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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Chilton County Judge Sibley Reynolds ordered Jemison man sent to jail for posting critical remarks on social media about the handling of his divorce case


Chilton County Judge Sibley Reynolds
(From Montgomery Advertiser)
A central Alabama man recently was thrown in jail for using social media to post critical comments about the judge in his divorce case.

Carlos B. Ortigoza, of Jemison, served a day in the Chilton County Jail after Circuit Judge Sibley Reynolds found him in contempt of court for violating an order not to post on social media about a divorce case styled Renee Hicks Ortigoza v. Carlos B. Ortigoza. Reynolds originally ordered Carlos Ortigoza incarcerated for five days, but decided to free him after one day.

Reynolds has a history of unlawfully throwing people in jail. If his name sounds familiar, that's because you might have read about his abusive actions here against a female litigant. (More on that in a moment.)

In an order dated July 18, Reynolds stated that Ortigoza was "prohibited from posting on social media anything concerning issues that fall within the control of the Court Order of Final Decree." (See order at the end of this post.) On August 3, Ortigoza posted about the case at GoFundMe, with the post also appearing at Facebook, and described Reynolds as a "corrupt judge." At a court hearing the next day, the post was brought to Reynolds' attention, and he ordered Ortigoza to jail for five days. (See order at the end of this post.)

Does Reynolds have the authority to tell someone in advance that they cannot write on social media? I haven't been able to find such authority, and it's hard to imagine that any exists. Considering that I was thrown in jail for five months in Shelby County (just north of Chilton) because I write Legal Schnauzer, one must wonder if Alabama is about to become a First Amendment-free zone.

Screenshot from Carlos
Ortigoza's GoFundMe page
In my case, lawyer Rob Riley and lobbyist Liberty Duke sued me for defamation and sought a preliminary injunction, which has been forbidden under First Amendment law for more than 200 years. In other words, Riley and Duke wanted a judge to order me to quit writing about their extramarital affair prior to any finding that my reporting was false or defamatory. That, under the law, is called a "prior restraint" and it is unlawful. Ultimately, Riley and Duke failed to prove their case at trial -- because there was no trial, before a jury or anyone else -- and that means, by law, my reporting was neither false nor defamatory.

Reynolds' order forbidding Ortigoza to write about a certain subject on social media almost certainly is an unlawful prior restraint. And his order to have Ortigoza incarcerated for practicing free speech probably amounts to false arrest/false imprisonment.

It's almost impossible to successfully sue a judge for such violations of civil rights. But Ortigoza probably would have a civil case against anyone who participated with Reynolds in a false-imprisonment scheme. Also, Ortigoza could file a complaint with the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC), which currently is busy trying to get Roy Moore off the Alabama Supreme Court, although that august body is notorious for failing to discipline rogue judges.

Immunity, for the most part, protects judges from civil complaints, but they are not above criminal law. It's way past time for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate Reynolds and the relationships he has with certain favored lawyers. Our guess is that a federal indictment against Reynolds could be quite lengthy.

Unlawfully tossing someone in jail is a familiar tactic for Reynolds; it's as if he takes a perverse delight in violating the rules he is sworn to uphold. In 2012, Reynolds kept Clanton resident Bonnie Calahane in the "Chilton Hilton" for almost five months over issues connected to her divorce from Harold Wyatt. Reynolds found Cahalane in contempt for failing to pay a debt of about $165,000 related to the divorce -- even though Alabama case law states that a party cannot be subject to contempt, and incarceration, for failure to pay a property-related debt from the dissolution of a marriage.

How does Reynolds get away with this stuff? Well, in our "justice system," no one oversees judges, especially if the DOJ has been sound asleep, as it has during most of President Barack Obama's tenure. Judges almost never can be sued; outfits like the the JIC tend to be worthless and spineless. Appellate courts are more likely to cover for a corrupt judge than to do anything about his crooked acts.

The only solution is for everyday citizens to become informed and outraged, demanding reform in a broken system. Pehaps the Carlos Ortigoza case will draw national attention and help unmask Sibley Reynolds, and others like him, before a wide audience.




19 comments:

Anonymous said...

When are people going to stand up to this goon and run his ass out of town, out of state. This has been going on way to long.

Anonymous said...

You've heard the phrase, "If the people who start wars, actually had to fight wars, there would be no wars." The same principle applies here: If Sibley Reynolds actually had to restrain Mr. Ortigoza and slap the cuffs on him, there would have been no arrest. I don't know if Mr. Ortigoza is a big, tough guy or not, but based on nothing but age, I'm guessing he could kick Reynolds ass and leave him lying in a pool of blood on the courtroom floor. I'm pretty sure such a result would make these matters not so enjoyable for the "judge." Reynolds can summon some dense young buck with a gun around his belt to do the dirty work for him. Let's start making judges do their own bogus arrests and see how much they like that.

Anonymous said...

I've head the feds have been in Chilton Co. a time or two in recent months. I'm hoping Reynolds, like the "Luv Guv," is living on borrowed time.

Red Hed said...

Do we pick the stupidest lawyers in the state and make them judges?

luther gilbert said...

what a crock WELL folks there go our freedom of speech when is someone going to step in an stop these crooked judges that violate the laws in alabama an do as they want even though the laws are against what they are doing? Its past time to start hanging these crooked judges on the same court house lawn where they make the laws as they go. AN yes i said that Sibley you are a crook

luther gilbert said...

an i will be glad to go to jail for what i said about you an all these other crooked judges in Alabama if you have the balls to come get me yourself

Carlos Ortigoza said...

Hopefully...

Carlos Ortigoza said...

I am bigger than average, workout, and trained in self defense...

Carlos Ortigoza said...

Agreed.

Carlos Ortigoza said...

They do. By that I mean people who blindly vote for whomever without researching.

Carlos Ortigoza said...

I'm glad people are realizing this...awareness is all that can be done for now...until larger amounts of people specifically make it a goal in life to end corruption for a long time...

Carlos Ortigoza said...

They don't, not "themselves" they have other people do the dirty work..but in the end these judges will be judged by God himself at judgement day. We live a short life to be oppressed by corruption...

e.a.f. said...

Does boggle the mind that a judge would issue such an order. It is conceivable that something might be ordered regarding children in a divorce case, but the rest, not so much.

It is some what troubling that in a country which has as its First Amendment free speech, which is frequently violated yet the Second Amendment is "upheld" to the degree its crazy.

As to judges who are a tad off mark, as Reynolds seems to be, or in other words bad shit crazy, the laws need to change. there needs to be accountability for judges. However, given most people do not come into contact with judges, the rest don't care.

The U.S.A. is such a large country, 350 million, its hard to have situations such as these gain national traction in the press. In Canada with a population of approx. 36 million, a judge says something inappropriate, it will be on the evening news and some organization has picked it up and run with it. We are also fortunate to have a news organization, C.B.C., Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which is actually a Crown Corporation. (in American terms that is a government organization) Crown Corporations are owned by the government at arms length in that they have an appointed board of directors who run the thing. Now the B. of D. are usually political appointees, but again being a small country, if the B. of D. is too out of wack, there can be political back flack. They are a tad freer to take things on than for profit organization. The C.B.C. has reporters in all large towns in Canada so a protest of even 50 or a 100 people has a good change of making the national news at 11 p.m. while in the U.S.A. that would be quite difficult given the number of items which a net work has to draw from.

legalschnauzer said...

Most Americans have no idea that judges are absolutely unaccountable, that they can't be sued because of judicial immunity. That, by the way, is judge-made law, to protect judges. It has no basis in U.S. Constitution.

e.a.f. said...

That is why its so nice to know all judges in Canada have to retire at 75.

if the Constitution is silent on the issue, then its a free for all. We can only hope the next appointee to the American Supreme Court is a tad more progressive and they implement the old law.

Anonymous said...

You are full of shit. Who are the "favored lawyers" to whom you are referring? A judge in a divorce case has full discretion to order someone incarcerated for so long as he or she is in contempt of the court's order, including the failure to pay money owed for child support, alimony or any other order entered by the court that a party defies or ignores. Regarding the gag order, those are issued all the time. That is totally within the court's discretion. Lawsuits must be decided upon legally admissible evidence. Not hearsay, rumors, butthurt complaints or blogger's unfounded "takes." You may not like that a judge has discretion which he or she may exercise as they see fit, but the fact of the matter is it does exist, and absent an abuse of that discretion, there is nothing an appellate court can or will do about this.

Sibley Reynolds has served as a judge with distinction and honor for more than 20 years. Your unsubstantiated mudslinging is disgusting.

legalschnauzer said...

Wow, speaking of butthurt, you clearly suffer from that condition. To keep this simple, let's focus on one issue. Can you cite any law that allows a judge to order someone not to comment about something on social media?

Shaheed AbdulAzeez said...

Ok! 8:02 let us hear from you. Do you deny that the Judicial system is not corrupted? That back chamber deals do not exist? That everyone, rich or poor, gets the same treatment when they go to court? There are many judges that have use their discretion to pervert the law in favor of friends, families, and master masons. You obviously are a Lawyer or a Judge.

Carlos Ortigoza said...

Anonymous August 27, 2016 8:02, Butthurt much? The judge swears an oath to defend the Constitution that INCLUDES the first amendment, freedom of speech. When they go against their oath, they are liars. Discretion does not give permission to be corrupt.I see that you prefer corrupt authority that believes they are above the law, since you cite no law higher than the Constitution.