Questions You Want to Ask Your Lawyer
The information given below is from members in our Yahoo Foster Parent Allegations Group. If you have any addition comments, please let me know, GranPa Chuck (Please note: you will see CPS, DCF, etc. There may be other logo letters used for your state. In essence, it is the government agency that is responsible for families and children.)
The very first thing you need to remember that YOU ARE DOING THE INTERVIEWING not the other way around. You are hiring him/her to represent you, not the other way around. Just because they are designated as an Administrative Law Attorney, does not necessarily mean that they have handled this type of case. As Administrative Law Attorneys, they may have handled cases for policeman, fireman, or a teacher, who are all under Administrative Law....but they may not have represented a foster parent and so may not have been up against CPS before. SO ASK.
These questions will let you know whether you are dealing with an attorney who is sharp and aware of what is going on behind the scenes and is working with a full deck, sharp, and well aware of what is going on around him/her or not. You want an aggressive lion that is not afraid of the big bad wolf, (CPS); one who is not afraid to WIN; and make fools of this powerful enemy. This is what you need.
Questions that you may want to ask any attorney, while interviewing them, are these;
A member from Florida states, most of the attorneys, at least the ones we have found in the Tampa area, will go to bat with DCF. That is why they furthered their education. I think the plan was to help families. However after being involved with DCF on the other end, several attorneys have told us DCF is a hard nut to crack and these cases can be costly.
I would like to know how well some attorneys know the Judges that are hearing the family cases. That is why I asked another member who she is working with. Any time we find an attorney in Central Florida, who is willing to go up against DCF, we want to add them to a list. There are two so far. Her attorney may not be good at Administrative Law but he sounds like he understood her issues with DCF.
In most cases an attorney is aware of the judges that hear particular types of cases, ie; family court where divorce involving custody/disputes/child support etc. and in other particular divisions like Administrative Law or juvenile justice systems. So they are somewhat familiar with court rulings and the leanings that particular judges have and any prejudices that those judges have; ie "*_the hanging judge_"* that hates husbands who don't pay child support who commonly throw the book at them and/or send them to jail, etc. They normally try to steer clear of this particular judge if they are presenting a child support case and representing a husband who is in arrears in child support.
I have some ideas since I have represented people at Administrative Hearings. Since I am a paralegal, I am allowed to do that. I found it frustrating having an attorney at our hearing since we have to talk to him about everything until we testified.
The big problem I see with representing yourself is DCFS has all our taxpayers money at their disposal and (here in Illinois, anyway) often have two attorneys. With our hearing it did get narrowed down to one. The one quit in the middle of our hearing. I think she saw what was coming and didn't want to be a part of it.
The one I did in Central Illinois, the lady did not get the decision overturned. However, you can't believe the stuff that went on while she was out of the room. The judge and DCFS attorney actually discussed in front of me how they were trying to talk someone into saying things (obviously not true) to win their case. I still have notes of exactly what they said. They tried very hard to intimidate me and even sent me a letter saying I couldn't be on the telephone conference because they heard someone in the background, and the hearings are supposed to be confidential. It was my 10-year old son who could care less about what was being said. Consequently, I didn't get to finish the hearings.
Before hiring an attorney for our hearings, I talked and interviewed three different attorneys. I knew this attorney had to be knowledgeable and aggressive. This attorney had worked in the public defenders office and had a lot of dealings with DCFS. He did a great job even though we didn't get the decision overturned.
A good law judge will listen to evidence on both sides and not allow further evidence to be entered. Our judge did exactly that. It didn't give our attorney a chance to ask us what really happened. I think it is very difficult to have a fair judge when they are hired by DCFS. One DCFS attorney openly flirted with the judge during our hearing (the one who quit). The hearing should have been ended. I didn't know as much then as I do now, but I think in retrospect we should have asked for a new law judge. It's just that our hearing lasted 345 days as it was, and we were tired of it all.
I don't know if this helps you much, but I sure did see what a law judge should NOT be.
Tips and Tactics Introduction into the Court System
I always have 3 signs you need a lawyer.
1) The other guy has one.
2) The other side says you don't need a lawyer.
3) The other side says just sign it, its a formality.
A supposed quote of Danny De Vito's character in Other Peoples Money, "I have
lawyers for the same reason people have nuclear weapons. The other guy has
The real quote:
Kate Sullivan: Well, for someone who has nothing nice to say about lawyers, you
certainly have plenty of them around.
Lawrence Garfield: They're like nuclear warheads. They have theirs, so I have
mine. Once you use them, they f* up everything.
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