Sunday, July 31, 2016

Virginia Alimony Reform

There is a cogent post over in the 2nd Partners & Partners Club section on the Virginia Alimony Reform site.
Virginia allows a woman to work so, why even allow permanent alimony? After 10 years marriage, social security allows a woman to collect against a former husbands benefits without affecting the husband's benefits so, why does a former spouse also need permanent alimony? In Virginia, spouses split all assets including retirement so, why is a former spouse also entitled to permanent alimony? Like me, have you also ask yourself these questions?
I am married to a wonderful man who has been sentenced to lifetime alimony. This means that I too have been sentenced to lifetime alimony. Instead of looking to a bright future, planning our retirement and being able to assist children and grandchildren when they need it, we live in fear of the State increasing the awarded "a free meal ticket" to a grown adult. This person is in our marriage and our life. I feel like this is legally supported polygamy. How do you feel?
Although 97% of the time when the court orders alimony the husband is the payer, it is important to understand that often the alimony paid by the man is also effectively paid by his new spouse or partner.  Oddly, more women pay alimony to their spouse's ex-wife than then do to their own ex-husband. Which goes to show just how messed up the system is.

Alimony reform is not a man vs. woman issue - it is is a justice vs. injustice, and often such as with my situation a criminal vs. law-abiding, issue.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

More Stories

Minnesota Alimony Reform has been listing stories from real people that highlight the real injustices that occur with alimony awards in Minnesota.  They are quite honestly often painful to read but at least they are people I can commiserate with. Some new ones have been recently posted. Check it out.
Permanent maintenance is a total joke! Let’s see. Child support ends when the child reaches 18 or finishes secondary school. But yet you have to pay an ex joke of a human forever?? My husband passed away 17 years ago we had a daughter together. She just turned 18 and is cut off Social security now. I never received Social security for the rest of my life. Why should that be any different? I never worked while he was alive. He wanted me home. What makes an ex so special?! 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Change Requires Persistance

One of the most insidious events in my divorce was when the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board totally whitewashed my complaint against Nelly Wince.  It is one thing that Wince lied and committed fraud. It isn't hard to find bad people. But when the very institution that is designed to ensure lawyers act ethically and operate within the law blatantly does just the opposite, it is a much bigger problem. That is not just a crime against an individual, it is a crime against society as it undermines and subverts the entire legal process.

The evidence agaisnt Nelly Wince is ironclad. So much so that no one has ever refuted it.

Earlier this year, I sent a freedom of information act request to the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board asking for the documents in my complaint agaisnt Nelly Wince. I found out that all documents had been destroyed per the Lawyers Rules of Professional Conduct. (as odd as that sounds) While reading the rules I decided that I would see if I could change the rules.

Rather than trying to change the rule on document retention, I focused on a smaller, hopefully less controversial change.

The investigator who looked into my complaint agaisnt Nelly Wince was a divorce mediator. A person whose very livelihood depends on referrals from divorce lawyers. If this isn't a clear conflict of interest, I do not know what is. This is where I focused my attention.

Now how to change the Lawyers Rules of Professional Conduct is a far from transparent process. It was really only with the help of a sympathetic state senator that the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board told what the process is - this in itself is pretty disturbing.

The process is to petition the State Supreme Court, in a very specific manner, for the change. I did this. The specific change I am seeking is to add the following to the rules:
The investigator assigned, if a lawyer, shall not be in active practice in the same area of law that the lawyer under investigation practices in. The investigator assigned, if not a lawyer, shall not be a person who works in a profession which commonly receives referrals from lawyers who practice in the same area of law as the lawyer under investigation.
Pretty reasonable I think.

In my petition I specifically asked to be kept informed when the petition would be heard by the Court as well as the result. I heard nothing for six months. This week, however, I received an email from the court granting a request by the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board for a two week extension to the time in which they need to reply. The order was actually signed by the Chief Justice. And it included a case number.

Using the case number, I was able to look up the details of the case on the court's website. There I found my petition, communication directing the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board to respond, their request for an extension as well as the granting of the extension that I received. Again, the granting of the extinction request was the first communication I received from the court.

The case also included a petition submitted by a lawyer also regarding the Rules of Professional Conduct but on a wholly unrelated matter. I presume they lump such petitions together.

It will be awhile before I know the result of my petition. The Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board has until October 14th to respond to the court and who knows how long it will take before a decision will be made after that.

I am 99% sure my petition will fail. If I actually do succeed I suspect I will be the first non-lawyer in the history of the state to successfully petition for a change in the Lawyers Rules of Professional Conduct. I'll admit a part of me holds out hope for this. But even if it fails I take comfort in the fact that people at the Supreme Court, maybe even the justices themselves, have read not only petition but the background information I provided along with it. That can only help.

I did what I was supposed to in Spring's divorce of me. I told the truth and acted ethically despite the fact that Spring and Wince were not only acting unethically but criminally. Sadly they got away with it. My petition is a small but significant step in making it less likely others will suffer as I and my children have from corruption with the legal system.

The effect of such corruption on the children, including my children, breaks my heart. It is bad enough when a child's parent is a criminal. But is is far worse for a child to have a parent that is a successful criminal. When you get away with crime it builds a near insurmountable barrier to regret and remorse. Without regret and remorse there is little chance of forgiveness.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Corruption Has Consequences

One of the most insidious aspects of corruption is that it invariable spreads in a disease like manner. A judge such as Richard Mearly who clearly rules based on personal whim rather in a just and law abiding manner, an organization such as Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board which blatantly protects lawyers who break the law, and county attorneys such as Bennie Sonsang who actively work to shield criminals and hurt the innocent do not limit there unjust actions to just family law. These same judges, lawyers and prosecutors are involved in cases across the board.

Tragically in Minnesota this week a police officer shot and killed Philando Castile, a black man sitting in a car who he had stopped for a broken taillight. Castile was shot four times while his girlfriend and her four year old child sat in the car. Although it is difficult if not impossible to know exactly why the police officer pulled the trigger, I think it highly unlikely Castile would have been shot if he was white. As governor Dayton stated, “Would this have happened if those passengers would have been white? I don’t think it would have.”

So how did this happen? What is the culture that allows a police officer to so easily gun down a black man? Certainly racism is part of the issue. But the enabling factor is a corrupt legal system. If the same event had happened 30 years ago there would likely have been no consequences for the police officer at all. It would have been a minor news event.  It would have been covered up.That doesn't work so well in cases where we have live streaming as Castile's girlfriend had the presence of mind to do.

It is near impossible for people who are not victims of corruption to understand those who are. There is a tendency to believe that the victims are exaggerating. That things aren't as bad as they are making out. The truth is that the reality is often far worse than the victims even know.

All forms of discrimination whether based on nationality, religion, gender, or sexual orientation are really just consequences of corruption. Corruption is simply just one group oppressing another. It is a form of organized crime. It is easier to do if the ones being oppressed are identifiable by color of skin, national origin, religion or any other category but it also works quite well when the victims are poor saps who are being divorced.

There are few options for justice when the legal system itself is unjust.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Illusive Freedom

Today is the 4th of July. While I was out running this morning I, perhaps unsurprisingly, was thinking about freedom. I was daydreaming about giving a speech to a group of divorce lawyers. It went something like this.

When a crime is committed it is a tragedy for the victim and, I would argue, for the perpetrator. However when a crime goes unpunished it is a tragedy for society because an unjust society cannot thrive or even continue. 

In my daydream, I ask the room full of lawyers if they believe that all family law attorneys are 100% honest and would never knowingly lie in court or commit fraud. I imagine zero hands would go up. Then I ask for a show of hands stating how many believe most family law attorneys are honest and ethical. I imagine many hands would go up. Then I ask how many think the legal profession should aggressively prosecute the lawyers who do commit criminal acts. As I see the uncomfortable shifting I give them a break and tell them that no show of hands is needed. But maybe a better way to think about it, I tell them,  is to substitute pedophile priests for unethical lawyers.  I doubt anyone believes there are no pedophiles priests. Nor does anyone believe the majority of priests are pedophiles. But does that mean we should tolerate the bad ones?

Perhaps another analogy would help. In Iraq under Saddam Hussein clear cases of murder often went not only unpunished but rewarded by the government.  Here in Minnesota, as the facts in my case clearly demonstrate, criminal actions within the family law system not only go unpunished but are often rewarded by the government. Now maybe you think murder is more serious so the two aren't comparable but given the high rate of suicides by victims of unjust divorces and enormous transfer of assets from the innocent to the criminal, it is clear that by any measure that the problem is enormous. And, as this site has unequivocally shown, it is pervasive. A lawyer who commits a crime is bad enough. But when that lawyer is protected by the Lawyers Office of Professional Responsibility and County Attorney it is not matter of a few bad apples. It is institutional corruption.

Yet I am optimistic that our society can become more just. We have show time and time again that we can overcome injustice and become better. I have no doubt that the terrible injustices that occur within the divorce system today will one day be a thing of the past. But it won't just happen by itself. We need to all work together to achieve it.