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The Ordeal of Edna Jane Favreau in the hands of The Florida Judiciary Prologue: Who will listen?
Each and every one of us supposedly has a natural sense of justice whether it is realized in action or not. Socrates repeated the myth that Zeus destroyed all those unable to make a distinction between right and wrong, therefore godly societies should follow suit and execute or exile all those persons without a sense of justice.
Fraud on the Court
Prologue: Who will listen? Historians have said that the advance of civilizations can be measured by the treatment of their weakest members, the largest category being the female or weaker sex, and then of course poor, disabled, juvenile, and elderly persons, that they receive the same justice as the stronger members of society. Each and every one of us supposedly has a natural sense of justice whether it is realized in action or not. Socrates repeated the myth that Zeus destroyed all those unable to make a distinction between right and wrong, therefore godly societies should follow suit and execute or exile all those persons without a sense of justice. Now we believe that the United States, the world s sole superpower, is the leader of the Western Civilization, and there we find many laws enacted to protect women, children, and the disabled, to ensure that they are not wronged. Whether those laws are adequately applied or not is another story. Alas for our advanced civilization, that Jane s story will sound all too familiar to far too many women in our advanced civilization. Jane is an elderly grandmother who was disabled by her murderous husband and then impoverished by the Florida judiciary. She has pled for justice in Florida courts for nearly fifteen years, but her pleas fell on deaf ears. How could that be? Her voice has been a voice crying in the wilderness because nobody would listen. Jane Stewart started working as a real estate agent for Century 21 in Athens, Ohio in December 1979. On March 24, 1980, the Messenger identified her as an award-winning salesperson. She moved to Florida August 1980, and in 1981 she met Walter Favreau, her future husband. Walter was a coder for the Air Force. He had no property of his own other than his clothes and his pension rights, not even a car, when Jane met him, because his first wife had gotten everything. And Jane was doing very well at Century 21 in Florida at the time. The local newspaper announced that she was the agency s Top Producer in 1985, and Top Salesperson in the Daytona Beach area in 1984. She owned a homestead and several rental properties. Walter helped her with the business, but witnesses testified that she was clearly in charge. The domestic violence eventually began and went on and on, case after case, once with a police officer witnessing Walter bashing Jane s head against a wall. On July 26, 1992 Walter was finally found guilty of battery after almost strangling her to death. He was sentenced to a mere year s probation. The judge ordered Walter to pay restitution, with liquidated damages to be determined. Since the state attorney failed to perfect her right to restitution, Jane filed a lien with the clerk of the court for $18,250, plus interest, on two real estate properties that Walter had bought with her funds but had neglected to put her name on the titles as intended. She was unaware that her damages would be far more than that sum, or that the court would manage to put the rest of her property in Walter s hands, or that the attorneys would persuade
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Fraud on the Court judges that her lien was no good because she filed it on her own behalf - the statute did not expressly prohibit that procedure but rather supported it. A divorce action was filed, briefly put on hold, and reopened in 1993. Incidentally, Jane once again charged Walter with domestic violence in 1994. Since funds had been commingled in the marriage, Jane s property was considered jointly owned by husband and wife. A judge ordered that an accounting of the property be submitted by both parties. And the judge ordered that the marital property, consisting of the homestead, the rental property, and three mortgages and notes, would be partitioned and shared equally. None of that was done. Walter remarried. Walter died. Jane s property wound up in Walter s hands and then in his estate, from which Jane got nothing. How could that be? Jane pled that the divorce case was never closed because there had been neither an accounting nor distribution to her of her share. She argued that there had been a fraud on the court, that the Florida judiciary itself had violated the laws and denied her civil rights, including rights afforded by the Disabilities Act. But nobody listened. Her pleas were dismissed and eventually adjudged frivolous she was ordered not to make any further pleadings. The court would dismiss any appeals. She might be held in contempt of court and jailed if she tried to get the justice she deserved. We have heard prominent members of the judiciary brag that the statutes they have sponsored require findings of fact to support the equitable distribution of marital property, that equitable distribution of marital assets is now a statutory reality, but the statute was obviously not applied in Jane s case, nor was she afforded the protection of laws enacted prior to the implementation of that statute. In sum, her civil rights were violated in many respects, and the marriage and the judicial system in Brevard and Volusia counties had rendered her a severely impoverished and disabled elderly woman unable to obtain legal aid and forced to represent herself. How could that be? She pled for representation but her pleas fell on deaf ears. Neither the judiciary nor legal aid nor the attorney general was willing to lift a finger in her defense. As for legal aid and the state attorney general and the federal justice department, they did not see a pattern of judicial abuse sufficient to champion her cause, which is in fact the cause of numerous women in similar circumstances. They did not see the pattern or forest because they would not look at the trees, one exemplary tree being Edna Jane Favreau. How could that be? We shall eventually see the dirty details of gender bias and contempt and callous disregard for the weaker sex, especially when they try to defend themselves without a license to practice law, when we examine what Jane calls the tricks that were played on her, along with the deplorable records of the lawyers - records tolerated all too long by The Florida Bar - that played those dirty tricks. I thought Edna Jane Favreau was hopelessly neurotic or perhaps even mad when I took my first look at the pro se briefs, pleadings, motions, and affidavits she sent down to me from Brevard County. The documents were just a small sample of the thousands of pages of evidence from her struggle with the courts for over a decade.
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Fraud on the Court At first glance, her work seemed verbose, incoherent, and compulsive. I suppose I should add hysterical ( womb ) because she is a woman. I surmised that her efforts were an attempt to overcome the panic attacks she said she suffers after her former husband tried to murder her by strangulation. One of her pleadings averred that she suffered from a certified disability called abductor spasmodic dysphonia (Ad-SD) as the direct result of oxygen deprivation and extreme stress from that attempt to kill her, which makes it very difficult for her to speak when under stress. However, she can write up a storm, a syndrome related to Ad-SD, called hypergraphia. I had erroneously concluded after my first divorce experience many years ago that it is the man who is always at a disadvantage in divorce proceedings not only is he expected to pay but she gets the kids so I was not inclined at first to pay much attention to Jane s pleas. It was the hypergraphia that got me interested enough to study her work and actually listen to what the elderly woman was saying. My elderly father often complained before he died that nobody listens to old folks, but that they should if they want to be wise. I adhere to the controversial hypothesis that many forms of mental illness are exaggerations of normal behavior. The being of the human being is its ability to think, and that helps the otherwise largely defenseless creature to survive the omnipotent god does not have to think at all. Although I do not suffer from Ad-SD, I must have at least a mild case of hypergraphia because I am a prolific writer, and I write to avoid so-called reality. People ask me who I am, and I refer them to my work. My entire estate at this point is in writing, and I am compelled to give it away. So if the opinions about hypergraphia are correct, I share with Jane what we have in common with the likes of Shakespeare, Vincent Van Gogh, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Lewis Carroll, though I may never produce a diary filling 81 boxes with 38 million words, as did Reverend Robert Shields, or outdo Henry Darger s The Story of the Vivian Girls, the longest known novel extant. The point of all of Jane s work was there had been a fraud on the court that had deprived her of her civil rights and defrauded her of her property, a point that she reiterated time and time again by the use of that very phrase, sometimes in capital letters, FRAUD ON THE COURT, in hopes that someone was listening. Hello out there! Can anyone hear me? But nobody was really listening. The lawyers certainly were not inclined to bend their ears much to her claims that they were wrong, that they were frauds, that they were unethical and unprofessional. The officers of the court who heard her, who glanced at her affidavits and pleadings, simply laughed at her and her allegation of fraud on the court. After all, how in the world could she even know what fraud on the court meant since she was not an attorney? But she knew, just as Socrates knew that every normal human being has a sense of justice, a sense of right and wrong, the cause and effect of conscience. We can only hope to see that they were fools not to listen, for how can any professional profess anything at all for anyone else unless s/he carefully listens to their pleas? The lay person feels offended, and comes in with a mess of a story because of the emotional involvement at the root of the injustice, and the professional had better listen if success is wanted.
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Fraud on the Court Jane kept saying, over and over, that if someone would only read what she was writing, they would see that there had been a fraud on the court. Besides being blinded by their gender bias, feelings of superiority, and contempt for the downtrodden, the lawyers involved were deaf to anything said that was not in the proper procedural form. In fine, they were emotionally and mentally disabled. Jane had been strangled and thrown to the wolves, had been tossed into a den of vipers, had come up against the dragon. Jane is advanced in age, and her case is virtually hopeless at this late stage, but perhaps it is not too late for her champion to step forward and win the cause before she passes away. That champion will of course be a lawyer, and she or he will make mincemeat out of lawyers who do not listen. And what does Jane want besides some vindication for herself and for women likewise situated? She wants enough recovery of her hard-earned property sufficient to visit her grandchild, for one thing. A woman in a coma or adjudged mentally incompetent would have gotten better legal representation in Brevard and Volusia counties than Jane. You see, Jane had run out of cash for lawyers, who had run away with her cash, and she was forced to represent herself in complex court proceedings, and she was cheated out of her property. Again, she pled for legal counsel and accommodation of her disability to no avail. She was opposed by a ruthless and intimidating Rambo or Bomber Tactic lawyer. To wit: the abuse Jane had suffered at the hands of her husband was virtually continued by officers of the court. To be understanding, some of that abuse was no doubt unwitting, due to the ignorance that men have in regards to abused women. Just as a young child will call every man Dada , an abused woman may think every man is her abuser and react in a way that contributes further to the vicious cycle that has been called the battle of the sexes. Notwithstanding the foregoing, we cannot say that Jane has been an altogether incompetent unlicensed lawyer. If we do as we are asked, if we actually listen to what she has said time and time again, all too many times because nobody would listen, we shall find that her arguments do have an inner coherence and are persuasive. Although she needs a licensed champion to narrow down the facts and issues in order to properly deal with the courts, she was not mentally incompetent when it came to writing down her grievances and demanding remedies. Remember that she was intelligent and mentally sharp enough to be a tip-top real estate sales person. She knows the law as it should have been applied to her. Her arguments if concisely presented in the right form would be persuasive. Her motions simply lack the organization required by procedural law. Furthermore, Jane has in fact had some success taking the miscreant lawyers to task with the Florida Supreme Court s disciplinary arm, The Florida Bar. In another part of our series, entitled Tricks of the Trade, we shall see, however, that the Bar dragged its feet for a long time. Talk about the slow grinding of the wheel of justice! And how many people like Jane are ground to dust before justice is done.
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Fraud on the Court
David Arthur Walters 2010 Miami Beach
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