Litigants create the slowdowns: If Judge James Celebrezze has a flaw, it's being too intense and demonstrative when he believes that parties are not adequately looking out for their children, or when a party attempts to use wealth to put the other at a disadvantage ["Feed the Machine," August 18]. In short, he is not hesitant to make a quick judgment call when the law allows it.
As a fan of your publication, I need to point out common misperceptions about the divorce process. There is no constitutional right to a speedy trial. The court is obligated to value every asset and consider numerous factors in awarding spousal support. Often this involves hiring experts to offer opinions. The court does not have a team of forensic accountants that can help parties who feel that their spouses are hiding assets.
If parties agree on all the issues, they can dissolve their marriage within 90 days. The delays in the Warner matter have been caused by the parties' failure to agree on some complicated property issues, not by some sinister desire on the part of the court to "break someone's will."
You do your readers a disservice when you imply that the divorce court can help with financial and emotional stresses by simply acting quickly. The law is too complicated for that. No one ends up feeling better, financially or emotionally, after a divorce. Divorce court is not a social service agency. If your readers realize this, they will think twice before filing for divorce.
We strive to provide a level playing field. This playing field often is not tranquil. At any rate, I believe it's wrong to take a shot at Judge Celebrezze just because a litigant is stressed out by the legal process the judge is obligated to carry out.
Magistrate Scott Kitson
Domestic Relations Court
Kill Your Credit Card
Al Lerner's laughing all the way to hell: Is anything being done about MBNA? I read your story ["Lerner's Legacy," December 18, 2002] online about MBNA Credit Card ripping people off all over Florida and probably the entire country.
I've had an MBNA credit card since 2002. My intro rate was 2.9 percent, then it went up to an agreed 8.99 percent. It should have stayed there for the life of the card. Everything was good for about a year and a half, I thought.
Then I checked at the beginning of this year and my interest rate was 17.98 percent. I did not understand what had happened. A few months later, my APR was raised once again to 21.98 percent without my knowledge. I called and asked, "What is going on?" They said they had done a credit inquiry and said I had other outstanding debt that led to the increase.
But here is where the lies start. I got my credit report, and no such inquiries took place. I had a fixed APR that should have stayed at my 8.99 percent. They changed it to a variable rate, to which I had not agreed. My credit report shows no late payments ever, and I even paid a week ahead sometimes. I didn't just pay the minimum payment, either; sometimes it was double what the minimum payment was. My credit is also pretty good for a recent graduate and new homeowner.
Recently, I got another letter saying they wanted to change my fixed APR to a variable, which would go up once again to 24 percent. I am sure that if you launch an investigation, thousands of people will come forward.
Spring Hill, Florida
Government's nose blows: Loved Pete Kotz's column ["The Last Refuge," September 1]. I agree that governments should keep their fucking noses out of the smoking issue. My suggestion would be that if the government insists on sticking its nose in, it should offer a tax incentive to those bars that voluntarily go nonsmoking.
I love Great Lakes Brewing Company and the Brew Kettle. Neither is in my neighborhood, but I drive miles to go to these places. I do not smoke. I wish there were more places that would go no-smoking. They would have many new customers such as myself.
For the Record
Gotta read that fine print: In response to your "Poor Caveman" item [First Punch, September 8], I will admit to being a lawyer and to placing my trust in the wrong fund-raiser for my primary campaign for Ohio Senate.
To clarify, I signed a contract with a "bonus" for a primary win, a legal provision under state election law. I never stated, as your item reported, that I could not remember what was in the contract. When reporters asked me for the contract, I found, to my embarrassment, that I did not have a copy. I demanded repeatedly by phone and registered mail a copy of the contract; once I received it, it was promptly released to reporters.
The issue I have raised is whether I received the services agreed upon and whether there was an intentional alteration in the length of the contract. I agreed to a contract for the primary, not for the entire election year. I take great pride in my personal integrity and have released publicly all relevant materials.
State Representative Tim Grendell
Carmella should know: "Dead Wrong" [September 15] is right! After having been a juror on the Mark Ducic case ["Juror's Burden," August 11], for me to hear Coroner Elizabeth Balraj say that she rarely changes her mind and then to learn how she changed two cases from accidental overdose to homicide is scary.
I hope the lawyers from the Ducic case look hard into Balraj and her findings. No one should have that much power.