Shocking Alabama Legal Irregularities Continue

Revelations continued this month exposing disgraceful conduct by state and federal authorities in Alabama courts.

The cases have national implications, especially since the Obama Justice Department has been complicit in enforcing such injustices from the Bush-Rove era as the frame-up of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and co-defendant businessman Richard Scrushy on corruption charges. Each was sentenced to seven years in prison in a case marred by massive irregularities and protested by 113 former state attorney generals from more than 40 states who said the defendants did not commit a crime.

The most recent disclosures include those by Scrushy now that his seven-year prison term is over after he served six years. Arising also are a number of unrelated scandals involving Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, left, who is continuing the notorious selective prosecution practices of his predecessors to help gamblers who contribute to their political coffers.

The pattern of major irregularities prompted Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford, right, and five co-plaintiffs to file a federal civil rights suit against Strange alleging their communities are being deprived of due process rights and such benefits as jobs because the attorney general uses his office to benefit those gamblers who support him and his political allies.

Roger Shuler, the state's leading journalist documenting such abuses, has also alleged a long-running pattern of harassment by employers and court officials in what he calls retribution against him and his wife, Carol.

Normally, we do not report on this site about allegations in personal litigation. Millions of cases in the United States are pending.

This is an exception. Shuler is courageous and credible journalist in my view. Also, little would surprise me about the federal and state court system in Alabama after my years reporting in this space about its irregularities.

Furthermore, courts around the country often demonstrate similar abuses -- as indicated by several news reports excerpted below and many independent studies previously reported here.

Today's news reports include Maryland indictments of 13 female jail guards involved in sex and drug abuse with an accused murderer under their supervision in Baltimore. The accused killer's harem of guards allegedly included four guards he impregnated. Two guards tattooed his name on their bodies as a symbol of devotion.

Another report involves 14 Amish men and women from Ohio sentenced to prison on hate-crime charges because their hair and beard-cutting attacks on community members they regarded as groomed inappropriately for their faith. One term is 15 years, a travesty of prosecutorial overkill in an age of budget deficits and economic privation.

Additionally, a mob leader in Massachusetts accused of 19 murders claims that the FBI promised him immunity for his crimes because he was an informant against New England's Mafia leadership.

The claim by long-sought fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger might seem preposterous except for the case's long history. It includes federal murder indictments against two former top leaders of Boston's FBI office. One former FBI special-agent-in-charge is currently serving a life sentence for murder. The other FBI supervisor died before his murder trial. Bulger's brother, longtime State Senate President William Bulger, wielded power during that period in largely one-party politics controlled in that state by Democrats, as we have previously reported here

Despite that disturbing array of cases around the nation, the state and federal personnel running Alabama's courts deserve center stage in this report.

Alabama is a frequent subject of our attention, as regular readers know. This is in part because one-party control of government helps authorities support their cronies and use the system to help loot one of the nation's poorest states with little fear of accountability.

As consultants, Karl Rove and his friend William Canary helped reshape Alabama politics in the 1990s to transform the state Supreme Court from all Democratic to all Republican. The fragmentation of  the Democratic Party has continued with a nasty split along racial lines this month. State Democratic Party Chairman Mark Kennedy resigned to start a separate group, the New Democratic Majority, after pressure from a longtime African-American leader, Joe Reed. 

Regarding legal developments: Tuskegee's mayor and his co-plaintiffs living in Macon County allege that their state's attorney general has caused "economic devastation" by unlawfully closing the VictoryLand casino to advance Republican interests. The mayor began his career as a Democrat, switched to the ascendant Republican Party, and then resumed membership in the Democratic Party.

The attorney general, Strange, is a white Republican, as are virtually all high-ranking Alabama state and federally elected officials, including the state's two powerful U.S. Senators, Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions.

Milton McGregor

Critics say that the opposition stems in significant part, however, from Native American-run gambling interests in Mississippi and Alabama that donate heavily to Republicans in hopes of thwarting legalized gambling that would compete with casinos. Jack Abramoff, the corrupt casino lobbyist turned reformer, has said he helped funnel $20 million from Native American casinos to fight Siegelman and lottery initiatives during the Democrat's term from 1999 to 2003.

VictoryLand is an electronic bingo parlor that Republicans have long sought to thwart -- ostensibly because of their moral and legal opposition to gambling. VictoryLand's owner is Alabama power broker Milton McGregor, at right.

Republican state officials have targeted McGregor for several years, including in a massive federal corruption indictment on claims he helped bribe state legislators.

Last year, Alabama and federal authorities suffered one of the most embarrassing courtroom defeats in recent Justice Department history when an Alabama jury acquitted McGregor and all co-defendants of every charge. It was the second trial of the case. Costs to taxpayers were estimated at up to $50 million.

Shuler described the case as follows:

The government charged that certain pro-bingo forces -- the most notable being Montgomery gambling magnate Milton McGregor -- bribed state legislators to vote for a bill that would boost electronic bingo. At the heart of the case was legislation that clearly had supporters and opponents -- those who were pro-bingo and those who were anti-bingo.

The overarching question at the heart of the bingo trial should have been this: Why did federal investigators target only the pro-bingo side, made up mostly of Democrats? Why did the feds tape phone calls made only by pro-bingo folks, while ignoring the activities of anti-bingo folks?

The answer? The feds were not interested in prosecuting crimes; they were interested in prosecuting certain people. That mindset was at the heart of the unlawful Don Siegelman prosecution, and it is forbidden by our Constitution. 

An appendix below describes the case along with the other major ones cited in this column.

The McGregor prosecution, like the notorious Siegelman-Scrushy prosecution, illustrate how U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, left, has brought the full weight of the Obama administration's legal apparatus to bear against courthouse victims targeted by Alabama Republicans.

Eric HolderShuler is a former newspaper reporter and state university communications expert based in the Birmingham metro region. He has written hundreds of blogs documenting prosecution and judicial misconduct in the Siegelman-Scrushy case alone.

Roger ShulerThe columnist is portrayed at right with his pet schnauzer, whom he describes as a comfort and inspiration for his investigative reporting on the court system. His Legal Schnauzer blog is excerpted widely on national independent media as a quality commentary on regional legal affairs, including his reportage on legal irregularities in other Deep South states besides Alabama.

The coalition of former prosecutors protesting the Siegelman/Scrushy prosecution to the Supreme Court and elsewhere is unprecedented in United States legal history. Yet it was unsuccessful. All courts and most relevant elected officials in the Bush and Obama administrations alike have closed ranks to ensure the frame-up and cover-up. Essentially ignored are despite petitions, investigative stories, whistle blowers, and clear violations of rights.

Federal authorities have refused, for example, to review in depth the most obvious legal irregularities and financial conflicts. These include a $300 million defense industry contract secretly funneled to a company controlled by the presiding judge, longtime Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Montgomery. Defendants had no knowledge during the 2006 trial that the Bush administration was enriching the Bush-appointed judge. Working with prosecutors and court staff, Fuller proceeded to railroad a jury into convicting Alabama's most popular Democrat, a potential presidential contender.

For any new readers here, I need to advise that I never used to use such words as "frame-up" during my reporting early in this case. At first, I tried to use neutral language congruent with my five years of fulltime coverage federal court system for a major daily newspaper. In those days three decades ago, I reported on extremely impressive federal prosecutors, judges, magistrates, and attorneys. But that was a world in time away from the judicial system readily apparent today in the Siegelman case and many of its parallels elsewhere, all supervised by Washington authorities who are utterly unaccountable for even the most clear-cut legal scandals.

Conventional wisdom among critics is that Karl Rove orchestrated the frame-up because Siegelman was a Democrat. My research, to be amplified in two forthcoming books, Presidential Puppetry and Courtroom Puppetry, is that the story is far more complicated. The plots needed support from legal authorities and their backers from both political parties.

The plan therefore involved remarkably cynical figures. Some were corrupted by sex scandals, drugs, fear of exposure, the promise of insider tips for wealth, and institutional loyalties to their confederates. For some, the shabby schemes were bound together by claims of national security. That high-minded concept provided a rationale to void their oaths to the rule of law and the Constitution. Zealots using their powers as activist judges or elsewhere use such patriotic terms to create new law to suit any circumstance convenient to ideology or other goals. 

The main suspects I have identified have denied corruption or other wrongdoing. So, I shall explore the darkest allegations in greater detail at book length.

Other critics, however, continue to voice complaints eight months after Fuller ordered Siegelman, 66, to resume his seven-year prison sentence and more than 20 years after Alabama Republicans targeted Siegelman in 1999 at the beginning of his first term. That jihad was begun then-Alabama Attorney Gen. William Pryor, Jr., who is now a judge on the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals at Atlanta overseeing the Siegelman-Scrushy travesty, which has included paramilitary witness coercion techniques. 

Bob RileyLaw professor and former prosecutor Bennett Gershman, the nation's leading academic expert on prosecutorial abuse, wrote a Huffington Post column this month questioning why Siegelman is in prison -- given the flimsy charges and gross irregularities.

The Obama Justice Department's whitewash includes its refusal to deliver to defendants despite seven years of FOIA litigation vital court records. The records purportedly show that U.S. Attorney Leura Canary recused from the case, as she claimed.

She had an obvious conflict of interest: her husband, William, was campaign manager of Siegelman's gubernatorial rival, Bob Riley, right. My information is that she did not recuse, and the Justice Department is withholding the records to protect her and its prosecution.

Scrushy, Siegelman's co-defendant, illuminated new scandals this month with his first extended public rebuttal (aside from legal papers) to claims he bribed Siegelman with a $500,000 donation to a non-profit.  Authorities won a compromise jury verdict that Scrushy gave the money to remain an unpaid state board as a Siegelman appointee in 1999.

Scrushy said he never discussed the matters with Siegelman, and did not want to remain on the board after serving under three previous governors. Raising a question about basic press coverage, he said he donated $250,000, not the $500,000 that authorities and the press have cited for years regarding the case.

More shocking, Scrushy told radio interviewer Peter B. Collins that authorities promised him leniency if he would provide false testimony against Siegelman. Scrushy has said he believes he is the first person ever sentenced to federal prison for contributing to a non-profit, the Alabama Education Foundation. The group advocated a lottery to improve state funding for education. Shuler reported Scrushy's disclosures in columns below.

While Scrushy was imprisoned Siegelman's defense counsel and Riley's son served as lead counsel together in a lawsuit that obtained a $500 million judgment against Scrushy on a claim of civil fraud against investors regarding disclosures of the HealthSouth company that Scrushy founded.

Shuler, as usual in his nearly five-day-per-week columns, has recently reported a number of other legal irregularities involving Alabama's attorney general and other prominent figures in the state. Shuler, a former reporter for nearly 20 years with the state's largest newspaper, typically probes cases from the standpoint of litigants victimized by lawyers or other court officials.

That kind of labor-intensive reporting is too expensive these days for most news organizations. It is cheaper for them to obtain news primarily from prosecutors and similar officials insead of aggressively seeking independent views of official conduct.

The Birmingham News and the state's two other largest newspapers have even moved away from daily print publication. In a downward spiral fostered also by Internet information and advertising, newspaper work is less influential, well-paid, or secure.

For such reasons, a study this week announced that newspaper reporting is the now the nation's "worst" profession, with a six percent annual decline in employment expected.

Shuler nonetheless has continued even after being fired from his job at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He has alleged in a pending lawsuit that the firing was improper retaliation for creating a blog in his free time and without university resources to report on the legal system. His wife, Carol, was later fired from her job with an insurance agency. She has filed a suit claiming improper dismissal for reasons of political retaliation against her husband's blogging work.

Her case is pending in Birmingham's federal court before a U.S. Magistrate T. Michael Putnam. Overall jurisdiction is by U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon, left, a native of the Sierra Leone nominated to the bench by President Obama upon the recommendation of former Democrat Artur Davis, who has become an outspoken Republican in seeking to revive his career. Kallon previously practiced employment and labor law at a major Birmingham law firm primarily representing employers.

Shuler this month reported on a series of actions by court officials who have threatened to dismiss his wife's case because she failed to respond to court papers that she says she never received. The Shuler allegations describe judicial behavior by Kallon and Putnam that might seem astounding except to those who have scrutinized, as have I, the extraordinary scandal and cover-up commonplace in Alabama courts on high-profile matters.

According to divorce papers, Siegelman's married judge, for example, engaged in a long-running affair with his married court clerk precisely at the time the Siegelman-Scrushy trial was being rigged in astonishing ways, including many pro-prosecution rulings and court manipulation of records with obvious due process errors.

The Justice Integrity Project, Shuler and veteran Alabama newspaper editor Bob Martin filed legal papers to keep Fuller's divorce file open, as required under Alabama precedent applying to all divorce litigants.

But Montgomery Circuit Court 15 Judge Anita L. Kelly protected Fuller by flatly ignoring our request for a hearing. We received no response to our filings, in other words.

With the arrogance commonplace to judges, Kelly gave no explanation for failure to call a hearing or her zeal to protect Fuller.

Kelly's protection in violation of what appears to be settled law in Alabama as elsewhere deprived litigants in many federal cases from clues on whether Fuller had acted improperly in supervising their cases as chief judge wielding vast powers.

The divorce action involved not simply the sex scandal involving court administration in the cozy world of powerful jurists and their operatives, but allegations of excessive drug and sex use.

Also, the secrecy obscured Fuller's role in controlling with up to 44 percent ownership a company training Air Force pilots and those from Mideast nations. Evidence has arisen that one of the trainees was Mohammad Atta, the Egyptian colonel alleged to have been the lead hijacker in the 9/11 tragedy. (Atta's main training was in Florida at a different flight school than Fuller's secretly controlled Professional Aviation company. Fuller has repeatedly declined comment on such matters.)

Somewhat similarly, I received no response from Kallon and Putnam regarding my requests for comment regarding their alleged irregularities or misconduct in the Shuler case. The judicial personnel failed also to respond to my request that they provide their required financial disclosure statements. The federal system -- while ostensibly open -- hides and delays financial information for judicial personnel. This gives the judges enormous discretion on disclosing whether they have conflicts and, if so, who their patrons, confederates, and fellow investors might be. 

Also, the magistrate's clerk who warned the Shulers that they faced dismissal of their case failed to respond to my request for comment on allegations he was manipulating mailings and court schedules with the connivance of the magistrate to dismiss the case without required discovery. 

In sum, it appears to be business as usual by authorities in Alabama, with the connivance of Washington supervising authorities.

 

Contact the author Andrew Kreig or comment
 
 

 

Related News Coverage

Alabama Gambling and Crony Cases

Legal Schnauzer, Federal Lawsuit Alleges Racism and GOP Politics Drove Bingo Raids in Historic Macon County, AL, Roger Shuler, April 25, 2013. Plaintiffs claim they and other Macon County voters have been the victims of a Republican Party plan that involves the use of Indian gaming funds to help take over all three branches of the Alabama government. The scheme, plaintiffs state, essentially nullifies their lawful votes to allow electronic bingo at VictoryLand.

Legal Schnauzer, Office of Luther Strange Violated Civil Procedure When It Sent Threatening Letter To Attorney, Roger Shuler, May 2, 2013. The Alabama Attorney General's office acted outside of lawful procedure when it sent a threatening letter to a lawyer who filed a civil-rights lawsuit against AG Luther Strange over raids at the VictoryLand casino, according to a new filing in the case.

Legal Schnauzer, Federal Lawsuit Alleges Agents For Luther Strange Unlawfully Destroyed Property in VictoryLand Raid, Roger Shuler, April 29, 2013. Agents of the Alabama Attorney General's Office damaged or destroyed property in a February raid at the VictoryLand casino, according to a federal lawsuit filed by Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford and other residents of Macon County. The lawsuit also contends the Alabama Supreme Court wildly misinterpreted an 1899 case that was central to its order that forced Macon County Circuit Judge Thomas Young to approve a search-warrant application from Attorney General Luther Strange.

Legal Schnauzer, Trusted Strange Aide Jessica Medeiros Garrison Rivals Her Boss On Gambling-Related Hypocrisy, Roger Shuler, April 17, 2013. Who is the bigger hypocrite, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange or his trusted aide and former campaign manager Jessica Medeiros Garrison? Looks like this one is going to be a close call, but we will strive to come up with an answer. We know that Strange takes hypocrisy on gambling issues to monumental dimensions. After all, this is the guy who has tried to shut down non-Indian gaming facilities, such as VictoryLand in Macon County and Center Stage Alabama in Houston County, while taking a $100,000 campaign contribution from the Poarch Creek casinos. This also is the guy who used the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) to help obscure the donation via a PAC-to-PAC transfer.  That brings us to Jessica Medeiros Garrison. Garrison now serves in an "of counsel" role with the large, downtown-Birmingham law firm Balch & Bingham. But her primary role seems to be serving as director of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA). What is RAGA? It is an affiliate of RSLC, the organization that helped funnel Indian gaming funds to the Luther Strange campaign.

Legal Schnauzer, Alabama State University Gave Luther Strange Contracts For Studying "Education In India," Roger Shuler, April 12, 21013. Attorney General Luther Strange received a contract from Alabama State University to study "education in India," according to a new report from the Inside Alabama Politics newsletter (IAP). The Strange contract was revealed in IAP's report about an ongoing investigation into the awarding of service contracts at ASU and whether the university received a fair value for the services provided under the contracts. Also at issue are allegations of kickbacks involving fees paid for legal services by the university. State Rep. John Knight (D-Montgomery) either has been or is about to be indicted by a federal grand jury in Birmingham, and House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) is under investigation by the FBI, IAP reports. Perhaps the most intriguing portion of the IAP report involves Luther Strange.

Florence Times-Daily (Alabama), Millions lost in Alabama gambling trial, Mike Goens, March 11, 2012. Did the guilty get away with it or did another political witch hunt blow up in the faces of those with an agenda? Either way, between $35 million and $40 million of our tax dollars walked out the door Wednesday with the remaining six defendants in a federal gambling corruption trial. All six, as well as fellow defendants who were acquitted in 2011 during the first trial, were found not guilty Wednesday. By the way, some estimate as much as $50 million was spent on investigating and prosecuting the defendants, which included a casino owner, former and current state legislators, lobbyists and others. In trying to answer the question posed above, it seems logical this case is another example of a political witch hunt gone bad....You know, $35 million could pay for a nice prison in a state so financially strapped that many convicts will likely be released early because it cannot afford to house them. Imagine that, building a new prison for real criminals instead of wasting money on a political agenda. Don’t underestimate the financial losses and attacks on personal reputations that defendants suffered in this case. The government doesn't’t have to worry about those individuals. Prosecutors can go on to the next case without any financial obligation. It’s unfair at best.

WHNT-TV NEWS 19, Huntsville, Alabama, The jury has announced verdicts in the state bingo trial, March 7, 2012. The jury found all defendants NOT guilty of all charges. The defendants are Milton McGregor, lobbyist Tom Coker, former State Senator Larry Means, Senator Jim Preuitt, Senator Harri Anne Smith and Jay Walker. All are now cleared.

Montgomery Advertiser, Gambling trial defendant Crosby found dead, Sebastian Kitchen, Jan. 30, 2012. Joseph "Ray" Crosby, one of seven remaining defendants in a federal corruption case tied to gambling in Alabama, died Sunday just a day before they were scheduled to begin the second trial in the case. The Montgomery Police Department confirmed Sunday night that it "is conducting a death investigation after Joseph Ray Crosby was found dead in his residence late Sunday afternoon," according to an email from Sgt. R.L. Duckett.

Justice Integrity Project, Alabama Gambling Leader Claims DOJ Misconduct; Top Prosecutor Quits, Andrew Kreig, Jan. 20, 2012. Facing retrial Jan. 30 on federal corruption charges, Alabama’s top promoter of legalized gambling alleges that the elite Justice Department unit prosecuting him illegally suppressed evidence during his first trial last summer. Meanwhile, that unit’s deputy chief suddenly resigned this month. VictoryLand bingo parlor owner Milton McGregor’s willingness to hit back hard at federal prosecutors in this week’s filing could presage even more explosive allegations. Also, the sudden resignation of DOJ’s Public Integrity Section Deputy Chief Justin Shur shortly before his scheduled leadership of the McGregor retrial heightens confusion, at best, within DOJ’s anti-corruption unit. Known by the acronym “PIN,” it is led by Chief John "Jack" Smith.

Siegelman-Scrushy Case

Al.com, Dana Siegelman keeping up the fight to get her father out of prison, Mike Cason, April 21, 2013. Don Siegelman still gives fatherly advice, has lost weight from an already lean frame and doesn’t mind picking up a mop or tackling chores that other inmates might want to avoid. Dana Siegelman, the former governor’s daughter, said he emails her almost every day from the federal prison in Oakdale, La., where he is serving a six-and-a-half year sentence for accepting a bribe. She said he is writing a book about his case and remains committed to showing he was wrongly convicted. Dana Siegelman lives in Long Beach, Calif., and plans to return this summer to the American University of Cairo, Egypt, where she is majoring in Middle East studies in pursuit of a career as a college professor. In a telephone interview, she said her father was shocked last year when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear his case, a decision that sent him behind bars after being out more than four years on appeal. But she said he has adjusted since returning to prison seven months ago. “Dad is such an adaptable person,” she said. “He re ally can get along with anyone. I think he just sort of accepts the cards that he’s dealt. He’s always been like that, even when he’s lost an election, he’s sort of picked up where he left off and made the most of the situation.”

Huffington Post, Why Is Don Siegelman Still in Jail? Bennett Gershman, April 20, 2013. Actually, the first question is why Don Siegelman was prosecuted and jailed at all. The second question is why President Obama has not yet pardoned him or commuted his sentence. Of all the abusive, vindictive, and politically-driven prosecutions by the U.S. Department of Justice, the prosecution of Don Siegelman stands at the top. Over a hundred Attorneys General from both political parties have condemned the legality of his prosecution. The House Judiciary Committee has documented the partisan cabal between the Bush White House and the Justice Department to take down Siegelman and destroy his career. Commentary by journalists, academics, and disinterested observers has uniformly decried the legal and ethical irregularities that contaminated his prosecution and blackened the reputation of the Justice Department. Despite all this, President Obama, apparently on advice from his "Pardon Attorneys," has refused to grant Siegelman a pardon or commute his seven-year sentence. Why?

Legal Schnauzer, Siegelman Case Involved No 'Meeting Of The Minds,' But Scrushy Still Spent Six Years In Federal Prison, Roger Shuler, April 18, 2013. Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy was released from federal prison last summer after serving six years for bribing former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. But Scrushy said he didn't have a "meeting of the minds" with Siegelman on any of the issues that prosecutors claim constituted a crime. In fact, Scrushy says, he didn't meet with Siegelman at all. That's largely because he barely knew Siegelman, he did not support his election campaigns, and he did not support the education lottery that was central to the governor's term--and ultimately, the government's criminal case. How on earth did Scrushy get convicted for bribing a governor he hardly knew, did not support, and did not meet with -- over a seat on a health-care regulatory board that Scrushy says he did not want? That might go down as one of the great mysteries in the history of American criminal law. To make it more stunning, Scrushy says the government got it wrong about the person he met with and the amount of money involved. That is one of many revelations from Scrushy's recent interview with San Francisco-based radio host Peter B. Collins, left.

Legal Schnauzer, After Serving Six Years In Prison For a Non-Crime, Scrushy Wishes He Had Testified In Siegelman Case, Roger SAhuler, April 30, 2013. Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy says he wishes he had taken the stand in his own defense during the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. "Absolutely, I regret it," Scrushy said when asked in a recent radio interview about not taking the stand. Scrushy told San Francisco-based radio host Peter B. Collins that he was faced with a number of valid reasons for not taking the stand. But after serving six years in federal prison for a "crime" that the public record shows he did not commit, Scrushy said he would do it much differently today.

Fox News, Former Gov. Don Siegelman: I’m Here Seeking My Freedom, Neil Cavuto, Sept. 4, 2012.  Former Gov. Don Siegelman, (D-Ala.), on being sentenced to prison for bribery. Cavuto: "This judge had it in for you from the beginning."

Free Don Siegelman Huffington Post, The Curious Case of Don Siegelman, Mimi Kennedy, Sept. 3, 2012. Don Siegelman should be a star in the Democratic Party. Instead, he's a former elected official sentenced to prison by a right-wing judge in Alabama.

Karl RoveLegal Schnauzer, Karl Rove Acts Like a Jackass to Don Siegelman's Daughter at Democratic National Convention, Roger Shuler, Sept. 3, 2102. Dana Siegelman, the daughter of Alabama's former governor, approached Karl Rove this week at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Showing Rove more politeness than he deserved, Ms. Siegelman introduced herself and tried to ask if there is anything Rove could do to help her father. After all, Don Siegelman is due to report to federal custody next Tuesday as the victim of perhaps the most notorious political prosecution in American history. Did Karl Rove care about the human costs of gross injustice? Not on your life. What did Dana Siegelman get for her trouble? An epic lesson in Republican rudeness. The TYT Network interviewed Dana Siegelman about her brief experience in Rove's orbit, and you can view the full video at the end of this post. If you ever have asked yourself, "Just how big a jackass is Karl Rove?" Dana Siegelman provides the answer with the following words: "I had no idea that Karl Rove would dare step in this building. And when I found out this morning that he was here, I sort of felt . . . I need to meet this person and let him know what he's done to my family."

Fox News, Former Gov. Don Siegelman Petitions President for Pardon, Neil Cavuto, Aug. 13, 2012. (Video). Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman on the petition for the President to pardon him from his prison sentence for bribery. Host Neil Cavuto describes Siegelman treatment as unfair, and worrisome to business executives from either party making donations.

Pam MilesDon SiegelmanPam Miles List Serve (Alabama), This is Pure Meanness, Pam Miles, Aug. 28, 2012. On August 3, our Governor Don Siegelman was resentenced to serve the balance of a 78 month term. Don’s reporting date is September 11th.  At the sentencing in 2007 Judge Fuller had the Governor hand-cuffed and shackled with chains around his legs and waist -- and taken from the court room and put into solitary confinement in the basement of a maximum security prison in Atlanta at 1 AM. On August 3rd at resentencing, Judge Fuller granted a motion for Don to self-report and said that he would request that the BOP place Don at a facility “as near Alabama as he can be

Legal Schnauzer, An Overpowering Stench of Corruption Emanates From U.S. Eleventh Circuit On Siegelman Appeal, Roger Shuler, Aug. 28, 2012. Reports on corruption in the handling of the Don Siegelman case have tended to focus on the trial court, especially Judge Mark Fuller and prosecutors in the Middle District of Alabama. But our review of one critical issue in the Siegelman case shows that the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta botched its ruling in such an outrageous fashion that it almost had to be intentional. The Eleventh Circuit includes 17 judges (seven on senior status) and covers three states -- Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. The circuit's decision to uphold bribery convictions against Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy -- contrary to well-settled law -- hints at the kind of dark conspiracy that probably meets the definition of organized crime.

Huffington Post, Siegelman's First Trial Judge Blasts U.S. Prosecutors, Seeks Probe of 'Unfounded' Charges, Andrew Kreig, May 21, 2009. One of the most experienced federal judges in recent Alabama history is denouncing the U.S. Justice Department prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. Retired Chief U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon of Birmingham calls for a probe of misconduct by federal prosecutors ─ including their alleged "judge-shopping," jury-pool "poisoning" and "unfounded" criminal charges.

Huffington Post, Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge’, Evidence Shows….$300 Million in Bush Military Contracts Awarded to Judge’s Private Company, Andrew Kreig, May 15, 2009. The Alabama federal judge who presided over the 2006 corruption trial of the state's former governor holds a grudge against the defendant for helping to expose the judge's own alleged corruption six years ago. Former Gov. Don Siegelman therefore deserves a new trial with an unbiased judge ─ not one whose privately owned company, Doss Aviation, has been enriched by the Bush administration's award of $300 million in contracts since 2006, making the judge millions in non-judicial income. 

Roger Shuler Cases

Legal Schnauzer, Here Is Evidence That Corrupt Judges And Lawyers Are Collaborating On A Cheat Job Against My Wife, Roger Shuler, April 29, 2013. One of the sad truths about our justice system is that courtroom corruption often is a multi-headed monster. In many cases, it is not a matter of a crooked judge or a crooked lawyer, operating in isolation. We see signs that such a twisted scheme is unfolding in my wife's ongoing employment lawsuit against Birmingham-based Infinity Insurance. Will it pay off for the underhanded legal types who are involved? Not as long as Mrs. Schnauzer (MS) and I have a collective pulse.

Legal Schnauzer, The Court Docket In My Wife's Employment Lawsuit Provides a Road Map of Corruption In Real Time, Roger Shuler, April 22, 2013.  A recent hearing in my wife's employment lawsuit against Birmingham-based Infinity Insurance was postponed six minutes before it was to start. Court records show that the order was signed by a federal judge we were told was not there that day. These are just some of several oddities that strongly suggest someone is manipulating the judicial process in a case styled  (2:11-cv-03443-TMP). These machinations probably amount to obstruction of justice and possibly other federal crimes. (Pertinent segments of the April 10 docket report can be viewed at the end of this post.) Mrs. Schnauzer (MS) appeared on April 10 for a scheduling conference that U.S. Magistrate T. Michael Putnam had set 10 days earlier. MS never received notice of the conference via U.S. mail--and as a pro se litigant, that is her only means of getting court documents--but she learned of it by checking the court docket in person at the Hugo Black U.S. Courthouse on April 5. That caused her to show up for the hearing and apparently foiled someone's plan to concoct grounds for dismissing her case.

Legal Schnauzer, We Catch Federal Court Employees In A Con Game On My Wife's Lawsuit Against Infinity Insurance, Roger Shuler, April 11, 2013. My wife and I caught federal "justice officials" in a scam yesterday morning at the Hugo Black U.S. Courthouse in downtown Birmingham. In fact, we caught them so red-handed--and it confirmed our suspicions so thoroughly--that the experience was alternately infuriating and exhilarating. The purpose of the scam was to use the U.S. mails and court process to cheat my wife in a pending employment lawsuit. My use of the word "scam" probably is too mild to describe what happened; a strong case could be made that we unearthed a criminal conspiracy for obstruction of justice.

Legal Schnauzer, Feds Promised To Release Scrushy From Prosecution If He Provided False Testimony Against Siegelman, Roger Shuler, April 9, 2013. Federal prosecutors offered to let Richard Scrushy out of the Don Siegelman case if he agreed to testify in a way that would "give" them the former Alabama governor. Scrushy, the former CEO of Birmingham-based HealthSouth Corporation, said prosecutors gave him several examples of testimony that would help ensure a bribery conviction against Siegelman. None of the proposed statements was truthful, Scrushy said, so he refused the offer. He wound up being convicted and was released from federal prison last July after serving a six-year sentence. Siegelman was released from custody for several years to pursue appeals, but returned to prison last September after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

Legal Schnauzer, Richard Scrushy: Convictions In the Siegelman Case Are Grounded In A Former Aide's Flawed Testimony, Roger Shuler, April 8, 2013. Bribery convictions in the Don Siegelman case are based almost entirely on an aide's testimony that he saw the former governor holding a $250,000 check after a meeting with then HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. That scenario, as described under oath by former Siegelman aide Nick Bailey, has a slight flaw -- it never happened, according to a man who was central to the alleged transaction. Richard Scrushy, who was released from federal prison last July after serving a six-year sentence, says he never had such a meeting with Siegelman -- and he never gave the governor a check. That is one of several major revelations from Scrushy's one-hour interview last Thursday with San Francisco-based radio host Peter B. Collins. It was Scrushy's first interview about the Siegelman case, and the podcast can be heard in its entirety at peterbcollins.com. Collins invited me to assist with the interview, and I was on the phone line to hear Scrushy describe the case against him and Siegelman as a "farce" and a "joke." In fact, Scrushy still can't seem to believe that it happened.

Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues

Media Oversight

SFGate, Worst job in America: Newspaper reporter, Staff report, April 23, 2013. After declining dramatically during the recession, newspapers are expected to continue losing jobs at a rate of 6 percent per year through 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. CareerCast said the job's grim outlook, shrinking budgets, stressful deadlines, lack of income growth and low pay made this the worst job in America. Median salary is $36,000.

Court Irregularities Nationally

Washington Post, MD. prison chief personally overseeing comprehensive review of Baltimore jail, Peter Hermann and Ann E. Marimow, April 26, 2013. Maryland’s secretary of corrections moved his office into the Baltimore city jail Friday to directly oversee a top-to-bottom review of staff and inmates that will include lie-detector tests, starting with the warden. The move comes days after federal prosecutors announced a sweeping indictment accusing 13 female guards of colluding with a dangerous gang — the Black Guerilla Family — that authorities said had essentially taken over the institution. Sex, drugs and prisoners were all involved in this recent FBI sting. According to the indictment, officers smuggled in cellphones and drugs for gang members and even had sex with them. Four officers became pregnant as a result of trysts with one detainee, prosecutors said.

Legal Schnauzer, Feud Among Members Of The Legal Community Apparently Drove Murders Of Texas Prosecutors, Roger Shuler, Monday, April 15, 2013. The prime suspect in the recent assassinations of three people connected to a Texas district attorney's office turns out to be . . . a lawyer. In fact, Eric Williams had been a judicial officer. Williams, who once served as justice of the peace in Kaufman County, was arrested over the weekend in connection with the shooting deaths of assistant DA Mike Hasse (January 31) and DA Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia (March 30). Who is the bad guy in all of this? Finding an answer to that question is not as easy as it might appear. Williams faces charges of making terroristic threats, and it appears that murder charges will come any day. But a look beneath the surface shows that Williams might have been the victim of an abusive prosecution, one that eventually led him to lash out.

Associated Press / Fox News, Amish gather last time before prison terms begin, Staff report, April 10, 2013. Come Friday, four women and one man from this tight-knit Amish group in rural eastern Ohio will enter the prison system in various states, joining nine already behind bars on hate crimes convictions for hair- and beard-cutting attacks against fellow Amish. That timing made Tuesday's event the last big gathering before the five depart, and the participants gave The Associated Press a rare glimpse into their largely insular community. Men played baseball in buttoned shirts, work boots and blue pants with suspenders. Their wives, some barefoot, sat outdoors on benches from the schoolhouse, chatting as their long-sleeved, blue and green dresses and white head scarves fluttered in the wind. Their children snacked and relaxed nearby, dressed like smaller versions of their parents. "It's a happy day on the outside, but not on the inside. On the inside, a lot of times we're crying, but we have to keep our spirits up for the children's sake," said Martha Mullet, whose husband, Sam Mullet Sr., was accused of orchestrating the hair-cutting attacks and was sentenced to 15 years, the longest term of the 16 defendants in the case.

World Net Daily, Amish prosecuted because scissors 'crossed state lines,' Staff report, April 12, 2013. Feds invoked Commerce Clause to make 'hate crimes' case. What does the federal hate crimes law inspired by the murders of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. have to do with an internal dispute among the Amish in which the beards of men and the hair of women were forcibly sheared? “The scissors used to cut the hair were manufactured in one state and used in another,” explained Edward Bryan, defense lawyer for Amish bishop Samuel Mullet Sr., who was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. Bryan, in an interview with radio host Michael Savage Thursday night, said the Commerce Clause is one of the federal government’s primary justifications for intervening in the dispute in eastern Ohio among members of the Christian sect. U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach, of the Northern District of Ohio, argued in the indictment that the “Wahl battery-operated hair clippers” used in the assaults “were purchased at Walmart and had traveled in and affected interstate commerce in that they were manufactured in Dover, Delaware.” The 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act stipulates any crime prosecuted under the law must involve crossing state lines or using “an instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce.” In a September trial, Mullet was convicted of organizing a series of raids in 2011 against religious enemies and disobedient family members in which the men’s beards were forcibly sheared and women’s hair was cut. Fifteen other Amish members were sentenced to prison terms of two to seven years.

Whitey BulgerMassachusetts Lawyers Weekly, Bulger’s immunity defense: what appearance of justice requires, Harvey A. Silverglate, April 17, 2013. The federal government’s cozy dealings with "Whitey" Bulger, right, and the Winter Hill gang have produced widespread and long-lasting damage to the reputations of the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston and the now-disbanded Organized Crime Strike Force. This sordid history now jeopardizes the perception that Bulger’s coming trial will be fair and transparent, not just the latest in a long line of cover-ups. During the trial of Stephen Flemmi in the late 1990s, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf began to shine light on the government’s then-secret relationship with Bulger. Now federal Judge Denise Casper, the new judge recently assigned to Bulger’s trial that begins June 10, has a golden opportunity to continue Wolf’s restoration of public confidence in the justice system. Casper’s upcoming first major ruling will be pivotal. She has to decide whether to reconsider the March 4 decision of her predecessor, Judge Richard Stearns, that Bulger and his lawyers will not be allowed to present Bulger’s asserted immunity defense to the jury unless they first convince the judge that the federal government actually granted him effective immunity for past crimes. (Stearns dismissed out-of-hand Bulger’s further claim that the feds even offered him immunity for future crimes.) Bulger’s lawyers have beseeched Judge Casper to let the jury hear Bulger’s claim that former federal prosecutor, the late Jeremiah O’Sullivan, promised him immunity for any crimes, past and future, committed during his cooperation with the FBI and the strike force, including murder. Shortly after Stearns’ decision on the immunity question, a panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals took the extraordinary step of ordering Stearns to step down from the case in the interest of maintaining the appearance of “impartiality” in the mind of “a reasonable person.” In his March 14 opinion, retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter, who occasionally sits on the court as a visiting judge, cited Stearns’ service in both the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the strike force while Bulger was cooperating.

Associated Press / Huffington Post, Judge Richard Stearns Kicked Off james 'Whitey' Bulger Trial In Boston, Denise Lavoie, March 14, 2013. A new judge will be assigned to hear the trial of reputed gangster James "Whitey" Bulger. The judge who was set to preside over the trial of reputed gangster James "Whitey" Bulger was removed from the case Thursday by a federal appeals court that found his background as a former federal prosecutor could create the appearance of bias. In a significant victory for the defense, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns must step down from the case. Bulger's lawyers argued that Stearns should be removed because he was a federal prosecutor in Boston in the 1980s. At the time, Bulger was working as an FBI informant while allegedly committing crimes, including murder.

 

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