I was at another Court appearance the other day which illustrated why you need an attorney at Court.
I was representing the mother on a custody case and the father was representing himself. It was the father’s motion so he was allowed to speak first. He said a few words on how he wanted to see his daughter and have joint custody like they used to have and then sat down.
Well, the father neglected to tell the Court many things. He neglected to inform the Court that he still used medicinal marijuana with a California prescription. He neglected to inform the Court that a year went by where he lived in California and only say his daughter about once a month. He neglected most of his other “bad” behavior which resulted in my client getting a TPO against him prior to contact me.
Now these issues are not insurmountable for him to overcome. However, by neglecting to address these issues prior to giving me the floor, he set himself to be seen by the judge as a person who is hiding his bad deeds from the Court. So when I took the floor and calmly detailed the history of the custody arrangement, his behavioral issues, and his genuine lack of credibility, the father became upset.
You never want to become upset when addressing the Court. The father went on a 5 minute defensive and tried to justify his actions. He was clearly upset/angry and had problems putting coherent thoughts together. The judge, very obviously, ignored the father and spent the time trouble shooting his computer. Then the judge addressed the father’s attitude and told him he really needed to calm down. Furthermore, the Judge stated that if the father wanted a shot of ever getting joint custody he would need to think about other medical treatment options and take some anger management classes.
I was able to prove his anger issues without ever presenting any evidence because the father demonstrated his lack of control in the courtroom. He became my evidence. I would not likely be able to do this if the father had counsel because his attorney would have exercised some control over him and prevented him from looking like a person with anger issues.
In short, this father would have been greatly aided by having an attorney. He would of had a much better chance of having more time with his daughter, even though he had anger issues in the past, if he had an attorney. This is why the saying goes, “He who represents himself, has a fool for an attorney”. A third party can present your case better than you can because they are detached. That is why you should always hire an attorney – even in an unbundled capacity to just represent you for that hearing.