Mississippi Sued Again and it’s from unlikely Plaintiffs; Multiple Spouses, Marry a Computer, Same-Sex Marriage and the U.S. Constitution.

Mississippi has been sued in the Northern District Federal Court by self-proclaimed polygamists and a machinist. (*A “machinist” sexually objectifies tools and/or implements). Federal Lawsuit re: Polygamy.

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One of the Plaintiffs wants to marry a MacBook. *(already married her/it in New Mexico)

Polygamy, the practice of having more than one wife or husband at the same time, made infamous by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and rooted in some Biblical precedent, is nonetheless unconstitutional.

Nearly 140 years ago Reynolds v. United States, (U.S. Sup. Ct. 1879), was decided and is still good law. Mr. Reynolds was convicted of bigamy, a crime in the territory of Utah, sentenced to two years hard labor and a $500 fine. At the trial, Mr. Reynolds sought to have a jury instruction that his religious belief allowed, or even required, multiple marriages at the same time and since he was practicing his religion he could not also be guilty of  a crime, citing the First Amendment (freedom of religion).

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, “here, as a law…of the United States, it is provided that plural marriages shall not be allowed. Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government could exist only in name under such circumstances. Id. at 166-167.

  • The bottom line in Reynolds is you can believe what you want, but you may not be able to practice, affirmatively, what you believe.

Fast forward to 2017, the now-pending lawsuit in Mississippi is seeking to prevent gay marriages, raising the constitutional Lemon Test of prohibition on government favoring one religious view over another.

The Plaintiffs argue that if gay marriage is legal, then polygamy marriage should be legal, as well as the right to marry things.

The Lemon Test details legislation concerning religion;

  1. The statute must have a secular legislative purpose. (Purpose Prong)
  2. The primary effect of the statute must not advance nor inhibit religion. (Effect Prong)
  3. The statute must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion. (Entanglement Prong)
    Factors.
    1. Character and purpose of institution benefited.
    2. Nature of aid the state provides.
    3. Resulting relationship between government and religious authority.

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The above treats this lawsuit as something to consider, however, it is not. The Plaintiffs are not residents of Mississippi, though have visited. One Plaintiff married his computer in New Mexico and is now complaining because Mississippi won’t recognize it as a marriage. Another Plaintiff, not a resident of Mississippi, wants to marry multiple persons, also not residents from Mississippi, in Pontotoc, and was refused a license to marry multiple persons at the same time. One Plaintiff, not a Mississippi resident, was engaged to a man who was “mean to her,” so she chose to “self-identify as a lesbian and legally marriage (sic) a woman only to discover it was ‘hell on earth.’ She now self-identifies as a polygamists” and demands the Government and Mississippi recognize it.

This lawsuit is  a farce. The arguments are nonsense. The Clarion-Ledger reporting this as if it is remotely newsworthy, which is how I viewed the article initially, is misleading.

This will be dismissed so fast he won’t have time to reboot his wife…er…computer.

Matthew Thompson is an attorney that did a face-palm when reading the actual complaint.

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The WISDOM of Solomon; NOT splitting the baby.

“Splitting the Baby” is a phrase that is tossed around everyday.  Its use refers to making decisions that leave both parties unhappy.

download.jpgI have even heard a Judge say that if both parties leave unhappy then they must have gotten the result right. There may be some instances where this holds true, however there was no splitting of the baby in the Biblical account of Solomon’s decision. King Solomon’s decision was between two competing mothers embroiled in a custody dispute over a child, each claiming the child to be their own. 1 Kings 3:16 KJV

In the Biblical Custody Battle, King Solomon was faced with one infant and two mothers.  Solomon did not know which woman was the child’s real mother, so he arranged a test to see if he could determine the true mother.  In Solomon’s case, the real mother was willing to let the other woman have her child in order to spare the child’s life, while the other woman (whose own baby previously died) agreed with King Solomon that the baby should be cut in half, with each woman receiving a portion.  The real mother in King Solomon’s court was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice of giving the child up, so that the child would survive.   The Holy Bible, King James Version, 1 Kings 3:16.

Splitting the baby may be a solution if it’s not an actual baby. However, the true wisdom of Solomon was that he did NOT split the baby.

Matthew Thompson is a Child Custody attorney in Mississippi and has quoted the Bible as authority in legal arguments.

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Child Testimony and You

Whether to use child testimony is a difficult issue to resolve between parents and attorneys involved in child custody cases. Children know more than you think and also may have an opinion. However, child testimony is discouraged in most instances…

“We reiterate that parents in a divorce proceedingimgres.jpg should if at all possible refrain from calling any of the children of their marriage, of tender years at least, as witnesses, and counsel should advise their clients against doing so except in the most exigent cases.”- Jethrow v. Jethrow

So, do the children testify or not? For Family Law cases the leading authority is Jethrow vs. Jethrow, 571 So.2d 270 (Miss. 1990). This case lays the groundwork that the Court should use when assessing child testimony. Different Courts and different Judges apply Jethrow in varying ways, but the basic premise is, as follows;

  • A child witnesses of tender years, 12 and under for testimony purposes, testifying is subject to the discretion of the Judge. 
  • Before allowing such testimony the Judge “should satisfy himself that the child has the ability to perceive and remember events, to understand and answer questions intelligently, and to comprehend and accept the importance of truthfulness.”

Before excluding the testimony of a child witness of tender years in a divorce proceeding, the chancellor at a minimum should follow the procedure required by Crownover v. Crownover, 33 Ill.App.3rd 327, 337 N.E.2d 56 (1975):

  • The first hurdle is whether the child is competent to testify.
  • The Judge should confer in camera (meaning in the Judge’s chambers/office) with the child and determine whether or not the child’s testimony should be heard
  • The Judge has considerable discretion in conducting proceedings of this type, meaning it’s the judge’s decision.
  • The court should not, however, reject outright proposed testimony of a child in custody proceedings, where the omission of such crucial testimony might be harmful to the child’s best interests.
  • The trial court should take great pains to have an in camera conference with the child to determine the competency of the child,
  • as well as the competency of any evidence which the child might present.
  • The court should also then determine whether the best interests of the child would be served by permitting her to testify, or
  • Whether the child should be sheltered from testifying and being subjected to a vigorous cross-examination.
  • The Judge should report the essential material matters developed at the in camera conference on the record.
  • The Court should state the reasons for allowing or disallowing the testimony of the child, and
  • The Court should note the factual information which the court developed from the conference with the child which would be considered by the court in its ultimate determinations in the case.

A child testifying should be avoided if at all possible.

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Divorce, Child Custody & Child Support, Alimony, Contempt, Modification, Youth Court, Adoption and Appeals.

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