"If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is not a barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain."

Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.

A Library in Your Pocket

February 21, 2010

Before Dr. Bishop Gets Free Court-Appointed Counsel, How About Making Dr. Bishop First Turn Over Her Novels And Other Assets?

 There is no dispute accused multiple murderer Dr. Amy Bishop  has the right to counsel as she faces capital murder charges for the shooting deaths of three colleagues and the attempted murders of at least four more at the University of Alabama-Huntsville on February 12th.  Who should foot the bill for her legal representation is another question entirely.

In the landmark case of Gideon v. Wainwright,  the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that the government provide defense counsel to criminal defendants if they are unable to pay for their own attorney.  For truly indigent defendants this Constitutional protection is essential to insure them a fair trial and an opportunity to mount a defense.

The first step to obtaining a public defender or court appointed counsel is to  file an affidavit of indigency. That is simply a sworn statement by the defendant claiming she has no financial resources to hire private counsel. In the vast majority of criminal cases, the affidavits of indigency filed by criminal defendants are not challenged and are well founded.

Dr. Bishop has filed such an affidavit of indigency and in response, the Court has appointed legal counsel to represent her at no cost to her.  Certainly, until the true financial condition of a criminal defendant can be ascertained, the Court should err on the side of accepting affidavits of indigency on face value. This is especially so given that criminal cases can have several critical events in the early stages that require counsel to be on board, e.g., arraingment, pretrial discovery, suppression hearings, etc.

However, the State of Alabama is not forever obligated to accept blindly Dr. Bishop's sworn claim that she is without resources to finance her own defense.  When, as here,  there is substantial  evidence of potentially valuable assests belonging to Dr. Bishop, the State should at a minimum first require Dr. Bishop to liquidate those assets.

If there is no present market, the State should require that all rights and interest Dr. Bishop has to those assets be assigned to the State to the extent needed to cover her defense costs. If Dr. Bishop refuses, she effectively admits the value of the assets and should be denied free counsel.

The asssets I am referring to are (1) her unpublished novels; (2) her ownership interest in any patent and/or patent pending inventions; and (3) any equity interest she has in Prodigy Biosystems, Inc.,  the start up company created, with substantial support from UAH, to commercialize and bring to market the portable cell incubator for which she and her husband James Anderson take inventive credit on their pending patent application.  It may well be that the most valuable of all these assets and the ones most easily liquidated are the unpublished novels.
Since his wife's arrest, James Anderson has disclosed (and I suspect strategically so) that in recent years Dr. Amy Bishop has written three novels, all presently unpublished. Whatever minimal intrinsic value Amy Bishop's novels might have had absent her present notoriety, there can be no genuine dispute that the three novels have now gained substantial publication value because of Dr. Bishop's deadly actions and her resulting notoriety.

The State of Alabama should move immediately on these assets, halt any publication or sale of Amy Bishop's unpublished novels and secure the value of all this property to offset the cost to the public for Dr. Bishop's defense.

If Alabama chooses not to act, then lawyers for the victims families should act. Whether it is in the criminal court or a civil court,   someone needs to act quickly to obtain an injunction to preserve Dr. Bishop's intellectual property and equity assests.

Under no circumstances, should Dr. Amy Bishop or her husband and business partner James Anderson be allowed to profit one penny from Dr. Bishop's notoriety by using her deadly acts of violence as a launch pad for a new and more profitable career as a novelist.

If Alabama wants to accept Dr. Bishop's possibly specious claim of poverty, then her assets should be preserved for the benefit of her victims and their families:  Dr. Gopi Podila, Dr. Maria Davis,  Dr. Adriel Johnson,  Dr. Joseph Leahy,  Dr. Luis Cruz-Vera,  Ms. Stephanie Monticciolo and Dr. Debra Moriarity.


  1. Their claim of poverty may not be specious.

    The family debt to equity ratio probably puts them as bankrupt.

    The family company has little hope of ever having a positive cash flow - the "invention" is worthless from a commercial perspective. Even if this assessment is wrong, they are years away from ever profiting from it.

    Dr. Bishop's salary was the source of income keeping the family afloat. She would have realized the family were quickly headed towards insolvency with her loss of her position at UAH.

    I agree; the only asset is probably the unpublished novels which had little value before this tragedy.

    Don't forget the Bishop's children, they also are victims.

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    Sadly, there are children throughout America on welfare because one or more parent is incarcerated. The Anderson children still have a father who is capable of supporting them and welfare is available if the family qualifies.

    As for the InQ aka CellDrive being worthless, I think that has not been demonstrated. In fact before Prodigy took on the business of bringing the invention to market BizTech, the investment company in Huntsville involved in the start up process, conducted market research and was satisfied that it was a viable business venture. Whether and when any profits might be seen is another matter entirely.

    Also, Prodigy's Press Release regarding the killings notes that James Anderson works at Prodigy in an engineering capacity. I have no idea if that title carries a salary.

  3. I read today that Jim Anderson has in effect been a passive male in the household, with Amy being the breadwinner.

    Supposedly Anderson works as a lab tech.

    See the Huntsville Times article from today about why Amy snapped.

  4. Thanks for your comment.

    James Anderson's own father described him as having given up his educational goals so Dr. Bishop could pursue hers and he said his son was basically a 'Mr. Mom.' You get the definite feeling that Anderson Sr. was not a fan of his daughter-in-law even before February 12.

  5. The unpublished novels are not an asset as they have not (yet) been picked up by a publishing house. Until a book contract is signed, they are just pieces of paper and files on a hard drive. Nor can the court force her or her husband to self-publish them in order to generate funds for her defense. Those manuscripts are simply not on the table as far as legal funds go.

    As some one who works in fiction publishing, I really can't imagine a reputable publisher that would touch them with a 40 foot pole at this point. Unless they are going to be self-published, I don't foresee their release until long after she has been locked up.

  6. Thank you for your postings; I find them well researched and written.

    I assume you've read this article in the Huntsville R&D Report:


    It's not clear what role James Anderson plays in the company. Also, Prodigy Biosystem's understanding of their customers' value proposition appears confused. They can't assume that just because Dr. Bishop thinks it is a great device, other researchers will find it of value.

    Ship 500 the first year? Sorry, but their funding and staffing isn't adequate; it won't happen.

    For a comparison, here's an example of a company that sells incubators:


    I wonder what they think of the InQ? Perhaps someone should ask.

    We will see how it plays out but I doubt the Anderson family will be making much money from their CellDrive endeavor.

  7. Thanks for your comments.

    Anon. said: "The unpublished novels are not an asset as they have not (yet) been picked up by a publishing house. Until a book contract is signed, they are just pieces of paper and files on a hard drive. Nor can the court force her or her husband to self-publish them in order to generate funds for her defense. Those manuscripts are simply not on the table as far as legal funds go."

    I respectfully disagree on all points. Unpublished novels are assets. The value of an asset is another matter and when it comes to Dr. Bishop's unpublished novels will likely be determined by the market.

    I did not suggest using a vanity press for the unpublished novels. To the contrary, my point is that there does exist a bona fide market at this point for Dr. Bishop's unpublished novels.

    Unless Dr. Bishop intends to liquidate these assets to finance her defense, the assets should be preserved by the court through an injunction and ultimately the proceeds should go to Alabama to defray the costs of court appointed counsel or provide some monetary relief to the victims of Dr. Bishop's violence.

  8. You've written about how Ms Bishop's research was questionable, the "invention" falls in the same category.

    Go to their Prodigy Biosystem's website and get this document:

    Make sure you download a copy as I doubt it will be kept available.

    The document is internally shown as authored by a Mr. Keith Weil

    It is quite impressive feature list but it is not likely Prodigy Biosystems will be able to accomplish the goals listed. The project document is the sort of list one creates to attract angel investors who don't know better. Why do I say this? Here's why:

    Take the just one of the many features listed in the doucment:
    A built in 2 megapixel 20X to 400X microscope with internal storage and 24/7 monitoriing. What technologies are involved in designing this embedded digital microscope? Here's a few: optics, electronics, illumintation, software, and image processing, Who must be hired and what effort is required to create such a device? These specialists must design, prototype, test, and release for quantity production such a device within what budget? Keep in mind that the only funding Prodigy Biosystems currently has is $1.2 million. Now take the rest of the features listed in the document and create a Work Breakdown Structure for the InQ as a whole.


    My money is that object pictured in the Huntsville R&D magazine is made from foamcore.


    There will never be any fully functioning hardware, just partially functioning bits and pieces.

    The company will collapse in the next few months as they will run out of money. It will be made to look like it isn't Prodigy Biosystem's fault but their demise was destined from the company's inception. Perhaps a fraud investigation is in order.

  9. Thanks for your comments.

    The material you dug up is interesting tho I am unclear why Prodigy has a different domain for its bio. That seems out of the ordinary to me.

    I have no basis to agree or disagree with your prediction of imminent failure for the start up company Prodigy, which was created to commercialize and bring to market the Bishop/Anderson jazzed up cell incubator.

    Most start up companies fail. That's why the investors are venture capitalists and not pension funds. Its highly speculative.

    The Bishop/Anderson presentation of the portable incubator as depicted in the photo of them in the above article looks pretty primitive when compared with some other portable incubators in the same pipeline.

    See, e.g.: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-10/jhu-tme100207.php

    When you compare this link showing the hi tech, super portable cell incubator two researchers at the University of Michigan have developed with the photo above of Dr. Bishop and her husband James Anderson displaying their invention, I for one am immeasurably more impressed with the U of M portable incubator with its inlaid microchip than I am with the use of stainless steel wing nuts by Bishop-Anderson team in their prototype.

    As far as Prodigy's plan to incorporate a microscope, I doubt the company intends to design and manufacture its own microscopes> There are plenty in the marketplace and in labs.

    My guess is the company is just going to offer a configeration with some existing scope.

  10. Reports say that they paid cash for their house...even if they have since taken a note, shouldn’t the remaining equity be considered an asset? How much is a person able to keep while having the citizens pay for their legal expenses?

  11. Thanks for your comments.

    Alabama's Affidavit of Hardship Court Form required Dr. Bishop to list all her income, spousal support, assets and debts. This includes real estate.