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Is there such a thing as "legal harrassment"?

 
 
Eva
 
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2008 11:30 pm
I have a friend whose ex-husband (a trial lawyer) dragged out their divorce/custody hearing for 23 months with repeated postponements, changes of lawyers and judges, etc. so he wouldn't have to pay her any child support. The divorce was her idea, not his, and he is determined to get revenge. He was a narcissistic, controlling SOB while they were married, and now he's an angry, narcissistic, controlling SOB. She moved out of state to avoid having to deal with him as much as possible.

The divorce was finally granted and custody decided about six months ago, but he continues to drag her back into court every couple of months on some new complaint. It isn't about the kids (it never has been.) It's about getting to her, and ruining her financially. She's in "damage control mode." He seems to be enjoying this.

This guy can represent himself, and he has plenty of money. She, on the other hand, doesn't make much and has to hire counsel and travel for court dates.

Is there such a thing as "legal harrassment"?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 2,685 • Replies: 14
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2008 11:35 pm
Good question.

Listening.
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raprap
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2008 12:31 am
That is the MO of many attorney's, particularly those in the practice of family law.

I personally know of a situation where the womans attorney used delays and fabrications to extend the divorce finalization to over 36 months. The children involved in the marriage were adult and no longer living at home, yet child support was demanded. Documents were delayed, court dates were rescheduled without proper notification. Restraining orders were requested based upon fabricated claims. Finally during the appraisal of marital property the offending attorney broke and entered property.

Finally the Judge recognized the abuse and demanded that the offending attorney "cut bait of fish" finally completing the what was a mutual dissolution that involved no children, stating in his summation that this separation should have taken no more than 12 month to completion.

I don't know if this was a normal practice but when casually discussing this event with other attorneys--I was told that this is a plausible consequence of the adversarial nature of courtroom practice. This didn't improve my already dismal opinion of the people who practice law.

Rap
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2008 12:41 am
Hmmmm....over here, people sometimes get officially labelled as "vexatious litigators".


I have known Family Court to limit these people's ability to bring cases back again and again and again and again.....


I haven't seen it happen often, though.

It may be worth your friend seeing if such a possibility exists in her jurisdiction.



There is CERTAINLY such a thing as legal harassment, though.


Whether a legal remedy exists is the problem.
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raprap
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2008 12:55 am
I would consider that the source of the problem in the US is "too many attorneys" and am reminded of the old joke on the reason why the state of New Jersey has more hazardous chemical disposal facilities than California, while California has more attorneys than New Jersey.

New Jersey had first choice.

Rap
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2008 04:30 am
Uh, lawyers won't do this unless someone's paying 'em to do it, rap. 50 lawyers or 50 million -- no one's got the time or infinite resources to create lawsuits when there's plenty of legit work flying around. Will some lawyers take less than legit work? Absolutely -- and it's of course wrong. But they don't do that unless the client wants it.

Yeah, the guy's a jerk. He's most likely engaging in frivolous litigation. Problem is that she'll need to win whatever case(s) she's disputing in order to claim they're frivolous. He has to lose them -- that's an undeniable piece of the tort.
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2008 09:25 am
BBB
Would reporting the harasser to the Bar Association help?

BBB
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2008 10:23 am
Re: Is there such a thing as "legal harrassment"?
Eva wrote:
Is there such a thing as "legal harrassment"?

What you describe could be called several things. If the ex-husband is asking the court to issue subpoenas or something similar, then it would be "abuse of process." It also seems to fit under the definition of "barratry" as found in the Oklahoma statutes. There it is defined as "the practice of exciting groundless judicial proceedings" and it's a misdemeanor ("barratry" actually has a number of different meanings -- it's also when a lawyer instigates a suit for personal gain). Conceivably, your friend could file a complaint or ask the local prosecutor to bring charges against her ex-husband -- granted, it's only a misdemeanor, but that's the kind of thing that could land him in hot water with the state bar.

Doesn't Oklahoma follow the rule that the party in a divorce proceeding that is more capable of paying attorney's fees pays for both parties? That's the case in Illinois, and it would certainly cut down on the amount of harrassment if the ex-husband had to pay the ex-wife's legal bills.
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Eva
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2008 11:37 am
No, Joe. Each party in the divorce pays his/her own expenses unless the judge awards differently.

Unfortunately, this is one of those nightmare scenarios. The ex-husband is not only a well known trial attorney, but a former head of the county's Democratic Party. He made an unsuccessful (but close) bid for the state senate two years ago. The divorce trial was a classic case of "home cookin'"...the judge wouldn't go against a hometown lawyer despite all the evidence and dozens of credible character witnesses. He even won custody of the kids (one of whom has special needs) over and above the kids' own wishes.

This family lived across the street from us for 7 years, and I can tell you firsthand that the guy is a terrible father. He has always neglected the kids, and they're really in bad shape now. He has even cut off the kids' contact with all their relatives because they supported the mother in the custody trial. The special needs kid has been lost in the system. There are no facilities here in Tulsa that can handle him (a judge's opinion.) The mother is a social worker with a degree in early childhood education. She's the only one I've ever seen who can handle him.

Nothing about this has been fair, and it is obvious that it's not going to end anytime in the foreseeable future. He is trying to ruin her, and so far he's doing a pretty good job of it. I would never have believed it was possible for someone to twist the legal system this far.
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2008 11:47 am
Eva
The only hope to put a stop to the dirty deed is to contact a journalist and tell she/he the story, especially if a Republican and/or conservative. Sometimes they like to bring down a scumbag, definitely if Democrat. It's worth a try. All the legal stuff may be public record so the research may be easy and interesting.

BBB
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2008 11:50 am
Re: Eva
Sorry to hear about your friend's predicament, Eva. In these kinds of situations, there aren't many good options available.

BumbleBeeBoogie wrote:
The only hope to put a stop to the dirty deed is to contact a journalist and tell she/he the story. Sometimes they like to bring down a scumbag. It's worth a try. All the legal stuff may be public record so the research may be easy and interesting.

BBB

That actually is not such a bad suggestion, especially if this guy still has some political ambitions.
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username
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2008 12:01 pm
There was the recent example of the woman involved in a celebrity divorce who made an extremely dramatic video pleading her case and posted it on YouTube, and it got several hundred thousand hits and a lot of media attention. I'm not sure whether that's generally applicable--they both seem to be on the flaky side--as I remember it was sort of who got the Rolls Royces and the condo on Park Avenue--and it might be just someone doing the drama first, and no one would pay attention to another video. But on the other hand, it might get a lot of attention in a smaller town. Public shaming can be a potent weapon.
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2008 12:09 pm
BBB
The only thing iffy about my suggestion is to evaluate the harm that might be done to the children. But I'm sure they are aware of everything their mother was willing to tell them if she's always tried to protect them.
Mother should discuss this will the children to see if she should take this route.

BBB
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Eva
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2008 01:54 pm
Thank you to everyone for the concern and suggestions.

The last two and a half years have been like watching a car wreck happening in slow motion.

Yes, I'm pretty sure the guy still has political ambitions. So perhaps going to a political opponent is a viable option. It could backfire and hurt the kids, though. Their mom is trying very hard to limit the damage as it is. But there's not much she can do.

I understand the IRS is on his tail, though. Something about using funds that were supposed to be held in trust. I hope they catch up with him soon.
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babsatamelia
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Jul, 2008 11:18 pm
**When I heard the California governor's suggestion that it might be a good idea (probably a very good idea) to completely do away with the concept of marriage in any "legal sense" forcing couples to just finally get down and deal with their own problems, putting an end to legal abuse - cases in family law lasting for several years is outrageous. I know this is only about the family/divorce aspect of it all, but I think that he had perhaps one of the first genuinely GOOD ideas I've heard in forever. Imagine how this would revolutionize the court system, the divorce process. Everything as it went along between any two parties would either be legally dealt with at the time it arose, or not at all, or in private - learning to just "work it out" on their own. What a dearth this would be to attorneys but who needs all of that court time spent on two people who simply can't get along with each other and perhaps should never have got married in the first place.
**On another note, I've been "harassed legally" I suppose would be as good a way to put it as any other by another party for over 2 years now, in a matter which she has absolutely no way of winning but likes to, I believe the expression is: to "stir the pot" or to "keep things all worked up"
No doubt an adrenaline junkie. For my part, I merely let them whirl, have a ball, I am in a situation where it's impossible for her to win, or for me to lose anything, so all she attempts to do essentially is to steal is my peace of mind and my calm quiet lifestyle; but alas, she has lost on both counts. Hopefully one day she will focus on another individual to put her efforts to work towards taking advantage of her leaving me alone in the process. Of course it's been unpleasant and since I do have a "No Contact Injunction" against this woman - I would thing that her harassing me via the legal system would be a violation of that also. Very, very interesting idea you have here. I'll keep watching.
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