Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The "Family Values" of Briarwood Christian

I haven't written in a while about the curious connections that Briarwood Presbyterian Church has to my legal woes. But let's return to that subject for a moment.

I noted in a post a while back that I had evidence strongly suggesting that officials at Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham know that Shelby County judges cheat on their behalf. And my evidence suggests that Briarwood officials try their best to take advantage of this.

What am I talking about? Well, it's a 2003 lawsuit filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court styled Dr. Charles Mayfield v. Briarwood Christian School. It contains some most interesting information that pertains to our Legal Schnauzer case.

First, a little background. In a number of earlier posts, I have noted the curious fact that my legal woes can be dated to a peculiar real-estate transaction in which Briarwood Christian football coach Fred Yancey (my former neighbor) moved to a house on school property where he evidently lived pretty much free of charge. This transaction resulted in me having a new neighbor named Mike McGarity, who came complete with an extensive criminal record and quickly proceeded to trample on my property rights in a variety of ways.

The problems with McGarity escalated to the point that, when my wife and I fought to protect our property rights, he filed a bogus lawsuit against us. And Republican judges in Shelby County repeatedly made unlawful rulings, benefitting McGarity and his sleazy attorney, William E. Swatek.

I have noted that both Swatek and Circuit Judge J. Michael Joiner have ties to Briarwood school. And I have speculated that McGarity's lawsuit against me might have been a way to divert his attention from a legitimate case he might have had against someone connected to Briarwood as a result of the hastily done real-estate deal.

Some readers have scoffed at the notion that Shelby County judges would act in ways that would protect the interests of Briarwood. But those readers might want to reconsider when they learn about the Mayfield case.

The Mayfield case is a classic personal-injury case. Dr. Charles Mayfield, who lived at the time in Jefferson County, was attending a youth soccer game on the Briarwood campus when he tripped over a wire and injured himself. Mayfield filed a lawsuit, stating that Briarwood was negligent in not removing the wire and had contributed to his injury.

Mayfield was represented by Craig Lowell, an attorney from the Birmingham firm of Wiggins, Childs, Quinn & Pantazis. Briarwood was represented by Jennifer T. Dewees, who also is based in Jefferson County.

The lawsuit initially was filed against Briarwood Christian School. But the Briarwood side quickly filed a motion stating that the proper party for purposes of the lawsuit was Briarwood Presbyterian Church. For legal purposes, the school is a ministry of the church, so the case was restyled Mayfield vs. Briarwood Presbyterian Church.

While the school is in Shelby County, and the accident took place in Shelby County, Briarwood's own lawyer noted that the suit properly was against Briarwood Presbyterian Church, which is in Jefferson County.

Now here's where it gets interesting: I don't pretend to be an expert on jurisdictional law. A number of factors can come into play when deciding where a case should be heard. But the overriding factors seems to be this: The proper jurisdiction for a case usually is the county where the defendant is based.

In this case, that issue is easy: Briarwood Presbyterian Church, the defendant, is based in Jefferson County.

But what did the Briarwood attorney do? She filed a motion seeking to have the case moved to Shelby County.

Now why would she do that? My guess is that she was told to do it by someone in the Briarwood chain of command, someone who knew the school would get favorable treatment in Shelby County. And had the case gone to Shelby County, who would it have wound up before? My guess is J. Michael Joiner, but it probably wouldn't matter. My experience suggests that Joiner would ramrod the case according to his desires, regardless of the judge.

Here's another guess from your humble blogger: I suspect all of the lawyers, and the judge, in the Mayfield case knew what was going on with the motion to move the case. It's a poorly held secret in Birmingham legal circles that Shelby County judges favor certain attorneys and interests.

Had the case been moved to Shelby County, Dr. Mayfield almost certainly would have gotten the shaft. His case would have been unlawfully dismissed, and had he chosen to appeal it, the Republican-packed appellate courts in Alabama would have affirmed the trial-court finding, almost certainly without a written opinion. In addition to being physically injured on Briarwood property, Dr. Mayfield would have suffered serious injuries to his wallet--to the tune of several thousand dollars. And Briarwood would have skated home free.

Mayfield's attorney wisely fought the change of venue, and the Jefferson County judge correctly ruled that the case would stay put. Court records indicate the case was settled. My guess is that Briarwood's insurer coughed up some cash to pay for Mayfield's injuries and his attorney fees.

What does this tale say about Briarwood Presbyterian Church? Here's what it tells me:

* Someone in the church's leadership knows the church will be legally protected in Shelby County.

* The church is more than happy to take advantage of this situation.

* If innocent people are harmed and/or cheated by Shelby County judges on Briarwood's behalf, the church evidently has no problem with that.

Kind of gives you the warm and fuzzies about Christian family values doesn't it?


Unknown said...

I am sorry about your bad neighbor. I find it extremely hard to believe that Briarwood hand picked you a bad neighbor.

Is it possible that Briarwood had an agent go through town looking for motivated buyers? Yes

Is it possible that Briarwood checked with employees to see if they new about any motivated buyers? Yes

Is is illegal or unethical to facilitate such a move? No

Are all the Shelby county judges in Briarwood's pockets? Probably not.

I see that you are a journalist. It may be worth doing some investigative reporting to determine the truth behind your allegations and once you have proof publish said proof. Otherwise you sound more like someone who is paranoid ( I do not believe this is the case, just might appear that way to some).

Laying aside Briarwood for a minute, and if they are violating God standards they will suffer for it.

I am just wondering how you are doing against God's standards. Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever taken something that does not belong to you? Have you ever looked at a woman to lust after her? If you have answered yes to all three questions, you are a liar, thief, and adulterer at heart. Jesus said that to lust after a woman is adultery of the heart.

Bearing in mind that God will punish all evil, yours and theirs, you would spend eternity in a lake of fire for violating God's Law. He is not a corrupt Judge and will provide justice. The punishment has been recored that all liars will have their part in the lake of fire and no thief and no adulterer will inherit the kingdom of heaven. (1 Cor. 6:9 and Revelation 20)

Not only is God Just, He is also long suffering. He is withholding His his full wrath and gives good things to the just and unjust.

God is also loving. He demonstrated this love toward us in this way, while we were yet sinners(law breakers) Christ died for us. Another way of saying it is that God so loved the world He gave His only begotten son, and whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

Jesus makes it clear that unless we repent we will perish. If we repent and believe that what Jesus was the sinless Son of God, and that His death in our place is sufficient we will receive a new heart and spirit along with eternal life.

Please do not let Briarwood's real or imagined sins against you stop you from seeking the Lord on your own behalf.

If you already walk with the Lord, great. If you believe Briarwood did in fact offend you, then follow the scriptures and go and talk to them about it.

Unknown said...

Just Fyi. I do not go to Briarwood, but do attend the seminary located on thier main campus. So you can accuse me of being biased, and I may well be.

Anonymous said...

Hey Legal Schnauzer,

I am a Briarwood student and I find your dealings with Briarwood and the lawsuit that they were involved in very interesting. Keep up the good work and continue to investigate this. I am for finding any corruption in ANY institution and stamping it out. Thanks!