Vanessa Smith

Unraveling the Prison Complex System:

Case Study Cobb County, Georgia

Case #16-1-5754-52

It is widely known that the systems at play are comprised of an elite that run our systems that keep the wealthy rich, and the disenfranchised, indigents, minorities, disabled or otherwise disadavantaged groups in the notoriously known “prison complex system”.

But, how is it that this system hasn’t been unhinged? Where are the roots of the system, and how can we begin to unveil its problems?

I came across this problem, this answer and this “complex” in my own life, and that is how all of this unfolds.

I was a happy working single mom, writer, creative and Latina living with PTSD, just outside the Metro Atlanta area, in the suburbs of Cobb County, Georgia. In 2016, I suffered a series of traumatizing events in my house, working on a story about how Women of Color could, potentially, completely change the Vote. I started writing it, on this platform, celebrating equality, our feminist spirits, women of color of all sexual orientation, the x factor, an intersectional magazine. The time and year, before primary elections in a highly contentions political arena, and one in which racism and sexism were center stage in the Spring of 2016.

And just like that, is when my own personal Hell broke lose.

Internet went down, alarm going of, I was drugged and abused in my own home. Almost the perfect crime… except for one thing. It all led to my losing my house, my life, my child to the corruption of the Cobb County Superior Court system.

How this happened, I’m not quite sure, but the reasons why aren’t that far fetched.

I lived in a house that had a large reserve behind it at Marietta, GA 30062. Wide open woods, with access from various areas in which, after taking a few hikes wondering out on my own, I found could be accessible to nearly anyone that so had the wish or will to do so. Public property, no restrictions of access.

I had a nervous breakdown, as all these events began to happen, leading me straight down the narrow path of the Cobb County Courts – in defense of my basic human rights, as it now clearly presented.

I was summoned in to court, with less than 24 hour notice, in a ill comprised summons package, no complaint, no petition, no real understanding of what the fuck what going on.

I’m hastily shoved into a Court room, Judge Stoddard preciding. Everyone was nice, cool, no feeling of conflict, except my own interruptions and pleas for counsel, so that I could “ do whats best for my son”.

The Judge wanted me to sign an order, giving custody to my ex of my child, at which time, in a complete neurosis of my own, I pled only for legal representation about 4 times that I can recall. No, no, my pleas ignored. The Judge said in order for my son to stay at my ex’s house, in which I didn’t want my child to be at, I would have to sign my son away to a man, which I now had started just to understand, was sexually abusive with my child. I could lose my son to the system, was the suggestion.

I’m in a nightmare, I realize…what is this?

My little boy was only eight years old at the time, and at a loss of what to do. I had my job security taken from me, by my own family, terrorized at my house, and now facing the loss of my child. With nothing except defensive actions, unwarranted, unecessarily, and with absolutely no resources. Nothing.

It wasn’t until a few months later that I discovered the original complaint (at best), that the Court had considered for the initial Emergency Hearing, the action sent to me in the initial (and inadmissable) summons package. No petition for Legitimization, without an actual notice of what matter of the hearing was for.

It was a preposterous bag of bullshit, wild accusations that amounted to absoloutely nothing but repetitive, slanderous allegations from my ex, which I only found out months later, off the Cobb County Civil Court online portal. It was the initial pleading, complaint and emergency hearing

Now, not only is a Legitimization not supposed to be in an Emergency Hearing, as my summons would have it, but all issues of custody should be in a separate hearing, applying only their own Rules for Legitimization that they have in Cobb County.

As a disabled, as an indigent, and as a minor, my son and I both have been hugely neglected our rights.

1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th

to the Constitution were violated.

My son and I had a right to an attorney in such hearings. It should have run concurrent to juvenile court, the state should have been notified, safeguarding my child’s welfare, allowing for CASA to be accesible (public program for these mattters), counsel, and oversight. OCGA 15 – all of it was neglected, this is the vessel of juvenile laws that apply. OCGA 9-11 in its entirety was breached by the Courts.

But wait, there’s more.

Rules of Evidence?

None in play. Inadmissable hearsay, slander and libel, at best, is what they had, none of which was ever presented to me.

Due process?

What’s that? None afforded to me.

Infucciency of process, improper venue, lack of jurisdictional subject matter.

Every single Constitutional Right,

Civil Right,

Human and Ethic rights,

stand before me and not with me, in Civil

Case # 16-1-5754-52

Cobb County Superior Court of Georgia

Five days after this preposterous hearing, I was found in so-called “Contempt”, for picking my son up from school. Even if, we were to argue that the initial order even had a leg to stand on, the Contempt hearing should have been given to me with a 30 day notice, and there was no contempt, as I still had, under the Courts eyes, joint legal custody of my child.

So why was I in contempt? Why was I detained at the airport, in the arrivals area, waiting for my friend, in federal jurisdiction two counties away? That explanation was never given, and the Courts of Cobb County felt somehow, that they didn’t owe me one. False arrest.

I was handcuffed, they made my child turnaround and watch. I pled for them to explain to me, why?, I warned them of my Miranda Rights. They were two men, at least 250 lbs., 6’4” – they picked me up with my feet dangling in the air, injuring my shoulder, dislocating it at the rotator cuff. The men were dressed in plain clothes, and I was shoved into an unmarked vehicle. I asked them to identify themselves, I was flashed a cheap badge any person could acquire at a store, and told no names, not stating which police department they were in. I asked several times.

The day was August when all this began, but the dates don’t add up. The first day of school that year was August 1. The hearing was scheduled for August 2, as the summons arrived only that afternoon, the first day of school. I remember clearly, it was an arduous day, my son at my ex’s and he was alienating my child, and my mother helping in all of this, helping my ex take my son away? It’s like a sick joke, one which I wouldn’t even wish on my worse enemy, yet alone a child of mine? Evil mother, evil ex, evil Court system. As I sit looking pretty on this amazing platform I built on my own, everyone questioning my integrity? What for? Where’s the fruit of your work? Let’s play. What have you to show for yourself? Nada. Me? Everything! But, I digress.

Arrivng at the Sheriff’s of Cobb County, I was shoved in to solitary confinement. 36 hours later, I was given only threats if I didn’t take a vaccine shot, one which I told the nurse was against my religious beliefs, to which she responded- she would put me back in the cell without being processed, and not in the sytem…. Did I want that?

Vaccine, or solitary confinement? I had to pick my evil, which one?

I was pleading… why am I here? Miranda Rights? My right to an attorney?

I warned you, assholes, you wouldn’t get away with this!

They laughed at me, calling me Alicia Silverstone?

My case docket is confusing. The contempt or order is filed as consent order, the dates make no sense, somewhere in there it implies I was IN jail, IN custody, when the custody, not contempt hearing, was set. I’m so confused, and the more the cover-up the more they just show their corruptions.

Now where was I. Ah, yes. Was it a TB shot or tetanus shot? One of the two, it stung, I complained, the nurse threatened me with more isolation in the cell.

I was delayed again for my lack of answering all their questions, but not once did they answer mine. Why am I here? My Miranda Rights? If I’m in handcuffs in jail, then I have a right to an attorney. How dare you treat me like a criminal but afford me no rights, treating the case like a civil case. But still, any residual rights, parental rights, or any matter where a minor child’s rights are “substancially affected”, a Guardian At Litem is always appointed. In a hearing before Judge Poole on December 1st, I requested a GAL.

"Not at this Court's expense"... "Do you have $3,500?"

He looks at me, and then Dennis. To which we both responded no.

Judge Poole said he was treating this like a “divorce case”. When I asked why the contempt order, why was I having to defend myself for my basic rights? His response, to which I will never forget.

"That ship has sailed"

What ship? It’s the same case file?! I’m baffled, there looking at him as if the only person with one shred of understanding was me, that the injustice was so profuse, so obvious, that he didn’t allow me Christmas with my child. No card, no call, no gift. There was no restraining order at that time, just some illogical no contact order in a contempt hearing, filed under Custody hearing. Yes, that’s how confusing the issue is, that’s how much they simply keep the powers at play, the disenfranchised weak. Little did he, nor they know, what a mother’s will is, what one single girl can do. They underestimated what I would do, in order to establish one thing and one thing only. Justice.

Four Judges: Brantley, Stoddard, Kreeger and Poole.

Now, looking at my notes, the papers from jail said it was August 9th, but the date was August 13th and the contempt order (consent to them?) shows October 4, 2016. The hearing transaction records shows incorrect information and illegal process.

8/1/2016 Kreeger shows “No service” “OFF”.

8/2/2016 Kreeger shows “Consent” order (not contempt)

8/12/2016 Stoddard shows “Order granted” “Father has sole custody”

This is the mess I’m faced with. None of that is how it happened!

I tried on several attempt to show my “diagnosis, treatment and treatment plan” with “clear and convincing”, or “clear and compelling evidence" was it? Either way, it left it soley at the judge’s discretion, to which, presenting to them a CLEAR case (to the average person) of diagnosis, treatment and treatment plan. PTSD was clearly present, and the only reason I was in distress was due to the Court’s order, the last time I submitted anything. That was ignored, again. My rights to see my child keep getting pushed aside, and my case now, not being heard. In other words, the reason my mental health was in question was due to the fact of what they were doing to my son and I.

In my letter to Judge Poole, asking for some relief, I cited a case Freeman v State.

Freeman v State was a case in which Judge Kreeger himself ruled on as a Supreme Court of Georgia Judge. A case in which, the matter of evidence was presented, and the question of “clear and convincing” evidence v “sufficient” evidence, set precedent.

In this case, they found that “sufficient evidence” was enough to prosecute a felony murder. And that “clear and convincing evidence” is a stricter guideline. The same issue raised in Jackson v Virginia.

This is the same Judge that gave me orders to come before the Court, with “persuasive and compelling” evidence of my mental health state. When my ex said I should pursue drug court, I was told by the Judge,

“That’s not for me to decide. That’s for her to figure out”.

And I���ve tried and tried, and nothing has been good enough, sufficient, compelling or otherwise.

So I had to do what I had to do.

I answered, and complained, of course, last time I checked the document is not visable on the docket, it’s the last document entered in. April 24, 2017

Judges should have:

  • Compelled Discovery
  • Notified nature of hearing bearing protective order
  • Run concurrent to Juvenile Court
  • Given my child a GAL
  • Given me a right to confront testimony
  • Produced testimony to me
  • Right to contest
  • If order was given in which no response was given within 30 days, then a copy of said interrogatory, should be quoted verbatim. But there was no interrogatory.
  • Finding of facts and any evidence relied upon to make determination
  • Right to cross-examine
  • Court shall “state facts” upon which the continued custody is based
  • Set a comprehensive plan
  • Reserve any matter of custody for future hearing, seperate from Legitimization
  • No Legitimization package, no petition for Paternal rights
  • Set time frame within legal parameters under Juvenile courts
  • Provided indigent and disabled rights I was denied
  • Due process
  • Proper service
  • Proper notification
  • Denied access to facts which impacted my fundamental rights
  • Denied proper plan
  • Denied remedy

There’s “no complaint in which relief can be sought”. The law of the Land

Judges had:

Lack of jurisdictional powers, in subject matter, in hearing which modified an order, in federal airport jurisdiction, by motions and orders incorrectly and grossly abusive.

Conflict of interest, why was I being heard with a drug court Judge? Alternative courts, receive $9,000, so they NEEDED me to be in the alternative court, and keeping me IN drug court is what they wanted. Where’s this so-called “evidence” that drugs was an issue? Even by the Judges own comments, drugs was not something he found necessarily the issue. I’m assuming that the Judge would at least tell me, if it was. I showed my medication prescription, I went and received a second opinion in the Court’s same agency they refer people to, and had the same presciption prescribed, after my third assesment, treatment plan and treatment. Mind you, the last being a Court agency. Access to which I didn’t have until January once my Medicaid was approved, and once it was I researched and resourced on my own.

I had to make sure no stone went unturned.

Civil Court Procedure Rules

Rule 5.5 Privilage of information, witheld. Material prejudice, rather.

Rule 6.2 Reply, unless otherwise ordered (which it was not), therefore a Contempt was given preemptively.

Rule 6.3 All motions shall be decided by oral hearing EXCEPT motions not withstanding verdict. So if we apply this, then why do I have to present evidence? But this matter should have been in writing, as stipulated in its’ own rules.

Rule 6.4 Failure to make discovery and Motion to Compel Discovery

OCGA 9.11.37

(A)(i) Quote verbatim or copy AS AN EXHIBIT each interrogatory to which no response or insufficiency of reponse is provided.

Letters, improperly entered, inadmissable and slanderous, nor provided to Defendant were used as “instruments of authenticy and guarantee of facts”

Ruling were made on judges right to informal adjutication, might be argued. But facts show that there were clear laws that “precluded the judge’s decisions”, therefore the rulings do not stand, nor are they even admisable.

Did I mention that Judge Brantley, one of the Judges, the one I petitioned for an Emergency Hearing and saw with my letter stating my case, just ordered a restraining order against me and my son? That’s where we are. Restraining order given to Dennis Brown, against Vanessa Smith, allowing my son to be in that beasts hands.

Once I started digging into the Cobb County docket, I searched under pro se motions. I started unraveling the truth.

Case after case, indigent, imprisoned, maternal and otherwise the most vulnerable, were time and time again dealt the same hand. Orders being given when in jail, on failure of apperance. The irony, the gross abuse. The atrocities.

Cases where the inmate petitioned for Habeas Corpus, a plee of desperate help one uses. But the law, the rules, state that the warden, the same warden in which complaints were being filed against, were the ones that had to take down the complaint, and file on their behalf. Case dismissed for failing to meet guidelines and deadlines which is the responsability of the warden.

I found cases where petitions dismissed, for lack of proper entry, failure of appearance, or some sort of administrative bullshit, bullshit the Court didn’t follow, but followed the strictest of guidlines for inmates? Orders being entered while in detention.

Davis v Stangers Executor

“where influence is acquired and abused, or where confidence is reposed and betrayed”

Every day an inmate is incarcerated, they profit. The Judges profit from incarceration.

Now, let’s discuss term limits. Term limits on Judges “not until they retire, IMPEACHED or death.”

Is there a reason I’ve been fearful, would you say?

Upon reviewing the Civil Court on Salaries law, I discovered amazing things.

Incumbents must run consecutive terms or all salaries of Judges are affected. What’s the salary MANDATED by OCGA? $169,000, and $189,900 for Senior Judges. We get a bonus for alternative courts here. Drug courts being one of them.

I checked Vital Stats, the only (so-called official) site with elected officials’ salaries are displayed.

Stoddard and Kreeger, both Seniors and having sat on the Supreme Court of Georgia, reflected $28,000 and $38,000, respectively, as their salaries. A far cry from what the Civil Court Salaries reflects.

Where they breaking the law and making less money? I remember as a District Aide for the Florida House of Representatives I made about that much, around $29,000, as a young, entry level position at the age of 23.

Upon looking at the rap sheet of these Judges, I came across some interesting facts.

Judge Stoddard had announced his retirement in 2012, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC). A 22 year sitting judge. 2015 the Civil Court Salaries set new legislation that all Judges salaries would drop after a consecutive term of an incumbent had been served.

Upon checking the Supervisor of Elections records for Judicial seats 2015-2016, I saw no write in, no announcement, no record of Stoddard - Kreeger, or Brantley. How are these Judges running? They are elected officials after all. Incumbent or not, they should be announced. At what point in history did we allow sitting Judges to just take their benches? I might have that answer.

Georgia Correctional Industries Administration

Georgia has the highest incarceration rate in the United States, at a staggering 7.4% of all adults. That’s compared to the national average of 2.6%, Texas being the second highest at 4.7%, followed by New Jersey at 4.6%.

Georgia OCGA 42-10-2 defines the public and private interest of the State with its’ correctional institutions.

“There is created, as a body corporate and politic, an instrumentality and public corporation of this state to be known as the "Georgia Correctional Industries Administration." It shall have perpetual existence. In such name it may contract and be contracted with, bring and defend actions, implead and be impleaded, and complain and defend in any and all courts.”

What does that mean to a person like you and me? If I read, and interpret (that is what the law is after all, to be interpreted, no?) what I understand is that the "Georgia Correctional Industries Administration" is the body that brings actions, complaints and so called defends the legal system. And imprisons us, lest not forget. After all it’s a correctional institute.