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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Divorce-Court Judge Faces 74 Charges of Corruption

Patricia Warner

A domestic-relations judge in Montgomery, Alabama, faces a 127-page civil complaint alleging that she acted  corruptly in more than two dozen cases.

The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) served the complaint yesterday on former Montgomery County Circuit Judge Patricia Warner, who abruptly announced her retirement last week after being elected to a second term in November.

The 74 charges repeatedly use the term "bad faith" to describe Warner's actions. The legal definition of bad faith is "the fraudulent deception of another person; the intentional or malicious refusal to perform some duty or contractual obligation." (See the full complaint through a link at the end of this post.)

Warner repeatedly ignored instructions from higher courts, according to the complaint. She has 30 days to respond to the charges. From the Montgomery Advertiser:

“Her disregard of (legal) standards, although given specific notice by the appellate courts, further evidences her bad faith and her intentional disregard of her duty to decide cases based on the law and the facts presented to her court in handling the matters alleged (in this complaint),” according to the complaint served Monday.

Of 29 cases where Warner’s judgment was questioned, the Court of Civil Appeals affirmed only two, according to the complaint.

“The other twenty-seven appellate opinions all pointed out major flaws requiring reversal in Judge Warner’s handling of each case. In most cases, Judge Warner’s legal errors were clear and obviously warranted reversal,” according to the report.

We had three reactions upon hearing that an Alabama judge might actually be held accountable for gross misconduct:

(1) Hallelujah!

(2) What took you so long?

(3) When are you going to start inquiring into the dozens of other Alabama judges who can match Warner step for step in the corruption department?

Our delight at seeing a bad judge outed is tempered by several doses of reality. The Alabama JIC is a notoriously toothless watchdog. I have filed multiple complaints with the JIC, only to receive a form letter stating that my allegations would not even be investigated. I know of numerous individuals who have received similar responses. So why is the JIC taking action against Patricia Warner? Our guess is that her corrupt acts were simply over the top, she pushed the wrong political button at the wrong time, or she ticked off the wrong person or institutional body. Let's address these three possibilities:

* Warner was "over the top"--I've read the entire complaint against Warner, and while she is an abominable judge, she is not all that unusual in Alabama. In fact, we've written about other domestic-relations cases where judges have behaved at least as bad as Warner--if not worse.

We have the Jefferson County case of Joseph Blackburn, who was victimized by a hunting club where corrupt lawyers and judges cook domestic relations cases; former judges Charles Calhoun and R.A. "Sonny" Ferguson cheated Blackburn and many others.

We have the Jefferson County case of Angela Turner Drees, who also got caught in the hunting-club trap, with Ferguson applying the primary cheat job.

We have the Shelby County case of Sherry Carroll Rollins, which might be the single most grotesque cheat job I've ever encountered in court--and that is saying something. Judge D. Al Crowson took the case, even though jurisdiction already had been established in South Carolina.  Crowson proceeded to cut an exceedingly favorable deal for Ted Rollins, Sherry Rollins' ex husband. Why would Crowson do that? Well, Ted Rollins is a member of one of America's richest families, the folks behind Orkin Pest Control, and he has strong ties to Bradley Arant, one of Birmingham's most influential law firms.

How bad are these cases? Blackburn and Drees are lawyers, members of the legal club, but the corruption they've witnessed was so bad that they filed federal lawsuits over the handling of their divorce cases. That's not something lawyers do on a regular basis.

* Warner pushed the wrong political button--One of the counts against Warner was for a case involving Kimberly McGregor Brown, the daughter of gambling magnate Milton McGregor. The complaint alleges that Warner took thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Milton McGregor and then gave his daughter favorable treatment in a child-custody case.

This might, indeed, be a matter of serious corruption on Warner's part. But it's interesting to note that McGregor currently is the most high-profile defendant in the ongoing federal electronic-bingo prosecution in Alabama. Did Warner simply pick a bad time to side with Milton McGregor, just when federal prosecutors are trying to take him down? We suspect the answer is yes.

* Warner ticked off the wrong person or institutional body--From reading the complaint, one gets the impression that the JIC was not all that concerned that Warner was cheating a bunch of everyday folks. But when she essentially said "screw you" to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals and the Alabama Supreme Court . . . well, that was too much. This, we would guess, is the single biggest reason Warner now finds herself in serious doo-doo.

Is the JIC suddenly serious about all of the judicial corruption that mars the Alabama landscape? We doubt it. The complaint against Warner states, over and over, that she "failed to follow established law in her orders" (page 96), showed "intentional disregard of the laws and facts in matters pending before her" (page 103), issued judgments that were "plainly and palpably wrong" (page 111).

Numerous other Alabama judges do the same thing. I've written about them for four-plus years on this blog. I've filed appeals about "plainly and palpably wrong" decisions with the Alabama appellate courts, only to have them issue an "affirmed, no opinion" ruling. Multiple lawyers have told me they've had similar experiences with their own appeals.

We're glad to see that Patricia Warner might get what she deserves. But we doubt that the Alabama JIC is serious about cleaning up our courts. JIC needed to make an example of someone, and Patricia Warner proved to be that person--probably for reasons that have nothing to do with protecting the general public.


Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission Complaint Against Judge Patricia Warner

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

The JIC sucks. The ONLY reason that they did anything about Warner is the feds caught her and McGregor on the wiretaps and turned them over to the state authorities. They didn't want a sitting judge, one they had allowed to consistently spit in the face of the appellate courts, to be indicted while sitting on the bench.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon:

Hadn't thought about your scenario. Your comment makes a lot of sense. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

One of the attorneys who filed a complaint was the lawyer for McGregors daughter ex husband. He as a talk show host has made no dsire of his hatred for McGregor. Remember the murder for hire investigation you mentioned about McGregor, I think if you dig you will see he may have been behind that bogus claim.

Anonymous said...

I am defending her, because has destroyed lives here t an extent you would believe. During the election her henchman tried to destroy any and everyone who brought this out. It was well known here in Montgomery how corrupt she was. There is more to come I promise.

Anonymous said...

Is this the same McGregor daughter who was married to Assistant United States Attorney Todd Brown? Was there not some issue involving FBI agent Keith Baker during McGregor's arrest relating to McGregor's former son-in-law Todd Brown? The same Todd Brown who worked for Leura Canary and now Louis Franklin?

Anonymous said...

I tink thats a different todd brown. i think there is something bigger going on there.

Fight4Justice said...

Give the JIC a break. They did not take the easiest way out and charge Judge Warner for only one case. In fact, they are still accepting complaints. It is this site that is concentrating on only one case, after many others have been made public.

Perhaps the newest combination of staff at JIC has made a difference and the difference will not stop at Judge Warner. However, keep in mind, no other judge has a reversal rate such as hers. Give credit where credit is due. They hit Sludge Warner as hard as they could with as much as they could. Let's face it, the one case would have been sufficient.

In addition, I would like to encourage victims of Judge Warner's Guardian Ad Litem choice to come forward about unethical professional conduct by an attorney. One must have substantial proof of misconduct to report an attorney to the Alabama State Bar. If you have it, you are not alone. Report unjust attorneys now.

Alabama State Bar- http:www.alabar.org
Telephone number- (334)269-1515

You may print the required,short form from their website. It must be notarized before mailed.

legalschnauzer said...

Fight:

This is good information. Thanks for sending. And I hope you are right about the JIC heading down a new and productive path. I can point out several Shelby and Jefferson Co. judges who need to be scrutinized.

Anonymous said...

It might not be a bad idea to take a gander at the 19th circuit, either. It is the only circuit in Alabama structured in the manner it is. It has allowed judges to keep their seats with virtually no chance at getting beaten in an election because whomever is running against the incumbent judge must live in the same county as the incumbent - not just the same circuit.

Anonymous said...

It is a sad day in Montgomery when one Judge is dimissed and you have another new elected Judge doing the same thing and the JIC say they find no fault. Come on JIC, he may not have 74 charges against him, why wait until he accumlate that many charges?

Pudding said...

Regarding Judge D. Al Crowson, he is a terrioist among families! I have personally been victimized by this judge and my ex wife's crooked attorney who coincidently is being tried for tax evasion. Judge Crowson proceeded with my divorce case he and my ex wife's attorney knew that Alabama had no juridiction over our case. Neither myself nor my ex wife were residents of the state of Alabama and still are not. My ex wife's lawyer said that he had Judge Crowson in his back pocket and I believe it! My ex wife's attorney told her that it is better to put our divorce case in Shelby County with Judge Crowson because he could assure her that a black man will never receive a fair trial in Shelby County in Judge Crowson's courtroom. Not only did I not get a fair trial, but Judge Crowson has ruined my daughter's life.

Pudding said...

Alabama Judges and Attorneys are terrorist among families? I have been personally victimized by Judge D. Al Crowson. He took my case knowing that he had NO jurisdiction. Neither myself nor my ex wife lived in Alabama prior to when she filed the complaint for divorce. We both were and still are residents of Virginia. When I told Judge Crowson that we were not residents of Alabama, he chose not to hear a thing I had to say. The attorney for my ex wife is also a criminal. He told me the morning of my trial that if I did not go into the courtroom and agree to pay his attorney fees that he will ensure that I never get to see my daughter again, and that my ex wife will sign and do anything he says. He has made good on that promise because as of today I have never seen my child. Coincidently, the attorney is being tried at the beginning of the year for tax evasion! I assume that's why he attempted to extort money from me. It's a shame that people like Judge Crowson is put in charge of determining the fate of families. I'm appealing the case and hope that God is on my side!

legalschnauzer said...

I would be interested in learning more about your experience before Judge Crowson. He took a case where he had no jurisdiction in Rollins v. Rollins, which I've covered extensively. Also would like to know more about your ex wife's attorney. Feel free to contact via private e-mail--rshuler3156@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Judge Crowson is the worst judge i have encountered. He gave ALL the assets to the wife. He rejected any form of evidence i had. He ruined my teenage son and daughter's life. He should be charged as a criminal and rot because of what he has done to not only mine, but many families. I am left with barely any money to sustain while my ex-wife is living in a large, very valuable house, that I paid off. I dont know what to do in this situation. How do you go about reporting a corrupt judge?

legalschnauzer said...

Feel free to contact me at my private e-mail, rshuler3156@gmail.com.