Complaint against Judge William H. Brigham.
Case: Bat World Sanctuary, Amanda Lollar v Mary Cummins #352-248169-10
Bat World Sanctuary v Mary Cummins was a defamation and breach of contract case which is now in appeal 02-12-00285 CV. I reported Plaintiffs for animal cruelty, animal neglect, violations of the Animal Welfare Act, Texas Health Code, Texas Parks & Wildlife regulations and the Texas Veterinary Act. They were investigated and violations were found. They since lost their USDA permit. I was frivolously and maliciously sued in retaliation for reporting Plaintiffs to authorities.
May 4, 2011 Judge William Brigham an 84 year old retired visiting judge oversaw a hearing for temporary injunction. He retired as a judge in 1999. I was not given any notice that a different judge would oversee the hearing by the court or Judge. Judge Bonnie Sudderth is the judge for that court. I was not notified that I could object or file a motion to recuse. As a pro se while the court cannot give me legal advice I must be advised of my rights but was not.
Before the hearing Plaintiffs' attorney Randy Turner walked over and sat in the pew directly behind me. He whispered to the back of my head "I've known this judge for years. He'll sign anything I put in front of him." I didnʼt even know there would be a different judge at that time. The Judge never wrote an order himself. Turner wrote every order and Judge Brigham instantly signed every single one unedited even orders which contained mistakes.
Plaintiffs only filed a basic motion before the hearing with no exhibits. I am an out of state pro se indigent defendant and had no chance to review their exhibits except in court. All documents must be filed 20 days before the hearing legally. I objected in court to the exhibits as I didn't have a chance to see if the websites in their exhibits actually existed. Judge overruled. I told Judge Brigham that I did not write or post almost all of the comments in the exhibits. I did not control the websites and I had never even seen most of these websites. It would be physically impossible for me to remove other people's websites.
Even though I did not write the comments and did not control any of the websites, the judge signed an order stating I must remove the comments and websites written and controlled by others. I was also ordered to remove photos and videos even though I proved that I had written and oral permission from Plaintiff to take and post them. The order also included prior restraint which is unconstitutional and it was against third unrelated parties (Exhibit 1). A bond was not posted so the order was void. Brigham did not write the order. Plaintiffs' attorney Randy Turner had pre-written the order. Brigham flipped through the six single typed pages in less than 30 seconds and signed it. I don't believe he read it.
After the hearing in the hallway Turner came up to me, waved the order in my face and stated I had better remove all the items. I told him it was physically impossible for me to remove items others made on websites I did not control. He stated if I did not remove them, he would have me found in contempt, sanctioned and thrown in jail. I am filing a separate complaint against attorney Randy Turner.
At a subsequent hearing November 4, 2011 for Plaintiffs' motion to amend the temporary injunction to include more links with Judge Sudderth presiding I told her what happened at the previous hearing. She told me she never would have forced me to remove items I did not write in websites I did not control. She then refused to rule on Plaintiffs' motion. I later filed a motion to void the injunction but she refused to rule stating she did not want to rule on something ruled upon by another judge. I have all of the minutes of most hearings if needed.
June 11-14, 2012 was the trial in my case (full transcript). I was given no notice that Judge Brigham would be the Judge or I would have filed a motion to recuse. The Plaintiffs did not show the elements of defamation or breach of contract. They admitted they had no financial damages, had no proof of any damages or causation. Every objection I made was over ruled. Every objection Plaintiffs made was sustained. Plaintiffs requested between $2-4 million in compensatory damages, $2-4 million in exemplary damages, attorneys fees of $176K and $10K in liquidated damages and a permanent injunction against me.
Within two seconds of the trial ending at the beginning of the last day the Judge pulled out a piece of paper and read his ruling. This means he wrote it the night before, before he heard our closing arguments. I personally believe Turner wrote the oral ruling which Brigham read. Brigham stated that Plaintiff Lollar is to bats what Jane Goodhall is to apes. Lollar has not gone past the eighth grade. The USDA stated she violated the Animal Welfare Act and caused bats "pain, suffering and death." Lollar was found in violations of the Texas Health Dept, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and Building and Safety. The Texas Veterinary Board stated Lollar committed "animal cruelty." Dr. Goodhall is a behavioral psychologist who only observed apes in the wild. She did not harm or kill apes yet Lollar has done this to bats and has since lost her permit.
Brigham ruled in favor of Plaintiffs even though every word I stated was the absolute truth and I never breached a contract. He gave them everything they requested. The order was for $3,000,000 in compensatory damages, $3,000,000 in exemplary damages, $176,000 in attorney's fees and $10,000 in liquidated damages plus interest (Exhibit 2). The Judge told Turner to write the order and to be sure not to include prior restraint this time like he did last time.
Turner wrote the order and mailed it to the Judge's personal residence. Even though they blacked out the address I instantly noticed it was a home address as I am a real estate appraiser. I posted about this on the Internet and complained to the court. Then the Judge called Turner's office and told him to resend it to the court which he did along with a letter explaining what happened (Exhibit 3). I believe because Turner had the Judgeʼs home address this proves Turner and Brigham are friends. The order again included prior restraint which is unconstitutional yet the Judge signed it. I don't believe he read it. I appealed the decision and filed an affidavit of indigence. I also requested that the court write and sign the "Facts and Findings." Plaintiffs' attorney Turner wrote the "Facts and Findings." Judge Brigham signed it without any changes.
I filed a motion for new trial and objection to court order. I found out Judge Brigham would oversee that motion so I filed a motion to recuse July 2012. Judge Walker oversaw that hearing which I lost.
I appealed the case and filed an affidavit of indigence. I paid for the appeal but could not afford $4,000 for the minutes. Turner and the court objected to my indigence. I was notified late Friday that there would be a hearing in Texas early that Monday. I could never afford to fly to Texas on such short notice because I'm indigent. I instantly filed a motion for telephonic hearing. I asked who would be the Judge but no one told me.
That morning I called to set up the telephonic hearing. I was told Judge Brigham would oversee the hearing so I instantly filed a motion to recuse. The basis of the motion was that he is personal friends with Turner, the order was unconstitutional, Brigham ruled incorrectly in my trial and the amount awarded was not legal. There is a definite bias against me and/or he is not fit.
I was forced to fly to Texas for the hearing to recuse. In that hearing Turner admitted that he frequently sees Judge Brigham at events and has known him for years. Judge Jeffrey Walker over saw the hearing and I lost. I filed a motion to reconsider and for telephonic appearance. I appeared telephonically, lost and was sanctioned $500. I stated that Turner told me before the hearing that this Judge would sign anything he put in front of him and he did. The Judge signed a void order for the temporary injunction. Turner sent the court order to the Judge's personal residence. I believe they are friends. As it is Judge Sudderth is friends with Turner and his wife. Sudderth works with his wife Patti Gearhart-Turner who is also an attorney at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law. Judge Sudderth is friends with Judge Brigham as he donated to her campaign and she has requested him to sit in for her in the past. I did a judicial information act request and received a copy of Judge Sudderth's vacation request. She specifically requested Judge Brigham.
Again late Friday I was notified that the hearing objecting to my indigence would be early Monday morning. I requested telephonic hearing but was denied. I could not afford to fly to Texas as I am indigent and pro se. I called the morning of the hearing but was not allowed to appear by phone. I lost the hearing (minutes from hearing).
I appealed this decision to the Second Court of Appeals. They ruled that the Judge abused his discretion (Exhibit 4), from the ruling, "Appellant--who resides in California and who was provided notice of the October 15, 2012 hearing on the contests on October 12, 2012--filed a motion asking to appear telephonically on October 11, 2012, but the record contains no ruling on the motion. Moreover although the trial court clerk had notified appellant that she could appear telephonically for the previously scheduled October 8, 2012 hearing, the clerk did not do so for the October 15, 2012 hearing. Nevertheless, the trial court sustained the contests without considering the contents of appellant's affidavit, because appellant failed to appear at the hearing."
"The purpose of Rule 20.1 of the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure is to permit parties to proceed without paying filing fees if they are unable to do so, and we construe the rules liberally in favor of preserving appellate rights." "This court's order abating the contests to the trial court stated that '[t]he trial court may arrange for appearances by telephone conference or other alternate means if necessary.'" Appellant filed a response motion with an affidavit. The Appeals Court stated "if the affidavit provides sufficient information to prove by a preponderance of evidence that the party is unable to pay costs on appeal, the affidavit is sufficient, even if information on each of the twelve items is not included."
"Indigency provisions, like other appellate rules, have long been liberally construed in favor of a right to appeal." "The indigency rules are rooted in the principle that "[c]ourts should be open to all, including those who cannot afford the costs of admission."
"To require a pro se out-of-state resident asserting indigence to physically appear at a contest hearing to prove the allegations in her affidavit, without reasonably accommodating that party by means such as a telephonic hearing, undercuts the purpose and spirit of rule 20.1."
"To require a pro se party to object to a late-filed contest to an affidavit of indigence in order to preserve error--something the party is not likely to know to do--is to eviscerate the protection Rule 20.1 (f) is intended to afford."
"Accordingly, we reverse the trial court's ruling on the contests to appellant's affidavit of indigency and remand that issue to the trial court for a new hearing in which appellant is allowed to appear telephonically to attempt to prove her alleged indigence."
They reversed and remanded the order to the district court. Judge Brigham oversaw the hearing. He acted very differently, was even polite, sustained my objections, over ruled Plaintiffs' objections and I won. It was a very different experience than previously. He asked if anyone had a written order ready for him to sign. He signed it after the attorney crossed out the word "granted." I could proceed as an indigent Appellant and did not have to pay $4,000 for the trial minutes. I filed my appeal brief April 1, 2013.
Last week someone told me that Judge Brigham had a Facebook page (Exhibit 5). I went to his page. Based on reading his page I realized that he has lost the ability to read properly and write. That is why Turner wrote everything for the Judge. I don't believe Judge Brigham who is 84 years old is fit to sit the bench. He retired in 1999. The personal comments his wife made in Spanish (which I will not post publicly) about his advanced age and the passage of time on her Facebook page are further evidence of this.
I also believe that he should not have been the Judge for my case because he is personal friends with Turner. I don't believe he ruled according to the evidence or the law. Plaintiffs had to prove that what I wrote was false. They didn't. I was never even given a list of the supposed defamatory statements until AFTER the trial in the form of the court order. I did not receive a fair trial. I believe it was because of unethical behavior on the part of Judge Brigham and he is no longer fit to be a judge.
Please, let me know if you need any other information. Thank you.
I, MARY CUMMINS, declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the States of California and Texas that this statement is true and correct, and that I could and would testify thereto as herein if called upon to do so, based upon my personal knowledge of the facts set forth herein.
Signed and executed on May 16, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
by Mary Cummins