Monday, May 6, 2013

Hunting Clubs Prove To Be The Breeding Grounds For "Roaches In Robes" That Infest Central Alabama

Judge Sibley Reynolds in his natural
habitat: the Alabama hunting club
When I moved to Alabama from the Midwest in the late 1970s, one of the first thoughts about my new home was, "Man, this state has some of the biggest-ass bugs I've ever seen."

We had our share of bugs where I grew up in the Missouri Ozarks--plenty of June bugs, fireflies, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, moths, and roaches of modest size. But when I moved to Alabama, I quickly realized the state is populated with bizarre looking bugs I had never seen before--and some of them are so big they look like they could be used as military hardware. I've come to believe that you've probably never seen a real roach until you've lived in Alabama. We have roaches here that I swear could play left tackle for Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide.

But it wasn't until I had an experience in an Alabama courtroom, around 2000, that I became acquainted with the most dangerous insects in our otherwise lovely state. Judging from the mail I receive from readers, I'm not the only one to come in contact with "roaches wearing robes."

This form of insect, some call them "judges," tend to be particularly prevalent in central Alabama, although I feel certain they can be found in all corners of the state. Based on my communications with readers from coast to coast--from San Jose, California, to Weehawken, New Jersey; from St. Charles, Missouri, to St. Petersburg, Florida--"judicial roaches" can be found all over the country.

In many jurisdictions, judicial roaches roam freely because watchdog organizations are notoriously weak--and they tend to be manned by fellow lawyers, even former judges, who would rather provide cover for their corrupt brethren than flush them into the open. You probably are more likely to be struck by lightning than to see a corrupt judge held accountable. When judicial watchdogs do act, it's often with political, racial, or gender-based motives in mind.

What form do judicial roaches tend to take? Here in central Alabama, we are talking about crooked circuit judges like Sibley Reynolds in Chilton County; D. Al Crowson, G. Dan Reeves, H.L. "Sonny" Conwill, and Hub Harrington in Shelby County; and former domestic-relations judges R.A. "Sonny" Ferguson and John C. Calhoun in Jefferson County. We have learned that a healthy dose of Alabama's judicial corruption, especially in divorce courts, originates with hunting clubs, where judges and lawyers (mostly white and mostly male) gather to fix cases.

I've heard from dozens of Alabamians who have been on the receiving end of unlawful and abusive treatment from judicial roaches. In many cases, citizens filed complaints with the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) only to receive form letters telling them that their cases would not even be investigated.

Judge Sibley Reynolds (center) rocks
out at an Alabama hunting club.
Many of my readers probably guffawed recently when they learned that the JIC had suspended Jefferson County Circuit Judge Dorothea Batiste--largely on the grounds that she was violating the "due process" rights of certain litigants who came before her.

I'm sure it would be news to many central Alabamians that due process, as spelled out in the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, even applies here. It is news to me, after 12-plus years of appearing before various judicial roaches (both state and federal) in Shelby and Jefferson counties.

It certainly would be news to many citizens who have appeared before Sibley Reynolds in Chilton County. After all, he's the guy who unlawfully sentenced Clanton resident Bonnie Cahalane (Knox) Wyatt to five months in jail for failure to pay a property-related debt from dissolution of her marriage--even though Alabama law clearly states that a party cannot be subject to contempt or jail time under such circumstances.

The Wyatt case and the divorce case of Sherry Carroll Rollins, before Judge Al Crowson in Shelby County, probably rank as the two most notorious cases of injustice we've covered here at Legal Schnauzer--at least in the civil arena.

So why do Reynolds and Crowson seem to operate with impunity, while Dorothea Batiste lands in the JIC cross hairs? I've received e-mails from a number of readers who say they've had unpleasant experiences before Batiste, so perhaps she deserves scrutiny. But can she really be worse than Reynolds, Crowson, and their brethren? Is she on suspension mainly because she is black and female? Would she be protected if she took part in Alabama's hunting-club culture? I suspect the answer to both questions is yes.

What about the laughable language in the JIC complaint against Batiste--the words that suggest due process is taken seriously in central Alabama? The full complaint can be viewed at the end of this post, but here is the gist of it, from page 1:

This Complaint is based upon Judge Batiste's violation of the Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics through her repeated failure in 2011 and 2012 to comply with both Alabama and federal law regarding her exercise of contempt power, and more specifically, her failure to comply with Rule 70A, Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure, Alabama case law, and the Due Process Clauses of the Alabama Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, in a series of domestic relations cases in Jefferson County Circuit Court in which Judge Batiste entered unauthorized, unwarranted, and unlawful orders for the arrest and jailing or incarceration of litigants or witnesses.

Keep in mind that this is the same "watchdog group" that apparently has no problem with Sibley Reynolds throwing Bonnie Wyatt into the slammer for five months, contrary to black-letter Alabama law. It also is the same group that apparently has no problem with the court-ordered theft of Bonnie Wyatt's house; she has been forced to put her house up for sale, based on an alleged agreement that was reached while she was looking at a possible return to jail. Any agreement reached under such duress is legally void, but Ms. Wyatt's house currently is listed for sale with a RealtySouth agent named Amber Darnell. (See Claybrook v. Claybrook, Ala. Civ. App., 2010.)

Why is the JIC not concerned about that? Here is more from its complaint against Batiste, from pages 3 and 4:

Judge Batiste further violated state law in most of the subject cases by expressly providing in these writs of attachment that the contemnors could not be released on bond. With the exception of a limited group of persons arrested and charged with capital offenses, Section 16 of the Alabama Constitution guarantees the right to persons who are arrested to be released upon posting of bail set at a reasonable amount. See also Sullivan v. State, 939 So. 2d 58 at 64, n.4 (Ala. Civ. App., 2006): "A constructive-contempt proceeding is bondable."

Multiple sources have told me that Bonnie Wyatt never received the option of bond for the unlawful incarceration in her case. My review of the public record has revealed no signs that Judge Reynolds addressed the issue of bond.

Judge Sibley Reynolds checks out the
fret work at an Alabama hunting club.
Is unlawful incarceration taken seriously in Alabama? It is when a black, female judge allegedly engages in such conduct. Consider this from page 3 of the JIC complaint against Batiste:

Freedom from bodily restraint has always been at the core of the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause from arbitrary governmental action. Youngberg v. Romeo, 457 U.S. 307 . . . (1982). "It is clear that commitment for any purpose constitutes a significant deprivation of liberty that requires due process protection."

Where is the JIC's concern about "freedom from bodily restraint" in the Bonnie Wyatt case? Where is the concern about Judge Sibley Reynolds deprivation of Bonnie Wyatt's due process protection?

As photos interspersed throughout this post show, Judge Reynolds is deeply engaged in Alabama's hunting-club culture. Our sources say a number of the individuals with Reynolds in the hunting-club photos are lawyers who practice before the judge. (The photos come from a Web site for a hunting club called The Ridge Expedition. You can check out more photos here and here. Our understanding is that Alabama lawyer Cleveland Poole owns the property.)

Do those lawyers, and their clients, receive preferential treatment in court?  Does Sibley Reynolds make any effort to avoid "the appearance of impropriety," as required by law?

If Dorothea Batiste is an abusive judge, she should be scrutinized. But there is no doubt that Sibley Reynolds and Al Crowson are abusive judges--along with any number of their white, male (and mostly Republican) brethren in central Alabama. Where is the scrutiny for them?


Anonymous said...

Why don't you move away if things are so bad in Alabama??

Anonymous said...

Talk about a good old boys network! This is it in living color.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 6:47: You apparently are at peace with the hunting club judges and judgements therefore you must be a. white, b. male, c. ignorant .

Zacherydtaylor said...

I remember when I went to Florida a long time ago I was surprised by how many bugs they have and how big some of them are. Of course they're not the same breed you describe but I suspect that if they don't have roaches quite as big there of both kinds that they're close. Texas had one that was exposed by his own daughter on youtube a year or two ago.

New England also has their share although I haven't heard stories that match some of the ones from the south yet. How ever if recent behavior after the Boston Bombings and the propaganda that surrounded it is any indication New England may not be that much better after all although many of us like to think so.

Anonymous said...

What an intelligent question, @6:47. That's like saying to MLK, "Why don't you move to another country if things are so bad in the U.S.?"

Anonymous said...

I went to the Ridge hunting website, ugh I could throw up. Men bonding by drinking alcohol, cooking, and playing music? Looks a little gay to me.

I wonder if they get drunk, talk about their problems and cry a little bit at night?

All this male bonding, testosterone driven BS is a little more than I could take this morning. Especially the Selma Jones picture inserting his hands into the female genitalia of a dead animal. These guys are sick and they should not be leaders of anything governmental or make any decisions bigger than what kind of "meat" they are going to kill for dinner

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous number one: Things Are This Bad in Alabama and why don't you and the other bigots, racists, criminals, lawyers and judges from hunting camps move?

Anonymous said...

Love the pics and the links to the hunting club Web site, LS. Are these legal types supremely arrogant or just blind to how this appears to regular people?

Bekka said...

I love how the hunting club Web site refers to him as "Judge Sib."

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous number one: Things Are This Bad in Alabama and why don't you and the other bigots, racists, criminals, lawyers and judges from hunting camps move?

Anonymous said...

I bet these guys at the hunting club never pay a ticket, nor have any trouble suing, or getting their way in court. Their hunting club membership guarantees these rights for them. And drinking with the judges.

Anonymous said...

A history lesson for @6:47. Perhaps you've heard Dr. King's quote, "An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." The answer to problems in Alabama is not to move to another state and pretend they don't exist. The answer is to deal with them here.

Anonymous said...

What kind of "music" do these guys play at their hunting playground? Is it George Jones, Tammy Wynette (D-I-V-O-R-C-E), Bad Company, Metallica, Garth Brooks, Fleetwood Mac (nah, that's too tasteful)? The world wants to know. I doubt they have any Helen Reddy ("I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar") on the playlist.

Anonymous said...

Excellent point, @9:08. If Mr. @6:47 actually read the post, LS points out that judicial cockroaches exist pretty much everywhere in USA--California, New Jersey, Missouri, Florida. Moving from one state to another is not likely to fix the problem.

legalschnauzer said...

For the record, I've written a number of times about Alabama's many positive qualities. Here is one such post:

Anonymous said...

LS< I've been in Midwest during the summer and, man, do they have serious grasshoppers. You can walk through a field, and they will jump out everywhere in front of you. Not as scary as our roaches, but now I know what they mean about a "plague of locusts."

Anonymous said...

The Alabama JIC is one of the most useless organizations in the world. They don't give a rip about due process. They wanted to put a black, female judge in her place.

Gerry with a G said...

Has Bonnie Wyatt filed a JIC complaint against Sibley Reynolds? Has Sherry Rollins filed a JIC complaint against Crowson? I hope they both will file, after seeing the JIC go after Judge Batiste. Don't know how they could give Reynolds and Crowson a free pass in light of the Batiste case.

legalschnauzer said...


I don't know if JIC complaints have been filed in Wyatt and Rollins cases. I doubt it. After all, until the Batiste case came along, there was no sign that JIC cared about alleged due-process violations.

Anonymous said...

LS, just put a saddle on those big-ass roaches. They serve the same role here that horses do in the Midwest. An excellent means of transportation, and they are highly trainable.

legalschnauzer said...

Another thought about the Wyatt and Rollins cases: When you have been abused by the courts the way they have been, I think you are in a state of shock, struggling to survive. JIC complaints might not be on your mind. Bonnie Wyatt has had to deal with trying to rebuild a house that burned to the ground--and trying to stay out of jail. Sherry Rollins struggles to feed her daughters from month to month--and to keep her utilities turned on.

Anonymous said...

Roaches In Robes

Blattaria-Blattodea, Periplaneta Americana Cockroach
no such idea, Doctor of Jurisprudence, JD
parasitic shipped cargo, United States

crown wearers fought Forest Charter
from England, Netherlands, France, Protestant v. Catholic
RELIGIONS, battlefields, legal petitions, law

The Declaration of Right, approved
William-Mary monarchy yes subjects Parliament law
October 25, 1689, enacted DECLARATION

declared roach parasites illegal unnatural,
Indubitable Rights describe reformed true, ancient, liberties
earth kingdom all people, anti-parasitic

royal officers, ministers, successors, always
strictly hold observe rights-liberties all times,
future too, attempting rewriting history

no real reality inhuman insects,
humans, breathing life, eating, sleeping, walking, aha!
don’t trust bug wearing

“robed gavel tyrants” underneath cloth
too many to count, big can fail
Writs of Assistance, Petitions too

Walker F. Todd’s book is our repellant to the roach infested COURTS

Absolutely brilliant LS, thank you so much for your indefatigable inspiration!


Anonymous said...

The good old boys apparently write some of their own music. You can check out the lyrics at the following URL. Deep, deep stuff.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Roger. Reynolds affected my life so badly that even seeing his picture induces fear and panic. I hate that man. I pray that God's justice for him is Old Testament brutal and he sees everything he's ever loved wither away and die. I hope he lives to be a very old man.

legalschnauzer said...

Looks like Tommy Siniard, of Huntsville, is a long-time member of the club. Here is his firm's Web site:

Unknown said...

Robo-Litigation | by Dustin A. Zacks

Dustin A. Zacks

King, Nieves & Zacks PLLC

March 28, 2013

Cleveland State Law Review, Vol. 60, No. 4, p. 867, 2013

The recent housing crisis increased demand for attorneys to process foreclosures through state courts. This increase in demand was coupled with a desire for the fastest and cheapest legal services available. As a result, large foreclosure firms designed to handle an enormous number of foreclosure cases quickly and inexpensively evolved and flourished. During their ascendancy, these firms consistently generated complaints about their conduct, including questions about their ethical decision-making and about the veracity of the pleadings and documents they filed. Scholarly literature on the housing crisis, however, is largely devoid of commentary on ethical issues related to increased foreclosures.

This Article tracks the rise and fall of several notorious high volume foreclosure firms and examines the numerous instances of serious misconduct their attorneys and paralegals perpetrated. The Article accordingly examines the curiously muted reaction from state bar associations, judges, and state legislators.

“The responsibility that they expected people to have was above and beyond what a human being could actually do as far as case loads.”

—Tammie Mae Kapusta, former paralegal for foreclosure law firm1


“You are acting as a robot for a plaintiff who is not even giving you the information you need to file a proper foreclosure. Now, if you choose to do that, you do that at your peril before this Court.”

—Judge Maxine Cohen Lando2

ROACHES aren't all wearing robes, Judge Maxine Cohen deserves the human award of not being a GD parasite!

Anonymous said...

LS, your global partner:

Scottish Law Reporter

Reporting on news & issues of Justice, Law & Politics, from Scotland.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
ONE OF OUR JUDGES IS A BENEFITS CHEAT– reveals investigation into undeclared criminal habits, tax dodging & secret fiddles of Scottish judiciary

court of session

Shame on them – Benefits Cheat & tax dodging Scottish judges at Court of Session.

AN INVESTIGATION into the shady double lives of Scotland’s allegedly unimpeachable judiciary has revealed one of Scotland’s judges is A CONVICTED BENEFITS CHEAT. Law Journalists who are currently investigating the secretive Scottish judiciary have also turned up a host of other criminal charges, irregular activities such as tax dodging via offshore trusts, allegations of associations between judges & members of criminal gangs, regular liaisons with male & female prostitutes, membership of secret societies, and allegations of “bungs” taken in criminal trials, all of which appear to be known to the authorities yet no action has ever been taken despite concerns knowledge of the backgrounds of certain judges has led to altered verdicts and the collapse of criminal trials in Scotland’s courts.

Sensitive files passed to Scottish Law Reporter along with media reports identifying several currently serving Scottish judges who have criminal records, confirm that one of our judges is indeed, a convicted benefits cheat, yet the story only came to light after dogged Freedom of Information requests revealed the case, which the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service COPFS) had tried to cover up from the general public and had apparently warned journalists away from reporting.

great law reporting, mirrors LS

Robby Scott Hill said...

It's mighty Confederate of them to use the 14th Amendment against Black Judges & ignore the same behaviors from White Judges. They've lost me. Welcome to AmeriKKKa, Land of the Free and Home of the Bigoted.

jeffrey spruill said...

Some white guys are REALLY lucky.

Judge Henry Coke split the statute the feds charged with into separate offsense-violating the 5th amendment grand jury clause-11 days before my trial date so white guys like this wouldn't look so bad:

But Judge Morgan must have had a premonition the law clerk he hired out of University of Virginia Law School in 1992 would become the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Va.

Hunting clubs ain't got nothing on the judicial roaches from the Eastern District of Va.

Carlos Ortigoza said...

Now I see where all of these pictures of him at the hunting club came from. Judge and lawyers bonding together for years and destroying Alabama's people, separating families, robbing homes, and for what? Nothing good.