Betsy J. Wolfenden's blog

After five years of judicial misconduct, Emily McManaway visits with her son, Murray

Since March of 2006, two Orange County attorneys, Leigh Peek and Donna Ambler Rice; their clients, Marvilyn and Cecil Bohannon and Kristin and Johnny Branch; and Chief District Court Judge Joe Buckner abused the legal process and engaged in misconduct in order to prevent Emily McManaway from having any contact with her young son, Murray.

As the Court of Appeals correctly noted in December 2010, the conspiracy in Judge Buckner's courtroom to keep Murray from his mother was a "charade" and "an appalling scheme to separate a child from his mother by misrepresentations and manipulation of court proceedings."

On April 11, 2011, Ms. McManaway was granted a supervised visit with Murray after a court hearing in Orange County District Court. The author of this post, who represented Ms. McManaway from 2007 to 2010, was privileged to observe the visit.

Betsy Wolfenden seeks new trial after discovering conflict at State Bar

On March 4, 2011, disbarred attorney Betsy Wolfenden argued to a three-member panel of the North Carolina State Bar's Disciplinary Commission that she should receive a new disciplinary hearing on the grounds the State Bar's witnesses -- Judge Joe Buckner, Judge Lunsford Long, Judge Beverly Scarlett, Donna Ambler Rice, Leigh Peek and Susan Lewis -- committed perjury. The Disciplinary Commission is an "arm" of the North Carolina State Bar and the three-member panels serve as both judge and jury at attorney disciplinary hearings. Wolfenden seeks to have disbarment order vacated.

Disbarred attorney seeks reinstatement of law license

On March 4, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. in the Third Floor Courtroom of the North Carolina State Bar at 208 Fayetteville Street, disbarred attorney Betsy Wolfenden will argue that her disbarment order should be vacated due to the collective perjury and fraud of the State Bar's witnesses: Judge Joe Buckner, Judge Beverly Scarlett, Judge Lunsford Long, Attorney Donna Ambler Rice, Attorney Leigh Peek and Attorney Susan Lewis.

Judge Joe Buckner must be removed from the bench

In a January 18, 2011 Herald Sun editorial, the writer asks what should happen in the aftermath of the recent NC Court of Appeals opinion in Bohannan v. McManaway.

Serious allegations being made by a custody case lawyer against Orange County Chief District Court Judge Joe Buckner raise harrowing questions about whether just such a perversion of justice occurred. An opinion in an N.C. Court of Appeals ruling overturning Buckner's decision in a custody case grimly scolded that the judge's order contained "patently false" information and that Buckner's handling of the case was an "entire charade." At stake here is the court's integrity, the judge's reputation and a vastly diminished public trust. The ponderous question is what happens now?

"An appalling scheme to separate a child from his mother"

The same day the Court of Appeals issued a strongly-worded opinion calling the Orange County child custody case involving Emily McManaway's son a "charade," it issued a second opinion affirming the dismissal of McManaway's lawsuit against LDS Family Services, Cecil Bohannon, Marvilyn Bohannon, Kristin Bradley Branch, Johnny Lee Branch and Attorneys Donna Ambler Rice and Leigh Peek, on the grounds they had absolute immunity because their misconduct occurred during judicial proceedings. The Court noted that other legal remedies may be available to McManaway against the parties who interfered with custody of her son:

Orange County Child Custody “Charade” Exposed

RALEIGH –12/28/10 – Last week, the North Carolina Court of Appeals vacated a child custody order entered by Orange County District Court Judge Joe Buckner, calling the child custody case a “charade.” The case involves a 3-year old boy who was removed from Nevada by Mormons so he could be adopted in North Carolina without his mother’s consent.

The Court of Appeals agreed with the young boy’s mother, Emily M. McManaway, that Judge Buckner’s order must be vacated because he failed to hear any evidence before awarding sole custody of McManaway’s son to her brother and his wife when they had already given the young boy away to a Surry County couple they had met online.

Call for reform of the North Carolina State Bar's disciplinary process

While I have long held that no one can understand the insanity of 15-B District Court until one has experienced it first hand, the same can be said about the North Carolina State Bar's disciplinary process. In my case, the State Bar disbarred me in order to "fix" the outcome of Emily McManaway's lawsuit against Orange County Attorneys Donna Ambler Rice (formerly Davis) and Leigh Peek, because the lawsuit made the North Carolina legal system look bad when Rice and Peek used a phony court order to push an illegal adoption of Ms. McManaway's son through the courts. In his federal complaint against the North Carolina State Bar, Attorney Willie Gilbert also calls for reform:

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