|Dr. Mark Hayden|
Our access to records in the case is limited, but it appears Circuit Judge Mike Graffeo has ordered Hayden to turn over certain business documents, and Hayden contends he does not have them. In fact, Hayden claims that at least one key document does not even exist, and no evidence of its existence has been presented in court.
At issue is a stock certificate allegedly belonging to William B. Cashion, Hayden's wealthy and elderly uncle who is co-founder of Western Steel Inc. in Bessemer. Hayden states in a recent court filing that he turned over all Cashion-related documents in his possession roughly four years ago. But Cashion's attorneys from Maynard Cooper and Gale apparently contend a key stock certificate has not been produced. (Filing is embedded at the end of this post.)
Hayden says he has not seen even a copy of the certificate, much less the original. Graffeo recently ordered Hayden's re-arrest, and the physician was taken into custody at a hearing on January 23. Hayden's second jail stay now is in its 10th day.
How long will this last? That is not clear, but Hayden says Cashion's attorneys have not produced copies that would suggest the stock certificate exists. According to Hayden, he is being held because he can't produce a document he does not have, with little or no evidence that it exists. It sounds like what we used to call as kids a "snipe hunt."
We described the gist of the of Cashion case in an earlier post:
At the heart of the controversy is William B. Cashion, an 84-year-old businessman (he probably is 87 now) who is co-founder of Bessemer-based Western Steel Inc. (WSI) and a shareholder in several other Alabama corporate entities. In 2007, while in the midst of a divorce, Cashion executed a durable power of attorney, designating his nephew, Dr. Steven Mark Hayden, as his agent and attorney-in-fact.
Cashion remarried in 2008, and his new wife, Frankie B. Cashion, states in court documents that her husband became obsessed with investments in Alabama gold mines that supposedly were to generate large sums of revenue. Mrs. Cashion states in an affidavit that her husband invested almost $7 million in the gold-mining project before she was able to stop him. "He is at risk of selling interest in his fraudulent gold mine to other investors which would be based on fraudulent assays. . . . , " Mrs. Cashion states. "His family, friends, and business are being harmed by his poor judgment."
In 2011, Dr. Steven Hayden used his authority as power of attorney to form the William B. Cashion Nevada Spendthrift Trust (WBC Trust), and all of Cashion's stock in WSI was transferred to the Trust. Angela Rae Hayden, Steven Hayden's wife, serves as trustee of the WBC Trust, and the Haydens live in Wetumpka, Alabama, where he practices family and emergency medicine.
Is Hayden being held on lawful grounds? Well, we've described Judge Graffeo's actions as "dubious" -- and with Hayden seemingly being ordered to produce a document he does not have -- it doesn't smell any better now.
On top of that, this is more than just a legal case. The longer it goes on, it becomes a public-health issue. Hayden has several thousand patients in the Elmore County area, and Alabama has experienced a shortage of rural physicians for decades. Hayden's first arrest happened while he was on duty at the Bullock County Hospital emergency room, with patients waiting to see him.
Is Graffeo taking orders from the party with the most money in this proceeding? Is he taking orders from members of the powerful Maynard Cooper law firm? Does he care about people who might suffer because their doctor is in jail on grounds that seem flimsy, at best? Is he playing with people's lives?
We will keep an eye on this case and the troubling questions it presents.