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View Full Version : Misc Lawyer doesn't show up to court


Dick Bull
12-20-2011, 07:14 AM
Here's the situation.

I have a friend who has an ongoing child custody/visitation case going. He hires an attorney, pays the attorney, and all looks well. Next thing you know the attorney's son dies and she immediately goes into reclusion. She doesn't return his calls, moves her office to her home and almost disappears.

Last Wednesday there was a hearing scheduled. My friend calls her up on Tuesday to confirm and she tells him no that she is getting a continuance. Everything still sounds good, except they went ahead and had the hearing. They determined child support, visitation, etc without his or his attorney being there. They stuck it to home so bad that she actually had her attorney amend it because she felt sorry for him.

My question is this: Is there any legal action that can be taken to a)get his money back from the attorney b)reverse or amend the decision because of negligence of his attorney

I know there's a lawyer or two on here, but I'm curious of the great mind pools thoughts on this.

mikeyis4dcats.
12-20-2011, 07:43 AM
he would have to show ineffective counsel. depends on how the bar association and court view the attorney....they could turn a blind eye or they could admit she is not doing her job.

luv
12-20-2011, 07:54 AM
In Missouri? Go to the Missouri Bar website. There's a complaint form on the site. Or call and ask. Either way, contact the Missouri Bar.

http://www.mobar.org/
(573) 635-4128

Bwana
12-20-2011, 07:54 AM
There should indeed be a price she has to pay, (one would hope) but I have no idea what that is, or if it's to late for your friend. I lost most of my faith in the legal system, years ago. In a lot of cases, it's nothing more than a circus.

loochy
12-20-2011, 08:04 AM
Find another lawyer to sue the lawyer?

Buehler445
12-20-2011, 08:09 AM
Sorry to hear that. Hopefully he didn't go to court with no lawyer.

luv
12-20-2011, 08:10 AM
Sorry to hear that. Hopefully he didn't go to court with no lawyer.

He didn't go. The lawyer told him that she was going to get a continuance.

Chiefnj2
12-20-2011, 08:14 AM
Call the Judge's law clerk immediately and explain what happened. Have the clerk ask the Judge the best way to proceed.

Write to her and tell her what happened. Tell her she has 24 hours to correct the situation and speak with your friend, or he will file an ethics committee complaint.

In the meantime, find a new lawyer.

notorious
12-20-2011, 08:35 AM
PM Banyon.

Banyon is a lawyer.

Cave Johnson
12-20-2011, 08:58 AM
My office mate is a family law attorney.... will check with him when he gets back from court.

Generally speaking, though, he'll probably have to appeal the decision (with a new lawyer).

Bwana
12-20-2011, 09:00 AM
PM Banyon.

Banyon is a lawyer.

So was gobowe (John) and he's one of the few lawyers I have any respect for.

KC Tattoo
12-20-2011, 09:06 AM
Here is the one thing your friend has going against him. Being a guy.

trndobrd
12-20-2011, 09:06 AM
It's odd that the judge would proceed without the attorney or party present. Find another attorney ASAP!

Then call the Judge's clerk, explain the situation and find out if the attorney had actually filed an appearance (statement saying she is representing your friend) and ask if a request for continuance had been filed. The legal community is pretty small and word has probably gotten around that this attorney isn't doing her job.

Skip the Bar Association, they are not in charge of attorney discipline. File a complaint with the Attorney Discipline Board here:
http://www.mochiefcounsel.org/index.htm

edit: Be sure that he provides a detailed account of what he paid, when he paid, unreturned correspondence, etc. Did she ever appear in court for your friend?

Cave Johnson
12-20-2011, 09:11 AM
It's odd that the judge would proceed without the attorney or party present.

That happens all the time, especially if there have been prior continuances.

go bowe
12-20-2011, 09:12 AM
Here's the situation.

I have a friend who has an ongoing child custody/visitation case going. He hires an attorney, pays the attorney, and all looks well. Next thing you know the attorney's son dies and she immediately goes into reclusion. She doesn't return his calls, moves her office to her home and almost disappears.

Last Wednesday there was a hearing scheduled. My friend calls her up on Tuesday to confirm and she tells him no that she is getting a continuance. Everything still sounds good, except they went ahead and had the hearing. They determined child support, visitation, etc without his or his attorney being there. They stuck it to home so bad that she actually had her attorney amend it because she felt sorry for him.

My question is this: Is there any legal action that can be taken to a)get his money back from the attorney b)reverse or amend the decision because of negligence of his attorney

I know there's a lawyer or two on here, but I'm curious of the great mind pools thoughts on this.

1st, use the link luv provided to contact the mo bar and file a complaint (which will put tremendous pressure on the lawyer to correct the situation)...

then contact the lawyer and demand to know what malpractice insurance company the lawyer uses and contact them with a claim of malpractice (even more pressure to correct the situation or face big problems with the insurance company)...

then see what pittsie's colleague comes up wrt advice on how to proceed with the divorce case (my guess is to get another lawyer to reopen the judgment or appeal it, but he'll know for sure)...

most important, don't worry about it too much, it can be fixed i'm pretty sure...

go bowe
12-20-2011, 09:16 AM
It's odd that the judge would proceed without the attorney or party present. Find another attorney ASAP!

Then call the Judge's clerk, explain the situation and find out if the attorney had actually filed an appearance (statement saying she is representing your friend) and ask if a request for continuance had been filed. The legal community is pretty small and word has probably gotten around that this attorney isn't doing her job.

Skip the Bar Association, they are not in charge of attorney discipline. File a complaint with the Attorney Discipline Board here:
http://www.mochiefcounsel.org/index.htm

edit: Be sure that he provides a detailed account of what he paid, when he paid, unreturned correspondence, etc. Did she ever appear in court for your friend?

the bar association will refer the matter to the chief disciplinary counsel's office automatically in mo...

trndobrd
12-20-2011, 09:18 AM
the bar association will refer the matter to the chief disciplinary counsel's office automatically in mo...

Cool. In KS the Bar Assoc likes to 'recommend' mediation, etc. etc. The KS Disciplinary Administrator goes directly to the blue letters. (office uses blue stationery)


edit: So I've been told.

notorious
12-20-2011, 09:21 AM
So was gobowe (John) and he's one of the few lawyers I have any respect for.

Good to know. Hopefully I won't need to ask for advice in the future.

DJ's left nut
12-20-2011, 09:23 AM
It's a pretty obvious malpractice situation.

But yeah, get a new attorney. Have the attorney file a Mx to vacate the order and do it QUICKLY. I'm not sure how the family courts operate, but you're generally looking at 20 - 30 days before that becomes a final order.

He should be in a lawyers office today. Explain the situation, have them vacate the order and move along. The family lawyer will likely know the timelines involved and how to get the matter noticed up and set on the quickest available motion docket.

If there is any additional cost/expense for him (including the attorneys fees for the Mx to vacate), that forms the basis of his malpractice action against the attorney.

It's not exactly an 'ineffective assistance' situation because A) that's generally only used in criminal defense situations and B) it's also usually only grounds for appeal or a new trial. It's just not the right grounds to have this set aside. Ultimately, courts hate default judgments and that's what this was. So have the default judgment and order set aside, cite 'excusable neglect' and the fact that there's no prejudicial impact on the wife by having a hearing on the merits.

This isn't unfixable, not even a little, but he needs to move quite quickly. As for the Missouri Bar - I wouldn't bother. It's extremely hard to actually have an attorney disciplined by the Bar and court dates get missed more than you know. Ultimately, the Bar isn't going to yank or suspend a license for a missed court date. And the Bar can't award money judgments either (that's what the malpractice action is for).

Dick Bull
12-20-2011, 10:16 AM
You guys are awesome! He has an appointment with a lawyer today. Hopefully, there's still time as he found this out yesterday and the hearing was last week.

Much thanks for helping me help a friend.

ReynardMuldrake
12-20-2011, 10:26 AM
You guys are awesome! He has an appointment with a lawyer today. Hopefully, there's still time as he found this out yesterday and the hearing was last week.

Much thanks for helping me help a friend.

Good luck, man. A death in the family sucks, but that's no excuse to ignore your responsibilities like he did. Hope you guys win a favorable judgement.

Cave Johnson
12-20-2011, 11:07 AM
Apparently Joplin doesn't have family court commissioners, so the new lawyer will need to, as DJ suggested, file a motion with the judge.