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Andrew Kreig: Alabama Journalist Roger Shuler Beaten and Arrested!

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Shuler after arrest by Shelby County, Alabama

My guest today is Justice Integrity Project's Andrew Kreig. Welcome back to OpEdNews, Andrew.  

JB: I just saw a headline that  Alabama-based investigative journalist Legal Schnauzer, Roger Shuler was arrested.  What can you tell us about this upsetting turn of events?

AK: Joan, thanks so much for having me back. This is a breaking news story that is both dramatic and important to every reader concerned about justice and the First Amendment. 

Roger Shuler, the prominent progressive blogger whose columns frequently appear in OEN,  was arrested and beaten by Shelby County sheriff's deputies at his Alabama garage upon returning home about 6 p.m. Oct. 23 from the local library. Roger faces a resisting arrest charge stemming from his refusal to obey a judge's order to stop writing about an affair he alleges involved Robert Riley Jr., a well-connected attorney who is part of Alabama's most prominent political family. 

Later, authorities were holding Shuler indefinitely on two contempt of court charges issued by a judge in what seems like a "kangaroo court." There's no bond available. Also, Roger must post a $1,000 bond on his charge of resisting arrest for a struggle that occurred in his garage, which is attached to his home in Birmingham.

But there are much larger free press issues at stake than simply his freedom, or that of his wife, Carol. 

JB: Good intro, Andrew. Thank you.  Roger is a colleague of mine. I've worked with him over the last few years and interviewed him a few times. It's scary and unnerving when something like this happens to someone I know and respect. Having said that,  please don't leave us hanging. What "larger free press issues" do you have in mind?

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AK: Roger's arrest stems from his reporting and commentary about political, government, legal, sexual, and financial intrigues normally kept out of the media that the public sees. But much of it is of keen interest to the politicians, lobbyists, reporters, and lawyers who are wheeler-dealers playing the system. He has made the courageous and public-spirited decision that the public deserves to know in keeping with our constitutional and other mantras about the right of free expression, and the need for it in a democracy. 

More specifically, the court has taken draconian measures after hearing only one side in a defamation case against public figures, who normally have a hard time under long-established law proving libel except in cases of extreme recklessness. Among the mind-boggling harsh measures the judge promptly imposed were orders to delete previously published material, forbid new writing, and to seal the court record from public view. 

Shuler's failure to agree immediately to clearly unwarranted and illegal demands by the judge has brought reprisals against him and his wife. The situation presents a challenge to us, particularly leaders in journalism and law,  about whether we like the First Amendment rhetoric or reality.

JB: More background, please, Andrew. After receiving a degree in journalism from the well-respected program at University of Missouri, Roger worked at a daily newspaper for 11 years and then for almost 20 at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. But that all ended several years ago. What can you tell us about how and why he lost his job?

AK: Roger observed this development unfold in Alabama in 2007:

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Following the 2006 conviction of Democratic former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman on corruption charges, Alabama attorney Dana Jill Simpson revealed her work as a Republican opposition researcher. More specifically, she testified her work for White House advisor Karl Rove and other GOP leaders made her aware of a plot beginning in 2002 by then-Gov. Bob Riley and his son Rob, among others, to frame Siegelman on corruption charges.

Simpson painted in her testimony to congressional staff a riveting tale of high-level GOP corruption in Alabama. She said, for example, the plot was announced in 2002 by the husband of Montgomery-area U.S. Attorney Leura Canary. Also, Simpson swore that Bob Riley's son, Rob Riley, told her in early 2005 before Siegelman was even indicted for his second trial that the case would be steered to a judge, Mark Fuller, who "hated" Siegelman and who would "hang" the defendant.

Also, Simpson produced documents showing that Fuller secretly controlled as 44 percent owner a closely held company that received $300 million in Air Force contracts from 2006 to the end of the Bush administration in 2009. 

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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You have to consider the source. Alabama is Southe... by Archie on Sunday, Oct 27, 2013 at 1:03:13 PM
While you are right that Alabama is not the bastio... by Joan Brunwasser on Sunday, Oct 27, 2013 at 3:37:07 PM
I believe that this article is quite important and... by Neal Chalabi Chambers on Sunday, Oct 27, 2013 at 11:40:40 PM
I agree with you, Neal. Without intrepid investiga... by Joan Brunwasser on Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 3:09:22 AM
Ref:"Roger faces a resisting arrest charge stemmin... by Norman Hooben on Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 8:51:59 AM
My comment here is not directed at Shuler or his s... by Bill Johnson on Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 9:54:28 AM
Censorship is prohibited by the 1st Amendment, and... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 10:20:49 AM
OK, I read it, but I still have the opinion that S... by Bill Johnson on Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 10:56:46 AM
OMG! I just went off OEN to do some "research" of ... by Bill Johnson on Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 10:35:10 AM
First, you are reading the complaint by the folks ... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 11:24:23 AM
So you are saying that you are not able to judge f... by Bill Johnson on Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 12:01:37 PM
It really is simple if you think about it.  E... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013 at 11:35:36 AM
Anyway, the crooks in power in Alabama have gotten... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013 at 11:38:33 AM
Bill.  If you care to look you will discover ... by Steve Lane on Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 7:01:34 PM
I wholeheartedly agree with everything you've said... by Joan Brunwasser on Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 9:15:57 PM
Roger needs help. If you care about free journalis... by Steve Lane on Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 6:40:44 PM
Wishing Roger Shuler speedy recovery!I have been i... by Joseph Zernik on Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013 at 2:38:00 AM
Wishing Roger speedy recovery!  I have been i... by Joseph Zernik on Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013 at 3:03:50 AM
Too bad. I have been in touch with " Legal Schnau... by Joseph Zernik on Saturday, Jun 7, 2014 at 6:46:15 AM