Monday, September 30, 2019

Trump is blasting Democrats and "corrupt journalists" for his impeachment woes, but his own ignorance, big mouth, and incompetent aides really are to blame

Donald Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky

Donald Trump already is blaming others for the impeachment inquiry that has grown out of his dubious communications with the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. That should surprise no one, but Trump might look in the mirror if he wants to size up the person most responsible for his current pickle, reports a D.C.-based investigative journalist.

A weekend post at the subscription-based Wayne Madsen Report (WMR) -- titled "Trump's big mouth and freelancing landed him in hot water with the NSA and DNI," -- shows Trump is mostly to blame for the hot water in which he now resides. Writes publisher Wayne Madsen, a former Naval surveillance officer who knows a thing or two about international security issues:

In July 2018, White House leaks indicated that Donald Trump gave his personal mobile phone number to various foreign leaders. Although Trump is known to have phoned some foreign leaders over his official White House landline, he is also known to call some leaders using his mobile phones on a whim and while some of his calls’ recipients, in Asia, for example, are asleep. Trump is also known to use multiple cell phones to call foreign leaders. Criminals, including narco-lords and drug smugglers, often use multiple “burner” phones in the hope they can evade detection and eavesdropping by law enforcement.

Trump’s official White House landline calls with foreign government leaders are routinely logged and transcribed by National Security Council and State Department personnel, particularly experts on the particular region and country involved, as well as interpreters. However, Trump’s personal calls are subject to being monitored by the National Security Agency and its FIVE EYES partners in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Under federal law and Department of Defense, Directorate of National Intelligence (DNI), and NSA operational regulations, these calls are subject to surveillance, with minimization kicking in if they involve a “U.S. Person.” It is not Trump who is a subject of surveillance but the foreign leaders.

How does the evolving Ukraine scandal get connected to all of this? Madsen explains:

In the case of the multiple calls between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Trump, it is Zelensky’s communications that would be routinely intercepted by NSA. Trump’s name was minimized in raw signals intelligence (SIGINT) reports until it became apparent that he was engaged in a criminal violation of U.S. federal election law by extorting political dirt on the Biden family in exchange for the transfer of previously appropriated U.S. defensive weapons to Ukraine. Also intercepted would have been the private calls between Trump personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani and Zelensky’s aide, Andriy Yermak, as well as calls between Giuliani and Ukrainian presidential chief of staff Andriy Bohdan and acting Security Service chief Ivan Bakanov.

NSA’s “Ukraine Shop” would have retrieved such calls from the PINWALE database, which would have also contained transcripts of other Trump personal calls with other world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and French President Emmanuel Macron. In addition to transcripts of intercepted voice communications, PINWALE includes copies of e-mail, faxes, and text messages.

There are reports that Trump loyalists also attempted to purge other databases that contain intercepts of foreign government officials to which Trump was a party. NSA SIGINT analysts work with various geographic area intercept databases. For example, Balkans analysts comb through intercepts stored in a database called ENRICHMENT. The U.S. embassy in Kyiv also maintains an NSA X-KEYSCORE intercept operation targeting Ukrainian telecommunications networks. Similar systems are found in U.S. embassies around the world. However, in the case of the embassy in the Ukrainian capital, Trump may have discovered its role in NSA operations, resulting in him firing U.S. career foreign service ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch in May of this year.

Trump apparently has surrounded himself with sycophants who are as dense as he is on intelligence matters. Writes Madsen:

One of the Intelligence Community’s whistleblower’s complaints against Trump is that White House officials began pulling intercept transcripts out of the relevant database and hid them in another database, with which access is limited, even to NSA and other intelligence analysts. 
When criminal activities are discovered by NSA and other Intelligence Community analysts, the redacted name of the U.S. Person is unmasked and a copy of the intercepted communications transcript is forwarded to the Justice Department for possible prosecution. Somehow, this normal process became bogged down in political decisions by certain Trump loyalists in the Justice Department, including Attorney General William Barr and Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Brian Benczkowski. 

In essence, the incompetence of Team Trump finally appears to have bitten several of its members in the hindquarters. You might say they pooped in their own front yard and promptly managed to step in it -- with the whole world watching. Writes Madsen

The interference by Trump loyalists in the normal SIGINT operations and procedures of the NSA and DNI is what triggered the whistleblower complaint to the DNI’s Inspector General. Trump has his own big mouth and ignorance of how U.S. intelligence works to blame for his current impeachment predicament. 

Thursday, September 26, 2019

By pushing for "narrow scope" on impeachment, focusing on Ukraine scandal, Nancy Pelosi might create cover for schemes at the heart of Mueller Report

Nancy Pelosi

Now that the Ukraine scandal has dragged U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) kicking and screaming into impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, she continues to display the kind of waffling that for decades has characterized Democratic Party efforts to hold crooked Republicans accountable.

Pelosi's most recent sign of weakness came yesterday when she stated the scope of an impeachment inquiry should be "narrow." In other words, Pelosi wants the House investigation to focus on Ukraine and Ukraine only -- ignoring Trump's apparent efforts to benefit from Russia's meddling in the 2016 election, along with a host of other misconduct that likely rises to the level of "high crimes and misdemeanors."

Why does Pelosi want to give Trump a pass for activities that might prove far worse than anything involving a phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky -- and could be much more damaging to our democracy? We can think of only one answer: Pelosi knows a broad impeachment investigation, including evidence produced in the Mueller Report, likely would show Trump's presidency was illegitimate from the outset -- that he never was lawfully elected president, and all of his actions have been taken without constitutional authority.

Pelosi, it appears, believes a broad inquiry might cause her political problems down the line, or she thinks the American public cannot handle the notion that an impostor president has been leading the country since January 2017 -- and he could be re-elected, even if he is impeached.

Never mind that Americans needs to know exactly how a reality-TV host, with deep ties to organized crime and a history of unseemly (stomach churning?) personal behavior, came to occupy the nation's highest office. Pelosi could prove to be a cover-up artist in the mold of Trump attorney general William Barr -- and her efforts, of course, mean the mistakes of the Trump era are likely to be repeated in the future.

Pelosi, like many limp-wristed Democrats before her, gives short shrift to the rule of law while seeking to turn the whole controversy into a political calculation. From a report yesterday at CNN:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats in a private meeting Wednesday that she wants to focus their impeachment inquiry on President Donald Trump's conversations with Ukraine, as members debate how broadly to draft articles of impeachment, according to several sources involved in the discussions.

Despite months of focus on former special counsel Robert Mueller's findings and allegations of obstruction of justice, Pelosi and top Democrats believe their strongest case for impeachment to the American public is the President's ask that the Ukrainians investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

That means if Democrats draft articles of impeachment, they are likely to be focused on the Ukraine controversy — not on allegations that Trump tried to thwart the Mueller probe. A broader resolution could make it more complicated to get the votes on the floor, according to multiple Democratic sources. But discussions about the scope of the articles of impeachment are ongoing.

Democrats, as long has been their tendency, play softball when a situation calls for toughness. From CNN:
Publicly, Democrats are debating how far to go in drafting the resolution, as well. Going too broad in articles of impeachment, Democrats fear, could become unwieldy and cost them crucial support, especially among a slew of moderate freshmen who have only embraced impeachment in the aftermath of the Ukraine controversy.

Members say that the Ukraine matter has been the most unifying instance of potentially impeachable conduct, and as such any articles of impeachment should focus on those allegations foremost.

Fortunately, some of Pelosi's colleagues are showing signs of having a testicle or two, reports CNN:

Rep. Dan Kildee, who has supported impeachment for several months, told reporters Wednesday afternoon that there is "a lot of conversation about what form this ought to take" among House Democrats.

"It's pretty clear that the Ukraine issue is the one that has really unified our caucus," he observed. "We need to put the tightest set of facts that we can assemble as quickly as we can and move, leading with the Ukraine issue," Kildee said. But he added that most members don't want to look the other way on other "egregious violations" on Trump's part. . . .

Some Democrats who backed impeachment earlier on said they want the focus to include findings of potential obstruction of justice, saying Trump shouldn't be let off the hook for allegedly trying to thwart Mueller's probe. Others say they should also address the President's involvement in alleged hush-money payments to prevent stories of his alleged affairs from coming out before the 2016 elections.

"I am someone who called for impeachment before Ukraine. I'm not about to abandon that. To do so would be tantamount to saying I came out for the wrong reasons and I would be wrong," said Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat. "And I don't agree with that."

Connolly believes the Ukraine controversy should become "article 5" of the impeachment resolution, behind other allegations of wrongdoing by Trump.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Michigan jury quickly acquits man of ludicrous "harassment" charge for online criticism of judge -- and we face a similar free-speech threat in Missouri

The Facebook meme that helped bring
criminal charges against Nonathan Vanderhagen
for "harassing" a Michigan judge.

A Michigan jury took less than 30 minutes last week to find a Macomb County man not guilty of harassing a judge by publishing critical posts about her on Facebook. That Jonathan Vanderhagen actually faced a criminal trial on such a flimsy charge -- in a country where some form of free expression is supposed to be a coveted constitutional right -- makes this one of the nuttiest court cases in our 12 years of writing Legal Schnauzer.

We've seen plenty of cases where juries rendered nonsensical verdicts. But in this instance, jurors clearly had their heads out of their rectums -- which cannot be said for the judge and prosecutors who caused charges to be filed. The case has particular resonance here because we face a similar, and ongoing, effort to silence our online voice.

How goofy was the case in Michigan? A report at helps answer that question:

A Chesterfield Township man was acquitted of a misdemeanor charge on the allegation he made social-media threats against a Macomb County judge.

A six-person jury found Jonathan Vanderhagen not guilty Thursday following a three-day trial in 41B District Court on a charge of malicious use of a telecommunications device for several Facebook posts last July regarding family Judge Rachel Rancilio of Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens.

The panel deliberated only 26 minutes.

Vanderhagen told The Macomb Daily after the verdict that he prayed for "the truth to come out" each night in his county jail cell, where he has been held for nearly two months.

Can you believe that? An American spent almost two months in jail because he criticized a public official -- largely because the official, Judge Rachel Rancilio, took his criticism to be a threat. If the judge has such sensitive skin, perhaps she needs to find another profession.

Did Vanderhagen have reasonable grounds to be displeased with Judge Rancilio? He sure as heck did. It all grew from a child-custody case that launched two years ago. From a report at

In 2017, Vanderhagen petitioned the court for sole custody over his 2-year-old son, Killian. Vanderhagen believed Killian's mother to be an unfit guardian. Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Rachel Rancilio, the presiding judge, denied the request and Killian was permitted to continue living with his mother. Killian passed away that September while in his mother's care.

Authorities concluded that a preexisting medical condition contributed to Killian's death. Vanderhagen, however, blamed Rancilio's custody ruling for contributing to his son's death, which he believes would not have happened had Killian been in his care. He used his Facebook page to say as much. For two years, he posted about Killian's mother, the court system, and Rancilio—at times using Rancilio's own public Facebook posts and Pinterest pins to criticize her ruling.

Rancilio was made aware of the posts and an investigation was opened against Vanderhagen. "At no point does [Vanderhagen] threaten harm or violence towards Rancilio," Sgt. Jason Conklin of the Macomb County Sheriff's Office, the investigating officer, concluded in his case report.

Nevertheless, Vanderhagen was charged with the malicious use of telecommunication services, a misdemeanor, in July. "Malicious use" means that Vanderhagen was accused of using a telecommunication service with the intention of terrorizing, intimidating, threatening, or harassing Rancilio. Vanderhagen was ordered to refrain from engaging in direct or third-party contact with Rancilio, including sending "inadvertent messages by way of Facebook."

Prosecutors and presiding District Judge Sebastian Lucido used the meme at the beginning of this post to accuse Vanderhagen of violating his bond conditions later that month. Here's more from Reason:

The Facebook post features Vanderhagen holding a shovel with the initials R.R., standing for Rachel Rancilio. The post's caption read, "Dada back to digging [and] you best believe [I'm] gonna dig up all the skeletons in this court's closet."

In addition to the Facebook post not being threatening, Nicholas Somberg, Vanderhagen's lawyer, told me that the post was created three days before Vanderhagen received his bond conditions.

Somberg also argued in an emergency bond hearing that Vanderhagen had a First Amendment right to criticize legal authorities. Judge Lucido replied that there were "limits" to free speech. When Somberg asked Lucido to clarify which of the Facebook posts presented to the court were threatening, Lucido said that they 'alluded' to the judge and did not explain his reasoning any further.

Lucido raised Vanderhagen's bond to $500,000, an amount Somberg told Reason was tantamount to a bond "you would expect for a murderer or rapist."
In short, authorities concocted bogus criminal charges against a citizen because his legitimate and lawful criticisms caused a hyper-sensitive judge to get a case of the squirmies.

We are facing a similar threat to free speech -- and a free press -- right now. Details are ahead in an upcoming post.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Banking behemoth JPMorgan Chase has a perfect batting average when it goes before appellate panels headed by one of its shareholders, Gerald Bard Tjoflat

Between 2003 and 2017, a judge on the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals sat on three-judge panels 15 times to hear cases involving banking giant JPMorgan Chase (JPMC). Each time, the panel ruled in favor of Chase -- and, in most cases, against everyday Americans.

Does that sound fishy to you? It should, when you consider that the judge in question, Gerald Bard Tjoflat has a financial stake in JPMC. It is particularly smelly to my wife, Carol, and me, given that we lost our home of almost 25 years in Birmingham to a wrongful foreclosure and got cheated at the trial level by judges R. David Proctor and Virginia Emerson Hopkins in the Northern District of Alabama (see here, here, and here), only to see Tjoflat screw us in an even more blatant fashion at the appellate level.

A basic of American law is that no federal judge can hear a case in which he, or a member of his immediate family, has a financial interest in one of the parties. Public records make Tjoflat's financial stake in JPMC abundantly clear -- and by law, he is disqualified from sitting on any panel considering a case where JPMC is involved. But that has not stopped him from hearing appeals involving the bank at least 15 times over a 14-year period. And get this: The bank has prevailed 15 times in 15 cases where one of its shareholders (Tjoflat) serves as a judge. How's that for making American "justice" great again?

Gerald Bard Tjoflat
That's a .1000 batting average for JPMC, and a .000 batting average for its customers who had the temerity to try holding the gigantic bank accountable before a court of law -- one that turned out to be demonstrably crooked, and yes, we are talking about you, Mr. Tjoflat.

Does that stink to our readers? It sure does to us, given that we have been one of Tjoflat's victims. Let's look at the scorecard of cases where Tjoflat-led panels have consistently favored the 89-year-old judge's pocketbook by siding with his financial stake in JPMC. We conducted our research on Google Scholar, and this might not be an exhaustive list of cases involving Tjoflat and JPMC. For one, Tjoflat has been on the appellate bench since 1975, and it's possible some cases have slipped through the cracks over a 44-year period. Also, there might have been cases where JPMC was a secondary or tertiary defendant and did not appear in our search.

But we found enough cases to form a distinct pattern: When JPMC goes before a Tjoflat panel, the big bank pretty much always wins. Here is a list of specific cases:

(1) Tjoflat panel favors JPMC and other defendants in Shuler v. Jessica Garrison (2017)

(2) Tjoflat panel favors JPMC in Jacqueline Sosa, et al v. Chase Manhattan Mortgage (2003)

(3) Tjoflat panel favors JPMC in Russell Dusek v. JPMC Bank (2016)

(4) Tjoflat panel favors JPMC in Chau Kieu Nguyen v. JPMC Bank (2013)

(5) Tjoflat panel favors JPMC in Angela Sims v. Chase Home Finance (2012)

(6) Tjoflat panel favors JPMC in Alexander Harvin v. JPMC Bank (2017)

(7) Tjoflat panel favors JPMC in Michelle Hopkins v. JPMC Bank (2015)

(8) Tjoflat panel favors JPMC in Sherrance Henderson v. JPMC Bank (2011)

(9) Tjoflat panel favors JPMC in John Pinson v. JPMC Bank (2016)

(10) Tjoflat panel favors JPMC in Jason C. Harris v. Chase Home Finance (2013)

(11) Tjoflat panel favors JPMC in Steve Muhammad v. JPMC Bank (2014)

(12) Tjoflat panel favors JPMC in Carolyn Boone v. JPMC Bank (2011)

(13) Tjoflat panel favors JPMC in Vadis Frone v. JPMC Bank (2017)

(14) Tjoflat panel favors JPMC in Anne Marie De Souza v. JPMC Home Lending (2015)

(15) Tjoflat panel favors JPMC in JPMC Bank v. Thomas G. Dean (2010)

Is JPMC the only large financial institution to benefit in the Deep South because Gerald Bard Tjoflat is a shareholder? Nope, another banking behemoth has enjoyed similar benefits for years.

(To be continued)

Monday, September 23, 2019

Goofy 911 call in Missouri focuses mostly on a threat I never made and a gun I never had -- and that's because my lawyer-brother, David Shuler, made it all up

A 911 call that started with an allegation that I had threatened to shoot any law-enforcement officer who tried to evict Carol and me, quickly changed to an admission that I had said no such words -- and ended with the revelation that my lawyer-brother David Shuler instigated the call and made the whole "threat story" up.

The call, from Burrell Behavioral Heath case manager Joshua Davis, starts veering off the tracks with the claim that I had a gun. (Video/audio of 911 call is embedded at the end of this post.) Other than a BB gun I received as a Christmas gift at about age 12, I had never owned a gun in my life, up to the time of the call. Kathryn Mays, who had been assigned as my social worker, can be heard whispering to Davis throughout the call, and much of the misinformation apparently comes from her.

In fact, Davis does not seem to know what he's doing, or why he's even placing a 911 call for a matter he admits up front is a "non-emergency." The 911 dispatcher, a young woman named Maggie, seems to be saying, "Why are you calling me, and what on earth do you want us to do about it?" She really would have been dumbfounded if she had known almost everything she was told was false.

The call includes moments that are downright comical. Davis tries to explain that he is calling because Burrell has a "duty to warn."

That prompts Maggie to say, "I'm not sure what 'warrant' you're talking about."

"I said 'duty to warn.'" Davis explains.

"Oh . . . OK," says Maggie, in a tone that suggests she still has no idea why he's calling.

Does Burrell actually have a "duty to warn" under Missouri state law? If so, I haven't been able to find it. There is this little item called medical confidentiality in many jurisdictions, and Burrell didn't seem to have a problem trampling mine -- going so far as to make up things I didn't say. Here's how the call begins:

Josh: I work with case management, and we have a client with Burrell who threatened to shoot anyone if they came to evict him from his house.

Maggie: Is he being evicted?

Josh: Yes, there has been an eviction notice posted at the house. Part of our duty to warn, according to one of my supervisors, is that I need to let the Greene County Sheriff's Office know, in case they send somebody out there, that he has threatened to shoot anyone . . . or not . . . well he's threatened to protect his home, I believe is his words. And he has a gun.

Notice that in the span of a minute or so, I've gone from threatening to shoot anyone who comes to evict to threatening to "protect my home." These people apparently don't realize there are a lot of steps you can take to "protect your home" that don't involve shooting anyone -- including legal steps, in court, that are supposed to ensure you are not unlawfully evicted. Do the people at Burrell think it's unlawful to protect your home against intruders? Apparently they do. Did any of them think to ask, "Is this threatened eviction unlawful, as Roger says?" Apparently not.

Trust me when I say it's otherworldly to hear people talking about you on a 911 call -- about a threat you never made and a gun you never had.

It gets even more bizarre when Maggie asks Davis if I have any tattoos. Me, a tattoo? I wouldn't be caught dead with one. But you can tell Maggie is making the assumption that I'm a criminal, so I must be covered in tattoos. Then, there is this:

Maggie: He has a gun, you said. Any other weapons that you know of?

Josh: None, that we know of.

Maggie: Would he be under the influence of anything? (Oh great, I'm a criminal AND a druggie.)

Josh: He takes medication for his mental illness that we work with him, but no other drugs . . . (Hey, you forgot my crystal meth. I love me some crystal meth!)

Maggie: What kind of mental illness does he have?

Josh: PTSD and major depression. (You aren't going to mention I was thrown in jail five months for blogging in Alabama? That doesn't qualify as trauma? And depression is considered mental illness? Hell, 7/8 of the country must be mentally ill then.)

Maggie: Is he a veteran?

Josh: No ma'am.

Maggie: Do you think he is at home, at that location, now.

Josh: Yes, most likely.

Remember, all of this hullabaloo -- on what is supposed to be a phone line for emergencies -- largely is about a threat I did not make and a gun I did not have. So who was at the heart of all this baloney? We will address that in an upcoming post.

(To be continued)

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The greasy palms of Luther Strange and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama have given the state one of the most severe opiod-prescription problems in the U.S. -- as family behind OxyContin funnels profits offshore

Luther Strange and Jessica Medeiros Garrison

Alabama in recent days has taken a front-and-center role in the U.S. opiod crisis, and that seems fitting given that the state's former attorney general, Luther Strange, and largest insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama (BCBSAL), have helped give the state one of the nation's most severe prescription-painkiller problems, according to a 2017 article at (of all places.)

Strange landed in national headlines over the weekend, thanks to an Associated Press report about his efforts pushing for a settlement that critics say is highly favorable to the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, the company behind OxyContin. The social-media presence for Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Strange's one-time campaign manager and mistress, mostly disappeared -- coinciding roughly with Strnage's involvement in opiod-lawsuit negotiations.

Meanwhile, the New York attorney general stated in court documents last week that the office has traced roughly $1 billion the Sackler family allegedly transferred to offshore accounts in an effort to shield its wealth from possible collection in lawsuits. What if Luther Strange is found to have been involved in what appears to be a case of massive financial fraud?

Did Strange learn a thing or two about offshore accounts, perhaps via members of Alabama's crooked Riley family, from his days in the Alabama Republican Party, with ties to Birmingham's Bradley Arant Law Firm? What if political connections in the Northern District of Alabama allowed Strange to escape prosecution in the North Birmingham Superfund Bribery Scandal, but he lands in the "big house" from helping the Sacklers shift billions into offshore accounts? How huge could the OxyContin-related financial fraud turn out to be? From an article at Splinter News:

Last month, New York Attorney General Letitia James subpoenaed 33 financial institutions with ties to the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin. The subpoenas are tied to James’ effort to track billions of dollars the family allegedly transferred out of Purdue Pharma to hide profits before the company declares bankruptcy, The New York Times and other media reported.

The findings announced on Friday come from only one of the financial institutions that responded to the subpoenas, the Times said.

The attorney general’s office said it found about $1 billion in wire transfers by the Sackler family, some of which went through Swiss bank accounts.

“While the Sacklers continue to lowball victims and skirt a responsible settlement, we refuse to allow the family to misuse the courts in an effort to shield their financial misconduct. The limited number of documents provided to us so far underscore the necessity for compliance with every subpoena,” James said in a statement.

The findings from only one of 33 subpoenas suggest the total amount of financial transfers to offshore accounts easily could top $30 billion. Will the IRS have an interest in this, perhaps with Luther Strange caught in the web of deceit? Are the Sacklers planning to commit bankruptcy fraud? It sure sounds like it.

No one should be surprised at Strange's chummy relationship with Big Pharma, Breitbart reports, given that the former U.S. senator and one of his biggest political benefactors, BCBSAL, have helped turn Alabama into a haven for prescription-opiod abuse. Reports Breitbart in its 2017 piece:

During a period he served as Alabama Attorney General, Luther Strange received more campaign contributions than any other U.S .attorney general from members of a controversial lobby group peddling the dangerous prescription pain medication business amid an ongoing opioid crisis in Alabama. . . .

Backed financially by big pharmaceutical companies, Strange led an effort that culminated in a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) signed by other attorneys general urging the agency not to approve generic versions of highly addictive opioids unless the companies use so-called tamper-resistant or abuse-resistant technology that at the time was mostly available to the major drug companies and not generic competitors.

An investigation by the Center for Public Integrity and The Associated Press previously found that the effort outlined in Strange’s letter essentially left the opioid market for several years to big drug companies like Purdue and Pfizer.

According to Breitbart, Strange and BCBSAL essentially have given everyday Alabamians a giant middle finger while lining their own pockets with Big Pharma cash. Perhaps that should not be surprising, given that BCBSAL long has harbored at least one criminal -- our former neighbor Mike McGarity -- among its employees. Could BCBSAL wind up facing massive civil liability if opiod lawsuits head its way? Let's take a look:

The issue of opioid prescription is critical in Alabama, a state that has the highest rate of prescription opioid use in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Also, in July, a report found that Alabama members of Blue Cross Blue Shield evidenced alarming trends of opioid prescription rates.

Blue Cross Blue Shield is the 12th largest donor to Strange’s Senatorial coffers, according to Open Secrets, contributing $15,000.

How has Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama contributed to the state's high rate of prescription-painkiller use? A 2017 story explains:

Alabama members of Blue Cross Blue Shield receive more opioids for longer periods of time and report higher rates of substance- abuse disorder than patients in almost every other state, according to a report released Thursday.

An analysis of claims filed by Blue Cross members ranked Alabama in the top three for opioid prescriptions filled, long-term painkiller use and diagnoses of opioid-abuse disorder. More than 26 percent of Blue Cross Blue Shield members in the Yellowhammer State filled prescriptions for opioids in 2015, compared to the national average of 21.4 percent.

The study follows recent reports showing the death toll from opioid use topping 33,000 in 2015 and continuing to rise. Many of the deaths in recent years have been caused by heroin and illicit fentanyl - a powerful substance that has infiltrated the drug supply and caused a spike in overdoses. Deaths from prescription opioids have plateaued, but still account for the majority of fatal overdoses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the report, the number of substance-abuse disorder diagnoses for Blue Cross members increased almost 500 percent from 2010 to 2016. Women age 45 and older have higher rates of substance abuse than men, and men have higher rates of abuse among younger members. Less than a third of members diagnosed with opioid use disorder in Alabama received medication to treat the condition.

The CDC identified Alabama as the state with the highest number of prescribed opioids per capita in 2015, with physicians writing 5.8 million prescriptions that year. State regulators have adopted some rules to curb high rates of prescriptions. Recently, the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners adopted a rule requiring doctors to check the prescription drug database for certain patients.

How greasy are Strange's hands in the opiod crisis? The 2017 Breitbart article provides insight:

Strange was appointed to the Senate in February, after Jeff Sessions vacated his seat to become U.S. Attorney General. Prior to his appointment, Strange served for six years as Alabama’s Attorney General.

The AP and Center for Public Integrity report found that members of a major drug lobby group called the Pain Care Forum donated more money to Strange than to any other attorney general during a nine-year period.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Montgomery lawyer and right-wing talk-radio host Baron Coleman brags about costing others their jobs, but when his own livelihood is on the line, that opens the spigots of name-calling, threats, and profanity

Baron Coleman

What evidence suggests Montgomery lawyer and talk-radio host Baron Coleman -- aside from being a profane bully on the air -- is simply a rotten human being? For starters, Coleman left one radio station and landed at another roughly one month after calling Becky Gerritson (executive director of the Eagle Forum of Alabama) a "whore" and  a "bitch" and hinted at burning her house to the ground.

But the alarming side of Coleman's media shtick goes much deeper than that. Let's review the tirade Coleman launched on-air after Gerritson had the temerity to disagree with him about medical marijuana:

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.

Coleman, it turns out, was just warming up. Here is more:

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.

After vowing to destroy Becky Gerritson, Coleman brags about costing other people their jobs. (Note: The AM radio host in question is Montgomery attorney Mark Montiel, sources tell Legal Schnauzer.)What's up with Coleman? Is he well, is he dangerous, is his language that of a glorified domestic terrorist -- in an age where we seem to average one two mass shootings per month?

Let's consider Coleman's response when asked about the ugly rant he directed at Gerritson -- and that she had responded by filing a complaint with the Alabama State Bar and contacted advertisers to ask if they really, really wanted to be associated with Coleman. Writes Mike Cason, of

Asked about those comments tonight, Coleman said he stood by them. He said Gerritson’s actions posed a threat to his livelihood and ability to take care of his wife and seven children.

Let's examine that statement in light of Coleman's on-air comments cited above. First, he brags about costing other people their jobs. But notice what happens when someone else takes actions that might put Coleman's livelihood -- and his ability to care for his wife and seven children -- on the line. When the tables are turned, so to speak, Coleman doesn't like it one bit. He resorts to name-calling, profanity, and threats -- in language dripping with hints of violence.

When your livelihood and your loved ones are threatened, Baron Coleman boasts about that -- almost seems to find it amusing. When his livelihood is threatened, things aren't so funny anymore. Now, it's a serious matter, one prompting threats that could be criminal under the Code of Alabama 13A-10-15. Within roughly the past week, two University of South Alabama students have been charged with making terrorist threats for using language that doesn't appear to be any more coarse than what Coleman used.

As for Coleman, his lack of empathy for the rights and feelings of others comes real close to the classic definition of sociopathy. That radio stations in Montgomery keep giving him a soapbox seems off-the-charts irresponsible.

Would a black media personality get away with this kind of behavior -- exiting one station, after making wildly inappropriate (maybe criminal) on-air comments, only to land in the arms of another station? Not in a million years.

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

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

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

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.