Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Twisted Path to Justice

The fight for justice is never easy. Most people know that Susan B. Anthony and Martin Luther King had many setbacks. But lost to history are numerous average everyday people who often suffered horrendously and repeatedly by the actions of the perpetrators of injustice. I place myself and my children in this category.

On The Minnesota Alimony Reform site is a recently published story by a man who also contacted me. His story is a classic example of how far the villainous will go to tyrannize the innocent in order to protect their power and wealth.

The story, like so many others, will be viewed as unbelievable my many. The public unfortunately simply doesn't understand just how common and how real such stories are.

Here is a quick synopsis:

  • The man's wife left him to live with her mother and her mother's boyfriend in another state. Their one child was left with the father. 
  • Less than a week later the wife's mother moved out and she started living with her mother's now ex-boyfriend. This was four years ago. 
  • In the divorce the man was required to pay his ex-wife over $21,000/year in alimony. 
  • The man is now near the point where he cannot pay his bills. 
  • After the Cohabitation Law was passed earlier this year in Minnesota, the man went back to court to eliminate or reduce alimony. His situation was a textbook example for why the law was passed. 
Here was the result in his words:
What happened was beyond the worst case scenario. Not only was my request to change to spousal maintenance denied but the judge actually INCREASED spousal maintenance and made the increase retroactive back seven months. The judge also is requiring me to pay her attorney’s fees in addition to my own attorney fees. And a surprising development: the judge demanded weekly phone calls between our son and his mother and overnight stays during visitations. While I myself have supported and pushed for this as well it concerned me because NEITHER ONE OF US ASKED FOR ANY CHANGES TO VISITATION IN OUR MOTIONS TO THE COURT.

People may be surprised by this but I am not. I'll admit this is one of the worst examples of injustice I have heard but my own story is similarly outrageous. And I have talked to far too many people that have stories nearly or just as bad. Examples include the newly married couple who were forced to increase alimony payments to an ex-spouse simple because they got married and the person who lost his job and was put in jail for his inability to pay alimony. These injustices, often constituting clearly criminal actions, are simply ignored by the court, the legal system and law enforcement. This is the reality.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Consumer Review Fairness Act & Lawyer Reviews

Congress has recently passed the Consumer Review Fairness Act which voids any provision in a form contract that prohibits or restricts customers from posting reviews about the goods, services, or conduct of the company providing the product or service.

When I first heard about the law I was excited because I thought it would protect people who wrote online reviews of lawyers. But unfortunately, I do not think that is the case. It would prohibit a lawyer from putting a clause in a contract that reviewing him or her online is prohibited but would not, as far as I can tell, make it any more difficult for a lawyer to sue for defamation.

Here is what happens if you say something negative about a lawyer online. First off it probably disappears in short order because lawyer will intimidate the site owner where the posting was made into removing it. This happens even if your posting was 100% truthful and backed up by facts.

Have you ever wondered why Angie's List has reviews for plumbers, electricians, mechanics and other services but not lawyers? They have made a conscious decision that it is not worth cost of dealing with all the lawsuits that would result. Oddly, there had been a bit of a backlash against this as some people will not sign up for Angie's List because they won't allow reviews of lawyers.

Here is the case of one poor woman who was told to pay $558,000 to a law firm because posted a one star review on Yelp. I don't think the court would award that amount or any amount of money if she gave a one star review to a restaurant, do you? Unfortunately the legal system is able to get away with actions, often criminal actions, that the public is not. Classic corruption., a site that explicitly allows you to review lawyers, simply removes bad reviews. I know, I posted one on Nelly Wince and it went away. Presumably because she had it taken down. Nice review system.

If you are say hosting your own site then the lawyer or law firm will intimidate you directly.  They likely will file a defamation suit even if you are clearly within your rights in making the posting. The merits of suite do not matter a whit. The point is to use the legal system to make you spend money and time in defending yourself. It is to ruin you financially.  It is to subdue you. This was pretty much Nelly Wince's tactic during Spring's divorce suite against me. Lawyers, at least the bad ones, are really good at using the law to harm the innocent. And there is precious little anyone can do to stop them.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that many states, including Minnesota, have SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) designed to prevent just this. But unfortunately they do not work well when the abusive party is a lawyer. As I say, classic corruption.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

More Discoruagement

I can't seem to get a break. I received a call from the Minnesota Judiciary on a request I make a few months back for statistics on permanent alimony or spousal support as it is known in the state. I was informed there that no data available on how often alimony let alone permanent alimony is awarded. I had hoped to get statistics on permanent alimony by county because there is a widespread belief among lawyers and legislators that permanent alimony orders vary widely by county. One state senator said that if I could get statistics showing that, it would be helpful in making the case for alimony reform.

I have often heard and read that permanent alimony in Minnesota is rare. Unfortunately no one really knows as the data simply does not exist on how often any type of alimony is ordered by the court. I would say unbelievable but given my experience it is par for the course.