October 2016 found Herring Law Group in the midst of a rapidly accelerating Ventura County Superior Court child custody/parenting case. Notwithstanding our client’s efforts to settle it on eminently reasonable terms, the other side, represented by a notorious Westside Los Angeles firm, was determined to force a showcase trial. We had a celebrity client, and opposing counsel wanted to leverage his high profile into a victory they could parade around the state and the nation. They were expressly trying to establish legal precedent allowing estranged parties and children to be sent to out-of-state inpatient “reunification camps” in a manner prohibited by California law.
So, the notion of “settlement” proved irrelevant to opposing counsel. Rather, they threw ridiculous amounts of resources at HLG and our co-counsel, generating overall fees in the millions of dollars. We attended extensive hearings, depositions of parties and expert witnesses from around the nation, and other pre-trial proceedings. HLG fully mobilized, including through the 2016 holidays.
Trial, itself, lasted a month, from January into early February 2017. Days were spent in the courtroom, nights were burned preparing witnesses (thanks, Judy Rhodes and Shawn McCoy for your great work!) and early mornings and lunch breaks found me drafting final changes to various examination outlines. Time off was non-existent.
Making the situation unnecessarily worse was opposing counsel’s vile behavior. I began my career in Los Angeles and HLG has cases there, so we “get” the sometimes-abrasive nature of Los Angeles-style litigation. But we have never experienced such unrelenting unprofessionalism from other attorneys. From opposing counsel’s harassment and slurs against our client and his family to the inappropriate disclosure of confidential information to endless “trash talk” in and out of the courtroom, they consistently took it to new depths.
We resist schadenfreude, but opposing counsel received an appropriate comeuppance when the court sanctioned their lead attorney $50,000 for litigation abuse. Besides the financial sting, that event is also reportable to the State Bar for discipline purposes.
The court unequivocally ruled in our client’s favor, and so the good news is that HLG moves on with another big win. I thank everyone at our firm for keeping our other clients’ matters moving in my absence. I appreciate our clients’ patience and willingness to wait for my return from the circus. Four months later, it is good to return to our usual rhythms at least until “next time!”