The good news is that Blankenship's order is void, and I have an unlimited amount of time to have it overturned and declared a nullity. (More on that in an upcoming post.) The bad news is that Blankenship is a black Democrat, and in my three appearances before him, I thought he seemed like an intelligent, fair individual. Boy, was I wrong about that. That a black judge in Birmingham, Alabama -- site of historic civil-rights conflicts in the 1960s -- could trample black-letter law . . . well, one wonders the speed at which Martin Luther King's body must be spinning in his grave.
To put it bluntly, Don Blankenship is a disgrace to the many people -- of all colors -- who put their lives on the line to ensure that black Americans would enjoy fundamental human rights. To put it bluntly, Blankenship is a sellout. There is little doubt in my mind that someone in Birmingham's white legal power structure got to him and probably offered him some sort of favor in exchange for the noxious ruling examined below. How bad is Blankenship's order (which can be viewed at the end of this post)? Let's take a look:
Improper notice of Garrison's default judgment
It's undisputed that I never received lawful notice of Garrison's application for a default judgment or of a hearing on the matter. Blankenship blamed that on me, but he never cites any law to support his finding. That's because there isn't any; the burden was on Garrison to give notice -- and she didn't do it. From Blankenship's order:
The Defendant argues that this Court’s Order dated April 13, 2015, should be set aside on the procedural ground that notice of the default was not afforded the Defendant three days before its entry. The Defendant relies on Rule 55 of the Ala. R.Civ. P. in making this argument. On January 13, 2015, this Court granted the Plaintiff’s Motion for Default, however that default was not entered until damages were affixed to same. Damages were affixed on April 13, 2015, after a hearing had taken place to prove damages on March 19, 2015. The Court sent notices of the aforementioned hearings to the last known address of the Defendant. It is not the Court’s responsibility to determine the whereabouts of the Defendant; but, it is the responsibility of the Defendant to inform the Court of his whereabouts. The notice of the first leave to prove damages hearing was given more than thirty days in advance of that hearing. Moreover, notice was sent to the Defendant that the aforementioned hearing was continued until March 19, 2015. Therefore, the Defendant was given ample notice of the hearing to prove damages, but failed or refused to attend such hearing. Consequently, the Defendant’s procedural argument fails.
For a judge to write such utter horse manure is . . . well, it's pitiful. Blankenship is correct that it's not the court's duty to determine my whereabouts. But as we showed in an earlier post, under a case styled Abernathy v. Green Tree Servicing (Ala. Civ. App., 2010), it is Garrison's duty to make sure I have at least three days notice of the default hearing. And she failed, meaning her default judgment is void, and Blankenship had no discretion to find otherwise.
On top of that, court documents show that my e-mail address was on every document I filed with the court. Garrison or her attorney, Bill Baxley, easily could have sent me an e-mail to determine my whereabouts. They never did that. I think they didn't do it because they didn't want me there; they wanted Garrison and Attorney General Luther Strange to blabber in court without pesky questions from the opposing side -- questions that might center on their professional, and personal, relationship.
To fully grasp Blankenship's corrupt motives, we invite you to examine the two highlighted areas above. He says default was granted on January 13, 2015, but he gives no indication that I was there (I wasn't), that notice was sent (it apparently wasn't), or that I received it (I didn't). He claims notice was sent for a hearing on damages set for March 19, 2015. But under Abernathy, that is beside the point. The plaintiff must receive three days' notice of the application for default and any hearing on the matter -- and Blankenship's own words show I did not.
Blankenship proceeds to address two other "substantive issues," both of which he gets wrong. We will address those issues in an upcoming post, but for now, all we need to know is that Garrison's default judgment is void, and Judge Blankenship's own words help prove it.
For good measure, I have an unlimited amount of time to get her bogus judgment reduced to ashes. And that is where it will wind up.
Blankenship is a black Democrat, and Garrison is a white Republican. But it appears they have at least one thing in common -- they went to law school for appearances sake, and no other reason. Clearly, they neither one have any respect for, or interest in, the law or justice.
That Don Blankenship would turn into a shill for Jessica Garrison, her lawyer Bill Baxley, and her prime political candidate/boyfriend Luther Strange provides a classic example of just how far our system has fallen.
Here is a theory I've developed since our unpleasant introduction to the legal world began about 2000: The practice of law, I think, presents a pretty miserable existence for many lawyers. Yes, a fair number of them become relatively wealthy and live in gated communities, with golf courses winding through them. Some become partners at large firms where they are expected to perform as "rainmakers" that keep their fellow elites living in style, while junior attorneys and paralegals do most of the real work. And some, like Blankenship, wind up in solo or small practices where they can do OK financially, but they have to put up with crooked judges and arrogant opposing counsel in order to do it -- and they have to look the other way when their own low-end clients get shafted and the solo/small-firm lawyer can do nothing about it. In other words, they see the casualties of one-sided legal war, but unlike the hero surgeons on M*A*S*H, they cannot piece them back together with meatball surgery. After awhile, I suspect, that scenario starts eating at one's soul.
So, what happens? If a mediocre black lawyer like Blankenship, or a mediocre white one like J. Michael Joiner, is lucky enough to become a judge, he hangs onto the position for dear life. They want to become "judge for life," and my impression is that they would slit their grandmother's throat to achieve that. Why? Because they are desperate not to go back to the drudgery and financial uncertainty of being a crappy lawyer.
If someone suggested that he could help make Don Blankenship a "judge for life" -- in exchange for screwing me over in the Garrison case -- I'm sure it would take "Dandy Don" about 2.3 seconds to make that deal.
In 2012, Blankenship was elected to the bench over Republican David Lawrence Faulkner, in a race that probably was decided strictly along racial lines. Blankenship is up for re-election in 2018, and I'm betting he runs unopposed. That's a nice, cheap way for elite white lawyers to buy "justice" for clients like Jessica Garrison. If Blankenship does have opposition in 2018, it will be a sign (I believe) that he received a handsome "gratuity" in exchange for the pathetic order you see below.
What's that saying about how awful it is to watch sausage being made? I'm guessing it's almost as horrifying to see "justice" being made in the US of A.
(To be continued)