Lawyer Harassment
October 19, 2007 8:51 PM   Subscribe

How can I help a friend who has an ex-boyfriend lawyer who is ruining her life?

Backstory:

Friend meets lawyer, friend likes lawyer, friend dates lawyer. After realizing that he's a misogynist she dumps him and tries to move on with her life. However, he has decided to do as much as he can to ruin her life.

His, successful, attack was to do all he could to discredit her and find something to put her in jail with. He found something to do the latter and he has ruined her life by sending information to her employer that she was up on felony charges this got her fired from her job. He then set THAT information (loss of job and felony charges) to her ex-husband (she was married before lawyer fella) and his lawyer and the two of them are trying to get custody of her child (a young man who will soon be out of high school).

Currently she's trying to fight this on her own with her lawyer and she's not talking to anyone (except her new husband) about this. I'm both worried and pissed off. I have no idea what I can do.... besides ask a lawyer, which I think I may do.

Downside is that she is now confined to house arrest for the next 8 months. She can only go out to take her son to school and she is restricted to the exact minute on when she can leave and return in order to get him to school. She doesn't want to see anyone. She was humiliated with a strip and cavity search. And I'm not supposed to have this information as it came from MY wife who heard it from my friend's husband.

I'm very worried.
posted by Sam.Burdick to Human Relations (42 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: poster's request

 
Huh. This is a bit odd... you don't say the felony charges were something trumped up by the ex-boyfriend, so surely what with the house arrest her employer and ex-husband would have found out anyway? Is the ex doing anything further to try to wreck her life? If not, and if the woman has a lawyer and is defending herself against the felony charges, I am not sure there is anything more to be done here.

If she doesn't want to see anyone, you can't do much besides sending her flowers or some such gesture of support and friendship.
posted by orange swan at 9:07 PM on October 19, 2007


OK, I'll bite. What was the crime with which she was convicted?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:09 PM on October 19, 2007


I'm thinking that what she probably needs most for you is your friendship - someone who still cares about her and thinks she is worthwhile person. Maybe you and your wife could arrange with her husband to pick up some take-out food and movie rental and bring them to their house? Or stop by with a "thinking of you present" like flowers or bottle of wine or premium beer or whatever your friend would like (and seems appropriate given that you are each married to someone else.)

Let her decide how much she wants to talk about her problems - it maybe that she will want to blow off steam or it may be that she wants to feel normal and talk about everything but. I certainly wouldn't get involved in the legal side unless invited to. Her privacy has been violated enough - you want to go out of your way to show respect for her and her ability to know what is best for herself.
posted by metahawk at 9:13 PM on October 19, 2007


The Felony Charge: she's charged with "forging" cheques in his (the lawyer-X)'s name while they were dating. In Wisconsin there is no common-law marriage statute (that I recall at the moment) and as such this doesn't fall under the common-property laws of my state. They were only dating, but they were dating for a LONG time (more than a few years). I'm very curious what the value for these cheques was. That in and of itself would be telling.

Emotionally it seems to me that all of this harassment stems solely from lawyer-X's jilted feelings. If he were at all an adult he would have just gone on with his life.




The catch-22 with visiting her (or sending gifts) would be that she doesn't want to see anyone and just showing up or arranging to visit her (or sending gifts) through her husband (a very close friend of mine) would me that he had blabbed to HIS friends. Which, I gather, is something that she didn't want... that is, she doesn't want him telling everyone. As she is shamed by all of this.


note: being under house-arrest means that, legally, its just like she were in jail. So... no booze.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 9:29 PM on October 19, 2007


I would think that she could take this up with the local bar association. It sounds pretty unethical, and bar associations care about that sort of thing.

But I'm confused: why is she under house arrest? Had she failed to appear for the felony charges or something? And why the strip search? It sounds like you're leaving out some pieces. If she was on the lam and her lawyer-ex-boyfriend turned her in, then one could argue that's not unethical, depending on the circumstances.
posted by alms at 9:35 PM on October 19, 2007


As hard as this is there is very little you should do. Revealing that you know this information could create friction between your friend and her new husband which is the last thing she needs right now. It is her business whether to tell you about this or not.

You could try to mediate through the new husband to convince your friend to reach out to her friends, which would be good advice for her in any event. If she takes you into her confidence there is little you could be a friend, support her, and provide help and advice in getting her life back on track.

For god's sake do not engage in any way shape or form with the lawyer ex-boyfriend. It sounds like he's pretty much done his worst. I suppose he could persist seeking some other way to attack your friend after this business plays out, but that's a bridge that would have to be crossed when it comes. It doesn't sound as if he's done anything illegal, he's just a monumental asshole. And frankly, he's apparently super super good at being a monumental asshole, so retaliation by anyone is probably a sucker's game.

The custody battle is going to play out the way it plays out. Beyond meticulously following whatever legal obligations on her and doing what her lawyer advises her to there is only so much she can do to affect it. How her son reacts is another issue. There isn't obviously enough information to know about that, but the fact is the issue of custody will presumably be moot in a pretty short period of time since he's near to graduating from high school. I would imagine in any event that it's reasonably likely that this will end up being a Pyrrhic victory for her ex-husband as regards his relationship with their son.

You also need to bear in mind that you are getting information 3rd hand from a primary source which is biased so you have little idea about what's actually going on. I really think you need to let her make the first move about communicating her situation to you. You can do what you can think of to encourage that (not much) but pushing her to get into something she doesn't want people to know about right now isn't going to help.
posted by nanojath at 9:36 PM on October 19, 2007


There's not really a bar in wisconsin.

No she was never on the lamb... no failure to appear in court. There seems no reason to me that they would strip search her. I gather that the house arrest is the sentence for her fellony charge.

This is all the information I have at present.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 9:37 PM on October 19, 2007


nanojath:

yeah.. that's about all the worries that I've got. It makes me very frustrated. The job I have right now is very logical (mechanic) so I tend to think that most things can be solved with the proper application of lubricants and a good tightening down of some loose bolts.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 9:40 PM on October 19, 2007


ON EDIT:

there IS a bar in wisconsin. I forgot about that. But, as I recall, there's not a bar exam per-se. As long as you've graduated law school you can practice in wisconsin.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 9:42 PM on October 19, 2007


(Posted before seeing the follow-up - I assumed she was legitimately prosecuted for a felony. Sounds like maybe she was, maybe she wasn't. If she was prosecuted the law has pretty much spoken - it's unlikely there is much she could do against him legally).
posted by nanojath at 9:46 PM on October 19, 2007


legitimate or not...

obviously it pisses me off. I'm sure, I hope, it pisses alot of people off to be so helpless.

The law has spoken (and as is so cliched, and as is so true)... but justice hasn't been served.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 9:51 PM on October 19, 2007


One thing you can do is (discretely) support her husband. Presuming his knowing you know wouldn't put too much heat on your wife (personally I assume if I tell a spouse something I've told the other spouse in most cases but you know). He obviously needs to get stuff off his chest if he's telling your wife. And you could possibly collude to get her to open up in some way. That's something of a dangerous game, but so is isolating yourself during adversity out of shame.
posted by nanojath at 9:52 PM on October 19, 2007


And let me stress there's I'm not suggesting there's anything wrong with your feelings. I'm looking at it from an objective and circumspect perspective because I can and because I think it is the perspective that best informs action in a delicate case like this. I realize it is not a satisfying response at all.
posted by nanojath at 10:01 PM on October 19, 2007


It sounds like you're meddling in something that is really not any of your business.

But more important: obviously, being convicted of a crime --- especially a felony --- carries serious consequences in a person's life. Your complaint seems to be that this asshole lawyer got her prosecuted for a felony she committed against him, and now she is dealing with all the myriad difficulties and complications that attend being a convicted felon. If I'm reading you correctly, and this is in fact what you're complaining about, then I think there's nothing you can do. Informing the community that a person is a convicted felon is not a crime. It's a public record; in fact, I suspect her employer was glad to find out sooner, rather than later, that they had a convicted felon and forger on their staff. The reason there are public criminal records is so that the community will know, "be very careful in dealing with this person." And with regard to custody issues, felony convictions are taken into consideration when questions of fitness as a parent are being determined.

To sum it up --- if she's been convicted of a felony that she committed, the lawyer who reported the crime didn't ruin her life; she ruined her own life. You've got things backward.
posted by jayder at 10:16 PM on October 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


Friend meets lawyer, friend likes lawyer, friend dates lawyer....The Felony Charge: she's charged with "forging" cheques in his (the lawyer-X)'s name while they were dating.

So, can we assume that the "charge" was proven and she was found guilty of such -- as per the home confinement?

After realizing that he's a misogynist she dumps him and tries to move on with her life.

So, who dumped whom? And for what reason? Maybe "lawyer" was concerned about "friend" and her illegal behavior: i.e. "forgery."

Is "friend" trying to "spin?"
posted by ericb at 10:16 PM on October 19, 2007


Or -- what jayder said!
posted by ericb at 10:17 PM on October 19, 2007


Do I have it right?

"Friend" dated "Lawyer."

"Friend" forged checks/cheques in "Lawyer's name" or "in the Lawyer-X's name" (i.e. his ex-spouse's/significant other's name).

When "Lawyer" learned of such illegal behavior -- he, as a lawyer (and a "human"), felt conned, felt used, felt abused and sought to alert others of her behavior/proclivity.

Fuck -- if I learned of such devious behavior, I'd "shout it from the roof top." I'd feel that I'd been taken advantage of -- even if I hated my ex.
posted by ericb at 10:41 PM on October 19, 2007


ok.. so I need to make things more transparent. I'm not going to use real names... but maybe we can follow things better.

Sue == friend
Al == friend's ex boyfriend who is also a lawyer
Dave == friend's ex husband from even farther back
Joe == friend's new husband

Sue and Dave were married when they were both quite young. Sue and Dave had a son together. They divorced after only a few years of marriage and Sue has custody of the son. Sue met Al, dated Al for many years and left him because (from her telling) she was unhappy in their relationship. Al doesn't like that Sue left him (from what Sue tells me) and to get back at Sue; Al begins to harass Sue.

Sue did try to put restraining orders on Al. However (according to Sue's story) Al has some very powerful friends in the legal field in this city, and as such he is nearly bulletproof (legally speaking). So all Sue's efforts to make a clean break with Al have fallen completely apart. Now Al's connections are legally and socially provable. There's a body of case-law with his name on it and he has been recognized for excellent work in his field by the State Gov't as well as the State Bar and Law Schools. So, he's no slouch of a lawyer. However, it is in his character and upbringing (based on equally provable sociological/psychological and ethnic studies into the behavior of males in his culture group) to be a jerk if he percieves that something is threatening his manhood.

Now, most recently Al has got this felony charge to stick on Sue and as such she is sent to jail for a night and subjected to (I presume) a standard processing for person charged with a felony crime. However, this isn't enough.

Earlier this summer Sue married Joe (a close friend of mine and my wife's) who is a small business owner in this city. They had gotten to know eachother about two years ago and had been quietly dating for most of that. They are both adults in their thirties who both had stable jobs and families.

Joe had been married a few times before and has 3 kids of his own. Now, Joe talked to my wife and related to her much of what I related here. To add to all of this some how Dave (The old ex-husband of Sue) has some how got a hold of Joe's old divorce records. AND Al has started legal proceedings against Joe's business, a school. NOTE: I don't know what those proceedings are, but as both my wife and I are also student/instructors at that school it touches on us in a social/emotional sense.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 10:49 PM on October 19, 2007


I guess one of my defining questions I have for this situation... and hell.. any in a purely philosophical sense is:

how much is enough? when do we realize we've done too much? or how do we realize it? or how do we get people to stop?
posted by Sam.Burdick at 10:50 PM on October 19, 2007


and ericb... proclivity? what if Al had asked Sue to write those checks for him, and now he's claiming that he didn't? Who would you believe?
posted by Sam.Burdick at 11:13 PM on October 19, 2007


However, it is in his character and upbringing (based on equally provable sociological/psychological and ethnic studies into the behavior of males in his culture group) to be a jerk if he percieves that something is threatening his manhood.

Uh... WTF?

So your negative opinion of Al is partly based on his ethnic background?

I'm not sure AskMe can help you.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:27 PM on October 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


and ericb... proclivity? what if Al had asked Sue to write those checks for him, and now he's claiming that he didn't? Who would you believe?

I'd raise my hands in the air, look at the judge and say "Your Honor, I'm at a loss for words."
posted by ericb at 11:28 PM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what you're looking for here other than to be told be supportive of your friend. She's apparently already been convicted of a felony, which is obviously no small matter, and that can't be undone. Her lawyer ought to have a better idea of any remaining legal options than AskMe. Hopefully she has a good lawyer. A crappy situation all around but it is what is.
posted by 6550 at 11:33 PM on October 19, 2007


well perhaps I should have taken a different tack with this question.

I know I need to be supportive of her. but, the problem is that I don't know WHAT to do that will actually help. As in be a solution for the problem at hand.

And as importantly. She's wrapped herself in her silences and refused ALL assistance. she won't talk about her problem even to people she's mentioned it to before. This has been going on for months.

how do I break silences?
posted by Sam.Burdick at 11:39 PM on October 19, 2007


To recap:
Sue and Dave marry and have a son.

Sue dates Al. They break-up. Sue (and friends) claim that Al ("no slouch of a lawyer") is untouchable, "bullet-proof," due to social/economic/political connections.

Sue was found guilty of a "felony charge" and served out punishment for such.

Sue then marries Joe.

Sue's ex-husband (Dave) learns about Joe's past. Al steps in and has some sort of legal proceeding against "Joe's business, a school."
Who's on first?
posted by ericb at 11:41 PM on October 19, 2007


what's on second?



how do I break silences?
posted by Sam.Burdick at 11:42 PM on October 19, 2007


how do I break silences?

I would suggest a heart-felt letter -- not an e-mail.

Start with an honest appraisal of the situation. Let her know that you are sorry for her felony conviction. Acknowledge that her actions were wrong. Forgive her for such and let her know that you hope she has learned from her transgression. Let her know that you are there for her as she emerges from the shame, the embarrassment that her previous action/behavior has brought upon her. Let her know that future "actions and not words" will play a significant part in your judgment of whether or not her past transgression should be absolved. That being said, I must admit, who are anyone of us to judge?

And, again, most of all, you are her friend. Be there for her.
posted by ericb at 11:58 PM on October 19, 2007


forged checks in attorney's office can ruin his career, subject him to discipline by the state bar and REALLY piss him off.

sounds like she picked the wrong guy to F with.
posted by Mr_Crazyhorse at 12:08 AM on October 20, 2007


Sam, the problem people are having is that you are (for understandable reasons) being extremely coy about whether or not your friend actually forged checks in this guy's name. You say thing like "What if he asked her..." and so forth.

The answer depends, in my opinion, on whether or not she committed the felony she has been convicted of. If she didn't, your appropriate response is one thing. If she did, it is something else.

People aren't trying to be unhelpful. It's just very difficult to know what to tell you about a complicated situation when we don't know perhaps the most important piece of information; was your friend wrongly convicted of a felony or rightly convicted of a felony. Your friend's ex could be the biggest jerk in the world but that doesn't make it ok to forge checks in his name.

Sorry I can't be more helpful.
posted by Justinian at 12:10 AM on October 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Justinian,

I don't know.

really, I would like to close this thread. It isn't useful and I didn't carefully consider the consiquences of creating it.

Searching for peace of mind on the internet at 2 am is a losing game.

...
posted by Sam.Burdick at 12:16 AM on October 20, 2007


email the admins, they close ask me threads on asker's request.
posted by Justinian at 12:28 AM on October 20, 2007


i howled when i saw your exception to ericb's use of "proclivity" juxtaposed with your "equally provable sociological/psychological and ethnic studies into the behavior of males in his culture group." he's a jew, amirite?

my advice would be for "sue" to apologize and make restitution to "al" for forging his name on checks. a court of law found "al" to be the victim, beyond a reasonable doubt, and the "hive mind" has no jurisdiction to overturn this ruling.

how much is enough?

i don't know, but if i were ever a forgery victim, particularly with an emotional overlay, there would be scorched earth and an example held up at the end for the deterrence value.

when do we realize we've done too much?

when "al" puts your ass in jail too? when you've publicly admitted to disliking him based on ethnicity? somewhere in between?

how do we realize it?

when you acknowledge the wisdom of counsel, or when you refuse to acknowledge it, go your own way and meet up with the consequences.

how do we get people to stop?

what do you have in mind? i don't see a button on here for "hitmanfilter". how far are you willing to go? "sue" made this bed, and going by just the number of marriages referenced in your statements, it seems to be crowded, is that what you meant by "we"? sure, i understand your impulse to tie "sue's" handkerchief to your lance as you prepare to joust against "al" in defense of her honor and virtue, just so you know that the moat around "al's" castle probably contains the corpses of others who rose to the defense of his adversaries. you sound overinvested in "sue's" problems to the potential future detriment of your own well-being.
posted by bruce at 12:42 AM on October 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


Sue did try to put restraining orders on Al. However (according to Sue's story) Al has some very powerful friends in the legal field in this city, and as such he is nearly bulletproof (legally speaking).

Oh, puleeeze! In just about any jurisidction in this country, there's a strong bias towards giving a woman a restraining order against a guy she says is stalking or harassing her, especially if she is or was in a relationship with that guy. The legal system is definitely biased in favor of women and against men in that way, and I say that as a fellow member of the "fairer" sex. If she couldn't get the order to stick, then maybe you might want to think about whether she was legitimately being threatened, or whether she was just a pissy jilted lover who was trying to screw him over. It would be especially traumatic for him as a lawyer, because if the charge of stalking/harassing were true and she got the order to stick, she could have caused serious havoc with his legal career.

Between that minor lil' issue and your inability to determine whether or not she actually ripped off his checking account -- and in any case, she was found guilty -- you may want to reconsider her sob stories just a bit.

However, it is in his character and upbringing (based on equally provable sociological/psychological and ethnic studies into the behavior of males in his culture group) to be a jerk if he percieves that something is threatening his manhood.

WTF? How about we re-write this sentence as "he decided to be pro-active in reporting her behavior to the police after she first stole money from him and then tried to ruin his legal career with false charges that she couldn't get to stick"?
posted by Asparagirl at 1:12 AM on October 20, 2007


It wouldn't matter so much to me if the friend had actually committed the felony or not. They key word here is "friend" and not "felony", you know? And while felonies are by definition Bad Things, compassion is never a bad thing.

Sam, perhaps you or your other half (whoever is closer to this woman) could send and email or a card saying that you know she's having a difficult time right now, and that while she certainly doesn't have to talk about it, the two of you would love to give her a break by coming by one night with a pizza and some films because you miss her company.

Even if she doesn't take you up on it, it might be nice for her to hear that people out in the world do, in fact, value her.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:33 AM on October 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


When I was in Wisconsin earlier this year, I met an attorney who casually told me there was a lot of corruption in Milwaukee -- and more specifically, within the legal offices in that city. I don't know if this is true or if it was that lawyer's opinion, but he said he felt there were a lot of (a) wrongful convictions based on bias and/or connections and (b) people who should have been convicted but weren't because of their connections.

If I'm reading your story correctly, Sam, I think this may well fit into that first category.

I'm not sure, based on your post, how close you are to Sue. What I mean is that (a) she might be super-annoyed if she discovered this post, especially if you've given us any details that might make her identity apparent and (b) you may not be welcome to provide her with the sort of assistance you seem to be considering.

On the other hand, if she's one of your dearest friends, go to the mat for her. The attorney I met definitely mentioned some sort of reform effort, as well as a group committed to helping people who had gotten mixed up in this sort of thing. If you truly believe she is such a person -- and if this attorney ex of hers is really trying so blatantly to destroy her -- I imagine she could bring charges against him. You could look up local advocacy groups, etc., and bring the issue up with Joe.
posted by brina at 3:19 AM on October 20, 2007


Stop calling his behavior harassment. It's not.
posted by oaf at 4:13 AM on October 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


However, it is in his character and upbringing (based on equally provable sociological/psychological and ethnic studies into the behavior of males in his culture group) to be a jerk if he percieves that something is threatening his manhood.

what
posted by oaf at 4:29 AM on October 20, 2007


based on equally provable sociological/psychological and ethnic studies into the behavior of males in his culture group
Come on, is this the best that Sue can come up with?

Sue may well be one of those cute, seemingly well-meaning sociopaths one runs into from time to time. Joe should be on notice.

Frankly that's the more common scenario - rather than corrupt lawyers persecuting poor damsels in distress. As Ann Landers used to say "wake up and smell the coffee".
posted by readery at 4:39 AM on October 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


There IS a bar in wisconsin. I forgot about that. But, as I recall, there's not a bar exam per-se. As long as you've graduated law school you can practice in wisconsin.

Part of the function of a local bar association is to monitor the ethics of its members and ensure that the legal field maintains its integrity. It's also a social club. Neither of these has anything to do with the bar exam.

But backing up: you've heard all of this bad stuff about an ex via the ex's new partner. That is a notoriously unreliable route for information. So I'd support your friend but take this all with a grain of salt. And recommend to your friend that they report it all to the local bar association.
posted by alms at 4:43 AM on October 20, 2007


If he is truly harassing her, especially as he is using the legal system as part of the harassment, she should report him to the character and fitness committee of the Wisconsin State Bar (and alm is right, this has nothing to do with the exam).
posted by caddis at 7:11 AM on October 20, 2007


Sounds like the OP is giving Sue more credibility than others would give her.
posted by yclipse at 7:15 AM on October 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've asked the admins to close this thread.

starting it was the height of foolishness on my part.

'nuff said

*shrugs and wanders off*
posted by Sam.Burdick at 8:07 AM on October 20, 2007


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