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Monday, May 24, 2010

Will Voters Send a Corrupt Alabama Judge Packing?

Residents of Shelby County, Alabama, where I live, have a chance to get rid of one of the most corrupt judges in the country.

Will folks in my neck of the woods be smart enough to boot G. Dan Reeves to the exits? We will find out on June 1 in Alabama's primary election.

We have written numerous posts about Reeves and shown, from firsthand experience, that he is a monstrously bad judge. Birmingham lawyer Ferris Ritchey is putting up a serious challenge to Reeves, and we recommend a vote for Ritchey in the strongest terms possible.

It's rare that you have a chance to replace one of the good old boy judges who have turned the courthouse in Columbiana into an ethical cesspool. The county is heavily Republican, so Democrats usually have no chance and general elections mean nothing. Everything is decided in the primaries, and most local lawyers don't have the cojones to challenge an incumbent.

Ritchey evidently does have a pair, and we give him credit for that. If he loses, and he's clearly the underdog, he's likely to face all kinds of retaliation for having the audacity to run against Reeves.

It's going to take more than one person to turn around the sleaze pit in Columbiana. But if Ritchey could get elected, it might be a major step in the right direction.

How bad is Reeves? First, he isn't remotely qualified to be a judge. According to Reeves' biography, he earned a degree from Birmingham School of Law in 1984 and was elected circuit clerk in Shelby County in 1988. He served 10 years as clerk before becoming a judge in 1998.

At most, Reeves has four years of experience as a practicing lawyer. And multiple sources have told me that they have no memory of him seriously practicing law before he became clerk. Essentially, he went from being clerk to a judge, with almost no courtroom experience. It's hard to imagine a judge with a thinner resume than Reeves'.

Ritchey, on the other hand, has more than 25 years of experience as a lawyer and currently serves as president of the Birmingham Bar Foundation. His practice has focused on family, probate, and estate-planning law.

Reeves is corrupt, incompetent, and stupid--the big trifecta for a judge. In fact, he makes almost no effort to hide the fact that he is crooked. I've had numerous parties contact me about their horrifying experiences before Reeves, and in their rare honest moments, several lawyers have told me they are well aware that Reeves is a bad and dishonest judge.

Do they do anything about it? No, they are afraid to. Shelby is the fastest growing county in Alabama, it's court dockets are swelling by the month, lawyers can make a lot of money there, and hardly anyone wants to take on a member of the corrupt establishment.

Consider this scene from my own experience with Reeves, where I was representing myself in defending a bogus lawsuit brought by my neighbor, Mike McGarity. Of course, I didn't start out representing myself. But the two lawyers I'd hired didn't have the guts to stand up to corrupt judges, so I took the case over myself.

I had filed a motion for summary judgment, properly executed and supported with materially relevant evidence that showed the case could not go to trial. The motion raised multiple issues that had not previously been raised in the case. McGarity's lawyer, William E. Swatek, had filed no response--nada, zilch. We had a hearing to argue several motions that were before Reeves:

Me: Are we going to address the motion for summary judgment?

Reeves: Yes, we are.

Me: Well, the other party has filed no response to my motion.

Reeves: Yes.

Me: Well, that means the motion has to be granted and the case dismissed. That's the law.

Reeves: Mr. Shuler, I will make my decision.

Me: There's no decision to make. The law says you have to grant summary judgment. The law makes the decision for you.

Reeves: Mr. Shuler, I don't want to hear any more on this. I will make my decision.

Me: You have to grant summary judgment. You have no choice.

Reeves: Mr. Shuler, I'm going to hold you in contempt.

Me: I'm just arguing my case.

Reeves: Mr. Shuler, I've told you that you need to get a lawyer, but you don't have one. And that's why you keep losing these rulings.

Me: This doesn't have anything to do with whether I have a lawyer or not. The law is clear: When I present materially relevant evidence, the other party has to present evidence to contradict it. If they don't respond--and you just admitted they haven't responded in this case--the law says my evidence must be considered uncontradicted, and summary judgment must be granted. The deadline for their response is well past, so the case is over. It's real simple.

Reeves: Mr. Shuler, I'm warning you . . .

Me: They haven't presented any evidence because they don't have a case. They've never had a case, and Mr. Swatek knew it the day he filed the complaint. Of course, he has a 30-year history of unethical actions with the Alabama State Bar, but I guess that doesn't trouble you.

Reeves: Mr. Shuler, you are going to jail if you don't watch it.

I'm not making this up, folks. It's been almost six years since that exchange, so I might not have every word exact. But that's the basic exchange. And you will not be surprised to learn that Reeves denied the motion, and a case that by law had to be dismissed, went to trial--costing Alabama taxpayers thousands of dollars.

I've got a dead stump in my back yard that could have gotten that ruling right. But Reeves was too corrupt and too ignorant to do his job in a lawful fashion. That tells you everything you need to know about Dan Reeves.

Is Ferris Ritchey the answer to all of Shelby County's problems? Not by a long shot. The Shelby sleaze has been building for decades, and one man and one election are not going to make it go away.

Besides that, I have one qualm about Ritchey. We've written about him before here at Legal Schnauzer, and it had to do with a golf outing where his partners included Circuit Judge Mike Joiner (Reeves' evil twin) and the esteemed William E. Swatek, our favorite dirt bag lawyer.

Why was Ritchey playing golf with such low-life characters? Perhaps there is an innocent explanation. I know that Swatek has endorsed Reeves, which tells me the establishment is against Ritchey. That tells me I'm for him.

Some free advice for Ritchey: If you really need to play golf, find some honest people to join your foursome. Playing golf with Mike Joiner and Bill Swatek is not the way to go.

Interestingly, Ritchey contacted me via Facebook recently. After informing me that I know how to "raise a ruckus," he asked what I thought of his run against Reeves. I said, in so many words, "Mr. Ritchey, if you are serious about bringing real justice to the Shelby County Courthouse, I am all for you."

Ritchey assured me that he is not part of any good old boy network, and I will take him at his word.

Based on the number of Ritchey yard signs I've seen in the area where I live, it appears Ritchey is making a serious challenge. His problem, I suspect, is that Reeves lives in the more rural southern part of the county and probably will dominate in that area.

Will Ritchey's support in the relatively urban north be enough to pull an upset? Could Shelby County take one small step away from the shadows of corruption?

We will be watching closely.


sendi said...


Max Shelby said...

Mr. Reeves has election material in Vincent City Hall.

So does Byrne and French.

Who put them there?

Stephen Bradley of Bradley & Associates.

Governor Riley made a stop in Vincent two Sundays ago, no fanfare, no announcement, just stuck his head in the First Baptist Church door to say he "has friends who go to this church."

In other words, he was down in Vincent reassuring the City Council to vote for the quarry to supply materials to the elevated Hwy 280 project.

That's what this quarry is for, cat is out of the bag.

They are all crooks, Reeves, Byrne, French, Waggoner all of them are corrupt as the summer is long.

Makes me so damn mad.

Grant said...

Reeves is blantantly taking bribes and is on a witch hunt for my brother right now for an egregious probation violation that has been conjured up.. He won't even return Judge Self's (lauderdale County) phone calls because he knows that someone is smelling his stink! Now he's trying to send Shelby County marshals up to Lauderdale to pick up my brother behind Lauderdale County's back and after he was told to let Lauderdale County handle it. I might have to get in touch with Judge Reeves.

Anonymous said...

I am baffled how a judge "Reeves" can live with himself with the decisions he makes. Reeves sentences one man to 10 years in prison who pleads guilty to sexually abusing children at his wife's home daycare. 10 Years!!! In another case, Reeves sentences a man who will not plead guilty and tries to prove his innocence when the only evidence is a child's testimony to 18 years in prison. I am so taken back by this so called justice system.

PeskyVarmt said...
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PeskyVarmt said...
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Anonymous said...

No where in this article do you have proof that Judge Reeves is corrupt. What exactly has he done that is so bad? Just because he made you mad does not make him a corrupt judge.

And to the person who was shocked that he gave a man 10 years in prison for sexual abuse - who the heck are you? He should have given them life in prison. Child abusers have no right to walk on the same sidewalks as the rest of us. I have personal experience with a child who has been sexually abused. That abuse really messes up the child, it takes their innocence away and the child has to deal with that hurt and abuse for their entire life. So the criminal should have to deal with it his/her entire life too.

legalschnauzer said...

@9:43, I suggest you click on either of the links in the third paragraph, and they will take you to multiple articles with proof that Reeves is corrupt. In this article, you might read down to the exchange beginning at the 14th paragraph--more evidence that Reeves does not follow black-letter law, meaning he is corrupt.

Anonymous said...

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Unknown said...

In a day and age of social media no secrets etc . It's amazing that he has been able to continue his scheme . His sister runs the work release program which is also illegally ran the land the jail is on is owned by the Reeves family .

The have an elaborate system designed to profit and take away anyone's rights that are unlucky enough to come before them.

Not only is he crooked he's the biggest narcissist asshole ive ever had the pleasure of meeting . He talks down to lawyers citizens inmates as well as his own staff. To a point of embarrassment . I've never heard anyone that actually knows him have a single good thing to say about the man.

Anonymous said...

I went to get a restraining order against my husband for flipping a table over towards myself and my toddler and backing me into a corner telling me he was going to kill me. I was put in front of Dan Reeves who told me I was uneducated, my husband can throw a table at me because it's his property, I don't go to the the police for help I go to a shelter, and i don't know what I am doing because we were married in Jefferson County and we live in Shelby County. Needless to say I am glad that man got removed. He can claim he "Retired" but everyone in Shelby County and surrounding counties knew that man was out of his mind and only continued to hold his position because he had connections. Shelby County is better off without him.