This morning Alabama Political Reporter tells us that the state of Alabama is picking up what is sure to be an enormous legal bill to defend Governor Robert Bentley and former bodyguard turned Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Stan Stabler against a civil lawsuit filed by former ALEA Secretary Spencer Collier.
The lawyer who the governor and Stabler have retained to defend them is John Neiman of the prestigious Birmingham law firm Maynard Cooper & Gale. I don’t know Neiman personally but I have several friends at Maynard and I have litigated against them several times over the years. Maynard is a high-priced law firm that hires lawyers from the top tier of law school graduates. According to the firm’s website, Neiman is a Harvard Law School graduate who clerked for United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Supreme Court clerkships are awarded to only the very brightest graduates even from Harvard.
A lawyer of that pedigree in Alabama commands an hourly rate of at least $500. That’s five hundred dollars per each and every hour Neiman spends defending the boob-fondler and his hatchet man. Neiman will have a few younger lawyers working on the case too at merely $250 or so per hour. A lawsuit like this will generate a legal bill of at least $750,000, and probably closer to $1 million.
And we taxpayers will be picking up that tab because Governor Bentley is making the state foot the bill, even though the state of Alabama has no liability in this lawsuit.
Let me explain. Collier has not sued the state of Alabama. He also has not sued Bentley or Stabler in what lawyers call their “official capacity,” which is just a fancy lawyer way of saying you are really suing the state itself. Collier has only sued Bentley and Stabler in their “individual capacity” because he alleges that their actions were not in furtherance of their responsibilities as state officials but instead were in furtherance of personal goals of the governor, such as obstructing justice in the Mike Hubbard felony ethics case and playing hide-the-ball about Bentley’s ridiculous affair with former advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
So this case is not about official state business and the state should not be paying the legal fees. There is no threat that the state of Alabama will be hit with a civil judgment in the Spencer Collier lawsuit because Collier is not trying to collect money from the state, but instead from the personal checking accounts of Bentley, Stabler, Mason, and private entities associated with the governor and Mason.
This is yet another example of Governor “I won’t accept a salary” Bentley’s belief that the state of Alabama’s money is really his personal money. This is a man who caused law enforcement to send a police helicopter to fetch his wallet from across the state after he had a spat with his then wife. This is a guy who spent $11,000 that was not his to fly his girlfriend to Las Vegas and attend a Celine Dion concert. And now this wretched governor, who stands for everything that is wrong with Alabama government, is going to stick it to the taxpayers to the tune of a million bucks in high-priced lawyer fees.
It is wrong and the taxpayers should be outraged.