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Featured Opinion

AG’s office wasted thousands on discredited witnesses

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

Need some extra cash this holiday season?

(Let me break out my best Ron Popeil impersonation for this pitch.)

Boy, do I have a get-rich proposition for you. It requires very little work, just an active imagination. The earning potential is limited only to the number of dopey, unconstitutional laws our lawmakers pass and have to defend.

And in Alabama, let’s be honest, that’s like saying there is no limit.

So, what is this amazing job that will bring you buckets of cash for very little work?

Expert witness.

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That’s right, testifying on behalf of the State of Alabama in a courtroom where there is a challenge to some bonehead law our pandering legislature passed.

All it requires is the ability to say things that support the unconstitutional laws, regardless of truth or reality or the laws of nature. You’ll also need to be missing a conscience, not embarrass easily, be a good loser and enjoy travel to Alabama. (A shady history of having your testimony tossed from court is unfortunate, but not at all a disqualifying event.)

How much could such an easy job pay, you’re probably asking.

Could I interest you in $100,000?

That’s how much Attorney General Luther Strange’s office paid to Dr. Loren Marks, a sociology professor at LSU and one of the nation’s foremost sources on bogus research studies that cast a bad light on same-sex parenting.

Marks was paid to testify for Alabama in defense of its same-sex marriage ban in a case that was seeking to deny the adoption of a child to a gay parent.

Marks, who has testified on behalf of several states in their losing efforts to block same-sex marriage legalization, has authored one study that was a critique of other studies and was apparently so bad the American Psychological Association deemed it a “lowbrow meta-analysis of other studies.”

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This is the same Loren Marks who a district court judge in Michigan said was “largely unbelievable,” before dismissing his testimony entirely.

Didn’t matter to Alabama, though. They still paid him a smooth $100k and cited that discredited work in several court filings.

But wait, there’s more.

As bad as the use of Marks was, it didn’t hold a candle to the AG’s office wasteful spending on “experts” in its defense of the State’s thoroughly unconstitutional abortion clinic laws.

Those laws, in case you have forgotten, placed stringent requirements on clinics offering abortions – requirements that almost certainly would have caused the clinics to close without, several courts have ruled, improving care or safety for patients.

The dynamic foursome of Vincent Rue, Peter Uhlenberg, James Anderson and John Thorp were paid nearly $300,000 – that’s right, not a typo – to offer testimony on behalf of Alabama’s defense.

How’d that go?

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Not swell, considering that the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, in cases in other states, had long ago established a pattern of collusion between the men, most of it orchestrated by Vincent Rue.

Rue is a marriage therapist in Florida who has … let’s call them interesting … theories on abortions causing mental illness – a medical phenomenon that has never been documented.

In Alabama, Rue didn’t even testify, yet still earned more than $80,000 for orchestrating this thoroughly laughable set of witnesses.

And, of course, the collusion aspect was again brought up in Alabama. And like judges in other states, federal judge Myron Thompson destroyed the state for attempting such nonsense, and then flatly dismissed the testimony.

That was not before Assistant AG Andrew Brasher, so completely aggravated with the obtuseness of his own witness, began to bang his head on the lectern in the courtroom during questioning.

The outcome: Thompson blocked the laws in question.

The AG’s office, to its credit, attempted to explain why it used these men, saying in a statement that it is “the duty of the Attorney General’s Office to defend State law when it is challenged in court. This often requires the (hiring of) expert, nationally recognized witnesses, such as doctors, who are paid at the standard rate for their interpretation of medical procedures.”

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But being “recognized” is not the same as being reputable or respected. And it’s certainly not the quality of legal representation that state citizens should expect from its AG’s office.


Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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