BALDWIN COUNTY FAMILY COURT - A COTTAGE INDUSTRY
For years we have been critical of the family court, especially the rulings of District Judge Michelle Thomason. Complaints lit Facebook up like a Christmas tree.
They were so plentiful and consistent that it was obvious to anyone that the good Judges’ court was a malfunction junction in the legal system. Her 50⁄50 decisions on custody were an easy way out of tough decisions and caused many a family unnecessary hardships. Thomason has had as many as 6 complaints filed against her in the last 18 months; all were dismissed by the Judiciary. Guess they were busy with Judge Roy Moore.
One complaint centered on Judge Thomason’s position with the Eastern Shore Republican Women and the Judicial Canons of Alabama, specifically number 5 and 7.
Alabama Unified Judicial System
Canons of Judicial Ethics
Add to the mix half dozen attorneys who have turned the whole process of divorce and child custody into a cottage industry. Divorces in Baldwin County can take up to 12 years and drain all the resources of both parents while bouncing the children around like rubber balls.
The Ripp Report is pleased to inform you some changes have been recently made involving DR/Family Court. These changes came from presiding Judge Floyd and are intended to assist the parties in court and to hear final trials more expeditiously.
1) All answer and waiver divorces will be assigned by the clerks and handled by the four general jurisdiction circuit judges on a rotating basis.
2) All pendente lite/temporary motions for cases assigned to Judge Thomason and Judge Bosch will be heard by the other four circuit judges on dates as they schedule. Judge Floyd and Judge Bishop will hear Judge Thomason’s motions and Judge Norton and Judge Taylor will hear Judge Bosch’s motions. It is anticipated that most of these will be heard on the afternoon of motion docket in Bay Minette.
3) Specially assigned judges will hear Judge Thomason’s domestic violence dockets in 2017.
In a nutshell, the importance of this is that Thomason is now prevented from inflicting her bad judgment at temporary custody and support hearings. The temporary orders issued by Thomason would often remain in place for years — until the final hearing. In Judge Thomason’s status quo orders which are issued in all of the cases assigned to her at the beginning of the case — joint physical custody is immediately forced when often there was never a 50⁄50 relationship between the parents and children.
Will her status quo order be out the window too?
It’s too soon to know, but if not at least the judges who have the first “bite” at these cases will have an opportunity to use common sense.
This should also be interesting for appeals process. It is really hard to win on appeal as “affirmed” and judge’s discretion seem to be a blanket response. With this process, if the two judges rule in two varying and different ways, then perhaps more scrutiny will be given to the screwy custody arrangements coming out of Thomason’s courtroom.
As far as the domestic violence docket being removed from her control this is huge. It’s been long recognized that Thomason favors the pro se litigant, and often asks questions on their behalf. Lawyers all over the County would joke that they would give the other party $500 to hire an attorney rather than go into Thomason’s Court with a pro se litigant on the other side.
What is not mentioned is will she still be solely over the veteran’s court?
This is a huge shake up— and would likely not have occurred without those brave enough to voice their disgust.
The way to get rid of Judge Thomason is vote her out in the next primary, unless she fixes it like the last time. The way to eliminate to cottage industry attorneys is stop doing business with them; you can start by avoiding Attorney Steven Johnson and his mentor, Buddy Brackin. It would also be nice to see the Baldwin County Bar start to clean the roaches out of their judicial house.
Thank You Baldwin County Bar Association, this is a start.