Sunday, November 15, 2009

15 NOV 09: Vet-oed

Columbus and Phenix City held their first Veterans Day parade Saturday. I'm not sure why this wasn't held Wednesday, on the actual holiday. Is there some obscure city rule banning parades for five days, after the Fountain City Classic?

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: A national veteran advocacy group is campaigning for the removal of a Muscogee County Superior Court Judge. Members even have contacted members of Congress - which tells me simply serving your country in the military does NOT automatically make you an expert in civics.

Believe it or not, this national protest stems from a divorce case. Retired Sergeant Major Paul Cousins says during an October 2005 hearing, Judge Doug Pullen told him he has "no constitutional rights" in the courtroom. Wow - not even the right to remain silent?!

The full statement by Judge Doug Pullen is posted on a web site with news for military veterans. He's quoted as telling Paul Cousins: "I do not have to abide by any federal or government law, because I am the law." And you thought "activist judges" were simply Republican election hype....

"There were tears in my eyes," Paul Cousins told your blog about the moment Judge Doug Pullen declared he lacks constitutional rights in court. The recipient of three Purple Hearts for his service in Vietnam apparently could not believe his ears - but it could have been worse. Pullen could have declared himself God's spokesman again [14 Oct].

Paul Cousins tried to argue it's illegal under federal law for his ex-wife to receive alimony from his military disability check. But Doug Pullen reportedly said he "stopped reading" federal regulations after he was elected Muscogee County Judge. Pullen's logic should be obvious - he's delegating authority to appeals courts.

Paul Cousins told me he'd like to remove the U.S. flag from Judge Doug Pullen's courtroom. That's because Cousins told a disabled veteran he lacked constitutional rights - and beyond that, Pullen reportedly said in October 2005: "You're not going to win in my courtroom." It makes you wonder what changed in Pullen's life by 2007, when he reportedly became biased in favor of soldiers.

Paul Cousins says he reported Judge Doug Pullen's comments to the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission - but was told, "There's nothing we can do." One of the commission's current members happens to be fellow Muscogee County Judge John Allen. That may have helped Cousins get an answer sooner -- and not quite the answer he wanted.

Paul Cousins says he's also contacted all the public officials he can think of - from U.S. Senators to State Senator Ed Harbison. All told him they couldn't help him. Apparently no one told Cousins elected judges such as Doug Pullen can be recalled by petition -- but if Cousins can't sign it because he's moved out of Muscogee County, that's another problem.

We went to the Government Center and reviewed the records in the Paul Cousins divorce case. But the 2005 statement by Judge Doug Pullen was not there. Cousins explained that's because no court reporter was present. That makes more sense than what a national veterans' chairman told me -- that judges are ordering transcripts be doctored. In this case, we could say the doctoring was out....

Paul Cousins submitted a notarized statement to "Veterans Today" about what Judge Doug Pullen said. Cousins told me he's willing to take a polygraph test to verify the 2005 comments - and the group "Operation Firing for Effect" is even willing to pay for a polygraph test by Pullen. Couldn't Maury Povich do this, and get big TV ratings?

Paul Cousins added once his court cases involving disability checks are settled, he plans to file a race discrimination complaint against Judge Doug Pullen. That's because he's African-American and his ex-wife is "Caucasian" as a native of Germany. If Cousins had served in World War II, he might even demand Pullen be tried for treason.

But here's the curious thing about Paul Cousins's complaints: his attorney in that 2005 court hearing was Joseph Wiley. He has a reputation for being outspoken when clients are treated unfairly - and Wiley usually approaches race discrimination complaints the way 20-year-old deadbeat guys want to approach Taylor Swift.

Yet our calls to Joseph Wiley about the Paul Cousins case were NOT returned by Saturday night. A second attorney in the Atlanta area never returned our message, either. Why don't they want to comment about his complaint? Do they think there's nothing to it? Operation Firing for Effect probably would conclude they're part of the big conspiracy....

(We listened to an OFFE Internet talk show this past week, to learn more about its activism for veterans. Some would say they "have a chip on their shoulder" - but at times, it sounded like the large ten-ounce bag was there.)

Joseph Wiley's reluctance to talk might be explained by a comment attorney Mark Casto made this past week at the Mark Shelnutt trial. If someone is about to become a judge, you don't want to say or do anything that could cause problems in future court cases. Orly Taitz apparently has yet to learn that lesson....

We also called Judge Doug Pullen's office for a comment, but a secretary told us he's been in the hospital for several days. The veterans opposing him probably wish Pullen would be inside the V.A. Medical Center in Tuskegee -- receiving care they consider second-class.

Columbus has a large number of veterans -- so you'd think they'd speak out and mobilize if Paul Cousins's complaints had any merit. At this point, it appears no one locally has. But I didn't attend Saturday's parade, to see if one of the "Blinded Veterans" carried a set of scales to stage a protest.

Yet assuming Paul Cousins's statement about the 2005 court hearing is accurate, this makes two comments we've uncovered which make Judge Doug Pullen look potentially outlandish. In fact, critics might say Pullin is pushin' - as in the envelope.

We're taking a weekend break from that OTHER big Columbus court case - so let's look to another court, as we check items in the news:

+ The Alabama Supreme Court issued a six-point definition of a bingo game. Governor Bob Riley said it makes electronic bingo machines illegal. Developers of Country Crossing near Dothan disagree. And as for Victoryland's games -- well, what is "Crazy Layer Cake?" Shouldn't they sell that in the Oasis Hotel restaurant?

+ Columbus Police told WTVM they found an illegal "chop shop" near Old Cusseta Road. I assume from this that Ben's Chop House on Sidney Simons Boulevard has a legal city business license....

+ The Columbus Civic Center hosted the Georgia High School Cheerleading Championships. Across the road at the Villa Nova Package Store, a staff member probably told a customer: "We've got spirits, yes we do. We've got spirits - how about you?"

+ Georgia's football team came from behind to edge Auburn 31-24. The win makes the Bulldogs "bowl-eligible" - and should mean for a few more weeks, Georgia's assistant coaches will be unemployment-ineligible.

(Georgia radio voice Scott Howard described one player by saying: "He's got quicks." He has WHAT?!?! Since when did they start serving Nestle Quik at the Bulldog bench?)

+ Georgia Tech demolished Duke 49-10, to clinch a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game. One of these years, the Duke athletic director will turn the football program around - if he can persuade basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski to switch sports.

+ Instant Message to the managers of Peachtree Mall: C'mon now - did you really run out of ten-dollar gift cards for members of "The Club?" I mean, just because I went to church first to prove I wasn't worshiping money....

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