S.P.A.R.C.

Separated Parenting Access & Resource Center
crazy gamesriddles and jokesfunny picturesdeath psychic!mad triviafunny & odd!pregnancy testshape testwin custodyrecipes

Author Topic: Friend of the Court Recommendation Meetings  (Read 2564 times)

3childdad

  • New Arrival
  • *
  • Posts: 9
  • Karma: 0
    • View Profile
Friend of the Court Recommendation Meetings
« on: Oct 12, 2005, 03:13:33 PM »
Hi!  I am a parent of three children in Michigan and have joint legal/joint physical custody with no primary residence of them under the auspices of the sixth Circuit Court Family Division.  Whenever I show up for a motion hearing that has been precipe before my assigned Judge and check in with the Judge's Clerk at the scheduled hearing time, I am instructed to immediately see the Friend of the Court Referee and Family Counselor across the hall for a recommendation meeting first.  This is standard procedure even if I am there for de novo hearing on an objection of a previous recommended order from the same Referee.

If I have an appearance with counsel and the other party's Attorney is also present, both my ex and I are told to wait in the courtroom while our Attorney's meet with the Referee and Family Counselor for the meeting.  If either one of our Attorney's do not appear for the meeting, then, and only then, my ex and I are allowed to be present.  I feel this is wrong and hope to object to this practice.  I believe that I should have the right to be present at any hearing in which the Lawyers are present.  Based on these facts my questions are:

1) In your opinion on what grounds would I have a reasonable legal objection for this court’s practice?

2) Where specifically should I look for precedence on your proposed objection to this practice?

3) Do I have legal right to insist that this meeting take place with me present, and if so, what is this right?

4) Where is this right cited in the law?

5) Do I have legal right to insist that this meeting take place on the record if I am not present, and if so, what is it?

6) Where is this right cited in the law?


socrateaser

  • SuperHero
  • *****
  • Posts: 5728
  • Karma: -2
    • View Profile
RE: Friend of the Court Recommendation Meetings
« Reply #1 on: Oct 12, 2005, 07:05:17 PM »
>Lawyers are present.  Based on these facts my questions are:
>
>1) In your opinion on what grounds would I have a reasonable
>legal objection for this court’s practice?

Amendment 14, U.S. Constitution. Fundamental procedural due process.

Now, chill out. Just tell your attorney that you want to be present for any/all proceedings, and that he should simply inform the court that if he attempts to enter into any in camera meeting without his client present, that the representation is immediately thereby terminated (i.e., attorney is fired).

As for the precedence, don't try to assert it, because it will annoy everyone and make you appear to be a difficult client.

I'm not certain why you believe you need to be present, but I understand the desire to prevent deals for going down before you have a chance to object. It's a tought balancing act. Sometimes it's actually better to not be present if you have a strategy worked out with your attorney in advance, but it's still a situational call, and I'm not there, so I can't comment.

joni

  • Sr. Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1011
  • Karma: 0
    • View Profile
RE: Friend of the Court Recommendation Meetings
« Reply #2 on: Oct 12, 2005, 07:36:16 PM »

I just answered you on the general board.  From my experience with the same lovely 6th Circuit court.......

Your atty can talk to the FOC Ref and the Ref can recommend whatever, you always have the option to disregard the Ref's recommendation and go before the judge that same morning and ask for the judge's decision or a trial date.  The trouble with that is some of the judge's don't like to go against the ref's recommendation and may decide against you anyway.

When my DH goes to the jury room at the court house, he always sits one table away from the Ref and the attorney's, within ear shot.  His atty always excuses himself to speak with DH.  We also have an agreement with our atty that he can't bind us without our approval.

3childdad

  • New Arrival
  • *
  • Posts: 9
  • Karma: 0
    • View Profile
RE: Friend of the Court Recommendation Meetings
« Reply #3 on: Oct 13, 2005, 06:28:42 AM »
My difficulty has been that I have mostly gotten irrelevant, vague, sometimes professionally unethical, and selective info back from my last two attorneys when interviewing them about the actual conversations taken place.  I believe that I must be adequately informed as to the issues seeing as the law makes me ultimately responsible for the objectives and means to any action taken. By leaving me out of these meetings it inhibits my ability to be such.

To be more specific regarding these untapped recommendation meetings, in early 2004 in the Sixth Circuit Court of Michigan a case surfaced in which two actual parties were present with Attorneys and in later proceedings conclusively determined to have been lied to at the time by both their Attorneys and the Family Counselor in the case.  The proof came in form of a waterproof mark capable digital voice recorder that was brought into the courthouse by one of the parties.  As a result, the Chief Judge of the Court reestablished tighter enforcement of the search procedures for such items. The action taken against the Family Counselor and the Attorney i am not privy too.

These meetings continue and to count I have been lied too twice by my Family Counselor and once by one of my past Attorneys at these meetings.  I am losing faith.  My children deserve better, I deserve better.  

1)  Do you realize the value of your honest answers that you consistantly provide to your members?

I do.
 

socrateaser

  • SuperHero
  • *****
  • Posts: 5728
  • Karma: -2
    • View Profile
RE: Friend of the Court Recommendation Meetings
« Reply #4 on: Oct 13, 2005, 07:37:38 AM »
>1)  Do you realize the value of your honest answers that you
>consistantly provide to your members?
>
>I do.
>  
>

What I'm reading here is that you don't trust your attorney. You should explain to the lawyer exactly why you want this sort of control, so as to see if you can come to an agreement that permits in camera meetings to continue. Otherwise, you should probably discharge the lawyer now and move on.


3childdad

  • New Arrival
  • *
  • Posts: 9
  • Karma: 0
    • View Profile
RE: Friend of the Court Recommendation Meetings
« Reply #5 on: Oct 13, 2005, 08:32:18 AM »
Actually, these meetings are not taped.  They are in essence quasi-judicial.  There is nothing put on the record or anything accepted on the record as evidence and the Judge rarely denies the recommendations that result from them.

At these meetings statements are made,  proof is offered, and then the Referee makes an unofficial recommendation written on carbon copied paper that you hand to the Judicial Clerk.  Then and only will the Clerk put you on the chalkboard docket showing that you are ready for your motion to be heard by the Judge.

Once your motion is brought before the Court, the Friend of the Court personel are often asked to comment about the issues the parties now have and the Judge rules on the motion.  The FOC often give an opinion based on unsubstantiated accusations from the meeting and no one is allowed to be cross examanied on anything heard or seen in the meeting.

Again I wonder:

1)  Do I have a right to insist that these meetings be taped if I am not allowed to be present?

socrateaser

  • SuperHero
  • *****
  • Posts: 5728
  • Karma: -2
    • View Profile
RE: Friend of the Court Recommendation Meetings
« Reply #6 on: Oct 13, 2005, 02:42:32 PM »
>1)  Do I have a right to insist that these meetings be taped
>if I am not allowed to be present?

Probably not, because your description of these meetings is that they are not binding on the parties, therefore they are more in the nature of a mediation session intended to reach a settlement.

You can request, and if you are rebuffed, then you can use the nuclear option and simply tell your attorney that if you are not permitted to be present, then neither is he, and thet if he attends, he's terminated forthwith.

Then, your attorney will probably say that you're making things impossibly difficult. You can ask him to move the court to waive the meeting on grounds that you believe that said meetings routinely defeat your interests by the nature of the process, rather than for substantive reasons, and perhaps the court will allow you to bypass them.

If not, then you're back to the nuclear option again.

 

Copyright © SPARC - A Parenting Advocacy Group
Use of this website does not constitute a client/attorney relationship and this site does not provide legal advice.
If you need legal assistance for divorce, child custody, or child support issues, seek advice from a divorce lawyer.