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Friday, January 20, 2017

As Trump takes over "justice system," Obama denies Siegelman pardon and Alabama judge Mike Graffeo talks tough on Dr. Mark Hayden case. Egad!

Michael Graffeo
As Donald Trump is sworn in today as the most unqualified and dysfunctional president in American history, he inherits a justice system that has been allowed to rot into a frightening state of disrepair. It's like a car whose oil has not been changed in 16 years, with it spewing smoke and emitting gurgling sounds as it prepares to settle on the edge of a highway. With Trump and his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, taking charge, you can bet the car's condition only will get worse.

How bad is it now? Former Alabama governor Don Siegelman -- whose case involved no bribery, was overseen by a corrupt judge who now is off the bench, and was brought almost one year after the statute of limitations had expired -- was denied a commutation by outgoing President Barack Obama. If our first black president does not care about gross violations of Siegelman's civil rights . . . well, high-level officialdom can't get much more knuckle-headed than that.

As a matter of fact and law, Siegelman never should have been in prison in the first place -- and neither should his co-defendant Richard Scrushy. Without question, it's the most outrageous political prosecution in U.S. history, but our first black president can look such injustice straight in the eye and ignore it? To borrow a phrase from a great Alabamian, Charles Barkley, that's "pitiful . . . pitiful."

On a more micro level, consider the case of Wetumpka physician Mark Hayden and his wealthy, connected uncle William B. Cashion. It provides a classic example that certain Alabama judges are more interested in playing "tough guy" with bogus orders than they are in upholding the law. That's a lesson I received from firsthand experience, and the Hayden case is driving it home once again.

Let's examine the words of Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo, who re-issued a writ of arrest for Hayden on January 4, less than two weeks after Hayden's release from a 25-day stay in the Jeffco Jail, based on a wholly civil matter -- with no allegations of a crime. (The order is embedded at the end of this post.) In his order, Graffeo adopted the "tough guy" rhetoric that seems popular with quite a few Alabama judges:

The court makes absolutely clear that no one -- Hayden, his counsel, his family, Plaintiff Cashion, Plaintiff's counsel, or anyone reading this order -- should doubt in any way this court's resolve and determination to enforce each and every order in this litigation's long and tortured history. 

Graffeo sounds like Charles Bronson with a robe. He also sounds more than a little defensive about his orders. But notice what Graffeo does NOT say: He says absolutely nothing about upholding the law, making sure that his orders -- and orders issued by any other judge in the case -- reflect the actual law.

In the Hayden matter, we know Graffeo's most recent "tough guy" stance is built on a mountain of unlawful orders. In fact, the case has a "tortured history" largely because it has involved corrupt judges at every turn -- but Graffeo wants us to believe Hayden caused it.

Just a few peculiarities in the case:

* Original judge Robert Vance Jr. took the case when it was assigned to another judge and promptly made four key rulings in favor of Cashion. Those rulings, to a considerable degree, formed the basis for Hayden's arrest.

* Vance stayed on the case, even though he had accepted campaign donations from Cashion's law firm (Maynard Cooper and Gale) that far exceeded the limit set by Alabama law. In other words, Vance was required by law to recuse himself, but he refused to step down.

* Cashion's lawyers took steps to ensure the case would be heard in the Birmingham Division of the 10th Judicial Circuit, even though none of the parties lived or operated a business in the division. Proper venue almost certainly was Elmore County or Bessemer Division of the 10th Circuit, but Vance refused to let it go. Is that because his financial supporters at the Maynard Cooper firm wanted it under his control?

* Vance took the case under a Commercial Litigation Docket, which since has been discontinued and declared unconstitutional. Why is Hayden being held to orders that were issued under an unconstitutional legal scheme? I've yet to see any citations to law that explain that one.

The tendency of certain Alabama judges to adopt a tough-guy pose when issuing dubious orders is something I've seen before -- especially in the bogus defamation lawsuit that GOP thug Rob "Uday" Riley and lobbyist Liberty Duke filed against Legal Schnauzer and me. Retired judge Claud Neilson, hand-picked to hear the case by the Alabama Supreme Court and Riley Inc., sounded then much the way Graffeo sounds now. Here are Neilson's words -- actually they almost certainly were written by "Uday" Riley or one of the underlings at his so-called law firm:

In entering this Preliminary Injunction, the court is mindful that (the Shulers) have, as of the date of the hearing on the respective Preliminary Injunctions, not complied with the TRO (temporary restraining order). The court also is mindful that (the Shulers) re-published the libelous and defamatory statements about (Riley and Duke) on October 1, 2013. (The Shulers) are forewarned that the court will not tolerate non-compliance with its orders. 

I'll be darned, there is that tough-guy language again, this time highlighted in yellow. But notice that Neilson (Riley?) says nothing about upholding the law. In fact, he indicates that he's so tough (corrupt?) that he's going to spit in the face of the law.

* Neilson mentions a TRO that is prohibited under roughly 200 years of First Amendment law;

* Neilson references a preliminary injunction that forms a "prior restraint," unlawful under 200 years or so of First Amendment law.

* Neilson indicates that he alone has determined statements in my blog are libelous and defamatory, even though decades of First Amendment law have held that such findings can only be made after a trial, before a jury. The law holds that a judge cannot act as a one-man censor, but that is exactly what Neilson did.

Are judges likely to resort to tough-guy language in a case where someone has been, or will be, unlawfully arrested? That's how it looks from here; both Hayden and I were arrested, with zero lawful justification for the contempt orders that led to our incarceration.

In both cases, the judges should have been warning the other party that the law and facts did not support what they were seeking -- and that they would be subject to sanctions for bringing baseless cases. But that would have meant standing up to white elites -- Rob Riley in my case; Cashion and his Maynard Cooper lawyers in Hayden's cases -- and Neilson and Graffeo don't have the "stones" to do that.

What's the lesson here: Our courts, all too often, serve the interests of the moneyed and the connected, with no consideration for justice or the written law. And that happens in Alabama's state and federal courts. I recently encountered a federal judge who does not even try to hide his corrupt actions. It's right there in plain site, as I soon will show in a series of posts. This guy should wind up in federal prison, but we operate in an "honor system" run by dishonorable people -- with a justice department that is wildly dysfunctional, and you can bet that will only get worse as Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions take charge today.

They probably don't see anything wrong with our justice because it works for them; it just doesn't work for you. And this is a bipartisan problem. Barack Obama accomplished a lot during his eight years in office, as Rachel Maddow eloquently outlined last night on her show. But he did almost nothing to improve the justice system. In fact, he's one of the guys who repeatedly forgot to "change the oil."

The Siegelman case cried out for presidential action. But Obama, inexplicably, denied Siegelman's application for pardon. That illustrates how bad the system has been under Obama, supposedly a constitutional scholar. One tries not to imagine how bad it will be under Trump, who is an admitted practitioner of federal-funds bribery.

If Alabama citizens are parties to a court case and receive tough-guy language about enforcement of orders, they can almost bet that the orders are not based on the actual law. Mike Graffeo is teaching us that lesson, just as Claud Neilson did earlier.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Lawyers for Hearst Corp. and Yellowhammer News argue that demonstrably false statements are "substantially true" and not defamatory -- no kidding!

Lawyers for Hearst Corporation take a demonstrably false claim from their Marie Claire fashion magazine -- that there was a trial in Jessica Medeiros Garrison's lawsuit against me -- and argue that it was "substantially true," and, thus, not defamatory. The same lawyers -- from Birmingham's Lightfoot Franklin and White firm -- represent the right-wing propaganda site Yellowhammer News (YH) and argue that its reporting on the Garrison case is not defamatory because it came from a "well-respected news source." Check out the cover of a recent Marie Claire magazine above and tell me if that looks like a "well-respected news source." (Is that a spectacularly attractive young woman with no clothes on? Absolutely! Is she on the cover of a respected news source? I don't think so.)

Finally, we learn the likely reason Marie Claire, al.com, and Yellowhammer News reported the same story, almost verbatim. It probably was part of a plan to flood the market with unfavorable articles about me, thus turning me from a private person to a public figure. Never mind that it is unlawful to pull such a stunt; the evidence suggests these "bastions of journalism excellence" did it anyway -- and that strongly points to "actual malice," which probably means they defamed me, whether I'm considered a public figure or not.

I wish I was making this stuff up, but I'm not. It shows just how far "journalism" has fallen, leading all of us into a "post-truth world" that Donald Trump surely will cherish. Let's address these issues, and perhaps a few others, in order:

A false statement in an article is "substantially true"? 

As noted in an earlier post, Hearst can't keep its story straight. It claims the Marie Claire article was based in part on court records from Garrison's lawsuit. But the article repeatedly misstates facts that easily could be found from a check of the court records. For example, the article states there was a trial when there clearly was no trial. There wasn't even any discovery or summary-judgment proceedings that generally must precede a trial.

Still, Hearst wants the court, and the public, to believe that the article's false statement regarding a trial is "substantially true" -- that a hearing and a trial are more or less the same thing. I'm sure that would be news to anyone who has the slightest knowledge of our justice system. I guess it means that a rhinoceros and a rabbit are substantially the same thing, given that both words begin with "r". Here is how we responded to the Hearst nonsense. (Both the Hearst/Yellowhamer motions, and our response to them, are embedded at the end of this post.)

Hearst’s false claim that there was a trial in the Garrison matter: On p. 10, Hearst claims the statement is “substantially true” and “not capable of defamatory meaning.” Hearst claims “a trial is synonymous with an evidentiary hearing,” but it provides zero citations to law to support that statement. In fact, Hearst cites Alabama law holding, “A communication is considered defamatory ‘if it tends so to harm the reputation of another as to lower him in the estimation of the community . . . “ The statement in the Marie Claire article does exactly that to Roger Shuler. It claims that Mr. Shuler was hit with a $3.5-million judgment after a trial (supposedly a jury trial, as required by First Amendment law), after discovery and a trial on the merits. But none of that happened; there was no discovery, there was no trial, there was no jury, and there was no valid judgment. The report of a trial is false, and it clearly harms Roger Shuler’s reputation as a journalist and as a human being. It suggests Roger Shuler was found liable for a huge award by a jury of his peers; in fact, that did not happen at all. Finally, Hearst claims this ruling is a question for the court. If that is so, the court is required to make all findings while viewing matters in “a light most favorable to the nonmoving party (the Shulers).” On multiple grounds, the court is required to find for the Shulers on this issue.

Marie Claire fashion magazine for women is a "well-respected" news source?

A lawyer representing Yellowhammer News apparently wrote the following with a straight face:

Even assuming that Shuler is a private figure, he must still show that Defendants were at least negligent in publishing the article which reported on the Marie Claire story. However, this he cannot do because courts routinely find that republishing a story from a well-respected news organization is not negligent as a matter of law, even at the motion to dismiss stage.

We invite you again to take a gander at a recent Marie Claire cover above and decide for yourself if that represents a "well-respected" news source. If you are able to concentrate for a moment on the wording, and not the fetching (to put it mildly) naked woman, note the powerful news stories the magazine is covering:

* The Naked Truth: Jennifer Bares All For Charity (Her name is Jennifer! And she's naked for charity, not to sell magazines!)
* Right Hair, Right Now 
* Love Your Look: Hot Hair and Make-Up Ideas To Suit You 
* Gossip Girls: The Socialite Spat That Changed The Web Forever 
* How Would Your Partner Describe Your Sex Life? (Gee, this rag doesn't play on women's insecurities, does it?)

Now you know that Marie Claire is the place to turn when you want the latest news about Aleppo. Here's how we responded to the nutty Hearst/Yellowhammer argument:

YH claims its reporting cannot be negligent because it came from a “well-respected news source” (Marie Claire). Marie Claire is a women’s fashion magazine. There is no evidence that it is a news source at all, much less one that is well respected. YH cites non-binding law from outside the 11th Circuit or Alabama state courts to the effect that “a republisher, was qualifiedly privileged to rely on the research of the original publisher unless it ‘had or should have had, substantial reasons to question the accuracy of the articles or the bona fides of [the] reporter.’” YH had every reason to question the bona fides of a reporter who writes a law-related article published in a fashion magazine. YH, however, failed to do that, and thus, loses any privilege.

Why did Marie Claire, al.com, and Yellowhammer News publish pretty much the same story?

Answer: They probably were trying to turn me, an otherwise private figure, into a public figure -- and that makes it harder for me to prove defamation. Here is how we addressed that issue in our response:

YH cites Little v. Breland, 93 F. 3d 755 - Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit 1996 to support its claim that Shuler is a limited-purpose public figure. Little, however, concerned issues presented at a jury trial. There is nothing in Little to show that Shuler is a limited-purpose public figure at the Motion to Dismiss stage. YH also cites Silvester v. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., 839 F. 2d 1491 - Court of Appeals, 11th Cir. 1988 to support its claim that Roger Shuler is a limited-purpose public figure. . . . Also, the Silvester court found, “These cases stand for the proposition that the press entity which publishes the defamatory material cannot make a previously private individual into a public figure merely by flooding the public with many articles about the plaintiff. The essence of these cases is that the plaintiff must have been a public figure prior to the publication of the particular defamatory speech which is the issue of the litigation.” That is precisely what defendants in this case have done. By creating a defamatory article at Hearst-Marie Claire, and having it republished at YH and al.com, they have tried to turn Roger Shuler into a public figure, after the fact.

Hearst, Yellowhammer and al.com hardly are alone in seeking dismissal by relying on wild misstatements of law and fact. Just about every defendant in "The House Case" has done the same thing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

"Investigative Journalist" John Caylor now seems to seek support for his legal troubles, but he trashed me while I was unlawfully incarcerated in Shelby County

John Caylor
Why have I been reluctant to report on John Burt Caylor's arrest for reporting on expunged court records of a federal law clerk in Mobile? For one, my research indicates Caylor' arrest was proper, that he did violate Alabama's expungement law. For another, Caylor has publicly stabbed me in the back when I was at my most vulnerable -- an act that, like most people so targeted, I did not appreciate.

I don't really know John Caylor, but I generally have admired  his work from a distance. His tales of darkness and intrigue, mostly in southeast Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, make for fascinating reading. While I can't vouch for their accuracy, they tend to have the ring of truth to me; it's not hard for me to imagine that southeast Alabama and northwest Florida form one of the most corrupt corridors in the country.

Caylor and I have spoken only once, via telephone. The conversation came after I had obtained a photo of homophobic U.S. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor that had appeared at a gay-porn Web site in the late 1990s. I stored the photo for "safe keeping" on a photo storage/sharing site (yes, I know now that was a mistake), only to find it posted the next morning on Caylor's Facebook page.

It appeared to me that my work product had been stolen, and when I reached Caylor by phone, I let him know in angry tones that I was not pleased. He explained what he thought had happened, that he did not steal anything, and I accepted his explanation, apologizing for my original angry tone.

The primary memory I have of our discussion is that Caylor said he was related to former Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley. Caylor said he had worked on at least one Baxley political campaign and knew that powerful interests had obtained indisputable evidence of an act in Las Vegas that had more or less neutered Baxley as an opponent of racist/crooked individuals and entities.

I left the conversation thinking Caylor and I still were on good terms, although I never have figured out how the Pryor photo wound up on Caylor's Facebook page.

I was arrested "for blogging" a few weeks later and spent five months in the Shelby County Jail. Not long after my release in late March 2014, my wife, Carol, said that during the time I was incarcerated, Caylor wrote a vicious article about me; someone apparently had sent it to her.

Carol did not remember where it had been published, but I tracked it down to Caylor's Facebook page. I was astonished by such a nasty attack from someone I thought was a friend -- or at least a pleasant acquaintance. I also was astonished that the piece was so poorly and unprofessionally written, sounding like the work of someone who was "a few bricks shy of a load."

Here is Caylor's handiwork, published on October 25, 2013, two days after my arrest. I'm republishing it here, with no editing or alterations. In the first sentence, Caylor misspells my name, and it only goes downhill from there:

Roger Schuler of the - Blog Legal Schnauzer - has been arrested for not attending a court hearing to answer to Civil Contempt of Court in one of several lawsuits filed against him for publishing Libelous and malicious stories against private citizens. The following is an my response to a message from one of my Facebook friends about Schuler - Dear Friend - I've been doing extensive research on Roger Schuler and his attempts to get everyone involved in his personal life to help him bring down people he has earmarked as his enemies. AT This point I think he's a plant by Karl Rove and Russian mafia's Milton McGregor to bring people around him down. You know the guy comes up with some legitimate investigative fruits every now and then - but - he uses people's personal and family lives against them - people who have fired him for his insubordination at work from UAB as he attacked then president Carol Garrison for having an affair with another University President in another state. Personally I don't give a good shit about who fucks who - as a professional journalist I've never reported on people's private sex life unless they were pedophiles or displayed in a pedophile mail out like the one Schuler got from former Alabama Attorney Tommy Gallion of federal judge Bill Pryor. Schuler or someone with access to his computer posted that totally naked photo on my Facebook page and shortly afterword Schuller telephoned me to "scream and holler" at me for being a No good Son of a Bitch for breaking into his computer and stealing the photo and his work. Problem was with the photo is Judge Pryor's age at the time of the photo and Flyer publication had me thinking someone was setting me up for Kiddie Porn. I reported the Facebook posting to the FBI and IC3 in a criminal complaint to cover my ass in case Pryor was 15 at the time of the photo. But Schuler is a fucking hot head and not a God damn reporter if he was he'd answer the "Civil Libel" complaints against him instead of ducking out and hiding out avoiding legal process - Schuler gives everyone a black eye by not facing the people he writes about ruining the private lives of people who are private and not public citizens. If someone sued me over defamation and libel "I've never been sued for Libel or defamation", I'd welcome a chance to prove my credibility and get rights to dig into my allegations against them with a court order. But Schuler has used false lawsuits usually filed by him to fuck over people with his bullshit. The lawsuit filed by Jessica Garrison apparently another person in the Garrison family alleges that Ms. Garrison demanded a retraction from Schuler for his lies and allegations she was fucking her old boss - Alabama Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange. The latest Lawsuit against Schuler comes on the heels of that one and is based on the same lie as his other one Liberty Duke was fucking Rob Riley. As much as I dislike Riley I hate Schuler more for shitting in the Muddy Water I must dig into to investigate these cases tinged with Schuler's very public idea that all his enemies are whoring around on their wives. I used to have a Private Investigators Ticket in Alabama and Florida and I can tell you that infidelity is a big problem every where. But a bigger problem is that "Criminal Libel" will buy you serious time in the slammer. As Andy has pointed out in "Supreme Court - Times v. Sullian" the First amendment doesn't protect speech with MALICE. What pisses me off is that everyone wants to help poor Roger and he's a Godamed Blogger - Not a real journalist - a real journalist is more than happy to publish documents from people we write about to have as evidence down the road toward the discovering the truth - something Roger is about to be butt fucked for not doing.

Does Caylor come across as a foul-mouthed, ignorant whack job? That's what he sounds like to me. Let's address a few of his "assertions," highlighted above:

(1) I was not lawfully arrested for contempt of court. Carol and I never were served with the Riley/Duke lawsuit; you can't be in contempt of a court that has no jurisdiction over you. I had filed a motion to quash service and was waiting on the ruling when deputies broke into our house, beat me up, and arrested me with no apparent warrant. Also, an attorney reviewed the sealed court file and found no summons had been issued at the time of my arrest. I was arrested for failing to attend a hearing for which I never was summoned, by a court that had no authority to summon me.

(2) My reporting never has been proven to be libelous or malicious in a court of law. And the lawsuits did not involve private figures. By almost any definition, Jessica Garrison (as campaign manager for Luther Strange, a statewide political candidate) and Rob Riley (as son of former governor Bob Riley) are public figures.

(3) Caylor thinks I'm "a plant by Karl Rove and Russian mafia's Milton McGregor"? People have been sent to institutions for making less nutty statements than that.

(4) Insubordination at work, at UAB? I never did anything insubordinate at work, and no one with the slightest credibility ever claimed I did. My former boss, Pam Powell -- whose narcissism rivals that of Donald Trump -- admitted in my grievance hearing she had no evidence that I had violated any UAB policy. As for Carol Garrison, she did have an extramarital affair with the president of the University of Tennessee, and that has been widely reported in the press. It helped cost the UT president his job and should have cost Garrison her job. Whether Caylor cares about such issues, these things have consequences and put institutions at risk.

(5) Tommy Gallion did not give me a photo of Bill Pryor. Tommy Gallion has never given me anything.

(6) Caylor thinks I, or someone else, posted the Pryor photo from my computer to his Facebook page? I assume Caylor still is grounded enough in reality to know that's not true. I don't recall him even suggesting such a thing happened in my conversation with him. I would not know how to begin to pull off such a stunt, and I can't imagine why I would want to.

(7) I did answer the civil complaints against me -- directly in the Jessica Garrison case and indirectly via a motion to quash service in the Riley/Duke case. That's a matter of public record; Caylor claims to be a superb investigator, so he should be able to look that up. I have faced the people who have accused me of defamation, and that also is a matter of public record.

(8) "Schuler has used false lawsuits, usually filed by him to fuck over people with his bullshit"? Does that sound like the work of a healthy mind? Not to me. When Caylor can't express himself adequately, which is often, he just cusses a lot. And false lawsuits? No legal complaint I've ever filed has been proven to be false. If Caylor thinks any have been, I'd like to see him offer up an example.

(9) Caylor seems to think Jessica Garrison and Carol Garrison are related. They aren't.

(10) Caylor hates Rob Riley, but he hates me more? Gee, that makes a lot of sense.

(11) I have a degree in journalism and more than 35 years of professional experience, which is a lot closer to being a "real journalist" than John Caylor ever will reach. Caylor almost sounds bitter here that I got arrested, and he didn't. Is that the thinking of a true sicko?

When I read Caylor's Facebook post, my first thought was: Did someone pay Caylor to write this garbage? I still wonder about that, but given the signs that Caylor is playing with a few loose shingles, I'm not sure he needs any financial motivation to produce trash.

I will, however, say this about Caylor: Based on his recent scribblings, he seems to have a dim view of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Donald Trump's attorney-general nominee. I hold a similar view of Sessions, so I tend to think Caylor has not completely lost it.

If it was Caylor's desire to get arrested, it appears his wish has come true. A number of folks, many of them probably well intentioned, have tried to build a groundswell of support for Caylor. But his little Facebook hit piece should give folks a taste of what John Caylor is all about -- and make them consider whether he is worth their sympathy, especially since his arrest probably is based on a true violation of law.

Newly discovered evidence suggests GOP thug Rob Riley was involved with both the theft of my freedom and the theft of our Birmingham home of 25 years

Rob Riley
Did Alabama Republican operative Rob Riley help launch foreclosure proceedings on our Birmingham home of 25 years? Did he do it in conjunction with a bogus defamation lawsuit he and lobbyist Liberty Duke filed, leading to my five-month incarceration in the Shelby County Jail and making it impossible for my wife, Carol, and me to fight the foreclosure?

Recently discovered evidence suggests the answer is yes. Recently conducted research even more strongly suggests the answer is yes. (More on that in an upcoming post.) If our conclusions from discoveries and research of recent days proves true, it points directly toward wrongful foreclosure -- and Riley is a defendant in our pending federal lawsuit on that subject (and more), a matter we call "The House Case." Riley also is a defendant in a pending federal lawsuit about my unlawful incarceration, in "The Jail Case." It now is starting to appear that the theft of my freedom, and the theft of our house, are connected -- with Riley at the center of both.

That would not be a surprising result, given overwhelming evidence that he was at the heart of costing us our jobs -- me at UAB and Carol at Infinity Insurance. We timely paid on our home for 23-plus years, and only ran into a crunch after both of us were cheated out of our jobs. Chase Mortgage had granted us a forbearance to work out the payment issues, and we were moving toward resolution, when I was arrested -- beaten and doused with pepper spray inside my own home and stashed in the Shelby County Jail for five months. By the time of my release on March 26, 2014, our house already had been declared in default, and any realistic chance to save our house had been lost.

What is a wrongful foreclosure, and why does it matter? We addressed that question in a July 2015 post, and here is the key Alabama law on the subject:

My primary focus, at the moment, is on an element of wrongful-foreclosure law that is perhaps best stated in a case styled Reeves Cedarhurst Development v. First American Federal Savings and Loan 607 So. 2d 180 (Ala. Sup. Ct., 1992). From the Reeves Cedarhurst decision:

"A mortgagor has a wrongful foreclosure action whenever a mortgagee uses the power of sale given under a mortgage for a purpose other than to secure the debt owed by the mortgagor. Johnson v. Shirley, 539 So.2d 165, 168 (Ala.1989); Paint Rock Properties v. Shewmake, 393 So.2d 982, 984 (Ala.1981)."

Under Alabama law, a wrongful foreclosure action is not limited to the mortgagee (Chase Mortgage, in our case). A case styled In re Sharpe, 391 B.R. 117 (Bankr.N.D.Ala. 2008), holds the following as factors to consider as elements of a wrongful foreclosure claim under Alabama law:

Whether (1) the actions of the mortgagee were either outside the boundaries of the foreclosure or taken for some purpose other than to secure the debt owed by the mortgagor; (2) the actions of the mortgagee were for some ulterior motive; (3) the power of sale was perverted or used for the mortgagee's or someone else's purpose; or (4) the mortgagee had an ill motive.

At its heart, a wrongful foreclosure involves an ulterior motive. Even if you are behind on your mortgage payments, and we were, you are entitled to have any foreclosure proceedings driven only by the attempt to collect a debt. If Rob Riley and others caused the proceedings to launch because they wanted to shut down my blog and run Carol and me out of state, -- or for some other improper reason -- that becomes a wrongful foreclosure.

The evidence noted above has been in our possession for some time, but I only recently discovered it. In the wake of our foreclosure in Birmingham, plus an unlawful eviction from our apartment here in Springfield, Missouri, most of our mortgage-related papers have been scattered to the winds. But we still had a few in digital files, and I recently stumbled upon them.

Here is some of what they help tell us: My reporting on the relationship between Liberty Duke and Rob Riley started with two posts in January 2013, two posts in February 2013, and one post in May 2013. The May post might have been particularly sensitive because it went beyond Riley and Duke to touch on Duke's relationship with State Sen. Gerald Dial and a pharmaceutical company called Medimmune. From that post:

Liberty Duke, of Clanton, is a lobbyist for Maryland-based MedImmune, which manufactures a drug called palivizumab (brand name Synagis). State Senator Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) introduced a bill in the 2013 legislative session that would boost use of Synagis in an effort to reduce the state's infant-mortality rate.

The proposed legislation, styled Senate Bill 3 (SB 3), is controversial because a number of medical professionals in the state have said it actually could harm infants. The Anniston Star added another layer of controversy when it reported in January that Dial had received a $500 donation from MedImmune in October 2010.

As for Liberty Duke, the Alabama Ethics Commission lists her as a registered lobbyist for MedImmune -- and sources tell Legal Schnauzer that she has developed a close working relationship with Sen. Dial.

Did my reporting become troublesome when it threatened to hamper the flow of dollars to and from Big Pharma? It seems likely, even very likely.

For good measure, I added three more posts in July 2013 about the Riley/Duke relationship. Where did our house issues enter the picture? In a letter dated June 24, 2013, the Huntsville law firm of Stephens Millirons, specifically attorney Robert Wermuth, said Chase Mortgage had referred our loan to them for foreclosure. (Copy of June 24, 2013, letter is embedded at the end of this post.)

Robert Wermuth
What is curious about this letter? It was sent in the middle of our reporting on the Riley/Duke relationship -- after five posts on the subject and before three more. It was just a few weeks after our post on Liberty Duke, Gerald Dial, and Medimmune, which threatened to compromise Liberty Duke's position in the big-dollar world of Big Pharma.

The bottom line? The process to foreclose on our house started in late June 2013, in the middle of our reporting on Riley and Duke. In fact, it was very close in time to the filing of the Riley and Duke defamation lawsuit. We don't have a copy of that complaint -- partly because we never were lawfully served with one, and a lawyer who reviewed the file said no summonses, calling us to court, had been filed. We do have a copy of the Motion to Seal, dated July 23, 2013, which we believe was filed on or about the same date as the complaint. (Motion to Seal is embedded at the end of this post.)

This all points to my arrest and our foreclosure being connected, with Rob Riley being at the center of both. In an upcoming post, we will provide more evidence that drives home that point even further.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Lawyers for Hearst Corporation try to wriggle out of defamation count by falsely claiming their article was a "privileged" account of an official court proceeding

Hearst Tower in NYC
(From skyscrapercenter.com)
Hearst Corporation tries to get around a defamatory article about me in one of its publications, the Marie Claire fashion magazine, by claiming the story is a "privileged" account of a court proceeding.

Hearst's argument has a slight problem: There is not a single reference in it to indicate writer Liz Welch attended a court proceeding or checked the court record. In fact, Welch mistakenly called a "hearing" a "trial" (there was no trial) and never mentioned that GOP operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison received a $3.5-million award that was a default judgment because the opposing party (yours truly) never received notice of the default application or hearing. In short, Welch referred to a "default-judgment" hearing as an "evidentiary" hearing, where only one side was able to present "evidence."

You might think that an outfit as vast and moneyed as Hearst would be able to hire lawyers who keep their stories straight; in this instance, Hearst has at least two in-house lawyers and the Birmingham firm Lightfoot Franklin and White on the case. But all the "counselors" can't keep their stories straight. (See Hearst Motion to Dismiss and our response to it at the end of this page.)

On page 5 of its document, Hearst claims "author Liz Welch relied not just on Ms. Garrison, but also on the record of her defamation lawsuit.” Does Hearst provide a shred of evidence to support that bold assertion? Not one. In fact, Hearst admits multiple times in its document that the article was based on Garrison’s first-person account, but provides no evidence that either Garrison or Welch checked the court record. In fact, there is substantial evidence -- based on the errors noted above -- that they ignored the court record altogether.

Consider this from our response to the Hearst motion:

Re: Hearst’s false claim that Roger Shuler reported that Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is the father of Ms. Garrison’s son: On p. 9, Hearst claims these words are privileged as a fair and accurate report of judicial proceeding. However, there is nothing in the article to suggest Garrison consulted the court record before making her false/defamatory statements, or that Welch consulted the record before writing the false/defamatory statements. In fact, Marie Claire writer Liz Welch quotes Garrison:

“The final straw was when Shuler wrote a follow-up post claiming my then five-year-old son was actually Luther's illegitimate child. I could handle the professional stuff—I have pretty thick skin—but this crossed a line. It upset his father, my ex-husband, who sent Shuler a comment to set the record straight, which of course he never posted.” That’s not from a court document; it’s straight from Garrison’s mouth to Welch’s ears.

Of course, I never wrote the follow-up post that Garrison claims I wrote, and I never reported that her son was Luther Strange's illegitimate son. Welch could have cleared that up simply by contacting me -- or by checking this blog, using the search function at the top of first page, to see if such a post existed. But she did not do that, leading to another failed legal argument from Hearst.

The media giant drags out Code of Alabama 13A-11-161 for the proposition that the Marie Claire article was privileged as a "fair and impartial" account of a judicial proceeding. As we already have noted, Hearst presents no evidence that the article was an account of a judicial proceeding at all. But fair and impartial? As we try not to guffaw about that, here is our response:

As noted above, Heart’s own attorneys admit the article was a first-person account from Jessica Garrison. Hearst cites Alabama law holding that “a fair and impartial report of [a judicial proceeding] shall be privileged, unless it be proved that the same was published with actual malice.” Hearst’s defense fails on both counts here; (1) A report hardly can be called “fair and impartial” when (as Hearst admits) it was based totally on one party’s word (Garrison), and the other party never was asked for a response. (2) Even if the report is considered “fair and impartial,” Shuler is entitled by law to show it was published with actual malice. Finally, Hearst never refers in the article to Garrison’s award as a default judgment, and it falsely claims there was a trial. Both suggest Hearst did no reporting on a court proceeding, other than what Jessica Garrison told them.

Have we finished dissecting Hearst's arguments? Oh, no, there is more lunacy where that came from.

Marie Claire: A Hearst publication
Consider this as an example of how low Hearst and its lawyers will stoop. Code of Alabama 13A-11-161 is from the Alabama criminal code. Like a number of other states, Alabama has a statute for criminal defamation. But that has nothing to do with a civil matter such as ours. In fact, Alabama no longer has a valid criminal defamation statute, even though it still appears on the books.

Alabama had a criminal defamation statute for 125 years, but it began to crumble as the 2000s approached. In 2000, the statute was renumbered (from 163 to 161), but otherwise left alone. Roughly one year later, in a case involving well-known lawyers Garve Ivey and Steve Windom, the Alabama Supreme Court dismantled the law as unconstitutional. That, of course, has not stopped Hearst from trying to rely on criminal law in a civil case -- criminal law that has been invalid for quite some time.

Hearst might be one of the best known media companies in the world, but it still hires con artists as lawyers. We will show you more examples of that in a moment.

(To be continued)

Indictment of incoming JeffCo DA Charles Todd Henderson reeks of Riley Inc. interference because its hand-picked GOPer, Brandon Falls, lost election

Charles Todd Henderson
In one of the smelliest Alabama legal episodes to come to my attention -- and that is saying something -- the incoming district attorney of Jefferson County was indicted last Friday on a felony charge of perjury. The smell emanates from the political machine of former GOP governor Bob Riley, who almost certainly is unhappy -- and concerned -- that his hand-picked DA for the county lost in the November 2016 election.

Charles Todd Henderson was booked into the Jefferson County Jail last Friday afternoon and released 12 minutes later on $2,500 bond. Henderson already had been sworn in and was scheduled to take office at 12:01 a.m. today. But the indictment means, under Alabama law, that Henderson will be suspended almost immediately upon taking office.

Riley appointed Brandon Falls as DA in 2008, and Falls was elected to a six-year term in 2010. That makes him a prominent member of Riley Inc., the term used for Riley acolytes, who (in many instances) have helped litter the Alabama political landscape with corruption. Falls was a heavy favorite to be re-elected in November 2016, but Henderson (a relatively unknown Democrat from Pleasant Grove) pulled an upset that rattled the Birmingham metro law-enforcement community.

Did it rattle someone enough that they conspired to bring dubious (bogus?) charges against Henderson? That's how it looks from here.

The charges against Henderson grew from his appointment early last year as guardian ad litem (GAL) in a divorce/child custody case styled Charbel Akl v. Yareima Carmen Valecillos Akl. A GAL usually is appointed to look after the best interests of a minor child in a court case. The indictment charges that Henderson gave a false statement under oath, material to a proceeding before Judge Patricia Stephens. From a report at al.com:

But on March 9 an attorney for the father, Virginia Meigs, filed a motion seeking to remove Henderson as guardian because of his relationship with the mother and an alleged bias against the plaintiff/father. "The mother/defendant has been actively participating in the political campaign of the Guardian Ad Litem ... for some time," according to the document.

Judge Stephens on May 20 removed Henderson as Guardian Ad Litem, a move that Henderson fought.

Then at the Sept. 26 trial at which Henderson allegedly perjured himself, the issue of whether there was a romantic relationship between Henderson and the mother, Ms. Akl, surfaced.

On Sept. 28, the day after the trial ended, the mother's attorney, Daniel Chambers, asked to withdraw from the case. Chambers' motion included information about evidence that the "defendant (mother) and the former Guardian Ad Litem (Henderson) have been in a romantic relationship."

Politics and romance allegedly have a role in the Henderson case. We might learn that Henderson did, in fact, commit perjury -- although this still would look like a case of selective prosecution because perjury, in our experience, happens all the time in court, with very few individuals ever being punished for it. In May 2012, we wrote a post titled "Lying under oath has replaced baseball as America's most treasured pastime." I've witnessed perjury numerous times in court cases, and I've yet to see a sign that anyone takes it seriously.

It apparently becomes serious when the alleged perjurer has beaten Bob Riley's personal choice for DA in Alabama's largest county. Could the issue become serious enough that individuals in the "justice system" might make up charges out of thin air? When you consider that these charges originated with the Alabama State Bar and the office of Attorney General Luther Strange -- both major centers of Riley influence -- the answer is yes. Jim Parkman, Henderson's attorney, noted that in the al.com article:

The indictment on first degree perjury was issued by a special grand jury called by Assistant Alabama Attorney General Matt Hart, who was the same man who led the prosecution of former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

"The timing of this indictment is strange," Parkman stated. "At 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, seconds after Martin Luther King Jr. Day comes to an end, Mr. Henderson is set to begin work as Jefferson County's new District Attorney. However, mere days before that should happen, the Attorney General's Office convened a grand jury that returned an indictment thereby preventing Mr. Henderson from setting foot in office."

"The Attorney General's Office in Montgomery seized the democratic process with this indictment," according to Parkman's statement. "They decided votes don't matter. they decided to take democracy out of Jefferson County. It's a perversion of the process that cannot and will not stand. The power of a few should not quell the will of the majority."

Parkman did not stop there:

Parkman stated that the charge is false and Henderson can't wait to get into court to fight the charge. "We call on Luther Strange and his office to do the right thing and bring this case to trial as quickly as possible so that the truth can be heard. Dragging out this process - denying Mr. Henderson the right to take office because of a pending indictment - is nothing short of oppression because it denies the clear will of the people." he stated.

How is this for irony? I have absolute proof that Jessica Garrison, Luther Strange's mistress and campaign confidant, lied under oath in her defamation lawsuit against me. I also have evidence that strongly suggests Strange himself lied under oath in the same case. If Jefferson County had a real DA (say, Charles Todd Henderson) and not a Riley surrogate like Brandon Falls, such cases might be pursued. Is that part of the reason Henderson is under indictment? (Note: The false statements under oath from Garrison, and likely false statements from Strange, came in a hearing well before the November 2016 election. Were Garrison and Strange convinced Falls would win re-election, and went into "cover our ass" mode when their protector lost to Henderson? We will be covering the Garrison/Strange testimony in a series of upcoming posts.)

Brandon Falls
(From wbrc.com)
Here is another question: Bob Riley and two of his ethically challenged children -- Rob "Uday" Riley and Minda Riley Campbell -- live in Jefferson County. With Brandon Falls as DA, they could get away without just about anything. With a real DA (say, Charles Todd Henderson), the Rileys could be looking at serious legal problems, as could their cronies at certain law firms, such as Bradley Arant.

What are the chances Henderson actually lied under oath? I'd say they are small. What are the chances that, if Henderson committed a wrongful act, it's the same thing that has been ignored in thousands of other cases, but became a criminal charge against him for political reasons? I'd say extremely high.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Bill Pryor, homophobic, right-wing zealot with ties to gay porn, rides Jeff Sessions' coattails to interview with Donald Trump for seat on the U.S. Supreme Court

Judge Bill Pryor (left), nude Bill Pryor
(From snopes.com)
U.S. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor interviewed over the weekend with President-Elect Donald Trump for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a report at Above the Law (ATL).

If nominated and confirmed, Pryor likely would be the first high-court justice to have posed nude for photos that have appeared at various gay-pornography Web sites, including bad.puppy.com, considered one of the leading sites in the industry. This would be quite a feat for a judge who has a history of making homophobic statements and taking anti-LGBT stances.

Pryor currently sits on the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in Atlanta. But his duty station, and his office, are at the Hugo Black Courthouse in Birmingham. He lives at 2474 Tyler Rd. in the Birmingham suburb of Vestavia Hills. From the ATL report, by founder and managing editor David Lat:

On Saturday afternoon, here in cold and snowy New York, President-elect Donald Trump interviewed Judge William Pryor of the Eleventh Circuit for the open seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. The opportunity to meet with PEOTUS to talk about SCOTUS must have lifted Judge Pryor’s spirits, in the wake of the loss of his beloved Crimson Tide in Monday’s football championship.

The news of a Trump/Pryor meeting, while notable, is not surprising. At last week’s press conference, Trump said that SCOTUS meetings are underway and we should expect a nominee within two weeks of inauguration day. And Judge Pryor, beloved by conservatives, sits at the top of the Trump SCOTUS list.

Lat repeats what has been known for weeks: That Pryor is a favorite to take the seat vacated by the late Antonin Scalia, not because of his credentials or intellect, but because of his ties to Jeff Sessions, Trump's pick as attorney general. And as we will report shortly, those connections are much closer (and personal) than most might imagine. After all, it's a poorly kept secret that Sessions is a closeted homosexual who is subject to blackmail, and so is Pryor. Both are former Alabama attorneys general, and that office has a history of turning out closeted, right-wing homosexuals who are staunchly anti-gay in their public life.  From David Lat:

What are Judge Pryor’s chances of getting nominated? Here’s a big plus for Pryor’s prospects: the ease with which Jeff Sessions sailed through his hearings, making his confirmation as attorney general a near certainty. It helps in at least two ways.

First, Sessions is a major Pryor proponent — and now that Sessions is definitely going to be AG, having killed it at his hearings, his Trumpworld stock is way up and his views enjoy greater sway within the administration.

Sessions and Pryor are close friends and have known each for more than 20 years. They met in 1994, when Sessions was running for Alabama attorney general and a mutual friend introduced them. After Sessions won, he hired Bill Pryor as his deputy attorney general. Sessions cited Pryor’s work for him, among many other factors, when he spoke glowingly about Pryor at his Eleventh Circuit confirmation hearings in 2003 and 2005.

Second, the success of Sessions shows that what gets liberals all hot and bothered isn’t necessarily enough to stop a nominee — and this might encourage the Trump Administration to “go bold,” swing for the fences, and put up Pryor.

Lat is correct that Sessions and Pryor are close. The public soon will learn here at Legal Schnauzer just how close they are -- and have been. Here is how Lat, who holds an undergraduate degree from Harvard and a law degree from Yale, analyzes Pryor's chances:

Judge Pryor, more than any other potential Trump nominee, triggers strong opposition from liberal interest groups — civil rights groups, LGBT groups, and especially pro-abortion groups, who loathe his comments about Roe v. Wade (“worst abomination in the history of constitutional law”). But Jeff Sessions similarly entered his hearings as a hardline conservative with a Louis Vuitton steamer trunk of baggage, including accusations of racism that kept him off the federal bench in 1986.

Bill Pryor house in Vestavia Hills, AL
(From google.com)
One would have thought that if Sessions couldn’t get a federal judgeship — and not even one on the Eleventh Circuit, but on the lowly Southern District of Alabama (no offense, S.D. Ala.) — then he couldn’t get confirmed as attorney general of the United States. But Sessions came out swinging, calling the racism accusations “damnably false,” and proved that a strong performance in confirmation hearings can overcome a lot. (See also Clarence Thomas and his epic “high tech lynching” speech.)

Judge Pryor is very conservative and very outspoken — but he’s also very smart and a stickler for preparation, and he would likely perform well at confirmation hearings. He might not be able to bob and weave around the issues as well as some other nominees, given his paper trail and past pronouncements (and he might not even bother to; recall how he refused to disavow his “Roe is an abomination” comment in his 2005 hearings). But Bill Pryor is not going to self-immolate like Robert Bork in 1987; he’s too shrewd for that. And short of a self-immolation, he has a solid shot of winning confirmation, with 52 Republicans in the Senate . . .

In my view, Lat greatly overrates Pryor's intelligence and shrewdness. But Lat acknowledges that Republican trickery might be needed to get Pryor through:

Could the Democrats filibuster? Yes; the filibuster has not been eliminated for Supreme Court nominees. But as Ilya Shapiro points out, nothing prevents Republicans from exercising the “nuclear option” and eliminating the filibuster for SCOTUS nominees, just as the Democrats did for lower-court nominees. And if that’s what it takes to put Judge Pryor on SCOTUS, I could certainly see the Republicans doing it.

Would the Republicans pay a political price for “going nuclear”? Probably not; the Democrats didn’t. And as we learned from what happened to Chief Judge Merrick Garland’s SCOTUS nomination, the American public as a whole doesn’t get that worked up about the Court, at least not if it sounds like “technicalities.” If the American people couldn’t get excited over the Senate’s “advice and consent” duty, they certainly won’t get excited over judicial filibusters. Joe Sixpack will see a vote tally for the Pryor nomination in the newspaper the next day — even a straight party-line vote, 52-48 — and will think to himself, “Guy won a majority, sounds fair to me!”

Any chance the gay-porn issue will arise, especially given that Pryor almost certainly lied about it to the FBI and the Senate in his previous confirmation hearings? Well, Republicans certainly won't bring it up. And it's hard to imagine a Democrat having the guts to do it. That means Pryor likely will be confirmed easily, and even though he surely will be an abominable justice, his elevation might be good news for those who live in the Eleventh Circuit (Alabama, Georgia, Florida). It has been reported that, because of his closeted gay status, Pryor is subject to blackmail and has been used to fix cases to suit corporate GOP interests led by Karl Rove -- Pryor's former campaign manager in Alabama.

With Pryor on the nation's high court, he might do less damage to Alabama than he already has. What will he do to the rest of the country? Well, that likely will not be pretty.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Donald Trump supporters helped pay for foreign hackers to steal and leak information to damage Hillary Clinton campaign, according to dossier

Donald Trump
(From theguardian.com)
Donald Trump supporters helped pay foreign hackers to steal and leak information from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in order to damage the Hillary Clinton campaign, according to an intelligence dossier released this week.

Attention related to the dossier has tended to focus on sordid tales of Trump, Russian prostitutes, and "golden showers" in hotel rooms reportedly equipped by Russian spies with cameras and microphones. But by far the most important revelation from the document -- which includes raw, unverified intelligence -- could be reports about Trump supporters paying hackers, especially those from Romania.

What does this tell us? Here's how the London Telegraph described it in an article about the top five revelations in the dossier. The Telegraph ranked the financing nugget as No. 3, but it would be No. 1 in my book:

3: Trump's team knew about, paid for, and helped cover up the Russian hacking of the DNC

Not only did the Kremlin order hackers to steal and leak embarrassing emails from the Democratic Convention in order to damage Hillary Clinton . . . according to the author’s host of anonymous sources, Mr Trump’s team was aware of the operation, partially paid the hackers, and cooperated on contingency plans for a cover up should it be found out.

If this is proven to be true, Team Trump was not just an unknowing beneficiary of Russian interference. Trump supporters knew about the hacking, helped pay for it, and engaged in an effort to develop a cover-up  That points to a level of criminality that could send a sizable chunk of Team Trump, including the president-elect himself, to prison.

Information about paying hackers is on the last page of the 35-page dossier. Here is how it reads:

Many news reports have focused on Russia's alleged efforts to gather information for possible use in blackmailing Trump. But the dossier says Team Trump knowingly engaged in a conspiracy to gather and trade information with Russia, even having moles placed inside the DNC:

Meanwhile, at least one report has the dossier originating with opposition research, not by Democrats, but by a PAC connected to Trump's GOP opponent, Jeb Bush.

Has the dossier produced accurate information? It's probably too early to say for sure, but we have learned that the British spy who reportedly is responsible for most of its contents has gone into hiding. The man's name is Chris Steele, and he apparently has not been seen for more than 24 hours. From The Washington Post:

Christopher Steele, a former MI6 officer and the director of a private-sector security firm in London, was named as the author of the 35-page packet making the explosive — and unsubstantiated — claims.

According to British media reports, Steele, 52, fled his home in Runfold, a village about 40 miles southwest of London on Wednesday morning before he was identified later in the day in a Wall Street Journal report.

Before leaving his residence, Steele called his next-door neighbor Mike Hopper and asked if he could look after his three cats. Steele moved in about 18 months ago with his wife and four kids, his neighbor said.

We might learn of an explanation for Steele's disappearance that has nothing to do with Trump. But I'm guessing Steele's actions make it likely that his intelligence is on target. It also, in my view, suggests there is even more damaging information about Trump and Russia that has yet to be revealed.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Defendants compare me to founder of rap group the Fugees in absurd effort to have me declared a public figure in defamation case involving Jessica Garrison

Pras (right), with fellow members of the Fugees,
Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean
(From nydailynews.com)
Multiple defendants in our pending wrongful foreclosure-defamation lawsuit have tried to have the case dismissed by comparing me to one of the world's most famous rappers and claiming I am a public figure. I'm not making this up.

Hearst Corporation, publisher of the Marie Claire fashion magazine that defamed me in an article about Alabama GOP operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison, is one of several defendants to resort to this trick -- no matter how absurd it sounds. Hearst cites a case styled Michel v. NYP Holdings, 816 F. 3d 686 - Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit 2016, which revolves around "the well-known rapper and philanthropist Prakazrel ("Pras") Michel." Court documents go on to describe Michel as "a Grammy-winning artist and founding member of the music group the Fugees, who currently engages in a series of philanthropic and business ventures."

How famous are Pras and the music group he founded. This is from Pras' Wikipedia page:

Pras (/ˈprɑːz/; born Prakazrel Samuel Michel; October 19, 1972) is an American rapper, record producer, songwriter and actor, best known as one of the founding members of the critically acclaimed hip hop group, the Fugees, which included Wyclef Jean and recording artist Lauryn Hill.

Even I, as white as I am, have heard of Wyclef Jean and Lauryn Hill, and I know they are world-famous artists, along with Pras and the Fugees. Rolling Stone, in 1996, called the Fugees "Leaders of the New Cool." They have played The Apollo in New York City, drawing a crowd of more than 10,000. MTV ranked them the ninth-best hip-hop group of all time, even though they recorded only two albums.

And I, with my little Alabama-based blog, is supposed to compare with these folks in terms of notoriety -- in terms of being a public figure? That's nuts,

Why does the public-figure designation matter in a defamation case. It forces the plaintiff to prove that the false article was published with "actual malice," meaning the publisher knew in advance it was false.

Here's how I responded to the assertions in Hearst's Motion to Dismiss. (Both the Hearst motion and my response are embedded at the end of this post.)

Hearst cites Michel v. NYP Holdings, 816 F. 3d 686 (11th Cir., 2016), which is based on New York state defamation law, which is non-binding in this case. That case also involved a plaintiff who was described thusly: “[Michel] describes himself in his complaint as ‘a two-time Grammy winning artist, a founding member of the famous music group, the Fugees, and . . . an acclaimed philanthropist.’ And in subsequent court documents, he describes himself as a ‘world-renown[ed] philanthropist.’ Moreover, at oral argument before the district court, Michel's attorney conceded that his client ‘is a celebrity, he's a public figure.’" This was the basis for a finding that Michel was a public figure. But to claim Roger Shuler, because of his Alabama-based blog, is on the same level as a “two-time Grammy winner,” “a world-renowned philanthropist,” and a “celebrity” . . . well, it’s nonsense. If the court somehow determines this is a close call, it must find in favor of the nonmoving party (Shuler). Here, Hearst admits the Shulers pleaded malice anyway, “knowing the statements in question were false.”

John Caylor, who ridiculed me while I was in jail for "blogging," faces similar problems for reporting on expunged criminal record of Jeff Sessions' confidant

Jeff Sessions (right), with Thomas S. Smith Jr.
and Thomas S. Smith III
(From stopjudicialcorruption.com)
A self-styled investigative reporter, who ridiculed me on Facebook while I was unlawfully incarcerated in Shelby County, Alabama, now finds himself wrestling with similar circumstances.

John Burt Caylor reported on his Facebook page that he had just been released from a Florida jail, having been charged with publishing expunged criminal records -- and he now is wanted on similar charges in Alabama. Baldwin County Judge C. Joseph Norton ordered removal of Caylor's Web site, insider-magazine.com, because it included unflattering portrayals of Dothan attorney Thomas S. Smith Jr. and his son, Thomas S. Smith III, according to a report at stopjudicialcorruption.com (SJC).

The Smiths are confidants of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Donald Trump's nominee for U.S. attorney general, even though the younger Smith has an arrest for methamphetamine possession in his background, SJC reports. Smith III apparently got his criminal record expunged and went on to clerk for U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade, who authored Alabama's gay-marriage opinion and also has strong ties to Jeff Sessions. Caylor wrote about the younger Smith's expunged criminal record, and that (on the surface) is what got him in trouble with law enforcement in two states. From SJC:

Apparently Judge C. Joseph Norton doesn’t believe Americans should have first Amendment Constitutional rights. Norton ORDERED the closing of, Insider Magazine, John Caylor’s website, at a time he knew Caylor was jailed for first amendment issues in Florida. Caylor had 5 Days to respond to prevent the shut down of his site. Norton knew Caylor couldn’t respond because he was a guest of Bay County Jail. NORTON THEN SEALED THE RECORD. Everything was perfectly timed and orchestrated through a consorted group of perfectly controlled public servants. That is how corruption rolls through Alabama; secret, backroom meetings where a plan is initiated, then rolled out clean and smooth in public. Typically as in this case, if it involves a court action, records are sealed, lost or expunged to cover soiled tracks and prevent the public from knowing the orchestrated truth about their public servants.

How does Jeff Sessions enter the picture, aside from his ties to the Smiths and Granade? Part of it is self preservation, according to SJC:

It appears John Caylor’s arrest and the closing of his online magazine were orchestrated to protect Jeff Sessions while he is undergoing congressional and media scrutiny prior to U.S. Attorney General confirmation hearings. Immediately prior to his arrest, Caylor had stated on Facebook that he was going to testify against Sessions’s confirmation before the Senate Judiciary Commission.

What does Caylor know, why would Jeff Sessions be afraid of him, and why would Caylor expect to be called before the Senate Judiciary Committee for Sessions confirmation hearings? I don't have the answer to any of those questions at the moment. But it is ironic that Caylor appears to be the victim of an injunction, an unlawful "prior restraint" under decades of First Amendment law, much like the one Alabama GOP thug Rob Riley and lobbyist Liberty Duke sought to have me thrown in jail.

SPC cites a portion of a letter from domain site GoDaddy.com, instructing Caylor that he must remove certain items from his Web site, per a court-issued injunction:

Dear John Caylor,

Per the attached order received you must remove the following information from the two websites above by Tuesday 12/20 in order to avoid suspension of the websites. You will need to respond to this email when this has been completed:

* First story contains a hyperlink headline stating that Mr. Smith is a member of the “Russian Mafia,” “Gangster’s Grandson,” and had his “Criminal History Hidden.” These statements are covered by the injunction. . . .


* Approximately the seventh headline reads as follows: “Click Here Ginny Granade the Lesbian Gay Marriage Judge does not want anyone to see this. US Marshall Josh Devine is working to keep it Silenced. . . . Granade is behind Judge Roy Moore Removal. I met with Judge Moore’s Chief of staff 3 to 4 weeks ago and gave him the info on Granade and Mafia. SPLC and Granade are trying to remove him. . . . ”

* Approximately the ninth headline reads as follows: “Scott Smith’s III, EXPUNGED METH TRAFFICKING record paved WAY FOR MAFIA SPY to Clerk as Chief Federal Judge Ginny Granade’s Law Clerk-Granade Reported to be Bi-Sexual is behind JUDGE ROY MOORE’S REMOVAL I met with . . . Judge Moore’s Chief of staff 3 to 4 weeks ago and gave him this info on Granade.”

As you can see by clicking this link to Caylor's Web site, it has, in fact disappeared. How could that happen? Well, it looks like a Baldwin County judge unilaterally issued an injunction, claiming certain material is false and defamatory -- even though there has been no trial, and no jury, to make that determination. That is very similar to what Rob Riley and Liberty Duke caused to happen in my case, using specially appointed and grossly corrupt judge Claud Neilson.

John Caylor
There might be at least two major differences between my case and Caylor's: It appears Caylor's arrest is based on alleged violation of Alabama's expungement law. (Published reports indicate his Florida arrest was for a probation violation.) If that's the case, Caylor's arrest is a criminal matter, and it likely does not involve the First Amendment issues present in my case. (Perhaps someone will challenge the expungement law on First Amendment grounds, and they might have a strong case, but that appears to be an issue for another day.)

It's possible Caylor did, in fact, violate the law. In my case, there never was any hint of a criminal claim (until deputies beat me up in my own home and then claimed I "resisted arrest"), and the civil-contempt charge that sent me to jail came even though I never was lawfully served with the complaint and never received a summons to appear in court.

As for Caylor, here is what Lagniappe Mobile says about the law connected to his case:

Caylor appears to be the first person in Alabama arrested under a 2014 law allowing people who have arrest records for non-violent offenses expunge those records. But the law also criminalized publication of such records, a situation that creates potential First Amendment issues and could put news organizations in danger of arrest for publishing factual information. . . . 

According to the law, sponsored as a bill by former State Sen. Roger Bedford (D-Russellville), persons charged with certain misdemeanor criminal offenses, traffic violations or municipal ordinance violations may apply to have their record expunged. Those charged with non-violent felonies can also seek an expungement if the charge was dismissed with prejudice, no-billed by a grand jury, the person was found not guilty of the charge or the charge was dismissed without prejudice more than two years ago and has not been refiled, or in the case of a pre-trial diversion program.

What happened in the Smith case? Lagniappe explains:

In Smith’s case, he was arrested in 2001 when he was 21 and charged with possession of methamphetamine, according to court records. His case was dismissed after he completed a pre-trial diversion program.

Reasonable people can debate the wisdom of Alabama's law, but as it's described at Lagniappe, Caylor appears to have violated the law, and his arrest likely was legitimate.

Caylor provided an update on his situation in a Facebook post dated January 8. Much of it is hard to decipher, so I will publish a portion of it below, in hopes readers can figure out what it means:

Senator Jeff Sessions ordered me arrested December 16th and jailed due to my published disclosures about his ties to the Mafia and infiltrating the federal courts with mafia people. He also had Court Order issued to take down "Insider-magazine.com" and .org. so being in jail and unable to respond I am without a publishing platform, so much for the First Amendment compliments the Dirty Bastards you work for.

Sessions who aspires to be US Attorney General is Tied to the Russian Mafia aimed at overthrowing democracy with bullshit from so-called journalists.

Luckily the FBI's Violent Crime Gang Task Force flew in to protect me for 5 days at Panama City, FL. . . . 

So, Jeff Sessions ordered Caylor's arrest and take-down of Caylor's Web site? Sessions is tied to the Russian Mafia and has infiltrated our courts with members of the Mob? (Maybe that's why Sessions and Trump have such a cozy relationship?) The FBI considers Caylor such a valuable asset that it flew task force members into Panama City, Florida, to protect him for five days?

Wow, that's heady stuff. I'm slow to discount anything about Alabama-related corruption. Our political and legal systems are so dysfunctional that almost any explanation for it seems possible. But even by my liberal standards, Caylor's assertions seem "out there."

If it's proven that Jeff Sessions did order Caylor's arrest, to protect certain legal and political cronies . . . well, this could become a significant national story. I'm not aware of any law that gives a U.S. senator the authority to enforce criminal law.

I've been receiving reports since last spring about Caylor being arrested in various jurisdictions, including Bay County, Florida.  In fact, I've had a few individuals suggest it might be good if I covered the story and helped bring it to wider public attention.

I haven't done that for a couple of reasons: (1) I wasn't certain that Caylor was wrongfully arrested; at this point, while I have concerns about the expungement law, it appears Caylor's arrest was legitimate.

As for the second reason I haven't moved on the Caylor story, we will address that in an upcoming post.

(To be continued)