Legal Magazine

Has Bonnie Cahalane's Lawyer Been Compromised By Allegations Of Infidelity In Her Own Divorce Case?

Posted on the 24 July 2013 by Rogershuler @RogerShuler

Has Bonnie Cahalane's Lawyer Been Compromised By Allegations Of Infidelity In Her Own Divorce Case?

Angie Avery and Jamie Collins

The Alabama lawyer who failed to prevent Bonnie Cahalane's unlawful incarceration last year--and also has failed to prevent the unlawful sale of Cahalane's home--faces allegations of infidelity in her own divorce case.

Angie Avery Collins, of Clanton, is seeking a divorce from James Thomas "Jamie" Collins, but her estranged husband alleges in court documents that she engaged in an extramarital affair with a Chilton County sheriff's deputy named Shane Mayfield.

Jamie Collins states in a counterclaim that his wife's "course of conduct" created an "incompatibility of temperament" in the marriage. Jamie Collins goes on to state that the "bonds of trust have been severed."

This suggests that Angie Avery Collins is in a vulnerable position with her own pending divorce case. Does that explain, at least in part, Ms. Collins' weak representation of Bonnie Cahalane? Did Angie Avery Collins fail to fight for Bonnie Cahalane's personal freedom, and her property rights, because she wanted to gain favor with the Chilton County judicial establishment for her own divorce case.

I tried to arrange an interview with Ms. Collins to explore such issues, but she has refused to take questions on her divorce case and its possible impact on the Bonnie Cahalane matter.

A timeline of events raises serious questions about Angie Avery Collins' loyalty to her client in Wyatt v. Wyatt, where Bonnie Cahalane sought a divorce from Harold Jay Wyatt. The comment to Rule 1.7 of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure states the following about a lawyer's duty to her client:

Loyalty is an essential element in the lawyer’s relationship to a client. An impermissible conflict of interest may exist before representation is undertaken, in which event the representation should be declined. . . .
If such a conflict arises after representation has been undertaken, the lawyer should withdraw from the representation.

Has Angie Avery Collins followed through on her professional obligations? Let's consider the following timeline:

* July 12, 2012--Angie and Jamie Collins are separated;
* July 26, 2012--Bonnie Cahalane Wyatt is incarcerated due to her failure to pay an alleged property-related debt in Wyatt v. Wyatt;
* September 11, 2012--Angie Collins files for divorce from Jamie Collins;
* September 28, 2012--Jamie Collins responds with a counterclaim for divorce;
* December 14, 2012--A court document is filed in which Jamie Collins raises specific issues of infidelity involving his wife and Shane Mayfield;
* December 18, 2012--Bonnie Cahalane is released from jail when she "agrees" to sell her house to helped settle an alleged debt to Harold Wyatt. This agreement was reached while Cahalane was under the duress of returning to jail if she did not give her OK. Under such conditions any agreement or contract is void.

The Collins divorce originally was assigned to Chilton County Circuit Judge Sibley Reynolds, 
the same judge who unlawfully threw Bonnie Cahalane in jail and coerced into an agreement for the sale of her house. The divorce case since has been assigned to a judge from Talladega County, upon Jamie Collins' motion to recuse all Chilton County judges because of their working relationships with Angie Collins.

Does Ms. Collins possess the wherewithal to stand up to Judge Reynolds, or anyone else in the Alabama judicial hierarchy, when she's in a weak position with her own divorce case? The answer appears to be no.

Black-letter Alabama law--perhaps best stated in a case styled Dolberry v. Dolberry, 920 So. 2d 573 (Ala. Civ. App., 2005) --holds that a party is not subject to contempt and incarceration because of a property-related debt from dissolution of a marriage. Did Angie Collins cite Dolberry, or similar cases, to help keep her client out of jail? We've studied the record and see no sign that she did.

Another fundamental legal concept--well stated in a case styled Claybrook v. Claybrook (Ala. Civ. App., 2010)--holds that a contract is void when it is reached under duress. Did Angie Collins cite Claybrook, or similar cases, to protect her client's property rights? Again, the answer appears to be no.

That brings us back to issues that Angie Collins' faces in her own divorce case. And that brings us to a Chilton County sheriff's deputy named Shane Mayfield.

(To be continued)

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog