Monday, February 11, 2008

McCartney Chainsaw Massacre

Thanks again to English family lawyer John Bolch and his Family Lore blog, for helping us here on the other side of the Atlantic to keep up with the ever-fascinating McCartney-Mills divorce.

In his recent post Family Lore: The Bishop, the Beatle and the Beards, Bolch points to another wonderful English family law attorney and blogger, Marilyn Stowe, whose Marilyn Stowe Family Law and Divorce Blog describes the horror show that is in store for Heather Mills when she goes it alone to her final divorce hearing to face Sir Paul McCartney and his dream team.

Marilyn Stowe says if there were ever to be a film about the court proceedings, it might be called the "McCartney Chainsaw Massacre, with Heather Mills as the victim." If you're foolishly considering representing yourself in a high-stakes divorce, perhaps you should first read Marilyn Stowe's entire, vividly descriptive post Heather Mills minus the divorce lawyer, and not just my excerpts from it, below. (By the way, I'm finding these British family law bloggers are just way more creative and better writers than we are over here in America. I'll probably have to keep adding more of them to my blogroll.)

"When Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills face one another other in court next week, Sir Paul will be flanked by some of the country’s toughest lawyers. Ms. Mills, meanwhile, has elected to represent herself. To my way of thinking, having represented a client in a similar scenario only last week in London’s High Court, to go into court unrepresented is as foolhardy as anyone could ever imagine.

For those unfamiliar with the facilities at the Royal Courts of Justice, let me describe the atmosphere in the sombre courtroom. Until a final deal is signed and approved by the Court, a fully fought contest could yet take place. Even an agreement reached 'in principle' does not guarantee a done deal - and could still break down.

The courtroom is imposing. The High Court judge, Mr Justice Bennett, will sit on a raised dais, without robes or wig. Ranks of lawyers will be seated opposite him. The formidable Queen’s Counsel Nicholas Mostyn, who pulls no punches - he once fearlessly cross-examined an entire opposing team of lawyers, including one by video link while she holidayed in Japan - will sit on the front row. I do not expect him to spare Heather Mills. Behind them will be the barristers and solicitors.

The junior lawyers assisting with the case will bring up the rear. Teetering piles of files, all numbered and paginated, will be stacked on the desks. Individual sets will be placed before the judge, every one of the lawyers and both parties involved. Microphones will be suspended from the ceiling, for an accurate taped record of the hearing. The air will be cold; the atmosphere will be tense and thunderous.

When Heather Mills steps into this courtroom, she will face her husband, this menacing phalanx of lawyers ranged against her, and the judge - who will, I expect, keep the proceedings strictly private. It is only then, I suspect, that she will begin to realise what she is in for. In this courtroom, there will be no prisoners and if an agreement is to be made into a final order, she will be expected to sign up to a draconian agreement drafted by Sir Paul’s lawyers....


Admittedly, Ms. Mills’ experiences representing herself in court, up against her idolised husband and the pillars of the legal establishment, could have all the makings of a great film. She could even play herself as the heroine. However, I fear that single-handed battle in the High Court is a labour for which she is ill-qualified. Even if she does settle, she could succumb to an unbalanced deal that she will regret for the rest of her life. With this in mind, a movie version may end up resembling the McCartney Chainsaw Massacre - with Heather Mills as the victim."

For information about Massachusetts divorce and family law, see the divorce and family law page of my law firm website.

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