Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Sunday Feeling-Valentine's Day Edition

Today is Valentine's Day which is easily the least liked holiday for most guys that are brave enough to express an opinion on this matter. Be that as it may, Valentine's Day, that most extortionate "holiday," worse than Christmas even, serves as an appropriate backdrop for the latest turn of events with America's fun couple John and Elizabeth Edwards.

As we know, former John Edwards staffer Andrew Young wrote a book about the Edwards entitled "The Politician" in which he writes extensively about his efforts to hide the affair between John Edwards and Rielle Hunter, going so far as to claim the daughter she bore as his own illegitimate child. He also portrays candidate Edwards as a nickle plated phony and Elizabeth as a scheming meddler with a flaming temper.

Young has given numerous interviews about the book and I guess he is on a tour in support of same in which he is reading excerpts from it and/or giving talks about it. Because Elizabeth is pissed. And she has threatened to sue him if he doesn't stop speaking about the Edwards' troubled marriage.

Here is where it gets interesting. Elizabeth has threatened to sue Andrew Young for alienation for affection, an archaic cause of action which is still on the books in only about 7 states, North Carolina being one of them. As we like to say at times like these around here, this is a teachable moment.

Alienation of affection is one of two "heart balm" laws that state that a jilted spouse may sue to effect revenge against a third party who horsed around with the jiltee's spouse. Alienation of affection is a tort claim against a third party who induced a spouse to leave the marriage. Criminal conversation is another cause of action likewise sounding in tort (as we say) against a third party for having sex with the jiltee's spouse. As I stated earlier, most of these old heart balm laws are no longer on the books for reasons that should be fairly obvious.

Arkansas's experience with its own heart balm statutes is instructive. About 1981 or so, the Arkansas Supreme Court issued an Order in which it said that it would no longer entertain any appeals of any orders concerning these two causes of action. The Court said something along the lines that divorce is sufficiently painful and life changing without imposing tort liability upon people when a marriage breaks up. As they weren't going to hear anymore of these cases, the Court told the Arkansas Legislature that they might as well strike these statutes off of the books.

Which the Ledge did. And the laws eliminating these statutes was swiftly signed into law by-guess who?-William Jefferson Clinton who was Governor at that time.

As I recall, the irony of this was not particularly lost on anyone at that time either.

I actually know somebody who got threatened with criminal conversation. He took up with a woman who lived in one of these states. She and her husband were separated and going through an acrimonious divorce. Neither side had any interest in reconciling. It was Splitsville except for the property settlement. To put pressure on her to settle her ex threatened my friend with a lawsuit for criminal conversation as they were conversatin' while she was still legally married. Of course, this is unfair and ridiculous. And once her private investigators discovered that her ex didn't exactly have clean hands in this department himself, away went the threat of a lawsuit. And all is paradise once again.

Now let us turn to the situation at hand. Edwards claims that Young's covering for her horndog husband's marital misdeeds with uber-headcase Rielle partly led to the breakup of her marriage to the aforesaid horndog. Good luck with that. Insofar as is known, John Edwards never had sex with Andrew Young although one could sure make the case that Young is givin' both John and Elizabeth a good screwing right now. Elizabeth knew about the affair and still amazingly acquiesced to her husband's megalomaniacal decision to run for President.

How could she not have known that all of this sordid business would come to light?

Elizabeth Edwards says she will drop it if Young donates $250,000 to the Wade Edwards Foundation, a non-profit group named for her late son, quits yakking about her and her marriage to Horndog and turns over all the threatening and hectoring messages she left on Young's phone.

If I'm Andrew Young, I paraphrase Wellington and tell her to "Sue and be damned." She may be in a suin' mood but she can hardly sue the real target defendant because Horndog is paying Rielle's bills and the child support for her child. It wouldn't look good for Elizabeth to be preceived as trying to take bread out of her soon-to-be ex-husband's child's mouth. But she has no real claim against Young. And she's pissed. So her lawyer's cobbled together this stupid theory.

And you think your personal situation is fucked up.

I wish all of these really unpleasant people a Happy Valentine's Day. Y'all deserve each other. If you don't believe me hit the link: These three had more stories going at once than Stephen King.

Anyway, Happy Valentine's Day to you too! I hope you are not celebrating it with someone in any jurisdiction that still has these stupid heart balm laws on the books.


Hugh W. Tedder, Jr. said...

We recently had two of these go to trial here in MS. One settled, the other went to verdict. We are apparently reviving this tort single-handedly.

tmfw said...

Why am I not surprised?

Karin said...

Those of us who reside in Alabama are sometimes grateful that Mississippi is our neighbor, as it makes us look not so bad. And I am sure Mississippians are sometimes glad they have Alabama for a neighbor for the same reason. For instance, Friday afternoon at the University of Alabama at Huntsville campus....