Saturday, January 2, 2021

Protected or Prisoner Part 4: Balch & Bingham and the lies they’ve told

By Apryl Marie Fogel

Image source: Shutterstock

There’s an expectation when you’re dealing with a national firm of the size, scope, and storied history that Birmingham’s own Balch & Bingham has garnered over the decades. That expectation is that the lawyers and employees there would strive for honesty, integrity, and excellence in everything they do. If you have that impression of the firm, it may be time to read on, reconsider your opinion, and see them for who they are versus who they once were or who they portray themselves to be.

I’m not too proud to admit that before hearing the disturbing recordings of Balch & Bingham lawyer Amy Adams, I bought into the myth of Balch’s higher standards hook, line, and sinker. 

If you missed the first article in this series, you’re going to want to go back and read it as well as listen to the audio recordings. In it, Joann Bashinsky (aka Mrs. B or Mama B), shares audio recordings she made of her court-ordered conservator Greg Hawley and Balch & Bingham’s, Amy Adams. Bashinsky is currently under a contested court-ordered conservatorship granted after what some have called a “kangaroo court” style hearing. This hearing didn’t allow her legal representation and blocked evidence to show she didn’t need the conservatorship or witnesses of her own. In that meeting, Adam’s attempted to land Mrs. B as a client using what that Mrs. B described as “scare tactics” while “talking down to her” and trying to “bully and intimidate” her into firing her current council. It would be unbelievable if not for the recording. In the recording, Mrs. B is assured by Adams that she’s not interested in being a party in the case for Hawley, strictly Mrs. B. When Mrs. B doesn’t hire her, what happens? Sure enough, contrary to multiple assertations, Adams is hired by Hawley to fight Mrs. B as she attempts to regain her freedom and independence.  All of this brings us to today’s story. 

I thought the audio recordings and Adam’s conduct would be a low point for firm behavior, but alas, they got lower. 

Before publishing that story, I reached out to Adams and then her boss, Stan Blanton, with a series of questions. Mr. Blanton then directed me to Julie Wall, their Director of External Affairs.

Wall, by all accounts, has shown that she’s on the up and up. She promptly got back to me, she heard me out on the context of my story, and she gave me timely responses. Of course, she didn’t answer or address the majority of my questions. She’s a PR professional. I’m sure there’s a chain of command above her that clamped down on her response, so I won’t hold that against her. 

The issue: While Wall nailed her job in deftly conveying answers to me in a timely and professional way, the responses themselves were lies. Two out of two messages turned out to be not true. Let me say that again, not once, but twice someone at Balch seemingly decided to lie on the record about Adam’s and her role in this case. 

Wall is not an attorney. She’s a public relations professional with excellent credentials. It’s highly doubtful she would knowingly lie in such a blatant manner. She was just the messenger. This leads me to some essential questions. Who gave her the lies to feed me? Was it Adams herself, Blanton, or someone else in the firm? What was the motivation of lying? How many times has said lawyer lied and gotten away with it? 

Lie one: The day Adam’s left the case. The statement below, saying that Adams was withdrawing from the case, was sent May 20, 2020. Yet, Adams was copied on emails related to the case, and her name was on filings related to the case for weeks following, which leads me to lie and email two.

Lie two: Upon getting word that Adam’s name on documents and emails, I reached out to ask why there was no record of her withdrawing from the case. That’s where the second lie comes in. See below, where Wall tells me that no written request for withdrawal is required, an answer she would have needed to get from Adams herself or another lawyer. 

On June 25, 2020, a little over 2 weeks after Wall says no withdrawal is needed, what does Adams finally get around to doing? Well, see below. She files for withdrawal. One has to wonder when her billing stopped; I assure you we will report back on that when it happens. Did it stop May 20 or June 25? 

Here’s the thing, I’m not trying to play a game of “gotcha” with Adams or Balch. I’m trying to bring transparency to a system and case that, in my opinion, is full of many cut and dry examples of egregious abuse of the state’s conservatorship powers. 

I’m writing this today so that you can join me in asking those involved from Balch, and maybe even Greg Hawley if all of this happens with the bright spotlight of media coverage and with many eyes watching them, what do the players in this case do when they think no one is watching?  

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