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Did Corruption In Divorce Court Drive One Mother to Plan a Murder?

By       Message Roger Shuler     Permalink
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Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

An Alabama woman has pleaded guilty to federal charges that she conspired to kill her ex husband after losing custody of her children in a divorce case.

Kimberly Dawn McGuffie, 44, of Calera, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire.  She will be sentenced on March 5, and her mother, Barbara Louise Patterson, also has been indicted in the case. The indictment alleges that the two women conspired to poison McGuffie's ex husband after losing custody of the couple's children. The plot unraveled when the hit man they were trying to hire wound up being an informant for authorities.

At one time, I would have read such a story, shrugged my shoulders, and said to myself, "This woman and her mother are bad people, who got caught trying to do a bad thing. They are getting what they deserve."

But now that I've received an 11-year education in the real world of the American justice system--and gotten to know numerous other people who have been victimized in court--I look at the McGuffie story in a different light. I have learned that Alabama domestic-relations courts can be horrifically corrupt, with decisions made not on the facts and the law but on what lawyer is buddies with the judge--or who happens to belong to the same hunting club as the judge.

Because I know that Alabama domestic-relations courts can be a cesspool of the foulest variety, certain questions about the McGuffie case quickly come to mind?

* Did her ex have the financial or political clout to hire the right lawyer who could grease the judge's palm in the specified way?

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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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