Monday, December 6, 2010

The Prison Break - Part 2

As I followed the officers back to the police department, I called my law partner to let her know what was going on. She quickly told me not to say a word. When I arrived at the police department, the officers led me into an interrogation room. And suddenly, I forgot I was a lawyer and what Michele had told me on the phone. I developed an awful case of verbal diarrhea. I could not stop talking. No wonder lawyers make the worst clients. I even gave the officer a written statement...I know. I know. After about an hour, the officers let me go, and my husband and I decided to take the van to my client and call it a day. I was not going to push my luck trying to get her kids back for her. That would have to wait until Monday. I delivered the van to my client without incident.

Monday morning I decided I should be in the Judge's office waiting for him upon his arrival. I had a sick feeling all weekend that things were not going to turn out well. The Judge arrived shortly after I planted myself outside his office door. Before I could steal a minute of his time, his phone rang. I sat back down in my chair outside his door, and could not help but overhear his wasn't good. It was the officer. Listening to the Judge's conversation made me want to vomit on my shoes. Finally, the Judge hung up and I stuck my head in his office after knocking on his door. I looked at him and said "I'm that lawyer you were just talking about." I swear to God his head looked like it was going to explode. Let's just say what happened next was not pretty...I got quite a tongue lashing. I may have even peed myself a little.

Once the Judge was done chewing on me, I left his office and made my way upstairs to the probate office to file a pleadings regarding the order (which I found out had been issued). When I opened the door to the probate office, all of the clerks stopped what they were doing and stared at me. News travels fast. I handed the clerk my documents to file and she said that the Judge had called upstairs and agreed to set my motion for hearing on Wednesday and that I did not have to turn in my client. She also told me that he had decided not to issue a warrant for my arrest for aiding in the escape of a confined individual. Maybe there is a God.

Wednesday finally arrived and my client and I appeared for the hearing. Her husband decided to represent himself. After the 2 hour hearing, the Judge withdrew the order of commitment and gave my client's husband a stern warning about abusing the judicial system. It quickly became evident during our hearing that my client's husband had falsely filed the affidavit for her commitment. My client got her kids back that afternoon.

Sadly, a few months later my client dismissed her Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Order of Protection against her husband. To the best of my knowledge, they are still together.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Prison Break - Part I

I read recently that bad decisions make good stories...The Prison Break was definitely one of many bad decisions I have made over the years. I'll let you decide if it makes a good story.

A few years ago a young woman came into my office for advice about a divorce. She was very young and had two small children and a newborn baby with her the first time she came to see me. She was scared and cried through most of our first meeting. She had been with her husband for 9 years, married the last 2. He has beaten her daily for 9 years. At times, he had taken her cell phone away from her, removed the battery from their cordless home phone and taken the car keys to their second car with him to work so she would have no way to leave while he was gone. He raped her repeatedly during their 9 years together. I love it when a man thinks because he is married to a woman that she is his property to do with as he pleases. He had broken her jaw and eye socket during their tenure together. He had beaten her with a belt on her naked bottom in front their two small children. He had burned her with cigarette butts. He would throw away her clothes and shoes when he got mad at her. It was a terrible, terrible situation.

She was scared to death to even be in my office. She was worried that he would check the odometer on the car when he got home from work and discover she had driven outside her allowed perimeter. I met with her several times over a six month period. Finally, she got up the courage to seek refuge at a women's shelter and file a restraining order against him. They helped her secure an apartment in a gated community. She came back to see me shortly after the Order of Protection was entered to file for divorce. As you can imagine, her husband was infuriated by the Order of Protection. Unbeknownst to my client, her husband filed a Petition for Involuntary Commitment. In his Petition, he alleged my client was crazy, threatening to kill herself and their children. His "aunt" signed an affidavit stating the same in support of his Petition. At the time, the Court in St. Charles County did not have a policy of checking to see if any other action was pending or had been previously litigated before issuing an Order. So, the Probate Judge issued a 96 hour hold order based upon the "aunt" and husband's affidavits.

About two o'clock on the Friday after New Year's, I was sitting at my desk reading my mail and returning calls when my client calls me. She tells me she is being held at a local hospital emergency room against her will. She says that she was at home with her three children, taking down the Christmas tree when two cops showed up at her front door, placed her in custody and told her she was a danger to herself and others and that an order had been issued for her immediate commitment to a mental health facility. According to her, they never showed her any Order or any other papers for that matter. The cops dropped her off at the emergency room. I spoke with the nurse in charge and was told my client was a danger to herself and others was going to be held for 96 hours. However, she had no paperwork she could fax me or show my client. I tried to call the Probate Division to see if one of the clerks could help me, but there was no answer.

That's when my partner (law partner -thank you ) says "Fuck that. I'd go pick her up. That's bullshit." Or something like that. So, I decided to get into my mini-van with my husband and drive out to the hospital. I flashed my Missouri Bar card (lawyer identification card) at the nurse attending the front desk of the emergency room, and she led me back to my client who was sitting in typical emergency room room. She wasn't in one of the "special" emergency room rooms with the camera and no cords, padlocked medicine cabinet, etc. She was in a regular room, texting on her cell phone. The nurse told me that my client was cooperating and doing quite well given the situation. But, again she told me she didn't have any court order or paperwork for me or my client to review. My client was afraid that her husband had "faked" a court order or hired some thugs to act like police officers to try to scare her. He had done similar crap in the past.

I left the room to see if I could speak with a supervisor or someone in charge who could show me a valid court order, but found no one. I did notice that the officer standing outside the door to my client's room had left. So, I went back into my client's room, told her to get her things, that we were leaving. I also told her no matter what happened when we walked out of that room that she was to keep walking and get into the van with my husband. We had almost made it to the exit when the nurse came around the corner and saw us leaving. She started yelling at us to stop. I turned around so I could talk to her, but continued walking backwards toward the parking lot. I explained to her that we were leaving unless she could show me a court order. My husband and client were already in the mini-van when I reached the parking lot, the nurse was running behind me at that time. My husband had the van in reverse as I approached and I opened the passenger door, stood up on the inside ledge door frame and yelled at the nurse to move that we were backing up. I then slipped into my seat, slammed my door and told my husband to drive. The nurse moved.

At this point, I was about to shit myself, but was never going to admit that to my client. We had to move quickly before the police arrived. I had my husband take the nearest highway a short distance and then had him switch highways and then cut over to a back road to another highway. I kept thinking that I had to get her as far away from St. Charles County as possible. When we had made it a safe distance, I looked back at my client and asked her if she had anywhere she could stay for a few days. I could see my husband's face out of the corner of my eye, and knew if I even mentioned letting her stay with us for the night that he would put us (my client and I) out on the side of the road right then and there. My client had a sister that lived in the city so we dropped her off downtown and headed home, but not before I told my client that I would go back to her apartment the next day to get her mini-van and then go get her children. What the hell was I thinking?!?!?!?!

The next morning my husband and I woke up and headed out to my client's apartment to pick up her mini-van. I should have known better. When we arrived at the apartment complex, I had to show my ID to get into the main gate of the complex. Once inside the apartment, I quickly packed a bag for my client and her children. I then headed outside to her mini-van. As I was driving toward the front gate, two police cruisers came flying into the complex with their lights on. And that's when I knew I was in trouble....One of the cruisers turned sideways in the roadway blocking my path and the other pulled up next to me. The officer got out of his car and asked me to roll down my window. I tried to put on my best "I didn't do it" face and sweetly asked the officer if anything was wrong. He asked for my ID and told me they had been looking for me. And I replied that I had been looking for him too. Honestly, I was going to go find a police officer to help me get her kids back from her husband. He put his hand on his hand cuffs and asked me if I would voluntarily follow him back to the station. I agreed not wanting to be cuffed and stuffed into the back of his cruiser. He returned to his car and pulled up behind me. The police car parked in the middle of the road pulled in front of me and we caravan-ed to the police station. My husband called me on my cell phone immediately to find out what the hell was going on and I told him that I had to go to the police station......

To be continued........

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Bunn Coffee Maker

A few years ago, I represented a male client in a nasty divorce. He hated his wife and she hated him. And they both made it their full-time job hating each other. I honestly think they hated each other more than they loved their kids. Finally after months of discovery, depositions, screaming, yelling, etc., they decided to settle. After dividing up several hundreds of thousands of dollars, it came down to the Bunn Coffee Maker. They both wanted it, and the husband had it. I don't know much about coffee. I like to put cream and sugar in it. But I'm not a coffee fanatic. Anyway, these two spent hundreds of dollars arguing over the damn Bunn Coffee Maker. I even offered to buy my guy a new coffee maker out of my own pocket to be done with the whole thing. But he refused. They could have easily bought several new Bunn Coffee Makers for what they spent in lawyer fees arguing over the old one. One day out of know where my guy decided she could have it. I was a little surprised that he finally saw the light and decided it wasn't worth what he was paying me to fight with her attorney about it, but a little apprehensive as well because I figured he did something to it to spite her. But he promised me that the coffee maker was not harmed. A few days later, I got a call from her guy hand delivered the Bunn Coffee Maker...he threw it through the very large front plate glass window of his ex-wife's home.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The U-Turn

A few months ago, I filed a Motion for Contempt and Motion for Sums Due and Owing for a female client whose ex-husband was over $8,000 behind in child support. He failed to show up for trial, so I got an Order of Commitment from the Judge. Basically, the Judge signed a warrant for the guy's arrest with an order that the guy had to post the full $8,000+ in back child support before he would be released from jail. Fast forward to last week...Mr. I don't Show Up for Court or Pay My Child Support decided to do a U-Turn in the middle of Brentwood near the Galleria and got pulled over. And guess what Mr. Brentwood Police Officer found when he ran his license.....DING! DING! DING! A big fat warrant for his arrest! Amazingly, Mr. I don't Show Up for Court or Pay My Child Support coughed up the $8,000+ within 24 hours of his arrest, my client got her money, and I am now her hero....Talk about one expensive U-Turn. Bet he doesn't make that mistake twice.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Prostitute

One of my first criminal clients was a woman who had been charged with prostitution. I was taken aback when I first walked out into the reception area to greet her because she looked like one of my cousins. She wasn't thank God. She also brought her 3 week old baby with her. I brought her back to my office and began discussing the charge against her. I had never represented anyone on prostitution before so I had to excuse myself to ask my boss what we would charge to represent her. When I came back into my office, she had her shirt off and was breast feeding the baby. But that isn't what shocked me the most. As I walked back around my desk to sit down, she reached down into the diaper bag, pulled out a 40 ounce can of Milwaukee's Best and started drinking. And that's when I decided it was time to show her the door....

Welcome to Unclean Hands

For years now, I have said that I needed to start keeping a journal of all the crazy stuff I have seen and heard from clients and in the, I have finally got around to creating a blog to record all the craziness that I witness on a daily basis. I hope to post a few stories a week. Some will be from my early beginnings as a lawyer and some will be from present day. I hope you enjoy my life as a lawyer.