What do you get when you spend more than $10,000 to have Pelham, Alabama, attorney William E. Swatek represent you in a divorce case? Not much of anything, according to one of Swatek's former clients who contacted us.
In fact, Swatek can turn you into your own worst witness, our source says. And our source is a woman with a degree in a technical field and a very good job. If Swatek could con her, imagine what he could do to regular folks.
This woman's story hit home to me for multiple reasons. For one, I've written extensively about the headaches my wife and I have experienced from dealing with a bogus lawsuit that Swatek filed on behalf of Mike McGarity, our criminally inclined neighbor. I've written about Swatek's 30-year history of ethical violations with the Alabama State Bar. And I've shown how former Shelby County Circuit Judge J. Michael Joiner, who now has a seat on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, played a huge role in our cheat job.
For good measure, recent events indicate Swatek is a crappy parent. His youngest son, Chace Swatek, was so messed up that he was found dead a few months back near a Pelham, Alabama, roadway, reportedly the victim of a practice called "huffing," which is the abuse of inhalants, such as glue, paint thinner, and Dust Off.
Our source had Swatek as a lawyer and Joiner as a judge in her divorce case. The two must have conspired to put up a weak case and ensure that her ex husband and his attorney got the clean end of the stick on this case.
I promised to protect my source's identity, but I want to tell her story because I've heard from numerous former clients, especially women in divorce cases, who have been taken for a ride by Bill Swatek. Here are the source's first words to me via e-mail:
Hello, We haven’t met but I ran across your blog stating that Judge Joiner and Bill Swatek were neighbors and golf buds. . . . Bill Swatek was my attorney in my divorce and Judge Joiner was our judge. From the beginning I felt that my attorney didn’t care about my case. He did not call any of my witnesses, did not prep me before the hearing, did not return my phone calls etc.
To me I felt I had an open/shut case, but my attorney did some things I thought odd, and did not do some things I felt he should. The ruling wasn’t in my favor, and I am just wondering if perhaps there was something else going on. Any information you have would be very much appreciated. Thanks.
As often is the case, this woman was trying to find an attorney for her divorce case while under stress and facing a deadline. That's how I came up with Jesse P. Evans III and Michael Odom, the horrendous Lange Simpson lawyers (now with Haskell Slaughter) who sold me down the river while "defending" the lawsuit filed against me in Shelby County. That's how my source came up with Bill Swatek in her divorce case. From her e-mail:
I have been reading more of your blogs over my lunch period and am becoming more and more nauseous because I am starting to believe more and more that perhaps I was cheated also. Here is my story:
Swatek was my attorney. I had done very little research on my own before filing for divorce. The one thing that I remembered reading was that the first to file had some advantages. At this time I had not talked to any attorneys because I did not know if divorce was what I wanted. I found out that my husband had already seen 3 and was prepared to file the next day so I panicked and found an attorney in the phone book. Oh how I wish I would have done more research before writing him that first check.
Were the facts on her side? It sure sounds like it. But her attorney didn't show much interest in facts:
To me, I saw it as an open and shut case. I was previously a stay at home mother, didn’t drink, do drugs, or abuse my children in any way. [My ex] admitted to being a porn addict, to yelling and calling the children names, to having horrible fits of road rage, and most importantly he admitted that he did very little if any of the child rearing.
I asked Swatek repeatedly what I needed to be doing in regards to the case (i.e. gathering evidence, taking photos, etc) and every time he just said let’s just wait and see what happens. I called him several times with questions, etc and he was never available, and rarely did he return my phone calls. When we finally got a court date (6 months later) I had still only met with him the one time. I called his office and insisted I meet with him before going to court, and they told me he had a full schedule and I could meet with him the day before. I said that was not good enough that I felt very unprepared so they finally bumped it up to 5 days before the court date.
I showed up 30 minutes early and waited. At 15 minutes after the appointment time his paralegal took me back and explained that he was running late, that she would just go ahead and get things started.
He showed up 45 minutes later and said he would just look over his paralegal’s notes. I asked him if I needed witnesses and he said, "Who do you have?" I said my mother, my sister, and a friend. He said sure bring them. I asked if I needed anyone else, and what did I need a witness to bring, etc. He said just bring them and we will see how it goes.
How did it go? We will look at that in an upcoming post.
I've heard of lawyers who take a nice fat retainer on the front end, and once they have your money, they don't do any work.
Swatek has a different trick: He charges a relatively small amount up front to get you hooked, does almost no work, then zaps you with a big-ass bill on the back end--much to your surprise. If you don't pay up, he sues you before his judicial friends in Shelby County.
What a con game. What a con man.
Anon at 8:31--
You are right on target. And keep in mind that Swatek is pulling this con game on women and children, who both are under duress from the strain of a pending divorce.
Just taking adults out of it, how many children have suffered because of corrupt "family lawyers" like Bill Swatek?
Documents on the Web indicate that Swatek considers himself "pro life." But in the real world, he intentionally screws over children who have been born and who are actually here among us.
It's hard to imagine anything lower than the con game this guy plays regularly. He literally plays with children, their mothers, and their futures. Sickening.
Sadly to say this is common practice in the 67 counties in Alabama. Visit www.alfra.org to learn more about the good ole boy network, known as the (indefinable) best interest of the child standard.
Aaron Wemple Congressional Testimony: Aaron Wemple to Bill Windsor of Lawless America in Springfield IL Aaron Wemple
Congressional Testimony: Aaron Wemple Part 1
the video is very important for your reporting on the courts and of course the "lawyers"
Wasn't state senator Paul Bussman pushing a bill that would have made it more likely that parties in divorce cases would work out their differences on their own, without having to pay enormous fees to lawyers? I'm not an expert on this issue, but I have a memory that the Alabama State Bar was staunchly against it. Do you know what happened to Bussman on this issue?
See www.facebook.com/lawlessamerica for the latest news.
The 50-state road trip is planned to take 143 days. Here is the itinerary for Lawless America...the Movie.
The road trip starts in Atlanta and heads North and travels counterclockwise around the country. From Olympia, Washington, we will head up to Juneau, Alaksa. Upon the return to Atlanta, Bill Windsor will fly to Honolulu as the 50th state.
All filming will be done either at the State Capitol, at a courthouse in the state capital, or in a meeting room near the Capitol. For those who are unable to travel to the capital, you can still appear in the videos by recording your own video or by being interviewed on camera by Bill Windsor using a webcam and Skype. Webcams are available on loan to those who need one for their interview.
It is our plan that this movie can educate many, many people about the reality that America is broken. We will expose many corrupt judges and government officials. We hope to generate a lot of publicity about corruption that the mainstream media usually hides from the public.
We will deliver proposed judicial reform legislation to the governor and legislators at each state Capitol.
Bill Windsor is alive and well in the capital of Montana, Helena. I arrived at 2 am after 10 hours on the road, filming in Miles City and Billings, Montana, and broadcasting the TalkShoe Show from a gas station parking lot in Billings.
I will always try to post a short article upon arrival in each town where we film so readers will know that we arrived safe and sound.
The legislature caved in to the Alabama Bar again. Go to ALFRA.org, we will be trying to submit again this year and can use all the help we can get.
Bill Swatek's "pro life" stance/political ploy didn't seem to help his son any.
I recently called the Alabama Bar to inquire about disciplinary action against a number of lawyers. When I asked about Larry McClendon of Bessemer, the voice on the other end gasped. She said that she had never seen anyone who had been disciplined so many times. I remember a front page series a number of years ago in the Birmingham News about this guy. It seems as though he absconded with hundreds of thousands of a clients money. Do you or any of your readers recall the particulars of this story?
You got someone at the State Bar to gasp over a lawyer's misconduct? That's quite an achievement. Congrats. The Bar is a big reason we have so much corruption in our courts, so I'm glad you found evidence that at least someone there gives the hint of having a functioning conscience. Maybe the woman gasped because Mr. McClendon still has a bar card, in spite of his misconduct. That's how it tends to work. The bar administers numerous wrist slaps, and the scalawag keeps right on cheating folks. Anyone know about Mr. McClendon? Would love to learn more about this guy. If he is worse than Bill Swatek . . . well, that is saying something.
Can you please contact me???? I have information and a definint case i think you may be interested in..... Do you have an email where i can send my phone number????
Yes, you can contact me via private e-mail at:
He handled a DUI case for me, I went through a DUI program and passed all test over a 90 day period. I was set a court date with the judge for a dismiss as I had passed all random urine tests, completed 8 Saturday class sessions.
I was in the court room for 4 hours waiting for Bill as people with attorneys went before the judge 1st. I WAS LAST because my attorney was a no show.
Swatek had a DUI of his own back in the '80s. He was convicted, as I recall, in Pelham Muni Court, but his buddies in Columbiana got him off. That was back when he was in trouble that should have caused his bar card to be taken away.
I just received a letter from Larry McClendon's office, or should I say what's left of it, stating that Larry McClendon has been disbarred. All I can say is it's about time. He drew up Power of Attorney papers from my Grandmother and me and then a few years later refused to honor said papers. I told him, he was fired. With the news of his disbarment, I say "GOOD RIDDANCE"!
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