Monday, May 01, 2006

Brief opposing attorney fees

I just filed this, for our May 18 hearing.
Opposition brief to attorney fee motion

I strongly oppose paying any more attorney fees, and ask for a refund.

Ms. AngryMom is a lawyer. Ms. AngryMom filed for divorce in Oct. 2003. On Nov. 23, 2003, we signed a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) in which we agreed to 50-50 custody, a parenting plan, spousal support, and a division of assets. I had paid $80,000 for her law school education.

In June 2004, Ms. AngryMom hired Ms. Jennifer J. Gray and launched an ill-considered character assassination against me in order to seize sole legal custody of our kids, and to demand more money. Ms. Gray reports to have done $54,892.54 worth of billable work in the effort. After 22 months of motions, hearings, evaluations, discovery, and other legal wrangling, none of her allegations have been found to have any merit, and we are right back where we started – 50-50 custody of the kids and no reason to deviate from the MSA.

In contrast, I have spent approximately $1,000 in legal fees. I also spent approximately $15,000 in psychotherapist evaluations and opinions that were necessitated by the Court. These numbers would be zero if Ms. Gray had not entered the case. (Of course this case has also taken a huge toll in lost time and income opportunities.)

Ms. Gray misrepresents the facts
Ms. Gray’s April 2, 2006 declaration is very misleading, as all of her work in this case has been. In particular:

"Attention Given to Case: I worked on this case with Ms. AngryMom for over two years." [para. 7] I figure that she was only on the case 16 months, from June 2004 to Oct. 2005.

"Time Consumed: This case consumed a majority of time over a two year period." [para. 14] Again she falsely says two years, and this time she says that she spent more time on this case than all her other cases put together. I believe that she had a dozen other clients, and her statement is very unlikely.

"... resulting in excessively time consuming mediation attempts and litigation efforts." [para. 3] Ms. Gray didn’t spend any time on mediation. She spent all her time trying to litigate what had already been resolved in the MSA. She falsely blames me for the litigation.

"Success of My Efforts: Every court action concluded in Ms. AngryMom's favor." [para. 8] No, Ms. Gray failed to improve Ms. AngryMom’s situation in any significant respect. Ms. Gray devoted most of her effort to gaining sole legal custody of our kids, and she never came close to that. She did get a temporary custody order in her favor, but we eventually reverted back to the 50-50 custody we had at the time Ms. Gray intervened. Not even her motion to compel discovery gained anything.

"Mr. AngryDad chose to contest every issue presented to the court, regardless of whether or not his position was supported by law." [para. 11] The only position that I ever took was that we should stick to our MSA. After 22 months of litigation, this Court has not found a single flaw in my position.

"In addition to Mr. AngryDad's decision to represent himself, his demands required an unusual amount of time on seemingly routine issues." [para. 14] I defy Ms. Gray to name even one unreasonable demand that I made. All I wanted was to able to see my kids, pay guideline child support, and uphold the MSA. She spent an unusual amount of time on routine issues because she was creating make-work for herself and pursuing untenable legal theories.

Ms. Gray’s work has been wholly irresponsible and destructive
No good has come from anything that Ms. Gray has done, and it is really wrong to reward her for her irresponsible and destructive actions. She obviously took this case because she was gambling on getting a piece of my bank account. She has already gotten $20,000 out of me (and maybe another $6,500 under dispute), and she got nearly $10,000 out of Ms. AngryMom. This is already far more than she deserves as she has only brought frivolous motions and accomplished nothing worthwhile. She should be sanctioned, not me.

Ms. Gray’s motions for custody were based on unfounded allegations that ultimately were rejected by the Court. Her motions for support were unnecessary as our MSA already provided for guideline support. Actually, those motions just made a mess for Ms. AngryMom and myself because she used disputed figures and left us with retroactively modifiable support orders for a year and a half. I am still not sure whether those orders are subject to additional modification. Had she done her job properly, we would not have had retroactively modifiable orders. Ms. Gray’s discovery motions were also unnecessary as I had already provided the requested documents and her motions did not result in anything additional.

It is doubtful that Ms. AngryMom even owes any money to Ms. Gray. The alleged debt is not collectible because Ms. Gray could never successfully sue for the money. Her withdrawal from the case was a tacit acknowledgement that the case could not possibly justify her exorbitant fees.

At a minimum, Ms. AngryMom should have to be able to show some tangible and worthwhile benefit from Ms. Gray's work, in order to justify the extravagant attorney fees. She has not and she cannot.

I deny any fault in this case
Ms. AngryMom continues to accuse me of an assortment of sins, including neglecting the kids, violating court orders, impeding discovery, intimidating witnesses, etc. None of these allegations have any merit. This Court has not found me to be at fault about anything.

I never put our children in any danger, and there is no court finding that I did. No one even expressed the opinion that Ms. AngryMom was any better parent than I was. While there are hundreds of pages of allegations against me, there is not one single example of any incident where any judge or court expert said what I did wrong or expressed the opinion that it was even possible for me to be a better parent than I have been. (There were a couple of negative opinions about co-parenting, but neither said that I was individually responsible for any problems.)

The Court did order a temporary change in time-share in Nov. 2004, but that was not based on any evidence, testimony, or expert recommendation for immediate intervention because there was none at that time. Judge Kelsay justified it by giving us a lecture on how he believes that time-share does not matter. He also said that he had presided over many custody trials, that he thought that they all went badly, and that there must be something wrong with me if I objected to an incompetent custody evaluation. His order was ultimately reversed after a custody trial.

Ms. AngryMom tries to buttress her case by claiming that I violated court orders and other required procedures. These claims are based on events that occurred while she was represented by Ms. Gray and Ms. Gray was billing for $54,892.54 in legal work. I am sure that Ms. Gray would have known what to do about it if Ms. AngryMom’s claims had any merit. They do not.

Ms. AngryMom objects to my web site, but there is nothing illegal or improper about describing events in open court from my point of view and expressing my opinions in an online journal. If there is, I hope someone tells me, because I am continuing to write about my experiences. However much she may disagree with me keeping a journal, it is not a justification for attorney fees.

She accuses my web site of being "akin to stalking", and yet she admits to hiring a private investigator to pose as a potential roommate for the purpose of deceiving me into divulging some of my personal plans. I do not spy on her. She spies on me.

Attorney fees prior to May 13, 2005 have already been adjudicated
On May 13, 2005, Ms. AngryMom asked for $40,452.01 in attorney fees. Judge Kelly heard arguments for and against, and awarded $20,000. Ms. AngryMom is not entitled to a new hearing on attorney fees that have already been denied.

Part of the attorney fee request has been denied multiple times. In Aug. 2004 she asked for $7500 in attorney fees. I had to pay $5000 of that, and the other $2500 was denied. She asked for that same $7500 as part of her May 13, 2005 request, and she is asking for that same $7500 again now. At most, she should only be asking for fees since May 13, 2005.

Awarding appellate fees would be inappropriate
Ms. AngryMom asks for $50,000 in appellate attorney fees.

I object to this Court making any such award for appellate fees. The primary effect of such an order would be to protect this Court’s own orders by making an appeal uneconomical. This Court would have a conflict of interest if it tried to interfere with the appealability of its own orders. Ms. AngryMom can ask the appellate court for fees, if she wishes.

She has no need for an appellate attorney anyway. She is a lawyer herself, and the appellate issues are simple and straightforward. If this Court believes that it acted correctly, then the appellate court will reject the appeal anyway.

Ms. AngryMom is a lawyer; I am not. She has no need for a lawyer. There is no precedent for any attorney fees in a case like this. My paying for her law school education should have been enough. Spousal support has been terminated. She has spent a lot of time and money fishing for evidence of abuse and money-hiding. She has come up with nothing. Ms. AngryMom’s attorney fee request must be denied. I request that my previously-ordered fees be refunded.
I have no idea what the court will do. My ex-wife cited some cases where family courts have awarded exorbitant attorney fees. The judges seem to be partial to paying lawyers lots of money.

I am amazed that her lawyer, Ms. Jennifer Gray, can get away with such bald lies. Seeing how she lies in our case, I am sure that she lies in her other cases as well. The lawyers and judges in town must know what she is. I don't know why they tolerate it.

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