Why has an Alabama woman been unlawfully incarcerated for more than four months over an alleged debt related to her divorce case? A court document from 10 years ago suggests it might be because judges in our state can be bought.
On the surface, Bonnie Cahalane (Knox) Wyatt has been in the Chilton County Jail since July 26 because of her failure to pay $165,000 as part of a divorce settlement with Harold Jay Wyatt. But Alabama law, as outlined in Dolberry v. Dolberry, 920 So. 2d 573 (Ala. Civ. App, 2005), states that a party cannot be subject to contempt or incarceration because of a property-related debt from the dissolution of a marriage.
Circuit Judge Sibley Reynolds surely is aware of the finding in Dolberry, which is based on case law dating to 1968, so he has to know that his arrest order is not grounded in law. That suggests he is holding Ms. Wyatt for reasons that have little, if anything, to do with the Wyatt v. Wyatt divorce case.
Ms. Wyatt was involved in an earlier divorce case, styled Bonnie S. Knox v. Bobby L. Knox, and documents from that case provide clues about her current incarceration. Where do those clues lead? They take us down a path that is about as stark and ugly as it can get in our American "democracy." These documents suggest that Chilton County judges can be bought--and probably have been bought in the case of Bonnie Cahalane (Knox) Wyatt.
The woman now known as Bonnie Sue Wyatt was married to Bobby Knox when she filed for divorce in December 2002. That marriage produced two children, Bobby Knox Jr. and Natalie Knox, and Bobby Knox Sr. adopted Ms. Knox's two children from a previous marriage (Jessica Knox and Johnah Knox).
Papers from that 2002 case show that Bobby Knox Sr. possesses a mean streak. They also show that Mr. Knox had the financial means, and the psychological inclination, to manipulate the justice system.
Bobby Knox Sr. is the owner and president of Shelby Concrete LLC, and the business apparently has been highly profitable over the years. A document from the 2002 divorce case states:
Until December 2, 2002, the Defendant (Bobby Knox) provided to the Plaintiff (Bonnie Knox) the sum of $1,551.47 per week for a total of $80,676.44 per annum or $6,723.04 per month, with which to maintain the home in Clanton, the home in Gulf Shores, herself, and the minor children.
The Defendant has an annual adjusted gross income which is in excess of $1,000,000 per year or approximately $83,000.00 per month.
Mr. Knox clearly made a handsome living. But the 2002 documents also make it clear that he had a tendency to treat his wife in an abusive fashion. We already have shown that Bobby Knox threatened to burn the marital home to the ground if his wife tried to get it during divorce proceedings. Shortly after the Knox divorce was finalized in 2005, the home in which Mrs. Knox and the children lived did burn down. No official cause of the blaze was determined, but multiple sources have told Legal Schnauzer that it was investigated as a case of arson.
Bobby Knox's nastiness was not limited to the house. Consider this, from a document that Bonnie Knox filed in the 2002 divorce case:
The latest conflict between the parties occurred when the Defendant admitted that he had re-hired a woman (he) had previously fired at the request of the Plaintiff because the Defendant had admitted having an affair with said woman. In a discussion of this matter within the past week, the Defendant has told the Plaintiff that he would have her head blown off if she interfered with or tried to get any of his business in a divorce proceeding.
Threatening to burn down a house? Threatening to blow his wife's head off? It sounds like Bobby Knox could use a few sessions with Dr. Phil. But the harsh language does not end there. Consider this from the 2002 divorce case:
The Defendant has told the Plaintiff that she was nothing, had nothing when he married her, and that she would be nothing and have nothing when they divorced. He also threatened the Plaintiff, stating to her that he would give her absolutely no money and she would be standing in the food stamp line in order to feed herself and the children pending a final divorce order.
The Defendant has bragged to the Plaintiff that he knows all of the Judges and he can get anything he wants done, legally or otherwise.
Those words are from a legal document that was filed almost exactly 10 years ago. But when you fast forward to today, you can't help but wonder if Bobby Knox's words have come true. His ex wife is not in a food stamp line, but she is in jail. And we know from the Dolberry case, that her incarceration is unlawful.
Does that mean Bobby Knox's words from 10 years ago were more than just a boast? Does it mean that he really does know all of the Chilton County judges, and he really can get anything he wants done, "legally or otherwise."
If it's proven that Judge Sibley Reynolds allowed himself to be bought by Bobby Knox's substantial assets, that is the kind of misconduct that can lead to a judge's removal from the bench.
It also might represent the kind of criminal conspiracy that could send the individuals involved to federal prison.