12/07/2011 11:23 pm
P.O. Box 711
Arab, Alabama 35016
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Parent files civil rights lawsuit, State actions 'corrupt and unconstitutional'
ARAB, Alabama (Examiner.com) – A local parent, Brad Patterson, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the State of Alabama and eleven other defendants in United States District Court last week. Now, a federal judge has approved his petition to waive filing fees and ordered the US Marshal Service to serve the complaint to the defendants.
In the complaint, Mr. Patterson alleges that State officials violated his property rights by denying him due process and equal protection of the law, rights safeguarded by the US Constitution. The allegations stem from a series of events over four years that began in late 2007 with what Mr. Patterson claims to be a false affidavit for past-due child support.
'I walked into the DHR office with payment receipts in hand,' he says. 'Initially, they refused to meet with me or accept my receipts. Finally, I met with the Director of Child Support Enforcement and gave her the receipts. At the end of a contentious meeting, she told me that despite my alleged proof of payment, I owed the money and they would collect it.'
A few days later, Mr. Patterson said he received a letter that lowered his alleged arrears from $1,083.50 to $350.00 plus $32.50 interest, but DHR officials refused to rescind the income withholding order or tax refund intercept they had against him. He claims the refusal violated state and federal law and that there was no past-due balance. DHR went on to confiscate $2,176.34 from Mr. Patterson over the next four months. Unable to afford an attorney to represent him, Mr. Patterson began to study the law himself. After he informed J.Wayne Sellers, former DHR director, of his intent to file a court order forcing DHR officials to return his money as well as press charges for the false affidavit, Mr. Patterson started receiving refund checks from the State of Alabama.
Over the following year, Mr. Patterson received refund checks from theState totaling $1,161.16 which he claims was short of what was taken.Then in September 2010, Mr. Patterson claims DHR officials attemptedto have him jailed based upon further false allegations of past-duesupport. On February 3, 2011 Marshall County Juvenile Court Judge TimRiley denied the State's contempt motion, but increased Mr.Patterson's monthly obligation despite evidence that he could notsupport himself and pay the increased support. This order reduced Mr.Patterson to poverty despite his professional success as a General Manager at a local restaurant. That was when Mr. Patterson began his research in preparation for filing the federal complaint.
'I was struggling to pay for the basic necessities of life, and after they tried to have me thrown in jail for no reason, I knew it was time to take a stand in defense of my indisputable rights,' Mr. Patterson says. 'From my $38,000 a year job, I was taking home barely $250 a week. That was when I found out about Title IV-D incentive payments.'
Mr. Patterson points out an obscure federal law which provides incentive payments to the States, paid for by the federal government, for complying with federal law in enforcing support (42 U.S.C. 658a). Mr. Patterson claims this is how Alabama state officials use the child support enforcement program as a method of revenue generation. The incentive payment pool, as defined by the law, is based off of twice the amount of support the State collects. Mr. Patterson claims this profit motive led to policies which violated his Constitutional rights along with those of many other Alabama parents.
'When I discovered this conflict of interest, I was appalled,' he says. 'As the law is written, the State profits off of broken families and Alabama parents. The State's actions are corrupt and unconstitutional.'
Related Article: http://www.examiner.com/divorce-support-in-huntsville/alabama-parents-rights-groups-allege-state-profits-off-of-broken-families
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