By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—After being arrested, detained, found guilty and hit with massive, punitive damages, Legal Schnauzer Blogger wants his day in court…and yes, he will be there with an attorney.
Since July 2013, Roger Shuler has suffered one legal defeat after another, over reports he published on Legal Schnauzer concerning, Liberty Duke, Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Attorney General Luther Strange and Rob Riley, son of former Gov. Bob Riley.
During all of his legal troubles, Shuler refused legal council, and according to a report in the New York Times, maintained “self-defeating posturing.”
In an up-coming May hearing, he will be represented by Davy Mack Hay, who said he will seek the justice that Shuler has been denied under the First Amendment.
Hay, who has known Shuler for a number of years, recently filed Motion To Alter, Amend, or Vacate, the recent $3.5 million default judgment received by Garrison, for what her attorney called “cyber-bullying of the worst order.”
Garrison, former Chief Deputy and campaign manager for Strange, was accused by Legal Schnauzer of having an affair with her former boss.
Both Garrison and Strange deny the allegation, and in early April, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Donald Blankenship slapped Shuler with the massive default judgment.
While it appears that Hay will be fighting the default judgment on grounds that his client was not properly informed of the hearing, it is about a much bigger issue, he says.
At issue is “…core constitutional tenets of journalistic protections associated with a ‘free press,’ which allows the unmitigated flow of news and information, void of Orwellian governmental intrusion,” writes Hays, in his motion.
Shuler’s legal woes began after a series of reports, in which he accused Riley of having an affair with then lobbyist, Duke. The tone of Shuler’s reporting was consider by some to be salacious, and the “posted by anonymous comments” on his blog went even further. The same held true with posts about Garrison and Strange.
Hay is counting on a recent ruling by US Court of Civil Appeals opinion in Obsidian v. Cox, in which the court held that, “when dealing with an issue of public interest, bloggers are extended the same Constitutional protections as institutional journalists.”
Hay argues that Shuler should be granted the same latitude as any institutional journalist, and since Garrison and Strange are both public figures, New York Times v. Sullivan represents the cornerstone of his defense.
As far as Shuler’s standing as a journalist: it is likely to be considered what the Supreme Court calls the “lone pamphleteer.”
Shuler’s hearing is set in Jefferson County Court on May, 20.