Timeline of Alleged Effort to Ruin Balch & Bingham Rival
October 1, 2010: Small-town attorney Burt Newsome, representing Aliant Bank, obtains a $189,930 judgment against Sharyn K. Lawson for non-payment of a loan.
January 30, 2012: As Newsome is walking to his car, Lawson’s husband, Alfred Seier, confronts him with a handgun, saying, “This is the last time you are going to f*** with my wife again.” Seier is arrested for menacing three days later.
February 2012: Claiborne Seier, the brother of Alfred Seier, repeatedly asks Newsome to drop the menacing charges against his brother, and then threatens Newsome, warning him that he “would regret prosecuting Al.”
May 8, 2012: Alfred Seier is convicted of menacing, given a 30-day suspended sentence, and put on probation.
November 18, 2012: Alfred Seier dies of cancer.
December 19, 2012: As Newsome is walking to his car, an unidentified man allegedly blocks him from entering his car. Newsome produces a handgun that he obtained following the incident with Alfred Seier, and asks the man to move so that he can enter his car. The man complies.
January 14, 2013: The previously unidentified man, John W. Bullock, Jr., files a criminal complaint against Newsome.
May 2, 2013: Newsome is pulled over for speeding and wrongly arrested for menacing, the same charge that Alfred Seier was convicted of.
May 4, 2013: Clark A. Cooper, a partner at Balch & Bingham, allegedly sends emails to at least one of Newsome’s bank clients containing Newsome’s mug shot and information about his arrest, and falsely implying that Newsome’s license to practice law may be at risk. Prior to Newsome’s arrest, Clark had emailed a number of Newsome’s bank clients regarding cases that Newsome was handling, a possible violation of the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct. Cooper wrote in an email to one bank executive, “I see that the below suit was filed by Newsome. Anything I can do so that I could work with you?”
April 4, 2014: The criminal case against Newsome for menacing is dismissed with prejudice.
January 2015: Newsome files a lawsuit against the Balch & Bingham law firm and others for intentional interference with a business relationship, conspiracy, defaming, false imprisonment, and abuse of process.
February 19, 2015: Newsome files a request to have the dismissed criminal case and records expunged.
September 2015: A judge grants Newsome’s request to have the criminal case and records expunged.
February 16, 2016: In a court motion, Balch & Bingham ominously quotes a 1961 Alabama Supreme Court decision declaring that, “Competition in business, even though carried to the extent of ruining a rival, constitutes justifiable interference in another’s relations, and is not actionable, so long as it is carried on in furtherance of one’s own interest.”
June 2016: A new judge with no previous involvement in the case reverses the expungement and resurrects the records. Newsome immediately appeals.
August 2016: Attorney General of Alabama Luther Strange, now a U.S. senator, files a brief in support of the resurrection of the records. Strange has direct ties to Balch & Bingham: His top political adviser and former campaign manager, Jessica Garrison, is “of counsel” at the firm.