Spoke to my pastor the other day. Well, I don’t go to church anymore, but she’s still my pastor. She gave me some deep theological advice that she knew to be true about the universe.
She told me, “Shit happens.”
I guess she’s right.
On Tuesday I was on my way to a court hearing and I saw a rainbow in the middle of a rainstorm. I took it to mean that perhaps “the powers that be” were giving me a sign of strength and love and hope for a positive outcome. The court hearing didn’t go my way. The judge ruled by the law, but it still didn’t seem right or fair. I felt that “the powers that be” lied.
But I suppose that shit just happens.
And fair is something you pay on a bus.
The legal aspects of getting a divorce really sucks. Even years later, it still sucks and there is just no getting around all of that. At my hearing I had the opportunity to listen to another hearing prior to ours; the pain, the frustration, the loss of a hope of something that turns into a battle over money and property. To try to discern these battles, a person must wade their way through confusing rituals and rules and regulations that no one really understands, and the only people that win are the lawyers. I have nothing against most lawyers, I realize that their jobs are very difficult and they are working within an imperfect system, it must be daunting holding that kind of responsibility to another person, and I realize that they are human and make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes; those are forgivable. Not attempting to remedy those mistakes, is not forgivable.
Here’s a short little story about mistakes, how the law isn’t fair, and how some lawyers really give other lawyers a really bad name.
Fifteen months ago I had to respond to a summons served on me by my former spouse, and I hired an attorney to represent me. I may have found her in the PDX Gay and Lesbian Yellow Pages, her last name might be O’Reilly, (as in Bill.) Her first name may or may not start with an E, (as in Eileen.) I interviewed her, she seemed quite competent, all was well. We went to court and between the two attorneys, myself and the other party, we decided on terms to settle the dispute. It was read on the record, the terms drawn up by the attorney that was not mine. And that is when the problems began.
I objected to one of the items in the draft document that was not discussed during the hearing and extraneously added after the fact. I noted my objection to this term in writing to my attorney. I followed up with a reminder that I had sent that objection. I didn’t hear anything from her for awhile, I inquired several times (in writing,) regarding the status of the judgment. I was ignored for two months, despite many e-mails and phone calls. When I finally did get in touch with my lawyer she informed me that the judgment had been filed (I had not seen the final copy,) and when I reviewed it, the item that I had objected to was still there. And not only was it still there, it was even more financially exaggerated. I objected again, in writing. She assured me she would look into it. I continued to inquire about this issue, questioning how this happened, asking (demanding) that is be corrected. After fourteen inquiries in writing, including a certified letter, I gave up. It was obvious that my attorney had ignored my case, allowed items to be included that I did not agree to, did not review the document prior to it’s filing, did not allow me to review the document prior to it’s filing, did not sign the document prior to it’s filing, did not communicate my objection to the opposing attorney, did not notify me the status of the filing of the document, and upon realizing these things, ignored me, placated me by telling me she would take care of it, all along hoping I would just go away and forget about it.
I hired a new attorney. My objective was to set aside that issue that I did not agree to, have the paperwork re-drawn reflecting what was actually agreed to and stated that day in court. I wanted nothing more than what we all agreed to that day. Nothing more.
In the meantime, I filed a complaint with the Oregon State Bar Association against my attorney, the proverbial Eileen O’Reilly. In her response to my complaint, Eileen O’Reilly miraculously had a sudden memory of my verbally agreeing to the terms that I had continuously objected to, before and after the filing of the judgment. Suddenly we had long phone conversations regarding this issue where she repeatedly reminded me that I had indeed agreed to said terms that day in court. Suddenly she had notes that had been “in storage” reflecting this said agreement, despite the fact that for six months, she had not mentioned any of this, and I knew it not to be true. So oh, well. She’s now incompetent and a liar. I wasn’t going to worry about it until I had to answer more questions from the Bar, and I knew that I had ample evidence that showed my my continuous, un-relenting position of what it was I had agreed to and my incessant attempts to communicate with her. She hired a lawyer to represent her in the complaint. Okay, that sucks for her, perhaps if she had done her job, and fixed her mistake? Not really my problem. Or was it?
Unbeknownst to me, when one files a complaint against any proverbial attorney, all submitted information regarding the case, regardless of it’s personal nature, becomes a matter of public record. This fact would not have dissuaded me from filing my complaint but imagine my surprise when the attorney for my ex-attorney appeared at my hearing to state that Eileen O’Reilly did not agree with my affidavit to support my motion. Well, duh. If she agreed with my affidavit then she would be admitting that she’s a big fat incompetent liar and who’s going to do that in open court?
The judge heard my request for relief from the judgment and ruled that I was bound to the decisions of my attorney. I am bound to the decisions of my attorney, despite the fact that her lack of attention to my case will cost me in excess of $15,000.00 over the next fourteen years, including what I have paid both of my attorneys.
I suppose it does.
And that my friends is a little story that is not a fairy tale, and is very unfortunately true. Names were not changed to protect the innocent, because no one who’s name was mentioned is innocent and besides, everything I stated here is a matter of public record. My hope is that someday I will realize a greater truth and lesson from this confusing, stressful, and anxiety filled ordeal that I have endured for over a year.
No. I’m not bitter. I don’t think all lawyers are bad, just the one I had, and I don’t even think that she is bad, I think she made a mistake. And then she lied.
There are lawyers that I like.
A few of them read this blog. One of them is my nice new lawyer who actually answers my questions and pays attention to my case. I also like several others:
Duh, the greatest lawyer ever.
And that is all that I have to say about that. I’m putting it behind me, and readying myself for a lovely holiday season with my beautiful family.
Because sometimes shit happens.
And when it does,