Jailed Alabama Blogger'sTwo-Month Anniversary Passes

Roger Shuler

GulfCoastNewsToday.com (Robertsdale, AL), Bah, humbug! I say to Alabama politics,  Bob Morgan, Dec. 24, 2013. It’s kind of hard to get into the Christmas spirit. I’m trying but I see a lot that’s bogus in this “Peace on earth, good will to men” thing. Case in point: Alabama political blogger Roger Shuler, who landed on the wrong square. Shuler’s in jail in Shelby County right now for alleging that a trio of Alabama power brokers — Rob Riley, son of former Gov. Bob Riley, Atty. Gen. Luther Strange and federal judge Bill Pryor, all notable “family values” types — have been involved in certain indiscretions that don’t exactly spell out “f-a-m-i-l-y-v-a-l-u-e-s.” Personally, I don’t know if Shuler is on target with his allegations or not, but several things about Shuler’s jailing make me say, “Bah, humbug!” To begin with, Shuler was arrested at his home in Shelby County on Oct. 23 and his mugshot shows him with a black, swollen eye. A retired judge was brought out of moth balls and charged Shuler with contempt of court. The judge sealed the court record at Rob Riley’s request and ordered Shuler to take down all blogs pertaining to the alleged “family values” trio. Of course, Shuler can’t do that from jail. “That’s your problem,” the judge is alleged to have told Shuler in open court. Thus, Roger Shuler could be in jail in Shelby County until the cows come home. What’s happened to Shuler is called “prior restraint” and it’s unconstitutional according to the U.S. Supreme Court. After years of watching “Perry Mason,” here’s how I think the case should have been handled. Rob Riley brings a defamation lawsuit against Roger Shuler. Everybody involved swears to tell the truth and nothing but the truth and the court decides, after hearing everyone’s testimony, if Shuler defamed Riley and the others. (Seriously, it’s legally difficult to defame a politician for obvious reasons.) If Shuler is found guilty, then he’s ordered to take down the blogs and suffers whatever other reprisals the court decides. Naturally, we’re all aghast here in Alabama that Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” got his hand spanked for speaking out against gay sex. “First Amendment right, First Amendment right!” we’re screeching. But how many Alabamians even know about the Shuler situation and its ramifications for free speech and a free press? Few, no doubt, since the case has been woefully neglected by state media even though it’s getting national attention. Shuler’s wife has been locked inside their house in Birmingham since he was arrested. She’s also named in Rob Riley’s permanent injunction and she’s scared and has a right to be.

Legal Schnauzer, Roger Shuler, Only Jailed U.S. Journalist Per CPJ Census, Carol Shuler, Dec. 30, 2013. Receives Coverage at Al Jazeera America. As reported here in recent days, Legal Schnauzer publisher Roger Shuler made the list of jailed journalists compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Per the CPJ's article, "CPJ’s list is a snapshot of those incarcerated at 12:01 a.m. on December 1, 2013. It does not include the many journalists imprisoned and released throughout the year; accounts of those cases can be found at www.cpj.org. Journalists remain on CPJ’s list until the organization determines with reasonable certainty that they have been released or have died in custody." In a census that is normally about jailed journalists in oppressive countries such as Turkey, Iran and China, Shuler is the only journalist unlawfully jailed in the Americas on a list of 211 journalists from around the globe.

OpEdNews, Food Behind Bars Isn't Fit for Your Dog, Chris Hedges, Dec. 23, 2013. Aramark, often contracted to provide food to prisoners at about a dollar a meal, is one of numerous corporations, from phone companies to construction firms, that have found our grotesque system of mass incarceration to be very profitable. The bodies of the poor, when they are not captive, are worth little to corporations. But bodies behind bars can each generate $40,000 to $50,000 a year for corporate coffers. More than 2.2 million men and women are in prisons and jails in the U.S. Crystal Jordan, who has spent 23 years as a corrections officer in New Jersey and who works at the Burlington County Jail, and another corrections officer at the jail, who did not want to be named, told me that the food doled out to prisoners by Aramark is not only substandard but often spoiled. For nearly a decade Jordan has filed complaints about the conditions in the jail, including persistent mold on walls and elsewhere, with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and state and county officials. The results of her complaints have been negligible. "The big shift came in 2004 when the state got rid of the employees who worked in the kitchen and gave the food service contract to Aramark," said Jordan, who has sent several complaints about jail kitchen conditions to state and county authorities. "The food was not great [earlier], but the officers ate it along with the prisoners. Once Aramark came in, that changed. The bread was stale. I saw food in the kitchen with mold on it. The refrigerator broke down and the food was left outside in the cold or trucked in from another facility. Those who ate the food began to get sick. The officers demanded the right to bring in their own food or order out, which the jail authorities granted. But the prisoners had no choice. Diarrhea and vomiting is common among the prisoners. A few weeks ago one of the officers got a bowl of the prisoners' chili. We all told him not to eat it. He ended up with diarrhea in the bathroom."

Consortium News via OpEdNews, UN Investigator Undercuts NYT on Syria, Robert Parry, Dec. 23, 2013. Ake Sellstrom, the head of the United Nations mission investigating chemical weapons use in Syria, agrees that the vector analysis -- at the heart of the New York Times' indictment of the Syrian government for the deadly Aug. 21 Sarin gas attack -- doesn't stand up to scrutiny.  In a little-noticed comment at a UN press conference on Dec. 13, Sellstrom disputed claims that the launching point for the two missiles, which were recovered after the Aug. 21 attack, could be traced back following the angles of their final descent until they intersected at a Syrian military base about 9.5 kilometers away. In other words, the lead author of the UN report on the Aug. 21 incident has contradicted the much-touted "vectoring" claims of a New York Times front-page story and Human Rights Watch, which has been pushing for a U.S. military intervention in Syria. Rather than serving as honest brokers -- evaluating the Syrian evidence fairly and openly -- the Times and most of the mainstream U.S. media have simply reprised their propaganda roles played so disastrously a decade ago in the run-up to the Iraq War. At the press conference, Sellstrom admitted, "I don't have information that would stand in court." He also told Wall Street Journal writer Joe Lauria that both sides in the conflict had the "opportunity" and the "capability" to carry out chemical weapons attacks. Sellstrom's statements further undermine the outward certainty of U.S. officials who have claimed that only the Assad regime could be responsible for the Sarin attack. Sellstrom's team found some evidence of other Sarin incidents in Syria, suggesting that rebel forces have developed the capability of deploying chemical weapons.

Committee to Protect Journalists, Second worst year on record for jailed journalists, Elana Beiser, Dec. 18, 2013. For the second consecutive year, Turkey was the world’s leading jailer of journalists, followed closely by Iran and China. The number of journalists in prison globally decreased from a year earlier but remains close to historical highs. Turkey, Iran, and China accounted for more than half of all journalists imprisoned around the world in 2013, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found. In its annual census, CPJ identified 211 journalists jailed for their work, the second worst year on record after 2012, when 232 journalists were behind bars. The single journalist behind bars in the Americas was in the United States. Roger Shuler, an independent blogger specializing in allegations of corruption and scandal in Republican circles in Alabama, was being held on contempt of court for refusing to comply with an injunction regarding content ruled defamatory. In recent years, journalist jailings in the Americas have become increasingly rare, with one Cuban documented in prison in 2012 and none throughout the region in 2011.  

OpEdNews, Holiday Greeting From Prison, Don Siegelman, Dec. 23, 2013. My Dear Friends, This has been my third Holiday Season in federal prison. If the Creator set a purpose for everything, then I know my job: To fight for justice! He has given me a personal, hands-on view of the tragedies created by our criminal justice system. It is not balanced or fair. It is not seeking truth or justice. Our system pursues convictions with an "anything goes" attitude! The President and the Attorney General have spoken out, allowing changes for some...so let's encourage them to be even bolder, to seek justice for all...Oh, yes we can! We cannot give up on true justice.

OpEd News, Let Roger Shuler Go Before Christmas -- The Only Journalist Held Indefinitely In The US, Jill Simpson and Jim March, Dec. 23, 2013. The Committee to Protect Journalists who are defending journalists worldwide recently announced their 2013 list of reporters imprisoned illegally around the world.  As to be expected Turkey, Iran and China were at the top of the list but shamefully this time the USofA made the list as well due to the jailing of an Internet blogger named Roger Shuler in the state of Alabama.

International Business Times, JFK Assassination: Jacqueline Kennedy, RFK Did Not Believe Only One Person Assassinated President John F. Kennedy, Joseph Lazzaro, Dec. 20 2013. One week after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy privately communicated to the leadership of the Soviet Union that they did not believe accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Jacqueline Kennedy and RFK wanted the Soviet leadership to know that “despite Oswald’s connections to the communist world, the Kennedys believed that the president was felled by domestic opponents.” Publicly, Jacqueline Kennedy endorsed the Warren Commission’s conclusion that Oswald acted alone, and it was not until 1999 that her and RFK’s private views were made known, when they were revealed by historians Aleksandr Fusenko and Timothy Naftali in their book on the Cuban Missile Crisis, “One Hell of a Gamble: Khrushchev, Castro, and Kennedy, 1958-1964.”

OpEd News, Truman's True Warning on the CIA, Ray McGovern, Dec. 22, 2013. The mainstream media had an allergic reaction to Douglass's book and gave it almost no reviews. It is, nevertheless, still selling well. And, more important, it seems a safe bet that President Barack Obama knows what it says and maybe has even read it. This may go some way toward explaining why Obama has been so deferential to the CIA, NSA, FBI and the Pentagon. Could this be at least part of the reason he felt he had to leave the Cheney/Bush-anointed torturers, kidnappers and black-prison wardens in place, instructing his first CIA chief Leon Panetta to become, in effect, the agency's lawyer rather than leader.

 

Columbia Journalism Review,The 2nd-worst year for jailed journalists, CPJ’s annual census of imprisoned journalists makes sober reading, Edirin Oputu, Dec. 18, 2013. Two hundred and eleven journalists are in jail around the world, the second-worst year on record since the Committee to Protect Journalists began its annual census in 1990. This year marks a slight improvement on 2012’s record high of 232, but the figures—which cover all reporters imprisoned as of December—still make depressing reading. The report was released December 18. Turkey was the world’s leading jailer of journalists for the second year running, closely followed by Iran and China. Altogether, the three countries accounted for more than half of all reporters behind bars in 2013. The number of journalists in Turkish prisons fell from 49 to 40 this year: Some were freed pending trial, while others—defendants in pre-trial detentions—were released for time served. Dozens of Kurdish reporters were detained on terror-related charges; other journalists were imprisoned for allegedly supporting anti-government groups. Turkey’s anti-terror and penal laws allow its government to conflate covering banned groups with becoming active members of them, according to the CPJ. Only one journalist is behind bars in the Americas: Independent blogger Roger Shuler is in jail in Alabama, held in contempt of court for refusing to remove information from his blog that a judge had ruled defamatory. Shuler is shown at right.

 

 
 
 
 
Contact the author This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
 

 

Related News Coverage

Update:

Legal Schnauzer, Judge Claud Neilson earns dubious "award" for sending me to jail and trampling the First Amendment, Roger Shuler (shown in 2013 mug shot), April 21, 2015. The Alabama judge who unlawfully ordered my incarceration in a defamation Roger Shulercase has been cited for committing one of the year's "more egregious or ridiculous affronts to free expression." The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, based at the University of Virginia, has been issuing "Jefferson Muzzles Awards" for 24 years to those who have wantonly trampled First Amendment rights. Claud Neilson, a retired circuit judge the Alabama Supreme Court specially appointed to hear a lawsuit brought against me by Republican political figures Rob Riley and Liberty Duke, was among eight individuals or entities to receive "Muzzles Awards" for 2014-15. Josh Wheeler, director of the Thomas Jefferson Center, says the "Muzzles" are designed to spotlight First Amendment violations that might not have made front pages around the world.

Columbia Journalism Review,The 2nd-worst year for jailed journalists, CPJ’s annual census of imprisoned journalists makes sober reading, Edirin Oputu, Dec. 18, 2013. Two hundred and eleven journalists are in jail around the world, the second-worst year on record since the Committee to Protect Journalists began its annual census in 1990. This year marks a slight improvement on 2012’s record high of 232, but the figures—which cover all reporters imprisoned as of December—still make depressing reading. The report was released December 18. Turkey was the world’s leading jailer of journalists for the second year running, closely followed by Iran and China. Altogether, the three countries accounted for more than half of all reporters behind bars in 2013. The number of journalists in Turkish prisons fell from 49 to 40 this year: Some were freed pending trial, while others—defendants in pre-trial detentions—were released for time served. Dozens of Kurdish reporters were detained on terror-related charges; other journalists were imprisoned for allegedly supporting anti-government groups. Turkey’s anti-terror and penal laws allow its government to conflate covering banned groups with becoming active members of them, according to the CPJ. Only one journalist is behind bars in the Americas: Independent blogger Roger Shuler is in jail in Alabama, held in contempt of court for refusing to remove information from his blog that a judge had ruled defamatory. Shuler is shown at right.

Think Progress, Ten Travesties Of Justice In 2013, Nicole Flatow, Dec. 23, 2013. Every year, stories emerge that serve as a reminder that the American system of justice means injustice for too many, with some receiving little or no punishment for egregious offenses, while others receive harsh or faulty punishment for much less. Here are some of the worst injustices of 2013:

An Alabama blogger is still sitting in a jail cell for exercising his First Amendment rights. Blogger Roger Shuler drew the ire of the powers that be when he continued to write about the alleged extramarital affair of a prominent lawyer rumored to be running for Congress. The lawyer and son of former Alabama governor Bob Riley, Robert Riley, Jr., won a temporary restraining order that prohibited Shuler from writing anything about Riley’s alleged extramarital affair and other related stories. The order itself was almost certainly a violation of First Amendment law. But Alabama officials took the dispute a step further when they pursued him for a traffic stop and arrested him for contempt. In spite of advocacy from the ACLU and others, Shuler has now been in a jail cell for two months for his journalism; 2. A teen spent three years in jail without a conviction or trial. Kalief Browder was a 16-year-old sophomore in high school walking home from a party in the Bronx when he was arrested on a tip that he robbed someone three weeks earlier. He was hauled off to Rikers Island, a prison known for punishing conditions and overuse of force, and was held because he couldn’t pay the $10,000 bail.