Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Judge Terry A. Moore on Grandparents' Rights? Baloney!

In a recent Alabama Court of Civil Appeals opinion, Weldon v. Ballow, on October 30, 2015, the Alabama Civil Court of Appeals struck down the Alabama Grandparent Visitation Act (GVA) as being unconstitutional. The GVA allows a trial court to proceed to making a child's best interest determination without first making a determination of parental unfitness.

The GVA as written allowed a judge to make different determination over that of a fit parent just because the judge may not like the parental decision. This alone is not a government compelling interest according to clearly established law of the US Supreme Court since 1927.

Contrary to how the Alabama family courts typically rule in disputed cases about children, I completely agree with Judge Donaldson of the Court of Civil Appeals in the Weldon opinion that:

"No matter how seemingly beneficial the end result may be, the government cannot impair, impede, or curtail one person's fundamental right solely for the benefit of another person's interest. The government can do so only when a compelling governmental, not individual, interest has been established. "

The GVA required fit parents to be drawn into court, to incur legal expenses, and to defend against their fundamental right to make decisions concerning their children; and puts fit parents in the same category as sex offenders and other classes of people against whom the state does have a compelling interest to protect children.

The US Supreme Court has determined our constitution presumes parents act in their children's best interests, and absent first a judicial determination of parental unfitness, by clear and convincing evidence, the state has no compelling interest in ordering a parent to do anything.

The Weldon case is the second time the GVA has been struck down as unconstitutional by the Alabama Appellate Courts. Interestingly, just a day or so before the first ruling in Ex parte ERG (2011) the Alabama Legislature amended the GVA. The 2011 amendments were written by, or input was given by, justice Terry A. Moore of the Court of Civil Appeals. Justice Moore is the primary author of the Weldon opinion.

I fully support grandparents and parents being active in children's lives. However, any GVA that the Legislature passes will only be a feel good bill. Unless, the Act mandates courts first make a judicial determination of parental unfitness. This brings into question whether a GVA is needed, at all. There are already neglect and dependency laws on the books for the courts to make such a proper determination when parents are unfit.

Why do we have a sitting justice in the Alabama Appellate Court writing laws for the Legislature?

Alabama Civil Court of Appeals Justice Terry A. Moore either wrote or helped write the 2011 amendments to the GVA that were recently determined unconstitutional.

Justice Moore also either wrote or helped write a revised GVA presented to the Legislature in March 2015, which didn't pass. The revisions were made because most everyone with knowledge of law and the GVA knew the 2011 amendments didn't change the act to bring it in compliance to make it constitutional. The 2015 GVA bill will likely be brought forth again in the 2016 Legislative session.

Justice Moore is on the Alabama Law Institute family law committee, which is made up primarily of attorneys and judges. Mostly operating behind closed doors, they draft laws with self approval and submit the same to the legislature for passage. Often, these bills are not designed to protect the rights of the citizens in Alabama.

Justice Moore not only issued the Weldon opinion, but three months ago he upheld a trial court order that ordered GV over the objection of a parent. The Alabama Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

The citizens of Alabama should have no faith in our courts with this prejudicial and unethical conduct on going by a sitting justice on the Court of Civil Appeals. Justice Moore is issuing legal opinions in disputed cases about the very laws he wrote or helped write, and then presented to the Legislature by the Alabama Law Institute to be enacted into law. This also violates the separation of powers of the Judicial and Legislative branches under the US and Alabama Constitutions.

~ Mark Davis


We totally agree with Mr. Davis. Parents,unless unfit, should have the last word on whom their children spend time with. 


The Sherwin-Williams Police were recently called to Petersville. Upon arrival at Dirty Dawg Grooming, they immediately contacted PETA. A PETA representative stated:

While dogs do not have the same vision as humans, they still see...and feel...and their eyes can be easily hurt. This is one of the worst cases of color abuse I've seen in 30 years.



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