or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Blended and Step Family Parenting › Court Hearing and I was dropped by my lawyer
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Court Hearing and I was dropped by my lawyer

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
We have court on Tuesday. After 12,000 we have run out of money. I was dropped by my lawyer.

What do I do for Tues???

What are my options? I am so sick about this.
post #2 of 12
I'm so sorry. That must be very scary.
I don't have any advice, but I am sure someone will come up with something soon enough.
post #3 of 12
Is there a family law office of some sort in your area? Here it is very common for people to represent themselves in family court, and there are lots of services to give advice to people and explain the process.

Google gave me this:

http://www.courts.state.mn.us/selfhelp/?page=256
post #4 of 12


can you represent yourself?
post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by AngelBee View Post
We have court on Tuesday. After 12,000 we have run out of money. I was dropped by my lawyer.

What do I do for Tues???

What are my options? I am so sick about this.
Hold on. Your lawyer should not be able to drop you without permission from the court. And it would be very odd for a judge to permit him/her to withdraw just before a hearing. Even if you had money, you scarcely have time to fill in someone new on the details of a $12,000+ case before Tues. Also, the fact that you have paid so much already would in many cases influence the judge to pressure your attorney to give you some time or let you make payments. Clearly, it's not as though you got your attorney to sign on then never paid him/her. Did the attorney file a Request to Withdraw Appearance and did the court approve it?

You should file a Request for Continuance. You need time to either find another attorney or prepare to represent yourself - and you can't do that adequately by Tues. Is the issue an emergency?
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeannine View Post
Hold on. Your lawyer should not be able to drop you without permission from the court. And it would be very odd for a judge to permit him/her to withdraw just before a hearing. Even if you had money, you scarcely have time to fill in someone new on the details of a $12,000+ case before Tues. Also, the fact that you have paid so much already would in many cases influence the judge to pressure your attorney to give you some time or let you make payments. Clearly, it's not as though you got your attorney to sign on then never paid him/her. Did the attorney file a Request to Withdraw Appearance and did the court approve it?

You should file a Request for Continuance. You need time to either find another attorney or prepare to represent yourself - and you can't do that adequately by Tues. Is the issue an emergency?
He has dropped me twice as he wants a minimum of 3,000 at a time. We made 33,000 TOTAL in 2009. It is impossible for us to keep coming up with that kind of money. He dropped me a while ago this second time, but I have had no means to pay until literally Thurs.

I am so sick about this.
post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by AngelBee View Post
He has dropped me twice as he wants a minimum of 3,000 at a time. We made 33,000 TOTAL in 2009. It is impossible for us to keep coming up with that kind of money. He dropped me a while ago this second time, but I have had no means to pay until literally Thurs.

I am so sick about this.
I know you're upset, but again: Did he threaten you directly that he won't show up for your hearing Tues. because you haven't made the payment he wants; or did he file a Request to Withdraw Appearance with the court? He would have to serve you with a copy of it, if he had.

If he has represented you in court in the past - or simply filed paperwork with the court on your behalf - then he had to file an Appearance as your attorney. He's not allowed to withdraw his appearance without permission from the court. If he has/does file a Request to Withdraw, you have the right to respond to that and explain that you're willing to make payment arrangements, you just can't afford for them to be as big as he wants.

He took your case knowing what your income is. Again, you have paid him a significant amount, so you have established good faith, an intent to pay and some ability to do so. If he is completely unwilling to work with you at this point, on payment arrangements you can afford without losing your house and starving your family, there IS an avenue for him to dump you but it involves having to explain himself to the judge and having the judge approve his reason for dumping you. Especially in this economy, I would be surprised if a judge did not order him to compromise and work with you a bit, before releasing him from his obligation to you. IN ANY EVENT, he is not allowed to HARASS you for payment by threatening to leave you high and dry just before each hearing. (The purpose of that hearing is to address the best interest of the child, not for him to use as leverage for payment.) If he IS doing that, it may be that he realizes a judge would scowl at him for filing a Request to Withdraw Appearance, so instead he's trying to take advantage of your ignorance of the system.

Call your local Bar Association. Do not give his name just yet. You don't want to get him in trouble with the Bar before you've resolved where you're going with him. But explain your situation and ask what your options are. Depending what they say, you may not want to share with your attorney that you called them. Don't get stuck in being afraid and upset. Find out what you can do.
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeannine View Post
I know you're upset, but again: Did he threaten you directly that he won't show up for your hearing Tues. because you haven't made the payment he wants; or did he file a Request to Withdraw Appearance with the court? He would have to serve you with a copy of it, if he had.

If he has represented you in court in the past - or simply filed paperwork with the court on your behalf - then he had to file an Appearance as your attorney. He's not allowed to withdraw his appearance without permission from the court. If he has/does file a Request to Withdraw, you have the right to respond to that and explain that you're willing to make payment arrangements, you just can't afford for them to be as big as he wants.

He took your case knowing what your income is. Again, you have paid him a significant amount, so you have established good faith, an intent to pay and some ability to do so. If he is completely unwilling to work with you at this point, on payment arrangements you can afford without losing your house and starving your family, there IS an avenue for him to dump you but it involves having to explain himself to the judge and having the judge approve his reason for dumping you. Especially in this economy, I would be surprised if a judge did not order him to compromise and work with you a bit, before releasing him from his obligation to you. IN ANY EVENT, he is not allowed to HARASS you for payment by threatening to leave you high and dry just before each hearing. (The purpose of that hearing is to address the best interest of the child, not for him to use as leverage for payment.) If he IS doing that, it may be that he realizes a judge would scowl at him for filing a Request to Withdraw Appearance, so instead he's trying to take advantage of your ignorance of the system.

Call your local Bar Association. Do not give his name just yet. You don't want to get him in trouble with the Bar before you've resolved where you're going with him. But explain your situation and ask what your options are. Depending what they say, you may not want to share with your attorney that you called them. Don't get stuck in being afraid and upset. Find out what you can do.
I believe he filed a withdraw with the court. Going to peek at my paper work....
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
It was filed to other lawyer and court. Doesn't say why he withdrew.

Just to send all future communications to me.
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by AngelBee View Post
It was filed to other lawyer and court. Doesn't say why he withdrew.

Just to send all future communications to me.
OK, AngelBee:

MN Rules of Professional Conduct (http://www.mncourts.gov/lprb/05mrpc.html#r116):

"RULE 1.16: DECLINING OR TERMINATING REPRESENTATION

...(b)... a lawyer may withdraw from representing a client if:

(1) withdrawal can be accomplished without material adverse effect on the interests of the client;

(2) the client persists in a course of action involving the lawyer’s services that the lawyer reasonably believes is criminal or fraudulent; (not applicable, I assume?)

(3) the client has used the lawyer’s services to perpetrate a crime or fraud; (not applicable, I assume?)

(4) the client insists upon taking action that the lawyer considers repugnant or with which the lawyer has a fundamental disagreement; (not applicable, I assume?)

(5) the client fails substantially to fulfill an obligation to the lawyer regarding the lawyer’s services and has been given reasonable warning that the lawyer will withdraw unless the obligation is fulfilled; (Again: The atty. knew your income when he took you on as a client; you have established an intent to pay; you have offered to make payments and he has rejected that offer and instead demanded payments he knows you can't afford. Unless he sent you notice about withdrawing a long time ago and you've avoided dealing with it, he has NOT fulfilled the requirement to give reasonable notice and is arguably attempting to intimidate you into payment by threatening to withdraw so close to a hearing that you DO risk "material adverse effect on your interests", IN VIOLATION OF Rule 1.16-(b)-1.)

(6) the representation will result in an unreasonable financial burden on the lawyer (Again, if you have already paid him approximately 1/3 of your annual income - and he knew your income when he took your case - I do not think he can make a reasonable argument that he will suffer an "unreasonable financial burden" unless you make payments that are a full 1/10 of your annual income)or has been rendered unreasonably difficult by the client (I don't know how this clause is generally invoked, but you could certainly argue that YOU are the one to decide whether representation is "unreasonably difficult" FOR YOU; that's not your attorney's job); or

(7) other good cause for withdrawal exists. (HE HASN'T STATED ONE!)

(c) A lawyer must comply with applicable law requiring notice to or permission of a tribunal when terminating a representation. When ordered to do so by a tribunal, a lawyer shall continue representation notwithstanding good cause for terminating the representation.

(d) Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client’s interests, such as giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, surrendering papers and property to which the client is entitled, and refunding any advance payment of fees or expenses that has not been earned or incurred..."

---------------------------------------------------------------

MN Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board: http://www.mncourts.gov/lprb/index.a...=menucomplaint - instructions for filing a complaint against an attorney

----------------------------------------------------------------

from Ethical and Procedural Withdrawal Requirements (article by Kenneth L. Jorgensen, First Assistant Director Minnesota Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, printed in Minnesota Lawyer on November 4, 2002) http://www.mncourts.gov/lprb/fc110402.html:

"The necessity of court permission varies from court to court and even within certain courts depending upon the nature of the proceeding (e.g., civil or criminal). Ethically, withdrawing from representation, as outlined in this article, can only be accomplished by compliance with the applicable procedure or practice rules of the tribunal before which the lawyer is practicing.

State civil matters: Withdrawal from state court civil, appellate and administrative proceedings... none of these proceedings require court permission (which stinks...BUT he STILL has to follow the Rules outlined above), withdrawal is only effective upon serving all parties and the tribunal with notice of the withdrawal. See e.g., Rule 105, General Rules of Practice; Rule 143.05 (subd. 2), Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure; and Rule 1400.5700, Minnesota Code of Agency Regulations.

Each of these rules requires the withdrawal notice to include the client’s address and telephone number and cautions that withdrawal does not create a right to continue already scheduled trials or hearings. (That fact means the risk of "material adverse effect on your interests" by him withdrawing right before a hearing is even more significant.)

Noncompliance consequences
Despite the absence of a court approval requirement, these “notice” type of withdrawal rules can still serve as a basis for discipline. Lawyers have been disciplined for failing to provide the required notice when the failure to do so has resulted in prejudice to the former client or disruption of court procedures or calendars.

...ethically withdrawing from litigation matters requires not only a proper basis or reason for withdrawal (Rule 1.16(a) and (b)), but also compliance with the procedural rules of the tribunal before which the litigation is pending. Failure to heed these requirements can result not only in professional discipline, but also court sanctions."

---------------------------------------------------------------

MN Rules of Civil Court: http://www.mncourts.gov/?page=511#civil

According to this, you must file a request for continuance at least 3 days before a hearing - although evidently your atty. withdrawing representation is not a basis for continuance.

----------------------------------------------------------------

If I were you, I'd contact my atty. today and tell him:
* You have established - and still have - an intent to pay him;
* You are willing to make payments, you just can't afford $3,000 at a time;
* He knew your income when he agreed to represent you;
* Common sense makes it obvious that there will be "material adverse effect on your interests" if he does not represent you at the hearing tomorrow, since he did not give you sufficient notice of his withdrawal to allow you to retain other representation or adequately prepare to represent yourself.
* In his notice of withdrawal, he did not address the risk of material adverse effect on your interests, nor did he cite any reason for his withdrawal. Thereby, he failed to comply with Rule 1.16 of the State Rules of Professional Conduct.
* You would like him to show up and represent you at the hearing tomorrow. (He is allowed to file a Notice of Representation in court, when he gets there. So the fact that he's already withdrawn does not prevent him from representing you tomorrow - don't let him tell you it does!)

In addition to calling him, you need to put this in writing and FAX it to his office TODAY. If you file a complaint against him later, you need proof that you communicated with him about these things. The date/time stamp on the fax will prove when you sent it and that it went to his office. More importantly, seeing that you've put these things in writing might make him and/or his office staff realize you are considering filing a professional complaint. He may take you more seriously and show up tomorrow, rather than dealing with having to respond to a complaint.

Meanwhile, prepare to represent yourself tomorrow.
#1- On the Civil Procedure link I gave you, research how to write up a challenge to his Notice of Withdrawal. The basis of your challenge is that he failed to comply with Rule 1.16. You can file your challenge in court tomorrow.
#2- Go ahead and write up a Request for Continuance, which you can also file in court tomorrow. The basis is that your attorney withdrew without giving proper notice and you ask the Court to postpone the hearing until the matter of your representation - and your challenge of your attorney's withdrawal - is resolved.
#3- Prepare whatever you need to, for your actual custody issues, as though there is no chance of continuance (because it's definitely not a sure thing, unfortunately).

If your attorney doesn't show, file a complaint! Your basis is that he intentionally compromised your custody case, by withdrawing right before a hearing, to intimidate you into making a payment he knew you couldn't afford - in spite of your history of paying him and your williingness to set up a reasonable payment plan. Moreover, he failed to comply with Rule 1.16, by failing to state any reason for his withdrawal and failing to consider the risk of "materal adverse effect to your interests".

Good luck, mama! The system is designed to make you believe you'd drown in it without your attorney - so you'd better pay whatever he asks, for fear he'll cut the tow-rope to your life raft. Well, use the system against anyone who wants you feel powerless and scared. It may not work... but your attorney expects you won't do anything about him withdrawing. If you surprise him, it may change how he chooses to proceed with you.
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Wow. I had no clue. Hmmm....

I was able to gather 2,500 more to cover my 1,000 rears and he assisted me with drafting paper work for today. But he will not be in attendance.
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by AngelBee View Post
Wow. I had no clue. Hmmm....

I was able to gather 2,500 more to cover my 1,000 rears and he assisted me with drafting paper work for today. But he will not be in attendance.
I hope everything went OK for you today.

I hate that helping people with children whose family life has broken down is a business and people withhold that help to exact payment. It's a crummy thing to do.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Blended and Step Family Parenting › Court Hearing and I was dropped by my lawyer