(WMR)—WMR has been reporting on political and judicial malfeasance in Alabama for a number of years. Overall, Alabama Republican politicians and judges evoke memories of Al Capp’s Jubilation T. Cornpone, Hee Haw’s Junior Samples, and Green Acres’s Eustace Charleston Haney, otherwise known as “Mr. Haney.” Bumbling, goofball, ignorant, and corrupt vestiges of a bygone plantation-era South don’t even come close to describing what passes for judges and political leaders in the state that refers to itself as the “Heart of Dixie.”
Roger Shuler, a veteran journalist with 13 years with the Birmingham News and a graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, one of America’s top journalism education institutions, now knows what it’s like to be a journalist in a Third World country like Sierra Leone or Honduras.
After writing a series of articles on his website Legal Schnauzer, Shuler has been hit with a “nuisance subpoena” by prospective GOP U.S. House candidate Rob Riley, the son of Alabama’s former Governor Bob Riley, the man whose political chicanery and vote count rigging cost Democratic Governor Don Siegelman his job in the 2002 election and paved the way for Bob Riley to move into the Governor’s Mansion in Montgomery for two terms. The younger Riley is planning to run for the seat of retiring Representative Spencer Bachus and is launching his bid by silencing Shuler, one of Alabama’s most outspoken muckraking journalists bird dogging to Rileys and their nepotistic and kleptocratic political corruption.
Shuler has also gone after U.S. Judge Bill Pryor, a former Alabama Attorney General who is now a member of the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals who refused to recuse himself in the appeal of Siegelman who was sentenced to six and a half years in federal prison on trumped up charges brought by a cabal of Karl Rove GOP politicos in the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in Montgomery and Birmingham in a trial presided over by U.S. Judge for the Middle District of Alabama, Mark Fuller. Shuler doggedly pursued sex scandal stories involving Fuller, Pryor, and current Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, all Republican “family values” politicians.
Shuler’s latest story concerns nude photographs of Pryor published by a gay porn website specializing in erotica featuring young males. So what’s the problem if Pryor was of legal age at the time the photos were taken? Shuler nails it in one sentence: “In 2005, Pryor wrote a brief to the Supreme Court on behalf of the Texas anti-sodomy law where he argued that decriminalized gay sex would lead to legalized necrophilia, bestiality and child pornography.” Well now. I guess the Eleventh Circuit should ensure that Pryor keeps his distance from funeral homes, barns, and day care centers.
Rob Riley convinced Alabama Supreme Court Judge Roy Moore, of Ten Commandments-in-the-courtroom infamy, to appoint retired Alabama state judge, Claud Neilson, to act as a special judge to handle a lawsuit brought by Rob Riley against Shuler and his wife. Neilson is the man who, in 2009, dismissed remaining deadlocked counts after a jury voted not guilty on the majority of sexual abuse, sodomy, and assault charges brought against Mobile Circuit Court Judge Herman Thomas. After Riley Junior submitted a motion for all matters in his suit against Shuler be sealed, Neilson agreed.
Only in Alabama could a journalist be enjoined by a judge not to write about a candidate for public office. This action by Neilson is a flagrant violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Alabama remains subject to the U.S. Bill of Rights, regardless of what the Tea Party and its ZZ Top- and Charlie Daniels-looking truckers and motorcyclists may believe.
The actions by Neilson raises the issue now being debated in Washington about media shield laws for journalists. A number of entrenched politicians, including Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas and Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California, do not believe independent journalists with websites, blogs, or newsletters should be considered journalists under a federal shield law that would protect only corporate journalists from having to testify before juries and grand juries about their sources.
It is noteworthy that Judge Thomas was accused of spanking male prisoners and promising lenient treatment in return for sexual favors. While such conduct seems like appalling behavior in the rest of the United States, it doesn’t take the Wizard of Oz to convince Dorothy or anyone else that Alabama is not Kansas or anywhere else.
As a result of the conspiracy by Rob Riley, Neilson, and Moore to impose prior restraint on the press, Shuler’s October 8, 2013 article, titled, “Judge In Rob Riley’s Lawsuit Violates 230 years of U.S. Law To Impose Prior Restraint On Reports About Messy Affair,” has been taken down.
WMR has written extensively about Alabama corruption involving Fuller, the Rileys, top GOP politico Bill Canary and his wife Leura Canary—the missus was the U.S. Attorney for Montgomery who prosecuted Siegelman even though she had a huge conflict-of-interest in the case and failed to recuse herself—and out-of-state players like Rove and Jack Abramoff.
The Alabama nuisance subpoena, SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) suit, and court gag order against Shuler and his wife not only have repercussions for the press in Alabama but a finding against Shuler and Legal Schnauzer will definitely be used as cited case law for other corrupt politicians to bring legal action against independent journalists in other jurisdictions far beyond Alabama.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).