Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
Ted Rollins and his lawyer seem to take a perverse delight in poking sticks at the Legal Schnauzer.
Rollins, the CEO of Charlotte-based Campus Crest Communities, is represented by Chad Essick, of the North Carolina firm Poyner Spruill. They started by sending a letter that pretty clearly threatened a lawsuit if I continued to report fully and accurately on Rollins' actions that are connected to Alabama, where I live.
They have followed with a second letter, one that seems designed mostly to insult me and attack the credibility of Sherry Carroll Rollins, the victim of hideous legal shenanigans in a divorce case Ted Rollins (her ex husband) instituted in Alabama.
Mr. Rollins and Mr. Essick apparently have not learned two of life's important lessons: (1) Schnauzers do not suffer fools gladly; (2) Schnauzers bite, and when they do, it can involve significant pain for the bitee.
I have written that Rollins v. Rollins is "No. 1 on my 'hit parade' of courtroom abuse." Put another way, it's the most blatant example of courtroom corruption in a civil matter that I've uncovered--and that's saying something. I stand by that statement, by the way.
The case was heard in Shelby County, Alabama, and Mr. Rollins received an extraordinarily favorable judgment, even though Mrs. Rollins had sued him for divorce some three years earlier in Greenville, South Carolina--where the couple had lived and where numerous court orders already had been entered. Simple jurisdictional law--call it Law School 101--shows that such a judicial heist cannot be done. But Alabama Circuit Judge D. Al Crowson did it anyway, violating all sorts of law that perhaps is best explained in a case styled Wesson v. Wesson, 628 So. 2d 953 (Ala., 1993) Here is the key finding:
Once jurisdiction has attached in one court, that court has the exclusive right to continue its exercise of power until the completion of the case, and is only subject to appellate authority.
Legal doctrine doesn't come much shorter or simpler than that. Based on the clear language in Wesson, Sherry Carroll Rollins and the two daughters she had with Ted Rollins (now teens and living with their mother in Alabama) received a "shaft job" that would make Isaac Hayes blush.
The corruption in Rollins v. Rollins is so transparent and blatant that it cannot be seriously argued. But Ted Rollins and his lawyer apparently feel a need to massage the case anyway. Their second letter, which might charitably be called a massive load of feces, can be read in its entirety below.
Chad Essick starts by informing me that the first letter was not meant to be seen as "threatening." Rather, it was to inform me that Mr. Rollins and his company have retained legal counsel "based on concerns about inaccurate and misleading information you have published." How is that different from a threat of litigation? Beats me.
Mr. Essick then refers to my work as "reporting" (with quotation marks) and then states that he wants to ensure that my work is "accurate, unbiased, and free of the conspiracy theories that you seem so determined to create."
Memo to Mr. Essick: Insults are way less effective than you might imagine when dealing with journalists.
Here is another rhetorical tactic that has proven over the years to be ineffective: Stating you aren't going to do something and then doing it. Mr. Essick writes: "Frankly, we see no need to engage in a legal debate with a non-lawyer over a case that has long been settled by the courts." Then, he proceeds to initiate such a debate.