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November 2007

Rhode Island Divorce Tips: Inconsistencies Part III

Perhaps one of the more frustrating things that occurs a bit more often than it should is an inconsistency with judges that can be identified as:

3.  Judges can render inconsistent decisions or provide inconsistent direction in a case not only when presented with the same fact pattern but even when presented with the same case!

As an attorney here in Rhode Island who has chosen, for good or for bad, to practice in the area of divorce and family law, this is perhaps the biggest inconsistency to address and/or explain to a client.

I've had the displeasure of being before several judges assigned to cases for my clients.  One month an issue is raised and the court will be wholly in favor of my client.  The next month, the opposing attorney will raise the issue again and the next moment the court will be chastising or scolding my client's conduct though it had already been discussed.

If you want a true challenge, try explaining to a client one month how things went well for his or her case and then in the next month how things took a complete turn around on the same issue.

In point of fact it is ridiculous and it makes it appear as though as the attorney for the client I have botched something up in a big way on an issue that may be very important to the client, when in fact, the Judge has simply been inconsistent in the way in which he manages his or her cases, be it through record keeping, or just taking notes.

However, you see it and whatever you call it, it is inconsistencies that there should be a remedy for and it does an injustice to our citizenry and those who come before our Rhode Island Family Court System.

Authored by:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
PEARSALL LAW ASSOCIATES
571 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI  02910
Phone:  (401) 354-2369

NOTE:  The postings on this website are NOT legal advice, DO NOT create an attorney/client relationship and are NOT a substitute for a detailed consultation with an attorney experienced in the state where you have your legal issue.  This site is presented for the convenience of the internet public.

* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law and has no procedure for recognition of specialty in any area of law.


Rhode Island Divorce Tip: Inconsistencies Part II

In a rather strange contrast to "Inconsistencies Part I" you will  at times find that,

2.  The same Rhode Island judge will give you different results in similar cases.

Imagine you have Judge M sitting in the Kent County Family Court.  The first case in the morning for Judge M is Mr. Panadock.  Mr. Panadock was picked up on a bench warrant issued for his arrest because he was $3,000 behind in his child support payments.  He stands there with two uniformed officers and he is in handcuffs.

Now imagine you have Judge M sitting in the afternoon on the same date. Miss Jenkins enters the court on a Motion to Adjudge her in contempt and send her to the Adult Correctional Institution (ACI) because she is $22,000 in arrears on her child support for her two children.

The results in the two cases were entirely different.  In fact, a bit too different.   Mr. Panadock was asked by Judge M. what his excuse was.  Mr. Panadock responded, 'I have no excuse your honor but the reason I haven't been able to pay the". . . .  Judge M cut in and was furious.  FINE!!  You admit there's no excuse then you can think over your ignorance in the ACI for a few days.  The sheriff's took Mr. Panadock away.

MIss Jenkins came before the court and took the stand.  The attorney for the children's father asked her various questions which showed that Miss Jenkins had been staying with friends, had not been apply for any form of work, was moving from place to place and was essentially avoiding her child support obligation. 

Judge M was far from happy with Miss Jenkins and lectured her on the responsibility of supporting her children.  Judge M. gave her two weeks to come back with a full-time job and new child support would be set requiring her to pay off the $22,000 arrearage over time.

Do you see the inconsistency between the treatment of the cases?  Now while one case is certainly nothing to base your entire opinion on, it is interesting to not the treatment of man versus woman, handcuffed versus someone who walked into court, a person with a relatively low child support arrearage versus a high child support arrearage balance.

Rhode Island Family Court is a court of equity.  It is a court where judges are expected to do what is fair under the circumstances in each case for all people.  Was the treatment here equitable for both parties?  Or was the treatment inequitable for both parties.

These stories are based on real court examples here in Rhode Island.  Given what you know now, would you want to represent yourself?

Authored by:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
PEARSALL LAW ASSOCIATES
571 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI  02910
Phone:  (401) 354-2369

NOTE:  The postings on this website are NOT legal advice, DO NOT create an attorney/client relationship and are NOT a substitute for a detailed consultation with an attorney experienced in the state where you have your legal issue.  This site is presented for the convenience of the internet public.

* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law and has no procedure for recognition of specialty in any area of law.