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.