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.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

the Birdman responds...and the cat is out of the bag!

Today I received a letter from the Marshall County Circuit Court clerk and our favorite judge, "the Birdman" Howard Hawk.  I knew it would be in reference to my petition to the Court asking it to enforce my constitutionally protected right to exempt my wages from garnishment (see previous post - Art. X Sec. 204 Alabama Constitution).  I might point out that this provision was written and adopted in 1868.  Put it in perspective... just how much was $1,000 worth of property back in 1868?  What was the INTENT of the provision?  I think it would be safe to say that when the citizens of this State ratified the Constitution, they intended for what amounted to $1,000 worth of property in 1868 to be protected.  They knew a little of inflation and speculation of currencies back then, but saw it, correctly, as an evil and an enemy of democracy.  I have seen it HERE that an 1868 dollar is worth $16.293 of today's dollars.  If we use that as a guide then we are talking about  $16,293.00.  

So the paltry assets and wages I provided the Court as part of my Declaration doesn't come that close to $1,000 much less $16,293!  So I opened the envelope, and knew part of my plan had been foiled.  I have a civil relationship with ex #2, and had hoped convincing her of the necessity of this exemption would help speed it along by preventing a contest of the exemption.  She agreed and took delivery of her court documents with her assurance she would not turn it over to her attorney who would hopefully not hear of my claim until after the allowed time to respond had expired.  So that my wages would automatically be protected.  I was confident that in the event of a contest the judge would have to rule in my favor due to the demonstrated lack of financial resources.  I can show that exactly what I take home is exactly what I need to survive.  The Court let the cat out of the bag because if they sent this to me, they sent it to her attorney as well.  That's not the bad part though...

What I received was a copy of the case action summary which has the clerk's and the judge's hand written notes in reference to the case.  It shows on 12/2/2010 the IWO was enforced against me which was for child support.  It also has a stamp on it which show that the process of garnishment was issued on 6/1/2011 and that I filed my declaration and claim of exemption for wages on 6/7/2011.  On 6/8/2011, the Birdman wrote the following:

"6-8-11 (Declaration and Claim of Exemption for Wages) Noted; however this case was closed 8-5-2010.  (The Defendent) is encouraged to seek advice from an Attorney. H"

Which probably means a few things...the judge is refusing to protect my ability to support myself, even though it is guaranteed by the Alabama State Constitution.  Therefore, this is an unconstitutional garnishment handed down by the hands of a State judge who's job it is to uphold and protect the Constitution.
It also means that the Birdman is continuing what I have found to be a pattern in Marshall County judges...they do not like a man that represents himself in their court.  The judge will not talk to you, he will refuse most all of your petitions while he's telling you that you need to get an attorney, and just in general try to make things as difficult as possible.  I might take this opportunity to remind the Birdman (just in case he knows about this blog) that according to the Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics, he is bound by duty to abide by the following:

CANON 3.

A JUDGE SHOULD PERFORM THE DUTIES OF HIS OFFICE IMPARTIALLY AND DILIGENTLY.
 
The judicial activities of a judge take precedence over his other activities. His judicial duties include all the duties of his office prescribed by law. In the performance of these duties, the following standards apply:

A. ADJUDICATIVE RESPONSIBILITIES:

(1) A judge should be faithful to the law and maintain professional
competence in it. He should be unswayed by partisan interests, public
clamor, or fear of criticism.

(2) A judge should maintain order and decorum in proceedings
before him.

(3) A judge should be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants,
jurors, witnesses, lawyers, and others with whom he deals in his official
capacity, and should require similar conduct of lawyers, and of his staff,
court officials, and others subject, to his direction and control.

(4) A judge should accord to every person who is legally interested in a proceeding, or his lawyer, full right to be heard according to law, and, except as authorized by law, neither initiate nor consider ex parte communications concerning a pending or impending proceeding. A judge, however, may obtain the advice of a disinterested and impartial expert on the law applicable to a proceeding before him; provided however, a judge should use discretion in such cases and, if the judge considers that justice would require it, and should give notice to the parties of the person consulted and the substance of the advice, and afford the parties reasonable opportunity to respond.

(as published on the website of the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission)

I, as a citizen of this State, have the right to represent myself in all legal proceedings.  I have this right because not everyone can afford an attorney to represent their interests.  Some of us are poor, when you are poor you do not have an extra $500 or $1,000 laying around for an attorney.  I have provided evidence to the judge that my financial resources, or lack thereof due to this court's actions, do not permit me the luxury of any disposable income to spend on an attorney or even the ability to save any money for one.  I AM BROKE! 
It also means that sleep isn't going to come any easier.  Surely, in spite of the garnishment, they will follow federal law in its application and I will only be reduced to $217.50 weekly, but I will probably have to scrape and fight to have that enforced as well.  Even if that is as low as they will go, I am still $100 or so short on my monthly bills. 

It's a good thing I refuse to lay down without a fight!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sometimes if you want to be heard you have to scream...

beta.news.yahoo.com
Jilted ex-boyfriend puts up abortion billboard' on Yahoo! News. A New Mexico man's decision to lash out with a billboard ad saying his ex-girlfriend had an abortion against his wishes has touched off a legal debate over free speech and privacy rights.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Article X, Alabama State Constitution

Text of Section 204: Personal Property of Value of One Thousand Dollars Exempt from Sale, Execution or Other Process of Court Issued for Collection of Debt

The personal property of any resident of this state to the value of one thousand dollars, to be selected by such resident, shall be exempt from sale or execution, or other process of any court, issued for the collection of any debt contracted since the thirteenth day of July, eighteen hundred and sixty-eight or after the ratification of this Constitution

Interesting Dept of Labor publication...

...regarding Federal wage garnishment law. 

http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs30.pdf

Here's the Federal Wage Garnishment Law

Federal Wage Garnishment Law Sec. 1673: Restriction on garnishment
(a) Maximum allowable garnishment
Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section and in section 1675 of this title, the maximum part of the aggregate disposable earnings of an individual for any work week which is subjected to garnishment may not exceed
(1) 25 per cent of disposable earnings for that week, or
(2) the amount by which disposable earnings for that week exceed thirty times the Federal minimum hourly wage prescribed by section 206(a)(1) of title 29 in effect at the time the earnings are payable, whichever is less.
In the case of earnings for any pay period other than a week, the Secretary of Labor shall by regulation prescribe a multiple of the Federal minimum hourly wage equivalent in effect to that set forth in paragraph (2).
(b) Exceptions
(1) The restrictions of subsection (a) of this section do not apply in the case of
(A) any order for the support of any person issued by a court of competent jurisdiction or in accordance with an administrative procedure, which is established by State law, which affords substantial due process, and which is subject to judicial review.
(B) any order of any court of the United States having jurisdiction over cases under chapter 13 of title 11.
(C) any debt due for any State or Federal tax.
(2) The maximum part of the aggregate disposable earnings of an individual for any workweek which is subject to garnishment to enforce any order for the support of any person shall not exceed -
(A) where such individual is supporting his spouse or dependent child (other than a spouse or child with respect to whose support such order is used), 50 per cent of such individual's disposable earnings for that week; and
(B) where such individual is not supporting such a spouse or dependent child described in clause (A), 60 per cent of such individual's disposable earnings for that week; except that, with respect to the disposable earnings of any individual for any workweek, the 50 per cent specified in clause (A) shall be deemed to be 55 per cent and the 60 per cent specified in clause (B) shall be deemed to be 65 per cent, if and to the extent that such earnings are subject to garnishment to enforce a support order with respect to a period which is prior to the twelve-week period which ends with the beginning of such workweek.
(c) Execution or enforcement of garnishment order or process prohibited
No court of the United States or any State, and no State (or officer or agency thereof), may make, execute, or enforce any order or process in violation of this section
2. Federal Wage Garnishment Law Sec. 1674: Restriction on discharge from employment by reason of garnishment
(a) Termination of employment :
No employer may discharge any employee by reason of the fact that his earnings have been subjected to garnishment for any one indebtedness.
(b) Penalties :
Whoever willfully violates subsection (a) of this section shall be fined not more than $1,000, or imprisoned not more than one year, or both
3. Federal Wage Garnishment Law Sec. 1675. - Exemption for State-regulated garnishments
The Secretary of Labor may by regulation exempt from the provisions of section 1673(a) and (b)(2) of this title garnishments issued under the laws of any State if he determines that the laws of that State provide restrictions on garnishment which are substantially similar to those provided in section 1673(a) and (b)(2) of this title
4. Federal Wage Garnishment Law Sec. 1676: Enforcement by Secretary of Labor
The Secretary of Labor, acting through the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor, shall enforce the provisions of this subchapter
5. Federal Wage Garnishment Law Sec. 1677. - Effect on State laws
This subchapter does not annul, alter, or affect, or exempt any person from complying with, the laws of any State
(1) prohibiting garnishments or providing for more limited garnishment than are allowed under this subchapter, or
(2) prohibiting the discharge of any employee by reason of the fact that his earnings have been subjected to garnishment for more than one indebtedness
Wow, on my way to the courthouse, I helped pull a woman out of a SUV she flipped about 4 times. About a mile from the courthouse on 205 in Albertville...

happy birthday president davis!

I tried filing the exemption yesterday, June 6, but the courthouse was closed for Jefferson Davis's birthday. At least I got it notarized for $5 across the street from the Guntersville Courthouse at Impressions Art/Frame Gallery.

wages being garnished? check this out...

The following link is to the website lawhelp.org and is a form used to stop wage garnishments by debt collectors.  It does not apply to child support or court fines though.

Alabama Declaration and Claim of Exemption for Wages

It was made by the Alabama State Bar Association.  I am going to file one on my behalf today at the Marshall County Courthouse.  Because of Article X, Section 204 of the Alabama State Constitution (1901), you can exempt up to $1,000 in property and wages from being garnished for a debt. 

Once filed, the plaintiff has 10 days to contest the claim of exemption.  If they fail to do so, then those wages and property are automatically protected from garnishment.  If they do file a contest in time, then a hearing is set and a judge has to determine if the wages should be protected.  Basically, unless you have lied, he is constitutionally bound to grant the exemption.  That'll help keep those damn hyenas out of your paycheck!

Also, if you are getting your wages garnished, child support or any other, the minimum amount of money you can legally take home after all deductions and taxes is $217.50 per week.  This is mandated by federal law and is based on being 30 times the current minimum wage.

The above form will help you take home a little more to your family and maybe help you rest a little easier at night.  And they say our state constitution is outdated and draconian.  Well, I guess they are right if by that you mean that it protects too many of the private citizen's rights and doesn't let em tax us enough!   

you can't bleed a turnip...or can you?

Welcome in to the first installment of my blog.  Like I said above I am going to use it to remember useful information in my fight for the best interests of my daughters with the three-headed monster that is Marshall County family court.  I thought the above photo was appropriate because the path on which I embark certainly appears to be the road less travelled.  The end is uncertain, there are forests to traverse and mountains to move.  However, when I get through, maybe that forest doesn't seem so dark for the next father, maybe those mountains aren't so tall for his children.

Those forests are mighty dark in real life.  I cannot describe to you the feeling one gets when this weight is on your shoulders.  It makes me uneasy most of the time, and I don't sleep very well.  I am very anxious to do something, anything, most of the time but have no idea where to start.  It is overwhelming to say the least.  I have found it helps to pray.

When you find yourself being abused by the family court system, they make it hard on you to remedy the wrongs.  A judge will not talk to you at all, but would be more than happy to talk to the attorney you can't afford because they are taking half your paycheck in child support.  You pay your child support, yet a false affidavit filed by a vindictive ex outweighs stacks of money order receipts proving payment and they confiscate your wages and tax returns with no due process of law.  All it took to happen was the signature of an overzealous DHR caseworker and a mother willing to lie under oath.

A couple years later, and another false affidavit puts you in front of a judge with hopes of putting you in jail.  Nevermind that your child support was withheld from your paycheck since the first mugging.  An attorney paid for with borrowed money fights off the attempt at incarceration, but they succeed in raising the child support which helps to push you further into the poor house.  When payday comes around, now you only take home thirty percent of your earnings due to child support, court ordered insurance premiums, and taxes.  I guess you can add one more to life's certainties.  It is now "Death, Child Support, and Taxes."

That's just ex-wife #1.  Yep, that's right, there's more. 

#2 left and shortly after her daddy picks her out a high powered attorney.  To make a long story short, she files for divorce yet neither her nor her attorney show up for the first court hearing in front of "the Birdman" Judge Howard Hawk, I sit there all morning (after filing with the court my answer and counterclaim) and then he decides he just wants to reschedule it because her attorney finally answers his phone and said he "didn't know if the defendent was notified" so he decided to not show up.  Obviously, I had been since I was there as ordered by the court.  So he resets the court hearing date because the plaintiff failed to appear.  Sound fishy to you?  Yeah, it did to me too. 

"Driftwood" Dave Beuoy, the aforementioned "high powered" attorney, makes no attempt to negotiate or settle out of court.  He's content with putting it before the judge, and rightly so since he is a judge himself, so you might say he has connections I do not.  He sends out a huge package of interrogatories, hoping to pad his attorney's fees and asking all kinds of information not related to the proceedings.  I refused to fill them out.  When the judge ordered me to, I decided it was time to get an attorney involved, but before I could save enough money, a contempt hearing was set. 

So four days before the hearing I call down there on a Friday to let them know I would not be able to be present at the hearing due to pressing business matters and that I would like to request a continuance.  Nothing more than her attorney had done the first time, except I was giving them ample notice.  I was told by the clerk to call back on Monday because neither the judge nor his secretary were in their office that day.  So I called back on Monday and repeated my situation, only to be told that I would have to request a continuance in person or I would be expected to be in court the next day.  I explained I was at work, and as the manager on duty would not be able to leave the store until the next manager arrived late that afternoon, after the court had closed for the day.  Didn't matter.  Request the continuance in person or show up for court.

Three or four days later, I get two envelopes from Marshall County Circuit Court.  One is the Birdman's notes and states that the court notes my answer and counterclaim, but that they had not received them (even though I can prove I filed them on the day of the first hearing, when Driftwood failed to appear).  The second was the final judgement of divorce, decided before a scheduled pendente lite hearing on the divorce.  In it, the Birdman gave Driftwood a default judgement against me, ordering me to pay over $500 a month in child support with no regard whatsoever to Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules for Judicial Administration.  He also ordered me to pay Driftwood's fees and gave me only joint legal custody of my daughter with no schedule of visitation.  He stated he issued his judgement because I failed to appear or plead (yet I can prove I did both on the day of the first hearing) and it was "ore tenus" or based on verbal testimony yet he gave me no notice of the time or place that verbal testimony would be taken on the divorce.  I had the dates for the contempt hearing and the later scheduled pendente lite hearing, but had heard nothing of the day he made his decision.  I guess he decided to go ahead, take the ball and run with it...my due process rights be damned!

So now they take most of the money I make and give it to my ex-wives.  Just the other day, though, I was served with yet another stack of papers.  This time it is a Process of Garnishment from old Driftwood.  Apparently, the $20 I have paid him so far for raping me wasn't sufficient.  He wants 25% of what little crumbs I am bringing home now to pay for her attorney bill.  Are you kidding me?  Nope, it is true, but don't worry your little head.  God made me smart and strong.  God gave me a plan.  I end with two quotes:

"There, but by the Grace of God, go I."

“Unfortunately, until you are affected, sometimes you don't want to get involved. It seems it has to be personal,” he said. “This should be personal for everyone.  "You look around and see the devastation and destruction and say ‘where do I start, what do I do?' The thing is you have to start so you can start getting over this. There is a tremendous amount of support and help here.”

Like I said, "There, but by the Grace of God, go I."