Stupid Lawyer Tricks

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I've been bashing the French since long before it became popular, so I was all ready to label this story 'Stupid French Tricks.' However, the stupidity here appears not to be of French origin. After reading the story on This Is True, I did a little more digging around and found the original story in the Miami Herald.

"In what appears to be a bizarre case of mistaken identity, French and U.S. authorities were convinced that [Nona] Cason, 39, was Nadine Tretiakoff, a Frenchwoman charged with kidnapping her own two kids from ex-husband Pierre Fourcade."
It seems that Ms. Tretiakoff absconded with her and Fourcade's two children in August of 1997. By some means still not fully known (i.e., those who do know aren't talking), Cason, who bears a resemblance to Tretiakoff, was fingered as the fugitive mom. She was arrested in May, and her two children, who coincidentally are each one year older than the missing children, were placed in foster care. Fourcade was notified and returned from France, where he positively identified Cason as his ex-wife and her children as their children. I was all ready to jump his shit for that, but it's been six years, and he's probably pretty desperate, so I'll cut him some slack there. No, the stupid behavior here is from lawyers for the international arm of the National Center For Missing And Exploited Children, which, if you think about it, is kind of an oxymoron (certainly appropriate, given the behavior I'm about to describe). This group, which assists Interpol with international kidnapping cases, had a picture of Tretiakoff and claimed that Cason bears a strong resemblance to her. They were unwilling to share this photo with the Herald. I find this very odd; typically, if you have a picture of a fugitive you seek, you'd be inclined to circulate that picture as widely as possible.

Stupid Lawyer Trick Of The Month Nominee #1: Kathleen Ruckman, supervising attorney for the NCMEC, "noted that Cason 'looked like a foreign person'" and that she "also heard that the kids weren't going to school and that the family had moved suddenly." Well, holy crap! Call in the friggin' Delta Force (incidentally, from the story, that's not too far off--they blocked off a whole street to trap her for arrest)!

Stupid Lawyer Trick Of The Month Nominee #2: After Cason's identity had been verified and DNA testing had proven that the two children were not Fourcade's, Tim Arcaro, Fourcade's lawyer, was still skeptical, saying "When you think about it -- the length people will go to disguise themselves with plastic surgery. . .".

And the winner for Stupid Lawyer Trick Of The Month: Ruckman, for this little beauty: "Tretiakoff could have been unfaithful during their marriage, resulting in the children having DNA that didn't match the husband." Um, even if that were true, THEY WOULDN'T BE FOURCADE'S CHILDREN AND HE WOULD HAVE NO CASE!

And lawyers wonder why most people loathe them.

UPDATE:Larry's Log scooped me (and This Is True) by almost a month on this. He has a similarly low opinion of Ms. Ruckman, but he missed the angle about the kids not being Fourcade's if the kids weren't Fourcade's. Still, it's good enough to get him blogrolled.

1 Comment

I typed 'stupid french lawyer', wo and behold:

I am Filipina living in Cambodia. My child who is Filipino/French was abducted by her month-a-year-french-father to Beijing where he works for an Arab TV News Channel. This case carries complications of four different legal traditions: common, civil, communist and UN Transitional with a possible fifth islamic country.
There has been no custody ruling. Nothing on nothing. My daughter and I have lived five years in a row in Cambodia and she is only six years old. The father in his maliciousness, stole all papers to the point I cant even prove I had a child. The father even started a rumor mill about me all the way to Beijing so no one would help me locate them.

My daughter Loulou has been officially gone since 21 of August.

After reading all relevant (and irrelevant) material, laws and all I planned to take all criminal arrest warrant action in all 4 countries at the same time. I had been evaluated at 0% chances on recovery of my child. As I have read and re-read the Penal Code and Procedure, waited for re-issuance of paperwork everywhere while living on rice and veggies, I planned the careful application of all laws step-by-step, hanging all in complicity along the way. I called a droit famille lawyer in France. Stating everything plus the applicable laws and evidence existing to the matter.

After wasting one week of my time, they get back to me saying that they cant handle my case because the abduction did not happen in France.


Now maybe i didn't get a properly translated legifrance version of the New Penal Code and Procedure but were these morons were still using the Napoleonic Code or what?

Maybe they missed the part that I was a college history professor, or that I was writing a paper about a Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal and universally applicable laws, or I come from a family of lawyers, or that I was a chess champion or captain of my debate team or what.?!?I dont remember saying I was a bar girl.

They gave me some shit that Article 113-8 says no can do. They obviously did not read the one above called Article 113-7- nor the other six articles applicable to the case, nor the landmark rulings (whether or not they recognize precedent cases), nor the recent official journals. I have to admit that i do fear for my jurisprudential future. As a person with a military police background, I could just go to China, grab my child and run to my embassy or try to hot foot the borders with possession being 9/10ths of the law.

The child's father had hired two other lawyers prior and i just yawned on them and trapped the other one to admit what he shouldn't have.

If this level of incompetence defines the french, then who wrote those laws? I dont remember reading about a plea of guilty by reason of stupidity. Wehringer would never have been disbarred in France. Correct me if I am wrong but the French seem to always talk out of their asses?!?!

Maybe I should take the French bar exams myself.

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This page contains a single entry by Chris published on July 12, 2003 6:53 PM.

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