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Letters to the Editor: SLAPP Palazzo et al v. Senator Stephen Alves May 4, 2008

Posted by truthspew in politics.
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Now this is interesting, I’ve been following this case for some time. In essence a high ranking state senator, Stephen Alves filed a baseless lawsuit against critic Bill Palazzo, Alve lost the suit and then Palazzo filed the SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) suit against Alves.

The Supreme Judiciary denied the SLAPP suit against Alves is appalling. I’m too mad right now to post a reasoned analysis of this, hell I don’t have to. This reeks of quid pro quo, or you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.

What concerns me even more is the knowledge that our judiciary is no longer independent of political interference.

The courts want a Blackstone county courthouse that they really don’t need. It’s a 15 minute drive to Providence County from the communities in the Blackstone region.

Put it this way I’ve visited all the state courthouses. There are two in Providence, one that does Sixth District and Family, the other Superior and Supreme courts.

The ones in Newport and Providence suffer serious issues, but the ones in Kent and Washington Counties both have have adequate parking. I have two ideas that would be much less expensive.

One, run a shuttle service from the major parking garages in Providence and negotiate deals for reduced parking rates.

The other is to build a massive parking garage that serves the Providence County courthouses which are within a quarter mile of each other. And there are massive parking lots next to the Sixth District court building, just pop 8 to 12 deck garages in place and parking problem solved.

Chief Justice Williams traded his soul for a new courthouse. How lovely. Here I was thinking he was such a reasonable jurist. That idea just went out the window.

For more information Operation Dollar Bill is an ongoing Federal investigation into political corruption in Rhode Island. It’s already pinched three state senators. And If what I’ve read of the chief prosecutor of this case is any indication, he’s one who dots i’s and crosses each t, and is a methodical investigator.

Dollar Bill also has a long reach, it’s gotten two corporations too and the prosecutor has alluded to 7 sitting legislators and seven corporations but I suspect as they untangle the fiscal web of deceit this could grow to startling proportions.

Put it this way, as a common citizen I regularly look at the lobbytracker application that the Sec State’s office provides. There are two things I’m interested in, who lobbies and what they lobby for or against. You can pretty much follow the money trail from there.

Separation of powers was a contentious issue in Rhode Island. In essence the legislature had far too much power. Kicking an screaming they made motions that made it look like they were letting go of the reigns. But here we are years later, and they still haven’t disentangled themselves from boards and commissions.

The executive branch is fully corrupted. And with the investigations into Dept. of Transportation, the sub-standard construction of the I-195 relocation, etc. one doesn’t need to look too far in that respect. Then of course there’s Governor Carcieri attacking state employee while padding his administration with six figure jobs. Yeah Gov, we know what side your bread is buttered on.

The judiciary stood as our only guard against the evils of government run amok. And now too they have succumbed to corruption.

But what if the federal case doesn’t accomplish what needs to be accomplished, the elimination of corporate corruption from government. What avenue is left to us for redress of our grievances? I hate to say it but why do you think these militia groups exist in middle America? They’re feeling left out, ignored. Beware pissing off the most well armed citizenry in the world.

For your edification I present the letter:

I must take strong issue with the April 14 excerpt of Chief Justice Frank Williams’s State of the Judiciary message on the commentary pages (“Put off the courthouse”).

On Feb. 6, my brother and I had our SLAPP-Back case against Sen. Steven Alves heard before an openly hostile Supreme Court. We were seeking to recoup the more than $100,000 it cost us to defend ourselves from Senator Alves’s unfounded attack on our First Amendment right to criticize him in letters to the editor.

Alves was advised not to file suit against us, did so anyway, lost, and knew he was in trouble, since Rhode Island law protects citizens from being punished with lawsuits intended to prevent them from practicing their constitutional rights. We wanted a trial by jury to settle this thing once and for all.

In his March 26 State of the Judiciary speech before the General Assembly, Chief Justice Williams said he “realized the tenuous financial condition of the state” and was proposing that the new courthouse he coveted “be delayed until next year and no additional funds for staffing would be requested.”

On April 3, the Supreme Court released its unanimous decision that exonerated Senate Finance Chairman Steven Alves, whom Senate President Joseph Montalbano has called his good friend, of further financial culpability. We would be denied our day in court.

On April 11, Chief Justice Williams proudly announced that he had cut a deal with Montalbano. The new courthouse, while delayed, would be built in Smithfield for $17 million more than was previously requested, and his budget increased for additional staff.

It seemed painfully obvious to me that Chief Justice Williams traded his integrity and willingly subverted justice to fund his dream of a new courthouse and keep his judicial pensions intact by protecting Senator Alves.

Every attorney I asked to review the ruling said the court was far out of line, that it rewrote civil procedure to make Alves a winner. Unfortunately, that ruling will serve to silence critics of government.

If Chief Justice Williams had any integrity, he would have stepped away from the case and remanded it back to a Superior Court jury. The court expressed the sentiment that Senator Alves had “suffered” enough. What?

That is what we call justice “the Rhode Island way.”

My brother and I would be more than willing to publicly debate Williams on the legal issues involved in our case.

Hopefully the Feds are watching this little debacle, will take note and will draw Williams into Operation Dollar Bill, along with Alves and Montalbano. We can only pray that real justice will be finally served.

Ask yourselves: Why would the Supreme Court support a person whose main objective in his lawsuit was to annihilate free speech? I think the answer is pretty clear.

BILL PALAZZO

Coventry

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