fe recalled to The Daily Beast that when she went into a local newsstand, the proprietor remarked, “Oh, he always used to come into town with all these girls.”