Thursday, October 24, 2013

What's Really Going on in Alabama Courts?

The Alabama Family Rights Association (ALFRA) is working to preserve, promote, and protect family relationships. In our efforts to reform Alabama Family Law and Practices, we are aware of the daily operations of the Family and Domestic Relations Courts throughout the sixty-seven counties.

After observing the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission (AJIC) trial involving charges against Judge Dorothea Batiste, my question is: Why is this particular judge being singled out? This goes on every day in almost all Alabama courtrooms.  For example, a Chilton County Judge ordered a mother of two held on an unlawful contempt charge for nearly six months, yet nothing has been done. Also, after almost a decade of complaints and seventy-four charges against Montgomery County Judge Patricia Warner, the ACOJ allowed her to walk away in 2011 with all of her orders and cases which involved children in abusive situations to remain in place. There have been several cases in the Limestone area where a judge has held individuals in contempt without giving the accused a means to purge themselves.  A Shelby County judge and a recently retired judge from Jefferson County have both charged litigants with contempt while disregarding their due process rights as guaranteed by both the United States and Alabama constitutions.  And all of these complaints have fallen on deaf ears.

Judge Batiste’s attorney, Julian McPhillips, said in his opening statement that Judge Childers has held numerous individuals in contempt for similar reasons that were used as complaints against Judge Batiste and actually kept people in jail for longer periods of time. Again, the question I present is: Why is it this particular judge is being singled out? All judges that violate due process must be held accountable and by the same standards. What are the standards? ALFRA is aware that the sixty-seven counties have different and localized standards regarding standard visitation for custody arrangements, but do we now have individualized and localized standards regarding judges within individual counties? It is important to note that pursuant to the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedures XI. General provisions Rule 83 “all local rules are abolished effective April 14, 1992, and no local rules shall thereafter be permitted”. There are judges using contempt charges as weapons throughout the sixty-seven counties in Alabama.

Is there an accountability mechanism in place to protect and safeguard all citizens that applies to all judges? In my opinion, creating a standard that selectively holds certain members of the judiciary accountable only serves to further question the integrity of Alabama's justice system and appears to demonstrate judges are more interested in protecting each other than protecting the citizens, especially the children of Alabama.
Victims that have been deprived of their due process are encouraged to file a complaint with the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission (AJIC). 


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