Child custody cases are notoriously difficult for clients and lawyers alike. Emotions run high and regrettably, our adversarial justice system only serves to escalate the conflict and aggravate the parties, on account of the psychological roller coaster of litigation and the drain on their bank accounts.
That’s why mediation has become so popular, particularly in child custody matters, where highly trained negotiation specialists work with parents and others to facilitate consensus and agreement for the benefit of themselves and their children.
While attorneys who deal with custody matters are sensitive to emotional eruptions and aware of the high stakes involved in custody litigation, mediators are usually sheltered from the anger of parents, who may become disenchanted with the mediation process or the results of mediation. “Settlor’s remorse” is the term used for a client who enters into a final agreement but later believes he or she gave up too much or didn’t get enough.
Litigation lawyers become skilled at determining whether their client is capable of settling or whether a client falls into the category of those who need a judge to make a decision.
Recently a lawyer/mediator in Springvale, Maine became a crime victim at the hands of a mediation client who was unhappy with his mediation. The client, Christopher Hall, age 48, made an appointment with the mediator via text message, identifying himself as “Sue”. Arrangements were made for the attorney to attend at “Sue’s home” to discuss her services.
The mediator pulled up to “Sue’s” home and noticed an elderly man with a cane standing on the sidewalk near her car. As she alighted from her vehicle the old man suddenly rushed her and attacked her with a cane that was equipped as a stun gun, inserting the cane between the lawyer’s legs, resulting in a sudden shock to her inner thigh.
What the old man didn’t expect is that his former mediator would fight back, knocking off his long wig.
“Sue” aka Christopher Hall fled the scene jumping into a van driven by an accomplice. Acting on a tip the police identified Mr. Hall as the perpetrator and arrested him later that evening.
Because Mr. Hall’s trap failed, the planned assault of the mediator was aborted. A police spokesperson said they were unsure of Mr. Hall’s actual intentions. Did he plan to kidnap the mediator or worse, murder her?
He was charged with aggravated assault and held on bail of $250,000. His criminal record revealed previous convictions for domestic assault and terrorizing.
A frightening experience that could have ended badly, but for the woman’s decision to fight back. Of course, the notion of meeting a potential client at his or her home is wrought with danger. House calls should be reserved for regular clients who are well-known and female lawyers and mediators would be wise to refrain from personal visits to male clients.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang