Fears Mount Over Jailing, Beating and 'Restraint' Censorship of Alabama Blogger Accused of Libel, Contempt In Sealed Case
The corruption-fighting Alabama blogger Roger Shuler remained jailed without bond the evening of Nov. 2 — 10 full days after he was beaten and arrested in his garage on a contempt of court charge for failure to comply with a judge’s prior restraint order in a defamation case.
Public attention has begun to grow regarding the Alabama proceedings. Court actions so far violate well-settled national law on free speech and the free press, as well as the kind of due process that any litigant deserves in a court.
Those were points I emphasized in a video interview Nov. 1 on HuffPost Live! and on The Alan Colmes Show, distributed by the Fox Radio News.
Alyona Minkovski, host of the daily Freedom Watch Zone broadcast over the Huffington Post, asked why the media have not provided more coverage to such a remarkable attack on the free press. Shuler faces charges of contempt of court and resisting arrest in a case that has been sealed from public view.
After congratulating my interviewer and her team for covering the case, I gave three reasons why the prosecution remains so little reported elsewhere.
First, relatively few people even know about it because Shuler was swept into jail after a politically powerful attorney filed a libel suit. Shuler has been held in jail without bond and without an attorney. His wife, Carol Shuler, also interviewed on the show, is barricaded in her home in fear that she will be arrested on a contempt of court charge in the libel case. Financially strapped and without Internet service until Nov. 2, she and her jailed husband are not in a position to alert the media.
Further, some mainstream journalists or former journalists regard attacks on bloggers, legal or otherwise, as not newsworthy or otherwise important. In October 2010, for example, private security guards for U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller in Alaska “arrested” — in extremely aggressive fashion captured on video — the editor of the Alaska Dispatch website as the editor attempted to interview Miller at the end of a public event in an Anchorage school.
I urged a regional leader of a professional journalism group that I have long supported as a member to a protest. He responded that the victim was probably “just a blogger” unworthy of attention.