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Monday, January 14, 2013

Chilton County Resident Bonnie Wyatt Is Out Of Jail, But Now She Is Being Forced To Sell Her Home

Bonnie Wyatt

A central Alabama woman who was unlawfully incarcerated for almost five months now is on the verge of being thrown from her home.

Bonnie Wyatt, of Clanton, was released from the Chilton County Jail on December 18, but her freedom came with a major caveat. Circuit Judge Sibley Reynolds issued an order on that date, giving Ms. Wyatt 30 days to be out of her home so it could be sold to satisfy an alleged debt from her divorce case.

That means Ms. Wyatt must exit the premises by this Thursday, January 17, so that it can be shown by Amber Darnell, an agent with RealtySouth in Clanton.

Are the fine folks at RealtySouth aware that Judge Reynolds' order is unlawful? Are they aware of how many ways it is unlawful? Do they care about the rule of law or only about the nice commission a court-ordered sale will bring?

We already have shown in a series of posts that Ms. Wyatt's incarceration--ostensibly because of her failure to pay former husband Harold Wyatt $165,000 for his equity in the marital residence--was contrary to law. That is readily apparent from reading an Alabama case styled Dolberry v. Dolberry, 920 So. 2d 573 (Ala. Civ. App., 2005), which makes it unlawful for a judge to subject a party to contempt and incarceration because of a property-related debt from the dissolution of a marriage.

Law doesn't get much more clear-cut than the Dolberry case, but Judge Reynolds ordered Bonnie Wyatt's arrest anyway. A reasonable person might conclude that Reynolds acted with an ulterior motive that had little, if anything, to do with Harold Wyatt's financial picture.

After all, Bonnie and Harold Wyatt lived together as husband and wife for only about 10 months, and she owned the house in question before the marriage. We have found nothing in the court file that proves Harold Wyatt spent roughly $165,000 on the residence during the time he lived with Bonnie Wyatt. And we certainly have found nothing that indicates Bonnie Wyatt authorized such expenditures.

So why is Ms. Wyatt being forced out of a home that she owned from the outset--one that was in the process of being rebuilt after it was destroyed in a fire that was investigated as a case of arson?

Judge Reynolds' orders in the Bonnie Wyatt matter clearly are not being driven by the rule of law. So what is driving them? Our research strongly suggests that Ms. Wyatt somehow came to be seen as a threat to powerful corporate and legal interests in Chilton and Shelby counties. Those issues probably originated with her protracted divorce from Bobby Knox, the wealthy and connected president of Shelby Concrete.

The Knox divorce case started in 2002, and court documents show that Bobby Knox, at one point, threatened to burn his wife's house to the ground. The case was resolved in 2005, and just weeks after that, the house was destroyed in a fire. (Issues associated with the Knox divorce continue to crop up, as recently as 2012, but the basic settlement was reached in 2005.) The house caught fire overnight, with seven people inside--Bonnie Knox, her four children, and two of the kids' friends. Somehow, everyone escaped without injury, but the house was a total loss.

Bobby Knox was not the only nasty character connected to the Knox v. Knox divorce case. Shelby County lawyer William E. Swatek represented Bonnie Knox, and we have shown in a series of posts that he has a 30-year history of ethical violations. Swatek engaged in serious misconduct at some point in the Knox matter, a source tells Legal Schnauzer. Does that mean Swatek, along with Bobby Knox, might somehow benefit from seeing Bonnie Wyatt unlawfully jailed and thrown from her home? We suspect the answer is yes.

Regardless of what is driving it, the forced sale of Bonnie Wyatt's house is every bit as unlawful as her earlier incarceration. Consider the following:

* The so-called settlement agreement in Wyatt v. Wyatt was reached via an unlawful mediation. Multiple sources have told Legal Schnauzer that Judge Reynolds, about an hour into the mediation, summoned the parties to his courtroom and engaged in the proceedings that led to settlement. That clearly is contrary to Alabama law, and it gives Bonnie Wyatt powerful grounds for having the settlement agreement set aside.

* Even if the settlement is considered valid--and we see clear signs that it is not--any agreement the parties reached regarding the marital residence almost certainly is invalid. A fundamental concept of contract law is this: Any agreement generally is considered void if it is reached while one party is under duress. Judge Reynolds' order of December 18 states that "by agreement of the parties," the marital residence would go up for sale, and Ms. Wyatt would be out of the house by January 17. Consider the conditions under which Bonnie Wyatt supposedly agreed to that: She unlawfully was in jail and was looking at returning to jail if she did not agree to sell the house; she was looking at spending the Christmas and New Year's holidays in jail if she did not agree to sell the house. If that does not qualify as duress, then it's hard to imagine what would--short of coming to an "agreement" at gun point.

* Angie Avery Collins, Ms. Wyatt's current attorney, appears to have several conflicts of interest--and we will be addressing those in upcoming posts. Are those conflicts the reason that Ms. Collins does not seem to be objecting to the unlawful forced sale of her client's home?

We recently named the story of Bonnie Wyatt's release from jail as our No. 1 post of 2012. But we knew at the time that the story was a long way from over. And now we know for sure that injustice in Chilton County has not gone away--it simply has changed to a new format.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Where is Bonnie supposed to live once the house is sold?

Shannon said...

I guess your choice in Alabama is to be in jail or to be homeless.

Barb said...

Ms. Wyatt's attorney agreed to this? Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

Where is NOW? This is horrible abuse of a woman.

David in S. Alabama said...

What if she sold it to her children for ten dollars and other valuable considerations?

David in S. Alabama said...

Or better still...sel it to her children and file bancrupcy? Wouldn't Bancrupcy court trump this crazy state court judge?

legalschnauzer said...

David:

I like the way you think. You need to be a lawyer. You've already given better advice in this case than the real lawyer has. And your advice is free!

Anonymous said...

Where is the ACLU? Outrageous.

Anonymous said...

The FBI needs to get real well acquainted with Sibley Reynolds.

Anonymous said...

Remind me never to hire Angie Avery Collins. Where on earth did she get her law degree? Did she buy a diploma at a garage sale?

Sharon said...

This is like reading about a rape case.

Anonymous said...

The rule of law does not matter to Sibley Reynolds. There are so many conflicts of interest in his courtroom LS could start a separate blog devoted entirely to Reynolds, his lawyer buddies, the DA and ADAs... The list goes on and on and on.

By the way, Roger, I've identified all of the lawyers in the hunting camp pictures. Some of the names should raise eyebrows.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 11:01--

Thanks. I think the public needs to become intimately familiar with Sibley Reynolds' leading role in Alabama's corrupt hunting-club culture.

e.a.f. said...

The judge obviously didn't care about the 4 children either. Making 4 children homeless is outrageous. Taliban style justice is alive & well in Alabama.

Yes, where is the FBI. Can't the FBI look into this under the American Rico statute.

The FBI could also look into this as a hate crime. I think it not unreasonable that some judges in Alabama hate women & children & want to reduce them to poverty & homelessness.

As to the lawyers in Alabama, they do appear to be ethically challenged. What if any authority does the state bar association have to discipline "bad" lawyers. It might be better for some to find a law student who hasn't yet been tainted by the law culture in Alabama.

there really needs to be a change to marital law in the U.S.A. In Canada it is federal. There are basic ground rules which apply everywhere in our country. It doesn't help to go to another province. You get the same law.

One thing I would advise women to do in Alabama is to have a prenup. before any live in situation or marriage. Then get it renewed once a yr.

When I look at how women are treated in Alabama & how they are treated under Canadian divorce law it is a lot different. One of Canada's uber rich divorced his wife of 30 yr. The court just awarded her $175 thousand a month in support, along with the matrimonial home, two cottages, and $7Million. She was only looking for $113K a month. The 4 children are all above 19 yrs of age but in Canada, if your children are in school the custodial parent can claim child support until the child is 25. Long enough to get a masters degree.

Time to write the governor again.

legalschnauzer said...

e.a.f.--

The two oldest children are now in their early 20s and out on their own. Of the two youngest, the boy requested to live with his dad a year or two ago--they share a major interest in stock-car racing--and the father (Bobby Knox) was awarded custody of the girl when Bonnie was sent to jail. I assume something will be worked out on that.

This action is not as bad as it might seem in terms of the kids, although it certainly is bad for them to see their mother treated unlawfully.

In terms of direct negative impact, it's more on Bonnie herself. But my understanding is that the kids, to some extent or another, all were raised in that house, so they certainly should have a stake in it--as opposed to having it swiped out from under them.

Anonymous said...

Judge: If you don't agree to this, you are going back to jail.

Person: OK, I agree to it.


Gee, that sounds like a valid contract doesn't it?

Spasmoda said...

Aside from all of this being unlawful, why only 30 days to get out of the house?

What's the rush? He held her in jail for almost five months. But now she has to move out and find another place to live in 30 days?

legalschnauzer said...

Spas:

You raise a strong point. I feel certain Reynolds is trying to rush this along for a reason. Not sure what it is, but it probably has nothing to do with the law.

Angie Collins should have filed a writ of mandamus months ago to put a stop to this charade. But she certainly should do that now. This is simply a matter of having someone's property stolen from them, without anything that even comes close to due process.

Coyote Lane said...

Bankruptcy court is supposedly one of the most 'true' [is there really such an idea?] remedies.

In the bankruptcy court the documentation must all be proven and in order, for the proceeds to be distributed. Of course BK in the USA is a racket. But, still, Bonnie can choose that route and do a "exhaust all remedies," necessity.

I thought I posted some vital information about the UCC?

So much going on, too much right now in confronting the courts' corruption in the State of Oregon, what a mess. Alabama and then the rumor Oregon is a match.

A book review has begun about Gilad Atzmon's "The Wandering Who," and to follow-through with the books by Jeff Connaughton and Neil Barofski, plus others, regarding how we got to women thrown in jail for human capital and of course all the eminent domain of children as well as the material - financial planes.

www.theartof12.blogspot.com

jeffrey spruill said...

Anon@January 14, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Where is the ACLU?

Busy in NY chasing down funds from donors.

They're-ACLU-well aware of the FBI National Securities Letters that dubya & his running dog- Conrad Shumadine- tried to set me up with in March of 2008:

http://hamptonroads.com/2008/03/bush-reduces-portsmouth-womans-prison-term-drug-case

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that Sinley Reynolds is owner of Shady Grove Cemetary Association inc in Verbena. Are his unethical decisions in court meant to draw clients to that business? Looks "shady" to say the least!

Robby Scott Hill said...

We are dealing with a civilization whose time has come to an end. All across America, Allah is placing People of Color including Blacks, Brown People, Red Men & Mixed Race people like myself & Barack Obama into public service: Warren Muhammad, a new judge in Houston says, "Minister Farrakhan has said that the mis-administration of Law produces, not life, but death. My desire is to help in the proper administration of the law so that through justice we can live a better life,” he says. http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/National_News_2/article_9512.shtml

David in S. Alabama said...

Maybe i missed something about Bonnie Wyatt's case, so help here LS. Her first home from her marriage to the Knox guy burned. What house was she living in went she went to jail and the judge ordered her to sell and give to her 2nd ex for what he claims to have put in it. How did she pay for the second house. Was it from insurance money from the house that burned? If so, it would have been rather new. Why would 2nd ex have to have put that kind of money into it?

jeffrey spruill said...

Believe me Anon@January 14, 2013 at 10:21 AM

I had to endure this:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/16/politics/16program.html?pagewanted=all&_r=2&

dubya is one SICK guy...

legalschnauzer said...

David:

It's complicated, but here is my understanding of things: Bobby Knox kept the marital residence from his divorce with Bonnie. I'm told it's one of the snazziest houses in Chilton Co. Knox bought a separate house for Bonnie and the kids as part of the settlement. That's the house that burned, just a few weeks after the settlement agreement was signed. Insurance apparently was slow in paying because it showed signs of being a case of arson. My understanding is that Bonnie never received anywhere near the amount of insurance money she would have received under the policy, with a normal fire. Did the insurance company suspect her of setting the fire, even though she and all of her children were inside the house at the time? I don't know.

When she met and married Harold Wyatt, I'm told the house was pretty much rebuilt on the outside, but a lot still needed to be done on the inside. I don't know about the status of the insurance situation at that point, but Mr. Wyatt apparently took it upon himself to go ahead and invest in materials and manpower to more or less complete the inside of the house. That accounts for the funds Bonnie Wyatt supposedly owes him, although the file shows no proof that he paid $165,000 or that she authorized the expenditures.

It seems clear that he did spend some money on the house. It's not clear how much he spent and whether she asked him to spend it. Does she owe him money? Had the divorce case gone to a trial, I guess that would have been a question "for the jury." Reynolds, however, intervened in the mediation, and that's how we came to have a settlement agreement that appears to be bogus and calls for her to pay $165,000.

She says in a court motion that there is no proof that amount is owed and she was deceived during negotiations. Reynolds held her to that figure, and that's how she wound up in jail, even though you can't be held in contempt for a property-related debt from a divorce in Alabama.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately it's not just Judge Sibley Reynolds it is also Judge Rhonda Hardesty that is crooked! My sister in law is sitting in jail because of misconduct by Rhonda Hardesty! My sister in law pled guilty to a VPL and paid her fine and was leaving when she got stopped leaving the court house after her case was finished and forced to take a drug test and then put on color code and drug classes after the fact. Then was called back in a month later was late for court and charged with a FTA even though she was there before her name was called. She has been in jail for 40 days now when she went back to court on Tuesday she had a choice rehab or jail and before she could answer Judge Hardesty said she can think about it in jail and set her court date for February 21 that will be 72 days in jail. Once we got her a lawyer and questions were raised why my sister was still in jail magically the court papers stated that she was put on probation for 6 months and the charges were changed to violation of probation. We found out that if Judge Hardesty wanted to she could keep her in jail for 90 days total and then sentence her to rehab for 6 months to a year. There are women that were sentence to rehab and have been sitting in jail for 4 months or more waiting on Judge Hardesty to sign the papers. Who needs rehab when they have been in jail that long. Everyone of them needs to be brought up on charges for misconduct and who does Judge Hardesty think she is she is the one that was busted 2 years ago for buying cocaine in Montgomery and pulled strings to make it go away!

Anonymous said...

Just a thought, but if Bonnie did a bill of sale conveying ownership to her children, wouldn't that be giving it to Knox? Considering he is now custodian. May be what he is hoping happens.

Anonymous said...

I don't think a home can be conveyed via bill of sale in AL. May be wrong though. Belongings in the home can be.

Anonymous said...

Amen

Anonymous said...

Why hasn't bonnie fired her attorney and hired one out of the corrupt county that is going to do their job and fight for her with knowledge of the law. She needs someone who isn't afraid of the judge. There must be more to this story than bonnie is telling.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:35,
She may have figured out that it won't matter who she hires. It will change nothing and make her go broke fast. She also may not have time, certainly didn't have access or the know how to represent herself pro se! She's in a corner and put their by a corrupt far gone system!

Anonymous said...

She has had 30 days to find better representation. She has lived in Chilton county how long? She knows how the system works and instead of fighting it she plays the victim thinking it is going to get her somewhere. Like I said before get someone out of the county that is not afraid to push the law and stand up to the judge. That house won't sell. She should have learned after her first marriage to get the hell out of Chilton county instead of marrying these idiots that live there.

Anonymous said...

2:11
Bonnie couldn't find an attorney to take her case anywhere! You obviously don't get the system or do you? I don't see her playing the victim, she obviously is a victim otherwise this story wouldn't have been written.

Even if she could find an attny to take her case, they would take her money just as this idiot attorny has and would play right along with the judge!

Anonymous said...

Complain to the bar,the supreme court, anyone who will hear her story. Do not hire a attorney in Chilton county. Go to Huntsville if you have too. The further away the better.

Anonymous said...

Haha! Good luck with that! Huntsville is worse. Bonnie's story isn't isolated. There are many throughout Alabama and the entire US. This is not coincidence.

Anonymous said...

Haha! Good luck with that! Huntsville is worse. Bonnie's story isn't isolated. There are many throughout Alabama and the entire US. This is not coincidence.

Anonymous said...

What did Bonnie do with 1.5 mill. and 2 payed for houses and 1600 plus a month in child support for 2 kids that she got from Bobby Knox? Bobby Knox has nothing to do with this case but LS puts him in it to promote his agenda!

Anonymous said...

Hello!!! It's not her house to sell to her kids... The mortgage is in Mr. Wyatt's name.... You really need to do better research or maybe report the truth. Mr. Wyatt has been paying for the house for 40 months that is over 3 years people.... She gave Harold 30 seconds to get out so I don't feel sorry for her she lived there for free for 40 months.. boo hoo the judge gave her 30 days to get out!

Anonymous said...

1:13, the judge wouldn't have ordered her to sell the house if it was in Wyatt's name! HELLO!!!!