Tag Archive for: Trial

The morning of the divorce trial, lawyer Fred Holmes, woke up at 5:00 am without an alarm clock.

He stumbled downstairs to feed the cat and the fish.

He put away the dishes from the dishwasher, fixed himself a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, and added some fresh blueberries and skim milk.  He made a fresh cup of coffee with the Netpresso machine and poured in some Amaretto flavored cream.

He flicked on the tv to watch the morning news while he ate his breakfast.  The international situation was desperate as usual.

Then he did 15 minutes of P90X Plyometrics and 100 pushups in sets of 25 with a few minutes rest between each set.

After a shower and shave, he picked out a white shirt, red power tie, and his best grey suit.

He drove to the office.  He polished his shoes to a high black gloss.  He threw his pen, phone, yellow legal pad and files into his litigation bag.  Then he drove to the courthouse.

The judge asked, “Is Counsel ready for trial?”

Fred said, “Ready, Your Honor.”

“Karma!” said Cullen, the firm’s senior lawyer.  “There’s a big pendulum up in the sky that eventually makes everything even.”

From experience, Frank knew Cullen’s habit of starting a conversation in the middle as if his thoughts to himself were part of the conversation.

“What do you mean?” Frank asked, and sat down in the client chair in front of Cullen’s desk, because he knew there was a story coming.

Cullen put his feet on the battered desk top and leaned back in his leather chair.  “I’ll tell you a tale of two different cases and you tell me if Karma was at work.  The first is the Cokely case.  Mr. Cokely built a successful career as a business broker.  But times were tough when he came to see me for his divorce.  His wife had lawyered up and pleadings were flying.”

“Mr. Cokely was a tough negotiator from his experience in buying and selling businesses.  His strategy for negotiations was to project strength and power. The problem was that Mr. Cokely viewed the world as a hostile place.  He was rude, insulting, and critical.”

“Halfway through the trial, it was clear that the judge didn’t like him.”

“Mr. Cokely blamed his lawyers for a bad result in his case (although the assets were divided about equally), and demanded a large discount on his unpaid legal fees.  The firm withdrew from representing him.”

“Now Mr. Cokely is an unemployed investment adviser with half the assets he had before, no friends, no wife, no lawyer and no customers.  Mr. Cokely may never recover from his divorce.  Karma caught up with him.”

Next: Karma and Mr. Shiply

In November of last year, Frederick Wood, 29, of Maryland, was involved in a domestic altercation with his 27 year old girlfriend.  The police report noted extensive injuries to her.

Wood was charged with second-degree assault, a misdemeanor.  His case came to trial on March 10 before Judge Darrell Russell, Jr., District Court Judge for Baltimore County, Maryland.

When the case was called, Wood’s attorney asked that the trial be taken off the calendar because the couple intended to marry.  The wife could then invoke spousal privilege which would prevent her from testifying against her husband and the case would be dismissed.

The judge refused but he did declare a break in the trial that day so they could obtain a marriage license.  When they returned to the courtroom with the license, Judge Russell married them in his chambers.  He found the defendant not guilty.

Judge Russell has been reassigned to chambers by the Chief Judge, and the House of Ruth said it  intends to make a complaint to the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities.

Additional Coverage:

Maryland Daily Record
11 News I-Team

How to Protect Your Fathers’s Rights and Mother’s Rights at a Deposition

A deposition is part of the discovery process in a custody trial.  Your spouse’s lawyer gets to ask you a lot of questions, some rude or embarrassing, at his or her office, in front of a stenographer who is taking everything down to be used against you at trial.  You are in the hot seat and it may take all day.

The lawyer has usually done this hundreds of times and knows a lot of tricks, trips and traps.  And the lawyer gets to ask the questions.  You have to answer them.

Here is the number one thing I tell my clients before their deposition.  Repeat the question in the form of a declaration, pause, and finish the sentence.  Put a period at the end of it and then stop talking.  Wait for the next question.

So the lawyer asks, “Where were you on the night of August the 7th of this year?”

You say, “On August the 7th of this year…I was at work.”

This approach has several benefits.  It gives you time to think.  It keeps you focused on the question asked.  It keeps you from talking too much.  It keeps you from guessing.  It keeps you calm.  And it might keep you from saying something that can be used against you at trial.