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Source: original article here
Many of us have come to believe that our own attorney was working for the other side. However, when we confronted our attorneys about our suspicions or brought the issue up before the Court, we have been scoffed at and mocked.
In the letter below, you will see how one litigant, Roisin Cassidy, actually caught out two of her attorneys working in coordination together and with the opposing attorney so that she would lose custody through a scheme that revolved around court rules in regard to discovery. What the attorneys did was collude with each other in a post judgment custody switching scheme to allow the abusive father discovery, while Ms. Cassidy was prohibited from doing so.
Read the letter below as Catharine Sloper unravels this complex web of lies and deception that so many family court litigants fall victim to. Think you are imagining it? Think it couldn’t possibly be true? Think again.
Dear Attorney Jennifer Ani:
I have been informed that, in response to a blog posted on the website “Divorce in Connecticut”, you have had several objections to the content. In the spirit of wanting to be entirely accurate, I did want to run some questions by you.
The particular issue which I hope you can address, and which came up within the context of the Divorce in Connecticut blog regarding this case, has to do with the issue of discovery as follows:
On November 14, 2015, Attorney Ani, you wrote an email to Roisin stating that Attorney Christiana Samuels refused to reopen discovery as follows:
“She [Attorney Samuels]…said, “your client asked for disclosure a long time ago. It’s [discovery has] been cut off.”
The implication of Attorney Samuels statements was that discovery was closed and that Attorney Robert Bruening, on behalf of his client, was somehow responsible for closing discovery by sending Attorney Samuels a document requesting disclosure of discovery. The further implication was that the inability to reopen discovery was fatal to Roisin’s case because then she would be precluded from bringing any rebuttal witnesses to trial to offset the custody evaluator, Dr. Kenneth Perlmutter’s report.
As I state again, the finger for this major legal error, both Attorney Ani and Attorney Samuels appeared to be stating, was pointed directly at Attorney Robert Bruening who was held responsible for sending out this document requesting disclosure. On the basis of these two attorney’s accusation, Roisin Cassidy then refused to pay Attorney Bruening the outstanding amount of $10,000 in legal fees which she allegedly owed him at the time.
Based upon the stated concern that discovery might be closed, you, Attorney Ani then turned to a person you designated as a discovery expert–Attorney Kathryn Kirkland, a legal professional with at least 40 years of legal experience. In a rather inconclusive email dated December 7, 2015 (copy provided to Roisin), Attorney Kirkland offered some views regarding whether or not discovery was closed in the case citing CCP 128(a)3, CCP 2024.050 and CCP 2034.220. I am assuming that you charged Roisin Cassidy for this consultation.
However, despite these protestations on the part of three attorneys, I myself looked under Article 2, Section 2034.310 and I saw that discovery, or late disclosure of an expert witness, under section (b) of that part is acceptable if “that expert is called as a witness to impeach the testimony of an expert witness offered by any other party at the trial. I agree that such testimony would largely be limited to that of a fact witness not an opinion witness. This is perhaps unfortunate, but it does not leave Roisin completely without options, which is what you should have told Roisin, but did not.
To verify this particular point of law, I did send a letter of inquiry to each of the attorneys in this case–Samuels, Ani, Bruening and Kirkland–in order to give them a chance to correct me on this point. However, thus far, not a single one of them has responded with a correction of any of the points I make here in this blog.
A few days later, on December 10, 2015, with Roisin under the impression that discovery was closed and her expert witnesses, therefore, excluded, Roisin approved and authorized Attorney Jennifer Ani to use her limited legal funds for the purpose of crafting and submitting a motion which she hoped would reopen discovery so that she could fully defend her case. In connection to reopening discovery, the motion Attorney Ani wrote entitled “Notice of Application and Application For Continuance of Trial Date; Memorandum of Points and Authorities, Declaration of Attorney Jennifer Ani; Exhibits” made reference to CACCP 2034.230(b), CCP 2034.710, and CCP 2034.720 as well as case law from 1990, 1999, and 2006.
In response, Attorney Samuels submitted to the Court an eye brow raising two hours later on the same day her “Petitioner’s Responsive Declaration to Respondent’s Requste [sic] For Order in which she opposed Attorney Ani’s request for the reopening of discovery solely citing CCP Section 2024.020(b).
Judge Swope, who must have known that these motions were fraudulent and should have exposed them as such, denied the request for a continuance and to reopen discovery. This action alone calls his ethical base into question and appears grounds for a judicial complaint against him.
So this is my point towards which I have been going slowly and surely via this long winded introduction, and it is as follows:
The entire discovery issue in the case was completely fabricated! In reality there was no such thing! The attorneys in this case on both sides appear to have gotten together and invented the whole thing, and I will tell you how I know this.
I had the opportunity to read two articles regarding Family Code 218, one of which is entitled “Family Code 218 Overrules Marriage of Boblitt Decision and Allows Post Judgment Discovery. What Family Code 218 apparently states is that, as of January 1, 2015 (and please note: Roisin Cassidy’s trial was conducted on February 8, 2016) “discovery will reopen automatically upon the filing of a post-judgment motion as to the issues raised in the post-judgment pleadings currently before the court.” This new rule, apparently, determined that the California Civil law which all the attorneys in Roisin’s case kept on citing no longer applied in any way whatsover. In other words, Rule 218 means that discovery opens automatically once a post judgment motion is filed regardless of California Civil Law.
Thus, my puzzlement and that of Roisin. If Family Code 218 replaces prior existing California law, why were all these attorneys in this case–Attorney Jennifer Ani, Attorney Christiana Samuels, and Attorney Kathryn Kirkland, let alone a Judge–bringing up and debating this issue at length to the point where other more significant matters in this case were left neglected? Discovery was reopened automatically when the petitioner filed to change custody from Roisin to him. Therefore, the entire debate over discovery was moot! So why was it conducted? I am very curious to know the answer, as is Roisin!
Then, if Attorney Robert Bruening will excuse me, let me close with his words. When Roisin asked him why he had closed discovery, which was what Attorney Christiana Samuels accused him of doing, this was his response:
“I did not close discovery. No attorney can close discovery without some kind of agreement. I cannot imagine what [sic] any attorney would agree to close discovery prematurely. I guarantee you there is no such agreement. Discovery ends by law/Rules, 30 days before trial. Giving notice of your witnesses occurs 5 days before trial. That has nothing to do with whether discovery is still open or not.”
As you may recall, Attorney Ani, you provided notice to the Court and to the opposing side regarding Roisin Cassidy’s rebuttal witnesses on December 7, 2015, well in advance of the February 8, 2016 trial date and so there should have been no problem including these witnesses on Ms. Cassidy’s roster of witnesses for her trial.
Attorney Ani, naturally in the face of learning that it appears that the discussion over the reopening of discovery was a complete fabrication based upon nothing and a total waste of time, Ms. Cassidy is very upset. When you should have been focusing in on preparing the expert witnesses and exhibits for trial, you appear to have been wasting time and Roisin’s limited financial resources on legal issues and conversations that had absolutely no basis or merit. What is more, had you prepared properly as you should have, no continuance would have been required.
In addition, you appear to have been, and Attorney Samuels appears to have been, misrepresenting Attorney Robert Bruening’s actions on behalf of his client and ascribing malpractice to him when he had not done anything wrong; this led to Attorney Bruening suffering a considerable financial loss. Further, I understand you have made several calls to Roisin Cassidy’s family members and tried to slander her reputation and standing with them. This is unconscionable.
In putting together this extraordinarily deceptive and manipulative discovery scheme to swindle Ms. Roisin Cassidy and her family out of thousands and thousands of dollars of legal fees, and at the same time hand over custody of her children to their abusive father, you have violated your legal obligations to your client in multiple ways. I understand that she intends to file a grievance complaint against you. I sincerely hope that she does so.
Divorce in Connecticut Website
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Catharine Sloper at 11:51 PM