Thursday, January 5, 2017

Alabama physician Mark Hayden again is under threat of arrest in civil case, less than two weeks after his release from a 25-day stay in the Jefferson County Jail

Dr. Mark Hayden
An Alabama physician is under threat of being arrested again, less than two weeks after his release from a 25-day stay in the Jefferson County Jail -- over a civil matter.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo reissued a writ of arrest for Dr. Mark Hayden at 4:39 p.m. yesterday, at the request of William Cashion, Hayden's wealthy, octogenarian uncle.

Cashion and his attorneys from the Birmingham firm Maynard Cooper and Gale filed a motion to alter an order that suspended Hayden's previous arrest and granted his release. Cashion argues that Hayden has failed to produce certain documents related to Cashion's company, Western Steel Inc. of Bessemer, and failed to pay a $75,000 bond, per a previous order from Graffeo. (The reissued writ of arrest and the suspension of arrest/order to pay bond are embedded at the end of this post.)

Hayden, who has a private practice in Wetumpka and was arrested previously while on duty at the Bullock County Hospital emergency room, has argued in court that the documents are not in his possession, they belong to a Nevada trust, and he does not have the authority to take them.

We do not have access to the full case file, so it's difficult to determine what is driving Graffeo's effort to re-arrest a physician against whom there are no criminal charges -- demanding that he produce documents he might not be able produce.

It is clear, however, that Hayden sent an e-mail on December 28, 2016, to five individuals (including Graffeo) that he intended to pursue a federal lawsuit for civil-rights violations, plus false arrest, false imprisonment, abuse of process, and other state claims. (The e-mail appears near the end of the reissued writ of arrest, embedded below.)

Judges generally are immune from suit for actions taken in their official capacities. But if Hayden alleges and is able to prove that Graffeo engaged in a criminal conspiracy (perhaps with Cashion and his lawyers) that would point to activity outside Graffeo's official duties -- and it might remove his immune status.

Did Graffeo order Hayden's re-arrest in retaliation for the threatened lawsuit? Was Hayden wise, or not so wise, to send such an e-mail? We don't have answers to those questions -- but we have quite a few additional questions.

Most prominent among them: What law authorizes Graffeo to order Hayden to make payment of a $75,000 bond? Graffeo cites no such law in his order.

Hayden states in a reply that he has contacted several bond companies, and they have refused to pay bond on what appears to be a garnishment procedure. Hayden also argues that collection of an alleged debt by imprisonment of a contemptor violates the U.S. Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S. Code 1692e.

Another question: Hayden was released after a December 23 habeas corpus petition before U.S. Magistrate John England, who stated that he had issued an order on December 16, giving Sheriff Mike Hale 30 days to respond and show grounds for keeping Hayden in custody. The 30 days for Hale's response have not expired, so why is Hayden under threat of re-arrest?

It remains unclear who released Hayden the first time. Graffeo's order suspending the arrest is dated December 28, 2016. But Hayden already had been out of jail for five days by that date, making it appear that England released him,

Are the state and federal courts uncoordinated to an almost comical degree in this case? Is Graffeo openly defying a federal magistrate's order? England's order is fuzzy, but it seems to suggest that Hayden will remain free, unless Hale shows good cause by January 15, for keeping Hayden in custody. Does Graffeo have any grounds for seeking to have Hayden arrested again, in light of England's order?

If so, what is the point of a federal habeas corpus proceeding? What good does it do if a state judge can openly defy it or ignore it?

At the moment, I have more questions than answers about this long-and-winding case, one even Graffeo calls "tortured." But it appears to me the court system, and Cashion's lawyers, have caused the case to be tortured.

In the early days of the case, Judge Robert Vance Jr. made multiple rulings, favoring Maynard Cooper and Gale, when the case was not even assigned to him. Cashion's lawyers apparently were determined to have the case heard in the Birmingham division of the 10th Judicial Circuit, even though no party lives or operates a business in the division. (Perhaps they considered Vance a friendly judge?)

Hayden has been forced to fight a series of dubious rulings made under the Commercial Litigation Docket (CDL), concocted by former presiding judge Scott Vowell to send high-dollar cases to Vance, even though the CDL has been declared unconstitutional and disbanded. Hayden has been on the receiving end of unfavorable rulings by the wrong judge, in the wrong venue, under a judicial scheme that has been declared unconstitutional. Does that sound fair?

The record is clear that Mark Hayden is a law-abiding citizen who provides badly needed medical care in rural Alabama. The scarcity of doctors in rural areas across the country has been a major problem for years, one the UAB School of Medicine (and many others) have tried mightily to address. Hayden is a UAB graduate who is on the front line, trying to make rural Alabama a healthier place.

And yet, he's already been handcuffed and shackled once and hauled from his ER duties for a court case that involves no known crime -- at least not on his part. It appears Judge Graffeo is harassing Hayden because of the latter's threat of a federal lawsuit -- or maybe because Cashion has enough money to buy the "justice" he wants.

Is that what Americans want from their judges? Doesn't Graffeo have something more useful he could be doing?


Anonymous said...

I understand courts can hold people in contempt, and even arrest them for it, but that doesn't seem to be an appropriate way to handle this situation.

Ted O said...

I'm concerned someone is going to get hurt before this is over. Arresting people is dangerous, and to put Dr. Hayden in that position seems both unfair and unwise.

legalschnauzer said...

You make a powerful point, @11:52. I know from firsthand experience that an arrest is a dangerous event. Both my wife and I have been injured -- she was severely injured -- during arrests that both were unsupported by law. For Dr. Hayden to have to worry about being arrested while he is attempting to provide patient care is ridiculous. The public should be outraged.

Anonymous said...

Did Dr. Hayden appeal the trial court's findings in the underlying case?

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, @12:44, Dr. Hayden did appeal, and he got an "Affirmed, No Opinion" response, which happens in all too many Alabama appeals. There is no evidence the higher court even considered the appeal, and that is just one of many things wrong with our court system.

e.a.f. said...

the court system which is playing at this sounds like something out of a play about nonsense.

if someone doesn't have a document how can they be jailed for failing to produce it? some thing is very weird with the judicial system in Alabama. Now if they believe he has it, and doesn't produce it, that is one thing. Guess we do things differently here in Canada. of course our judges aren't elected. In Canada they actually remove judges from their position if they "screw up" and it can be as simple as saying to the wrong thing.

this all reads like something out of a court system you might find in Egypt. Yes, new question: what is the difference between the court system in Alabama an Egypt? Not much that I can read.....

legalschnauzer said...

e.a.f. --

Under Alabama law, a judge must recuse himself if he has received more than a certain amount from a party or law firm involved in a case. Robert Vance Jr., the original judge in the Hayden case, took more than the limit from Maynard Cooper and Gale, the firm that represents Mr. Cashion. Vance had to step down, but he did not, and made a series of favorable rulings for Cashion, and that essentially is what has led to Dr. Hayden's incarceration.

Shows how truly smelly this case is. I've seen this kind of thing over and over in Alabama courts. A certain concept is spelled out in writing one way, but the person wearing the robe acts in the opposite way. I'd say our state has at least 100 judges, both state and federal, who belong in prison for fraud, conspiracy, and other wrongs, much of it involving lawyers and parties who give them money.

legalschnauzer said...

e.a.f. --

This is from post I wrote about judicial limit and the Hayden case. Judge Vance was sued in federal court over it, and the case was dismissed on immunity grounds. In other words U.S. judges have immunity to break the law. How sick is that? Vance is a Democrat, BTW, so this is a bipartisan problem"

"Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert Vance Jr. is hearing a state case, even though lawyers on one side are from a firm that contributed at least $3,600 to Vance's most recent campaign. The donations, from the Birmingham firm Maynard Cooper & Gale (MCG), exceed the $2,000 threshold set by Alabama law and require Vance's recusal, according to the federal complaint.

"Vance has refused to step aside in the underlying state case, styled William B. Cashion and Western Steel Inc. v. Steven Mark Hayden, et al (Case No. CV-2012-209), and issued four favorable rulings to MCG's clients. That prompted a federal lawsuit alleging that Vance acted without jurisdiction and outside his judicial capacity, causing substantial damages to a trust that was formed in Nevada."