Did Governor Bob Riley abuse his gubernatorial power by influencing proceedings in the ongoing five year civil proceedings in Houston County? Ted Bauman, a real estate developer and businessman, died July 12, 2001. The official cause of death was Alzheimer's, therefore Bauman's true mental capacity and post Alzheimer's changes to his will and a trust have raised suspicions as to their validity. Richard Roper, a renowned forensic handwriting expert found in his professional opinion that Bauman's will and trust appear to be signed by two different parties and do not resemble Bauman's known pre- or post-stroke signatures.
Bauman's daughter, Kathryn B. Rubenstein, has requested an accounting which was denied, raising suspicion as to the true whereabouts of the approximate nine million dollar fortune. Post Alzheimer, Bauman gave Regions Financial Corp. full control as trustee of his fortune. In addition, the whereabouts of Bauman's blind, legally incompetent widow's approximate two million dollars absent from her Regions Trust are also under question.
Frustrated with repeated denials for an accounting of her parents' assets, Rubenstein sought the assistance of Governor Bob Riley. Rubenstein met with Riley aide, Taylor Bryan, and Judy P. Wood, assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff at the Capital June 15, 2006 where she outlined evidence of questionable court proceedings involving Judge Larry K. Anderson and Specially Appointed Judge, Dale Segrest. Rubenstein previously sought and received the recusal of both judges after exposing their apparent ties to Regions. She was assured by Governor Riley's office that "We'll do whatever we can to try and assist."
A third judge, Bernard Smithart, was appointed in 2006 by then Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Drayton Nabers, to preside over the Bauman's legal proceedings. Judge Smithart denied Rubenstein's most recent recusal Motion on the day he presided over a summary judgment trial which included Regions and the Alabama Department of Human Resources as defendants.
On July 7th of this year, Rubenstein filed a Petition for Emergency Writ of Mandamus with the Alabama Supreme Court, wherein she requested Judge Smithart's recusal. The mandamus brief stated, in part, that his wife serves on the Board of the Department of Human Resources. According to the website, Elizabeth Smithart was appointed February 2, 2007 to DHR's state board by Governor Riley. The Supreme Court brief also addresses a June 2008 article published in the Montgomery Advertiser, which showed Governor Riley received $50,000 from Regions Financial.
Rubenstein never realized Governor Riley's assistance would involve the appointment of a State Board Member that appears so closely related to her court cases, which leaves significant doubt as to the ability for impartial court proceedings in Alabama.
Post Script: The Alabama Supreme Court Denied my request to remove Judge Smithart. It was agreed to by all the justices. In that Alabama allows PAC to PAC transfers, it is more than difficult to see what public officials receive financing and from whom. Justice in Alabama only appears to occur if you pay for it.