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Friday, November 30, 2012

Judge Sibley Reynolds Increases The Amount That Jailed Alabama Woman Must Pay In Her Divorce

Judge Sibley Reynolds (upper, right)
in his Chilton County courtroom

The amount that an unlawfully incarcerated Alabama woman must pay to settle her divorce has increased by almost $33,000, according to a new Web report on the case.

Bonnie Cahalane (Knox) Wyatt has been in the Chilton County Jail since July 26 because she failed to pay $165,000 as part of her divorce settlement. The Alabama Constitution states that citizens cannot be sent to jail because of debts, and case law specifically states that it is unlawful to incarcerate anyone because of failure to pay a property-related debt from dissolution of a marriage.

Alabama law, as best stated in a case styled Dolberry v. Dolberry, 920 So. 2d 573 (Ala. Civ. App., 2005), is clear: A party can be jailed for failure to pay a divorce-related debt, such as alimony, that involves "sustenance and support" of a former spouse; but a property-related debt is considered a contract matter, and the alleged debtor is subject to neither a finding of contempt nor incarceration.

So why has Chilton County Circuit Judge Sibley Reynolds flagrantly violated Alabama law by ordering that Bonnie Wyatt be sent to jail, for four months and counting? The only apparent answer is that Reynolds is intentionally acting outside the law, punishing Ms. Wyatt because someone sees her as a threat. The incarceration clearly has nothing to do with her divorce from Harold Jay Wyatt and any debt Ms. Wyatt allegedly owes to him. The couple lived together as man and wife for only about 10 months, so it's hard to see how Harold Wyatt could have such a large stake in a house that belonged to his wife prior to the marriage.

Now we learn that Judge Reynolds has increased the amount owed to $197,929.20. That comes from a report at examiner.com, written by Bradley Patterson, titled "Tyranny and Corruption, Alabama Style: Judge Sibley G. Reynolds." Patterson is the author of the Alabama blog Broke in Marshall County and has written extensively about issues connected to domestic-relations and family courts. From his report at examiner.com:

Chilton County resident Bonnie Sue Wyatt is now in her fifth consecutive month of incarceration for failure to pay a debt, under a civil contempt order signed by 19th Judicial Circuit Judge Sibley G. Reynolds. Earlier today several sources close to the case indicated that Ms. Wyatt is being held under indefinite incarceration, and some believe it may be motivated by corruption and not based in law. We have recently confirmed with officials in the Chilton County Courthouse that Ms. Wyatt must pay in full $197,920.19 to be released, in accordance with an order issued by Judge Reynolds on July 11.

Does Judge Reynolds have the slightest interest in handling Bonnie Wyatt's case according to law? Apparently the answer is no, based on this information from the examiner.com article:

Since her incarceration in July, Judge Reynolds has also stripped Ms. Wyatt of her custody rights to her children, and was said to have asked Ms. Wyatt, “Have you learned your lesson yet?” in open court on the day he stripped her rights to her children. This has led many to question the rumors about Ms. Wyatt's alleged ability to pay along with the judge's own motivations in the case. Ms. Wyatt indicated in appeals documents that she could not pay the amount ordered. Her attempts to appeal the order were denied by Judge Reynolds himself.

Why would Judge Reynolds ask Ms. Wyatt, "Have you learned your lesson yet?" What lesson is the judge trying to teach? Does that lesson have anything to do with the facts and the law in Wyatt v. Wyatt? Why did Reynolds raise such a question at a hearing where Ms. Wyatt's former husband--Bobby Knox, president of Shelby Concrete and a wealthy resident of Chilton County--was trying to get custody of their youngest daughter?

Clanton lawyer Angie Avery Collins is listed as Ms. Wyatt's attorney of record, but Patterson raises questions about Ms. Collins' performance. An emergency interlocutory appeal, called a writ of mandamus, clearly should be filed, asking the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals to force Reynolds to follow the mandate spelled out in the Dolberry case. In fact, such an emergency motion should have been filed back in July to put a stay on the arrest warrant and ensure that Ms. Wyatt would not be unlawfully jailed.

But the record shows that Ms. Collins has done little, if anything, to protect her client's interests. Are lawyers in and around Chilton County afraid to stand up to Sibley Reynolds? That's how it looks from here. From the examiner.com article:

Considering that under State law one can only be held for up to five days under criminal contempt, one has to wonder how Ms. Wyatt has remained incarcerated for over four months under civil contempt which is presumed to be less serious. Ms. Wyatt has previously retained the services of at least four attorneys on the matter. Most recently she hired Clanton, Alabama based attorney Angie Collins in the matter, though it appears that Ms. Collins has abandoned her client. Sources indicate that Ms. Collins received payment for her services, but now refuses to return the phone calls of those close to Ms. Wyatt. She has also not visited Ms. Wyatt at the jail nor has she taken any action to protect her client's interests. 
Our own multiple phone calls about the case have not been returned either. Today her secretary indicated to us that Ms. Collins was in her office, but would call us “right back within 20 minutes.” As of press time, several hours have passed and she has not done so. Sources close to Ms. Wyatt are astonished at Ms. Collins' lack of cooperation to have her client's right to liberty restored.

51 comments:

Sharon said...

Reynolds is increasing the amount? Good Lord, there isn't documentation to support the original amount is there?

legalschnauzer said...

Not that I can find, Sharon.

Anonymous said...

LS, can you find anything where Ms. Wyatt authorized Mr. Wyatt to sink so much money into her house? If he spent it, without her authorization, why should she owe it?

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 12:59--

You ask an important question. And so far, I've found nothing--in the form of a document or testimony--where Ms. Wyatt authorized these expenditures. And as noted earlier, I can find in the files where there is documentation of the spending by Mr. Wyatt. It might exist, but I don't see it in the file.

Aside from all of that, Ms. Wyatt cannot lawfully be in jail. Even is she owes the full amount and then some, that's a contract issue that is not subject to contempt.

Anonymous said...

Finally you touched on the reason for her incarceration. To give custody of her daughter to her x. Her incarceration gives her x time to alienate the child from her and discredit her to her child. Yes its about money but not the money in questionn she owes to Wyatt. It's about money Knox used to bribe and buy her child from Reynolds. Welcome to the real war on women Bonnie. God bless her soul!

legalschnauzer said...

With the child's mother in jail, I guess Bobby Knox no longer has to pay child support. Need to double check, but I think that's the case.

Pretty convenient.

Anonymous said...

It's not about child support, it's about controlling Bonnie.

Gerry With A G said...

Sounds like Sibley Reynolds makes up his own law as he goes along. More than not, I hear, it's the woman who comes up with the short end of the stick in a divorce case.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Bonnie Wyatt knows something about corruption in the justice system, or Reynolds thinks she knows something, and that's why she is in jail--to make sure she stays quiet.

I've never been in jail, but I understand all of your communications with the outside are monitored. That would be a nice way to make sure she doesn't spill the beans about something.

Anonymous said...

Rephrase, it's about controlling and hurting her!

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 1:45--

Do you think it is personal on Reynolds ' part, or is he hurting Ms. Wyatt on behalf of someone else?

Anonymous said...

Remind me never to hire Angie Collins if I need a lawyer. She sounds pathetic.

legalschnauzer said...

Ms. Collins apparently takes your money and then vanishes when you really need her. I've come across a lot of lawyers like that.

If Ms. Collins had any interest in upholding her oath as a lawyer, she would be pitching a mighty fit about what has been done in this case.

Like Brad Patterson, I've left messages with Ms. Collins, seeking an interview. No response.

Anonymous said...

Its not about how Reynolds feels personally about Bonnie. It's all about Knox! Anon 1:14 hit the nail on the head! This is about $$$. Probably a pretty big sum in this case.

Anonymous said...

No not personal other than whatever sick perversion in his pathetic self is satisfied. It's about Knox but mainly the money that Knox invested. You don't really think Reynolds would illegally jail someone for free?

Anonymous said...

Wonder what the visiting hours are at the county jail? Wonder if they are allowing her to have visitors?
Wonder why a group of concerned LS readers don't get together and go visit Bonnie?
Wonder why we don't start a petition to take persoanlly to Judge Reynolds?
Readers, we have to do something..this woman can not stay in jail away from her child any longer. Maybe the amount he is ordering her to pay will actually be the Judges's payoff? Six on Your Side should be involved in this.

Anonymous said...

LS, you should look into a possible connection between Bobbie Knox and Mr Wyatt before, during and after the Wyatt vs Wyatt case. That amount she's being held on could be Wyatt's payoff for aiding Knox to gain custody of their daughter. Wouldnt be a shocker if you found that Knox knew Wyatt before Bonnie did.

Robby Scott Hill said...

Court of Civil Appeals material here folks.

Anonymous said...

"... Tonight when I retire to my bed, I will not feel as safe from unpredictable evils as I did when I was a teenager reading scary stories. Even scarier stories, I’ve found, can be true. Stories about the innocent caught in a machine that perverts every possibility of justice. That kind of story never ends. There is no finality in injustice.

.. Read more at
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/11/how-i-changed-my-mind-about-the-jeffrey-macdonald-murder-case.html#fuYkOeTCakjAlK2t.99

"... When Malcolm's work first appeared in March 1989, as a two-part serialization in The New Yorker magazine, it caused a sensation, becoming the occasion for wide-ranging debate within the news industry.[2]

.. Malcolm's thesis, and the most widely quoted passage from The Journalist and the Murderer, is presented in the book's opening paragraph: "Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible." She continues:[3]

.. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people's vanity, ignorance or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse. Like the credulous widow who wakes up one day to find the charming young man and all her savings gone, so the consenting subject of a piece of nonfiction learns—when the article or book appears—his hard lesson.

...... Journalists justify their treachery in various ways according to their temperaments. The more pompous talk about freedom of speech and "the public's right to know"; the least talented talk about Art; the seemliest murmur about earning a living.

... [edit] The journalist and the murderer ......

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Journalist_and_the_Murderer

Malcolm took as her subject the popular non-fiction writer Joe McGinniss; McGinniss had become a best-selling author with his 1969 work The Selling of the President 1968. After an interview with the accused murderer, Jeffrey MacDonald, MacDonald proposed that McGinniss write a book of his story, and asked for a share of the revenue from the book as a way to fund his legal battle.[4] McGinniss agreed. Having received a sizable advance payment[5] for the true crime project that would become Fatal Vision, McGinniss struck up a close friendship with the accused murderer Jeffrey MacDonald. Later, to assuage the uneasiness of other members at the defense table, lead counsel Bernard Segal had McGinness sign a contract, under terms of which McGinness would not divulge defense strategy to outsiders and would put a positive spin on MacDonald's story.

ANON 11/30 @2:30PM,

YES, A BOOK, PETITION, ET CETERA!

There is only one way to restore JUSTICE and it is to have journalists, ah hem LS, get the books written with enough PETITIONERS in the book(s) to distribute widely and of course then, GLOBAL we are blessed in this "modern time," with the www.

e.a.f. said...

I know you write about Alabama but this case sounds more like it was in some third world tribal country where women have no rights. In Jail for debt???? I thought debt jails went out of season back in the Victorian times. Only in America you say? thank god. Americans should be ashamed of themselves. I will be writing the governor to express my disguist with what is going on. I am sure he won't care but it will make me feel better. if women are treated in this manner in an American state it does not bode well for women anywhere.

legalschnauzer said...

e.a.f--

I agree that it sounds like a third-world country. In fact, it might be an insult to third-world countries to compare them to Alabama on justice issues.

e.a.f. said...

I have sent a letter to the govenor of the state expressing my concern regarding the treatment of Ms. Wyatt and Judge Reynolds inability to read the laws of the state.

Has any consideration been given to asking a Human Rights tribunal to intervene in Ms. Wyatt's behalf, such as one which deals with international cases. It might enbarass the state into dealing with the issue.

legalschnauzer said...

Glad to hear about your concern and your letter. I think a number of people who belong to a group involved with divorce/family issues are working on Ms. Wyatt's behalf. It's hard because judges have no real oversight, and I suspect most human rights organizations focus on third-world countries and such, more than the U.S. I'm going to stay on the story and hope my coverage can make a difference. This case is an absolute outrage.

Anonymous said...

What about Amnesty International? Not sure about them today but remember they were instrumental on the global scale back in the 80's re South African Apartheid. Their website says they deal with women's issues here. Mayb shouldn't print this.

legalschnauzer said...

That might be a possibility. Anyone has permission to send my posts to organizations that might be able to intervene on Bonnie Wyatt's behalf. This kind of thing never should happen in any country, much less the US of A.

legalschnauzer said...

Note to Anonymous at 11:20--

You are welcome to send me a private e-mail at rshuler3156@gmail.com. I'm interested in the information you mentioned.

Anonymous said...

LS, trust you received Email(s), the New York Times as well as "Judges" that are supposedly THE Article III, SENIOR IN THE SYSTEM, also have been shared with this story and your blog.

No, unequivocally a resounding NO, NO woman should be treated like this in the centuries 19, 20, 21.

BUT, the Bush Crime Family and its ongoing GOP Agenda "21" !! to be certain in teaching AUSTERITY!

FAR TOO MANY CHIEF JUSTICES AS "WOMEN" IN THE US HAVE BEEN GENDER BENT. No, a resounding NO in expectations for the "women judicial" to be of the power which changes this ongoing discrimination against 'normal.'

EG Boener and all the GOP on TV to sell US more of the same BS: credit debt for the CONGRESS ET AL, but for Americans' only eating out of trashcans or worse, SEE Alabama's criminally insane labeled no due process ruling no law.

READ Fritz Kraemer's "On Excellence," for pity's sake we are living in the book imaginations of incredibly sick minds: Henry Kissinger is in charge with the other criminally insane that have held America's "reality" in Ghetto-Hell, just ask Alabama Bonnie Woman.

MILLIONS OF AMERICANS to file paperwork suing the "Judicial Nazi Colonization," that is bought and paid for via the Federal Reserve Cabal's 8 families of vile evil credit debt sold as "money" and actually perpetuity debt infinitely is anything but wealth.

TRIBAL LEGAL is NAZI COLONIZATION JUDICIAL USA.

Time for change and "Barry" nor "Michelle" can practice law or be licensed as lawyers in America, thus who and whom control the US?

REAL PARTY/IES IN INTEREST?

Watch TV and then send papers to Senator Bernie Sanders and ask the proverbial question: Who is in charge, LAWYER and Senior Senator Bernie Sanders?!

e.a.f. said...

I'm happy to read you are staying on the story. The more coverage, the more exposure of the Judge's failure to operate according to the law. Although there maybe little oversight on Judges in the American system, beyond elections, sometimes if they make things too uncomfortable for politicians, judges can find they have new careers.

I view this case as just another attack on Women's rights. We have seen enough of that during the American presidental election. If this judge is permitted to get away with this case, who knows where it will stop. Or as the old expressions goes, an injustice to one, is an injustice to all.

Anonymous said...

I had a Judge tell me that he was going to "make this painful" for me. So he proceeded to enter an Order that assessed me attorneys fees for my ex wife's attorney and GAL. Now it had no basis and he did not follow the American rule nor previous case law (Reynolds v. First Alabama Bank of Montgomery, 471 So. 2d 1238). However I had run afoul for some pretty tight group of attorneys and they were going to show me how they deal with pro se rabble rousers. All for me trying to protect my daughter and seek compliance with an existing order. Unfortunately there are too many Judges that feel as though they can do whatever they want legal or otherwise. Because they can. Truth and justice are foreign concepts in today's Alabama Family Court system. It's, for the most part, all about lawyers covering for other lawyers and making a lot of money while destroying families.

legalschnauzer said...

That all sounds so familiar. You said a mouthful, and I hope citizens like yourself will continue to speak out.

Silence is the best friend of the legal cartel.

Anonymous said...

This commenter smells fishy considering he's saying his ex wife's GAL! GAL's aren't for the parents they are for the kids!

legalschnauzer said...

I think he means to say that he was assessed fees for his ex wife's attorney, plus the GAL. It's a little unclear, but that's how I read it.

Anonymous said...

GAL's are definitely not for the kids! Even though they should be. If you see motion for a GAL, object! They are worthless and only part of the racket!

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 10:00;
I was unclear in my previous post. I was assessed 1/2 GAL fees and approx. 60% of my ex wife's attorneys fees. The total amount was around 22k. How many GALs, in a cut and dry, contempt proceeding charge 11k for not doing their job? The secret is if you are pro se and they have nothing to base a counterclaim (ex wife's lawyer) on then they will extend the proceedings as long as possible and pile on hours, then ask for a judgement against you. How many contempt proceedings last over 2 year's??? It helps if the lawyer also graduated from uat at the same time as the judge, I guess. The GAL FAILED to do her job and I asked that she be removed. She managed to "settle up" with me during the final hearing. I had a DHR caseworker assigned to my case that was a friend of my ex wife's family...conflict of interest right? Nope. The Judge denied my request to have a new caseworker assigned to the case. It's all done, because as Roger stated, there is little to no oversight. They do it because they can. Protect the clan... Nothing fishy here except the Alabama family court system.

Anonymous said...

Based on my experience I completely agree. I believe that in order to be a GAL you need to complete something like 8 hrs of "training". 8 hours to be "qualified" to "know" what is in a child's best interest. Really??? I'm sure that there are competent GALs out there. I met one, but the one assigned to my case was imo incompetent and lazy. She didn't even bother interviewing me, just ex wife, her family and friends. When I pointed that out to the court via motion she apparently took exception to that. I say that because her GAL report, filed on a Sunday before Monday morning docket call was to be generous an exercise in creative writing. Baseless and poorly written. I thought my ex wife could have written it. Medical records that were at the center of contempt motion were glossed over and relevant medical information that would have supported my claims were conveniently left out. The GAL didn't even enter the records into evidence because that would have ruined the case for ex wife. Some of these people are completely unethical, but the question is who do you compliant to? The Alabama State Bar??? They more often than not just label you as a disgruntled litigant in an attempt to discredit you. Ask Roger. Anything to discredit or marginalize you so that their activity can continue. I am still contemplating whether to host a site and post my legal laundry for people to see what some judges and lawyers get away with in the state. If not for my daughter's privacy I would have already. Stay tuned...

legalschnauzer said...

The term "disgruntled litigant" has been thrown at me more times than I can count. I think it's thrown at everyone who doesn't happily accept the screw job the legal cartel has planned for you.

Anonymous said...

Roger any word as to whether any lawyers have been interested in helping Ms Wyatt "correct" this injustice?

legalschnauzer said...

I don't think lawyers are going to solve this problem, at least not ones from Alabama. Lawyers are part of the problem. Ms. Wyatt has an attorney, Angie Avery Collins in Clanton, but she doesn't seem to be doing much.

Steve said...

I think you may want to dig a little because the house that Bonnie had before she met Mr. Wyatt was a shell. Mr. Wyatt finished the house and it was in his name because of her credit then a few days before she had him removed from the home he added her name. You are right they were only living together 10 months so why should he buy her a house? I do believe he is still paying the house payment and insurance on this house. If he was a horrible person why would he do that? She did remarry a man after Mr. Wyatt. And no Mr. Wyatt did NOT know Mr. Knox before Bonnie. Why is all these lies being told. Why don't all of you get the money togther and get her out? I do believe you will see just what type of a person she is. bonnie owed money all over Clanton before she met Mr. Wyatt. So we know she did not spend her money on the house. Why don't you talk to the man that just divorced her or her current boyfriend.

Anonymous said...

Who paid the house payment the 10 months they were married and who paid the house payment for 3 years while the were seperated? And who is still paying the house payment? I do believe that was and still is Mr. Wyatt

Anonymous said...

The real question is what did Bonnie do with 1.5 million and 2 payed for houses plus 1700 plus in child support for 2 kids that she got from Bobby Knox in last 8 years? Maybe time in Jail helped her with her DRUG addiction!!!!!

legalschnauzer said...

I've studied the public record extensively, and I've found nothing to show that Bonnie Cahalane had a drug addiction, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on drugs, or is in jail because of drugs. I also have seen nothing in the record that shows she married anyone after Harold Wyatt or has been divorced since the Wyatt divorce. For the record, I have spoken with Harold Wyatt, and nothing written on this blog has ever portrayed him as a "horrible person." In fact, I've reported that evidence strongly suggests his ex wife's incarceration has nothing to do with any debt allegedly owed to Harold Wyatt. She has been wrongfully jailed for some reason that has little to do with fact or law in Wyatt v. Wyatt. And that's the bottom line: You cannot be held in contempt, or jailed, for failure to pay a property-related debt connected to dissolution of a marriage. It's contrary to law in Alabama and elsewhere, and that is my primary interest--not these issues you raise, which may or may not be based in fact.

Anonymous said...

LS, did you ask Wyatt what he thinks of Bonnie's incarceration?

legalschnauzer said...

No, I did not ask Mr. Wyatt that question directly. At the time we talked, I was not aware of the case law, via "Dolberry," that shows this incarceration is unlawful. My impression was that Mr. Wyatt was OK with his ex wife being in jail. Perhaps I need to get back in touch with him.

Anonymous said...

LS~ The man that Bonnie married was Darryl Plier... Darryl divorce her after she went to jail because of all her lies. Ask her about him.

legalschnauzer said...

If there was a marriage and divorce, it should appear on public records. Last time I checked the records, no divorce action appeared. Will check again.

Anonymous said...

Its the same situation in every divorce in Chilton county. This judge will rule in the husbands favor every time. He hates women. I think he may be queer. The lawyers don't follow the law because they do what the judge says. If you can't beat him,join him.

Anonymous said...

Reynolds, the GAL , and the appeals court are corrupt. I have had my own dealings with Sibley and he is a CROOK, he has ruined me and my children's lives.

Anonymous said...

To add... my attorney gave up against Sibley. Sibley slammed him and talked to my ex directly in court. My attorney gave up. Yes they are afraid of him.

Anonymous said...

Well, just move documentation to put in my binder to get this man off seat! Judges are immune to whatever when they are on that bench, but sir is getting what he deserves. HE IS GETTING REVIEWED, LOSING HIS PAYCHECK & GOING TO JAIL ! He railroad my man, and played on his cell phone throughout everyone's case. How is he even still in seat, so crooked

Anonymous said...

Yea judge Reynolds screwed me on my divorce bad. He first off is the reason I have not seen my girls in six straight years. Their mom was abusive and fled from Georgia to her hometown. This judge had me put in jail several times with false harassment charges to protect my ex wife. I wasted tons of money fighting for my kids and passed out in jail and slept in a holding cell a week for two months of child support I didn't know I owed. He ruined my life and my kids mom won't let me see or talk to them and it was all set up. I wrote a 35 page book om his but because he is an illegal judge. At this moment I'm finishing my book and it will be forwarded to the bar in Alabama and a few other states. Someone gas to stop this madness.