The Fine Line Between Advocating Your Custody Case & Annoying the Judge by Command the Courtroom   2 years ago

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I want to talk about balancing the fine line between advocating your custody case and annoying your judge. Unfortunately I have a lot of experience with this over the last few months because I’ve found myself in a lot of high conflict cases that ended up in trial.

Not only have the parties been at each others throats the attorneys have as well. The conflict and intensity of these cases have brought these cases to a level of stress than I am used to. In arguing my client’s position in these cases, the judge has gotten fed up with not only me but the other attorney as well.

For example judges set disclosure deadlines for these cases. I’ve talked about this in other videos that you have to abide by the deadlines ordered by the court. So in one of these cases, past the disclosure deadline the other side an disclosed an expert witness to evaluate my client’s financial accounts. Both my client and I freaked out because we got this information 2 weeks before the trial.

It was a 57 page report filled with tables, charts, graphs and numbers. So there was no way my client and I were going to be able to figure this out prior to trial especially without an expert of our own. So I did what I thought what most attorneys would do which was to file a motion in {} asking the judge to strike that report and stop the expert from testifying at trial.

So of course the other side filed their own motion claiming that my client did not disclose their financial information in a timely manner which led to the other party’s late filing of the report. So according to the rules I am allowed to file a reply so that’s what I did. The judge was not happy to say the least and entered a minute entry that that he was not going to decide this case before trial which was 2 weeks away.

In that 2 weeks I am going on vacation so I strongly suggested that the parties get together and figure this out. I could almost feel the judge’s frustration and anger and I thought we really needed to work this out because if it goes to the judge it’s not going to work out good for anybody. So that’s what my client and I attempted to do and luckily for my client, she had the resources and was able to get her own expert to do an analysis of the other party’s report prior to the trial.

We were able to resolve the issue before the trial and the judge said it was a good thing we did because you were able to avoid my wrath. So there are things that need to be done to protect the interests of your case, but sometimes you need not push it. In this situation I felt I needed to file the motion to protect my client.

As another example there was another case where I had a trial and there was a particular document that my client really wanted to be admitted as evidence. I tried to get it in a number of different ways and the judge basically said that he was not admitting this exhibit and that he was not comfortable admitting this exhibit. I got the look from the judge, don’t push it so I just dropped it.

In these cases you need to be mindful of when to push it and when you need to cross over that line. Because I’ve been in cases where the other party, the other attorney has not been mindful or aware of that. They crossed the line and they experienced the wrath of the court that resulted in a ruling that did not benefit their client. So it’s a fine line between advocating and annoying.

Wendy Hernandez is a family law attorney in Phoenix, AZ and founder of Command the Courtroom which teaches you how to handle yourself in court and achieve the best outcome when representing yourself in your divorce or child custody case.

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