Project Files To Unseal Fuller Records, Describes Importance


The Justice Integrity Project filed legal papers with an Alabama court this week to unseal the divorce court records of embattled federal judge Mark E. Fuller. At the same time, I described the importance of the case in an in-depth interview with Joan Brunwasser, left, of OpEd News. Additionally, ongoing developments in the communications industries showed  the vitality of the web-based platform and the reluctance of traditional news organizations to report such developments.

Joan BrunwasserOur project's filing asked the Montgomery County Circuit Court to hold a hearing on its decision to seal Fuller's divorce records.  In a filing joined by Alabama journalists Bob Martin of the Montgomery Independent and Millbrook Independent and Roger Shuler of Legal Schnauzer, we argued that longstanding precedent in state and national courts is that such records should remain public, except for potential details redacted in exceptional circumstances. Click here to see the filing: Reporters' Petition to Unseal Alabama Federal Judge Mark Fuller's Divorce Records.

In related news, Brunwasser extended her years of Siegelman and related election-fraud coverage by interviewing me on why the Fuller divorce does not receive more coverage from the mainstream media despite its importance. She published my response was published in her OpEd News column, What Federal Judge Fuller's Ugly Divorce Has to Do with Don Siegelman.

By coincidence, three of Alabama's four most important dailies announced May 24 they are moving to just three days a week print publication. The papers in Birmingham, Mobile and Huntsville, each owned by the Newhouse Advance Media subsidiary, said they are transitioning to electronic publication. Shuler, formerly a reporter for nearly two decades with the Birmingham News, provided a contrary opinion in his blog column, Biased "Reporting," Not Technology, Led to the Steep Decline of The Birmingham News. Shuler wrote:

You might call yesterday's announcement "Don Siegelman's Revenge." Throughout the 2000s, one of our nation's most important stories was the decay of the U.S. Justice Department under George W. Bush. It was a coast-to-coast story, but several of its most compelling chapters unfolded in Alabama, led by the prosecution of Siegelman, a popular former Democratic governor, and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy.  Coverage in the Advance Media newspapers consisted mostly of cheerleading pieces for Bush-era prosecutors Alice Martin and Leura Canary. The papers made almost no serious effort to address compelling evidence that the cases were driven for political reasons by Bush strategist Karl Rove and his associates.

At the same time, the papers provided fawning coverage of Republican Governor Bob Riley, in spite of powerful evidence that Riley might have been running one of the most corrupt regimes in state history.  In essence, the News and its brethren became house organs for the Alabama Republican Party.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court has reportedly scheduled for discussion Siegelman's petition for review of his corruption convictions for a conference on May 31. If the court denies his petition, which is opposed by the Obama Justice Department but supported by more than 100 former attorneys general from more than 40 states, Siegelman faces re-sentencing by his longtime nemesis, Judge Fuller. Stay tuned.


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Updated: Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Montgomery circuit court seals file in U.S. district judge's divorce proceedings, Amanda Simmons, May 29, 2012. Three journalists requested access to the sealed file of an Alabama-based federal judge's divorce proceedings wrought with accusations of domestic violence, drug abuse and the judge's alleged affair with his court bailiff. The journalists and other legal watchers have expressed concern that the court quietly sealed the records without taking the standard procedural steps. Citing security reasons, U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Montgomery, Ala., moved to seal the file of his divorce proceedings on April 20 despite his wife's objections. Without providing an explanation, a judge in the domestic relations division of Montgomery County Circuit Court granted the request on May 15. Last week, Andrew Kreig, director of the Justice Integrity Project in Washington, D.C.; Bob Martin, editor and publisher of The Montgomery Independent and The Millbrook Independent in Alabama; and Roger Shuler, online content provider of the Alabama-based website Legal Schnauzer, submitted their request for public access.

Updated: Montgomery Independent, Judge got $18 million in Doss Aviation sale; Fuller divorce records have been sealed by judge in case, Bob Martin, May 31, 2012.  Montgomery Circuit Judge Anita Kelly has sealed the records in the divorce matter involving U. S. District Judge Mark Everett Fuller and his wife, Lisa.  Fuller’s lawyers had requested that the file be sealed, however Mrs. Fuller had initially objected to the entire file being sealed. The Independent, Justice Integrity Project in Washington and Legal Schauzer in Birmingham have filed a request seeking the file to remain open to the public. Judge Kelly waited some three weeks after the case was filed before sealing the records.

The Independent reported last week that Judge Fuller and his partners sold Doss Aviation, located in Denver last December. We have now learned that the company which was moved from Enterprise to Colorado, brought $42 million and some change. If that is the correct number Fuller’s 43.75 percent share of the business earned him slightly more than $18 million. The company’s income has come primarily from U. S. Government contracts and once listed its mailing address at the United States Federal Courthouse, shortly after Fuller was appointed a judge by President George W. Bush. Doss Aviation  was a major source of Fuller’s income, probably the main source and its primary income came from government contracts or from those who received government contracts. Doss Aviation benefited from a steady stream of Department of Defense and other federal contracts some awarded on a no-bid basis under highly suspicious circumstances.

Legal Schnauzer, Biased "Reporting," Not Technology, Led to the Steep Decline of The Birmingham News, Roger Shuler, May 25,2012. Why would anyone subscribe to a "daily" newspaper that comes out three days a week? Do the News, Times, and P-R have futures as strictly digital news organizations? The Advance Media spin machine is playing this as a reaction to changing technology. But I would submit it's more about bias, backward thinking, and old-fashioned incompetence.

Associated Press / Huffington Post, Newhouse Newspapers In Alabama Cut Publication To Three Days A Week, May 24, 2012. Three major Alabama daily newspapers will switch to publishing three days a week as part of a new focus on online news, in line with their new Orleans sister publication, The Times-Picayune. The three papers in Birmingham, Mobile and Huntsville and The Times-Picayune announced the new strategy Thursday. All four are owned by the Newhouse family group. Both announcements said there will be unspecified staff reductions. The changes will take place in the fall. The Alabama papers said the changes will allow them to expand news-gathering efforts in an increasingly digital age. The newspapers will be home-delivered and sold in stores on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
OpEd News, What Federal Judge Fuller's Ugly Divorce Has to Do with Don Siegelman, (Interview of Andrew Kreig by Joan Brunwasser), May 25, 2012. The government's frame-up of Siegelman, right, Alabama's most popular Democrat, was the culmination of a two-decade plan by Karl Rove and his business allies to transform Alabama state politics and courts from historically Democratic to overwhelmingly Republican. Parallel developments occurred also in Mississippi and Louisiana, but it was most dramatic in Alabama, where Rove and the Bush family have longstanding ties and where the historically Democratic black population is the smallest of any Deep South state. This rout of Democrats has left the party so enfeebled that the national party has in effect ceded to Republicans much of the control over the justice system in these regions, as otherwise in the guts of government. For example, the Obama administration left in office until last spring the Bush-appointed U.S. attorney who helped frame Siegelman, and then named as her successor a man who as a defense attorney represented the chief witness against Siegelman. This created a perverse incentive to keep a lid on the scandals. Further, Congress is abandoning its watchdog role except in a few partisan matters. In this case, we now know that some prominent Democrats from Alabama in effect sold out Siegelman for their own selfish purposes by bad-mouthing him and trial critics behind-the-scenes in Washington.
Scribd, Reporters' Petition to Unseal Alabama Federal Judge Mark Fuller's Divorce Records, May 24, 2012. This is a petition by journalists Andrew Kreig, Bob Martin and Roger Shuler to the Montgomery (AL) Circuit Court to unseal the divorce records of U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller.


Catching Our Attention on Other Justice & Integrity Issues

Salon,Warrantless spying fight; Glenn Greenwald, May 24, 2012. Obama officials demand full, reform-free renewal of the once-controversial power to eavesdrop without warrants.

Judicial Watch, JW Obtains Obama Administration Records Detailing Meetings with bin Laden Movie Filmmakers, Tom Fitton, May 25, 2012. On Tuesday, Judicial Watch caused a firestorm when we released records from the Obama Department of Defense (DOD) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) regarding meetings and communications between government agencies and Kathryn Bigelow, the Academy Award-winning director of The Hurt Locker, and her screenwriter Mark Boal. How much of a media firestorm?  Google counts more than 700 media hits including Bloomberg, The Los Angeles Times, CBS News, MSNBC, and even entertainment trades like Entertainment Weekly. Why so much attention?  According to the records, the Obama Defense Department granted the Hollywood filmmakers unprecedented access to a "planner, Operator and Commander of SEAL Team Six," who was responsible for the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, to assist Bigelow prepare her upcoming feature film. The records, obtained pursuant to court order in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed on January 21, 2012, include 153 pages of records from the DOD and 113 pages of records from the CIA.  To limit the damage, the Obama administration released them to Judicial Watch late on Friday, May 18. (Obviously this strategy did not work.)

michael collinsOpEd News, Rupert Watch: Leveson Testimony Spells Doom for Cameron and Hunt, Michael Collins, left, May 24, 2012. Queens Counsel Robert Jay unearthed a devastating piece of evidence that will surely create calls for the resignation of both culture secretary Jeremy Hunt and Prime Minister David Cameron.  In afternoon testimony at the Leveson Inquiry today (5/24), Jay confronted News Corp lobbyist Frederic Michel with an email rendition of a Hunt to Cameron memo of November 19, 2010 (see testimony/full memo at end of article). Hunt is clearly cheerleading for the News Corp acquisition of immensely profitable pay TV network BSkyB. News Corp owned 39% of the network and wanted to purchase the remaining 61%. This acquisition was absolutely critical to News Corp profitability and as a sign that Rupert and James Murdoch actually knew what they were doing. One month after he got the biased memo, Cameron appointed Hunt as the government minister in charge of approving the bid. Hunt portrayed his role as "quasi-judicial" and claimed he was an objective judge. The bid was opposed by an alliance of news organizations. Now we know, without any doubt and from Hunt's own words that he was biased in favor of approving the News Corp bid before he even got the authority to judge.

USA Today, 2 prosecutors suspended for misconduct in Ted Stevens trial, Kevin Johnson, May 25, 2012. Two Justice Department prosecutors involved in the bungled corruption trial of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens will be suspended without pay for "reckless professional misconduct" in failing to disclose critical information to the senator's defense team, according to a internal Justice review.  Joseph Bottini, an assistant U.S. attorney in Alaska, was ordered suspended for 40 days, and James Goeke, an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington state, received 15 days, according to findings released Thursday by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility. Bottini's attorney, Kenneth Wainstein, said his client will appeal the punishment to the federal government's Merit Systems Protection Board. Goeke's lawyer, Matthew Menchel, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Meanwhile, Brendan Sullivan, Stevens' lawyer, said the suspensions represented "a laughable and pathetic response" to the misconduct findings which centered on the prosecution's failure to disclose inconsistent and false statements by its chief government witness.

Washington Post, An end to abuse in prison? The Justice Department finally issues rules to address prison rape, Editorial Board, May 20, 2012. Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in 2003 with support so bipartisan that ideological opposites such as Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) co-sponsored it. In accordance with the law, a commission spent six years investigating and formulating recommendations for new rules. Then the Justice Department slow-walked the rule-writing, repeating much of the commission’s labor. When the department finally proposed draft rules, they were too weak.