Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kobe Bryant vs. Ted Rollins: Does Racism Explain the Vast Differences in Divorce Outcomes?

Kobe and Vanessa Bryant

Basketball star Kobe Bryant has agreed to cough up $75 million, including three mansions, as part of the property settlement in an ongoing divorce case with his wife, Vanessa.

News reports have noted signs of a possible reconciliation between the Los Angeles Lakers star and his wife. But the Los Angeles Times reports that Vanessa Bryant's divorce action appears to be moving forward. And the $75 million might just be the beginning of the booty that Vanessa is likely to rake in from the divorce.

That's because the Bryants reportedly did not have a prenuptial agreement, and Kobe was a serial adulterer throughout the marriage. That means the basketball star is trapped in a full-court, courtroom press. And getting out of it will be mighty expensive.

All of which reminds us of another divorce case that did not involve a prenuptial agreement. We are talking about Rollins v. Rollins, the case we've written about extensively because it has strong ties to Alabama. In that case, Campus Crest Communities CEO Ted Rollins got off with an astoundingly favorable judgment in his divorce from Sherry Carroll Rollins.

Why is Kobe Bryant on the verge of being taken to the proverbial cleaners, while Ted Rollins came away virtually unscathed in his divorce case? Both men are seriously wealthy; Rollins is a member of the family behind Rollins Inc. and Orkin Pest Control, one of the wealthiest clans in the country. Both men allegedly behaved badly during their marriages; Sherry Rollins cited adultery as one of the grounds in her divorce complaint.

Ted Rollins
Here is a major difference: Kobe Bryant is black and Ted Rollins is white. Is that why Kobe Bryant is giving up at least half of his assets while there was pretty much no division of property in the Rollins case? From where I sit, the answer appears to be yes.

We already have compared Ted Rollins to former football star Terrell Owens and asked if Rollins' whiteness explains his child-support payments that are roughly 27 times less than those ordered against Owens.

Ted Rollins is starting to look like the poster child for the benefits of having white skin and connections to corporate and legal elites. And he seems more than happy to take advantage of those benefits.

By the way, we are not making it up, or even exaggerating, when we say that there was virtually no division of marital assets in the Rollins case. The final judgment of divorce can be read at the end of this post.

It reads as if Ted Rollins was the manager of an Arby's and lived with his wife in a rented two-bedroom apartment throughout their marriage. You would never know that Ted Rollins is so loaded that he has the use of at least three private jet craft.

And how about this? Court documents show that Ted Rollins had been president or CEO of at least two businesses--St. James Capital and Campus Crest Communities--during his 14-year marriage to Sherry Rollins. But there is no mention in the divorce judgment about those properties or any others. According to Ms. Rollins, the family lived in a Greenville, South Carolina, home that had been appraised at roughly $1 million. No mention of that either. (By the way, sounds like the home was a little snazzier than your standard two-bedroom apartment.)

Sherry Rollins got a vehicle out of the divorce decree and not much else in the way of property.

How can that be? After all, division of marital assets is a key component of most any divorce case, especially when substantial assets are involved. So why did the issue of marital assets pretty much disappear from Rollins v. Rollins?

Well, we repeatedly have tried to interview Ted Rollins about the favorable outcome he received from Circuit Judge D. Al Crowson in Shelby County, Alabama. We particularly have sought to ask Mr. Rollins how he managed to get the case moved to Alabama, given that Sherry Rollins initiated it in Greenville and it was litigated there for more than three years. We have tried to ask Mr. Rollins if his ties to the powerful, pro-business Birmingham law firm of Bradley Arant helped him obtain a result that is blatantly contrary to black-letter law.

So far, Mr. Rollins has refused to answer our questions, although he's had his lawyer--Chad Essick of the North Carolina firm Poyner Spruill--threaten me three times with legal action.

You heard that right: Ted Rollins refuses to answer my questions, and passes up multiple opportunities to clarify anything that is inaccurate in my reporting, but then sics his lawyer on me claiming, that my posts contain "false or misleading information."

I've presented Ted Rollins with 10 sets of questions related to the Rollins v. Rollins case--sent via e-mail, in writing, per his request--and each time he's been given plenty of time to respond and make any necessary clarifications. He has never responded, and yet his lawyer claims my posts are inaccurate.

A reasonably objective person could come to this conclusion: Ted Rollins is a bully with something to hide, a man who is too cowardly to be questioned by a real reporter--on matters of public interest, involving taxpayer-funded courts.

I soon will be sending more questions Ted Rollins' way. But for now, you can check out the Rollins v. Rollins divorce judgment and notice that the issue of marital assets is almost completely ignored.

Perhaps we should note that race does not appear to be the only factor at play here. After all, wrestling icon Hulk Hogan gave up a serious chunk of marital assets in his divorce--and The Hulkster definitely is white.

Does that mean Ted Rollins has access to shyster lawyers and judges in a way that does not apply to most Americans, of any color? Sure looks that way:

Rollins Divorce Order


Anonymous said...

This comment is in response to the recent inquiry about an attorney by the name of Billy Benson. It appears that he has been in legal troubles a number of times. Not only does he have a criminal past, he also has had some pretty serious financial problems.
Mr. Benson has been sued several times. He has a criminal conviction for passing bad check(s). He was convicted of domestic violence, but was exonerated upon appeal.
Billy Benson seems to be struggling as a sole practitioner. Prospective clients need to be aware of his criminal activities and carelessness with financial responsibilities.

legalschnauzer said...


I'm not familiar with the facts of the Benson matter. But this provides an opportunity to make an important point: Legal consumers should not assume that the Alabama State Bar is doing its job to police lawyers. That's because it isn't doing its job, in too many instances. Bill Swatek is a perfect example of a guy who has kept his bar card, save for a suspension of just a few months, for 30-plus years, despite overwhelming evidence of his corrupt actions. I would encourage consumers to conduct their own investigations of lawyers they might consider hiring. Just because someone is in good standing with the bar, does not mean he will handle your case in an ethical fashion.

Anonymous said...

Let's get real here. If you can find and hire an ethical lawyer do you think the outcome will then be just? Put another way, does a lawyer exist that could have provided a fair outcome for Sherry Rollins?

legalschnauzer said...

Good point. And no, I don't think there is a lawyer on the planet who is ethical enough to have gotten a just result for Sherry Rollins or others like her. When the judge and powerful law firms are stacked against you, there isn't much you can do--other than start a blog or go shopping for firearms.

Anonymous said...

Could Sherry Rollins have avoided being cheated if she had fled with her daughters to a state other than Alabama?

legalschnauzer said...

That's a good question, and I don't know the answer. I think her chances might have been a little better in another state, but probably not by much. My experience has been that the tentacles of the legal cartel stretch easily across state borders.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Robby can be of help here. Considering what happened to Roger, is owning a home in Alabama not a good idea? If you live in Alabama what steps can be taken to protect your assets short of moving? If Sherry Rollins had fled to California with her two daughters would the courts there have protected them?

legalschnauzer said...

Lots of good points being made here today. If a lawyer like Bill Swatek can come along and steal your property at his pleasure, then I would say purchasing a home in Alabama is a bad investment.

It's funny that many suburban types in the Bham area pay close attention to the value of their homes. Little do they know that corrupt lawyers and judges can steal it.

James Greek said...

One difference is is that Kobe Bryant made his money the old fashioned way as a pro-basketball star while Teddy boy was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and has zero work ethics.

legalschnauzer said...


Agreed. I don't think anyone can say that Kobe Bryant hasn't earned it. His work ethic rivals that of Michael Jordan, and it shows in his performance. Kobe might not be an all-star husband, but he's put in the hours to become an all-time great in hoops.

Robby Scott Hill said...

It's OK to own a home in Alabama as long as you don't have any equity in it, which places you in the position of a renter. You want Uncle Sam to hold the priority lien on your home. If Sallie Mae, Freddie Mac or the IRS already has a lien on your home, guess what? You may want to deed your home to your children through a trust organized in another state or use the family limited partnership. There are many ways to befuddle creditors.