What we're all about...

Wake County District Court Judge Anna E. Worley, elected in 2008 and up for re-election in 2012, has been a controversial figure in Wake County family courtrooms. Parents' stories range from curious to downright shocking. As a custodial parent required to endure Worley's apparent lack of wisdom and seemingly arbitrary decisions, I am fighting back against a system whose very slowness and apathy has caused great suffering for my children. After nearly 3 years in Judge Worley's "family" court room, I have emerged with sole legal and primary physical custody of my three children. As thankful as I am for my own personal custody hell to be over, the years spent in Judge Worley's courtroom, the months spent awaiting orders rendered to be entered, the letters written to staff and the Chief Justice to force entry of a final order were nothing short of excruciating for my three children and myself. I will work tirelessly to ensure that I make the public aware of Worley's philosophy, rulings, and courtroom demeanor. Citizens must vote from a position of knowledge rather than ignorance.

31 January 2012

What Lawyers Have To Say About Worley

     More than 20,000 attorneys participated in reviewing North Carolina judges up for re-election in 2012.  With an overall performance rating of 3.16 (out of 5 possible points in 5 different categories) Worley rates at the bottom in the 10th District.  That's right!  She received the worst overall rating of any other judge up for re-election in 2012!
     Of all 10th District judges up for re-election in 2012, Worley received the lowest rating in every single category rated: Integrity and Impartiality, Legal Ability, Professionalism, Communication, and Administrative Skills.  Her rating for Administrative Skills was the worst: out of 194 responses, 84 rated her at below average or poor.  If you think that administrative skills are not as important as other skills judges need, consider this - I waited for over 5 months for Worley to enter an order giving me sole legal custody.  In those 5 months, I incurred over $1000 in parenting coordintor fees that I would not have needed to incur had an order been entered.  In family court, timeliness and administration of duty matters!
     Click here for access to the full report by the NC Bar Association.  Go to Page 45 for Worley's page.  Here's a summary:

Integrity and Impartiality 3.71 (average)
Legal Ability 3.20 (average)
Professionalism 3.43 (average)
Communication 3.29 (average)
Administrative Skills 2.84 (below average)
Overall Performance 3.16 (average)

NC Bar Association Kicks Off Its Judicial Performance Evaluations

Last summer, unbeknownst to most commoners, the NC Bar Association began a little survey designed to help us all see who we're voting for and what their performance record has been over the past 4 years.  For those who voted for Worley in 2008, you're excused.  She had no record to review.  Now, all bets are off.  Here's the article kicking of the legal community's evaluation of her:

Article Date: Tuesday, May 03, 2011
The North Carolina Bar Association’s Judicial Performance Evaluation survey of Superior and District Court judges up for election in 2012 begins this week and continues through May 31.

All North Carolina lawyers who have had professional contact – sufficient to form an adequate basis for evaluation – with any of the listed judges, are urged to complete a survey for all such judges. Your professional contact with a judge need not be restricted to courtroom appearances before that judge.

Participation is key to the success of this endeavor!

The process for conducting the surveys will be initiated electronically, beginning Wednesday, May 4, with an email from NCBA President Gene Pridgen alerting you that the survey will be transmitted within 24 hours. Additional information regarding the process will be contained in that email.

Then, for security purposes designed to ensure the confidentiality and anonymity of your participation, the survey itself will appear “From” bcrossland@bdo.com or survey-noreply@smo.surveymonkey.com, or some variation thereof, depending how you receive email. This email is also submitted over the signature of the NCBA president.

The keywords to remember are bcrossland and surveymonkey – this is not spam and you may need to check your spam filter to make sure that your system did not interpret it as such.

This survey is being administered by the accounting firm of BDO USA, LLP. A Ph.D. statistician has approved the design and methodology of the survey. BDO USA, LLP will receive your survey and protect your anonymity. The link provided for taking the survey is uniquely tied to your email address, to assure that only licensed N.C. attorneys participate in the survey, and that each attorney participates only once.

BDO USA, LLP will provide numerical ratings for each judge. Your email address will not be linked to any results released by BDO USA, LLP to the NCBA, to any judge, or to the public.

You may request a paper survey instead of an electronic one. Make the request to gfranks@bdo.com.

All district attorneys, public defenders, their assistants, and other government attorneys will automatically be mailed paper surveys. A government attorney who does not receive the survey by mail is encouraged to request a paper survey.

For additional information, email jpe@ncbar.org or contact David Bohm at dbohm@ncbar.org or 919-657-1553.

21 January 2012

Rachel French

Rachel Louise French is a paralegal employed by Ben Brown, who, in 2010/11 shared an office in downtown Raleigh with Locke Milholland, the attorney representing the father of my children during my custody hell with Judge Anna Worley.  To help the public understand the caliber of folks we are dealing with here, take this in... in 2004, French was arrested and convicted of accessory to murder after the fact in the Timothy Wayne Johnson case (Johnson and his brother were convicted of murdering two men from Chicago at an NC State football game).  WRAL news wrote in a story posted on its website: "Rachel Louise French, 20, of Apex, has been charged with accessory after the fact to murder.  The Meredith College sophomore is accused of assisting Timothy Johnson, 22, in escaping detection and arrest, according to an arrest warrant.  French was being held at the Wake County jail with bail set at $100,000."  She was convicted of the charge on 13 December 2005 of murder second degree (accessory after the fact).

Four years later, on 27 February 2008, French was arrested again and charged with misdemeanor child abuse, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of cocaine, and misdemeanor probation violation.  Her 6-month old daughter was with her when she was arrested on these charges.

Some time after her arrest in 2008, French filed an emergency custody motion against her daughter's father in which she alleged that her daughter's father had abused the child. 

Locke Milholland was her representing attorney in that motion.  It was denied.

Rachel Louise French:

Barton v. Barton: Appellate Court Reverses in Part/Remands Worley's Order

Yet another... http://caselaw.findlaw.com/nc-court-of-appeals/1579606.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FindLawNCCtApp+(FindLaw+Case+Law+Updates+-+NC+Court+of+Appeals)

Andrews v. Andrews: Appellate Court Reverses Judge Worley's Order

Check out the following N.C. Court of Appeals Opinion reversing Worley's ruling in a child support case: http://statecasefiles.justia.com/documents/north-carolina/court-of-appeals/11-433.pdf?ts=1323904790

20 January 2012

Judge Worley's Late Order: My Letter to Wake County Chief Justice Robert B. Rader

On 7 October 2011, I placed the following letter in the courthouse mailbox of Chief Justice Rader.  On 19 October, Judge Worley finally entered my modified custody order granting me sole legal custody, an order she had rendered in open court more than 5 months prior to the entry (rendered orders have no legal authority; only entered orders are enforceable).

Honorable Robert B. Rader
Chief Judge District Court
Post Office Box 351
Raleigh, North Carolina 27602

Dear Hon. Rader:

     I write to seek remedy regarding Judge Anna E. Worley’s five month delay in entering a custody order rendered in my case on 3 May 2011.  As of this letter, despite numerous attempts in writing and through personal contact with Judge Worley’s staff, Judge Worley still has not entered the order from the 3 May 2011 hearing granting me final decision-making authority, a significant alteration to my previous order which provided for joint legal custody between the plaintiff and me.

     The history of this particular hearing is as follows:  On 5 April 2010, Judge Worley granted my motion for a parenting coordinator, and appointed V.A. Davidian.  Mr. Davidian established payment arrangements with both me and the plaintiff, arrangements with which I fully complied.  However, the plaintiff in my custody case did not comply and has, to date, paid Mr. Davidian only $50 of the fees owed.  Mr. Davidian filed a Request for Hearing, which request the Court granted and set for hearing on 3 May 2011.  I had previously informed Mr. Davidian of a case conflict (as paralegal for a federal public defender, I was required to attend a sentencing hearing at the Federal Courthouse on New Bern Avenue on that day).  I requested that Mr. Davidian inform the Court of my scheduling conflict, to which he agreed.

     On 3 May 2011, the Court heard testimony only from Mr. Davidian, as I was attending the federal sentencing hearing, and the plaintiff was a no-show.  As I understand it from Judge Worley’s staff, Mr. Davidian did not inform the Court as to the reason for my absence.

     After hearing testimony from Mr. Davidian regarding communication difficulties caused by plaintiff, and difficulties Mr. Davidian himself was having getting the plaintiff to comply with the Court’s custody order, Judge Worley rendered an order granting me final decision-making power regarding my three minor children.  She also issued an Order to Show Cause regarding payment of the parenting coordinator’s fees, which Order was set to be heard 30 August 2011.  Plaintiff filed a motion to continue, but the Court never responded to that motion.  Instead, all parties and the parenting coordinator attended calendar call, were told to return at 3:00 PM that same day, returned at 3:00 PM only to hear Judge Worley’s ruling that the case would be continued to 30 September 2011 so that plaintiff could obtain an attorney.

     On 30 September 2011, all parties returned to court, only to be notified at 8:45 AM that Judge Worley was sick and would hear no cases that day.  The Show Cause cases are currently calendared for 3 November 2011. 

     In the 5 months since Judge Worley rendered her order, numerous custody issues have arisen prompted by the very lack of communication addressed during the 3 May 2011 hearing.  Because there is no written order entered, I have been placed in the very precarious position of trying to exercise the custodial authority the Court orally granted me (which “order”, as Mr. Davidian stated in an email to both plaintiff and myself, became effective “immediately”) on 3 May 2011, yet doing so with no legal authority.  As you well know, a rendered order is not an entered order. 

     One goal of providing me with final decision-making authority was to reduce the need for the parenting coordinator; however, the lack of any written order has interfered with that goal.  Because plaintiff responds primarily to legal enforcement, the lack of any written order has provided plaintiff a sense of empowerment, requiring me to consistently seek help from Mr. Davidian, thereby incurring more fees.  The lack of a written order has created instability in a situation which craves stability and predictability.

     In addition to the instability created by Judge Worley’s failure to enter an order in this case, plaintiff’s attorney has added a second layer of instability by emailing me professionally inappropriate and sexually harassing emails.  On 21 September 2011, Mr. Locke Milholland, in response to my email requesting a copy of the motion and order denying his motion for a continuance, emailed me the following: “Sure thing sugar pie, anything for you.”  To date, I have received no motion or order regarding the continuance. 

     I have no remedy regarding this situation, save this written request to you.  In family court, more than any other court in Wake County, parties must be able to rely on the system to place the children’s interest first and foremost.  A party’s pro se status should not render her custody case low priority.  In fact, a party’s pro se status perhaps should place her custody case at high priority, given the special challenges associated with navigating the complex world of custody litigation.  Moreover, a party’s pro se status should never mean that opposing counsel plays open season with unprofessional and sexually harassing tactics.  I cannot ever imagine Mr. Milholland emailing such fodder to a licensed attorney. 

     This case needs the stability associated with clarity, consistency, and professionalism.  I respectfully request that Judge Worley enter the order that she rendered in open court on 3 May 2011.  I respectfully request that, within your power, you require Locke Milholland to adhere to the rules of professionalism and to stop harassing me.  I have requested a written apology from Mr. Milholland, a request he has ignored.  I sincerely appreciate any effort on your part to encourage entry of the order, and discourage unprofessionalism on Mr. Milholland’s part.

     On 3 November 2011, the Court will hear parenting coordinator Woofer Davidian’s request to be released from the case due to Plaintiff’s nonpayment.  Plaintiff hopes Mr. Davidian will be released so that transparency about his refusal to communicate and his noncompliance with the order cannot be immediately handled.  Judge Worley will likely allow Mr. Davidian’s release, as this is his second request for release due to Plaintiff’s nonpayment. 

     Without a written order signed and entered granting me final decision-making authority (which order Judge Worley has already rendered in open court), and without a parenting coordinator in place, my children are left very vulnerable to a noncustodial parent who has shown by his actions (made into findings of fact in our custody order) that retaliation against me takes precedence over the best interests of the children.





17 January 2012

Judge Worley's 2008 Endorsements

     In 2008, trial attorney Chris Nichols posted the following on his NC Trial Log Blog: "I've known Anna since undergraduate days at Wake Forest. She's amazingly fair minded and knowledgeable. Her knowledge of family law is a very important attribute for the District Court as the District Courts handle about 99% of family law disputes. Anna won the primary election by almost 10,000 votes over her opponent in this election. She'll be fair and hold everyone to the burden of proof they have. While her opponent is a very nice guy and a good lawyer, he's recently been arrested which I believe would compromise his ability to be a District Court judge because if he is convicted (his first court date is October 17th) he could be subject to sanctions from the Judicial Standards Commission."
     Now, not for anything, but Mr. Nichols, according to his website http://www.nicholstriallaw.com/, is a personal injury and accident lawyer.  I'm no rocket scientist, but it seems to me that an attorney who handles personal injury cases is a far cry from being an expert on child development, family psychology, and custodial conflicts. 
     Furthermore, from where did Nichols gather this statistical data?  99% of family law disputes are handled in the district court?  Does this included appellate or supreme court review?  Is there some other court - superior court - where family court matters are heard or reviewed?  Is he simply making up statistics to dazzle and confuse?
     And exactly what evidentiary data does Nichols offer to support his contention that Worley will be "fair and hold everyone to the burden of proof they have"?  (As a former English teacher, I can't even begin to address the grammar issues with Nichols' posting!)
     Finally, Nichols was concerned that if Perry had been elected, his conviction would compromise his ability to be a district court judge - not, according to Nichols, because Perry's character is now in question, but because Perry could be subject to judicial sanctions.  Does this imply that consequences for poor choices are the only problem with making poor choices?  Shouldn't we all believe that the poor choices themselves are the problem?
     Nichols' endorsement of Worley back in 2008 smacks of the very verbal reality of which the public should be aware.  Clear, well-articulated endorsements based on facts and experience are what the public deserves when choosing elected officials.  Vague support wrapped around statistical malarky should be very suspect. 


Welcome to Take A Stand 2012: Parents Fighting Judge Worley's Re-Election

     Wake County's Judge Anna Worley is up for re-election this year after winning her 2008 judicial race against Mark Perry, who was arrested on 16 September 2008 and charged with drunken driving.(http://www.wral.com/news/news_briefs/story/3566119/).  After nearly 3 years in Judge Worley's "family" court room, I have emerged with sole legal and primary physical custody of my three children.  As thankful as I am for my own personal custody hell to be over, the years spent in Judge Worley's seeming circus of a courtroom, the months spent awaiting orders rendered to be entered, the letters written to staff and the Chief Justice to force entry of a final order were nothing short of excruciating for my three children and myself.  This blog is intended to begin a judicial watchdog movement.  Ask yourself: how much do you know about the judges for whom you voted in the 2008 elections?  Did you vote the party line, hoping that politics would be enough for those judges to uphold a value system that would best benefit children?  If so, in 2012, think again. Get informed.  If you don't, then don't vote.  Let those of us willing to seek information cast the votes needed to place family court judges on the bench.
     Unlike high profile candidates, judicial candidates tend to receive little media attention, and the public is often in the dark about a potential judge's record as an attorney, political and religious beliefs (read: agenda), life wisdom (Is it really possible to be a functional custody judge without ever experiencing marriage or parenting?), and ability to handle the administrative pressures of a judicial position.  Even after a judge has served her 4 year stint on the bench, how often do constituents review the record: what are attorneys saying about the judge? how many times have the judge's ruling been appealed? reversed? remanded?
     If you can't answer these questions about Judge Worley, please reconsider casting your vote in her favor.  Let those who have had experience dealing with her be the deciding voice.  After all, we are the ones whose lives are grossly impacted by poor decisions made.
     If you are a parent with a story to share about your experience with Judge Worley, I invite you to share it here.  Please: have integrity!  Tell the truth, speak facts.  Wake County voters deserve a clear picture of Judge Worley's impact on the children she supposedly serves.
     Take a stand!  Don't sit quietly and allow this judge to continue.