Welcome to my blog and the reference point in my fight against an archaic, unjust family court system in Marshall County, Alabama. I plan on posting my thoughts, items of interest, and resources I find helpful in hopes that it can be helpful to someone else. Now take a deep breath. Here I go...

Please visit http://www.alfra.org for the only organization in Alabama that promotes the concept that children need each of their fit parents.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Clarity

Saturday was an amazing day. My oldest daughter has a birthday this week, and we celebrated her 8th birthday on that day. She decided that she wanted a winter wonderland themed birthday. To me that is a funny concept being from the South where it seems it is almost never winter. I suppose maybe due to the absence of snow, my daughter decided everyone should wear white and silver. She also apparently only made dress code requirements known to just a few of us. I wore a white button up shirt and an old black and silver tie that I actually got when her mother and I were together. The birthday girl was beautiful of course wearing her boots covered with silver sequins (she loves those boots), and her mom did a great job with the decorations. Had a full house of people, and I think every person there enjoyed themselves. I know my daughter did.  

It was the first time in her life that both of her parents were at the same birthday party, at the same time. She has always had one party with Mom and another with Dad. This time, Mom and Dad were both there and everything was fine. Such a simple concept, and eye opening that we've never got that one right before. As it dawned on me, I realized that there has never been a good reason for this to be the first time. Her mother's side of the family are good people, and have always been very nice to me despite the tension in my relationship with my daughter's mother. Yesterday, that tension was finally gone. 

Another lesson was learned, and it is probably the best advice I can give any parent going through this ordeal. If it is at all possible, eliminate the conflict between you and your child's other parent. This conflict is being used against you. Plus, it is not good for the kids. They deserve to have Mom AND Dad at their birthday party, not two different ones. You do not have a choice, you have to talk and work together. This is especially true when going through a divorce. I have learned that a lot of the conflict is fabricated. It's not real, it is perceived. Every situation is different to be sure, and no one size fits all approach will ever work. However, one truth remains, it is in your child's best interest for you two to get along someway somehow. 

I found out that these last few years of conflict have been more or less self-imposed, because of a lack of communication, which it honestly sounds to me like that lack of communication was exploited by DHR caseworkers. They helped foment the conflict and fuel the fire, and it raged because the mother and I did not talk at all, except through short text messages which focused mainly on the when and where about picking my daughter up for visitation. I have been learned, however, that the caseworkers have more or less been playing us off of one another. 

No more. I am ending this conflict now, once and for all. There is no good reason for my daughter's mother and I to be at odds like we have been, and it was a mistake on my part to allow it to happen as it has. However, it is a trap many fall into. As a friend pointed out tonight, when you get divorced what is the first thing most attorneys tell you to do? Do not speak to your spouse. There's a reason they tell you that and it is because they make money if you let them talk for you. The more conflict, the higher the attorneys' fees. In my experience, that is the worst thing you could do. 

What happened on Saturday is possibly the best. Both parents, being there - at the same time - for their child as it is suppose to be. A moment of clarity, that moment was life changing, and I thank God for that day and that time with her. I also know surely more is in store, and I am very lucky to have this opportunity. Time to make the most of it, that's the least I owe my daughter.  



  

Monday, December 3, 2012

What in the world is going on in Chilton County?

Simply astonishing. That is really all I can say about the story I wrote recently on Chilton County Judge Sibley G. Reynolds and his incarceration of Bonnie Sue Wyatt in a simple - and unlawful - debtors' prison. [see the article: "Tyranny and Corruption, Alabama style: Judge Sibley G. Reynolds"]

I could not believe that it was occurring originally, but I confirmed the veracity of the facts for myself. The plight of Bonnie Sue was first reported on Examiner.com on October 1, [see the article: "Are Alabama courts out of control?"] a few days after I first read about it on the blog Legal Schnauzer. Over the past couple of months, the matter has continually been brought to my attention. People in Chilton County are certainly talking about what has happened to Bonnie Sue though in whispered tones, and now that talk is spilling over into other parts of the State and its getting louder. 

I had an interesting talk today with Angie Collins, Ms. Wyatt's most recent attorney of record. She was openly unhappy with my reporting and made several threatening statements. I responded that I strive to ensure the accuracy of my reporting and if she would tell me what part was inaccurate, I'd be glad to further confirm my information. However, she would not name one specific misstatement or falsehood in my article despite claiming my facts "are wrong" short of saying "anything with her name on it" is untrue. She also refused to answer any questions relating to Ms. Wyatt's case. We made progress though, she actually returned a phone call relating to Ms. Wyatt. It is unfortunate though, that again she has refused to protect the interests of her client.

If Ms. Collins is upset about what I printed, she should be appreciative of what I did not publish. I take great lengths to verify information given to me before it is reported on, especially items of a sensitive nature like those associated with Ms. Wyatt's case. There has been an avalanche of information pouring out of Chilton County since the article was published. If I were to make a mistake and report something inaccurate, I would be the first to step forward and issue a retraction once it is discovered to be false or misleading. This whole situation makes my State look bad, and it is an embarrassment that I would even have to report on a story such a this. After weeks of investigation, and unsuccessfully trying to get them to act on the matter, it leaves me with no choice but to report on it.

The story of Bonnie Sue's suffering must be told so long as it continues. There is an easy way to make this all go away. Bonnie Sue Wyatt should be released from jail immediately and quickly restored her natural right of liberty. There is certainly no justification or reason to continue holding her captive. It is immoral and unjust, not to mention unlawful and unconstitutional. Every day that Ms. Wyatt remains incarcerated exasperates the situation, and continues this travesty against the principles of justice.

Why would an attorney threaten a reporter who is trying to shed light on this atrocious injustice? When have you EVER heard of an attorney that did not love press coverage in support of their clients?

Three words eliminate this as a news story: FREE BONNIE SUE.



 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My thoughts on the attacks upon the United States in Egypt and Libya

Earlier today, after seeing pictures of U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens' dead body being carried through the streets of Benghazi, I expressed my disgust with the current administration's response and very strongly condemned the President for his lack of leadership during this tragic time for our country. While I do not apologize for my positions, I admit that due to their brevity they did not appropriately convey my feelings on the matter. If any apology is owed to anyone, it is to the families of those affected by these heinous acts, who had their loved ones ripped away from them by an angry mob. I will now take the opportunity to extrapolate on my opinion.

Yesterday, at some point, an angry mob assembled outside of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt angry over some amateurish video made by an American citizen which insults the leader of the Islamic faith. In response to this mob, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo released this statement:

"The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”

There are those that say this is tantamount to an apology by U.S. Administration officials, released to appease the gathering mobs around the Embassy in Cairo. I agree. I cannot confirm, but have been told by reliable sources, that the Embassy again stood firm by its previous statement once Americans across the country expressed outrage at the apology. To be fair, these words did not come out of the President's mouth. However, it remained the official position of the U.S. Government for some time, and neither the President nor the State Department repudiated these remarks until much later, after the violence had already gotten well out of hand.

To understand the damage caused by such an act of appeasement, one has to look no further than twelve years ago. In late 2000, just prior to President Clinton leaving office, Islamic extremists attacked the U.S.S. Cole, an American warship which was docked in Yemen, a country in the Middle East. Despite this unmistakable act of war, President Clinton did nothing. When President George W. Bush took office in early 2001, again no action was taken in response to the attack upon the U.S.S. Cole which killed 17 American service men and women, and wounded 39 other Americans. Shortly after the attack, al Qaeda publicly acknowledged responsibility for this attack. To this date, no one has ever been held responsible for this attack nor the murder of our brothers and sisters. At some point, a judge did freeze some assets of Sudan and the U.S. received some $13 million dollars from those assets. So we made Sudan pay for the ship, but we never had justice for the unnecessary loss of life.

This non-response was seen as weakness on the part of the United States by the terrorists that would see our friends and family dead. That this emboldened those same terrorists in their future designs is indisputable. So much so, that just shy of one year later, over 3,000 Americans fell further victims to this horrible perversion of the Islamic faith. Which brings me back to yesterday, the eleven year anniversary of one of the darkest days in our nation's history.

This apology for the actions of someone else, who is not associated with the U.S. Government, emboldened the angry mob outside of our Embassy in Cairo. Meanwhile, another angry mob formed outside of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Armed with crude homemade bombs and rocket propelled grenades, our embassies came under attack. Meanwhile, our President remained silent.

Rather than redirecting American assets in the region to provide reinforcement and protection to the heroic men and women who risk their lives to perform a service to their country, the President decided to leave their fate in the hands of a handful a U.S. Marines and the security forces of both Libya and Egypt. While the protestors in Egypt continued their attack upon our Embassy, Egyptian security forces were seen standing by while protestors scaled the walls, ripped down and burned the U.S. flag and replaced it with a banner widely recognized as a symbol of Islamic jihad.

Meanwhile, the angry mob in Libya also began to compromise the security of our U.S. Consulate there. At least one U.S. State Department employee was murdered during this initial attack. In response, many of those inside were transported to a supposed “safe house” nearby to wait out the violence. It has been reported that members of the Libyan security force, who were aware of the location of the “safe house,” were seen pointing out the location to members of the mob. The “safe house” then came under attack, with the members of the angry mob storming the house. In the melee, Ambassador Stevens and two others were murdered by that mob.

There are pictures circulating which shows the limp, dead body of Ambassador Stevens being carried through the streets of Benghazi with at least one purportedly showing Libyans citizens attempting to carry the Ambassador to a hospital. The only thing clear about these images is that Ambassador Stevens was already dead. At any rate, this is not the first instance of a dead American being paraded through the streets of an Islamic country who's citizens had killed him in vengeance for American beliefs and values.

There are now rumors circulating that this was no spontaneous act of violence, that it was a planned attack upon the United States by her enemies which was designed to occur on the anniversary of that fateful day in 2001. I tend to believe this. Despite these rumors, no one can dispute that it was apparent that this was a very dangerous situation early yesterday. That our President took little or no action to protect these people, who served our country and were attacked on American soil, is an outrage. It is despicable that instead of focusing his full attention upon the attacks, our President was campaigning for re-election.

His non-response was seen as an act of cowardice, not only by his opponents at home, but also by our common enemies abroad. This emboldened the angry mob to grow and become progressively more violent. The key point that I wish for you to take from this is that these people, our brothers and sisters, did not have to die. Had our President responded with more resolution and conviction, these atrocities could have been prevented. I hear we will be sending unmanned drones to Libya, presumably for protection of our assets there and as a deterrent to those that would incite further violence. Gee, wouldn't that have been a great idea yesterday before our Ambassador was murdered and his dead body paraded through the streets?

I worry what the future holds for us, now that the weakness of the current administration has been exposed? I pray that the suffering has reached its climax, but if the U.S.S. Cole is any indication, we have good reason to worry. There are those that would have you believe it all happened at once and there was nothing the President could do. This is absolutely false. These heinous acts occurred over the course of many hours and progressively got worse. Had our President acted immediately when the first State Department employee was murdered, the other three deaths could have been prevented. Our President has a sacred duty to protect those that serve our nation abroad. He has failed in that duty.

Our enemies do not respect weakness. They know only one language, force. They respect only strength. Unfortunately, our government displayed neither of these traits yesterday. Now, because of our government's internationally perceived weakness, we are all in danger of further attacks. When I saw those images of Ambassador Stevens, I wept for his family and my country. Now, we must pray for God's protection. We are going to need it. I fear our President will continue his policies of appeasement which will further put us all in danger.

I will repeat here my fervent prayers for our nation and those directly affected by these heinous acts:

May God bless the United States and the families of those innocent victims of this horrible tragedy. I pray that our leaders be granted the wisdom to take the appropriate action to secure our people and interests around the globe. I pray that He brings peace to the families affected and that they know their loved ones are not forgotten and are true American heroes. Amen, So mote it be.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The State of Alabama has something to hide...


...and I can prove it. Today, the State's Assistant Attorney General Jennifer M. Bush filed a Motion to Stay Discovery in my federal civil rights lawsuit against the State and DHR for violating my Constitutional and civil rights (Patterson v. Alabama, et al., Case 4:11-cv-04067-HGD). Now, that would normally not be a big deal, as discovery stays are informally agreed to all the time by parties awaiting the outcome of a dispositive motion (in my case, the State's Motion to Dismiss which was filed January 4, 2012). However, we made no such agreement.

In fact, discovery has been underway since March 2, 2012. According to the Rule 16 Scheduling Order issued by the federal judge in the matter, discovery was to end on December 14, 2012. Of an allotted 10 ½ months for discovery, 6 months have now passed, in other words, it is more than halfway over. I have submitted my supporting documentation as part of discovery, turning over 175 pages of evidence to support my claims. Now, all of a sudden, the defense wants to stay (delay) discovery. Why?

Last week, I submitted to the Defendants and the Court a Request for Production of Documents. This is a standard request made in every lawsuit since the beginning of time. In my request I asked for “the original or legible copy” of 12 specific documents. In addition, I requested a copy of the current State child support enforcement policy and procedure manual, any additional documents not specifically requested but contained within the file DHR has kept on me, and any documents that they plan to submit to the Court in their defense.

I highly doubt that anyone could make the case that my requests are overly broad or would represent some unnecessary burden on the Defendants by having to produce the documentation. I can guarantee you that it would take them less time and cost to provide what I requested, than it did for me to prepare and print the 175 pages of documentation I provided to them as part of my disclosures. That documentation that I provided, I might add, proves beyond a shadow of a doubt each and every claim I have against the State.

There is ONLY ONE REASON why the State would attempt this obstruction of justice, this late in the litigation process. They have something to hide. Something I requested will not only prove my claims, but likely open them up to further claims of civil rights abuses. They know this and that is why they are trying to prevent my fair access. Did I mention they had the opportunity to file this stay SIX MONTHS AGO if they felt then that it was necessary? Did I mention that I have already submitted my disclosures to them? Did I mention that they only took this action when I attempted to gain the same fair access to their records, that I willingly gave them to my records?

SO WHAT ARE YOU HIDING STATE OF ALABAMA?

Your corrupt actions WILL SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY.  I am determined!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Vote NO on Sept. 18 for our children's future!

A member of the Alabama Legislature recently asked why I am voting no against the “Medicaid Amendment” which is coming up for a vote on September 18. After sharing my views with him, I decided to also share with you, due to the gravity of situation, the inclinations of my heart on the matter.

For those that may not know, this year the Alabama Legislature passed a state budget with a $145 million dollar hole in it. Rather than passing a balanced budget as required by State law, they acted in violation of the law and the Alabama Constitution. Amazingly, Governor Bentley signed it. Now they claim that if we do not approve this constitutional amendment on September 18, that hospitals and prisons are going to shut down and millions of children will be without access to healthcare. These claims remind me of Chicken Little saying that “the sky is falling!”

If this fear-mongering does become reality, we have much deeper problems than budgetary issues. The first Republican majority in 140 years, and now the whole State is going down if we don't approve the amendment? I am no Democrat, but at least their majorities could pass a balanced budget every year. It's not hard. Simple addition and subtraction, you subtract your expenses from your revenues and (by law) it must equal zero. Otherwise, it must be adjusted until it equals zero or has a surplus. We expect fiscal leadership from the Republicans, only to have them lead us to the edge of a fiscal cliff. 2014 is not too far away, you know.

If we demand fiscal responsibility and accountability by voting no on September 18, the Governor will have to call a special session of the Legislature for the purpose of passing a constitutional budget. They will have 12 days to act before the new fiscal year starts on October 1. The only way that anything goes unfunded is if the Legislature refuses to act, which I hardly think will be the case. The Republicans are aware of their youth as majority party in Alabama and will not let the State fall apart on their watch. Like I said, 2014 is not so far away.

Even worse, the September 18 amendment is a self-fulfilling prophecy. By taking $435 million dollars from the Alabama Trust Fund, they will accordingly reduce all future General Fund budget revenues which depend on interest earned from the trust fund! Where are they going to get the missing revenue then? The Education Trust Fund? Of course, they have “promised” to pay it back (except there is no legal requirement for them to do so). One plan? Take it out of the Education Trust Fund over ten years. Doh!

This constitutional amendment just doesn't pass muster as sound fiscal policy. It is destined to be paid for by the elimination of educational opportunities for our children, or through higher taxes on the rest of us in the future. I do not think Alabama voters put the Republicans in the majority for them to continue to kick the can down the road. We expect leadership and results. That's why a number of legislators, from both parties, have come out publicly against the amendment.

You would think that in lean times such as these, our leaders would look to cut unnecessary services and pork barrel spending. After reviewing a state contract list for FY 2013, I found that we the people are to pay $1.3 million dollars to Weight Watchers for state employees. While I am not opposed to our state employees living healthy lives, the only thing we can afford to put on Weight Watchers is our General Fund budget!

We need to send a message to our legislators on September 18, that they are not above the law, that we demand fiscal responsibility, and that we are not going to accept the same tired kick the can down the road policies! Demand leadership and accountability! Vote NO on September 18!

Friday, August 24, 2012

10 minutes, 10 numbers to help mend broken hearts

I am so thankful to God for His blessings and for granting me the ability to take these actions.  That doesn't make them any easier.  It's nuts to think about.  I am locked in a legal battle with my State, in defense of my indisputable rights, hoping to have some impact which will positively affect others which may find themselves similarly situated.

Who would have ever thought that the Alabama Bar Association and its members, private attorneys, judges, state legislators, and various government personnel would team up against ordinary citizens?  Sure, it's nothing new for the government to do so, that's been charted throughout the history of human government, but the lawyers too?  It happens all over the country, but it is most egregious in Alabama, and nobody does anything about it.

Those conspirators all profit off of the current arrangement which has produced the most abhorrent Constitutional and civil rights violations.  Yet no lawyer, no judge, no legislator, no governor (the men and women with the power to protect the people) have yet stepped forward to challenge these abuses and usurpations.  WHY NOT?  None of these state actors believe me when I present the evidence to their faces, they all deny malicious intent.  Yet the abuses are not corrected, they occur everyday in all 67 counties of Alabama.

And the state coffers continue to fill.  Yet, the State repeatedly claims it is broke and we are in the midst of a budget crisis.  Why is it so impossible to believe that these state actors take these actions because of the poor financial state of the General Fund budget, from which many of their jobs depend on?  Why is that so crazy a concept?  It has unequivocally been demonstrated that the State is currently profiting off of its actions to the tune of tens of millions of dollars a year.  I can demonstrate that by its actions not only is Alabama infringing upon its citizen's Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights, it is also committing fraud against the United States government through the Title IV-D "incentive payment to the States" program.  Don't we have some major federal budget issues too?

Just as the State of Alabama is taking from me money that is not owed, so too are they fraudulently obtaining federal funds based upon their unlawful confiscation of my wages in excess of my actual child support obligation based upon false allegations and despite the availability of clear and convincing evidence against those false allegations.  They have returned some of the money they confiscated from me, but only after running it through the system and getting credit for it for the purposes of collecting its corresponding incentive payment.  Roughly $2 from Uncle Sam for every $1 they take from me.

So that leaves folks like me, Mark Davis, Chris Hobbs, etc. to carry the banner and fight for our rights, your rights, and believe it or not, the well-being of the State and federal government.  If through our actions, we are able to cast light upon fraud and abuses of federal money (taxpayer dollars mind you), and help prevent this fraud from being continued, then every one in this country will benefit.  I wonder how many other States are abusing the system like Alabama?  How many other States are separating parents and children routinely as a method of revenue generation?  Likely all or most of them.  Think of how much federal tax dollars we can save by eliminating all that waste and fraud!  Think of all the societal benefits that will result from making sure that States do not prevent fit parents from influencing and participating in the development and raising of their children!

Think of the reduced welfare burden upon the State and federal government, if those currently on its rolls which are there unnecessarily are removed!  There are too many benefits to list!  It is amazing that we would receive such strong opposition.  Not once has our claims EVER been demonstrated to be false!  On the contrary it has been repeatedly proven that our claims in fact carry great weight and merit, backed up by a sea of documentation and personal testimony.  So why the staunch resistance?  Money, money, money.

Damn, it is infuriating when those that seek to do us harm claim that we act out of selfish or self-serving motives.  It is so heart breaking to hear the stories of abuses by the local family courts.  It affects so many people and children, and it is nauseating to think of the little broken hearts that have resulted from this atrocious excuse for a government program.  If you let it, it can consume your thoughts in very negative ways.  I get so angry and disheartened by the whole mess sometimes that it really affects my mindset and mood.  That's not a good thing and I am continually trying to improve how I deal with it emotionally and mentally because if you let it grab hold of you, it affects your actions and those around you.  I've been guilty of this more times than I would like to admit.

If you cannot believe that things are as bad as I say, it is not a reflection of the accuracy of my statements but rather an invitation for you to inform yourself better on the facts.  There are many of us afflicted by the system, yet most suffer through despite the continued suffering of their neighbors.  You know, though, we're parents.  We've got jobs and kids and responsibilities.  So its hard to find those that are willing to make the time to fight along side of us.  They are here in spirit and support us wholeheartedly, but simply don't have the time.  If this is you, I understand but you must also understand it is time to stop lying to yourself.  Silence equals consent and it takes no more than 10 minutes to dial 10 numbers to help make positive change.  Those 10 numbers are the phone number to your legislator.  Call all of the them.  You only have 2, but maybe there are others in nearby districts you can also share your story with.

The myth of our family court system's perpetuation lies in the silence of those whom suffer the greatest abuses.  We think there is nothing we can do but there is!  Take 10 minutes today to call your legislator!

10 MINUTES of telling your story to your legislator which will be an invaluable public service, you can really be a part of changing the lives of Alabama's children and answering the prayers of thousands of parents!

10 NUMBERS to reach out to your local legislator which will help convince them of the wide ranging nature of these abuses of our Constitutional rights!      

It really is that simple.  If you'll take the time, I'll volunteer to come to your house and dial the numbers for you.  The next legislative session will be upon us soon.  We need to let these legislators know what's really happening.

Please call them! Today!