Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Bristol Palin vs. Levi Johnston: The Custody Battle - UPDATE: COURT DOCUMENTS PUBLISHED! READ THE AFFIDAVIT BY BRISTOL PALIN! +++MORE UPDATES+++
If you mess with a Palin, you might need a good lawyer - and you should expect the worst.
Trooper Wooten found this out the hard way in 2005. He learned that Sarah Palin has no hesitation to use the courts for a nasty "pre-emptive strike".
Andrew Halcro reported the story in 2008:
"In 2005, Palin and her sister Molly went to the Palmer Courthouse while Mike Wooten was in Portland with his stepson. They convinced a judge to grant Molly a domestic violence restraining order against Wooten. This was done so Molly could retain full custody of the children.
When Wooten returned from Portland, he realized that there was a order prohibiting him from seeing his kids. Three weeks later, Wooten was granted an appearance in front of the couple's divorce judge.
In front of Judge Suddock, Molly testified that Wooten never hit her or never physically abused her or ever touched the children. She told the judge she was feeling pressure from her family to file the order.
Suddock immediately dissolved the order because there was no proof of any domestic violence and called the order an abuse of the legal system. He then scolded Palin's sister for keeping Wooten's kids away from him."
Now I have the feeling that we might be able to watch "Troopergate Reloaded". As it was reported today in the national media and already extensively discussed in the comments of the previous thread, Bristol Palin filed for sole custody of "Tripp Johnston-Palin" on November 4, 2009.
Here is the link to the court records.
My feeling is that Sarah Palin, this time impersonated by Bristol Palin, revived her old strategy - and it looks like it will be her Waterloo, again.
The commenter Stephanie, who is a lawyer, if I recall correctly, posted interesting first observations of the events on Immoral Minority:
"A couple of observations from the docket entries:
The initial motions were filed ex parte--that is, initially without prior notice or any opportunity to respond afforded to Levi.
Before Levi's attorney even had a chance to enter an appearance on his behalf, Van Flein already had filed, and the Court had denied, a slew of motions seeking: (1) to have Levi held in contempt; (2) to have Levi pay Bristol's legal fees & costs; and (3) to shorten Levi's statutory time to responsd to the petition for custody. (See 11/09 entries.)
On December 9, Rex Butler filed an answer to the petition for custody. That of course has not been ruled on, and will be the subject of the custody proceedings Van Flein unsuccessfully sought to close and keep from the public record by use of pseudonyms.
Following that, on December 23, there was a flurry of filings: the Court received from Van Flein a reply to Butler's oppositions to the ex parte motions (and appears to have denied Van Flein's request for oral argument on those motions), but denied all of Van Flein's ex parte motions--not only the motions to substitute pseudonyms, but also the motions to close the proceedings and for protective orders.
It is not entirely clear from the docket entry, but it appears that on December 23 Van Flein also applied for an extension of time in which to file his own reply to Butler's answer to the petition for custody. If so, it appears that Van Flein is asking for more time to respond to a (responsive) filing for which he unsuccessfully asked the Court to shorten the period of time granted to Levi to respond.
Let's just say it's my impression that an extraordinary amount of lawyer hours are being devoted to generating a flood of procedural motions against a nineteen-year-old boy."
Then, Andrew Sullivan weighed in.
The latest details were published by "Alaska Dispatch":
"On Nov. 4, Palin filed for sole custody of Tripp Johnston-Palin, the former couple's son, who celebrates his first birthday today. Kristiansen initially issued temporary orders limiting access to the case file and allowing the parties to file under pseudonyms.
Johnston wasn't playing along, however. In an opposition to Palin's motion for a gag order, Johnston's attorney, Rex Butler, said: "Simply put, this matter is public in nature, the courts are not refuges for the scions of the elite to obtain private dispensation of their legal matters because the public at large has an interest in the proceedings."
There's another factor in the mix, of course: Palin's mother, former governor Sarah Palin, with whom Johnston has repeatedly locked horns in the press, and from whom he claims to fear retaliation.
"I do not feel protected against Sarah Palin in a closed proceeding," Johnston said in an affidavit accompanying Butler's filings. "I hope that if it is open she will stay out of it. ... I think a public case might go a long way in reducing Sarah Palin's instinct to attack and allow the real parties in this litigation, Bristol and I, to work things out a lot more peacefully than we could if there is any more meddling from Sarah Palin."
Johnston's affidavit did not disclose exactly what "meddling," if any, the former governor has engaged in during the custody case's brief lifetime; however, he theorized that the closed proceedings might be intended to conceal some "fairly aggressive" tactics."
(h/t EyeOnYou - thanks!)
I cannot help thinking that it's quite funny that Palingates never needed a lawyer to defend ourselves against Sarah Palin - despite the fact that we published very embarassing facts about her, like the fact that Sarah Palin faked her pregnancy with Trig!
Why is that?
Because facts are facts - challenging them is a futile exercise, a no-win situation.
Even a Palin understands that.
But the Palins seem to love their custody battles - and luckily, Levi Johnston apparently has what he needs: A good lawyer.
I just don't understand at this point why Levi didn't strike first and started the custody proceedings himself. Did Team Levi underestimate Sarah? If this was the case, they should better not make this mistake again.
UPDATE (h/t again EyeOnYou):
The original court documents have been published by Alaska Dispatch!
Here is the DOWNLOAD LINK.
EDIT: The download link given above is for the document which contains 64 pages and in which Van Flein pushes for closed custody proceedings. The affidavit of Bristol Palin is included in this document. For the complete set of all 5 documents from the custody proceedings which are available, see Update 4 of this post below!
I haven't had the chance to look through the documents yet, but I am sure that they will be a fascinating read, as the Palins always understand how to provide good entertainment!
How is it possible that the documents are now publicly available? Is there a lawyer who could explain? Is this a leak or standard procedure?
EDIT: The commenter Stephanie, who I mentioned above, just sent me an email and explained why the court documents are public - thank you, Stephanie!
"In answer to your question about why the custody documents are available: as court filings they are presumptively public documents. Such documents always are public unless a Court grants a motion to seal or impound them. Their availability to the public temporarily was forestalled while the Court had under consideration the plaintiff's motion to seal them (the apparent subject of the rejected "protective order") and use pseudonyms. When those motions were denied, the documents reverted to their presumptively public status (and you'll note that at that point the parties' actual names seem to have been pasted into the documents, without regard to the appropriate part of the sentence and thus tend to be missing the possessive form, etc.; they must originally have been filed with pseudonyms, and some poor clerk probably had to print out the parties' names and paste them in at all of the appropriate spots without regard to grammatical content)."
I will provide another download link for the documents in a minute, just in case.
EDIT: Here is now the second download link of the same document.
For the download links to all available documents, please see Update 4 below!
As expected, Van Flein plays dirty and babbles about "Levi Johnston's foray into the porn industry."
In addition, Team Levi's contacts to Gryphen are also heavily featured.
Screenshot (click to enlarge):
More strong stuff! Bristol was homeschooled by Sarah alright, it seems!
The documents include an affidavit by Bristol Palin herself, signed on December 22, 2009!
Not a nice Christmas present.
In this document, Bristol Palin testifies under oath (if this is the correct legal term):
"1. I am the mother of Tripp Johnston-Palin.
2. Due to the overwhelming media interest in my family and in Levi Johnston, I believe it would be in Tripp's best interest for this custody matter to be closed, and for everyone associated with this case to refrain from talking to the media about this case.
3. My mother, Sarah Palin, is not involved in this custody matter other than as a grandmother, so Levi Johnston has no need to be "protected" from her. This case is between me an Levi; my mother has nothing to do with it.
7. As can be seen by all of the previous media publications cited in my original Motion to close these proceedings and for a gag order, Levi Johnston has used the media to cause my family (and myself) embarrassment. Levi's family (Mercedes (sic) Johnston in particular) has previously attacked my character in the media and made disparaging remarks about me and about custody issues.
8. I believe that Levi Johnston will soon be filming a reality show in Alaska. I do not believe it would be in Tripp's best interest for Levi's reality show to be filming this case as it unfolds, or for Levi Johnston to be capitalizing off of this custody case through his reality show.
9. I cannot imagine any reason why Levi Johnston would think that having this custody proceeding take place in the media spotlight would be in Tripp's best interests. It appears that the only reason Levi wants this case to remain public is so that he can continue to capitalize on his name and this case by selling stories to the media. To my knowledge, Levi's media exposure is currently his only source of income. That leads me to believe that Levi's interest in keeping this case unsealed is purely financial. Levi's interest in self-promotion has nothing to do with Tripp's best interest."
Screenshot (click to enlarge):
Here are the complete court documents, as published by Alaska Dispatch (click to download):
1. Levi Johnstons's answer to custody petition.
2. Levi Johnston's opposition to closed proceedings.
3. Palin's push for closed proceedings.
4. Judge's order.
5. Palin's arguments to secret proceedings.
This is hilarious! Van Flein uses a twitter-message from Levi Johnston's FAKE TWITTER ACCOUNT as evidence!
This part can be found in document No 5 (see my update 4 above).
Screenshot (click to enlarge):
I just cannot stop reading! Van Flein really gives it all:
"Further, as the record already demonstrates, scurrilous scandal publications like Vanity Fair and the National Enquirer will pay money for falsehoods or any statement coming from these proceedings. Neither Levi Johnston, nor any member of the Johnston family, should continue to profit off of Tripp Palin by seeking media attention and money for "stories"."
Screenshot (click to enlarge):
Vanity Fair is a "scurrilous scandal publication"?
Profiting from Tripp Palin, by seeking media attention and money for "stories"?
Does Van Flein mean something like that?
It's getting crazier and crazier! I think Bristol/Sarah might need a new lawyer soon!
From the court documents, it can be seen that this whole Palin PR-disaster might have happened in the first place because Palin's lawyer Van Flein FILED AN UNTIMELY REPLY - 9 DAYS TOO LATE! See the order of judge Kristiansen from December 24, 2009 (click to enlarge):
Is anyone surprised that Sarah/Bristol were extremely agressive in the custody proceedings right from the beginning?
On November 9, 2009, Van Flein filed a "Motion for immediate hearing ordering defendant to show cause why he should not be held in contempt and fined for violating for November 6th court order and motion for fees and costs" (in THIS DOCUMENT starting on page 35).
In this motion, Van Flein claims that Levi had violated the court order from November 6 which stated that Levi was prohibited to speak about the custody matter in public. According to Van Flein, the violation occured during Levi's TV-interview with "The Insider" on November 9.
Van Flein wrote on November 9th, 2009 (p. 39):
"Mr. Johnston is now out of state on another media tour - a tour that consists of giving interviews about the Palins and the baby. It appears from his statements that he does not care about the court order and is indifferent to its application. He should be ordered to promptly appear and show cause to answer why he should not been held in contempt of court. If he fails to appear for the show cause hearing this week, an arrest warrant should be issued to ensure his compliance.
Plaintiff further requests that this Court, upon finding the Defendant in contempt, sanction the Defendant in the amount of $ 5,000 for his violation of this Court's order (to be paid to the State of Alaska), admonish and instruct the defendant to strictly comply with this Court's November 6, 2009 order, and order the Defendant to pay full and actual attorney fees to the Plaintiff which were incurred in bringing this motion, and attending any hearing."
Later in the proceedings, in Van Flein's reply from December 23, 2009 which he delivered 9 DAYS TOO LATE (the court had already finally ruled on the morning of December 23 and notified the parties immediately via fax, and Van Flein then handed in his reply several hours later in the afternoon of December 23) he has some things to say about Levi Johnston which I find just despicable and which seem to come straight out of Queen Sarah's vindictive big mouth:
"In reviewing the Opposition brief, and Mr. Johnston's affidavit, one thing stands out: Mr. Johnston focuses only on himself, he does not mention the impact on Tripp or show any real concern that a public media circus could have on Tripp or these proceedings.
These gravamen of all child custody proceedings is the best interests of the child.
Yet all Mr. Johnston refers to is his own self-interest, his own interest in endless publicity, his desire for press-mongering, and his appetite for self-aggrandizment. This matter is about Tripp.
Nothing in Mr. Johnston's Opposition suggests that Tripp will benefir from daily news accounts and salacious interviews by Levi with scandal hungry tabloids.
Tripp deserves better than this. The Court can ask this fundamental question: does the Court want the parties to try this case in court, or does it want the parties to engage in daily press briefings, accusations, recriminations and grandstanding by Levi and his entourage?
The track record of Levi and his retinue suggests strongly that publicity, and the sustained character assassination of Tripp's maternal family, are the end, and this proceeding is to be used as a pretext and means to that end."
Screenshots (click to enlarge):
Rex Butler released the following statement to ET Online:
"Now we feel that we can fight this case on level ground. When you look at what they're saying, and their attempts to put him in jail, there were no attempts to have a fair and reasonable custody fight. When you're asking to put an 18 year old in jail, they clearly wanted to stop his forward progress, whatever they thought that forward progress was. It's clear to us that they wanted to shut Levi up."
I still find it hard to believe that a lawyer can be so stupid to submit excerpts from a fake twitter account as evidence. It's just surreal that Van Flein didn't hesitate to accuse Levi Johnston of possible "substance abuse issues" based on fake twitter messages!
Screenshots from Van Flein's documents (click to enlarge):
Guess what, Mr Van Flein, I have more screenshots for you (click to enlarge):
These are screenshots from Bristol Palin's REAL myspace messages! The full set CAN BE DOWNLOADED HERE.
EDIT: Here is a second download link for Bristol Palin's collected myspace messages, in case there is a problem with the first link.