|Photo Credit: Erik S. Lesser for The New York Times|
My friend at Stoopid Housewives is reporting that the person behind Judge Lane’s bench in the last episode of RHOA was Margaret Dorsey. This explains a few things but not everything. First of all Margaret Dorsey is a judicial officer who performs some duties as a part-time magistrate. There are limits as to what she can perform as described below.
Judicial Officers do not hear contested matters that will result in a final decision unless both sides consent to their hearing the case. They also do not hear contempt cases unless both sides consent. The requirement that both sides expressly consent to use a Judicial Officer in a contested hearing results in a waiver of the right to raise the issue on appeal. In order to preserve the right to raise the issue on appeal, the party would have to object to the use of the Judicial Officer at the time of the hearing. Bennett, supra at 715, 463 S.E.2d at 158-159. By requiring the parties to agree to use the Judicial Officer before the hearing takes place, the Family Division prevents the use of the Judicial Officer from becoming an issue. Actions taken by the Judicial Officers may be subject to review by the assigned Family Court judge. Rooney v. State, 217 Ga. App. 850, 851, 459 S.E.2d 601, 603 (1995). See also O.C.G.A. §9-11-60. (source Fulton County Website )
Keep reading after the jump for what this all means.
|Photo Credit : Bravo TV|
Essentially what the judicial officer does is to oversee mediation processes during 30-day and 60-day conferences. As I previously posted here court documents indicate that this process continues to be ongoing for Sheree and Bob. The odd thing is that the 30 day, 60 day and 120 day conferences are usually held PRIOR TO A DIVORCE not afterward. But perhaps they occurring during the modification process as well. The 30 day and 60 day conferences are generally led by a Judicial Officer, however they DO NOT GENERALLY OCCUR IN A COURTROOM. So this does not explain the odd situation of the judicial officer sitting at the judges bench. Or the hokey bailiff scene in which Sheree was called in. It could explain why Phaedra Parks was not shown on ANY court documents at the attorney of record. A status meeting is not a hearing and is generally held in a conference room. I suppose Sheree could have been coerced into bringing Phaedra into a status meeting. It does not explain the whole modification of child support papers that Sheree was served with on the show. THAT would most definitely need to go before a JUDGE.
So if Stoopid Housewives is correct, and I have no reason to disbelieve that site, then what we saw was a 30-day status meeting held for television purposes in a courtroom. And even THAT didn’t happen on the TV version because as soon as Bob filed a contempt charge with the court, it was beyond the jurisdiction of the judicial officer unless both parties were willing to waive appellate rights, which Bob would never do.
The fact remains there was no hearing because in order to have a hearing you must have a judge. The fact also remains that Phaedra was not the attorney of record for any hearing. And the fact remains that this proceeding both the real and the fake version is unresolved and a 120 day hearing is on the docket, with Judge Lane for next month.
As for the court’s statement to Stoopid Housewives that the decisions of the judicial officer are “legally binding” is completely irrelevant as all proceedings of the status meeting stalled the moment Bob filed the petition for contempt. Nothing occurred other than setting up a hearing, for a later date. Also, I briefly searched for photo of Margaret Dorsey but became bored as it is happy hour on a Friday night here in Atlanta. I am relying soley on Stoopid Housewives’ information being accurate here. I do know that she is listed as a judicial officer on the Fulton County website, so it seems likely that she was the person on camera.
Is that clear as mud to y’all? Sorry. It’s a bit complicated by legalities. Tell me what you think!
In other news, there is a great story on Bob Whitfield and his recording studio here.