Batiste claims that retired Jefferson County Circuit Judge J. Scott Vowell brought charges against her with the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission (AJIC) in retaliation for her complaints of sexual harassment against him to the Alabama Attorney General's Office. Those claims are central to Batiste's defense, but Chief Judge J. Michael Joiner has ruled that she cannot raise them.
"We are going into this with our hands tied," Batiste's lawyer, Julian McPhillips, said. (See link to video at the end of this post.)
That Mike Joiner presides over the Court of the Judiciary, and the Batiste case, should be a major concern to Alabama citizens. Before Governor Robert Bentley appointed him to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, Joiner served as a circuit judge in Shelby County. That's where my wife and I first encountered him and quickly learned that he is thoroughly corrupt.
Joiner was the original judge on a groundless lawsuit filed against me by our troublesome neighbor, Mike McGarity. We would come to find out that McGarity has an extensive criminal record, with at least eight convictions on his record. McGarity somehow managed to get a job as a bar-code operator at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, even though the company is supposed to conduct stringent background checks because of its status as a federal Medicare contractor. How did Mike McGarity and his lengthy criminal history slip through the cracks? We intend to put that question to Koko Mackin, vice president for corporate communications and community relations at BC/BS of Alabama.
We also discovered that McGarity has three older brothers who all have criminal records--although two of them, Marshall (suicide) and Bill (AIDS), have died. A third brother, Charles Alan McGarity, has the most "impressive" criminal history of all, with felony convictions for theft and grand larceny standing out on his record.
Mike McGarity's lawsuit against me, under black-letter Alabama law, had to be dismissed on a motion for summary judgment (MSJ) within roughly eight months time. On our first MSJ, McGarity filed no timely or relevant evidence in response to our sworn, material facts, which meant we had to prevail. (See Voyager Guar. Ins. Co. v. Brown, 631 So. 2d 848, (Ala. Sup. Ct., 1993.) But Joiner ruled against us, violating his oath to uphold the law in the process.
On our second MSJ, McGarity filed no response at all--no answer to our MSJ (which raised issues that had not been raised on the first one); no evidence to counter our sworn, material facts; nothing. Summary judgment can't possibly be denied under search circumstances. Alabama law states that summary judgment is a nondiscretionary ruling. And when the nonmoving party presents no evidence to counter facts presented by the moving party, the facts on record are considered to be uncontroverted and summary judgment MUST be granted. We cited the relevant law in a previous post:
Rule 56(e) of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure makes it clear. So does Alabama case law: When a party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment offers no evidence to contradict that presented by the movant, trial court MUST consider the movant's evidence uncontroverted, with no genuine issue of material fact existing." Voyager Guar. Ins. Co., Inc. v. Brown 631 So. 2d 848 (Ala., 1993).
Law doesn't get more simple than that, but Mike Joiner couldn't get it right and denied our second MSJ. That's like having a college math professor who doesn't know that 2 + 2=4.
It's not that Joiner is confoundingly dense, of course. It's that he's corrupt. He ruled against us because McGarity's attorney was William E. Swatek, of Pelham. And as we have reported on numerous occasions, Swatek has a 30-year history of unethical behavior with the Alabama State Bar. He's been disciplined at least three times, including a suspension of his license, and he was tried for perjury in a criminal trial from the early 1980s. Public records show that Swatek unquestionably was guilty as charged, but an Alabama jury somehow voted to acquit.
Joiner stepped down from my case, upon my recusal motion, only after we discovered that he and Swatek are regular golf buddies. Under the law, Joiner was obligated to disclose that conflict at the outset, but he did not do it.
Alabama courtrooms are riddled with rogue judges, but none can be worse than Mike Joiner. And yet, he sits as chief judge of the Alabama Court of Judiciary, he will sit in judgment next week of Judge Dorothea Batiste--and he already has made evidentiary rulings that will keep her from raising key points in her defense.
That means Mike Joiner is a lapdog for the Alabama judicial establishment, led by Scott Vowell, and Judge Batiste almost certainly will be removed from the bench. Overwhelming evidence suggests Batiste is being railroaded and treated in a far more harsh fashion than her colleagues who are white or male--or perform according to Scott Vowell's bidding.
Officially, Batiste is in trouble for making excessive use of her contempt powers in domestic-relations cases. That almost certainly is not the real reason for the charges against her, and the mainstream Alabama press is showing signs of awakening to this unconscionable situation. Consider this from WSFA television station in Montgomery:
"I have known throughout all of this, people were going off into conference rooms, meeting together after hearings, coming up with strategies with how to remove me," Batiste said.
Batiste took office in 2011. She said it didn't take long for problems to arise with the presiding judge. She claims the judge harassed her racially and sexually. She also claims he tried to influence the outcome of certain cases.She said she complained to state officials.
"As that got back to the presiding judge, and the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission, which we think we acting as his agent, then certainly the heat was turned up on her greatly," said Julian McPhillips, Batiste's attorney.The presiding judge has since retired. The court ruled those harassment claims will not be factor during the trial, which begins on Monday.
With Mike Joiner sitting as chief judge, and Scott Vowell likely pulling strings from a booth off stage, justice almost certainly will not be served in the case of Dorothea Batiste.
Video: WSFA report on Dorothea Batiste case