Sunday, April 6, 2008

My House is Safe--For Now

I received word on Friday that Shelby County officials have postponed the auction of my house that had been set for noon Monday (April 7) on the courthouse steps in Columbiana, Alabama.

Why the postponement?

Deputy Bubba Caudill, who along with Eddie Moore evidently handles writs of executions and such for the Shelby County Sheriff's Department, told me it was because of a mistake in the ad that ran about the sheriff's sale. It looks like the block number in the mapbook description of my property was off by one digit.

Bubba said this was a serious enough error that they needed to start the ad over again and run it for another three weeks. I almost had to laugh when I heard that.

"Bubba, that digit being off slightly is the least of the mistakes in this whole process," I told him.

Bubba didn't seem to find the humor in that.

I went on to tell him about the Notice of Right to Claim Exemptions that I never received. I told him about the stay that, by law, had to be put into place when I filed my Claim of Exemption. I told him about the contest that, by law, had to be filed by the opposing party within 10 days of notice about my exemption claim. I told him about the hearing that, by law, had to be held regarding my exemption claim and any contest. And I told him that if the opposing party failed to file a timely contest, the whole matter, by law, was settled--in my favor. No more writ of execution, no sheriff's sale, and costs are charged to the party who filed the writ.

All of this seemed to be news to Bubba--even though he said he deals with this kind of stuff on a regular basis.

Here's where it gets real interesting, another example of what I call "corruption in real time." I noted in a previous post that Bubba left a voice message for me on Wednesday (I had filed my exemption claim on Tuesday), saying that "a judge" had instructed him to go ahead with the sheriff's sale on Monday, April 7.

When I talked with Bubba on Friday, I said, "Which judge told you to go ahead with sheriff's sale, even though I had filed a notarized Claim of Exemption?"

"Judge Harrington," Bubba said.

That would be Circuit Judge Hub Harrington. And his involvement is interesting for several reasons. For one, the lawsuit against me has been handled by two "judges"--J. Michael Joiner and Dan Reeves, who took over when Joiner recused himself upon my motion. Harrington hasn't been involved (except for one strange cameo appearance, which I will explain later), and I have no idea why he involved himself at this juncture. Two, Harrington is the one judge in Shelby County that I would have expected to be honest. My understanding is that he is a RINO (Republican in Name Only). He has to be a Republican to have any hope of being elected in Shelby County. But he was appointed by none other than Don Siegelman, which makes me think Harrington is a Democrat at heart.

There is a third reason that Harrington's involvement at this stage is interesting, and I will get to that in another post. But for now, let me say that Harrington's actions confirm two things that I've suspected for quite some time--(1) Judicial corruption is not limited to folks of only one political persuasion; (2) If a relatively honest person enters a cesspool like the Shelby County Courthouse, it is highly unlikely that such a person will remain honest.

When I told Bubba that Harrington was giving him bad information, Bubba said about all he could say, "I'm just trying to do what the judge told me to do."

Funny thing about it, I kind of like Bubba--considering he is playing a prominent role in a fraudulent scheme to steal my house. And I actually got to meet him in person when I visited the courthouse last week. I was sitting in the clerk's office, reading a document and minding my own business, when this big guy walked in, stuck out his hand, and said, "Mr. Shuler, Bubba Caudill!" He sounded like he was my long lost buddy. My jaw must have hit the floor because two thoughts immediately filled my brain:

* "Sweet Jehovah, it's actually Bubba, in the flesh." (Till then, he had been this disembodied voice in the numerous messages left on my wife's cell phone and/or our home phone.)

* "How in the heck did he know who I was?" (Still don't know the answer to that. Maybe he had seen my star turn on Fox 6 News a few nights earlier and recognized me as a local celebrity.)

Once my brain processed those thoughts, two other thoughts came quickly to mind:

* "So that's how you spell his darn last name," after taking a quick glimpse at his nametag.

* "This guy doesn't look like a jack booted thug is supposed to look. He looks more like a character out of Smokey and the Bandit."

So how did Bubba and I leave it in our phone conversation? He said they would correct the ad, run it again for three weeks, and evidently we will be right back in the same place in about a month.

In the meantime, Legal Schnauzer readers are going to learn a whole lot more about "corruption in real time," as well the wrongdoing that has led us to this point.

And we will might ponder this question: Isn't it a little curious that they served me with a writ of execution last September, and a notice of levy in early February, and it wasn't until the Friday before my house was due to be auctioned that they realized they had made a mistake?


Anonymous said...

You really have a good attitude, Shuler. I'd love to see what your traffic log looks like from around the internets maybe?

Anonymous said...

You may want to re-read the rules. Most judgment creditors will not challenge a homestead exemption claim, as it protects only the first five thousand (or it may be ten now, i am not sure). In other words, the creditor will aknowledge your exemption, and take only the amount necessary to satisfy the judgment, in excess of five thousand, if there is any such amount, after the sale.

Therefore, as there is no challenge to the claimed exemption, there is no need for a hearing, and the sale can proceed. The sale is only stayed as to the part claimed exempt, the five thousand.

Schnitzel_Republic said...

Just one of 99 reasons why I just won't come back to Bama. The "authorities" at the local, county and state level are "friends of Bubba".

I sat in a tag line with my dad about four years ago...just visiting and went with him to town. The courthouse is approaching forty years old and in pitiful shape. The twelve ladies who run the tag department...have one computer. Everything is done on paper. They still have three or four typewriters as their main source of putting data on the forms. The oldest lady there...the chief as slow as you can imagine. On the payscale...I doubt she as chief clerk takes home more than $2k per month. The most junior employee...probably $1200 max. The vast number of educated or intelligent folks who could apply for the job...won't because of the payscale. So they end up hiring friends of friends or friends of Bubba onto the "team". What they do with twelve people...I could do with four smart folks and four computers.

Same story for law enforcement. The local town got a Homeland Security grant. Their city limits end just at the local lake. The idiots requested money to buy a speedboat to monitor the security of the lake...and Homeland Security bought off on this because of a dam nearby. The town hired an extra cop and he spends around twenty hours a week on the lake....picking on boaters who are heavy drinkers. The town rakes in $30k a year in boat-related fines now.

I go back there once every eighteen months for a visit...and think up 99 reasons why I cannot move back.