Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Domestic-Relations Post Strikes Some Serious Nerves

When you've been in the blogging/citizen journalism "business" for awhile, you develop a sense for topics that are likely to strike a nerve--and draw a heated response.

Such was the case with our recent post about apparent corruption in domestic-relations court in Jefferson County, Alabama. As we noted in the post, domestic-relations cases tend to generate high emotions, even when a court is handling them properly. And I know from firsthand experience that shining light on the questionable actions of a judge is a surefire way to draw heat from certain quarters in the legal community--not to mention certain parties who are receiving favorable treatment that might not be justified by law or facts.

So I was not surprised when our post drew a strong response. After all, we were writing about attorney Angela Turner Drees and her federal lawsuit against Jefferson County Circuit Judge Ralph A. "Sonny" Ferguson, alleging that the judge had engaged in criminal misconduct and violated her constitutional rights in a child-custody case.

But even I was taken aback by the level of vitriol directed at Ms. Turner in several comments to our post. I moderate comments on Legal Schnauzer, and I normally reject comments that question someone's mental health or trash their character. But I let these comments go through, thinking they might be instructive about how sensitive this topic is in the Birmingham legal community.

You can check all of the comments on the post by going to this link and clicking on the comments link at the bottom. But here are a few unedited "highlights":

* "Angela Drees is the one who is in the wrong here. Her constant harassment and abuse of these poor children, her ex husband, all of the lawyers involved and the Judge will end soon enough. Mark my words that at some point soon not only will see be without her children, but she will also lose her law license and will likely be spending time in jail."

* "There simply isn't a lower form of life than a woman who does these types of things to her children. They are better off without her until she checks into a mental health facility and starts accepting blame for her own actions and takes medication for her mental illness."

* "A closer look at Ms. Drees and her unfounded allegations would reveal her insanity. She continues to make slanderous allegations at nearly every Judge she appears before, simply because they see through her fallacies and rule against her. That type of behavior isn't justice, it's ludicrous. She should've lost her bar license years ago, which would've prevented her from filing these types of ridiculous and frivolous matters that waste public funds and everyone's time."

For good measure, one or two commenters decided to take shots at your humble blogger:

* "LS, Sometimes fully researching the facts of your case would make your opinions on this blog carry a lot more weight . . . luckily, a brief run-through of your postings provides strong evidence that the items posted here are nothing more than one man's ill-informed positions on a variety of topics the general public cares absolutely nothing about. Posting this type of comment about a domestic relations matter that has been going on for years, which you know absolutely NOTHING about, only makes you look like a fool."

* "Seriously, do you spend all day long dreaming up conspiracy theories about how everyone in government is corrupt? Maybe you should find a new hobby."

And then we had this:

* "Your facts below regarding the "skit" that occurred are also incorrect, and I would suggest to you that you refrain from making those types of allegations against the law firm where the President of the Bar currently practices."

The skit and its aftermath were addressed in a recent article by The Birmingham News. The Birmingham firm of White Arnold & Dowd, home to Alabama State Bar President J. Mark White, was mentioned in the article.

One of our readers seems to think that Mr. White isn't capable of taking care of himself or is somehow above scrutiny. Perhaps Mr. White would like to answer questions about why one of the lawyers in his firm, Steve Arnold, helped prepare a sophomoric skit that led to the forced recusal of a domestic-relations judge.

Is that the kind of activity that the Alabama State Bar endorses?

We have only begun to scratch the surface of issues connected to Jefferson County Domestic Relations Court. Much more is coming. And the nasty response to our first post makes me think we are onto an important story.


Anonymous said...

Angela Drees had a lawyer too - guess what??? Her lawyer was with Dominick Fletcher - a firm also implicated in the "skit." Guess the apple hasn't really fallen so far from the tree on that one??? How hilarious that her accusations about bias implicate her very own lawyer as well! Is she willing to admit that she should have been punished more severely and that Judge Ferguson only refused to do so because he was biased in favor of her own lawyer? Come on. Get serious here. Drees is in this boat because of her own behavior, not because of some scandal. Indeed, she has to create a made up scandal just so she can live with herself and continue to look inward at her own behavior. Guess the anger mamagement classes she was ordered to attend didn't work.

And Justice for All said...

I am new to this website, but I am amazed at the vitriol directed at Angela Drees and her efforts to regain custody of her children.

I wish that people had the nerve to use their real names when attacking someone - I think the term 'anonymous' can be abused and has been certainly in references to this story. I also understand how citizens might fear to leave their names in any effort to stand up for the wrongs daily being done to our citizens. Fear of retaliation by people of standing in our society is real. Honest airings of differences is one thing but to attack a person's character and state of mind is unfair and cowardly.

There are many comments made about Attorney Drees which are untrue - I and others have observed numerous situations in Judge Ferguson's courtroom with multiple families - it is reminiscent of something you would see on tv - truth and evidence seem to take a back seat to perjury and inuendo.

Attacking Dr. Hajo Drees is also an unnecessary and unfair move. Dr. Drees actually has custody of his children - his former wife had a breakdown and was instutionalized and gave up custody of her children - she also must have supervised visitation in order to see them, due to her issues, not anything Dr. Drees ever did to her or the children.

A final comment for those who attacked Ms. Drees, you are probably unaware that early on after the divorce, there was an incident where Ms. Drees' former husband Kile, actually offered the children to a gentleman that Angela was seeing - he in no way wanted responsibility for the children. The truth was that Kile Turner never showed interest in having custody of his children until he was caught hiding funds meant for them.

Divorce in Jefferson County is heinous - however citizens who must go through it should have some safeguards against corruption, be it judges or lawywers or a joint venture between them.

Matt Osborne said...

O/T, Alice Martin is leaving the federal payroll on Friday.

"And there was great rejoicing."

terriersrock said...

LS - Thank you for your efforts in exposing the corruption in Ferguson's courtroom. My family has been devastated by the atrocities of this man.

I agree that you have "struck some nerves", and it's refreshing to see that the intimidation by these posters (uh, I think we know who they are) hasn't deterred you from pressing on.

Robby Scott Hill said...

Thanks for exposing this corruption Roger.

It should not matter that The President of The Alabama State Bar practices at the firm involved in this case. US President Richard Nixon, an attorney, thought he was above the law, but Nixon was forced to resign and forfeit his law license. This decade, former Alabama State Bar President Gary C. Huckaby thought he was above the law and paying his taxes until he went to prison.

I submit to that reader that there are plenty of hungry and unemployed lawyers out there who are willing to take the place of anyone who thinks he or his firm is above the law.

Anonymous said...

To And Justice for All: I noticed you have not posted your "real" name either. The person who you say Kile Turner "offered" his children to is Steve Dunlap. You should call him and ask him his version of the events. He will tell you (as he has told me) that Kile was doing nothing more than welcoming him to the familiy and acknowledging that as a possible step dad (Angela was saying she was going to marry him) he was happy to have him aboard and welcomed him with open arms. Kile was not offering his kids over to Steve Dunlap - his former best friend - I can assure you.

I have also see the Nebraska Court order in which a Judge found that Hajo Drees abused and attacked his former wife and children. Including throwing one of his children down a hallway and into a wall. His ex did have a breakdown and her counselors and mental health experts will testify in her upcoming case to regain custody of her children that her breakdown was caused by her ex-husband's physical and mental abuse. What kind of a person puts on such thick blinders as to ignore a court order which finds a father to be an abuser??? He has now gone as far as to kidnap his children to Germany to escape a DUI charge he has pending where he was driving drunk with his children. He is also being asked by both the US and German State departments to return his children to the US and he has refused.

There is always more to the story if you dig deep with this woman. I don't deny she is cunning and can lie like a champ, but dig a little deeper and her stories fall apart pretty quickly. The sad thing is, I am not even sure she knows the truth anymore.

Vin said...

I don't see the corruption.

But I do see a group of people who are wasting judicial resources with frivolous lawsuits.

Also, I don't understand LS's logic that 'people protested to my first post so there must be a story.' I think some of those comments were designed to help LS see this story for what it really is. Are any of the lawsuits that have been filed to date even still pending?

And I am not sure what to make of LS's assertion that the skit led to the forced recusal of a domestic-relations judge. It wasn't the skit. It was the Judge's bizarre reaction to the skit that led to the forced recusals.

Wishing said...

I wish that Drees could focus on her children and ignore all of the other. I looked on alacourt and saw something where she recently said that instead of getting visitation with her children she would prefer to "investigate" and have a hearing on what she beleives is perjury. If it were me, I would rather see my kids....

Anonymous said...

I am a Ferguson victim as well. I have to say that any LOVING mother who loses her kids due to the corruption of this man's court, reserves the right to be angry, or crazy or anything they try to call you. But that's part of the set up. How do they expect you to act when you lose your kids. You're depressed, takings meds, angry, taking classes. What the hell?

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