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  • Writer's pictureBrian R Boney

Get a lawyer if you're going to court

Updated: May 26, 2023

Evidence and court rules can cause problems to those representing themselves


If it's important enough to go to a hearing or a trial, it's important enough to hire a lawyer.


I just wrapped up a successful hearing yesterday that might not have been successful if the other party had an attorney instead of representing herself. Had she hired an attorney she may have been able to keep the judge from reviewing two crucial pieces of evidence that benefited my client.


Alex was fighting to return to his normal parenting time after the judge, prior to Alex hiring me, had restricted and reduced his parenting time with his teen daughter. When the judge reduced his parenting time, she admonished him because he wasn’t listening to his daughter, who had suggested suicide to the other party, her mother.





The judge had ordered him into therapy with his daughter, and the big question for the hearing was whether Alex had learned anything from the therapy.


Along with several photos showing Alex and his daughter, Becky, carving pumpkins and other happy, father-daughter activities, I had as prospective exhibits two short reports from two different therapists. For it to be a sure thing for the judge to read the reports, I really needed to have the therapists present to authenticate the reports and possibly add a bit of testimony to the hearing. Unfortunately, both therapists refused to participate beyond writing their short reports. I had a Plan B as to how the Rules of Evidence would allow me to authenticate the reports and overcome any hearsay objections from Mom, but doing so wasn’t a lock.


Instead, I spoke to Mom prior to the hearing starting in order to discuss all the exhibits. She clearly didn’t know what she was doing as her exhibits were not prepared for the hearing. After a quick review to ensure her exhibits wouldn’t hurt my client’s case, I decided to be a “friendly” lawyer and suggest we both stipulate to the admission of ALL of our exhibits. That way she wouldn’t have to worry about the rules about how to get her exhibits into evidence.


With her agreement to admit everything, I didn’t have to worry about whether the judge would see my two crucial reports. And after reading the reports that Alex had been doing everything the judge wanted him to do, the judge gave him back all his parenting time and found he was no longer a possible danger to his daughter. If Mom had had a good lawyer who could have excluded those reports, things may have gone her way.


This is just one example of why it’s crucial to have a lawyer if you’re hearing into the courtroom. And remember this, we lawyers can’t just jump in and do a hearing with only a few days’ notice. We usually need weeks to prepare. So, don’t wait until the last minute to hire your lawyer.

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