An Alabama blogger who wrote a series of articles accusing state Attorney General Luther Strange and his campaign manager of having an affair has been slapped with a $3.5 million defamation judgment.
In July 2013, Roger Shuler posted an article to his blog, Legal Schnauzer, citing a source who claimed that Strange was having an affair with Jessica Medeiros Garrison, currently a senior adviser for the Republican Attorneys General Association.
Garrison had worked on Strange’s failed 2006 campaign for lieutenant governor and his successful 2010 and 2014 campaigns for attorney general.
“We already know about the personal hanky panky involving Jessica Garrison and Luther Strange,” Shuler wrote in one article. “We soon will be taking a closer look at their financial connections.”
But both Garrison and Strange vehemently denied Shuler’s accusations. In August 2013, Garrison’s attorney sent a letter to Shuler demanding that he retract the article. When he did not, Garrison filed suit.
Shuler, who was fired from his job at the University of Alabama, Birmingham in 2008, declined to take part in a deposition, according to a court order issued on Monday. He also declined to show up to a March 9 hearing at which Garrison presented her case.
During testimony at that hearing, Garrison said that Shuler’s allegations were “embarrassing, hurtful, and degrading” and that the comments made it difficult for her to do her job.
Jefferson County circuit court judge Donald Blankenship sided with Garrison, ruling that Shuler must pay her $1.5 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages.
Shuler’s flimsy accusations against Strange and Garrison are not his first against state Republicans.
Shuler accused an Alabama attorney named Rob Riley, the son of former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, of having an affair with a Republican lobbyist named Liberty Duke. Shuler alleged that Riley paid for Duke to have an abortion, though Duke denied ever having been alone with Shuler. Shuler was jailed for five months on a contempt of court charge stemming from a lawsuit Riley filed in that case.
In September 2013, Shuler posted an article on his blog claiming that his own “investigation” had revealed that 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge William Pryor had posed nude for a magazine spread in the 1980s. There appears to be no merit to that claim.
According to The New York Times, in 2007, Shuler was involved in property dispute with a neighbor. Following a lawsuit which apparently did not come out in Shuler’s favor, the neighbor’s attorney ended up owning part of the blogger’s home.