Small towns can be very incestuous. Everyone knows everyone or is only one or two degrees of separation away from knowing everyone. This can pose challenges in legal disputes, for example, in Family Court – especially when a community is so small that it only has two family court judges and a handful of attorneys who all drink from the same well and seem to be more interested in protecting their legal clout and political interests than they are in protecting their clients and serving justice.
This appears to be the case in Clarksburg, West Virginia. If you have been following the ongoing case of judicial malfeasance in Harrison County, you know that Lt. Col. Joel Kirk and his children have suffered and continued to suffer egregious abuses at the hands of Judge Lori Betler Jackson and Tina Kirk’s attorneys, Thomas G. Smith, Jamison “Jami” Cooper and Afton Hutson Aman.
Given the evidence [GAL report link] that documents Tina’s unfitness to parent, Judge Jackson would have to be deaf, dumb and blind or dangerously anti-father biased or arrogantly corrupt to give any unsupervised access to this known child abuser, but that is precisely what Judge Jackson has done. As for Tina’s attorneys, well, one could argue that they’re “just doing their jobs,” but, in reality, they are aiding and abetting a documented child abuser in her efforts to continue to abuse the children and bleed the Colonel dry. To their credit, Smith, Cooper and Aman did try to deliver the Kirk children from their abuser by offering to sell them to the Lt. Col., their father, for a tidy $144,000 apiece, but that seems more reptilian than decent. [Children for Sale link]
Judge Cornelia Reep originally presided over the Kirk divorce and custody dispute. She reviewed the evidence and watched the video from the night of June 28, 2009
and gave full custody to the Lt. Col. Judge Reep stated that, while she was no mental health expert, it was clear to her that Tina Kirk had serious mental health issues as well as a drinking problem. She also granted a motion to restrict all access to the children against Tina in August 2009 [link] after she attacked the children in front of the Guardian Ad Litem, Mary Elizabeth “Beth” Snead, and the children’s therapist.
It would seem that when it became clear to Tina Kirk that she would be unable to play victim and manipulate Judge Reep, she pulled a game changer. She fired her initial divorce attorney and very strategically changed lawyers.
She retained Thomas G. Smith, a personal injury attorney, Afton Hutson Aman, a colleague of Smith’s and another personal injury lawyer, and Jamison Cooper, yet another personal injury attorney who operates her own firm with her husband (who has also appeared in court on behalf of Tina) in Bridgeport, West Virginia.
Why would an individual in a complex, high-conflict divorce and custody case hire personal injury attorneys? One would think a person in Tina’s precarious position would seek the services of family law attorneys instead of personal injury attorneys.
As it turns out, Judge Reep represented Thomas G. Smith in his divorce when she was a practicing attorney. Subsequently, Judge Reep recused herself. Enter Judge Lori Betler Jackson.
How did Tina Kirk know to hire Thomas Smith? Tina is not a Harrison County native. Presumably, she is an outsider to the area, just like the Lt. Col. Who advised Tina that Judge Reep would likely recuse herself if she hired Smith? Did someone assure Tina that Judge Lori Betler Jackson would be favorable to her, ignore much of the evidence and custody evaluations and hand the children and most of the Lt. Col.’s assets to her on a silver platter? Additionally, who is paying Tina Kirk’s legal fees? The Lt. Col. isn’t paying them and Smith, Cooper and Aman have refused to turn over her financials. Something stinks in Harrison County West Virginia and it’s not the back 40.
Ladies and Gents, the Real Housewives of Harrison County, West Virginia
An anonymous source recently contacted Lt. Col. Kirk and stated that at least one of the women in these photographs, Celeste Clutter, attended Roosevelt-Wilson High School with Lori Betler Jackson and is a very close, long standing family friend of Judge Jackson and other members of the Betler clan who also attended Roosevelt-Wilson High. According to this source, the Kirk divorce and Jackson’s involvement in it has been quite the topic of conversation amongst this group of women for the last few years.
If you examine Ms. Clutter’s Facebook friends page, there are several Betlers, including Lori Betler Jackson’s brother, Doug, who is a police officer and Kristi Betler Schwartz who is believed to be Lori Jackson’s sister. Allegedly, Catherine Goings, another Roosevelt-Wilson alumn and vice-mayor of Clarksburg, also runs in this circle of women. Does the woman who works in the Harrison County prosecutor’s office who had Tina’s assault charges dropped run with this crowd as well? Rumor has it that she does.
Ms. Clutter is Facebook friends with David Stout, Tina’s latest boyfriend. Ms. Clutter is also Facebook friends with Andy McMunn, partner in the firm Smith, McMunn & Glover, which employs Thomas G. Smith and Afton Hutson Aman. Andy McMunn is Facebook friends with Jamison Cooper who is Facebook friends with Mary Elizabeth “Beth” Snead, the Kirk children’s Guardian Ad Litem. Snead now seems to be backpedaling from her original position when she drafted the report, which was written before Tina retained Jamison Cooper’s services.
If Tina was indeed advised by a friend or friends of Lori Betler Jackson to hire Thomas Smith in order to get into Jackson’s court, then these photos raise even more questions.
Who are the women in these photos and what is their relationship, if any, with Lori Betler Jackson?
How many of these women are divorced?
If some of these women are divorcees, how many were represented by Lori Betler Jackson when she was a practicing attorney?
How many of their divorces, if any, has Jackson presided over as judge?
Did Jackson perpetrate injustices similar to those she has perpetrated on Lt. Col. Kirk and the Kirk children on their ex-husbands, if any, and children?
Does Jackson preside over some incestuous, small town “Divorce Club” in which ladies who are “in the circle” are given preferential rulings in the face of West Virginia laws and statutes?
Are the attorneys in Harrison County more interested in currying favor with sitting judges than they are in protecting their clients from abusive partners and children from abusive parents?
How far does the judicial corruption in Harrison County, West Virginia go?
This is all speculation, but even a cursory view of the Facebook friends pages of the individuals below show numerous mutual friends and connections. Just in case these individuals make their Facebook accounts private, AVFM has taken screen captures of these pages.
Celeste Clutter http://www.facebook.com/celeste.clutter
Mary Elizabeth Snead http://www.facebook.com/beth.snead.58
Afton Hutson Aman http://www.facebook.com/afteezy
Jami Cooper http://www.facebook.com/Jami.H.Cooper
Kristi Betler Schwartz http://www.facebook.com/kristi.b.schwartz
Doug Betler http://www.facebook.com/doug.betler
David Stout http://www.facebook.com/david.stout.5439
David N Tina http://www.facebook.com/mspinkyt
Catherine Goings http://www.facebook.com/catherine.goings.3
Michael Clutter http://www.facebook.com/michael.clutter.520
Julie Perine http://www.facebook.com/julie.perine
[box type=”note” icon=”none”]Publishers note: AVfM now makes an appeal to the citizens of Harrison County, West Virginia for information regarding any of the questions posed by Dr. Palmatier in this article. The safety of the Kirk children continues to hang in the balance, and we could use your help in identifying the source of the obvious conflict of interest guiding decisions from Lori B Jackson’s courtroom. If you have any information that would be helpful to this case, please make contact with Paul Elam at firstname.lastname@example.org. You need not disclose your identity. AVfM will protect your anonymity. Thank you. PE.[/box]