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The Iran-Contra Scandal, the Killing of Judge Vance and the Don Siegelman Case

COMMENT: We are going to defer dis­cus­sion of the fall­out from “The Mus­lim Broth­er­hood Spring” and rumi­na­tion on “Lone Nut Sea­son” here in the U.S.

Study­ing Amer­i­can pow­er pol­i­tics, one is impressed by how unresolved–often unexamined–national secu­ri­ty imbroglios feed upon one anoth­er.

Exem­pli­fy­ing this “con­spir­a­to­r­i­al pro­gres­sion” is Daniel Hop­sick­er’s land­mark research on Bar­ry Seal, dove­tail­ing into his work on 9/11.  A mem­ber (along with Lee Har­vey Oswald) of David Fer­rie’s Civ­il Air Patrol unit, Seal pro­gressed to work for the CIA (very pos­si­bly includ­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion as a get away pilot for the JFK assas­si­na­tion), and went to work as one of the Agen­cy’s drug smug­glers dur­ing the Iran-Con­tra oper­a­tion. Seal was assas­si­nat­ed as part of the Iran-Con­tra cov­er-up.

In his book Wel­come to Ter­ror­land, Hop­sick­er notes numer­ous con­nec­tions between ele­ments involved in the Iran-Con­tra affair and 9/11. (Mohamed Atta and com­pa­ny infil­trat­ed the U.S. cour­tesy of the Carl Duis­berg Gesellschafft and some of the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty’s con­trolled drug net­works.) Ele­ments inves­ti­gat­ed by Hop­sick­er in con­nec­tion with the 9/11 milieu were using air­craft reg­is­tered at one time to Bar­ry Seal.

The BCCI is anoth­er lake whose waters lap upon numer­ous shores, includ­ing the Iran-Con­tra scan­dal and 9/11.

Updat­ing his inci­sive cov­er­age of the con­spir­a­to­r­i­al polit­i­cal land­scape in “Karl Rove’s Alaba­ma,” Legal Schnau­zer high­lights the gen­e­sis of the plot against for­mer Alaba­ma Gov­er­nor Don Siegel­man and its links with the Iran-Con­tra scan­dal.

Uti­liz­ing infor­ma­tion from the sub­scrip­tion-only Wayne Mad­sen Report, the blog iden­ti­fies Siegel­man’s trou­bles as orig­i­nat­ing when he was Alaba­ma Attor­ney Gen­er­al and began inves­ti­gat­ing some of the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty’s clan­des­tine air­fields and facil­i­ties in rur­al Alaba­ma. One of those, Doss Avi­a­tion was appar­ent­ly con­nect­ed to the Iran-Con­tra shenani­gans.

Hired to keep the real­i­ties of Doss and oth­er com­pa­nies obscured from pub­lic view, Mark Fuller has been front and cen­ter in the pro­ceed­ings against Siegel­man.

Accord­ing to Schnau­zer and WMR, the cen­tral ele­ment in this con­spir­a­to­r­i­al process is the assas­si­na­tion of Judge Robert Vance by a mail bomb in 1989. An appel­late court judge, Vance was viewed as sym­pa­thet­ic to the Chris­tic Insti­tute’s suit and like­ly to help rein­state the suit on appeal. Vance was also a for­mer law part­ner of Don Siegel­man.

As dis­cussed in the AFA series about the Iran-Con­tra scan­dal (#‘s 29-35), the Chris­tic Insti­tute had cor­rect­ly iden­ti­fied many of the play­ers in the Iran-Con­tra affair and had filed a RICO suit against many of them. Had Vance suc­cess­ful­ly enabled the case to go for­ward on appeal, the suit might well have suc­ceed­ed, and the hor­rors of the Dubya pres­i­den­cy could have been avoid­ed.

“Siegel­man Case Has Roots in the Iran-Con­tra Scan­dal and the Assas­si­na­tion of a Fed­er­al Judge in the 1980’s”; Legal Schnau­zer; 8/14/2012.

EXCERPT: The roots of the Don Siegel­man pros­e­cu­tion can be traced to the Iran-Con­tra scan­dal and the assas­si­na­tion of a fed­er­al judge in the 1980s, accord­ing to a new report from a Wash­ing­ton, D.C.-based inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist.

The Siegel­man case also has con­nec­tions to a law­suit styled Avir­gan v. Hull, which was dis­missed in curi­ous fashion–an action that might have been a fore­run­ner to the ram­pant judi­cial cor­rup­tion we see today, espe­cial­ly in the Deep South.

Siegel­man tri­al judge Mark Fuller long has been involved in efforts to cov­er up mas­sive CIA drug- and gun-smug­gling oper­a­tions that are tied, in part, to Iran-Con­tra, accord­ing to the Wayne Mad­sen Report (WMR). Fuller also has been involved in a cov­er up involv­ing the 1989 mail-bomb assas­si­na­tion of fed­er­al judge Robert S. Vance in Birm­ing­ham.

How did Fuller become con­nect­ed to such nefar­i­ous activ­i­ties? His home­town of Enter­prise, Alaba­ma, is home to a prime air­field that has been used in the smug­gling oper­a­tions, Mad­sen reports.

Where does Siegel­man fit into this pic­ture, and how did he become the tar­get of a bogus pros­e­cu­tion that was dri­ven by the Bush fam­i­ly and their affil­i­ates? Siegel­man was our state’s attor­ney gen­er­al from 1987 to 1991, and WMR reports that he became aware of Fuller’s ties to Doss Avi­a­tion and the use of south Alaba­ma air­fields for sus­pi­cious flights to Cen­tral and South Amer­i­ca. To make Siegel­man even more of a tar­get, he and Robert Vance had once been law partners–and Siegel­man con­sid­ered Vance to be one of his pri­ma­ry men­tors.

Fuller recent­ly resen­tenced Siegel­man to five years and nine months in fed­er­al prison, with a curi­ous report­ing date of Sep­tem­ber 11, 2012. Even more curi­ous, WMR reports, is a state­ment Fuller made at the resen­tenc­ing hear­ing: (WMR is a sub­scrip­tion site, and a link is not avail­able to the con­tent; we have received per­mis­sion to run excerpts from the piece.)

After Siegel­man said he accept­ed the deci­sion of the court and respect­ed the sys­tem, Fuller made a shock­ing and reveal­ing state­ment that under­scored his own crim­i­nal past–and desire for revenge against Siegel­man, Alabama’s attor­ney gen­er­al two decades ago before he became a one-term gov­er­nor from 1999 to 2003.

“You came from the high­est legal office in the state of Alaba­ma,” Fuller told Siegel­man Aug. 3, “and it has tak­en you 21 years to under­stand that, and I find that dif­fi­cult.”

This col­umn reveals for the first time the mean­ing behind Fuller’s com­ment, which stems, accord­ing to WMR sources, from the Fuller family’s involve­ment in the noto­ri­ous Iran-Con­tra arms and dope-smug­gling scan­dal of the late 1980s.

ran-Con­tra has its roots in the Rea­gan years, and fall­out from the scan­dal con­tin­ued dur­ing the George H.W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion. Mark Fuller was a pri­vate attor­ney in a small Alaba­ma town at the time, so how did he become involved? WMR explains:

The fear of the Bush admin­is­tra­tion was that its net­work of CIA-linked drug and weapons run­ners would be exposed. Of par­tic­u­lar con­cern to the con­spir­a­tors was the activ­i­ties of a group of CIA shell com­pa­nies, all most­ly deal­ing with mil­lions of dol­lars of cash trans­ac­tions, includ­ing air trans­port firms incor­po­rat­ed most­ly in the small south­east­ern Alaba­ma town of Enter­prise would be exposed.

From 1985 to 1996, Fuller was a pri­vate attor­ney in Enter­prise with the law firm Cas­sady, Fuller and Marsh. One of Fuller’s clients was a com­pa­ny called Park­er Brown Refu­el­ing Com­pa­ny of Enter­prise. In 1989, Park­er Brown Refu­el­ing Com­pa­ny was bought by investors in Col­orado Springs, and the com­pa­ny became known as Doss Avi­a­tion. The Brown in Park­er Brown Refu­el­ing was the may­or of Enter­prise, M. M. “Jug” Brown. The Cas­sady in Cas­sady, Fuller and Marsh, accord­ing to a reli­able source in Enter­prise, was Joe Cas­sady, who, accord­ing to our source, also served on the board of Doss Avi­a­tion.

Fuller’s rise in legal and judi­cial cir­cles was dri­ven, WMR reports, by his ties to Doss Avi­a­tion, CIA-backed drug and gun smug­gling, and the Bush fam­i­ly:

WMR has learned that Siegel­man, as Attor­ney Gen­er­al, was well-aware of Doss Avi­a­tion’s deal­ings and Fuller’s role in the firm. In 1996, Repub­li­can Gov­er­nor Fob James had Fuller appoint­ed as the Chief Assis­tant Dis­trict Attor­ney for the 12th Judi­cial Cir­cuit of Alaba­ma and lat­er that year he was elect­ed Dis­trict Attor­ney for the 12th Cir­cuit. In 2002, Pres­i­dent George W. Bush nom­i­nat­ed Fuller as a fed­er­al judge for the Mid­dle Dis­trict of Alaba­ma in Mont­gomery.

In the span of six years, Fuller went from a large­ly unknown small-town lawyer, with thin cre­den­tials, to a fed­er­al judge. A spe­cif­ic and sin­is­ter pur­pose was behind Fuller’s rapid ascent:

As dis­trict attor­ney and fed­er­al judge, Fuller has been entrust­ed by the CIA to ensure that the ille­gal oper­a­tions involv­ing the agen­cy’s drug and weapons smug­gling oper­a­tions remain a secret. In addi­tion, Fuller has ensured that any­one who is believed to be a threat to the secre­cy of the oper­a­tion, is dealt with harsh­ly, and that includes the Attor­ney Gen­er­al who first caught wind of the Enter­prise oper­a­tion, Siegel­man.

How does this tie back to the Robert Vance assas­si­na­tion? Wal­ter Leroy Moody was con­vict­ed in 1991 of being the sole indi­vid­ual respon­si­ble for send­ing the mail bomb, but WMR reports that Moody almost cer­tain­ly did not act alone–if he was involved at all. The Vance mur­der prob­a­bly was tied to Avir­gan v. Hull, a law­suit that grew from the 1984 bomb­ing at a con­tra press con­fer­ence in La Pen­ca, Cos­ta Rica, killing one Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist (Lin­da Fra­zier) and injur­ing anoth­er (Tony Avir­gan). The Mia­mi-based Chris­tic Insti­tute brought the case under the Rack­e­teer Influ­enced and Cor­rupt Orga­ni­za­tions Act (RICO), alleg­ing that a North Amer­i­can farmer named John Hull was behind the bomb­ing. A 1990 report from the Chris­tic Insti­tute pro­vides back­ground:

Among those injured was ABC cam­era­man Tony Avir­gan. Once Avir­gan recov­ered from his injuries he joined his wife, jour­nal­ist Martha Hon­ey, who had already begun an inves­ti­ga­tion to track down those respon­si­ble for the La Pen­ca bomb­ing.

The two jour­nal­ists dis­cov­ered a trail of evi­dence lead­ing from La Pen­ca to a secret con­tra base in Cos­ta Rica, locat­ed on a ranch owned by a North Amer­i­can farmer named John Hull. Eye­wit­ness­es iden­ti­fied the ranch as the stag­ing area for the La Pen­ca bomb­ing.

Avir­gan and Hon­ey learned that Hull was a key fig­ure in the crim­i­nal enter­prise of retired mil­i­tary offi­cers, for­mer intel­li­gence offi­cials and pri­vate “sol­diers of for­tune” who were sup­ply­ing arms for the con­tra war against Nicaragua. They also learned that Hull was allow­ing Colom­bian drug traf­fick­ers to use his ranch to smug­gle cocaine into the Unit­ed States. The prof­its from the drug oper­a­tion were used to pur­chase mil­i­tary sup­plies for the con­tras.

Despite an esca­lat­ing series of anony­mous death threats and the mur­der on Hul­l’s ranch of one of their infor­mants, Avir­gan and Hon­ey com­plet­ed their inves­ti­ga­tion and pub­lished their find­ings. Real­iz­ing they had found evi­dence of a broad crim­i­nal con­spir­a­cy, the two jour­nal­ists asked the Chris­tic Insti­tute to rep­re­sent them in a fed­er­al civ­il law­suit against the indi­vid­u­als respon­si­ble for the La Pen­ca bomb­ing and oth­er crim­i­nal acts. The Chris­tic Insti­tute, which had already amassed exten­sive infor­ma­tion about the crim­i­nal oper­a­tions of the Richard Sec­ord Enter­prise, agreed to rep­re­sent the jour­nal­ists.

The law­suit was filed six months before the Iran-Con­tra sto­ry broke in the press. A fed­er­al judge in Mia­mi dis­missed the law­suit, but a num­ber of reports have stat­ed that Vance was con­sid­ered a strong bet to rein­state the case on appeal in the Eleventh Cir­cuit. The appeal was pend­ing when a mail bomb explod­ed at Vance’s Moun­tain Brook home on Decem­ber 12, 1989, killing him instant­ly. Chris­tic’s appeal would be denied, and the tri­al judge’s impo­si­tion of Rule 11 sanc­tions total­ing about $1.5 mil­lion was upheld, forc­ing the insti­tute into bank­rupt­cy. That helped ensure that the truth behind Iran-Con­tra would nev­er be unrav­eled, and WMR shows how it all ties to the Siegel­man pros­e­cu­tion:

The mur­der of Vance needs to be under­stood in the con­text of the 1980s Iran-Con­tra scan­dal and Siegelman’s under­stand­able desire to inves­ti­gate it as attor­ney gen­er­al, par­tic­u­lar­ly giv­en the exten­sive use of air­fields in South­ern Alaba­ma for sus­pi­cious flights to Cen­tral and South Amer­i­ca. Vance was the lead jus­tice on the 11th Cir­cuit pan­el that was con­sid­er­ing the appeal of a low­er court’s deci­sion to toss out a Rack­e­teer Influ­enced Cor­rupt Orga­ni­za­tions (RICO) suit brought by the Chris­tic Insti­tute against the Bush admin­is­tra­tion for the Iran-con­tra scan­dal, specif­i­cal­ly the 1984 bomb­ing of a con­tra meet­ing in La Pen­ca, Cos­ta Rica that killed Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist Lin­da Fra­zier and injured anoth­er Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist, Tony Avir­gan. The suit was thrown out by U.S. Judge James King in Mia­mi and an appeal was filed by Chris­tic with the 11th Cir­cuit in Atlanta. With Vance’s assas­si­na­tion, the RICO appeal was doomed. Siegel­man, as some­one close to Vance and, hence, to the case, would have under­stood the impact of Vance’s assas­si­na­tion in expos­ing the entire Iran-con­tra episode, includ­ing Fuller’s involve­ment with it.
Accord­ing to WMR, Fuller knows exact­ly who helped him rise to pow­er, and he intends to pro­tect their secrets at all cost.

As dis­trict attor­ney and fed­er­al judge, Fuller has been entrust­ed by the CIA to ensure that the ille­gal oper­a­tions involv­ing the agen­cy’s drug and weapons smug­gling oper­a­tions remain a secret. In addi­tion, Fuller has ensured that any­one who is believed to be a threat to the secre­cy of the oper­a­tion, is dealt with harsh­ly and that includes the Attor­ney Gen­er­al who first caught wind of the Enter­prise oper­a­tion, Siegel­man. . . .



5 comments for “The Iran-Contra Scandal, the Killing of Judge Vance and the Don Siegelman Case”

  1. I noticed this arti­cle at Legal Schnau­zer a cou­ple of weeks ago, but declined to post it here because of the Wayne Mad­sen con­nec­tion.

    Dur­ing the Bush years, Mad­sen used to have a “Week­ly Intel­li­gence Report” pod­cast that was avail­able on some lib­er­al web­sites. At that point, Mad­sen was anti-Bush & seem­ing­ly lib­er­al-lean­ing. How­ev­er, before Oba­ma had even been sworn-in, Mad­sen seemed to switch sides ... or, appar­ent­ly, Mad­sen sides against whomev­er is in pow­er. Fair enough.

    Even so, dur­ing Mad­sen’s anti-Bush years, I detect­ed a lack of any cen­tral polit­i­cal prin­ci­ples & a lot of con­tra­dic­tions that atten­u­at­ed any poten­tial val­ue to his “insid­er infor­ma­tion”.

    Mad­sen’s anti-Oba­ma “switch” began with appar­ent affir­ma­tions of Birtherism, albeit with his own unique twists so as to be able to strad­dle Left & RIght (or attempt to), pos­si­bly to keep his future options open, or to main­tain his unique paid-sub­scriber niche.


    Mad­sen often seems to have inter­est­ing infor­ma­tion that can­not be cor­rob­o­rat­ed or sub­stan­ti­at­ed, yet is very tan­ta­liz­ing when it con­firms a lit­tle-known milieu or par­a­digm that would be of note for FTR lis­ten­ers. How­ev­er, just when you think his insights are spot-on, he drops a token right-wing spin into the mix, pos­si­bly to keep that sub­scriber-base pay­ing their bills.

    I don’t think this inval­i­dates the mys­tery of the Siegel­man case or the death of Judge Vance, or any num­ber of tan­gen­tial deaths in Alabama/Florida. It looks as if Alaba­ma is being groomed to become the next Colom­bia.

    The Siegel­man case in par­tic­u­lar has­n’t revealed its depths, I don’t think. Or its pur­pose to Rove, which I believe extends far beyond the state of Alaba­ma (or the Bush drug-smugggling Car­tel).

    But it’s worth exam­in­ing the details about Mad­sen, and being wary about con­clu­sions based on his infor­ma­tion.

    For those who are inter­est­ed, sim­ply Google the phrase “Wayne Mad­sen Report mp3” and the first link which comes up con­tains many past broad­cast mp3s.

    Fur­ther down the Google search you will see Mad­sen’s cur­rent reports that “Oba­ma is depressed, schiz­o­phrenic, and gay”.

    For the record, this is not to defend Oba­ma. My doubts about his true polit­i­cal all­ie­gance are already on the record else­where in FTR com­ments. But like any hon­ey­pot, some of Mad­sen’s infor­ma­tion may be true, but we should be care­ful. We should dou­ble-check his facts if we can.

    Posted by R. Wilson | August 27, 2012, 6:18 pm
  2. @ R. Wil­son–

    Thanks for this. I had­n’t kept up with Mad­sen for the last decade or so and have seen plen­ty of things to red flag him.

    I was­n’t aware of his “Birther” spin, but I’ve seen plen­ty to steer me away from using him on a reg­u­lar basis.

    Got a hunch this info is accu­rate, how­ev­er.

    Maybe WMR is just hedg­ing his bets.

    There IS a lot of hedg­ing going on these days, no?

    At some point in the not too dis­tant future, I’ll be tan­gling with “Lone Nut Sea­son” and the oth­ers going off these days.

    The “anar­chist” mili­tia that just got bust­ed in Geor­gia does­n’t look “anar­chist” to me.

    You might think some folks would catch on here.


    Dave Emory

    Posted by Dave Emory | August 27, 2012, 7:25 pm
  3. Good stuff as usu­al, Dave. I seri­ous­ly have to won­der just what Gov. Siegel­man uncov­ered and how deep the prover­bial rab­bit hole real­ly goes.....not to men­tion the death of Bob Vance in ’89, some­thing I don’t recall hear­ing of until today.

    I’d also like to hear your take on the rather high num­ber of ‘Lone-Nut’ shoot­ings which have indeed been hap­pen­ing late­ly; is there also a pos­si­bil­i­ty that we may see a lot more of this kind of thing if Oba­ma wins his next term in office?

    Best regards,


    Posted by Steven L. | August 27, 2012, 8:29 pm
  4. Hi Dave,

    Thanky­ou for all of your hard work and effort.
    I was linked to this page from a group that I start­ed to look into the OCTOPUS scan­dal and the death of Dan­ny Casalaro.
    Your stuff on Oliv­er North has been invalu­able to date — maybe we could get you on for an inter­view one day!

    Kind Regards,

    Posted by Nick | September 1, 2012, 2:57 pm
  5. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/12/us/bloggers-incarceration-raises-first-amendment-questions.html?_r=0

    Blogger’s Incar­cer­a­tion Rais­es First Amend­ment Ques­tions


    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — For over six years, Roger Shuler has hound­ed fig­ures of the state legal and polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment on his blog, Legal Schnau­zer, a hot­house of furi­ous but often fuzzi­ly sourced alle­ga­tions of deep cor­rup­tion and wide-rang­ing con­spir­a­cy. Some of these alle­ga­tions he has test­ed in court, hav­ing sued his neigh­bor, his neighbor’s lawyer, his for­mer employ­er, the Police Depart­ment, the Sheriff’s Depart­ment, the Alaba­ma State Bar and two coun­ty cir­cuit judges, among oth­ers. Most­ly, he has lost.

    But even those who longed for his muz­zling, and there are many, did not see it com­ing like this: with Mr. Shuler sit­ting in jail indef­i­nite­ly, and now on the list of impris­oned jour­nal­ists world­wide kept by the Com­mit­tee to Pro­tect Jour­nal­ists. There, in the com­pa­ny of jailed reporters in Chi­na, Iran and Egypt, is Mr. Shuler, the only per­son on the list in the West­ern Hemi­sphere.

    A for­mer sports reporter and a for­mer employ­ee in a university’s pub­li­ca­tions depart­ment, Mr. Shuler, 57, was arrest­ed in late Octo­ber on a con­tempt charge in con­nec­tion with a defama­tion law­suit filed by the son of a for­mer gov­er­nor. The cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing that arrest, includ­ing a judge’s order that many legal experts described as uncon­sti­tu­tion­al and behav­ior by Mr. Shuler that some of the same experts described as self-defeat­ing pos­tur­ing, have made for an excep­tion­al­ly messy test of con­sti­tu­tion­al law.

    Posts on Roger Shuler’s blog, Legal Schnau­zer, have prompt­ed many defama­tion suits. His refusal to coop­er­ate in one recent case has led to his being jailed since Octo­ber and has drawn inter­na­tion­al atten­tion. Shel­by Coun­ty Jail

    “You’ve got a sit­u­a­tion where some­times there’s no good guys,” said Ken White, a for­mer fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor in Los Ange­les who writes about and prac­tices First Amend­ment law.

    Mr. Shuler is no stranger to defama­tion suits, as one might sur­mise from read­ing his blog. He start­ed it in 2007 to doc­u­ment a prop­er­ty dis­pute with his neigh­bor that blew up into a legal war and end­ed with the neighbor’s lawyer becom­ing a part-own­er of Mr. Shuler’s house, which is in Birm­ing­ham. Lat­er, the blog branched out to expose what he alleged were the cor­rupt machi­na­tions of pow­er­ful fig­ures, most­ly Repub­li­cans, and with a par­tic­u­lar ani­mus toward for­mer Gov. Bob Riley.

    His alle­ga­tions are fre­quent­ly sala­cious, includ­ing a recent asser­tion that a fed­er­al judge had appeared in a gay porno­graph­ic mag­a­zine and a the­o­ry that sev­er­al sui­cides were actu­al­ly a string of polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed mur­ders. Start­ing in Jan­u­ary 2013, Mr. Shuler, cit­ing uniden­ti­fied sources, began writ­ing that Robert Riley Jr., the son of the for­mer gov­er­nor, had impreg­nat­ed a lob­by­ist named Lib­er­ty Duke and secret­ly paid for an abor­tion. Both denied it, and Ms. Duke swore in an affi­davit that they had nev­er even been alone in the same room.

    In July, Mr. Riley and Ms. Duke sought an injunc­tion in state court against such posts, cit­ing Mr. Shuler and his wife, Car­ol, in defama­tion suits. A judge issued a tem­po­rary restrain­ing order in Sep­tem­ber bar­ring the Shulers from pub­lish­ing “any defam­a­to­ry state­ment” about Mr. Riley and Ms. Duke and demand­ing that the offend­ing posts be imme­di­ate­ly removed.

    Such a sweep­ing order struck some lawyers as far too broad, and Mr. Shuler says he did not even know about it.

    The Shulers refused to answer the door when offi­cials came to serve court papers, stat­ing their sus­pi­cions in blog posts that the vis­its were part of an “intim­i­da­tion and harass­ment cam­paign” stem­ming from the report­ing on anoth­er top­ic.

    One after­noon as the Shulers drove to the local library, where Mr. Shuler had been writ­ing his blog since they could no longer pay for their Inter­net con­nec­tion, a mem­ber of the Sheriff’s Depart­ment pulled them over, say­ing they had run a stop sign. The offi­cer then served them the papers, which the Shulers refused to accept, con­tend­ing that ser­vice under such a pre­text was improp­er.

    “We were both throw­ing the papers out of the win­dows as we were dri­ving off,” Ms. Shuler said in an inter­view.

    The Shulers missed a hear­ing the next day, and the restrain­ing order was super­seded by a sim­i­lar­ly word­ed pre­lim­i­nary injunc­tion, which some free-speech advo­cates saw as a clear vio­la­tion of Mr. Shuler’s First Amend­ment rights.

    “It seems to me that the judge’s order was real­ly way out of bounds,” said David Ges­pass, a civ­il rights lawyer in Birm­ing­ham, who was fur­ther trou­bled by the judge’s ini­tial deci­sion to keep the case under seal.
    Launch media view­er
    Car­ol Shuler in the base­ment of her home in Birm­ing­ham, Ala. She is fac­ing the same defama­tion suit that has her hus­band, Roger, in jail on a con­tempt charge. Cary Nor­ton for The New York Times

    Mr. Shuler con­tin­ued blog­ging. On Oct. 23, the police fol­lowed Mr. Shuler as he pulled into his dri­ve­way, arrest­ed him in his garage and took him to jail on charges of con­tempt and resist­ing arrest.

    In the hyper­par­ti­san cor­ners of the blo­gos­phere where Mr. Shuler was already known, there was shock. Even some of his ded­i­cat­ed foes were alarmed.

    The Nation­al Blog­gers Club, a group led by the Repub­li­can activist Ali Akbar, who has also threat­ened to sue Mr. Shuler for defama­tion, released a state­ment con­demn­ing Mr. Shuler’s “rumor­mon­ger cyber­bul­ly­ing” but also crit­i­ciz­ing the injunc­tion as cre­at­ing a poten­tial chill­ing effect on blog­ging.

    The state chap­ter of the Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union filed a “friend of the court” brief, and the Reporters Com­mit­tee for Free­dom of the Press sent a let­ter to the judge.

    On Nov. 14, the judge held a hear­ing, and Mr. Shuler, who was rep­re­sent­ing him­self, took the stand, insist­ing that the court had no juris­dic­tion over him and call­ing the court a joke. The judge decid­ed that the hear­ing had “served as a tri­al on the mer­its” and made his final rul­ing: Mr. Shuler was for­bid­den to pub­lish any­thing about Mr. Riley or Ms. Duke involv­ing an affair, an abor­tion or pay­offs; was to pay them near­ly $34,000 for legal fees; and was to remove the offend­ing posts or remain in jail.

    Mr. Riley said Mr. Shuler’s refusal to engage with the legal process had giv­en the judge the lee­way to make a final rul­ing.

    “If some­one can con­tin­u­al­ly ignore the judge just by say­ing, ‘You don’t have juris­dic­tion over me,’ then the whole sys­tem breaks down,” Mr. Riley said, adding that Mr. Shuler could not plead igno­rance of the legal process. “This is not the first time Roger Shuler has been in court.”

    But Mr. White and oth­ers say that before a judge can take the step of ban­ning speech, libel must be proved at tri­al, or at least over a lit­i­ga­tion process more involved than a quick suc­ces­sion of hear­ings, with the only evi­dence pre­sent­ed by the plain­tiffs.

    “Idio­cy is not a zero-sum game,” Mr. White said. “I think you can say that what the court is doing is uncon­sti­tu­tion­al and trou­ble­some and also that Shuler is his own worst ene­my.”

    So while the furor has all but dis­si­pat­ed, Mr. Shuler remains in jail, unwill­ing to take down his posts but also unwill­ing to hire a lawyer and con­test his incar­cer­a­tion in the state courts.

    “This is flat-out court cor­rup­tion, and it’s crim­i­nal,” he said in an inter­view from prison.

    His wife spoke of col­lect­ing dam­ages when this is over, but Mr. Shuler is think­ing beyond civ­il reme­dies this time: He is plan­ning to bring fed­er­al crim­i­nal charges against the judge.

    Posted by Vanfield | January 12, 2014, 10:57 am

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