Do you like the idea of spending more than $10,000 on a lawyer, only to see your divorce case botched so badly that you lose custody of your children?
If so, Pelham, Alabama, attorney William E. Swatek might be your man.
We've heard from an Alabama woman who had a stellar record as a mother, while her husband had a history of being a porn addict who was abusive to his children--and yet, he wound up with custody. Her attorney was Bill Swatek, and the judge was Swatek's former neighbor and long-time golfing buddy J. Michael Joiner.
I have personal experience with Swatek and Joiner combining to fix cases; they did it in the bogus lawsuit Swatek filed on behalf of Mike McGarity, our criminally inclined neighbor. And it sounds like they did it in my source's divorce case.
Here is a key point I've learned from dealing with our corrupt judicial system: Just because a lawyer is crooked, it does not mean his clients always prevail. It means he happily plays along with what crooked judges and opposing lawyers want. In my case, it apparently was predetermined that Swatek's client would unlawfully get a good deal. In my source's case, it apparently was predetermined that Swatek's client would unlawfully get a raw deal.
Either way, the lawyers get their cash--perhaps with some going on the side to the judge--so none of them cares what happens to the parties or their children.
How little did Swatek care about the welfare of his client in my source's case. Via e-mail, here is how she described it:
The day in court [Swatek] put me on the stand and honestly I feel I was my worst witness because I was so unprepared. He started asking me financial questions that I had not prepared for because I did not know he was going to ask me. It made me look really bad. Then he started asking questions that I had a very hard time understanding where he was going. I tried my best just to put my faith in him; after all, I was paying him for his expertise. After I stepped down he said he had no other witnesses and no one else was called on my behalf--while my husband had photos, had two people testify that he was a "wonderful father," etc. Afterwards I asked why he didn’t call my witnesses and he said that he didn’t know what to ask them and he didn’t know what they could attest too. Besides, [Swatek said] having your mom and sister testify that you are a good mother isn’t worth much because they are expected to take your side. I asked why he didn’t tell me that before so that I could have gotten someone else. He explained that there was nothing negative said about my parenting ability and that he felt it was a moot point to have someone say I was a good mother.
Does this kind of attorney negligence, which almost certainly amounts to legal malpractice, have repercussions? It sure does, says our source:
I went home knowing I had lost--it is a feeling in the pit of your stomach that you know your kids will be soon taken from you. What really irritated me was [Swatek's] apathetic attitude. It was as if he really didn’t care what happened to my kids. I was so naive. I really want to believe we live in a fair and just place. I know there are bad judges and bad lawyers, but I wanted to believe that was somewhere else. Looking back I believe that it is possible that Swatek was told to "roll over," and he obeyed.
Based on my experience, I would say she is absolutely on target. Are these the only techniques Swatek uses to abuse his own clients, especially women in divorce cases? Oh, no. We have more to come.
Mr. Swatek screws up his own client's testimony and then says, "Pay me, please."
Do you pay a mechanic who screws up your car?
Sounds like Mr. Swatek wanted to do as little work as possible for his money.
I hear Bill Swatek represented Bonnie Wyatt, the woman you wrote about last week. She's in the Chilton County Jail.
Anon at 1:18--
You heard correctly. Swatek represented Ms. Wyatt in her divorce from Bobby Knox, who is president of Shelby Concrete. Her name was Bonnie Knox at the time.
If you could get stories like this some exposure on the evening news, the Alabama State Bar would fall apart at the seams.
I wonder how many complaints about stuff like this the bar gets and does absolutely nothing.
Wait I minute, I bet the bar does something with those complaint--they stick them in a gigantic file labeled "disgruntled litigants."
This is fairly typical in my experience with family law attorneys
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