Ted Rollins and his lawyer seem to take a perverse delight in poking sticks at the Legal Schnauzer.
Rollins, the CEO of Charlotte-based Campus Crest Communities, is represented by Chad Essick, of the North Carolina firm Poyner Spruill. They started by sending a letter that pretty clearly threatened a lawsuit if I continued to report fully and accurately on Rollins' actions that are connected to Alabama, where I live.
They have followed with a second letter, one that seems designed mostly to insult me and attack the credibility of Sherry Carroll Rollins, the victim of hideous legal shenanigans in a divorce case Ted Rollins (her ex husband) instituted in Alabama.
Mr. Rollins and Mr. Essick apparently have not learned two of life's important lessons: (1) Schnauzers do not suffer fools gladly; (2) Schnauzers bite, and when they do, it can involve significant pain for the bitee.
I have written that Rollins v. Rollins is "No. 1 on my 'hit parade' of courtroom abuse." Put another way, it's the most blatant example of courtroom corruption in a civil matter that I've uncovered--and that's saying something. I stand by that statement, by the way.
The case was heard in Shelby County, Alabama, and Mr. Rollins received an extraordinarily favorable judgment, even though Mrs. Rollins had sued him for divorce some three years earlier in Greenville, South Carolina--where the couple had lived and where numerous court orders already had been entered. Simple jurisdictional law--call it Law School 101--shows that such a judicial heist cannot be done. But Alabama Circuit Judge D. Al Crowson did it anyway, violating all sorts of law that perhaps is best explained in a case styled Wesson v. Wesson, 628 So. 2d 953 (Ala., 1993) Here is the key finding:
Once jurisdiction has attached in one court, that court has the exclusive right to continue its exercise of power until the completion of the case, and is only subject to appellate authority.
Legal doctrine doesn't come much shorter or simpler than that. Based on the clear language in Wesson, Sherry Carroll Rollins and the two daughters she had with Ted Rollins (now teens and living with their mother in Alabama) received a "shaft job" that would make Isaac Hayes blush.
The corruption in Rollins v. Rollins is so transparent and blatant that it cannot be seriously argued. But Ted Rollins and his lawyer apparently feel a need to massage the case anyway. Their second letter, which might charitably be called a massive load of feces, can be read in its entirety below.
Chad Essick starts by informing me that the first letter was not meant to be seen as "threatening." Rather, it was to inform me that Mr. Rollins and his company have retained legal counsel "based on concerns about inaccurate and misleading information you have published." How is that different from a threat of litigation? Beats me.
Mr. Essick then refers to my work as "reporting" (with quotation marks) and then states that he wants to ensure that my work is "accurate, unbiased, and free of the conspiracy theories that you seem so determined to create."
Memo to Mr. Essick: Insults are way less effective than you might imagine when dealing with journalists.
Here is another rhetorical tactic that has proven over the years to be ineffective: Stating you aren't going to do something and then doing it. Mr. Essick writes: "Frankly, we see no need to engage in a legal debate with a non-lawyer over a case that has long been settled by the courts." Then, he proceeds to initiate such a debate.
There is only one problem for Mr. Essick and his client: Rollins v. Rollins can't be debated; it was handled in a manner that is contrary to clear law, as outlined in Wesson v. Wesson above. The primary questions about Rollins v. Rollins now are as follows:
* Why was it handled in an unlawful fashion?
* Who caused it to be handled in an unlawful fashion?
* How did certain individuals benefit from it being handled in an unlawful fashion?
* How many federal and state laws were violated in the process?
* How many individuals would wind up in orange jump suits if actions related to Rollins v. Rollins were investigated fully?
I am seeking answers to those questions, and that process seems to make Mr. Rollins uncomfortable. The observant reader might ask this questions: If the Rollins divorce case was handled lawfully, why are Mr. Rollins and his lawyer concerned about my reporting--which is based on documents that come straight from the court file?
We soon will address some of the issues Team Rollins raises in an effort to muddy the waters--on a case where the waters are crystal clear. But first, let's present my response to Chad Essick's second letter. Suffice to say, Mr. Essick fails to show that there is anything inaccurate or misleading about my reporting:
I am in receipt of your letter, via e-mail, dated October 17, 2011. I agree that there is no point in debating actions taken by judges and lawyers in Rollins v. Rollins. But you raise a few issues that require a response from me:
* You reference "personal attacks" that I've made against Ted Rollins. This is inaccurate. I am a journalist, with 30 years of professional experience in the field. I am reporting on matters of public interest, in Shelby County, Alabama, where I live--and in North Carolina, South Carolina and states around the country where Ted Rollins does business as head of a publicly traded company. My reporting has been based on public documents and published reports in multiple news outlets. This is what journalists do; it's not a matter of "personal attacks."
* You're assertion that it's false and inaccurate to "suggest" that Rollins v. Rollins was unlawfully moved from South Carolina to Alabama is not supported by the record. By the way, I haven't "suggested" that the case was unlawfully moved, I have flat out stated such and cited relevant case law to prove it. That point can't seriously be debated by people who know the law, as I'm sure you do.
* You're statement that I've "suggested" Mr. Rollins has missed child-support payments is false. I did ask him in an e-mail about payments that Sherry Rollins said were late (and public documents indicated were late). And I made a brief reference to that in a post, noting that payment had soon been made. But I have not reported on Mr. Rollins missing child-support payments--not yet, anyway.
* You state that I have "attacked" Ted Rollins about the support of his children. Again, I am a journalist reporting factually about matters of public record in a court of law, on issues that involve use of public resources. It is a fact that Ted Rollins' two children qualify for food stamps, and they currently receive food stamps. That's not an "attack," it's journalism.
* If Mr. Rollins would like to clear up questions about his financial status at the time he signed a CS-41 document under oath in Alabama, perhaps he should make certain documents available for review. These might include (but not be limited to) his tax returns for the past 10 years; documents related to his interest in Campus Crest Communities, St. James Capital, the Crescent Center, and other ventures over the past 10 years; documents related to any trust or investment accounts from which he derives income; documents related to any real-estate or development properties in which he has an interest; documents about any financial connections he has to Rollins, Inc. in Atlanta. My understanding is that such documents were sought during the discovery phase of Rollins v. Rollins, but for the most part, were not produced.
* I understand your concerns about the CS-41 document that I have published, but you are addressing them to the wrong person. I obtained that document from the public court file, as maintained at alacourt.com. Anyone on planet earth with an Internet connection can gain access to alacourt.com and see that document. It is public in every way, and my use of it violates no privacy laws. The Alabama Administrative Office of Courts (AOC) is responsible for documents that appear on alacourt.com. If you are concerned about Mr. Rollins' Social Security Number appearing at alacourt.com, I would suggest you address that issue with AOC. If Mr. Rollins is the victim of identify theft, I would suggest that you prepare a lawsuit against AOC because it is the entity that put his identifying information in the public domain.
* In your next-to-last sentence, you reference "matters that are personal" to Mr. Rollins and his family. I'm sure you are aware that Rollins v. Rollins is a court case, that it was litigated with court personnel and facilities that are funded with taxpayer dollars (including mine), and that the case file is a matter of public record. When Mr. Rollins sued Sherry Rollins for divorce, it was not a "personal matter"--it was a public matter. When he sued her in Shelby County, where I live and where I have seen judges unlawfully treat non-favored parties, it became a matter of great interest to me.
In closing, the public record shows that Alabama courts, which I help fund, were used in an abusive and unlawful fashion in Rollins v. Rollins. I doubt that you ever have set foot in a Shelby County courtroom. Well, I have--and I've seen how the actual law is treated like a play toy, how constitutional rights to due process and equal protection are butchered, how innocent parties can be brought to the edge of ruin by corrupt judges and lawyers.
You can be assured that I will continue to report on the Rollins case, and other matters of injustice, in an aggressive and factual manner.
Ted Rollins--Letter No. 2