I am a divorce lawyer now, but once I was a young father battling for custody of my two children. I still can feel the worry and dread such a court case creates. It seems to the parents that everything important to them in the universe is at stake. Parents in such situations feel helpless because so much rides on the lawyers and the judge and jury. No matter who "wins" or loses in a child custody case, both parents should at least leave the courthouse feeling they were treated fairly and that neither side had some sort of inside connection or political advantage. Lawyers and judges who allow it to appear that political clout is influencing a case are damaging the integrity and stability of the justice system we all work and believe in. I have spent many hours on this story and I have tried to be as accurate and fair as possible. I will publish any responses from those involved if they feel their side of the story needs to be told differently than what I have written. Greg ... Read More >
Witnesses and Parties Should Be Respectfully Addressed in Court
In court, attorneys should properly refer to the parties and witnesses as “Mr. Smith “ or “Dr. Green” or “Ms. Olivares.” Lawyers should not refer even to their own clients by just their first names in court. Attorneys often seem to forget that formality and decorum and politeness (not to mention civility) are both expected in court and necessary to earn the proper respect court proceedings require. Avoiding use of first names for witnesses and parties was also once a matter of basic civil rights. Hamilton v. Alabama, 376 U.S. 650 (1964) is also remembered as the “Miss Mary” case. At the time, black witnesses and defendants in courts in the South were called by just their first names, unlike white people who were referred to as Mr. or Mrs. or Miss. When Mary Hamilton was arrested at a civil rights protest in Alabama in 1963, the prosecutor referred to her as just ‘Mary’ and she refused to answer his questions until he addressed her with the same level of respect that was given to ... Read More >
This father did not have a prayer! Ordering a father to give up a few hours on every one of his Sunday mornings so that the mother can take the children to religious education does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
The San Antonio Court of Appeals found that giving the father a few extra hours on Sunday evenings made interrupting his weekends every Sunday morning for the mom’s religious preferences acceptable. Stop and think about this -- the father cannot ever leave town over a weekend because the mother gets three hours of possession of the kids every Sunday morning. Why? To accommodate one parent’s religious beliefs! How can that not be giving one parent’s religious beliefs priority over the other parent’s beliefs? What if Dad has a church he wants to take the kids to on Sunday mornings or what if he is an athiest? Rosenstein v. Rosenstein, No. 02-09-00272 (Tex. App. - Fort Worth, 8/11/2011)(mem. op.) should have decided this case but it was distinguished because the father here gets to keep the children until 9 pm on Sundays. This decision does not even address Knighton v. Knighton, 723 S.W.2d 274 (Tex. App. - Amarillo 1987, no writ). In Knighton, it was held: These constitutional ... Read More >