President of Alabama State Bar replies to charges of misconduct by Bar member US Attorney Leura Canary: I’m not interested so stop contacting me.

J. Mark White, President of the Alabama State Bar, responded to my e-mails regarding the unethical conduct of Leura Garrett Canary, who is herself a member of the Alabama State Bar. Here is his e-mail, quoted in full, and my response to him.

E-mail from J. Mark White, Esq., President of the Alabama State Bar:

J. Mark White <>
[other e-mail addresses deleted]
date Sat, Dec 6, 2008 at 7:42 PM
subject RE: Alberto Gonzales and Leura Canary named to Top Ten Prosecutors list for 2008

Please do not send additional emails to me. If you have a complaint file it with the Alabama State Bar. The process and forms are on the web site. If you feel so strongly about this matter please exhibit the courage to file a formal complaint. I assure you complaints are handled in a professional manner. Emails to a mass of people accomplish nothing. Take me off your email list.
Mark White

Mr. White,

Thank you for replying to my e-mail. At your request, I’ve removed your name from my general e-mail list.

Responding to allegations of unethical conduct by affirmatively requesting to receive no further information does nothing to advance the credibility of your claim that complaints of attorney misconduct in Alabama are handled professionally. Consider also this e-mail I received from Roger Shuler:

About three years ago, I filed a bar complaint against Bill Swatek, the lawyer who filed the bogus lawsuit that started all of my legal headaches. The Alabama State Bar didn’t even investigate it. Swatek has a 30-year history of ethical problems with the bar, including a suspension of his license.

Under bar rules, an attorney with that kind of history is supposed to be scrutinized even more heavily when new complaints arrive. Also, the fact Swatek was opposing counsel (not my attorney) is supposed to irrelevant under bar rules. He still owes a duty to the opposing side to conduct himself in an ethical manner.

When I questioned the bar about their failure to act on my Swatek complaint, one of McLain’s staff people at the time admitted that they get so many complaints that they usually don’t do anything with the ones involving opposing counsel.

Not exactly an awe-inspiring example of professionalism. He has a more at his blog.

Mr. White, I specifically copied you on only two (2) e-mails. I first copied you on the e-mail I sent to Tony McClain, the General Counsel of the Alabama State Bar, because he has the authority to initiate a disciplinary investigation on his his own motion based on information he receives or acquires from any source. This e-mail regarded the unethical conduct of Leura Garrett Canary, a member of the Bar of which you are the elected President. I then also copied you on an e-mail announcing that Leura Garrett Canary had been named one of this country’s Worst Prosecutors for the year 2008.

However, someone of your professional and personal accomplishment should realize that I didn’t just add your name to ‘a mass of people [who can] accomplish nothing.’ Check again the first e-mail you received from me. Note that I copied you on these e-mails in your professional capacity as President of the Alabama State Bar Association. I did this to establish that you have – at a minimum – constructive knowledge of Ms. Canary’s conduct.

Your reply, however, also – rather amateurishly – confirmed that you actually received both of my e-mails, including the first e-mail in which I tediously detailed for you Ms. Canary’s unethical conduct as well as the specific Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct that her conduct violated. You, therefore, also confirmed that you are “[a] lawyer possessing unprivileged knowledge of a violation of Rule 8.4” by Ms. Canary, pursuant to Rule 8.3, Reporting Professional Misconduct of the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct, which requires that you “shall report such knowledge to a tribunal or other authority empowered to investigate or act upon such violation.” [My emphasis] As explained in the Comments to Rule 8.3 , your “failure to report a violation would itself be a professional offense.”

When you were elected President of the Alabama State Bar Association, it was reported that your theme ‘might be “justice for all.”‘ Your press release from the Alabama State Bar states that “the goals of [your] administration would be[] ‘to remove barriers to justice for Alabama’s poor, to embark on an immediate course to change the nature of state judicial elections, and to champion efforts that increase the public’s confidence in our system of justice…'[, and that key] projects will include … [a]ssisting the bench and bar in improving civility and professionalism . [My emphasis] My hope was that you would receive my e-mail and live up to your words. However, your reply establishes your words are without the substance of conviction.

And none of this is changed because I publish anonymously. There are many reasons, as you know, to publish under a pseudonym not the least of which is sound tactics. It wasn’t cowardice when Thomas Paine wrote Common Sense under the pseudonym Publius. Since publishing his work was an act of treason punishable by death, it was self-preservation. Thanks to men and women like Thomas Paine, the words I publish are not treason. But even though I won’t face prosecution for treason, don’t believe that I face no threats because I choose to publish as I do. And it’s not paranoia if they ARE out to get you . The ounce of prevention anonymity provides me – hopefully – is just a pound of cure but it does not make me a coward. Anyway, I don’t think that you even believe your charge of cowardice.

But it especially surprised me that a self-proclaimed champion of the integrity of the justice system who wants ‘justice for all’ would resort to calling me a coward especially while displaying true champion’s courage by asking me to leave him alone. Although you claim to seek justice for all, you have failed to actually do anything when the cause of justice demands action. In short, Mr. White, the question must be directed to you: where’s the courage demanded by your own words?

Please also note that I have removed you from my general e-mail list, but I will continue to send e-mails to you in your official capacity as President of the Alabama State Bar. If you do not wish to receive these e-mails, your computer department can show you how to digitally stick your head in the sand (just ask them how to block my e-mails). Alternatively, you could resign as President of the Alabama State Bar Association since you don’t want to fulfill your obligations to the Alabama State Bar and the public you swore to serve.


Crossposted at Oxdown Gazette.

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Update on Wes Teel

As I noted previously, Roger Shuler at the Legal Schnauzer has been following the plight of Wes Teel and his political prosecution by the Department of Justice. In his post, Shuler links to a comment made by Scott Horton at Mark Crispin Miller’s News From Underground and to an interview of Mr. Horton by Sam Seder at Ring of Fire Radio .

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Had enough yet?

The Legal Schnauzer shares a letter he recently received. In his post, Message From a Political Prisoner, he describes the receipt of the letter as “a profound experience recently, something I never dreamed would happen to me as a U.S. citizen.” He explains:

My letter was from Wes Teel, a former state judge in Mississippi who is in federal prison in Atlanta after being convicted in the Paul Minor case. Wes and I have never met; we’ve never even talked on the phone. But we got acquainted via e-mail when I began to write about the Minor case last September.

Wes and his codefendants, fellow state judge John Whitfield and well-know plaintiff’s attorney Paul Minor, had been convicted, and Wes was looking at reporting to federal prison in December 2007.

In our e-mail exchanges, I found Wes to be a man of keen intellect, common sense, and good humor–even in the face of going to prison for a crime he did not commit. I came to consider Wes a friend, and I shared his pain when he had a heart attack not long after reporting to federal prison. I shared his concerns about his wife, Myrna, who has multiple sclerosis and needed care while her husband was eight hours away in federal prison. I know he worried about his grandchildren and what they would grow up to think of a country that could imprison their grandfather simply for doing his job as a state judge.

On the surface, Wes and I might seem like unlikely friends. My blog started only because of the wrongdoing I had witnessed from lawyers and judges in Alabama state courts. Corrupt lawyers and judges have brought my wife and me to the edge of ruin–and here was Wes, a lawyer and former judge who was charged with being corrupt himself.

But here is one of many lessons I’ve learned from my Legal Schnauzer journey: Just because you’ve had a bad experience with someone in a certain profession, don’t assume that everyone in that profession is a bad actor.

After studying the Minor case at length, I realized that Wes Teel and John Whitfield were honest judges. They ruled for Paul Minor’s clients because that’s what the facts and the law required them to do. And I realized that, based on the evidence I had seen, Paul Minor was an honest lawyer. Certainly in the cases the government had used to build its prosecution, Minor acted properly, and his client prevailed because they should have prevailed.

The Minor case taught me that not even all Republican judges are corrupt. Another codefendant was Oliver Diaz, a justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court who was tried and acquitted twice. And Diaz is a Republican.

I realized that the bad guys in the Minor case were not lawyers, judges, or even Republicans. No, it is that certain breed of Republican that has been infected by a virus that seems to have started with George W. Bush and Karl Rove and wound up sickening our entire justice system.

Wes Teel is a victim of that justice system. His letter made me sad, angry, and ultimately, determined:

Please go to the full post to read more excerpts of Mr. Teel’s letter, but contemplate this excerpt which, as noted by the Legal Schnauzer, answers the question:

What does it mean to be a political prisoner in the United States?

Due to the conviction, unless it is overturned, I am essentially no longer a citizen. I can’t vote, possess a firearm, hold a bond, run for public office, or ever practice law again. Despite all of this, I have a vested stake in the success of our Republic. I want my grandchildren to grow up and be proud of our constitution and our government. I pray that change will one day come, and my precious grandchildren can come to enjoy the freedoms instituted by our Founding Fathers and paid for by the blood and sacrifice of many patriots.

Had enough yet to file a grievance?

If not, there’s more. Juxtapose the politicized prosecutions of Wes Teel, John Whitfeld, Paul Minor, Oscar Diaz, Don Siegelman, Georgia Thompson and Dr. Cyril Wecht with the politicized refusal by Michael Mukasey to prosecute Michael Elston, Kyle D. Sampson and Monica Marie Goodling. Scott Horton of Harper’s Magazine has named this selective failure to prosecute The Mukasey Doctrine and describes it like this:

Today [Attorney General Michael Mukasey] addressed the annual convention of the American Bar Association, and expanded upon what may be known to future generations as the “Mukasey Doctrine.” This doctrine holds that political appointees in the Justice Department who breach the public trust by using their positions for partisan political purposes face no punishment for their crimes. In the Mukasey view, this is all simple political gamesmanship—“boys will be boys”—and sufficient accountability is provided by exposing their games to the public limelight.

After reviewing in the briefest terms the recent internal Justice Department probe into the politicization of the hiring process in the honors program, with respect to immigration judges and in other areas, here’s what Mukasey has to say:

The conduct described in those reports is disturbing. The mission of the Justice Department is the evenhanded application of the Constitution and the laws enacted under it. That mission has to start with the evenhanded application of the laws within our own Department. Some people at the Department deviated from that strict standard, and the institution failed to stop them.

I want to stress that last point because there is no denying it: the system failed. The active wrong-doing detailed in the two joint reports was not systemic in that only a few people were directly implicated in it. But the failure was systemic in that the system–the institution–failed to check the behavior of those who did wrong. There was a failure of supervision by senior officials in the Department. And there was a failure on the part of some employees to cry foul when they were aware, or should have been aware, of problems.

Note how Mukasey plays the entire affair down and uses the traditional language of the criminal defendant–for him it was a “system failure.” His language is passive: things evidently just happened. But in fact a closer read of the Inspector General’s report shows that the figures involved and the schemes adopted had a clear provenance in the White House, and specifically in the warren of Karl Rove. The actors under investigation, Kyle Sampson and Monica Goodling, had come with Alberto Gonzales from the White House. They benefited from an extraordinary delegation of authority from Gonzales that allowed them, two thirty-somethings with little experience, to exercise the authority of the attorney general in the hiring and firing process. This didn’t “just happen.” It was the result of a careful plan for partisan entrenchment at Justice—consciously pursued in defiance of the law. A serious investigation would have focused on the senior figures responsible for this program. So what is the penalty for such a systematic violation of the law? Well, according to Mukasey, there isn’t one. Those involved have already suffered enough. Yes, they suffer because their misdeeds are now known.

Their misconduct has now been laid bare by the Justice Department for all to see.

* * *

Mukasey insists that the process of partisan entrenchment has been checked following his arrival.

* * *

The message that Mukasey is sending seems to be this: he will refuse to appoint a special prosecutor to look into the matter, whatever the inspector general suggests. In the Mukasey view, it will be enough punishment for the truth to come out.

Had enough yet? Ready to file a grievance?

From Dana Jill Simpson by Glynn Wilson of The Locust Fork Journal spoke to Dana Jill Simpson, who explains why we need to continue this fight:

After hearing about the speech and reading the stories about it, North Alabama attorney Jill Simpson said in a statement that Mukasey is a “disgrace to our country” and those who really pursue justice.

She called on President George W. Bush to restore the rule of law and fire Mukasey.

“He is showing a complete lack of respect for the rule of law by not charging individuals who were part of the United States Justice Department that broke the law,” she said. “He is creating a class of individuals that are above the law in this country and that is wrong. They should be tried for the crimes they committed, but Mr. Mukasey told the ABA they are going to get off Scott free.”

“These Doj employees broke the law it doesn’t matter where they work, ignorance to the law is no excuse, plus the evidence suggests these folks knew what they were doing and broke the law anyway. They should be tried and, if convicted, punished for their crimes,” she said.

Or at least disbarred. It’s time to file grievances against these attorneys.

Updated August 13, 2008 to fix title.

Updated August 15, 2008: More on Wes Teel here.

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Legal Schnauzer as interpreted by attorney legal*

Although I appreciated very much this post at Legal Schnauzer and the new visitors it generated here at the Grievance Project, I didn’t intend to post about it until I saw this post at attorney legal*.

Compare the schnauzery Legal Schnauzer:

E.M.’s efforts hit close to home for us here at Legal Schnauzer. As someone who has been repeatedly cheated by multiple attorneys–both my own and the dirtbag on the other side–and seen unlawful rulings issued by some 20 judges, I have enough material to keep Grievance Project going for months.

It would be nice to see other lawyers join E.M. in an effort to shine light on a profession that badly needs to be sanitized.

Unfortunately, most lawyers I’m aware of are making a pretty good living with the system the way it is. They don’t want to upset an ugly applecart that is compensating them far better than some other profession (journalism?) would.

with the strangely poetic attorney legal*:

E.M.’s efforts hit close to cave for us here at Legal Schnauzer. As someone who has obsolete repeatedly cheated by multiple attorneys–both my own and the dirtbag on the unprocessed side–and seen unlawful rulings issued by some 20 judges, I have satisfactory perceptible to keep Grievance Project going for months.

It would be nice to see current lawyers join E.M. in an effort to shine light on a profession that badly requirements to be sanitized.

Unfortunately, uttermost lawyers I’m aware of are making a picture reputable living with the classification the way it is. They don’t requirement to upset an ugly applecart that is compensating them far better than some current profession (journalism?) would.

There are a lot more interpretations of the Legal Schnauzer by attorney legal*.

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It’s not paranoia if they ARE out to get you, No. 4

h/t: Nonnie at Hysterical Raisins, via e-mail, and Roger Shuler at Legal Schnauzer

In her July 11, 2008 Raw Story article Alabama US Attorney denies any involvement in university editor’s termination, Lindsay Beyerstein shines light on the political firing of blogger Roger Shuler by the University of Alabama Birmingham for blogging:

The abrupt dismissal of a veteran University of Alabama employee who blogged about the firing of seven US Attorneys has added a bizarre new twist to allegations that the state’s US Attorneys targeted political opponents for prosecution.

Roger Shuler — a high-profile blogger and leading critic of Alabama’s judicial system — has written extensively about alleged corruption among U.S. Attorneys for over a year. In particular, Shuler focused on two US Attorneys from his home state: Alice H. Martin of the Northern District and Leura G. Canary of the Middle District.

An editor in the University of Alabama Birmingham publications office for the last 12 years and a university employee for 19, Shuler was placed on administrative leave May 7 and formally fired May 19.

“I had worked there for 19 years and never received anything but positive performance reviews,” Schuler [sic] wrote RAW STORY in May. “I never received an oral warning about anything. Then I was fired without warning, contrary to university policy and almost certainly in violation of federal law.”

Though he admits he can’t prove it, Shuler believes that he was fired for criticizing Alice Martin and other high-ranking political players in Alabama, including Canary, and Alabama’s Republican governor, Bob Riley.

He’s not alone. Scott Horton, a journalist for Harper’s Magazine and a professor at Columbia University who has written extensively about the US Attorney scandal, also believes Shuler’s firing was politically fueled.

“Shuler’s problem arose not because he blogged nor because he did so from his workplace, because it’s clear he didn’t,” says Horton, who has been following both the Siegelman and Shuler’s cases closely. “His problem came from the fact that he wrote critical, well received insights targeting a number of very powerful figures in Alabama, starting with U.S. Attorney Alice Martin and prominent Republicans with which she is aligned, and including a number of major figures in the Alabama media.”

These allegations are just the introduction to the article. Beyerstein follows with the details that back up these allegations in the remainder of Alabama US Attorney denies any involvement in university editor’s termination .

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It’s not paranoia if they ARE out to get you, No. 3

h/t: Capt at Alternate Reality , mdking at Writechic Press and Roger Shuler at Legal Schnauzer

In their May 1, 2008 Raw Story article Break-ins plague targets of US Attorneys, Larisa Alexandrovna, Muriel Kane and Lindsay Beyerstein report on the troubles that seem to befall people that don’t toe the Republican party line. In addition to the house fire and automobile accident suffered by Dana Jill Simpson and the burglary of the office of Don Siegelman’s lawyer, Susan James, as Scott Horton previously noted, Alexandrovna, Kane and Beyerstein and the stories of five other people associated with the Siegelman matter and two other federal cases.

In Alabama, for instance, the home of former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman was burglarized twice during the period of his first indictment. Nothing of value was taken, however, and according to the Siegelman family, the only items of interest to the burglars were the files in Siegelman’s home office.

Siegelman’s attorney [Susan James ] experienced the same type of break-in at her office.

In neighboring Mississippi, a case brought against a trial lawyer and three judges raises even more disturbing questions. Of the four individuals in the same case, three of the US Attorney’s targets were the victims of crimes during their indictment or trial. This case, like that of Governor Siegelman, has been widely criticized as a politically motivated prosecution by a Bush US Attorney.

The main target of the indictment, attorney Paul Minor, had his office broken into, while Mississippi Supreme Court Justice, Oliver E. Diaz Jr., had his home burglarized. According to police reports and statements from Diaz and from individuals close to Minor, nothing of value was taken and the burglars only rummaged through documents and in Minor’s case, also took a single computer from an office full of expensive office equipment.

The incidents are not limited to burglaries. In Mississippi, former Judge John Whitfield was the victim of arson at his office. In Alabama, the whistleblower in the Don Siegelman case, Dana Jill Simpson, had her home burned down, and shortly thereafter her car was allegedly forced off the road.

While there is no direct evidence linking these crimes to the US Attorneys’ office targeting these individuals, or to the Bush administration, there is a distinct pattern that makes it highly unlikely that these incidents are isolated and unrelated.

All of these crimes remain unsolved.

These allegations are just the introduction to the article. Alexandrovna, Kane and Beyerstein follow with the details that back up these allegations in the remainder of Break-ins plague targets of US Attorneys .

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