Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It Was This Big . . .

In the spring, I started thinking seriously about Seton Hall to prep for the NJ Bar Exam. It was too late for the summer sitting of the exam and I've gotten involved in other things this fall, but I have to say that, like most things I finally do with seriousness, it takes me a few orbits to get "A Round Tuit" and next year will be it. I think, anyway.

One of the reasons I feel motivated is that I realize that I miss it. I wa heavily involved in contracts and intellectual property rights when I was in New York. After that went south, I thought that I'd be fine as a civilian for a while, but it just won't work out.

Another reason is my crazy ex-wife who is distressing because, unfortunately, she's a sociopath that's painted a target on my back in part because I choose to participate, to stand up for what's right.

I've gone through the mill with her and spent a bit of time studying civil practice and statute as it relates to divorce and child custody. I don't believe that she's studied, per se, as she's a sociopath and study is beneath her. Instead, as a sociopath, she believes that she's entitled to ask the questions and get the answers. She, too, was involved in contract law in New York. And her contracts were horrible. I fixed them for her boss and that's how we met. And that's how I got into trouble in New York, covering for her. She'll deny it because if indicted, she would have been convicted and would have been deported. What a player.

But that's away from what I started out getting at. I know a few lawyers here in the big NJ and from time to time, I ask questions about what's practical versus what's possible. In theory, anything is possible - I can sue you for anything and for any amount of money, right now. Even if I don't know you, I can find something - I promise. The question is, will the judge dismiss the suit outright? Judges don't like spurious suits and opposing counsel have the right, and often do, ask for sanctions. So, there has to be some basis to go forward but not necessarily to file. It's not so, so easy, but it's easy enough.

Another thing is this - people mistake the practice of law as a means to obtain justice. That's not what it's about at all, unfortunately. Justice is kinda absolute and the law is very finite. So, the results are very finite. Further, your particular problem is unlikely to make it into caselaw, so your attorney will try to press it into one category or the other, for which caselaw and statute already exists. That is, assuming you don't have millions of dollars to spend on representation.

Let's say you did have millions of dollars to spend on representation, though, and Mike the Neighbour doesn't like the fact that you have wild sex parties on the front lawn of your mansion, but the only way he can know about those sex parties is either to have attended himself, assuming he was invited and if he wasn't invited, he was likely trepassing because common law provides basic principles of opertaion though he may have had a lawful purpose in walking on your sex-sweat-covered greenery as may have been permitted by local statute or custom . . . It's already starting to get sticky, and we're not even one sentence in. So, he complains to the homeowner's association and your legal team advises you that he surely does have a case and will likely win a civil suit. They propose an answer, which is filed. Six months pass. A preliminary injunction against your sex parties is appealed, lifted, reimposed and made permanent pending the outcome of the trial. A year passes. In the meantime, you have sued this neighbor for slander, considering your station in the community, that is, you are rich and not an importer of cocaine, citing that the parties were entirely to benefit charity, say Doughnuts for Dum Dums, or whatever and were, in fact, performance art. That reaches interrogatories and several hearings have come and gone on a number of sundry issues, the sundry-er, the better, since it costs Neighbour Mike more moola, time and certainly pressure.

Therein lies the key: pressure. Get the opposition to spend money. This equals pressure. Suggest through legally-effected action, like motions, pleadings, interrogatories and so forth, an uptick in activity. This also equals pressure. If PR or other psychological means are available, use them. Even more pressure. Ain't got nuthin to do with what's right or wrong. It has only to do with getting the other side to a disadvantageous position so that when negotiation begins, maximum leverage is further amplified by the concept that counsel will be walking away at any second along with the client, who, as been shared between us lawyers, is an asshole, anyway. Pressure.

So, in my personal situation, my crazy ex-wife knows how to apply pressure. She is a master at manipulation, insinuation and, of course, outright lying. If she wasn't a total sociopath, she might have made it through law school, might not have practiced without being admitted to the Bar and might have actually been a pretty ballsy attorney, but because sociopaths feel elevated and entitled, there was no real reason for her to finish school and get her license.

Unless you can afford to sustain a legal challenge, settle right from the beginning. Or run away. There are no legal resources for people who earn enough money to buy bread and beer on a weekly basis and for the truly poor, representation is being phoned in by newbie attorneys who are doing pro bono at their firm's requirement for new associates. Too bad, really, as most of these young folks actually still have an interest greater than simply building a practice or getting the partnership.

There are some websites, like, that let people ask questions and get answers from attorneys who are looking to, you guessed it, build their practice. I developed and posted this question:

"My ex-wife is a sociopath and an alcoholic. She has failed to follow any aspect of the JOD. She constantly sends me annoying, disturbing and sometimes frightening e-mails which are filled with lies. I believe that she wants me to react and rack up big legal fees so that she can countersue for whatever she imagines she can get plus her legal fees. Her goal, she once said while beating me to a bloody pulp before the divorce, was to rip out my heart so that I could watch it beat in her hand while I died and, short of that, to support her every habit and whim even if it meant I had to work three jobs and live on the street. She's incredibly manipulative, so much so that she manipulated her own attorney into fronting 20 grand in fees which she hasn't paid and likely won't. Further, she's a resident alien and has no qualms about taking my kid and heading back to her mosquito-infested country if the going gets felony. Am I better served by getting intensive therapy for myself and just forget my kid ever existed or should I take her down like a pair of dirty knickers?"

I know the answers to these questions and they will be very generic. There is ALWAYS something one can do, but is it worth it? Is it? We'll see.