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Dubose v. Dubose

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

September 12, 2014

Stuart C. Dubose
Allison T. Dubose

Released for Publication September 15, 2015.

Page 234

Appeal from Clarke Circuit Court. (DR-08-30), Donald L. McMillan, Judge.[*]

Dubose v. Dubose, 132 So.3d 17 (Ala.Civ.App., 2013)

For Appellant: James M. Gaines and Nancy S. Gaines of Gaines & Gaines, L.L.C., Magnolia Springs.

Submitted on appellant's brief only.

All the judges concur.


Page 235


This case involving the 55 divorce of Stuart C. Dubose (" the husband" ) and Allison T. Dubose (" the wife" ) has been before this court multiple times. The complete procedural history is not relevant to the issues raised in this appeal.[1] The " Consolidated Final [Judgment]" in this case was entered on March 3, 2014. The husband timely appealed from that judgment, which incorporated previous orders of the Clarke Circuit Court (" the trial court" ).

Because of the jurisdictional defects in the previous orders, which are discussed in the two earlier appeals in this case, this is the first opportunity this court has had to set forth the facts adduced at the evidentiary hearings. In their respective testimonies, the husband and the wife had little upon which they agreed, and the testimony often was contentious. The evidence relevant to the issues before us in this appeal indicates the following.[2] The husband and the wife married each other for the second time in January 1988. In 2008, the wife

Page 236

filed a complaint seeking to divorce the husband. At the time the trial court entered an August 2009 order purporting to divorce the parties but retaining jurisdiction to decide all other matters related to the divorce in a subsequent proceeding, only one of the parties' three children was a minor. That child, born in 1992, has since reached the age of majority.

The wife testified that she earned $325 a day as an independent contractor performing title searches. She said her monthly income was dependent on the number of days she worked each month. Records submitted into evidence indicate that she earned an average gross income of approximately $5,000 a month.

The husband testified that he has been disabled since 2003; according to the husband, he was injured when the recliner in which he was sitting collapsed, ejecting him and consequently breaking his back and neck. At the time of that accident, the husband had a law practice, operating out of two offices in southwest Alabama. Since the accident, the husband said, he has been in constant pain. The medications he takes for the pain, the husband said, resulted in his becoming " deeply depressed, apparently paranoid, and in need of psychiatric treatment." The husband testified that he was unable to work at all for the first 18 months after the accident, after which he was able to work only on a limited basis, and that he was unable to continue in his law practice.

Despite his assertion that he was disabled at the time, the husband ran for circuit judge in 2006. The husband won what appeared to be a hotly contested election[3] to the circuit bench and took office in January 2007. However, while serving as a circuit judge, the husband was removed from the bench and was disbarred from the practice of law. At a November 30, 2009, hearing, the husband's attorney asked him whether something had happened in the late spring or early summer of 2008 " that sort of interrupted your life." The husband responded: " I was kidnapped at a doctor's appointment." The record indicates that, actually, federal law-enforcement officials arrested the husband, who was subsequently convicted of federal offenses and imprisoned until a few weeks before the November 30, 2009, hearing.[4]

The husband testified that because he suffers from debilitating pain as a result of the injuries he received in the 2003 accident, and because he has been disbarred from the practice of law, he is unable to earn an income and has no money from any source. He said that he has not attempted to obtain employment since leaving prison and that he relies on money from his parents to pay for food. He presented tax documents for the years after 2008 indicating that he had no income or that he had insufficient income to be required to file federal tax returns. The husband's father, Melton Dubose (" Melton" ) also testified that the husband has debt of more than $350,000, including mortgages and tax liabilities.[5]

Page 237

On the other hand, the wife introduced evidence indicating that, from 2006 through 2008, the husband had deposited $1,985,000 into various bank accounts in addition to the salary he had deposited into his business account. The husband's testimony regarding the nearly $2 million was vague and evasive. He denied knowing the source of all of the money, asserting that loan proceeds accounted for some of the deposits. He claimed he did not " remember what particulars were done with any of the transactions that took place" in 2007--a year in which he deposited $1,121,374.90 apart from his salary. When the wife's attorney asked the husband to read from a loan document regarding when he received certain loan proceeds, the husband said that he did not know what the wife's attorney was talking about and that the attorney would " have to point it out to me," and he refused to read from the document. The husband testified that, in 2004 and 2005, he had withdrawn substantial amounts of money from one account to pay " for the expense of the farm, the offices, my medical bills, my family." He said he also had paid at least $200,000 in attorney fees and that some of the deposits about which the wife had introduced evidence were " double counting." The husband did not provide a further explanation as to the " double counting," however. Much later, when it was mentioned that one of the husband's boats had been sold, the husband stated that he had spent " probably a quarter [of] a million on boat racing, and boat stuff too. ... That's where a good [$]200,[000, $]300,000 worth of money went to." The husband said that he had had four boats until 2007.

The husband also acknowledged that, after 2006, he paid a significant amount of money for coins. He first said that he used money from various accounts to buy the coins " to add to my collection." He then said that he was attempting to avoid the crash of the stock market by investing in coins. Later, the husband testified that he also cashed in the life insurance policies that he " knew [he] owned" to purchase coins.

The husband testified that he had been collecting coins since 1963 and that, before 2006, the collection was worth " at least $300,000 to $400,000." He said that he purchased approximately $450,000 worth of coins from 2006 through 2008. The wife presented documentary evidence indicating that, from 2006 through 2008, the husband had purchased approximately $950,000 in coins, making the collection worth between $1.2 to $1.4 million. The husband testified that the wife's figures were inaccurate, saying many of the deliveries of coins he had purchased were sent back.

At the time of the 2009 hearing, the bulk of the coin collection could not be located. The wife testified that, when she left the marital residence in March 2008, the coins were locked in a safe to which only the husband and she knew the combination. When she returned to the marital residence about two weeks later, the wife said, the coins were gone. She alleged that the husband had hidden the coins.

The husband denied any knowledge of what had become of the coins. He testified that he had left the marital residence the day before the wife in March 2008 and that all of his coin collection was in the house at that time. According to the husband, when he returned to the house he found that both his coin and gun collections were gone. The husband testified that some of the missing guns had belonged

Page 238

to his father. Evidence indicated that agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (" ATF" ) had seized coins and firearms from the house where the husband was living in the spring of 2008. However, an inventory of the coins seized indicated that most of the husband's collection was not among the items the ATF seized.

The evidence also indicated that all of the real property and vehicles were deeded or titled in the husband's name or in the name of the husband's law firm. The husband also disputed the wife's testimony that the parties had had a " family" banking account, testifying that there had not been a " family" account. Like the real property and the vehicles, the husband said, the account was in his name only, adding that it was his money.

In the final consolidated judgment, entered on March 3, 2014, the trial court found that the husband

" claims he is without any funds whatsoever. He continually denies he has or has access to the approximately $1.3 million in gold and other precious metal coins which this court does not find to be believable testimony. Additionally, although the [husband] claims he had been disabled for the past several years, he did run for circuit judge and was elected during this 'disability' period. Further, evidence was presented to this court from the [husband]'s personal checking account, first listed in his name, then Cattle Farms account and the same account being Circuit Judge account with the then Merchants Bank from a period of time of 2005-2008 to have approximately $2,302,234.39 in deposits. ... The [husband] claims these sums of money were simply 'double countings' but cannot show any evidence of this to the court."

The trial court took these large amounts of money into account when dividing the marital property, saying that it fashioned the property division " to offset the [husband's] having this property." If the husband had hidden or concealed the coins, money, guns, etc., the trial court wrote, a judgment lien was now placed on those items and the parties were to divide them equally. A number of other enumerated assets were to be sold and the proceeds awarded to the wife, including any livestock owned by the husband or the husband's limited-liability company, Stave Creek Farm, LLC (" Stave Creek" ). Melton had testified that Stave Creek was owned by the husband, and Melton did not claim any ownership in that company.

In addition, the wife was awarded the marital residence, and she was free to sell that residence if she chose. The wife also was awarded the 12 acres of land that adjoined the marital residence; 2 additional parcels of land described in the judgment, totaling 190 acres, if that property had not been foreclosed upon; and property situated along the Tombigbee River. The trial court also awarded the wife several parcels of land that made up what the parties said was the " family farm," where the husband was living. That property was appraised at approximately $153,000. The trial court explicitly stated that the wife was awarded the farm " to attempt to offset the coins and guns hidden by [the husband]."

The husband was awarded the parcels of real property he owned with his father and his share of the property known as Dubose Family Farms, LLC (" Dubose Family Farms" ). A final parcel of property was to be sold to pay the existing balance on the loan existing on that property. The husband was ...

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