Lawyers Who Profit at the Expense of our Children.

The late Judge E. Spencer Walton of St. Joseph County, Indiana often remarked that one of the most important duties of an attorney opening a new file was also one of the least appreciated.
Guess which he was referring to?

A.  Keeping the client informed. 

B.  Treating the client as an equal

partner in the matter. 

C.  Reviewing the file regularly. 

D.  Closing the file. 

E.  Copying the file for the client

d. Closing the file.
(The actual answer - and 21% of responses)
Judge Walton’s admonition may actually stand in some considerable contrast to what the general ethic of the legal profession is: dedicated, zealous, and perhaps even endless advocacy.
But we think that at least in family cases he may be absolutely right.  Are families actually assisted by teams of lawyers and a judiciary remaining more or less permanently involved in their affairs?
Family Law (film)
Family Law (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It seems to us that the legal profession, not to mention members of the public wanting to make aggressive and far-reaching use of the legal profession, could take a lesson from Judge Walton.  And perhaps from the tendency of more progressive physicians to attempt to work with the human body rather than against the human body.
The “Extra Quote” this week speaks to this point.  Chief Justice Burger went to considerable lengths to try to put the brakes on the law’s tendency (sometimes even a well-intentioned one) to get involved in too much of people’s lives.  And then to stay too long.
At the very least, it seems to us that in family matters parents should be encouraged to do all they can, and use all the useful counseling, mediation, and other resources at their disposal, to reassume responsibility for their lives and the lives of their children.

What Kind of Civil Litigator Are You?

Top 30 indications that you are probably a sleazy civil lawyer
 "South Florida Style"
(if 3 or more apply it’s a rebuttable presumption):

(1) You’ve got a red “YES” next to “10 year disciplinary history” on the website.

(2) You have a law firm called “[insert your name] and Associates, P.A.,” but don’t have any associates.

(3) You serve, or are the recipient of, a 57.105 motion in more than half of your cases.

(4) You’ve had Rule 11 or 57.105 sanctions imposed against you more than once during your career.

(5) You’re in motion calendar an average of one or more times a week.

(6) You routinely have 2-3 motion calendar hearings before different judges on the same morning.

(7) You surprise opposing counsel with your case law in the middle of the hearing, despite having sat next to him for 20 minutes before the hearing.

(8) You highlight the Court’s case law, but not opposing counsel’s.

(9) You’ve ever had a raised-voice argument with opposing counsel outside the courtroom, douching out everyone in the hallway.

(10) You make lengthy speaking objections during depositions despite the fact that everyone knows they’re forbidden.

(11) You permit your staff to negotiate settlements and/or argue substantive issues with other attorneys.

(12) You boast on your website of your admission to practice in the Middle and Northern Districts of Florida or the Supreme Court of Florida.

(13) You regularly tell your assistant to wait until after 4PM to fax or email something to opposing counsel.

(14) Pre 2005: you used to turn your fax machine off at 5:30 every day.

(15) You’ve ever condescended to/dressed-down someone who works in the Clerk’s office.

(16) You’ve ever moved to recuse a judge based on an adverse ruling.

(17) You’ve ever tried to bait a judge into making a recusal-worthy statement.

(18) You ask for punitive damages and/or 57.105 sanctions in your initial Complaint.

(19) You’ve ever refused a request for a reasonable and routine extension of time to respond to discovery/serve an amended pleading, etc., because “your client” said no.

(20) You think it’s OK to notice hearings and discovery without clearing dates with the other side

(21) You’ve ever had a judge yell at you to “go outside” because you and your opposing counsel loudly argue over the language of an order after a ruling has been made.

(22) You’ve paid a settlement to a former employee for a sexual harassment claim anytime after 1995.

(23) You’ve had your firm sued for malpractice more than once.

(24) That whole meet and confer requirement just doesn’t apply to you.

(25) You have an AOL email address on the Florida Bar directory.

(26) You routinely cite to Fla.Jur., Corpus Juris Segundum, AmJur, Trawick, etc. without citing actual controlling authority.

(27) You trial court filings are in anything other than 12pt Times New Roman or Arial font

(28) You own a smartphone and deny having read an email within 4 hours of it being sent during normal business hours.

(29) You mention to the court during a hearing how long you’ve been practicing law.

(30) You like to mention to opposing counsel how long you’ve been practicing (because your facts and law suck).

IN THE INTEREST OF A.R., A CHILD :: October, 2007 :: Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals Decisions :: Texas Case Law :: US Case Law :: US Law :: Justia

It is attorneys like this who are exacerbating and profiting from the family court disaster at the expense of our children!!! This guy has been sanctioned at least 6 times, and only represents woman???

"Significant documentation about Ducote and his judgments, sanctions, and disciplinary actions was attached to the motion. The attachments to the motion also included the affidavit of an investigator retained to investigate a kidnapping in one of the cases in which Ducote was involved. The investigator stated that anytime Ducote is involved in a case, the parent and child are considered a high risk for flight from the court, not just because of Ducote, but because of the groups with which Ducote is involved. The motion further asserted that when Ducote is involved in cases, there is a pattern of false allegations of child abuse, the filing of multiple unfounded pleadings, and suing the attorneys, investigators, therapists, evaluators and ad litems appointed by the courts".

“I believed in our constitution and our heritage of honor, liberty, and justice so strongly that I joined the armed forces when I was seventeen and served for six years.  I went to law school because I hoped that I could help people who needed an attorney, and in law school I was taught that when a trial judge makes the wrong decision, the appellate courts should rectify it.  Apparently, I am incredibly naive.” ~ Mark Adams

Justice for All or Justice for Sale?

English: Typical Parenting Order
English: Typical Parenting Order (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mark Adams was the attorney retained by Jeffrey Smith, a sales employee of Corporate Sports Marketing Group (CSM) of Florida, who quit his job rather than sign a "non-competition" agreement as a condition of future employment. At the time, Smith was allegedly owed $20,000 in commissions which CSM refused to pay. 

Adams filed suit of behalf of Smith in state court in Pinellas County, Florida, against CSM for breach of contract. After many procedural moves and statements by CSM management about how well connected their Battaglia firm attorneys were, the case ended with Smith and Adams sanctioned for $20,000 each by Judge Crockett Farnell.
Devastated, Smith in the end settled by paying $15,000, but Adams appealed his sanction, using a writ of prohibition. 

A Second District Court of Appeals panel quickly issued a stay of proceedings in Judge Farnell's court and ordered Farnell to show cause for his actions. But the clerk failed to communicate the show cause order to Farnell. A separate Second District panel then denied the writ of prohibition — without a written opinion, but it did not lift the stay issued by the original panel. Judge Farnell then issued an order for Adams' arrest.
Adams filed a motion with the Second District to enforce the never-released stay on Judge Farnell's action. That motion disappeared from the clerk's system. When Adams pushed to have it found again, it was construed to be a second request for a writ of prohibition, and it was entered into the system with a date later than the original filing date, but before its disappearance was reported to the clerk. The Second District Court then ordered the stay removed.

Realizing that the arrest order occurred during the duration of the stay and therefore was void, the Battaglia firm asked for a rehearing. Without giving Adams a chance to respond, the Second District declared that the stay had been lifted when they originally denied the writ of prohibition. Adams' counsel persuaded Judge Farnell to videotape Adams' trial on March 26, 2004.

At the trial, which was attended by about 20 witnesses, Judge Farnell agreed that a conflict of interest existed in the fact that the Battaglia firm was both serving as a witness and prosecution in the trial. Judge Farnell then asked the Florida State Attorney to prosecute the contempt citation, and the trial was deferred. Florida has an abysmal law that allows appeals courts to avoid review of their decisions if they refuse to explain their ruling. Florida calls this practice "per curiam affirmance."
On December 20, 2004, after months of emotional strain, lost income, and attorney's fees for the Adams family — and on the day before the contempt trial for Mark Adams — Judge Farnell recused himself from hearing the contempt charges. As of this writing in early January, 2005, Adams is waiting to hear when the trial will be rescheduled [see below].

Hear Mark Adams' story in his own words as he is interviewed by Fintan Dunne on October 14, 2005 forBreak for News (39 min).  Source:, (accessed 08/30/07).

The Florida Bar v. Mark A. Adams

Earlier, Adams had moved to disqualify Judge Crockett Farnell on evidence that clients of attorney Timothy W. Weber of the St. Petersburg law firm of Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & Wein, P.A., had repeatedly boasted that Weber was "connected" and could influence the judge. Adams was also aware that Farnell was capable of glossing over the law to rule in favor of Weber's clients. Neither was pleased with Adams' conduct.

In a retaliatory move, belatedly taken more than nine months after Judge Farnell had accepted Adams' withdrawal as attorney for Jeffrey Smith, Weber sought to bring sanctions against Adams, and Farnell obliged him by entering a judgment and an order granting those sanctions.

The sanctions, entered without apparent jurisdiction or due process, were also in conflict with the law and the facts, and Adams moved to have them vacated. His motion included a protective order seeking to stay discovery in aid of execution of the sanctions judgment. Weber countered with a document asking the judge to charge Adams with indirect criminal contempt, and once again Farnell obliged by issuing an order charging Adams with indirect criminal contempt on October 1, 2003. 

Although Judge Farnell had previously denied Adams' motions to disqualify him, he did disqualify himself from Adams' criminal contempt proceeding when he learned that a TV news reporter wanted to cover the contempt trial. With a new judge presiding, the criminal contempt charges brought against Adams were dismissed on November 28, 2005 by Judge Robert Beach. But the financial burden of his defense had taken a toll, and Adams was forced to file for bankruptcy that same year.

Ultimately, however, in the Florida Bar's action against Adams, Judge Gregory Holder ruled that Adams was guilty of all charges the Bar had brought against him — including the contempt charges that the Bar's only witness testified had been dismissed. The Florida Bar cruelly labeled Adams "a danger to the public," claimed he was incompetent, permanently disbarred him effective August 13, 2007 and imposed a fine of nearly $9,000.

The Florida Bar's pursuit of Adams may have been motivated, in part, by his aggressive opposition to Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, who was elected Florida's Governor on November 7, 2006. As an attorney for Max Linn, the Reform Party candidate, Adams had filed lawsuits that won Linn the opportunity to participate in major debates for the gubernatorial race. Adams is also an outspoken critic of Florida's questionable election practices and continues to actively campaign to reform the state's electoral process

[1]. What began as an attempt by Adams to obtain justice for a client by seeking to recuse a judge who appeared to be in league with the opposing attorney, ended with Adams being disbarred and unable to earn a livelihood by practicing the profession to which he had dedicated his career. This lesson is not lost to attorneys who would dare challenge those from entrenched law firms who have good working relationships with fraternal cohorts who have been elevated to the bench and whose political views they share.
Special Treatment
In a 2008 video, Adams shows how the Florida Supreme Court uniquely and improperly supported the Florida Bar's politically-motivated action to disbar him by issuing court orders signed only by the Clerk of Court, whereas Florida law requires the concurrence of a fixed number of named judges as necessary to decide a case [2].
  1. Mark Adams, "How to Take Action on Holt and Fix our Elections," OpEdNews, September 19, 2007,, accessed 10/08/07.
  2. Mark Adams, "'Justice' in Florida's Supreme Court," [Video] October 9, 2008,, accessed 02/27/09.

Text taken, in part, from an abbreviated account of the case of Jeffrey Smith and Mark A. Adams.  For further information, see (accessed 02/09/05) and (accessed 08/30/07).  The Empire Journal also features an account of the Mark Adams case.  See: (accessed 08/22/05).

"In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law."

7th Amendment to the United States Constitution

John Adams on the need for this amendment: "As the Constitution requires that the popular branch of the legislature should have an absolute check, so as to put a peremptory negative upon every act of the government, it requires that the common people, should have as complete a control, as decisive a negative, in every judgment of a court of judicature."


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