“The child is 17-and-a-half. Why are we having a court case over a 17-and-a-half year old child? I need to know if this is nonsense.”
On Sep 12, 2023 I court-watched a custody hearing involving a 17-year old who turns EIGHTEEN in APRIL. Associate Judge Kate Stone opened the hearing with those words.
The case involves two lawyers (Laurie Robinson and Robert “Bobby” Stites) who seem to be trying to extract every last penny out of the parents and the 17-year old.
They have what every divorce lawyer longs for: One parent who wants to fight.
That’s all it takes in an adversarial legal system. One person who will fight at any cost. The other person has no choice. It’s literally how ALL adversarial legal systems work.
My notes from the hearing clearly show Laurie and Bobby were treating the situation as if it involved a SEVEN year old… not a SEVENTEEN year old. They both puffed out their chests and swore up-and-down that they were doing the CHILD a service by providing their legal fees.
It was pure greed. Family court style.
At one point when Bobby was in a self-absorbed, greed-fueled line-of-questioning, Kate interjected, “What you’re asking her to do… put him in a car… she can’t do that. If this was a 7 year old this would be a different outcome. I can’t order him to go. He won’t. What do I do? Put his mom in jail? Put him in jail?”
I thought Stone’s declaration would end Stites and Robinson’s nonsense of treating the situation like it involved a 7-year old. It didn’t. They kept going. Eventually it became obvious why they needed to continue the charade…
…because they needed to justify their LEGAL FEES.
It was crystal clear to me that…
- Stites took the case because he knew his client would spend any amount of money to fight.
- Laurie took the case because she knew Stite’s client would spend any amount of money to fight.
- Kate let it escalate because that’s what certain Family Court judges do. They provide the venue for greedy lawyers to lie to their clients about what they can do for their children.
It was also clear to me that…
- THEY DIDN’T TAKE THE CASE BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT A SEVENTEEN YEAR OLD NEEDED THEIR SERVICES!!!
Which leads me to the question, “Do legal fees have to be reasonable?”
If so, my follow-up question is this, “If Laurie Robinson’s legal services were UNNECESSARY from the jump wouldn’t that make ANY amount unreasonable by definition?”
Is There a Bigger Problem?
But there may be an even bigger problem with Laurie’s legal fees. Kate originally appointed Laurie as an Ad Litem. Laurie provided services to the child (i.e., her client) in her role as Ad Litem. Then Kate switched Laurie’s role to Amicus.
Kate had the following to say when she explained to the parties why she switched the role from Ad Litem to Amicus, “My fault. If Laurie is acting as Ad Litem then the kid can be called to testify. It puts the kid in the middle. That’s why there was a change on that.”
I think it’s a BS excuse, but regardless… when Kate changed the role from Ad Litem to Amicus I’m pretty sure she needed to change the lawyer as well. I don’t think one lawyer can act as the lawyer FOR the child and then switch to act as the lawyer FOR the court in matters concerning that same child.
Welcome to Family Court. Where judges and lawyers get together, make stuff up, and hope no one questions what they did.
Well, it turns out I like to be curious, not judgmental.
So… it looks like I’ll be filing another complaint with the State Commission on Judicial Ethics against Kate Stone as well as a complaint with the State Bar of Texas against Laurie Robinson to find out if this switch-a-roo violated any ethics, conflict-of-interest, or code of conduct.
I’m curious to know what they will say.
“Why Are We Here?”
Let’s circle back to the sentiment Kate expressed at the start of the hearing. We were there that day because the 17-year old wants to be a welder. He short-circuited his senior year in high school by taking, and passing, the GED. He had made the decision to start a career. His career. For his life. In his future. To be his responsibility. Based on his motivation. And his initiative.
You see… if Laurie Robinson was acting as Ad Litem she’d have to put THAT in front of the court – and then the gravy train would come to a screeching halt.
But hold on folks!
The greed twins, Laurie and Bobby, had an ace-in-the-hole: the DAD!
It turns out the dad wants custody so he can put the 17-year-old back into 10th (TENTH) grade and have him repeat the last 3 (THREE) years of high school. The dad doesn’t think a GED is good enough. The dad wants complete control over the kid until the kid is nearly 21 years old. IMO, the dad is a control freak.
IMO, Laurie, Bobby, and Kate know the dad is a raging control freak. They counted on it when they took the case. Think about the personality dynamic driving the dad. Can you now see why I said he would spend any amount of his money and force the mom and the kid to spend any amount of their money because he was hell-bent on getting the only thing that is valuable to him: Complete Control Over the Kid and the Mom.
So Kate switched Laurie’s role and the gravy train continued to roll.
I think what Kate Stone, Laurie Robinson, and Bobby Stites did is equivalent to extortion – Family Court style.
It Gets Personal
At this point in the hearing, Stone gave a personal story. She told everyone that she has a GED. She was kicked out of the house at 16 years old. She told the dad, “But sir, there comes a point when you have to let that child go. If he crashes and burns be there for him.”
“I need to know if this is nonsense.”
Yes, Kate, it’s nonsense. You knew it was nonsense when you appointed Laurie Robinson as Ad Litem, and then switched her to Amicus when she found out the kid not only wanted to live his own life but was completely capable to do so.
You knew it was nonsense when you went along with Robinson and Stites for the past year pretending this kid was SEVEN.
You didn’t change your tune until you saw an Event posted on a court-watching calendar, and then saw me sitting in the court room on September 12.
I’ll be there again on December 4th.
Who Am I?
Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste. I’ve been around for a long, long years; Stole million man’s soul an faith.
And I was ’round when Jesus Christ Had his moment of doubt and pain. Made damn sure that Pilate Washed his hands and sealed his fate
Pleased to meet you. Hope you guess my name. But what’s puzzling you Is the nature of my game
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