Archive for the Lawsuit Category

All That Glitters Isn’t Golden – Final Lawsuit Resolution

Posted in In The News, Lawsuit, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2014 by Joan Graves

It has been nearly three years since Paul and Patti Columbia and I were sued by former school superintendent, Elaine Farris. It has been three years filled with laughter, tears and an overwhelming amount of disillusionment with the justice system. Our attorney accurately labeled the fiasco when he called it a spite suit. Filing a lawsuit was a last ditch effort at shutting us up and it worked….for a while.

When the community realized all they did not know about the inner workings of the board of education they responded with disgust at the voting booth. They ousted every board member, including long-time incumbent, Debbie Fatkin, who was up for re-election. Two of the three people endorsed by Stand Up Clark County won seats on the board. At last, a new era finally was born, as opposed to being something just stamped on a hat. But that was the crux of the problem. The former administration lacked the ability to understand that strategically placing pretty, pacifist words in key locations never convinced the community they were true. Through actions and in their own legally obtained emails, the former administration presented themselves as people who thought too highly of their own opinions and not enough of the community’s. In essence, they were the makers of their own demise.

While leadership had changed hands it was only a battle won. A war was still very much underway for the Columbias and me and years of our lives were being stolen. Despite being the one to initiate the lawsuit, Elaine and her attorney, Dale Golden, seemed less invested in winning than in dragging the case out. From our perspective, Golden’s single-minded purpose was to see how long he could keep us from actually obtaining a court date. So, rather than allow the case to proceed naturally before a jury Golden employed every delay tactic at his disposal.

I lost track of the number of times we showed up in court only to discover the case had been put off. Or we would be notified that a delay tactic had been initiated only hours before we were to appear in court. All the while your tax dollars were paying for these incessant delays, and Elaine never to show up.

The final stall defense came when Golden, knowing a court date was imminent, called the judge asking for yet another delay. His desperation was evident when his reason was because he thought the trial was in Madison County. Considering the case was filed in Clark County and to my knowledge no one even mentioned Madison County, much less actually gone there, he had no reason to be of that frame of mind. Conveniently enough, when the judge refused, someone from his office, stood up in the courtroom to make her appearance known. Golden may have thought he was very cleaver but his ruse didn’t work. A court date was set and within hours of receiving a March trial date, Golden contacted our attorney to dismiss the case.

All of the accusations made against us, all of the time invested and all the tax dollars spent have all been for naught. The Supreme Court intentionally made it difficult for the wealthy, powerful or public figures to be able to sue the “little man” for slander, liable and the like. Farris held a public office paid with tax payer dollars. Those dollars have the right to be represented, challenged and accounted for. To us, it is a huge travesty of justice to allow someone sue the very people they are supposed to defend and waste the tax dollars they were entrusted to manage. It’s behavior that screams poorly orchestrated leadership and narcissistic behavior, at best.

Regardless, of what it has been, the point is what it is now – and that is over. With the dropping of the lawsuit so goes the facade of victimhood. For the only thing Elaine Farris was ever victim of was herself. That is just extremely sad. Yet, today is not a time to mourn but to celebrate. The vice that has strangled this community’s educational system has been released. Stand Up Clark County has fulfilled our promise to this great community. We have ensured that the public is at last back in public education and proven all that glitters is not Golden.

Partial Lawsuit Resolution

Posted in Lawsuit with tags , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2013 by Joan Graves

In the multiple pages of documents filed by former superintendent Elaine Farris, there was mention of only one specific. Farris stated that Patti and Paul Columbia and I filed false criminal charges against her niece, Tiffany Davis. The charges against Davis stem from an incident during a board meeting when Farris was still in charge of Clark County Schools.  Patti filed criminal charges against Davis after Davis walked by Patti and nudged, kneed, kicked, pushed or whatever verb you prefer to use. Neither Paul nor I had a hand in filing those charges. I, however, was listed as a witness due, in part, to a snippet of video captured on my phone. Davis denied all of the charges and Farris filed her civil lawsuit within a day or so of Davis being criminally charged.

In October, Davis and her attorney met with Clark County Attorney Brian Thomas. After months of delaying Davis’s trial resolution finally came. In a plea bargain, Davis agreed to a peace bond. While it doesn’t necessarily indicate Davis is admitting guilt it certainly makes the statement that she opted not to take her chances before a jury trial. The peace bond functions as a type of restraining order in which Davis agrees to stay away from the Columbias and therefore avoids further court appearances and possible jail time.

Why did you not read this in the Winchester Sun? I asked the same question. The Sun’s response was that since Davis didn’t live in Clark County they didn’t report on it. Yet, the crime occurred in Clark County, the trial would have taken place here and the plea deal was struck by our tax paid county attorney, thereby providing a steak in the case to every tax paying citizen in Clark County. The Winchester Sun is filled daily with car accidents, crimes and other stories regarding individuals that do not live in Clark County. So, we must ask ourselves why the Sun has “rules” that apply to some but not all. Then again, considering comic books are larger than the Winchester Sun these days I don’t think it matters much.

Stand Up Clark County and demand truth and disclosure.  Image

 

Trying To Answer Your Questions On Today’s Fast Breaking Events

Posted in Board of Education (General), Herald-Leader, In The News, Lawsuit, National Stories, Winchester Sun with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2013 by Joan Graves
Downtown Winchester, KY

Downtown Winchester, KY (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There have been some important events today. I’m always amazed at how quickly information travels. As you all know, I am restricted from discussing specifics of the lawsuit filed against the Columbias and me. I can confirm that yes there have been new developments today but I can elaborate no further. However, be assured that the moment we have secured our victory you will hear about it first right here.

The middle school merger is getting some long overdue attention. In addition to the previous post regarding Herald-Leader coverage you can follow this link http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-971738 to my CNN iReport.

Speaking of media attention, I will be interviewed tomorrow by Casey Castle of the Winchester Sun. I know many of you have been frustrated with the Sun coverage which is why I think it’s important you know about the interview. I have been very pleased with recent conversations with Mr. Castle and am thrilled he has taken on the endeavor of writing an in-depth report of the entire school issue.

I know many of you want answers and you will have them as soon as I am able to release them to you. Until then be pleased with the changes your commitment has brought about and look forward to the fantastic days ahead.

Stand Up Clark County and stay tuned.

Dear Deatra Newell: Love God – Love People

Posted in In The News, Lawsuit, Point of View, Winchester Sun with tags , , , , , , , on March 31, 2013 by Joan Graves
President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with Martin ...

President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with Martin Luther King, Jr. in the White House Cabinet Room (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Martin Luther King Jr. created much needed equality, but he would be greatly saddened by your letter to the editor in the Winchester Sun. You were absolutely correct when you said; “People who really don’t like a people because of their skin color, gender, national origin or religious preference use untruthful flaws about that person to cause others to react negatively.” You know this because it is exactly what you are doing to me. You are making baseless accusations about me in a desperate attempt to paint me as a racist and cause others to see me that way.

I am neither unhappy nor miserable but  you and I definitely have very different definitions of equality. Do you think I should pretend to agree with someone just because they are of a different race? To me that is the epitome of racism. You are my equal and I am not afraid to tell you that I don’t agree with you. It never occurred to me that anyone would consider my stance on this matter as racism because my mind is color blind. I cannot conceive what I don’t see.

Perhaps you should stop looking at the color of my skin and accept that I’m disagreement is with actions and people not skin. Can you extend to me the same equality you want from me? If you cannot give equality to another then how will you ever recognize when it’s been given to you?

You said; “As a black American, I am proud of our school superintendent.” Why add the color? Can you not just identify yourself as an American? If color is added to a statement to make it more powerful isn’t that racism? I certainly would never refer to you in that manner because I don’t see your skin. I see you.

You also said; “The real issue is that the superintendent broke racial barriers as the first black female superintendent in Kentucky. I know this has been an adjustment for most people with different interests, but that’s just how it is. We may never see that day come in our life when we all can see and treat each other the way God intended, but it will come when Jesus returns.”

“People with different interests”? Do you mean white people? Because I’m willing to bet that if the tables were turned and I made that statement you’d be calling me racist. If you don’t want racism then why are you bringing it up? Why is it so difficult to believe that there are people who disagree with a person, not a color? Martin Luther King Jr. wanted equality all of us. He would never condone baseless accusations about race for either of us. He welcomed the opportunity to speak with those of different opinions because he loved people not color. He believed enlightment, intelligience and Christ-like love was achieved when we respectfully considered the views of our opposition.

Without knowing anything about me or having any sort of meaningful conversation with me you have jumped to the erroneous conclusion that I am a racist because I’m white. You have not discussed with me my points nor considered the possibility that I am not a racist. How exactly is that seeing me as God intended? The Bible is crystal clear on how God sees us all. “But the LORD said to Samuel, Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7  My opinions are based on Scripture, prayer, research, conversations with those I disagree with and people’s actions. On this earth that’s about as close as any of us can be to seeing the heart of a person.

You and I apparently have vastly different definitions of equality. I would never disrespect you so much as to pretend to agree with you just because you’re black. I would be a racist if I disagreed with a white person with the same views but pretended to agree with you. Not considering that I may just be a person disagreeing with another person rather than one race pitted against another says more about you than me. Are you so perfect that I can never disagree with your thoughts or actions? Do you find yourself above the remarks of Christ who said all fall short of the Glory of God?  Because if you do in fact believe in Christ, then you must believe all He said.  And He said we are all are sinners. As a Christian I can’t agree with your sins nor should you agree with mine. Yet, somehow my disagreements with you are not Christian, moral, ethical or opinion; they are racial to you. There is nothing Christ like in that.

Which brings us to another statement by Jesus. “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:5.

Stand Up Clark County for the removal of all forms of racism and the God-like attitude of hating the sin but loving the sinner.

Final Legal Update

Posted in Board of Education (General), Elaine Farris, Lawsuit with tags , , , , , , , on February 19, 2013 by Joan Graves

A Flashmob for Free Speech - 2

This will be the last update I will provide regarding the lawsuit. I have been notified by my attorney that an order has been secured which prevents me from having any comments on this blog or elsewhere in social media. This “gag order” of sorts, is in effect for ALL parties. Your continued support and prayers are greatly appreciated and I will be back in touch as soon as I am legally able to do so.

Our Answers Only Hours Away

Posted in Elaine Farris, Encouragement, Herald-Leader, In The News, Lawsuit, Point of View, Winchester Sun, WKYT with tags , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2013 by Joan Graves

2012 teacher of yr Rebecca Mieliwoki

For over a year the citizens of Clark County have searched for answers for what has been described as burning questions. Yet, we have been repeatedly denied what we believe is our right to know. Despite a rigorous legal campaign launched by Elaine Farris to avoid giving a deposition in the lawsuit she filed, that deposition will take place in a little over 12 hours. At long last many questions that have echoed in our minds will now be asked and In a peculiar twist it’s Elaine that we can thank for our impending revelations.

The lawsuit Farris filed against the Columbias and me was ambiguous at best. Though rich in shock-value adjectives, the suit provides not a single shred of evidence or specific allegations.  It basically says we said things about her she doesn’t like so she is suing. Only in a civil case could someone have others hauled into court with a list of baseless allegations and not even a smidgen of circumstantial evidence. The only requirement for a civil lawsuit is money for an attorney. It’s a shocking revelation of American “justice” of which, I could have lived my entire life without knowing,  It’s an an insult to the integrity our forefathers thought they were creating in America and disgusting waste of tax-payer money that could be invested in our schools.

In her deposition Farris will either defend herself and her actions or she will be as evasive as she’s been in the past. I am expecting the latter but Farris’s supporters are excitedly spreading  word that Elaine will rigorously defend herself in great detail. . According to them, Elaine will provide evidence and details that will be a logical explanation for everything and prove us to be liars. And I’m saying that’s not even possible. But one thing is for absolute certain, this time tomorrow we can all stop speculating.

To be fair, we should note that after Farris’s deposition the Columbias and I will also give a deposition. Don’t expect any new information from us. Lord, knows we’ve not only been an open book but we’ve provided sketches, maps and Cliff Notes. But regardless of whether you are interested in information from Farris, the Columbias or me you will have it tomorrow.

Having never gone through the process before, I am uncertain how long it will take tomorrow. But I will provide an update to this blog as soon as possible. It’s impossible to face tomorrow and not thank all of you. It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to serve my community in this fashion. Thank you for your overwhelming support, perseverance and grace to correct any mistakes I have made. Together we are marching toward truth and justice.

Stand Up Clark County – our time is at hand.

The Difference In Criminal & Civil Harassment – A Back-story In The Lawsuit

Posted in Lawsuit, Point of View with tags , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2013 by Joan Graves
http://openclipart.org/clipart/people/magnifyi...

http://openclipart.org/clipart/people/magnifying_glass_01.svg License: PublicDomain Keywords: people Author: AbiClipart Title: Magnifying Glass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the lawsuit filed by Elaine Farris she states; “the Defendant, Patricia Columbia, swore out a false Criminal Complaint, alleging harassment against the Plaintiff’s niece, who is an employee of Fayette County Schools, in an attempt to further harass and embarrass the Plaintiff. The criminal conduct was alleged to have occurred on the day Elaine Farris was being evaluated.” Odd thing to find in a defamation suit against me, don’t you think? This is the only specific incident listed in her multi-page suit and I’m not even involved. With about a 100 other individuals I happen to be present when the alleged incident occurred so how come I’m the only one sued?

The suit claims that charges were filed as a means to “further embarrass her”. The problem there is that we never brought the charges to the attention of the public. Elaine did.  So, if she suffered embarrassment it was by her own hand.  But since she brought it up let’s talk about it.

It’s important to note that the niece, Tiffany Davis, is innocent until proven guilty. Her guilt or innocence rests in the hands of a jury of her peers not her aunt or public opinion. It is also important to note that Elaine Farris, as of the writing of this blog, has not been charged with any crime.

There are two types of harassment; criminal and civil. Davis’s alleged harassment is criminal. Criminal charges require presenting evidence to the county attorney who determines if it points to possible criminal activity. The county attorney is paid by tax payers not individuals and is under no obligation to bring a case to trial that doesn’t have merit. If Davis is found guilty a jury will determine her punishment may range from fines and community service to jail time.

The Columbias and I face civil harassment charges which have no criminal element. Cases like ours are handled by private attorneys who have no burden of proof at all. All that is needed is an accusation and money and you’ve got yourself a case. Sadly, a civil suit can be filed by anyone for any reason without the first shred of evidence. Civil cases are less about crime and more about punishment. And the punishment always comes in the form of a big fat check.

A civil suit is raised for one of two reasons. Someone has something happen to them, such as a fall or car accident and an attorney specializing in that area files a lawsuit on behalf of the injured. The other is what many call a spite, punishing or vindictive lawsuit. These suits are often fueled by someone wanting to exert influence and power over another, especially if the person being sued doesn’t have the financial means for a pay-out to end the torment. This type of suit drags on racking up hefty legal fees for the victim until a judge finally calls a halt to the charade and tosses the case. There may be other reasons for civil cases but as far as I can tell these are the main reasons.

Farris filed her lawsuit within days of her niece being served papers alleging criminal activity. Incidentally, the attorney for Davis’s criminal case and Farris’s civil one is of the same firm. Which opens a slew of ethical questions for me. Especially, considering the fact that Farris has refused to give a deposition detailing her claims in a suit she filed. It makes me wonder if the civil attorney is buying time to see how the criminal case fares in court. That is of course my own person speculation.

Obviously, Davis may be found innocent. But one thing is for absolute certain, it is not up to Farris or her attorney to determine if the accusations against Davis are false. Talk about slander. The County Attorney found sufficient evidence to proceed with a criminal case. Meanwhile, Farris uses a spite suit to slander the victim and potential witness. The only only individuals that have the authority to judge the merits of Davis case are those sitting in the jury box. The way I see it, for Farris and her attorney to publicly accuse Columbia of the crime of filing a false criminal complaint and then to try to pass that label on to me, is more than slander. It’s a flat-out lie and borderline criminal in itself.

School Superintendent Files Lawsuit Over FB Posts – Sound Familiar?

Posted in Elaine Farris, In The News, Lawsuit, National Stories with tags , , , , , , on January 9, 2013 by Joan Graves

It seems we are not alone. This article is eerily similar to our current situation.  What I found most interesting was that this superintendent was also very vague in the complaint. I am amazed that our court system allows lawsuits to even be filed without identifying specific details about what the crime is supposed to be. No wonder how court systems are backed up.

School Superintendent Files Lawsuit Over Facebook Posts – NewsOn6.com – Tulsa, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports – KOTV.com |.

Winchester Sun Reports On Legal Drama

Posted in In The News, Lawsuit, Point of View, Winchester Sun with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2013 by Joan Graves

images (7)

Winchester Sun Reports On Legal Drama

Click the link below the “rethinking education” banner to be connected directly to the Winchester Sun’s report. 

Stand Up Clark County continues to be the central focus in education. Although, we would like to say the central focus is purchasing backpacks for students, improving test scores and retaining our teachers, we accept the attention to our cause and the students of this great county. As the Sun’s report made crystal clear, Stand Up Clark County has done nothing but speak the truth. Which is exactly what we will continue to do.

Stand Up Clark County for truth.

First Court Appearance

Posted in In The News, Lawsuit, Point of View with tags , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2013 by Joan Graves
Clark County Courthouse

Clark County Courthouse (Photo credit: J. Stephen Conn)

 

 

 

Today was the first court appearance in the lawsuit filed against me by superintendent Elaine Farris. It was a minor motion that required a judge’s ruling as attorneys squabbled over legal details. It took longer waiting for our turn than it did to actually complete the process.

 

My attendance was not required today, as my attorney could have easily represented me. But it was me that made the commitment to you, not my attorney. Therefore, I believe it is my responsibility to be in that courtroom every time, for every motion or procedure. Whether it’s 15 minutes or 6 hours out of my day doesn’t matter. Not a second of time I sit in that courtroom is wasted, because it is time that I am representing you and our fundamental values.

 

I was well aware of the difficulties, hardships and successes that came with the leadership role of Stand Up Clark County. When I accepted that position I accepted all the terms that accompany it, forgoing the opportunity to pick and choose when it was convenient for me to represent you. I cannot give you details of the actual case but I can give you my time, effort, energy and commitment. And I do not take my commitments lightly.

 

Without a doubt, I know that Clark County Public Schools have brighter days on the horizon. It is that unshakable faith, our commitment to education and your support and encouragement that will catapult our community into a better tomorrow.

 

Stand Up Clark County, we are fully committed.