Lawyers Dirty tricks- a Lay litigants experience

fight over childThe following is a subscriber  story   describing her experience as a lay litigant in the Family courts .

All is fair in love and war.  That, I have discovered, is simply not true! 

 “Emotional abuse” is the number one dirty tactic the lawyers for the applicants used against me.  Here is a definition of Psychological abuse, also referred to as emotional abuse or mental abuse, is a form of abuse characterised by a person subjecting or exposing another to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Such abuse is often associated with situations of power imbalance, such as abusive relationships, bullying, and abuse in the workplace.  

 The power imbalance is an obvious one in my case.  Two lawyers, having full knowledge of the law and two applicants, against me (having been a legal secretary, the full extent of my knowledge of the law).  Four against one is never going to be a “fair” battle.  The lawyers pulled out all their dirty tricks against me, which I will into shortly.  The lawyers, under the applicants instructions, played one dirty trick after another, against a mother of five in order to get what they wanted.  Full access and control over my son, who they do not know.  For ten months I did not sleep at night, my heart beat irregularly and fast, I was grumpy (probably due to lack of sleep) and I shied away from contact with people because I no longer trusted anybody involved (except my friends and family).  All of which are signs of severe stress. 

Bullying!  I have never experienced bullying, in such a degree, as to the extent I have been bullied by the applicants and their lawyers through the Auckland Family Court.  What they did to me was shear mean and completely unnecessary.  In the end, it was seen by Whangarei Family Court, and it did not hold the lawyers or the applicants in good steed with the Family Court.  However Auckland Family Court condoned the bullying behaviour (by allowing the proceedings to continue on the basis of a false “affidavit of service” and also by allowing substituted service for much of the  future documentation.  I was deemed guilty by Auckland Family court, while trying to prove myself innocent!  I was not listened to by the lawyers for the applicants, the (old) lawyer for the child or the Court.

 “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”  It is a verse I have held on to, during four applications which were filed against me in the Family (LOL) Court, by the parents of  a deceased male (who never sought contact with my son) and on whose death the applicants immediately sought contact with my son.  You will need something to keep believe in, representing yourself in family Court.

The complete file ended up being approximately 15cm in thickness.  At the allocated court hearing on 2 July 2013, the Judge held up the file and reading between the lines, he meant “enough”.  Counsel for the applicants were all prepared for their case, they had sent me a copy of their “bundle of documents”(about 2 inches thick) to refer to at the Court hearing, which I received on the very morning of the hearing.  No time for preparation for me – and that is all part of one of the plan and just one of the lawyer’s dirty tricks.  Dirty Trick number two.  Always serve the self represented respondent at the very very last minute in order to create maximum stress and leave her no time to respond!  I suppose that makes me an “ent”.

 Dirty trick number three was, in fact, a crime – PERJURY!  At 4.55pm on 4 February 2013, I received, by email, the first false “affidavit of service” of Michael Downey.  Registrar’s List was set down for the following day, 5 February 2013.  The “affidavit of service” stated I had been served by Michael Downey at 1.45pm on Monday 4 January 2013 (the 4th was in fact a Friday), only I had proof I was not at the address the document non server swore he had served me.  The applicants lawyer sent me an email later that day that read “we have checked with Translegal Services New Zealand and they have advised us that their agent definitely served you on Friday, 4 January 2013”!  It was, a very dirty trick, waiting to the very last 5 minutes but the dirty trick of perjury was unconscionable!  At that time it was possible the applicant’s lawyers did not know of the perjury (giving them the benefit of the doubt).

 Dirty trick number, I’ve lost count now.  Counsel filed the document by email in the last possible five minutes, but it was so flawed it was rejected by the Court.  However this gave them a door to sneak in.  Judge ordered “file a satisfactory “affidavit of service” or send the documents by way of “registered post”.  So there you go… proceedings commenced on a false “affidavit of service”.  It is completely acceptable to the Auckland Family court.

 Next dirty trick.  Over one month later, I receive, by email, the next false “affidavit of service”.  This time, Downey has changed the date and time of service to 7.45am on 3 January 2013.  There is a footer at the bottom of the first “affidavit of service” which shows the documents have been prepared by Counsel for the applicants.  It is the format they use for saving documents.  Both the “affidavits of service” were not the usual format of Translegal Services New Zealand (which is the format of the the very first affidavit for the first lot of applications which were filed against me), and is quite different from the format of the documents prepared by counsel for the applicants.  In a nutshell, counsel for the applicants had prepared the false “affidavits of service”.  Not only that, they have used the completely altered “affidavit of service” as proof of service, knowing very well that it had been changed and with the knowledge that I had filed two sworn affidavits that I was not at Ruawai on either date, purchase receipts, bank statements and an affidavit of my friend who I was staying with.  I was away, with my five children on both days – Downey swore he served me!

 The Judge later noted in his directions that he did not believe the documents had been served by way of the “service affidavits”of Michael Downey.  He did however, believe I had been served by way of registered post, of which the postie had signed, my name on the docket in receipt of the documents.  Forgery or fraud, by all accounts, another crime to add to the growing list of crimes undertaken during the proceedings against me.  I have forwarded evidence of this to the Court.  

 …this next dirty trick, I can hardly fathom.  The applicants and their lawyers just get meaner and meaner.  The applicant’s lawyers and I had an email conversation, as follows :

 “Dear John, I will agree to unblock you from my email if you promise not to serve any more false affidavits on me… I will trial this unblock for 1 month.  However if I feel that you are using my email to harass me, I will re-instate the block.”

 John’s reply “… thank you for your various correspondence.  Unfortunately any affidavit provided by my clients is very likely to be considered by you to be false.  Therefore we will continue to correspond with you by post.”

 My reply “Thank you for your email of today’s date.  If you are unable to send affidavits which are not false, then, I too, consider it is best that you send documents by post.  It is not so shocking for me this way.”

 Quite clearly, it is agreed between the applicant’s lawyers and I, that he will correspond by post.  However, one week before the hearing, on trying to find my twitter password in my email trash, I came across a bunch of documents and correspondence, sent to me by the lawyers for the applicants.  All is fair in love and war?  No, I don’t think so.  The word of the lawyer means nothing!  I sent this conversation to the Court by way of memorandum and advised them that if I had not replied to the correspondence or documentation of the lawyers, it was because I had been tricked!  This was in anticipation of the next dirty trick, where they would advise the Court, “the respondent has not replied to our correspondence or documentation”.  This is a dirty trick they had used previously, in order to trash me before the Court.  They also sent a blog to the Court, which they presumed was mine!  Watch out for that!   Lawyers could retrieve any blog from the internet and use it against you.

Beware!  Being a lay litigant/self represented/litigant in person is definitely not for the faint hearted!  I was threatened with having to pay the applicant’s legal bills, I was completely trashed before the Court by the applicants through their lawyers, I was deemed a liar.  I didn’t sleep properly for ten months (when served with the false affidavits I did not sleep a wink), my children suffered, and what for?  Justice.

One more trick I found the lawyers used.  They would always let me know, via documentation, that yet another application had been filed with the Court, and in this way, they could say “the respondent knows of the applications against her.”, and this is how they achieved substituted service time after time.  If one knows of an application against them, they may attempt to avoid service in which case I was found guilty before I was proven innocent.

 Justice prevailed in the end, with the outcome that the applicants got exactly half of what I initially offered them by way of contact.  I do not believe I would have achieved the same outcome in the Auckland Family court.  My saving grace, came with encouragement by Grace to have the proceedings transferred to Whangarei.   Having a new lawyer for the child appointed was a “God send”also.  Having a lawyer for the child, who does act in the child’s best interests, is indeed a blessing.  Having a lawyer for the child (the old one) who is nothing but an extra lawyer for the applicants was really hard going!

 The applicant’s final application to appoint themselves as additional guardians of my child, did not go down well before the Court.  It was seen as inappropriate, which of course, my family, friends and I knew very well.  What type of people try to appoint themselves as guardians of someone else’s child, who they do not even know or know anything about.  Anything is possible through dirty, bully tactics, if persistent.  You need to be just as persistent in fighting back against the bully!

 Taking on lawyers, as a lay litigant, definitely requires serious consideration.  If I had employed the services of a lawyer, I would now have no house!  Hopefully, my experience has provided you with some insight into the tricks you will be up against.  I have only mentioned here the lawyers tricks, the applicants tricks, I am sure would surpass even these.  Dirty tricks and all – I feel I have bitter/sweet victory!

I do not think all lawyers are like this, I cannot comment though, this is the only experience I have had, and I can say I definitely would not like to repeat it.  My experience is, that court, is the way ghastly people attempt to get their way.  Although, not always what they want or how they want it.  Sometimes it can be taken too far.

 After the hearing, I asked the female applicant (not very politely), if she “intended filing any further applications against me.”  She said “no”, we’ll see about that, the applicants think that lying and fabricating evidence is the new “telling the truth”…

One Response to Lawyers Dirty tricks- a Lay litigants experience

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