Friday, May 23, 2014

Should Indiana Attorneys be presumed more competent than pro se litigants?

I have dedicated my life to seeking ways to minimize parental conflict in child custody proceedings and reduce negative outcomes for children. To that end I coach parents to help them focus on their well-being, that of their children, and ultimately the long-term parent-child relationships. Thus, I read every child custody decision by the Indiana Court of Appeals or Supreme Court which helps me understand the aggravating and mitigating factors of parental hostility. Reading and studying these decisions is equally a hobby as much as it is educational.

As I am currently engaged in this accusation against me of unauthorized practice of law -- which cites the "public interest" -- it truly piques my interest when I see the ongoing admonitions by the reviewing courts of attorney's incompetence and failure to follow the rules while pro se litigants do so without reproach. Today I provide a brief account of this from a ruling handed down yesterday.

There two incompetent attorneys, John Andrew Goodridge and Steven L. Bohleber both of Evansville, Indiana, were instructed to follow the rules by the Court in this footnote.

We note both Father’s and Mother’s “Statement of Facts” section in each respective brief fails to comply with Indiana Appellate Rule 46(6)(c) (“The statement shall be in narrative form and shall not be a witness by witness summary of the testimony.”). Father’s fact section contains an excerpt from the decree of dissolution on page 1, and is followed by eighteen pages of verbatim transcript excerpts from the final hearing without narration or context other than to identify the speakers for each section of quoted testimony. Mother’s Statement of Facts includes the same excerpt from the decree of dissolution followed by six and a half pages of quoted testimony, and also fails to provide narration or context other than to identify each speaker.
Further, Father’s discussion section fails to cite authority, statutes, the appendix, or other part of the record in making his argument, and contains nine additional pages of excerpts from the transcript without context or analysis–indeed, twenty-seven of the thirty-three pages of Father’s brief is comprised almost exclusively of transcript excerpts. Citations to the record are required by Indiana Appellate Rule 46(A)(8)(a). The few citations to the record contained within Father’s “Statement of the Case” (as required by Indiana Appellate Rule 46(A)(5)) are inaccurate and do not align with the record. The failure to comply with our appellate rules may subject an argument to waiver or forfeiture. Richard v. Richard, 812 N.E.2d 222, 224 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004). We are not required to search the record on appeal or make a party’s case for him. Vandenburgh v. Vandenburgh, 916 N.E.2d 723, 729 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009). At a minimum, the failure to comply with the rules makes our review of the issue more difficult. However, we prefer to resolve cases on the merits. Howell v. Hawk, 750 N.E.2d 452, 457 n.3 (Ind. Ct. App. 2001). We remind counsel to comply with our rules in the future.

Yet Indianapolis father and pro se litigant Brian Moore not only complied with the rules but was successful, in part, on his recently decided appeal as this decision indicates.

Enough said!

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Cassie Tyler said...

Well, I think as Father’s fact section contains an excerpt from the decree of dissolution and is followed by eighteen pages of verbatim transcript excerpts from the final hearing without narration or context then it has to be taken very seriously and and do what exactly needed to resolve such complicated things.

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