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Avvo, the Election, and Why I Have Not Posted in Way Too Long

February 24, 2017 Leave a comment

Avvo.com. “Have no legal Fear”. Boy, has this company blitzed the advertising world. Television and smart phones, everywhere I look, I see their ads. Now, I’ve been on Avvo since it was a nuisance (early aughts??). Now it dominates legal marketing. (See https://lafleur.marketing/lets-talk-avvo/)

What does that have to do with not blogging? I’ll tell you. I spend way too much time fielding questions all day long is what. I feel like a shark– if I stop swimming (answering questions) I will die (no new clients). The irony is  not lost on me. Be it noted that family law is the world’s worst business model. Zero repeat business, and people are at the worst and most vulnerable, and least able to spare thousands of dollars. (Be it also noted that a few practitioners serve the Beverly Hills and Holmby Hills, Tiburon, etc. crowd. They get paid well. They are also a small minority.)

It also does not help that I refuse to engage in the horrors of litigating a family fight over children. I never have and I never will. And that’s 34 years of being a lawyer talking.

But Avvo has one upside. I hear from other lawyers, every single day. Unlike most people, I love to see what I may have missed or to find out I’ve been wrong. Ironically, despite my AWFUL typing (no editing on Avvo) many lawyers have gone out of their way to endorse me. (And be it noted I am truly working on this flaw of mine.) (It may be working … no flinching realizations for a good while now…

But the more Avvo advertises, the lower the quality of the questions people post. I have taken to deleting some without bothering to respond. I never used to do that. Here’s one I love: ”

When there are deadlines to file forms related to a divorce with the court, are weekends/holidays included or weekdays only?
Location: Alameda, CA

“I’m going through a divorce in Alameda county (California) and found a rule stating that I need to file/serve a status conference questionnaire 15 days before the scheduled conference. I’m confused as to whether this pertains to weekday/business days only or if weekend & holidays are included also?”

Now, there are state paid websites for EVERY county that tell you these things. Like this: http://www.alameda.courts.ca.gov/

But hey– The public is on their smartphone and Avvo grabs these questions. So pro bono work is now the domain of all Avvo lawyer users. And yes, the public now LOVES lawyers-as long as they are free. Thanks to one of a Avvos many boneheaded features, these people can now write to you directly and tell you what an idiot you are– thus revealing their (previously anonymous) name and details. Avvo does not care (and the public does not know) that I now have a duty of loyalty and confidentiality as to these folks, and cannot take any matter adverse to theirs. EVER.

But enough about me. How about the state of American law and politics? Could they be any more depressing? Let me just say up front, I KNOW this crisis was and is and will be a step to a much needed change in ALL our habits. Letting someone else deal with it. Not fact checking or asking ourselves “does this make sense”? Labeling those who disagree with us. An inability to see that EVERYTHING has two sides. These are habits that simply must change.

But to wake up to a world where (LITERALLY overnight) mean-spiritedness is the norm, and caring for the less fortunate is not scorn-worthy? No, I did not really see this coming. Every day the news is dreadful. now, I see that way too many people get all their news from facebook. I see posts from Breitbart from ACTUAL FRIENDS. (Critiques of what is and isn’t Constitutional from a citizen of a country where Constitutional Monarchy is the  government and there are no state governments. In short, from someone who does not know  what they don’t know–but states opinions as facts.)  (A major trigger for me.) BUT there is an upside! I can now say I have experienced the power of personal interaction to bridge such divides. We each cut the other slack because we have a personal relationship. There’s a clue, here…

So, I’m here to say, enough with the naming and blaming–time to make friends. As to the mean-spiritedness, it IS disheartening, and many people will actually suffer and maybe die. But As a Baha’i, I know this end is a beginning, and is long overdue. Still sucks, though.

So, I may decide to write, for my own sanity. As usual, I will speak of things many find unfamiliar. But if just one person thinks… it’s enough.

We Don’t Need Any Stinking Due Process… (Do We?)

August 14, 2012 5 comments

FELECIA AMOS

v.

COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

MEMORANDUM OPINION*Record No. 1667-11-4 CHIEF JUDGE WALTER S. FELTON, JR.

AUGUST 7, 2012 (

(Pursuant to Code § 17.1-413, this opinion is not designated for publication.)

I am a sad to say people I respect have no problem with this nasty piece of  business. I do.

The ways in which the Felicia Amos case violated due process boggle my mind. Contempt is a CRIMINAL (or “quasi-criminal) matter resulting in loss of liberty.The Constitution affords every citizen protections against loss of liberty without the protections we call “due process.”

Felicia (pro se but clearly with help) appealed her being jailed for criminal contempt in a family law case.  From the appellate transcript: “She [Felicia] asserts the trial court erred by punishing her for summary contempt and that the summary proceeding violated her right to due process by failing to afford her notice of the charge against her, a full hearing, assistance of counsel, and the ability to confront witnesses.” Summary means short or expedited. Summary contempt is not available in  California–nor is one party consent to recordings like these. Not to mention they  were hearsay.

The facts, per the appellate transcript,  are as follows:

  • By final order dated July 30, 2010, the trial court convicted Antonio Amos (“Antonio”), appellant’s former husband, of assault and battery of appellant. The trial court sentenced him to – 2 – six month[sic] s in jail, suspended for one year on the condition that he not have contact with appellant except for visitation exchanges of their child, and ordered that he not “harass” appellant.

“On October 30, 2010, appellant wrote a letter to the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington County (“Commonwealth’s attorney”), asserting that Antonio violated the terms of the trial court’s final order.1 Appellant asserted that, on two separate dates, Antonio “intimidate[d], harass[ed], and threaten[ed]” her during an exchange of their child for visitation at a fast-food restaurant.’”

She wrote: “This constant communication and intimidation is causing so much stress for me. I want to believe that the ORDER is not just a piece of paper but carr[ies] the weight and authority as it was stated by the [trial court]–NO EXCEPTIONS. Please do not let my situation become some comment with a bad ending. I have done all that I know how to do. . . . I honestly believe that the threatening behavior is ESCALATING. Help me.  “

(My personal take in this language is that it is not consistent with manipulation—it is articulate and does not overstate the claim, as manipulators commonly do. It is the voice of frustration, not BPD, in my seasoned opinion.)

The Commonwealth attorney wrote to the court, which set an OSC (order to Show cause) why Defendant Husband should  not go to jail for violating his parole.

The die is cast.

“December 3, 2010, the trial court issued its order… The show cause hearing was held on June 10, 2011.”

This guy had SIX MONTHS in which to create his “defense”. (Remember his original trial involved all the usual due process protections-and he was CONVICTED. This was not a Family Law DV finding, it was a full on criminal conviction.) SIX MONTHS go by. Six  months of visitations, each of which was an opportunity for this lovely chap to plan his escape from jail time. Six months of NOTICE and a full awareness that his liberty was at stake.

At the hearing—the outcome of which meant husband might go back to jail, so he was highly motivated to lie—we know that “Antonio testified that he videotaped one of the visitation exchanges about which appellant complained. He stated he used a camera mounted to the dashboard of his car.”

Bingo– he had PROOF—right?

Not right. There was no authentication of the video tape, there was no foundation laid, there was no cross examination. He could have taped that at any time during the six months. (As I mentioned this would have been illegal in California in any case.)

Also similarly: “Antonio testified that prior to entering the restaurant to pick up his son, he “wired” himself with a tape recorder”. How odd that he should do so, how utterly convenient –and yes—again—how nicely devoid of  any authentication,  or cross examination.  Felicia had NO ATTORNEY, no clue this alleged evidence even existed. Think Gideon v Wainwright. The court just pounced on this and indicted the unsuspecting wife. get this straight–Husband knew he might go to jail. WIFE HAD NO CLUE.

And thus, with no cross examination and  no representation by any attorney—no notice or opportunity to have any due process afforded her, this august court acted to convict her. not of perjury. but of “contempt”-and jail. “At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court dismissed the show cause order against Antonio, stating, “[t]here’s no question that [Antonio] has not violated this [c]ourt’s orders.”

“ NO QUESTION”??? I have many questions. The court did not even say “in this case”—it made a sweeping statement, which, I think we can all intuit, is indicative of bias. (Again, in my seasoned opinion.) My questions are “how was this video authenticated”” “How was this audio authenticated?” (As to date in each case.) “Why did you wear a “wire” on the date in question?” How is is that these two recordings were the EXACT visitations, out if some 36 (9 month’s worth) visitations, that y9ou recorded?” These are the questions counsel would have asked.

“The trial court then found appellant in summary contempt.” (See above.) Felicia filed (possibly incorrect) motion to vacate—in which “appellant asserted she testified truthfully about the events that took place during the visitation exchanges. She contended the trial court failed to give her an opportunity to “explain, respond and/or object to being held in contempt,” to have counsel present, or to have notice and a hearing,”

(All the “contentions” are true.)

“Finally, appellant asserts the trial court “conspired with the Defense Counsel and the Commonwealth of Virginia to prevent [her] from receiving any notice of the potential outcome” and the trial court “should have recused himself” before ruling on her contempt charge.” I wish I found that hard to believe.

But there’s more. The court upheld this travesty on appeal –wait for it–because the unrepresented appellant didn’t properly raises the issue at trial!!! “Rule 5A:18 provides, in pertinent part, that “[n]o ruling of the trial court . . . will be considered as a basis for reversal unless an objection was stated with reasonable certainty at the time of the ruling, except for good cause shown or to enable the Court of Appeals to attain the ends of justice.”: She got blindsided and has no remedy because .. she got blindsided? Does this not offend anyone else as it does me?

So—I see gross corruption. Yes, I know women use false allegations to manipulate the system. They do. But this in no way proves THIS woman did. The facts show this is more likely than not NOT such a case. (I know my assessment of the credibility of the initial letter by this women is not an “expert” one. But the fact that she has an opponent who was strongly motivated to lie , given every opportunity to do so,  had credibility with the court because of  his prior military service and was never subjected to the rigors of proof beyond a reasonable doubt–—that is undeniable.)

I frankly have a huge amount of heartburn with women who use false DV allegations. I have seen it over and over. I also know what they sound  like—and this doesn’t have the ring of BS.  But I can’t prove that, and she wasn’t allowed to.

But here  are the undisputed facts:

1. Husband was CONVICTED of assault and battery WITH full due process.

2. Husband had time to “dummy up” these oh so convenient recordings,

3. These recordings were in no way authenticated and,

4. The person deprived of her liberty had no representation,  no notice of the jeopardy, no ability to cross examine witnesses or examine the evidence. NONE.

She was railroaded. No matter who you favor in the dispute, the fact is we cannot know who fabricated what—that is what due process is for,  and that did not take place. Given that NOT ONE SHRED OF DUE PROCESS was afforded this woman–who may have been battered–we cannot know

And we  never will. This, my friends, a was a travesty of justice.