Friday, September 17, 2010

Pro Se Lawyer, Divorce Actions--Bad Ideas


Occasionally, in my Bad career I came, shudderingly, into proximity of "divorce" aka, "domestic relations" or "family law" attorneys.  Occasionally, I have encountered lawyers, divorce and otherwise, who have attempted to handle their own divorces, pro se.  Bad Idea.

How often have I advised against being your own attorney since the beginning of this "blawg?"  This same caution applies doubly to lawyers who try to handle their own complex divorces (any that involve property and children).

The New York disciplinary authorities have now suspended attorney, Anthony Chiofalo for 2 years for his conduct and outrageous assertions in pleadings filed by him in his divorce and divorce-related lawsuits.  This opinion needs to be read to be believed.  Attorney Chiofalo was quite simply insane--and that he's taking a two year suspension instead of disbarment is pretty unbelievable.  He wrote and submitted pleadings that are objectively frivolous and filled with obscenity especially of the scatological category.  He abused his knowledge to abuse and emotionally torture his family.  Disgusting.

The divorce attorneys that I knew in the 1980s and 1990s were pretty out of control.  As bad as this guy?  Yep, maybe worse.  One particular lawyer comes to mind, a brilliant African-American lawyer who fathered children outside of his marriage.  Mr. August Willfully was the target of a paternity action, which he lost. Subsequently, he was the subject of various child support actions which he lost. "Willfully" filed multiple frivolous lawsuits, appeals, and appeals upon appeals, endlessly tying up his support obligations in away that it is relatively amazing that no disciplinary actions were initiated against him.   But Attorney Willfully's conduct did draw repeated financial sanctions.  "Willfully" and his firm "LoBlo and Willfully" notoriously were the first to request sanctions when they saw opposing counsel in a position of exposure over a legal position or pleading mistake. 

Karma ghosts!

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