Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Alabama Deputies Beat, Arrest Corruption-Fighting Reporter

The Obama criminals will pay a high price for this one; journalists now reviewing State deadly force laws for application against personal attacks by toothless, coward feral pigs

By Andrew Kreig

The prominent investigative blogger Roger Shuler was arrested and beaten by Shelby County sheriff's deputies in his Alabama garage upon returning home the evening of Oct. 23. 
Arrested investigative reporter Roger Shuler
Shuler faces charges stemming from his refusal to obey a judge's order to stop writing about an alleged affair involving Robert Riley Jr., an attorney who is part of Alabama's most prominent political family.

Shuler at right shown in a jail mug shot photo with a swollen face after his beating and attack with MACE in his garage. Authorities in his county south of Birmingham held him on two contempt of court charges and one for resisting arrest. A judge refused to set bond on the contempt charges, thereby enabling authorities to hold Shuler for an undetermined period that could be many months at the judge's discretion. His bond was $1,000 for the resisting arrest charge.

Update Oct. 27: As of this writing, Shuler remained in jail, his wife was barricaded in their home, and a news blackout remained through virtually all of the mainstream media, with only a few web-based media covering the story. OpEdNews editor Joan Brunwasser published an interview with me: Andrew Kreig: Alabama Journalist Roger Shuler Beaten and Arrested!

Meanwhile, the Washington Times reported a federal raid against one of its reporters: Armed agents seize records of reporter.

The Rileys and their political allies have denied Shuler's allegations, as illustrated by legal filings in the case. Hot links are below.

Unknown persons have also created a website, Legal Schnauzer Exposed, to provide negative information about Shuler and his wife. Shuler is shown below in a file photo outside his home with the family's pet dog, Murphy, who inspired the name of his blog.
Carol Shuler
Shuler's wife, Carol, told me her husband was beaten and arrested by four deputies in their garage about 6 p.m. after he returned home from his blogging at a public library.

She said she was home at the time, but heard nothing of the arrest and scuffling at their attached garage. She became frantic with worry that someone had killed her husband based on his investigative reporting about law enforcement officials and their business allies. Shuler has received death threats.

Carol Shuler told me the morning of Oct. 25 that she was barricaded in their home in Birmingham. She worried about her own safety from deputies seeking to arrest her also on contempt of court charges.

"Roger's afraid he could be in there for months," Carol Shuler, right, told me by phone early Friday. "Meanwhile, I'm stuck in the house with no food, money or Internet. It's one thing if your husband is arrested. But another thing entirely if they're after you. I can't go anywhere." She is an Alabama native married in 1989. The childless couple has no close relatives nearby she feels she can call upon. Both she and her husband were fired several years ago from their jobs, and have claimed it was reprisal in each instance for his reporting about public affairs.

Roger Shuler's columns reporting judicial, prosecutorial and police misconduct across Alabama and the Deep South are often excerpted on the Justice Integrity Project and reprinted in full by OpEd News, Salon, FireDogLake, among other sites. The law enforcement actions against the Shulers threaten a major setback for the nation's embattled but increasingly timid news media.

Official actions were fostered by Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. Moore became nationally famous in 2003 for ruling that his word and his respect for the Ten Commandments trumps U.S. Supreme Court law. Even admonishments of the state's ultra-conservative Attorney General at the time, William Pryor, Jr., failed to persuade Moore to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from state property.

The Shuler prosecution illustrates how one-party governance in the Deep South inspired by Karl Rove, the Tea Party, and long-lingering racial and other animosities against the federal government have fostered a new view of the law. More precisely, it seems to be a return to old views. In clear-cut fashion, Judges and their private sector allies increasingly believe they can create result-oriented law to be enforced with drastic penalties against reporters or anyone else.

As a political consultant, Rove helped change Alabama's Supreme Court from all-Democrat in the 1990s to all-Republican in recent years.

At the Bush White House, Rove helped orchestrate the criminal prosecution on flimsy charges of prominent Democrats across the nation, especially in Deep South states. The best known victim was former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, the state's leading Democrat. Rove pressured U.S. attorneys, who were fired if they did not comply. The story, then, has been to track the deeds of prosecutors as in Alabama who pursued weak cases for crass career gain.

Rove and his confederates have denied wrongdoing. Timid officials in the Obama administration and at major news organizations have failed to follow the clear-cut evidence of the scandals. My long-running investigation tracking Alabama corruption parallels patterns evident elsewhere in the United States (especially Washington) and overseas.
The astounding scandals led me to found the non-partisan Justice Integrity Project in cooperation with civic leaders. That research led in turn to my new book, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters.

The bogus prosecutions smeared officials in Alabama as elsewhere. Revealing those scandals builds on the work of courageous reporters, authors and whistleblowers for the past century. For these reasons, I know the legal dangers facing the Shulers.

Gutting Press Freedom, Due Process and Civil Rights, Dixie-Style

The Riley defamation case against the Shuler family -- which has pursued a seemingly irrational crusade to report scandals despite many threats and economic hardships -- undermines the nation's leading First Amendment Supreme Court case, which arose from the civil rights struggle.

In New York Times v. Sullivan, the court held 9-0 in 1964 that Alabama police commissioner L.B. Sullivan had to prove actual malice before receiving a $500,000 jury verdict.

The defendants were the New York Times and civil rights leaders. They allowed relatively minor errors in a Times ad that civil rights groups had purchased in 1960 to protest the harsh pro-segregation regime. Sullivan, police commissioner in the state capitol of Montgomery, was not named in the ad. But a sympathetic jury found (like others at the time) that Sullivan had been libeled by civil rights advocates.

Defendants included close aides of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., an Alabama native portrayed below left with President Lyndon B. Johnson after national news coverage helped curtain the Alabama beatings and other civil rights abuses.
Martin Luther King Jr.
The Supreme Court decision found a First Amendment basis for protecting newspaper comment regarding public figures even if an error occurs unless the mistake was made with "reckless disregard" of the truth or knowledge of the claim's falsity. This rule made possible national news coverage of the civil rights movement that had been thwarted by nearly $300 million of dollars of libel verdicts from Deep South juries on behalf of white supremacists seeking to ruin those news organizations that dared cover that era's struggles against desegregation and suppression of black voting rights.

The rule also makes possible much of the rest of aggressive news coverage. An Alabama-based reversal of that Constitutional protection would have historic impact upon the nation's democracy, and yet the national news media has so far ignored the Shuler plight with rare exceptions by fellow bloggers.

Under the current generation's political partisans in what is known as the Cradle of the Confederacy, the reprisals ordered against Shuler strike also at other fundamental protections for the free press. Alabama's Supreme Court has ruled that court proceedings are presumed public. Yet the judge called out of retirement by Alabama's Supreme Court to dispose of the Shuler case has forbidden Shuler from writing about the case -- known as "prior restraint." Also, Circuit Court Judge Claud (sic) Nielson ordered that the court record be sealed so that no one else can report on the case.

At our Justice Integrity Project website and in my columns for such web-based publications as the Huffington Post and OpEd News, I have often reported that Alabama's state and federal courts have increasingly ordered secret proceedings to protect the privacy of prominent officials accused of corruption.

Furthermore, Alabama's three largest newspapers are each on three-times-a-week publication schedules because of weak finances. After massive staff layoffs and management loyalty to the state's essentially one-party political process, the newspapers now largely ignore courtroom and political power plays. As recently as a decade ago, the evidence would have attracted many news stories.

The Rove Counter-Revolution

Under guidance from Karl Rove and his allies, virtually all major state and federal offices have become Republican except for one gerrymandered congressional district combining many of the state's black and other Democratic-oriented voters. The Atlantic Magazine reported the process in a major article in 2004. 
George W. Bush with Karl Rove
Rove has often denied in his memoir at left and otherwise that he has been involved in relevant misconduct, or has any particular interest in Alabama.

But close study for Puppetry suggests otherwise, as amplified below. For one thing, he was deeply implicated in the 2006 U.S. attorney firing scandal. Also, even a superficial overview of Rove's career shows that he has been a consultant to Alabama Republican political and business interests, including fellow Republican strategist William Canary, head of the Business Council of Alabama.

Furthermore, I have ascertained that Rove's wife of 24 years until recent years, Darby Hickson Rove, attended Murphy High School in Mobile, Alabama, as indicated below.

At a time of the notorious church bombings in Birmingham illustrating continuing resistance to desegregation, Murphy High happened to be the first school integrated in the state after Gov. George Wallace's epic effort to "stand in the schoolhouse" door in 1963 to block integration of the University of Alabama. When Wallace lost that battle because of federal courts and troops the rest of the segregated public school system gradually dwindled, beginning with Murphy High School in 1964.

Shuler, age 56, is unquestionably the nation's leading irritant to Alabama's Republican power structure. Shuler has provided commentary and news commentary about the courts that few else dare attempt.

Meanwhile, the much-weakened national media and national civil liberties groups largely remain aloof from the struggles of bloggers and even investigative reporters, although there is no shortage of rhetoric in the abstract about the need for a free press -- or petition-signing against abuses against journalists by regimes in foreign nations not regarded as close United States allies.

I have observed many times that DC-based reporters and civil rights organizations tend to have rose-colored views regarding the integrity of politicians and judges. Also, they rely heavily on wire service reports generated by local newspapers for information about such Deep South travesties as those routinely occurring in Alabama.
Roger Shuler recently reported on the plight of Bonnie Cahalane, a woman jailed for nearly five months because she lacked funds to make a payment ordered in her divorce case.

That same justice system poses a serious threat also to the Shulers, who have no funds for lawyers. Furthermore, lawyers in Alabama are severely limited in representation because bar rules prevent forbid any criticism of judges.
Judge Claud Neilson
In the Shuler case, the retired circuit judge shown at left in a file photo, issued an injunction ordering the Shulers to remove from public view all columns regarding an alleged affair between lobbyist Liberty Duke and Riley, who is a rumored congressional candidate for 2014 and the son of former two-term Alabama governor Bob Riley.

Neilson also forbade the Shulers from writing in the future about the case.

To ensure no one else does so, the judge also sealed the court file. Riley and Duke, who was married at the time of the purported affair, have each denied Shuler's claims, which include an allegation she had an abortion at the request of the married Riley.

"If this can happen to us it can happen to anybody," Carol Shuler told me in describing the oppressive conditions her family is facing for her husband's commentaries. "This is supposed to be America. You can't turn a blind eye when someone's trying to speak the truth."

According to the articles previously written by Shuler he did not receive proper legal notice of the suit. Imagine a court locking up a journalist for exercising his constitutional right to freedom of the press. This is an important civil rights and first amendment story. It impacts not just print media but especially digital media.

Shuler, whose columns we often excerpt at the Justice Integrity Project, is his state's leading investigative reporter regarding its rampant judicial and legal corruption. Arguably, he is also the most important investigative journalist regarding other Deep South legal cases. A national survey recently described Legal Schnauzer as the nation's 39th most important legal blog, making it virtually the only one in the top 50 run by one person without any institutional support.

Shuler has written hundreds of columns simply about government misconduct in the federal-state frame up of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, Alabama's leading Democrat and a potential future presidential contender.
Bob Riley
The elder Riley, at right, succeeded Siegelman in a 2002 election marred by electronic ballot theft shifting enough votes in Baldwin County near Mobile after polls closed so that Siegelman's initial victory announcement had to be reversed the next morning.

Siegelman is now serving a long prison term for his 1999 actions -- primarily for soliciting a donation from businessman Richard Scrushy for an education reform non-profit. An unprecedented numbers of former prosecutors (113 former state attorneys general) and law professors have argued that Siegelman's actions were not a crime.

However, the Obama administration has endorsed the Bush-era prosecution of Siegelman despite many gross irregularities we and others have documented through the years. Among them are $300 million in Bush-era contracts secretly awarded to a company controlled by Siegelman's trial judge, whose divorce action revealing his finances and his affair with a federal court clerk under his command was ordered sealed in violation of Alabama Supreme Court precedent.

Shuler is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, which is highly respected in press circles. He worked for the Birmingham Post-Herald for 11 years (1978-89), as a reporter and copy editor. The newspaper had the largest circulation in Alabama among morning newspapers. Shuler worked as an editor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham from 1989 to 2008.

The university fired him under murky circumstances after he began writing in his spare time about the Siegelman prosecution by the Bush Justice Department. Shuler alleges that the firing was reprisal and that his wife's employer fired her for the same reason.

The Bust

Carol Shuler told me they have no money for bond or even Internet access. Roger Shuler had been traveling to a public library to write his five-day per week column and conduct other correspondence before his jailing. "We don't even have enough cash for a Kit-Kat bar at the library vending machine."

Shuler has published many other controversial columns, including several recently gaining high national attention for linking alleged sex scandals with public policy issues. One series portrayed the powerful and controversial federal appeals court judge William Pryor as having posed stark naked in college-age photos later published on a gay porn website. Pryor has denied the photos were of him.

Also, Shuler has published many columns alleging that Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange has had an affair with married political operative, who recently underwent a divorce. All of those involved are Republicans who have described themselves as family values advocates. I am among the investigative reporters who have heard many of the same allegations for years.

Shuler has written that he has heard he faces at least one other defamation action but has not been officially served. He denies that he must comply with the judge's contempt order in the defamation case by Riley and Duke.

Robert Riley Jr., who often goes by the name Rob, is a Yale Law School graduate who has become a prominent attorney in Alabama. Among other cases was serving as co-counsel with former Siegelman defense attorney in a class action that resulted in a $500 million fraud verdict against Scrushy, Siegelman's co-defendant in the criminal case. Shuler wrote repeatedly that the representation constituted a conflict, which the lawyers denied. Such commentary has antagonized many judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and political operatives in Alabama.

Neilson was a contemporary of the elder Riley at the University of Alabama in the mid-1960s. Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, widely known as "The Ten Commandments" judge who defied court precedents in 2003 to insist that state residents publicly honor the commandments, brought Neilson out of retirement to handle the defamation case brought by Riley and Duke even though Neilson was from another part of the state than the jurisdiction of the case.

The arrest occurred as follows, according to an account Carol Shuler heard by jail phone from her husband. She relayed it in calls to me and radio host Peter B. Collins, who shared this account with his listeners following my interview with him for his show today:

Shuler’s wife, Carol, added details about the arrest of Roger. Like all of the events in this matter, the arrest appears improper – no warrant or other legal instrument was referenced or shown. Carol reports that her husband was invited to step out of his garage by the first officer; when Roger declined and tried to enter his house, he was grabbed, “whaled on” and sprayed with mace. She reports multiple injuries and that Roger was threatened with a broken arm by an officer as he was hauled off.

We review the astounding lack of legal basis for the proceedings to date, from the selection of retired Judge Neilsen by state supreme court justice Roy Moore to the one-sided hearing that led to an illegal injunction and orders for Shuler to appear without proper service.

Author, commentator and former Navy intelligence analyst Wayne Madsen first broke the story of Shuler's arrest in a column excerpted below. Madsen's columns, like those of Shuler, have traced the Riley's political machine to a worldwide network of defense contractors that sought Siegelman's imprisonment for sordid reasons.

No evidence has surfaced that state or federal authorities have ever seriously investigated the Rileys or their confederates, aside from Jack Abramoff and his team, who arranged for $20 million in Indian casino donations to be donated to anti-Siegelman efforts. Given the number of whistleblowers seeking justice against the Riley's and their allies the inaction of legal investigators at the Justice Department and elsewhere raises deep questions about the integrity of watchdog institutions.

Suffice to say that the vast array of evidence of corruption in Alabama's court and political world led directly to the creation of the Justice Integrity Project in 2010 because previous scandal revelations, including on CBS 60 Minutes documenting Siegelman's frame-up, appeared to have no lasting impact generating investigation.

Summing Up and What You Can Do

Shuler, shortly before his jailing, installed a Paypal button for donations on his website, Legal Schnauzer.

I urge all readers here to consider a donation, and to help spread news of this latest prosecution to relevant news, commentary and legal reform organizations. I'll be undertaking interviews on it, beginning with one Oct. 25 on the national radio show of Peter B. Collins, whose commentary on the case earlier this month is listed below. Here's one quick, helpful thing to do: Visit the Reddit site, and click the link to help spread the news. Stay tuned. This is big.




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