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henceforth he's to be referred to as dungbeetle
December 15, 2012 12:29 PM   Subscribe

Issues with supporting a friend in court for divorce

My friend I previously asked about will soon be in court for her divorce trial.
Her soon to be ex, has continued to not pay for anything, yet has recently purchased new cars. He's violated her protective order (harassing emails etc) and too many other things to go into.
She does have a new lawyer, and an ex-lawyer friend who has been in further contact with the army.

I'll be sitting in court for the trial next week. I am not on either side's witness list. I do not intend to say anything whatsoever to dungbeetle and his slimy horde.
My questions are:
- can I be called on the stand by him?
- If he or anyone from his side approaches me outside the courtroom, and invades my personal space, what would be an effective reaction? One
plan was to scream "Don't touch me" and backing away. I'm fine with making a scene, but don't want to come across as a nutjob.
- He is certainly capable of approaching me and faking an injury, acussing me of attacking him. Where is the safest place to keep my hands so that I can't be seen as the agressor; in my pockets, behind my back, or?
- If he shows up in uniform, should her lawyer object due to unfair bias to the jury, and probably violation of Army Uniform Regulations - AR 670-1
- any other advice?
posted by anon4now to Human Relations (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
These are all questions that your friend's lawyer should be discussing with her and anyone who wants to support her. Particularly since a lot of this depends on the personalities of certain people, it's probably helpful to discuss these types of issues with specific information about the people involved -- the ex, the judge or court commissioner (if known), particular rules of your friend's state or local jurisdiction, all that.
posted by Madamina at 12:33 PM on December 15, 2012


It is always appropriate to say "No! Don't touch me!" in a loud voice when anyone you don't know or trust tries to touch you.

The other stuff you'll have to ask your friend to ask her lawyer.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:41 PM on December 15, 2012


This isn't legal advice, but generally, if you come to court you can be served with a trial subpoena and called to testify.

I would avoid making a scene in court at nearly all costs (unless you're physically at risk, of course). Trial is all about credibility -- the judge's impression of your friend as a person is incredibly important, your behavior can affect that, and it's hard to control the way you're perceived. (I assume this won't be a jury trial, but the same goes double if it will be.) Obviously if someone threatens to put his hands on you, you should do what's necessary to protect yourself, but I wouldn't draw attention needlessly. If possible, I would calmly walk over to the court security officer and request assistance.
posted by eugenen at 12:46 PM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


If he shows up in uniform, should her lawyer object due to unfair bias to the jury, and probably violation of Army Uniform Regulations - AR 670-1

Bias, perhaps, but frankly, it would look petulant to object to an active-duty service member wearing his or her uniform. And it's almost certainly not a violation of uniform regulations -- essentially, you're allowed to if it's not something that would bring discredit upon the Army or might be confused for Army endorsement of a political or commercial effort; if his commander told him not to wear it to court, he'd be violating a lawful order, but I'd be very surprised if his commander told him that.
posted by Etrigan at 12:58 PM on December 15, 2012


It's highly unlikely that anyone not directly involved is going to testify--it's not a trial, it's a divorce hearing. Almost all divorces are no-fault.
Rather than anticipating drama, I'd concentrate on how you can best support your friend. The soon-to-be ex is going to be with his lawyer, so he's not really going to have much chance to try to confront you. Making a scene near a courtroom is a bad idea. Put your hands in your coat pockets, don't make eye contact, don't speak to him, don't glare at him, just concentrate on your friend. This will probably be a lot duller than you think.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:26 PM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Given your fear of coming across as a 'nutjob,' combined with your potential approach conveyed in your question, I would strongly advise you to not be present at all, particularly for your friend's case. Courtrooms are about facts, protocol, and credibility.
posted by Kruger5 at 1:50 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


That you're posting comments like that do not add to your credibility. Honestly, it sounds you're either too worked up about the situation or you actually ARE a nut job. Here's hoping it's the former. So, for your own sake AND your friend's, sit this one out.
posted by wkearney99 at 2:41 PM on December 15, 2012


I'm actually pretty calm about it. I was looking for an effective reaction. As I had stated, I do not intend to say anything whatsoever. Given the consensus is to not make a scene even in the face of him becoming threatening (which he has to the point that a 12 month TRO is active) I will follow eugenen's advice.
posted by anon4now at 3:42 PM on December 15, 2012


Postscript: he only had one friend with him (he's pro se)
nothing eventful happened, and it was more negotiations/mediation than trial.
posted by anon4now at 2:29 PM on January 28, 2013


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