Saturday, May 31, 2008

Family Law Friday

What I thought was going to be a casual Friday ended up be very exciting. After having sushi with two lawyers, I got to shadow another two at their trial.

To make a long story short(er): One of our former clients (87 years old) came in last May for a pre-nup but his then 50 year old fiance refused to sign it because she said she was the only one taking care of him and his son didn't deserve anything. They got married, but a month later he comes in asking for a divorce. He said that she threw a potted plant at him, tackled him, and bit him three times. Our office took pictures of the abuse and reported it to the police. Our office got a restraining order against her for our client.

She contacted him saying she was sorry and loved him, tried to get him off his medication, violated the restraining order, went to court last November, and got probation. Then between last November and March, she has sent him dozens if not hundreds of emails to him trying to convince him that our firm and his son were conspiring to get his money and she was the only one who loved or took care of him. He believes her and tries to fire our lawyer. He gets depressed, tries to commit suicide, is hospitalized several times, and she goes to see him.

Our office brought the action to enforce the second restraining order and prevent her from getting into his estate. In the end, the judge found the woman "glaringly violated the restraining order" and sentenced her to 135 days in jail. Usually people convicted of misdemeanors can turn themselves in after a few days, but the judge said the woman's complete disregard of the law and danger she posed merited immediate arrest. "Bailiffs, take her away!" Watching a woman cuffed right there in court, what a closing to my first week of work.

Even though our lawyers were ecstatic with the verdict, everyone also felt really bad for our former client. He did not understand why the court would not let them see each other and was still afraid that his son was trying to take his money.

Family law is a tough field, and probably crazier than what they even show on tv. But when the man's caretaker came up to our firm's lawyers in tears thanking us for bringing a little closure to this horrible experience, I can understand why it is so important.

[Don't worry, this story is not privileged since everything I know I learned from today's courtroom proceedings]

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