Tragically, on October 8, Judge Alan Dickey ordered this dad into jail when he failed to produce $25,000. As of this moment, he is still incarcerated.
One courtwatcher who monitored the hearing felt that the judge seemed as though he had backed himself into a corner at the earlier hearing where he threatened to incarcerate him, and was unwilling/unable to believe that this man really had no funds at all. Several friends and business associates have been generous in lending him money to pay his attorney fees, but those sources are now tapped out.
Another courtwatcher submitted these comments about the hearing last week:
I have witnessed a few cases with Judge Dickey prior to this case. Previous cases with Judge Dickey were courteous in nature and he seemed to have taken his time and consideration into each of his rulings however, as this case came up and Judge Dickey began to familiarize himself with his past history/ruling of July 31, 2009, his demeanor appeared remarkably changed. Judge Dickey seemed quite agitated at the father's "reluctance" in satisfying past due monies on the ex wife's attorney's fees.I understand that sometimes people feel as though once they've issued an ultimatum, they lose credibility and/or authority when they "back down" and change their position. Perhaps that's what Judge Dickey believes. But circumstances change as new facts come to light. Sometimes our impressions about people and situations need modification. The fact that a 55-year old man with a heart condition (having had 3 major attacks since 2004) would go to jail instead of pay attorney fees should tell the judge that he REALLY has no money.
The father's attorney presented his current situation as being indigent and thus in the process of applying/approving for Social Security disabilities as well as citing the Bowen case with regards to the father's present contempt charge. At first, it appeared that Judge Dickey was actually reading the document however, my opinion changed as he quickly ruled against applying it to this case and therefore felt he gave no weight to the caselaw. I also feel strongly Judge Dickey may not have even considered reading the document had perhaps CourtWatch not been present.
Judge Dickey's behavior towards the father appeared irritated, angry and disrespectful at times coupled with the fact that Judge Dickey, in my opinion, further insulted the gentleman by stating in a smug, matter-of-fact manner that "his credibility was in question" based on past testimony and therefore he "would not believe anything he [the father] said." The dislike from Judge Dickey towards this man was quite noticeable. It's as if he had some personal vendetta against him for unknown reasons to us. No patience or empathy for either the father or the children in working out a viable solution to an already dismal situation. Judge Dickey basically ruled a jail term of 90 days and re-evaluation thereafter as to his then presumed ability to "find the money" to satisfy past debt.
In my opinion, an injustice was done to both the father and his children by a prejudicial judge. My concern for this man is his willingness to continue the fight for justice and for the betterment of his two children, who appear to no longer have a voice of reason to speak for them in the courts. My hope is that his health will sustain through these hardships and for the safety of his children.
CourtWatch hopes that this judge would be willing to admit his error, release this father, and hold a hearing where the wife is required to prove her allegations that he has the money she claims he has - something that has not yet happened.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said "An injustice against anyone is an injustice against all." We should all be concerned about this man's plight and what it tells us about "justice" in this Seminole County courtroom.