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Telling the Truth Costs A Lawyer Her License

By       Message Roger Shuler     Permalink
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We already have reported on a writ of mandamus  and a motion to strike, both filed by Angela Turner Drees, that indicate Kile Turner's statements regarding Hajo Drees were false. Now we have a document from the Alabama State Bar itself.

The ruling was issued by Billy C. Bedsole, who is identified as a disciplinary hearing officer for the Alabama State Bar. What is Mr. Bedsole's main qualification? It's apparently that he's old, having been admitted to the bar in 1963. Also, he is a member of the Mobile firm Stockman and Bedsole.

First, let's consider a couple of complicating factors in the Angela Turner Drees matter before the Alabama State Bar:

* Drees did not attend the disciplinary hearing. That's because a bench warrant had been issued for her arrest for failure to attend a court proceeding in Jefferson County. Why did Drees fail to attend? She was in Germany, where her husband lives, when a hearing in Turner v. Turner was called on short notice. The cost of an airline ticket on such short notice was extraordinarily high, and she was unable to obtain one in time to attend the hearing.

* Did the court in Jefferson County intentionally set up Drees for a failure-to-appear warrant? It certainly looks that way. The original judge in Turner v. Turner, R.A. "Sonny" Ferguson, has been connected to an Alabama hunting club where member judges and lawyers reportedly conspire to fix divorce cases. Multiple federal lawsuits have been filed over the hunting-club issue, including two by Joseph W. Blackburn, a professor at Cumberland School of Law on the campus of Samford University in Birmingham. (Note: Judge R.A. "Sonny" Ferguson mysteriously announced his retirement from the bench last year, even though he is only in his mid 50s and almost certainly could have served for another 10 to 15 years. He now is with the Birmingham firm of Christian and Small.)

The bottom line? The Alabama State Bar punished Angela Turner Drees for two primary reasons: (1) It claims she falsely stated in court documents that Kile Turner and his attorney, Richard Vincent, had been adjudicated guilty of perjury by the court in Turner v. Turner; (2) It claims she falsely stated that Turner and Vincent were both being subjected to disbarment proceedings.

Angela Turner Drees says neither of those statements were false. She says a court document, which was not presented at her disciplinary hearing, shows that even Judge Ferguson found that Turner and Vincent had, in fact, made false statements before the court--and the judge's finding means the matter was "adjudicated." She also says that the Alabama State Bar currently is investigating charges of misconduct against Turner and Vincent, even though earlier complaints were dismissed.

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A reasonable person can get lost in the technicalities of the Alabama State Bar's findings against Angela Turner Drees. But this much is clear: Kile Turner and Richard Vincent admitted to the state bar that they made false statements to the court in Turner v. Turner.

In his report and order suspending Angela Turner Drees, Billy C. Bedsole writes about Kile Turner's allegations against Hajo Drees. Bedsole states that his findings are based on Turner's testimony before the Disciplinary Board of the Alabama State Bar.

What does Bedsole find? "Mr. Turner testified as to his knowledge of Mr. Drees having been convicted on a charge of domestic violence." Then Bedsole writes: "Later in the custody proceedings, it was discovered that there was not an actual conviction for domestic violence."

In other words, Kile Turner admitted to the disciplinary board that his statements regarding Hajo Drees were false. Does Billy C. Bedsole consider that a serious matter? Apparently not. He dismisses it as "nothing more than a  minor mistake or inadvertence." (Never mind that this "minor mistake" helped give Kile Turner full custody of the Turner triplets and a highly favorable financial arrangement.)

As for Richard Vincent, Kile Turner's lawyer, Bedsole writes: "Mr. Vincent testified that he originally believed that Mr. Drees had been convicted of domestic violence but later realized he was incorrect."

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Vincent, like his client, admits to having made a false statement in Turner v. Turner--and the Alabama State Bar's "disciplinary board" does not seem to be the least bit bothered by it. In fact, the board proceeds to punish Angela Turner Drees, the victim of these false statements.

Is the Alabama State Bar running a kangaroo court? Is that question an insult to kangaroo courts?

Here is the full report and order on the Angela Turner Drees matter before the Alabama State Bar:

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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)

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