Blogger released in Shelby County

Published 9:31 am Monday, June 9, 2014


An Alabama blogger who had been listed as the only journalist in a United States jail for an offense related to something he had written is now free, but the issues raised surrounding his incarceration remain a concern over issues about constitutional rights, particularly freedom of expression.

Roger Shuler who resides in Shelby County was released from the Shelby County Jail in Columbiana on March 26 five months after being taken into custody for refusing to take down posts on his blog,

The site, which focuses on corruption in state politics, has long been controversial, with some questioning its journalistic merits. According to court papers online, the post at the center of the libel suit relates to politically charged allegations of an affair between lobbyist Liberty Duke and Bob Riley Jr., the son of a former Gov. Bob Riley.

Duke and Riley sued. Both have denied the accusation in strongly-worded statements. The suit led to injunctions demanding Shuler removes the posts. He refused to comply and was jailed for contempt of court.

Shuler was released recently but only after his wife, Carol Shuler, took down the posts on the blog, Roger Shuler maintains that he has done nothing wrong. Moreover, he has told the national media, his case could have a “chilling effect on Web communication in general.”

Shuler wrote this week that the incident report in his arrest indicates the warrant was not signed and that evidence in the case suggests there was no warrant at all. He writes this week that at the bottom of the warrant for his arrest the box indicating whether or not the warrant had been signed the “No” box is checked. If this proves to be the case Mr. Shuler very well might become the owner of a chunk of Shelby County.


Who is John Rice?

You’ve probably been reading a lot about John Rice of Opelika lately. He claims to be the head of the Alabama Foundation for Limited Government, a group which has been helping fund challengers to Republican officeholders in Alabama.

His group has particularly targeted State Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh of Anniston and House Speaker Mike Hubbard of Auburn in radio and television spots throughout the state and which has sparked a formal complaint from Marsh to the State Attorney General’s office.

In 1982, Rice was elected as a Republican to the Alabama House of Representatives and in 1986 to the Alabama Senate. He is the former platform debater for the Tax Accountability Coalition of Alabama, which successfully defeated Bob Riley’s Tax Increase of 2003 called Amendment One.

Rice refuses to reveal where he gets the funding for his foundation. “Since the foundation is not engaged in electioneering it is not required to file reports of contributions and spending. The group has provided nearly three-quarters of a million dollars to Stop Common Core, a political action committee (PAC) which, in turn, has passed those funds on to Republican House and Senate candidates.

More than $200,000 from Rice’s PAC has gone to Sandy Toomer, an Auburn businessman who is challenging Hubbard. Steve Guede, a tea party activist running against Marsh has received over $50,000 from the Rice PAC.

Marsh has filed a formal complaint about the issue which has been turned over the to the State Attorney General’s office. Rice has claimed his Foundation is not engaged in promoting or opposing any candidate. This issue will likely continue throughout this year’s political season. Stay tuned.

Alabama firm will build new Braves park

Birmingham’s Brasfield & Gorrie will be a part of the development team that will build the new baseball park and surrounding complex for the Atlanta Braves Major League baseball team in Atlanta.

American Builders 2017 – a joint venture between Brasfield & Gorrie, Minneapolis-based Mortenson Construction, Detroit-based Barton Malow Co. and Atlanta’s New South Construction – won the Cobb County’s approval to be the construction manager of the new ballpark, scheduled to open in early 2017.

In addition to the state-of-the-art ballpark, the multimillion-dollar project will have 500 apartments or condos, offices, a boutique hotel, restaurants, retail and entertainment venues.

Bob Martin is editor and publisher of The Montgomery Independent. Email him at: