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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Newsweek bonds with child-abuser in Tasergate non-scandal

I've blogged quite a bit before about Tasergate (here and here), but the newest hatchet job on Sarah Palin comes from Newsweek (h/t Jim Geraghty at NRO's Campaign Spot). Newsweek reports that then private-citizen Sarah Palin, her sister Molly, and their family were cautioned by the judge in Molly's divorce case not to "disparage" Molly's ex-husband, Alaska Trooper Mike "Tasered-My-Kid" Wooten.

I have absolutely zero confidence that Newsweek's report is complete or accurate, but here's its gist (bracketed portion by Newsweek):

Court documents show that Judge Suddock was disturbed by the alleged attacks by Palin and her family members on Wooten's behavior and character. "Disparaging will not be tolerated — it is a form of child abuse," the judge told a settlement hearing in October 2005, according to typed notes of the proceedings. The judge added: "Relatives cannot disparage either. If occurs [sic] the parent needs to set boundaries for their relatives."

Of course, I don't know Judge Suddock. I do know that family law judges frequently try to put the brakes on both sides when disputes are generating lots of passionate words. And I agree that, in general, divorcing spouses and their families need to be aware of the effect of their statements on minor children, whose best interests are family judges' top priority.

Were I to guess, however, I suspect that Judge Suddock would agree with me and most Americans that shocking a 10-year-old child with a Taser — as Trooper Wooten admittedly did — is considerably more abusive than subjecting the child to one parent's mere words, even "disparaging words," about the other.

Did Newsweek ask the judge for his views on that? Does the record of this divorce case include anything from which we might infer his views? Like the details of the domestic violence order, which was based on a court finding of an immediate threat of irreparable harm if Trooper Wooten didn't stay a specified distance from his ex-wife and her family?

It seems that Newsweek is happy to report on Wooten's and his union's allegations about Sarah Palin's sister and family, none of which amount to more than their expressing fright and dismay about Wooten's threats and misconduct. Where's Newsweek's reporting of the rest of their highly detailed, thoroughly blood-chilling allegations about Wooten, even beyond the ones he admitted to or was found by Col. Julia Grimes to have lied about in his disciplinary proceedings? After all, they formed part of the basis for the opinions that the family was being told to suppress; are they not also newsworthy, then? A sample:

Molly described several incidences where Mike has been drinking and driving or driving while intoxicated. Mike called her at 3:00 AM on 3/26/05 or 3/27/05 and asked her to pick him up at Paul Cossette's house. When she got there he relayed that he had been at the Mug Shot Saloon and had a confrontation with another customer. Cossette had to separate the two. Mike then asked the bartender to have the other customer removed and the bartender declined. Mike than showed them his AST badge and implied they were illegally serving alcohol to an intoxicated person. Mike then stayed at the bar and continued to drink. When Mike left, someone from the bar reported him as a drunk driver. Mike was stopped by Trp. Dave Herrell and given a ride home. Molly later told the story to Trp. Rob "Bubba" Cox who confronted Trp. Herrell. Trp. Herrell told Trp. Cox that Mike had been drinking but seemed alright so he gave him a ride home to Cossette's.

Molly also said that on Super Bowl Sunday Mike took her son, Peyton, to a wrestling event at the Sullivan Arena. Peyton told her that he was drinking Crown Royal while driving and also poured it into a water bottle so he could drink at the event. Later that evening, Mike and Peyton picked her up at a friends' house. At that time Mike was very intoxicated and she finished the drive home. Peyton later told her that he was scared because Mike had been drinking and driving.

Recently Molly went to Crosswind Lake with Mike to ride snowmachines. Mike drank at least three beers during the drive home. They passed a trooper near Glennallen who was making a traffic stop. When they passed the trooper, Mike lifted the beer he was drinking and said, "Have a nice day." Molly also said that in the past Mike has gone to neighborhood barbecues at Adrian and Marilyn Lane's house driving his patrol car. Mike would then drink at the barbecue and drive the patrol car home. She does not believe he was intoxicated when he's done this but the Lanes have told her they do not think it is appropriate.

And does Newsweek have an opinion on whether threatening to "put a f**king lead bullet" through a child's grandfather's brain — a threat made by Wooten against Sarah's and Molly's father, Chuck Heath, and reported by the Alaska press to also have been verified by the investigation — might be, among other things, abusive to the child?

Does Newsweek actually think anyone in America is going to fault Sarah Palin, or her sister or anyone else in their family, for expressing a less-than-flattering opinion of Trooper Wooten based on this and his other incredibly reckless, dangerous, and/or illegal conduct?

Please, please, please: Obama supporters, devote as much energy as you possibly can to defending this monster, this miscreant, who's still wearing a badge!

Newsweek: Best friend of actual child abusers. Foe of those who love children. And all, of course, in the devoted service of The One.

Posted by Beldar at 12:25 AM in 2008 Election, McCain, Obama, Palin, Politics (2008) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Newsweek bonds with child-abuser in Tasergate non-scandal and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» Palin Smear Tracker from Sierra Faith

Tracked on Sep 10, 2008 2:06:35 AM

» Politics. Always it's politics. from Silicon Valley Redneck

Tracked on Sep 10, 2008 10:38:04 AM


Tracked on Sep 11, 2008 3:52:01 PM

» When Is a Story Not a News Story? from third world county

Tracked on Sep 10, 2008 12:07:23 PM


(1) slarrow made the following comment | Sep 10, 2008 12:46:07 AM | Permalink

I cannot believe that Br'er Fox keeps throwing Br'er Rabbit into that brier patch.

(2) arb made the following comment | Sep 10, 2008 12:52:58 AM | Permalink

From those wonderful folks who brought you the (nonexistent) Koran flushing scandal.

(3) Milhouse made the following comment | Sep 10, 2008 1:19:01 AM | Permalink

Wow! Can you spell ultra vires, boys and girls?

Seriously, assuming this report to be true, that judge is so far out of line it's not funny. There is no way that he has the power to order anyone not to report to the authorities a threat that they perceive against their safety.

In fact even the story doesn't allege that he ordered Sarah Palin not to do anything. She wasn't a party to the dispute, and he had no jurisdiction to give her orders. All he did was order her sister to "set boundaries" for her, as if that were within the sister's power, and to threaten to abuse his powers if the family didn't obey those "boundaries". Regardless of anything else, if this report is true then this judge needs to be removed from the bench.

(4) Milhouse made the following comment | Sep 10, 2008 1:20:59 AM | Permalink

Seriously, and without specific reference to this story, is ultra vires completely meaningless when it comes to the USAn judiciary? Are there any limits USAn judges recognise to their authority?

(5) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 10, 2008 1:43:45 AM | Permalink

Milhouse, family court judges have to do a lot of head-knocking. Lots of times, in order to avoid looking like they're favoring one side over the other, they will fuss at both sides. I have no confidence -- in fact I highly doubt -- that Newsweek's reporters would include evidence of him chastising Wooten or his supporters/friends/families.

Ultimately, the extent of his power comes down to dividing the joint property of the spouses, possibly providing for post-divorce support of one spouse by the other, and making orders for child custody and support. He can make ancillary orders that bind the parties and, sometimes, non-parties too, but they have to be related to those core functions.

This, though, even at worst for Sarah Palin and her sister and their family, was an instance of "jaw-boning," the making of vague threats intended to secure voluntary restraint. That's a valuable tool in a family judge's arsenal. So I'm reluctant to come down too hard on this particular judge without seeing the whole record.

(6) Phelps made the following comment | Sep 10, 2008 11:16:55 AM | Permalink

In my (limited) experience that seems to be a pretty standard instruction. It's pretty much along the lines of, "Yes, he's a bastard, but he's also the kid's the father, so try not the point out his bastardness unless it is really necessary. If I think that you are running him down in front of the kids just because you don't like him, I'll do something about it."

(7) Linus made the following comment | Sep 10, 2008 11:19:58 AM | Permalink

This is such a non-story. "Sister's Divorce Was Contentious! Dog Bites Man! The Sun Rises in the East! Only at Newsweak!"

(8) Cecil Turner made the following comment | Sep 10, 2008 12:11:08 PM | Permalink

The hand-wringers are right about one thing: the big issue here is abuse of power. And the biggest is why Wooten was threatening Palin's dad (lest he provide a divorce attorney). Last I checked, an attorney was a Constitutionally-guaranteed right. And here an officer of the law is using his office (and implying the use of his sidearm) to deprive someone of that right. The rest is window-dressing (though it all adds evidence to support the same picture of abuse of office) . . . he needed to be fired. If Monegan couldn't see that, he needed to be fired, too. Hey, whaddya know? Good job, Gov.

(9) elizabeth made the following comment | Sep 10, 2008 2:43:03 PM | Permalink

If she ( Mrs. Palin)supposedly abused her power what exactly do we call what he did??

(10) Whitehall made the following comment | Sep 10, 2008 5:22:20 PM | Permalink

Another good post.

I hate to say this, Beldar, but you're my favorite lawyer.

Is that damning with faint praise?

(11) stan made the following comment | Sep 11, 2008 6:53:52 AM | Permalink


You might want to have a crack at Joe Biden saying that Palin's policies on energy are "asinine".

he criticized the United States for a lack of green jobs, "because we have an asinine [energy] policy -- we have a Sarah Palin policy."

(12) V . Moore made the following comment | Sep 16, 2008 1:46:32 AM | Permalink

Enjoyed the read

(13) blackton made the following comment | Sep 23, 2008 4:31:04 PM | Permalink

If these things are true I have no idea how or why this guy is still a cop, but isn't this Internal Affairs responsibility? As such, how is this national news? It only became national news because of allegations that Gov. Palin fired the commissioner for not firing the trooper, and the only reason she sought to fire the trooper is because he was her former brother in law. Is there any other cases Gov. Palin involved herself in Internal Affairs of the State PD? If not, and if she overstepped her role the public has a right to know. This is the issue.

(14) blackton made the following comment | Sep 23, 2008 5:08:55 PM | Permalink

By the way, Tasergate is a really dumb idea. Most people will assume it was Gov. Palin ordering someone be tasered, few people are going to go through the trouble of realizing it refers to the brother in law (who is still a cop, and who Sarah Palin did not try to get fired, event though he deserved to be, hence there is no scandal but maybe she should have tried to get him fired....)
Troopergate is a pretty nonjudgmental term, and a totally clueless person is just a likely to think Palin defended a trooper.

(15) Zorro for the Common Good made the following comment | Sep 24, 2008 7:03:25 AM | Permalink

Can someone explain this to me like I'm a six year old? If Monegan was not fired based on his refusal to further discipline Wooten, then what is the relevance of Wooten's behavior?

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