|Jessica Medeiros Garrison
The Marie Claire article last fall is particularly nonsensical when you consider that Garrison is a lawyer. She should have known that Judge Don Blankenship's ruling was contrary to Alabama law that frowns on default judgments, in part because they tend to short-circuit due process. Garrison should have known that, as we've shown in recent posts, she failed to give proper notice of her default application, making Blankenship's order void. She should have known that gives me unlimited time to attack the order as a nullity.
Even the antiquated Alabama Constitution of 1901 shows Garrison's default judgment was on shaky ground from the outset. This is from Kirtland v. Fort Morgan Authority Sewer Service, 524 So. 2d 600 (Ala. Sup. Ct., 1988):
Article 1, §§ 6 and 13, Alabama Constitution of 1901, by guaranteeing the due process rights of citizens, and Article 1, § 10, by holding inviolate a person's right to defend himself in a civil action to which he is a party, elucidates this state's commitment to protect an individual's right to attain an adjudication on the merits and to afford litigants an opportunity to defend. We, therefore, emphatically hold that a trial court, in determining whether to grant or to deny a motion to set aside a default judgment, should exercise its broad discretionary powers with liberality and should balance the equities of the case with a strong bias toward allowing the defendant to have his day in court.
In other words, I was supposed to have my "day in court," but Blankenship unlawfully trampled my right to defend myself. It's a sad day when the unwieldy, racist Alabama Constitution of yesteryear shows more respect for due process than does a black Democratic judge like Blankenship.
Jessica Garrison, to no one's surprise, is excited about a court acting corruptly in her favor? That speaks volumes about her "ethics." It also shows she has a massive sense of entitlement, a condition that seems to run rampant through the Republican population.
As for Garrison's judgment being void, a case styled Cornelius v. Browning, (AL Sup. Ct., 2011) helps drive home that point. (See also Abernathy v. Green Tree Servicing, Ala. Civ. App., 2010.) The Cornelius case revolved around plaintiffs who received a default judgment on several investment-related claims against a Blountsville man named Jeff Cornelius, among others. Cornelius claimed he had never received notice of the default motion. The trial court refused to overturn the default, but the Alabama Supreme Court took a different view:
On March 11, 2010, the plaintiffs initiated a garnishment proceeding in an attempt to collect the judgment against Cornelius. . . . On March 23, 2010, Cornelius moved the trial court to set aside its October 28 judgment and the subsequent garnishment proceeding. . . . Cornelius argued in his motion that he did not receive a copy of the plaintiffs' default-judgment motion and that allowing the default judgment to stand would be “a miscarriage of justice” and would violate principles of due process.
The state's high court agreed with Cornelius. From the ruling:
[w]hen the grant or denial of relief [from a default judgment] turns on the validity of the judgment, as under Rule 60(b)(4)[, Ala. R. Civ. P.], discretion has no place. If the judgment is valid, it must stand; if it is void, it must be set aside. A judgment is void only if the court rendering it lacked jurisdiction of the subject matter or of the parties, or if it acted in a manner inconsistent with due process. . . .
Procedural due process, as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, § 6, of the Alabama Constitution of 1901, broadly speaking, contemplates the rudimentary requirements of fair play, which include a fair and open hearing before a legally constituted court or other authority, with notice and the opportunity to present evidence and argument, representation by counsel, if desired, and information as to the claims of the opposing party, with reasonable opportunity to controvert them. It is generally understood that an opportunity for a hearing before a competent and impartial tribunal upon proper notice is one of the essential elements of due process. (citations omitted).
On paper, at least, Alabama courts take due process and fair play seriously. How seriously? Consider this from a case styled McConico v. Patterson (Ala. Court of Civil Appeals 2016). It addresses post-judgment motions, which normally are subject to time constraints. That is not the case when the motion seeks to overturn a void default judgment:
[A]s a nullity, a void judgment has no effect and is subject to attack at any time. . . . [A] motion for relief from a void judgment is not governed by the reasonable-time requirement of Rule 60(b)[, Ala. R. Civ. P.].
A case styled Ex parte Full Circle Distribution, L.L.C., 883 So. 2d 638, 643 (Ala. 2003). helps drive home the point:
The rationale for being able to vacate a void judgment at any time is that "a void court order is a complete nullity." Hodges v. Archer, 286 Ala. 457, 459, 241 So.2d 324, 326 (1970). As a nullity, a void judgment has no effect and is subject to attack at any time.
Jessica Garrison is the lawyer here, not me, so you might expert her to know the judgment is a "nullity" which "has no effect." You might also expect her to know about this law regarding fair play. I can only conclude that Garrison isn't interested in fair play -- and she probably made sure I had no notice, and could not appear, because she didn't want anyone to controvert her story in court. As I've noted before, an attorney who reviewed the file -- I haven't seen it since being forced to leave Alabama -- said the record showed that notice of the default application and hearing was not sent, much less received.
On a final note, consider Garrison's attorney, the "estimable" (maybe that should be "excremental") Bill Baxley. Just yesterday, Alabama Political Reporter editor Bill Britt published a piece that portrayed Baxley as an utter doofus in the courtroom during post-trial hearings in the Mike Hubbard case. But Baxley has been a courtroom clod-head long before the Hubbard case came along. In representing Garrison, he allowed a corrupt judge to issue an order that was void before the ink had dried on paper, and then foolishly let his client crow about the order to an international audience, ignoring this inconvenient truth -- the order is a nullity that has no effect; it's worth equals zero, not $3.5 million.
If Garrison isn't interested in fair play, what does "float her boat"? She seems to be interested in getting something for nothing, whether she deserves it or not. That brings us back to entitlement, and she seems to have a massive sense for that.
Perhaps Garrison knew, from the get-go, that she did not have a legitimate defamation claim, but she had the "connections" to make sure she got a favorable outcome anyway. That's how shallow, morally bereft individuals view our court system -- as a plaything to pull con games on the rest of us.