Wednesday, October 14, 2009

14 OCT 09: As God is Your Judge

Suppose a local elected official declared himself a spokesman for God. And suppose he did it in the middle of a public meeting. What would you think of it? Would you be happy that a public servant was taking a public religious stand? Or would you race to the phone, call Roy Moore and warn his career was being outdone?

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Your blog discovered Tuesday that a Muscogee County Judge once declared himself a "spokesman" for God, during a court hearing he presided. No one in the courtroom objected - and one of those people was a State Senator. We're sad to report the court record does NOT reveal if the State Senator kneeled before the bench.

The unusual pronouncement was made by Judge Doug Pullen during a 2007 hearing in a divorce case. We were led to the transcript of this hearing by an e-mailer, who wrote us with a very different issue about Pullen....

This Judge is a JOKE. I do not know about criminal trials, but he is completely biased and makes his own laws in domestic cases. He has recently removed all rights of a mother of 7 year old twins, with the exception of her paying support. No contact allowed whatso ever. This Mom was not found unfit, no abuse, noe neglect, no drugs or alcohol abuse. It was a grudge order, because the Father of the children taped her yelling "no F...g judge will take my babies away". This was played by the Father at the first hearing and for 4 years he ruled against her each and every time, stating that the Father was a young officer and "would not lie". He is unfit to be responsable for the future of young children. He should be ashamed of himself

We'll get to the e-mail's details a little later -- but this complaint both concerned and saddened me. Why would someone vent about a divorce case and a child visitation fight to a HUMOR blog? Are there boundary lines which even the "Sound Off" section of the Ledger-Enquirer won't cross?

To get to the bottom of this, we asked the e-mailer for the names of the mother and father. We will NOT post the names here for the sake of the children, and because the parents are not celebrities - well, at least not yet. TMZ could make almost anyone into a celebrity, if he or she acts strange outside a nightclub.

A soldier and father with the initials K.H. filed for divorce from T.H. in 2004. The court session which caught our eye occurred in January 2007, when Judge Doug Pullen made some very frank comments toward the mother. T.H. was told her twins are "little human beings. They're not cats. They're not pets." The transcript does NOT explain if the children were drinking water from bowls, or what....

The court transcript quotes Judge Doug Pullen as agreeing with T.H., that her children are "a gift from God." Then Pullen added: "And he has a certain way that he would like to have children raised. I know that because I happen to be his spokesman right here." Maybe Pullen's appearance on a Cascade Hills Church video [2 Dec 07] filled him with unusual spiritual gifts.

The 2007 transcript does NOT indicate Judge Doug Pullen pulled out a Bible. He quoted no scriptures at all. In fact, it doesn't appear T.H. received specific advice in child-rearing at the hearing -- but Pullen noted it was NOT good for T.H.'s boyfriend to run away when K.H. came to visit. As if a fistfight in the living room would be better?!

The attorney representing plaintiff K.H. at the 2007 hearing happened to be State Senator Seth Harp. His main issue was finalizing the amount of child support T.H. would have to pay her ex-husband. So it's no wonder Harp never challenged Pullen being a spokesman for God -- he was in the amen corner.

Judge Doug Pullen concluded T.H. had some sort of "medical condition" which needed treatment. The transcript suggests there also was some sort of quarrel before the 2007 hearing, as Pullen said the mother was "fighting over those kids like they were puppies." I'm not sure what that means. Certainly five-year-olds wouldn't be wearing collars around their necks....

So is Doug Pullen the only Muscogee County Judge to declare himself a spokesman for God? I know Judge John Allen has been a guest speaker at several Columbus church services. And Juvenile Court Judge Aaron Cohn has been on the bench so long, he might have met personally with the prophet Daniel.

We'll stop the "Godly talk" there, and go back to the details of this e-mail. The latest court record we found on file was from February, and it showed T.H. can visit her children for eight hours every two weeks. Judge Doug Pullen has NOT ordered her to play the country song "Every Other Weekend" as she does.

The court records indicate Judge Doug Pullen found plenty of reasons to limit T.H.'s visitation rights. They included her "harassing and stalking" her estranged husband, by making a six-hour drive to a separate court hearing which didn't involve her at all. It's one thing to be a surprise witness, but being an uninvited one is something else.

Judge Doug Pullen also claims T.H. has made several phone calls to her estranged husband's father, adding stress to his cancer condition. And he ruled she harassed K.H. with more than 75 text messages and 100 phone calls in a one-month period. Well, the transcript actually says, "Defendant has harassed Defendant and his family...." - so the court reporter may need a scolding as well.

We could go deeper into this case, but we'll stop there. If your family has never gone through a divorce (as I did as a teenager), this gives you only a small idea of how emotional the arguing can become. In fact, I'm amazed "Divorce Court" on TV limits its cases to small stuff like "cat support" for animals....

When the rulings in a court case don't go your way, it's easy to blame the judge. And when that judge claims to be a spokesman for God, you'd better be extra-careful - because he might issue a prophesy that you'll lose large sums of money to alimony payments.

But what we have here strikes me as a desperate mother trying to spread her story any way she can, hoping to gain sympathy. After all, why write a humor blog about the custody of seven-year-old twins? Where's the comedy in that -- really? But then again, there's Jon and Kate on TV....

E-MAIL UPDATE: On to the next feud -- and it's developing over, uh, that Alabama city with the 5-1 college football team. A Monday complaint brought a Tuesday reply, and now a response from the original writer....

The responder from Virginia about the "lowliest village on the Plains" told us that he worked six years for peanuts in the Columbus media market? Maybe he should have been covering 'Plains', Georgia and would have had access to lots more bonuses in a nutshell. Ha!

His bottom line is, and to quote, he said "simple", that approximately 40 percent of the population in the local viewing area lives in East Alabama, many in or very near to Auburn. How many of that 40% actually are full-time residents of that area? Are students included in this number? What is the population of Opelika compared to Auburn? They are two separate cities, not one, both governed by its own mayor and council. The people of Phenix City make up what percentage of the workforce in Columbus in comparison to actual Muscogee County workers? I can't explain and will not attempt to as to why Phenix City has never grown into the rich cousin that its residents or the residents of the area would want it to be, but I think that I can assure you that those residents buy more goods and food and pay more taxes than those in the area with the largest university in the area.

It was on one of the local media channels that I heard a resident of the Opelika/Auburn area proclaim that when Tiger Town was completed, "We won't have to drive to Columbus anymore to shop." As for the "bottom line" he mentioned, it all comes down to dollars and cents. He left this area obviously for more of these. As the old saying goes, he was looking for a job when he found one here and now has moved on.

It's not about hate or dislike, its simply a question as to why residents of one area want to feel that they are superior to those in another area. Ask the people (not the politicians, they have to pretend to be positive) of Smiths Station what they think of Phenix City. It's not kind I can guarantee. Ask the people of Columbus (again, not the aforementioned) and I guarantee it's not kind. Phenix City MUST rely on Columbus and other areas with visions of growth. Does that automatically make the people that live there bad people? "Fate be cruel sometimes!"

But Richard, you are right. Mention something in a humourous way about something that someone else holds dear and folk can sure get their undergarments in a tightened manner. Now as I was saying...where is Phenix City on the weather map and what is the temperature where 40% of the people in the local media area live? Love & Peace to All!!!

Oh dear -- so many questions. We checked the Census Bureau's web site Tuesday night, and found Auburn has about 51,000 people. Phenix City has about 30,000, and Opelika has around 23,500 -- yet we've noted before it's Opelika which has Tiger Town. For some reason, a shopping center near Auburn was NOT named after the high school Bulldogs.

The Census Bureau data also shows about 47 percent of Auburn's residents are between the ages of 15 and 24. Does that mean TV newscasts should ignore them, because they're probably mere college students passing through? Some of them might be smart enough to know how to watch the 6:00 p.m. news on their iPhones.

We compared the temperatures at the Phenix City government web site and a Columbus TV station web site late Tuesday night, and found they were exactly the same. As we move deeper into fall, that could change. When a cold front comes through, Phenix City probably will get colder 15 minutes faster.

By the way - how did you like the temperature in metro Columbus Tuesday? The high was only 66 degrees F. It was perfect for taking a walk downtown - and the only people who broke a sweat were the ones complaining at the Columbus Council meeting.

We were too busy Tuesday to check the facts on another e-mail. So we'll work on that another day, and see what made news....

+ Columbus Council approved the distribution of prescription discount cards for needy people. They'll be available at fire stations beginning in November, along with free diabetes screening. If this trend continues, we'll soon have doctors sliding down poles to check on injured children.

(Councilors approved the discount cards on one condition - that a logo for CVS be removed. Those drugstores require a special card for too many discounts already....)

+ Federal Judge Clay Land increased the sanctions against attorney Orly Taitz from $10,000 to $20,000. Once again, the Ledger-Enquirer shows its clout - because the ruling came mere hours after a front-page banner headline indicated Taitz is "nuts."

(Really now - a front-page banner headline proclaiming, "SHE'S NUTS"?! The Ledger-Enquirer is closer to moving to tabloid-size than we may know.)

+ New York comedian Mark Malkoff was awarded a "key to the city" by the Opelika mayor. Apparently all he had to do was ask for it -- which could put Malkoff in the hunt for next year's Nobel Peace Prize.

(Malkoff told WTVM he's been given keys to 33 cities in nine days. He has a four-week goal of collecting 100, yet his schedule for today avoids Columbus. That's too bad - because former Mayor Bob Poydasheff probably still has a few in his desk drawer.)

+ Troy Public Radio's "Community Focus" previewed the upcoming Lee County Historic Fair. It will be held 24 October in Loachapoka, which a guest noted could have originally meant "killing place for turtles." This event already draws a big crowd, without inviting animal rights activists to show up.

+ Instant Message to whomever spray-painted "South Side" on the old Ken Thomas BMW dealership downtown: You need to go back and fix that. For one thing, the words are sprayed on the west side of the building.

Today's main topic was the result of a blog reader's tip. To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, make a PayPal donation or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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