|William M. Acker Jr.|
David Stras, the Trump-appointed federal judge who unlawfully forced a finding of immunity for a Kansas City police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man -- Ryan Stokes -- in the back, is an unmasked crook with a robe. But Stras' opinion in N.S. v. Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners (8th Cir., 2019) reveals that he actually is not as bad as a federal judge with whom I have come face to face in the Northern District of Alabama.
We are talking about William M. Acker Jr. (now deceased), the Reagan appointee who administered a monumental cheat job in my First Amendment/wrongful termination lawsuit against UAB (University of Alabama System Board of Trustees), where I had worked for 20 years. Evidence clearly shows I was targeted because of my reporting on the Don Siegelman case at this blog, but Acker took steps to ensure the case was decided with no facts in the record. (I'm not kidding).
Stras clearly conducted a "railroad job" in the Stokes case, so how could Acker be worse than that? Let's revisit a key section of the N.S. opinion that Stras authored:
Some evidence supports [Officer William] Thompson's account. The police discovered a handgun on the driver's seat of the car, which could mean that Stokes was armed when he entered the parking lot but then tossed the gun into the car. And witnesses who saw Stokes running said that he appeared to be "holding up his pants as he ran," which is arguably consistent with Thompson's perception that Stokes was holding a gun. Finally, Thompson's partner claims to have heard Thompson order Stokes to "get on the ground."
Other evidence supports the family's account. No one besides Thompson observed Stokes with a gun, nor was any gun found on or near his body. The car's owner, who was Stokes's friend, claimed that the gun recovered from the car belonged to him and that it had been there all night. Moreover, some officers did not recall hearing Thompson shout anything during the encounter, and at least one officer thought Stokes was trying to surrender when Thompson shot him.
Notice the repeated references to evidence; that shows that trial-court judge Brian Wimes allowed for discovery before considering summary judgment based on police-immunity claims -- as he was required by law to do. Wimes denied summary judgment for Officer Thompson, but the Stras panel vacated that finding and essentially forced a ruling that found Thompson was immune from lawsuit.
We can give Stras a little credit for not trying to hide in his opinion that facts had been entered into the record via discovery. What about Acker in my case against UAB? He allowed zero discovery -- meaning the case essentially was decided without facts -- violating U.S. Supreme Court and 11th Circuit precedent. Here is how we described Acker's handiwork in a June 2018 post:
How badly did Acker screw me on the UAB case? I've written several lengthy posts on that subject (see here, here, and here), but it boils down to this. He granted the university summary judgment, without discovery, in clear violation of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Eleventh Circuit precedent, as outlined in Snook v. Trust Company of Georgia, 859 F. 2d 865 (11th Cir., 1988). From Snook:
"This court has often noted that summary judgment should not be granted until the party opposing the motion has had an adequate opportunity for discovery. . . . The party opposing a motion for summary judgment has a right to challenge the affidavits and other factual materials submitted in support of the motion by conducting sufficient discovery so as to enable him to determine whether he can furnish opposing affidavits. . . . Generally summary judgment is inappropriate when the party opposing the motion has been unable to obtain responses to his discovery requests."
Law doesn't get much more direct and simple than that. I filed at least three motions to inform the court that discovery had not been conducted, and Acker admitted in open court that he was aware of that, and I was entitled to conduct discovery to counter UAB's motion for summary judgment.
We've reported on at least one of Acker's judicial colleagues in the Northern District of Alabama who knows the law on discovery and summary judgment and has applied it correctly multiple times. We've reported that Acker himself has correctly applied the law in multiple cases. He just didn't do it in my case, and that's probably because he knew political thugs had pressured UAB to unlawfully terminate me, and Acker chose to protect those thugs. Specifically, Acker likely was protecting GOP cretin Rob "Uday" Riley and his associates, who were the driving forces behind my cheat job at UAB. We recently have uncovered evidence that suggests the Alabama State Bar might have been involved, too.
For good measure, we recently reported on Sarah Palin's ongoing defamation lawsuit against The New York Times, where the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, in so many words, confirmed that Acker cheated me raw on the UAB matter.
Acker did not just violate 11th Circuit precedent; he also pissed all over the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). From a case styled Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 US 317 (Supreme Court, 1986):
We think that the position taken by the majority of the Court of Appeals is inconsistent with the standard for summary judgment set forth in Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Under Rule 56(c), summary judgment is proper "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." In our view, the plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. In such a situation, there can be "no genuine issue as to any material fact," since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial. The moving party is "entitled to a judgment as a matter of law" because the nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of her case with respect to which she has the burden of proof. "[T]h[e] standard [for granting summary judgment] mirrors the standard for a directed verdict under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(a) . . . ." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., ante, at 250.
As you can see, there must not only be discovery, but "adequate time" for discovery. In my UAB case, Acker ensured there was no time for discovery. SCOTUS, in Celotex, seemingly was able to look into the future and see that rogue judges like Acker would try to skirt the law:
Respondent commenced this action in September 1980, and petitioner's motion was filed in September 1981. The parties had conducted discovery, and no serious claim can be made that respondent was in any sense "railroaded" by a premature motion for summary judgment. Any potential problem with such premature motions can be adequately dealt with under Rule 56(f), which allows a summary judgment motion to be denied, or the hearing on the motion to be continued, if the nonmoving party has not had an opportunity to make full discovery.
Do I have no choice but to sit back and accept Acker's screw job, which the University of Alabama Office of Counsel facilitated with its silence? Do Mrs. Schnauzer and I have to accept multiple screw jobs we have experienced jointly in other federal cases? Not necessarily, as I wrote in a September 2019 post about the wrongful foreclosure on our home of 25 years in Birmingham:
If this were a case of incompetence in the 11th Circuit, that would be alarming enough. But this involves intentional cheating, which probably rises to the level of fraud on the court. And that, by law, should give us grounds to reopen "The House Case," along with all of the other federal matters -- including our employment cases against UAB and Infinity Insurance -- where we were intentionally cheated due to fraud on the court.
My initial research indicates a ruling grounded in fraud on the court can be attacked as void at any time, with no deadline for seeking justice. The con artists at UAB probably think my employment matter is way in the past, over and done with. They might be wrong about that.
|Ryan Stokes and his daughter|