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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Black, Female Judge Draws Suspension In Alabama On Actions That Draw A Pass For White, Male Judge

Alabama Judge Sibley
Reynolds (second from right)
at a hunting club.
A black, female judge in Alabama has been suspended on allegations that she issued unlawful contempt citations in divorce cases. Meanwhile, a white male judge in Alabama has received no known discipline for issuing a contempt order that caused a woman to be unlawfully incarcerated in a divorce case last year.

Are racism, sexism, and corruption alive and well in a Deep South court system? Are Alabama courtrooms, long infested with a hunting-club culture among lawyers and judges, operating like artifacts from the 1930s?

With news yesterday that Jefferson County Circuit Judge Dorothea Batiste has been suspended from the bench, the answer to both questions appears to be yes. That is especially true when the allegations against Baptiste are compared to the actions of Chilton County Circuit Judge Sibley Reynolds.

We have reported on multiple federal lawsuits that allege Alabama judges and attorneys meet at hunting clubs to fix divorce cases. Judge Reynolds, based on the photo above (plus others that we've received from at least one Web site) clearly is active on the hunting-club scene. We've seen no signs that Judge Batiste enjoys hanging out in the woods, shooting wild animals, and cutting corrupt deals with white divorce lawyers.

Is that why Batiste finds herself on suspension, while Reynolds seems to make unlawful rulings at will from his perch in central Alabama? Do hunting-club judges receive hands-off treatment, while those outside the clique are singled out for sanctions? Sure looks that way from here.

What made Batiste a target of the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC)? Here is how a report at al.com explains it:

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Dorothea Batiste has been suspended from the bench with pay after the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission last week filed a complaint against her stating she had entered unlawful contempt orders for the arrest of parties or witnesses in divorce cases.

An attorney for Batiste this evening denied the allegations in the complaint, saying the charges against her were being led by a former Jefferson County judge. He said a judge must have the power to issue contempt charges or lose control of the courtroom.

"The whole thing is a huge travesty of justice," said Julian McPhillips, attorney for Batiste.

McPhillips says retired Jefferson County Judge Scott Vowell is leading the attack against Batiste. That is the same Scott Vowell, who as presiding judge, allowed hunting-club corruption to become a major issue in domestic-relations court. (The full JIC complaint can be viewed at the end of this post.)

Here are more specifics on the charges against Batiste:

The [JIC] complaint states the allegations are based on Batiste's violation of Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics "through her repeated failure in 2011 and 2012 to comply with both Alabama and federal law regarding her exercise of contempt power . . . in a series of domestic relations cases in Jefferson County Circuit Court ("the subject cases") in which Judge Batiste entered unauthorized, unwarranted, and unlawful orders for the arrest and jailing or incarceration of litigants or witnesses."

Let's compare that to the actions of Judge Sibley Reynolds in the case of Clanton resident Bonnie Cahalane (Knox) Wyatt. As we reported in a series of posts last year, Ms. Wyatt spent almost five months in jail because of her failure to pay a property-related debt in a divorce case.

Dorothea Batiste
Black-letter Alabama law--best stated in Dolberry v. Dolberry, 920 So. 2d 573 (Ala. Civ. App, 2005)--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. The law is even more clear cut than that, as we explained in a post last November:

It's not as if the controlling law is complicated. Sec. 20 of the Alabama Constitution (1901) plainly states that "no person shall be imprisoned for debt." A search through case law reveals one exception to that general rule, but it does not apply to Bonnie Wyatt's situation. That means she has been unlawfully jailed for almost four months . . . and counting.

Despite clear prohibitions under Alabama law, Judge Reynolds kept Bonnie Wyatt locked up for almost five months. As I write this, Ms. Wyatt is being forced to sell her home, based on an "agreement" that was reached at the threat of her returning to jail. A contract reached under such duress is unlawful, but Ms. Wyatt's house could be sold any day now.

Has Reynolds faced sanctions for his unlawful actions? Apparently not, and multiple readers have told me they have filed JIC complaints against Reynolds. The response from the commission, so far, has been silence.

It certainly is possible that Dorothea Batiste has made mistakes in her brief time on the bench; the JIC complaint portrays a judge who has a tendency to be heavy-handed. But our primary question is this:  Would Judge Batiste be home free if she took part in Alabama's hunting-club scene--if she followed Sibley Reynolds' lead and donned camouflage gear to hang out in the woods and cut deals?

The answer, in my view, is yes.


Anonymous said...

She is no different than what the system is, a mirror reflection and Bonnie Wyatt forced to sell her house to not go to jail proves the protocol was and is intentional.

It's an epidemic of what the globalism set up:

"... The immunity of heads of states and governments rejected, the caste of «untouchable» international judges and prosecutors created – all these things match the purpose set before the international criminal courts by global power. The goal is to get rid of the state leaders fallen out of favor in the name of the so-called «international community». The absence of any legal basis to make international judges and prosecutors face responsibility is not an oversight, it’s the purposeful establishment of a striking potential to destroy the existing progressive legal system and create a new repressive and regressive international law.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for staying on Reynolds and his marsupial court. He has used his position on the bench to destroy families emotionally and financially. He constantly issues unlawful orders, engages in contracts with attorneys that practice in front of him and generally conducts his court in an unethical manner. I've talked to many attorneys in the area who have stated that they will not practice in front of Reynolds because the law does not matter in his courtroom. The only thing that matters is who you hire.

Anonymous said...

Batiste sounds like a hard ass, but that's usually rewarded among white, male judges.

Darrell said...

Is that photo taken from a scene in "Deliverance"?

Anonymous said...

Isn't Sibley Reynolds the judge who bragged about taking a gun with him everywhere he goes? Maybe he's afraid someone will take a pot shot at him someday. Maybe there is good reason for that fear. Maybe he wouldn't have to be so worried if he actually followed the law.

Anonymous said...

There are other pictures. I've seen several with other current and former judges at this hunting camp, as well as attorneys that practice in front of them. I need to compare those on the JIC & COJ and see if any of their mugs are in the pictures. That may explain why the JIC sits on its thumb when it comes to Reynolds.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 9:32--

Thanks for the info. I've got a few more photos coming, and it sounds like more are on the horizon. Would be interesting to ID the folks in these photos. If they are, in fact, lawyers who practice before Reynolds, that is a glaring sign of impropriety. Hints at Reynolds' arrogance that he allows these photos to be circulated.

Anonymous said...

Maybe your readers can help identify these people.


legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 9:41--

Doesn't look like a terribly diverse crowd at the hunting club. I guess Sibley Reynolds prefers the company of an all-white, all-male audience. Do we know the location of this particular hunting establishment?

Anonymous said...

Why am I hearing "Dueling Banjos" in the background this morning?

Anonymous said...

Roger, go through the entire site. There are plenty of clues as to where the camp is. If memory serves, it is in or near Butler County.

Anonymous said...

If I'm Ned Beatty, I ain't going anywhere near that crowd!


Anonymous said...

Sibley Reynolds, Kenneth Mendelsohn, Cleveland Poole, Gilmer, Faircloth, Jones, Thomas Siniard, Calvin Poole, Moore, Fred Hardwick...

Those are the ones I've been able to identify so far.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 10:04--

Thank you. Most enlightening.

Kenneth Mendelsohn appears to be a lawyer in Montgomery:


Thomas Siniard appears to be a lawyer in Huntsville:


Cleveland Poole and Calvin Poole appear to be lawyers in Greenville:



I would say this hunting club is geared toward members of the bar.

Anonymous said...

Delaine Mountain and his son, and Tommy Siniard and his son, appear in the pictures and so does Kenneth Mendelsohn.




Barb said...

Bonnie Wyatt is being forced to sell her home? Good Lord, I didn't know about that. We need a post, LS. Please!

legalschnauzer said...


A post is in the works.

Anonymous said...

All of these lawyers clearly were out in the woods in search of deer who might have "slip and fall" cases to bring against the property owner.

Anonymous said...

One of the lawyers owns the property.

Anonymous said...

In AL it's looking more like a female issue than a race issue when it comes to JIC taking action. Last year they took down a corrupt female judge also and they only hear 2 cases a yr I believe?

Anonymous said...

The blacks are still hated as much as when they used to turn the hoses and dogs on them.. It is just hidden now.. That is a shame that we have not gone forward in our lives to put color behind us and look at the person. A white republican man will get by with murder. A black person will get hung and it should not be that way.

Anonymous said...

The lack of difference in what Batiste is alleged to have done, and what I have personally witnessed Sibley do, has not escaped those in the legal community. And based on the prominence of the attorney that called me to point it out, expect to hear more about Reynolds in the future.

Anonymous said...

12:32 that is not true. You sound like that state senator from Mobile trying to stir up a race war! Probably one of the dumbest comments I've ever read on this blog. Stupid.

Anonymous said...

On the blacks of slaves' backs the US was made into what was planned and of course the sold as capital, Irish, Chinese too.

Irish women were bred with blacks to get the "Mulatto" that sold for more.

Consequently, there were far more Irish women sold for breeding than other slaves and this fact gets missed a lot.

The South, after the rotten no good for nothing empire builders went in and committed genocide, well genocide is what it is.

What has been there are the bad and worse than bad, criminally insane in control, that committed the genocide.

Sorry for Murphy Legal Schnauzer higher intelligence community, enlightened people in these times are suffering the cosmic awakening. MUST not give up!

Anonymous said...

I, at one time, was an advocate for Judge Batiste. I found that she, as most other domestic relations judges have done, forgot that her primary concern was to have been what was in the best interest of the children. Good riddance.

legalschnauzer said...

Just to be clear, Judge Batiste has been suspended from the bench. She has not been removed, at this point.

Anonymous said...

Just knowing she was domestic relations makes this post AWESOME news! With the jacked up federal voucher system fueling corruption in our family courts (among the other tricks used, there are many) I'd bet this Babtiste woman deserved more than what she received!

Anonymous said...

As a first hand victim of this woman, I know that she does not care about families or children. I have been praying for a long time that someone would find out about what she is using the court room to do to families for her own financial gain. If any witness, especially a child or minor steps into her courtroom, get ready to have your voice snuffed out and stifled. You will be abused and misstreated on the stand and told that you have to say has no value. I believe the only reason I am not one of the ones in jail is that I was a minor. when I was told that this lady was being investigated I saw it as both Karma and an Answer to my Prayers. Maybe now there will be justice for my family and I

Coyote Lane said...

LS, I read her rap sheet and I have to say she does not impress me as a keeper of the equality flame.

The problem with so many "humans," be they purple and whatever color the pigment can turn, is the programming and of course the engineering. Gotta feel sorry for all of the truly criminally insane, like Batiste and Rove and name an inhuman not coo coo to the point of the extreme. Pity, not scorn. But then perhaps we need to put the institutionalized insanity into cells with pads.

Your reporting stirs the Mencken sleeper cells. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Quite frankly I hope the bitch goes down in a bucket of flames. This is coming from a black woman at that.

Anonymous said...

I hope Bonnie Calahane is smart enough to properly price her home for sale. I would never give that prick the satisfaction. Damage is already done anyway and won't be mended. Bonnie could have fun with Reynolds. Play him like he plays everyone else, piss him off! He will screw up worse. He's already screwed from what it sounds like in certain circles.

Anonymous said...

They need to look into what money she has been earning illeagally. I bet if they look she would be disbarred immediately!!

Anonymous said...

You don't necessary have to be black and/or a woman to apparently run afoul of the legal tribe:

If lawyers would this to a fellow lawyer(future judge), do you think they would do the same to Ms/Mr Pro Se??? Roger?

Anonymous said...

The lawyers and judges at these hunting clubs would NEVER discuss case information...that would be unethical. These people are beyond reproach, just ask them.

David in S. Alabama said...

All I know about Judge Batiste is from what LS has written, the complaint ande the comment. I can say that 11st year students at the Dirmingham School law can write better than whoever wtote this complaint. This is almost as bada as orders goming out from Judge Reynolds chambers. My question is why Judge Reynolds can't get the same kind of treatment as Judge Batiste. Are any of his hunting buddies on the JIC?

Anonymous said...

We all know that racism and sexism haven't entirely disappeared from our justice system. This judge, however, is in my opinion either incompetent or evil. I say this on the basis of the insanity that my friend had to go through in her court. It took her almost a year after the trial to issue the decision. There were "facts" in the decision that neither party had raised and that were in fact entirely wrong. My friend had the strong impression she was writing about somebody else's divorce case.

jeffrey spruill said...

Some of the legal tribe skate:

The federal prosecutor in my case was a black woman.

The statute-18 U.S.C.844{e}-the FBI cowards charged me with was split into separate offenses 11 days BEFORE my trial date violating the 5th amendment grand jury clause.

The criminal attorney representing me-David Bouchard railroaded me all the way to the Rehnquist SCOTUS showing how Congress was abusing legislative history:


But does one see Senator Webb's chastisement for this cowadly move?:


Anonymous said...

Do anyone know a really good legal malpractice lawyer not afraid to sue lawyers and file complaints against bad judges in Jefferson County Domestic Family Court? This is the only way to clean up all of the bad lawyers and judges in Jefferson County and make if it a fair and equal legal system...