Thursday, 2 November 2017

A Letter to My Next Lawyer (& A Current Summary of My Divorce Case)

Hello, I am in the middle of a divorce (in Nice / Côte d'Azur) and I'm seeking a new lawyer.

1. The current situation of my divorce is really very simple (although the prior history may be complex).  I do not believe there are any special challenges for a law firm (more details below).

The purpose of this message is to communicate a few simple/reassuring things (so that you can decide if you would like to become my lawyer or not).

2. I do not have any unreasonable expectations from my lawyer / law firm (I think that every lawyer is probably concerned about having a fussy / implacable client).  I do not have any unreasonable expectations about the legal process, generally (although I need guidance on some strategic decisions in future, from my lawyers).

3. I am a Canadian citizen, and for most of the time that this legal case will unfold, I will be living in Canada (unless you advise me to relocate to France or to the Euro area: this is an option for me, and it may be a strategic consideration for having better access to my daughter, and N.B. I would still consider becoming a French citizen, a legal process that remains open to me, in the period of the process of the separation and divorce).  However, I am now visiting the Côte d'Azur twice a year to visit my daughter, and this will next happen in the few weeks at the end of December and the start of January (when 2017 becomes 2018).  So, at this time, and when I visit France for the court-appointed visits, it would be possible for you to meet me face-to-face.  Otherwise, communication (between lawyer and client) would happen via email, via Skype and via other internet-media.

4. I do have some ability to understand the French language: during the last 20 years, I have studied many, many different languages (including Chinese, Japanese, Cree, Ojibwe, Laotian, Cambodian, and several others).  So, as a result, I have forgotten French (a language I learned when I was around 12 years old), but I can rapidly learn French again (and, again, it may be a strategic decision for me to do so: I could start learning French again in Canada, and start the French citizenship process, etc., if this is a good strategy, but, conversely, it could be a strategic decision for me to learn German and move to Germany (still in the Euro area) or it could be that the best decision is for me to continue living in Canada and the USA —I am open-minded about these options).  Of course, reading legal documents in French is not easy for me.

Returning to point 1: "the current situation is simple…".  I have been separated from my ex-wife for many years now, but we are still not divorced (legally).  Every indication is that the divorce will be hostile (i.e., she will not be cooperative, it will not be a legally amiable divorce), but, nevertheless, it is a fairly simple situation.  We did not own any property together, we did not run a business together, etc., and, at the time of the separation, we were living in Taiwan, with nothing but a rented apartment.  She did make a promise to provide me with a substantial payment at the time of our separation (and we can prove this from email correspondence) in recognition that she was, basically, abandoning me in terrible circumstances after destroying my life, my career, my educational-situation, etc. (I'm not being maudlin, I'm just trying to describe the situation with brevity!) —but, as soon as she left Taiwan, she showed no interest in making any such payment.  To be honest, I do not understand why the legal divorce itself has been so much delayed: she already has another boyfriend, I already have another girlfriend, etc., so I assume she does, also, want to get divorced as soon as possible (there should not be any complications).

I also said that the prior history of the case is somewhat more complicated.  I can explain these complications, but they may be moot / obsolete (they may not be salient to the future of the case).
J'ai également dit que l'histoire antérieure de l'affaire est un peu plus compliquée. Je peux expliquer ces complications, mais elles peuvent être sans objet ou obsolètes (elles peuvent ne pas être pertinentes pour l'avenir de l'affaire).

In the past, my ex-wife has been very hostile.  For example, (1) she tried to blackmail me into signing legal documents that were against my interest, (2) she said that she would make a false report to the police in Germany, (3) she refused to allow me to see my daughter (i.e., via pre-arranged visits), and (4) she wrote false and misleading paperwork to deprive me of my legal rights (carrying out a legal procedure in secret, so that I could not have a lawyer present, so that I could not be present myself, etc.), and these secret legal proceedings declared me "dead" ("missing without a trace") causing legal delays, legal costs, and separating me from my daughter for a few years.

Every single item mentioned above can be proven very simply though the email record.  Every factual claim from every stage of the marriage and divorce can be verified through emails written by my ex-wife herself.  So, all of these things are easily proven in court (they are not matters of opinion, they do not rely on anyone trusting my opinion).

So, I must seek legal advice on this matter: I believe that my wife did commit a crime (or perhaps "crimes", plural) and that we should file criminal charges.  However, it is possible (to be brief) that my prior lawyer did such a poor job of presenting my case that this will now be impossible.  If so, I can "accept my fate", and just move ahead with the divorce.  However, I would require a new law firm to examine the question of possible criminal charges thoroughly, as it seems that my wife's conduct should have some legal consequences.

Returning to point #2, I wish to reiterate that I did not have unreasonable expectations of my past lawyer, and I will not have unreasonable expectations of my next lawyer.  My overall impression is that my prior lawyer made some bad strategic decisions (as I will summarize, below), but, again, my expectations are low.

Two very simple examples: (1) my lawyer advised me not to attend my own court-hearing in France, saying that it would not make any difference for me to do so.  I very much regret that I accepted his advice (although it would have been expensive to fly to France) and I will regret it for the rest of my life!  (2) My lawyer did not involve me in the strategic decision-making when he prepared the legal documents for the case: he wrote very brief, very vague documents, and he translated very few of the emails (between myself and my ex-wife).  This was a very bad strategic decision he made: I do not know he if he genuinely thought it was "a winning strategy" to present the judge with a very short, very clear message (with very little evidence) or if (perhaps) he made this decision out of laziness (or out of a desire to save money on translating the emails into French).  However, it was a very, very bad strategic decision.  My lawyer's documents were only a few pages long.  My ex-wife's lawyers presented an enormous pile of documents (many of them wildly irrelevant, in my opinion).  My ex-wife's lawyers engaged in a huge quantity of psychological arguments about what a terrible person I am (supposedly).  My own lawyer, by contrast, did not make any attempt to psychologically characterize my ex-wife, nor did he offer a defense of myself (he did not explain my own decisions, my own motivations, my own psychology, etc.).  The result of his strategy, in this case, was that the judge was unbelievably biased against me, and the judgement is really hilarious (for someone who knows the underlying facts).  The judge "ruled against me" even when there were chronological errors in the argument from my ex-wife's lawyers, or even when their arguments were really unbelievable fables, or engaged in outrageous character-assassination (that doesn't resemble the facts of the primary-source documents / situations at all).  However, this is the French legal system!  My lawyer should have known to expect this, and he should have made better strategic decisions.  When I tried to discuss it with him afterward, he completely refused to find any fault in his approach (he refused to see anything bad in the judge's decision, although it makes many, many insulting statements against me, etc.).  In many ways, honestly, I think that my lawyer could have just refuted the arguments from my ex-wife's lawyers one by one, with evidence from the email record alone (translating emails from English into French, showing how false my ex-wife's account was, etc.).

Again, the details of this past experience may (now) be largely irrelevant to the future of the case.  However, they may be relevant to your decision as to whether or not you wish to adopt the case.

My family is Canadian, but perhaps I can say we are "Franco-Canadian" at this point: both of my parents became fluent in French in their old age (after the age of 50), they both had businesses and bank-accounts in France, they lived in France for many years (in their old age, after I had grown up), and (most likely) your fees as a lawyer would be paid with bank-transfers from my mother's bank (and not from mine, in Canada, although this may also happen from time to time).

Of course, I can answer any questions you may have, but I remind you: I will arrive in the Côte d'Azur for a few weeks at the end of December and the first half of January (2017—2018), so there will be an opportunity for you to meet me, soon enough.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
Eisel Mazard (Mr.)