At Caldecott and Forro, P.L.C, we regularly litigate in both family law and general civil cases against people who suffer from significant psychological problems, addiction to alcohol or drugs, or are otherwise oppositional and defiant. Often times, these behaviors seem to originate from an opponent’s unresolved anger issues, a desire to needlessly increase the cost of litigation to prevail over our client, or simply to make money. In extreme cases, our client’s opponents become totally detached from the facts of a case. Lying under oath means nothing to them.
In these cases, we work from the very first interview with our client to manage expectations, control costs, provide a calming influence, and gather the facts necessary to separate fact from fiction on all issues the court will need to have to make a just decision. We also work to validate our client’s position and make referrals to professionals we know to obtain help and support for our clients.
In a short article of this type, it is impossible to fully catalogue all the strategies we may use to get a client’s case resolved, or as many clients say to us “get me my life back.” Below are a few of the strategies we seek to employ.
- Empathic Listening
We listen patiently to the client as they present what can sometimes be years or even decades of abusive behavior forced upon them by their litigation opponent, spouse, or former significant other. Referrals to counselors and psychologists we have used for years will be made when necessary. Then, and this is key, we guide our client toward achievable solutions dictated by applicable law and the provable facts of the case.
- Fact Gathering
In most cases, even ones poisoned by lying and personal animosity, fact gathering and fact presentation is key to success for a client. We routinely run criminal background checks and broad based social media scans for information on our client’s problematic litigation opponents. We obtain and review relevant written material, including tax returns, business records, medical records, counseling records, and police reports. We take statements from as many witnesses as we can find with relevant information. Importantly, we use the legal discovery process, including interrogatory questions and a sworn deposition of up to eight (8) hours in length to pin our client’s opponent down to a story that, if filled with lies, can be overcome in court.
- Knowing the Relevant Law
When we handle any case that does not present novel legal issues, we will apply the relevant law to the case facts we have identified through the process outlined in Section II.
- Relationships with the Judges, Opposing Counsels, and Professionals detailed to a Case
Minnesota is blessed with a method of selecting Judges that are fair minded, work hard, and know the law in the areas over which they preside. For the most part, the lawyers who practice law in high-conflict cases are also professional. We seek at all stages of litigation to build credibility with the trial Judge, opposing counsel, and the professionals assigned to the case. That does not mean we won’t challenge any legal process participant when the situation requires it. Wise attorneys, however, never forget that court room credibility is the coin of the realm.
This article is not a substitute for legal advice in the context of a specific case. Caldecott & Forro, P.L.C provides free initial consultations to clients and potential clients on all family law and civil litigation matters.