I'm in a quandary re. attny's

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by klmno, Feb 12, 2009.

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    When difficult child was at his last arraignment, a court appointed attny was assigned. This is the same attny who was assigned before and basicly did NOTHING- you know the type- he sees you on the way into the courtroom and asked "so, refresh my memory- why are we here?" So, I fired him and got one myself for difficult child 2 years ago. I wasn't too impressed with the one I paid several thousand dollars to either- I thought he did the minimum- about what one would expect a court appointed attny to do. But really, the court appointed attny is worse than not having one at all- at least then the judge would know that the defendent had no legal counsel.

    Anyway- I don't have money anymore, but I could scrape up a bit to make sure difficult child has legal representation for his next hearing- and he needs it and has some things going for him this time to give him a good chance of not being sent to state juvy, as his suspended sentence says. But, it will take an attny gathering some info and preparing facts and being ready to present them in court.

    I called and left a message for the court appointment attny over a week ago and never got a call returned. Since this is the way he was before I fired him 2 years ago, I contacted difficult child's attny from last year (the one I paid for). I'm supposed to get stuff together for him and meet him on Monday to pay him a retainer and give him info. Then, I came home today and had a message from the court appointment attny.

    Financially, I should go with the court appointment one. And Lord knows, I don't owe difficult child a paid attny. But, this is obviously important and whatever the judge decides at this hearing will effect difficult child for years to come. It will definitely determine what mental health care difficult child has opportunity to get for the next couple of years. When the court appointment attny was representing difficult child before, I tried to discuss things with him once and he just said that the GAL would take care of everything.

    I may have already answered my own question, but I was wondering what others here would do.
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Honestly....I would go with the court appointment lawyer. Even though you say he doesnt talk to you...he really isnt supposed to talk to you because he is your sons lawyer. All the times Cory went to court as a juvenile I never got to speak to his lawyers alone or much before the court times. We would show up at court, the lawyer would take him back into a room together and they would talk, then we would go into the courtroom. If I had something I wanted her to have, I would give it to her before she took him back. Funny, he always had a female lawyer...lol. His lawyers always allowed me to testify and give my parent report to the court.
  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    The guy never talked to difficult child either. If he (difficult child) was older, that would be fine though to just talk to him. But, difficult child has no idea about half his mental health stuff that plays into this. For instance, difficult child would not be able to tell the defense attny that I had filed a motion 2 weeks earlier asking judge to help me get difficult child more help. Here, the defense attny always talks with the parent too- they are supposed to talk to both- at least for a kid this age.

    The one time this guy did represent difficult child in court, he had nothing to say. The judge then asked him if he had talked with either me or difficult child and he told her no, that he hadn't had time.
  4. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    If you can financially do it, I would pay for the attorney since you feel the court appointed one isn't very good. Since it is a mental health issue and you want to see that his mental health needs are met, if possible, you probably want the best you can get.

    At the end of the day, I would want to know that I have done everything I can possibly do to help my child.

    There are situations where I might think my child "deserved" the court appointed one if I felt they were making deliberate choices that got them there. This isn't one of those. JMHO
  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well...I would see if court appointment will talk to you. By the way...Cory started in court at 12. Well...he actually made trips down to juvenile at 10 but they just talked to him.
  6. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Wow Janet- I thought my difficult child was the youngest in this area. The first time he got arrested was on his 11th b-day. Do I need to describe how livid I was?
  7. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Have you called the UR law center yet? Just an idea.
  8. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    No- I forgot all about them to tell you the truth. I have to say, though- I cringe at the thought of having to update anyone on all difficult child's history- legal and mental health. They go hand in hand. The only time difficult child has been arrested has been when he's manic. And he ends up in legal trouble every period of it, too. He's been arrested late winter/early spring four years in a row now. And has never been arrested any other time.

    I was really debating this and then leaning more toward what Janet said- that I should try to talk with the court appointment attny and see if I thought he would put forth some effort to be prepared for court this time. Then, difficult child called and I just got off the phone with him.

    He told me that a couple of days ago he was feeling depressed and discussed it with a therapist. Then, he had felt so sleepy and discussed it with a psychiatrist. Then, today, he says he thought he was getting manic and told a couple of people- one therapist and one staff person. He said he had been having trouble the past couple of days keeping his cool and not losing his temper (see how this goes together?). He said he noticed that he almost snaps when he sees or hears a boy picking on a girl, but that he's working on why he felt like it was ok for him to give me a hard time and do the things to me that he had done. He said he's trying hard to get a grip on his life and that's why he wanted to be there and it was helping. He said that he realized that the reason his acute psychiatric hospital stays had not helped him in the past is because he didn't have to deal with the real world while he was there so when he came home, he just tried to hold everything in until he couldn't take it anymore. But he says at this place, he has to deal with real world situations like going to school and so forth. And he says they help him learn HOW to deal with those situations so that he can come back and live in the real world.

    Ok- so maybe he thinks he'll be ready in a week and I don't. But, I have to give him some credit here. So, I discussed Residential Treatment Center (RTC) with him and told him this is what I thought he needed for a while. I tried to describe it to him, although I have limited knowledge myself about it. Anyway, I'll see what his team of profs say about all this tomorrow and if they confirm what he says- ie, that he's telling him his different moods and working well with them and learning coping skills, etc, and they are still recommending a Residential Treatment Center (RTC) for a while. If all that is true, I'll go for the best attny and die trying to get it for him.

    I would much prefer for difficult child to "earn" his way back home and get mental health treatment while he's doing it than to sit in state juvy for a while, then get released and that's it. And as long as difficult child is working on this and wanting it and saying it's helping, I'd never forgive myself if I didn't try to get him that chance. Plus, I can't forget the fact that the kid was telling me even before things got to the point they did that he needed more help- that the help he was getting was not enough. And let's face it- it would have taken 6 mos in out-patient therapy to get him as far as he is now in 10 days. (I mean as far as being comfortable enough for him to open up and to have therapy and psychiatrist much more available, and to have group therapy with other kids around his age with similar issues.)

    Now, to get the GAL on board, then the judge, then the issue of funding....and let's just hope and pray that the profs where he is now are still recommending Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and haven't decided that he's done so well, he can go back to the real world now.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2009
  9. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I truly am praying that they realize he still needs and Residential Treatment Center (RTC). Gentle hugs.
  10. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Oh so complicated.:mad: I am not sure what to say.

    I guess, a couple of things pop into my head.

    One, tape some of the conversations difficult child is having with you as evidence to the fact that he is getting much needed help, as well as admitting that he needs help? These tapes can be used as evidence in court.

    Two, I think I might scratch both attnys and see if you can scrape up the money for one who specializes in this. Is that a possibility? I do not like the sound of either of your choices. If you cannot scrape up the money for a new one, what about you representing your son? Is that just too out there, and looked at as unfavorable? I don't know. If anyone can do it, you can.

    Many, many hugs.
    How is difficult child doing? Is he holding it together OK?
  11. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I'm not sure I can find better- I mean- there are better attny's, yes, but when he went manic before and racked up a bunch of charges in 1 1/2 hr, including arson for setting a brush fire (this was about 13 days after doubling his prozac), I talked to many attnys and I couldn't find one around here who understood the juvenile courts as well as the mental health issues and who wanted anywhere near a case of a 12 yo causing a fire (even though it didn't spread, catch a building on fire or injure anyone- thank God).

    difficult child seems happy- he's happy to have tdocs and psychiatrist available (according to him) and he's "beaming" over the fact that he's popular with the other kids there. Not that I care about his popularity with other young teens right now, but, it seems to be helping him to see that he is not alone in his insecurities and inept ways of dealing with them- whether that be by cutting and self-injuring or exploding on others. Even though it would take some transitional help to go back into mainstream, he seems to be feeling compassion, empathy, and protective towards others. Especially the girls. LOL!

    After reading JJJ's post- I did think to ask if staff were watching them all the time. He said they weren't even allowed to touch enough to hold hands, but they were allowed to talk. (Shewww)

    I questioned difficult child a bit to see if psychiatrist and the tdocs were comparing notes. He said they all put it in a computer system- even his teachers. I can verify that when I talk to the "team" tomorrow.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2009
  12. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    What about contacting your local law school, and asking if they have any law students that are studying crime that manifests because of mental illness - and seeing if one of them would be willing to take this case on Pro Bono?

    You need to find someone passionate, and ready to change the world to be an advocate for your son.

    I am glad to hear is stable at phosph. That is good news.
  13. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    That's what Crazy was suggesting- ok- I'll put it back on my list to call them tomorrow am. This one attny (that I'm paying- or had hired before) has a son with adhd/possible BiPolar (BP) and he seemed pretty compassionate, and he knows all the history about difficult child, my family, the custody case, etc. So, there is a lot that would be good for an attny to know so he/she can refer to. Otherwise, it seems like people automatically assume that what PO says is true and stuff like that. Or, like suggesting that difficult child just go live with a family member for a while. And this attny also told me today that there is not a lot of time to prepare for the case at this point. BUt, I will call and see.

    I think difficult child is stable in the sense that he's working with them. But, I tend to think he has a little cycling going on between the depression and feeling hyper. That's one of the main reasons that I want to see if he's really tellling them this stuff and if they are comparing notes. He said he told the teacher today that he was having trouble focusing today. If they put that with him telling someone else that he felt hyper and might be getting manic, then with another's notes that he was agitated and felt like he was having trouble keeping his cool, yet 2 days ago he was saying he was depressed and sleepy all the time, maybe they can start to see something. And, this is in an ideal environment- if he was at home/in the community, these "moods" would be more extreme and harder for him to deal with, I think. According to difficult child, the kids are allowed to talk to someone (a therapist or psychiatrist) at ANY time, on request. He says he does this. Plus, he says they teach him how to handle the different things- like if he's feeling that way and has to sit in class with a very annoying kid (difficult child's words). They do have chores and levels they have to work thru, but, in a "true" Residential Treatment Center (RTC), there would be more, I feel sure.

    Do they have tdocs available often in Residential Treatment Center (RTC)'s to help teach things like this?
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2009
  14. compassion

    compassion Member

    Klmno, I would do eveything to find attorney that speiclizes in civil rights and knows the legal syatem well. I am so fortuante to have foudn that for my daughter. It was $3000 and well worth it. He called the state attorny a few ddays ago and got her defferd proseuton extneded when found out she is in Residential Treatment Center (RTC).
    Some ideas to get names: NAMI and CABF.
    My daughter is very ill and needs treatment, not punishment.
    I am so happy to hear your difficult child is in phospital.
    Right now it feels my difficult child needs to be in a safe locked envirnoment perhps until 18 or longer . This may change but I know how scary it is, she has commted so many felonies (grand theft/I supsect dealing drugs) . The bottom line is she is very very ill. Compassion
  15. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I really think difficult child is honeymooning right now. Everything is rosey and he is doing so well. He is getting along with everyone and they all like him and he is helping out all his peers. Ok. That is going to change when they put more pressure on him. It will be a good thing when that happens because then they can see what he really does.
  16. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    I have not read the rest of people's posts, but wanted to answer your question - yes, at rtcs they should have a therapist they see a couple of times a week, and are on call as needed, and a psychiatrist they see once a week. However, a lot of the counseling and group work is done by the "staff" as well. Whenever Matt is having a problem, I ask him if he has talked to "staff" about it - or his counselor. It would be a very similar setting to what you are seeing - although the level of actual qualified medical personnel might be less. For instance the "staff" are usually not mastered degreed counselors - but people that have lot's of training in psychiatric. It varies by Residential Treatment Center (RTC).

    If anything - your difficult children stability at this phosph compared to his instability at home shows he needs placement. He obviously responds well to structure, and NEEDS it. In contrast Matt would have thrown chairs by now, and threatened to kill people - which in the past obviously has always shown people he needed help - but I was never completely convinced (until now) on what that help looked like. The fact your difficult child is not acting violent there, shows he is malleable and ready for the help. HUGE plus. And a HUGE reason for him to NOT go to juvy.
  17. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    OOpps.....I just kinda contradicted Janet. Oh well. He could also be honeymooning. Janet and I have the kids that do not have that in their repertoire of behavior, so I forget that is even possible.;)

    None the less - either way - a good lawyer should be able to prove he needs the help.

    Do you have a friend that could leak a little something to the press, and drum up a lawyer from the publicity that way? You gotta somehow get the town you live in as passionate as you are that this kid is not another lost number in jail - but need help.

  18. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thanks, Steely! I just got home from my weekly meeting so will update shortly!