He Shall Be Called Messiah

In August, Tennessee family court judge Lu Ann Ballew changed a child’s name from “Messiah” to “Martin” over the objection of both parents. Her reasoning? 

“The word Messiah is a title and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ,” Judge Ballew said….According to Judge Ballew, it is the first time she has ordered a first name change. She said the decision is best for the child, especially while growing up in a county with a large Christian population.“It could put him at odds with a lot of people and at this point he has had no choice in what his name is.” Judge Ballew said.

The judge is now facing disciplinary procedures from the Tennessee Board of Judicial Procedures. The Board argues that these actions undermined confidence in the judiciary, manifested prejudice and partiality, and constituted impermissible commentary on a pending case. 

Roses, Chocolates, and Service of Process

Scan of a Valentine greeting card dated 1909.
Scan of a Valentine greeting card dated 1909. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In honor of the Feast of St. Valentine, I’ve rounded up some Arkansas cases and news stories involving Valentine’s.

To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, and donn’d his clothes,
And dupp’d the chamber-door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.
—William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5

Considering that Valentine’s Day is named after at least two and possibly three people who were slain, it perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise that Valentine’s Day isn’t all wine and roses.

I’ve always thought that cards are a waste of money. I think these will people agree.

The Smoking Card

Bob Devor was married to 70-year old Polly. Polly had a daughter, Dee, from a prior marriage. Dee and a friend killed Polly at the Devor family ranch and burned her body. Dee eventually pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. The prosecution contended that Bob, far from outraged, provided Dee with a vehicle and cash to flee the state days after Polly’s murder. Additionally, they alleged that he altered the crime scene and lied to law enforcement in an effort to protect Polly. Additionally, the 911 tape revealed that Bob calmly called in a burglary and “laughed when he said that he could not find his wife.” Throughout the investigation, Bob provided the police with one false lead after another, but no one could come up with a motive for why Bob would cover for Dee. After Dee was finally arrested, her jail cell was searched. Police found a valentine from Bob to Dee, “Valentine, if loving you is a crime, then throw my happy ass in jail.” And they did.

Devor v. State, 2012 Ark. App. 82, — S.W.3d —-, 2012 WL 206434.

The Card Shows His Hand

A 1944 case involved Allie and Joe Goodlet. Allie wanted a divorce from Joe. Allie alleged, inter alia, that Joe conducted himself in ways not consistent with conjugal relations. The court stated the rule that “a decree of divorce will not be granted on testimony of plaintiff alone, even though the alleged ground therefor is admitted by defendant, but the testimony must be corroborated by other evidence to establish truth of the charge.” Allie’s corroborating evidence? A Valentine’s day card found in Joe’s suitcase that said, “To my Joe” and signed “All my love, your wife, Nell.” Woops!

Goodlett v. Goodlett, 206 Ark. 1048, 178 S.W.2d 666

In the news…

Want to Find Your Soulmate? You May Need a Free Divorce First

The LA Times reported on February 13, 2013 that a Michigan lawyer has decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day by giving away a free divorce.

Walter H. Bentley III says he got the idea after a student at a night-school class he teaches invited him to a party to celebrate her divorce. He told ABC News that this led to a revelation: “Why not do something special for Valentine’s Day? You can’t find a new love before you close the chapter on the old.”

According to Bentley’s website, the winner of the free divorce has to come up with “the most compelling and convincing story” attesting to why he or she deserves a free ride to relationship freedom.

There are a few catches: The split has to be uncontested and have minimal child custody issues. You also need to be a Michigan resident. Bentley says nearly 500 people have already applied.


Errmmm…..Job Security? 

Most marriages end in the office of a divorce lawyer, but this Valentine’s Day, Rob Hagy is ready to celebrate the union of marriage. He is planning and paying for your wedding.

Rob Hagy, a Charlottesville Divorce Lawyer, said, “We do see the heartache. We’d like to do something constructive instead of destructive, with regards to a marriage.”

Most girls dream of walking down an aisle in a big church on their wedding day. Come Thursday, Hagy will show us his different idea of what a wedding could look like.

The ceremonies will be held at Hagy’s Charlottesville office. There will be an officiant ready to tie the knot from 9:30 am to 7:00 pm.

“We will have the office decorated, as I call it appropriately, in a Valentine’s slash wedding theme,” said Hagy. “We will be giving out roses to the ladies who come and also sharing some chocolates with them as well.”


From the ABA in 2011: 

New York City divorce lawyer Nancy Chemtob tells the New York Times City Room blog that November and December are slow months because no one wants to get divorced during the holidays. January is busy. And then there is the day after Valentine’s Day.

“The phone’s ringing off the hook,” Chemtob told the publication.

“The girlfriends, the mistresses, the wives—they all get found out on Valentine’s Day,” Chemtob said. “The girlfriend gets ticked off that he’s out with the spouse, or the spouse goes out with a girlfriend/boyfriend, leaving the spouse at home, so it’s like game over.”

Chemtob was among the lawyers who passed along tales of Valentine’s Day woe to City Room. Vikki Ziegler, an adjunct law professor at Fordham and a New Jersey divorce lawyer, had several stories about the darker side of Valentine’s Day. She has heard of dead roses and bad language written on a car in strawberries and chocolate.

She also passed along several examples of spouses who were eager to let the other know that life had gone on. One gave her spouse a bill for Victoria’s Secret purchases he would never see. Another texted pictures with a new lover, and yet another sent along a sex tape.

Just for Fun:

From Buzzfeed