I know, I know: I’ve given up on the blog. I’m extremely busy right now doing other things, but I thought I’d bring you all a little cheer with my response to another bar complaint from an unhappy reader of my internet content.
The latest bar complaint based upon my writing was filed by Mr. Bradford Miller: a lawyer who exemplifies all of the qualities I abhor in divorce counsel. His bar complaint was twofold:
1. He doesn’t like it when I say mean things on Facebook that may or may not be about him; and
2. I sent a letter to a judge in a case against Mr. Miller, copying him of course. The letter sought to update the judge on the status of things in the year since we had been before her. The circumstances will be more clear when you read the response below.
Mr. Miller, surprisingly not knowing what “ex parte judicial contact” means (one side communicating with the judge without copying the other side), immediately whined that my email status update to the judge constituted “ex parte” contact, even as he was copied on it.
That’s the background. If you have questions about anything in my response, please put them in a comment, and I will answer. In addition, if you have any experiences with either the lawyers named in this response, or others like them, please include your story in a comment. I’d really like to get some chatter going about how much damage a person can do to themselves when they make a bad selection of divorce attorney.
Finally, and I know you know this, please share. Sharing is caring! My book will be published in June and it is filled with advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of your own lawyer, so this is a good time to start a robust conversation on the subject.
Robin’s Response to Another Silly Bar Complaint:
Assistant General Counsel and CAO Attorney
Oregon State Bar
16037 SW Upper Boones Ferry Road
Tigard, OR 97281
April 16, 2019
Sent via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Ms. Yamin:
The following is my response to the bar complaint filed against me by Bradford Miller. I am addressing the issues you asked me to respond to in the order in which you listed them in your March 14, 2019 email to me.
Before I do, I’d like to remind the bar that we have been here before. I refer you back to the bar complaint about my Internet writings filed by unhappy Florida reader Jennifer Herbert, to which I responded thusly: Unhappy Florida Reader. That complaint was dismissed, much to my pleasure, and the great chagrin of Ms. Herbert.
Next came a bar complaint from unhappy Oregon reader Diane Hames, who I believe used Mr. Miller’s law firm to ghostwrite her complaint (they represented her in her divorce at the time, and still do). I came to that assumption for many reasons, one of which was that it was exceptionally poorly-drafted. Ms. Hames was upset because I wrote a blog series about the horrible experiences of my friend Sue, dealing with not only the end of her marriage (when her husband informed her of his need to transition from male to female), but also her despair in dealing with what I believe to be the most unethical and despicable divorce firm in Oregon. I did not use their real names, and yet, Ms. Hames was perturbed enough to file the complaint against me, and therefore put in the public record all the things she wanted to keep secret.
Ms. Hames, and I assume her counsel, then went full-throttle on the “Streisand effect” plan and then encouraged Basic Rights Oregon to pile on, and they filed their own complaint. I responded to Basic Rights Oregon here: Basic Rights Oregon Pile-on Response.
Both complaints were rightfully dismissed.
It’s no coincidence, of course, that Mr. Miller is employed by the same law firm I believe assisted Ms. Hames and Basic Rights Oregon with their bar complaints against me. For years the Stahancyk firm has been trying, to no avail, to prevent me from sharing with the public some of their more disturbing practices. Regardless, the bar has already ruled in my favor on the same issue of social media and blog posts.
A. Regarding Facebook posts and RPC 4.4 (a)
In representing a client or the lawyer’s own interests, a lawyer shall not use means that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay, harass or burden a third person, or knowingly use methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights of such a person.
My social media statements do not implicate RPC 4.4(a) for the following reasons:
1. I am not making statements in the representation of any client. If I were foolish enough to do so, my client’s name or Mr. Miller’s client’s name would be used in specific descriptions of the case. If I were foolish enough to do so, I would be sending those social media posts to the judge and/or mediators in the one case I was unfortunate enough to have against Mr. Miller and the other multitude of lawyers representing his client. The fact that Mr. Miller and his firm are obsessed with following my social media posts and my now largely-inactive blog does not mean that my posts are intended to impact litigation in any way or are made in the course of my client representation. The only people who made decisions in the case we had together were Judge Amy Holmes Hehn and Judge Michael Hogan, neither of whom would ever stretch the bounds of their ethical duties to read my social media and blog posts to come to conclusions about the case. We had another mediator in our case, by the way. He quit mid-mediation, in my opinion because he was so thoroughly disgusted by the behavior of Mr. Miller and Mr. Miller’s boss, Ms. Jody Stahancyk, during mediation.
2. I am not making statements in my own interests. I am making statements in the interests of educating people about the methods used by Mr. Miller, his firm, and others like them, to destroy families in order to drive up fees. I consider myself a journalist, because I gather information, investigate its veracity, and disseminate it in order to spread knowledge on an important subject. I have never made one penny from this work that is posted online, nor have I tried to, but I have positively impacted many people by helping them navigate difficult divorces and difficult divorce lawyers. My statements identifying Mr. Miller and others at his firm with particularity and things they have done to hurt people for no reason but greed are all true. That is why they have never sued me for defamation.
3. I cannot help it if Mr. Miller, his client, and other attorneys at Mr. Miller’s firm choose to subject themselves to my social media and blog postings. However, I am not precluded by the rules from embarrassing other lawyers when I write about their practice methods. I am not “harassing” Mr. Miller. In fact, Mr. Miller’s firm engaged a private detective to investigate me merely because I have exposed them for who they are. Now that might be harassment. Last year I was told Mr. Miller’s boss was obsessed with determining whether or not I was involved with a man she knew. She reached out to people demanding to know if I was intimately involved with this man. This got back to me, of course, and all I could think was, “wow.”
I wasn’t intimately involved with that man, by the way. He’s not my type.
Let us examine RPC 4.4(a) again:
In representing a client or the lawyer’s own interests, a lawyer shall not use means that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay, harass or burden a third person, or knowingly use methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights of such a person.
I am hereby requesting that the Oregon State Bar investigate Mr. Miller’s own litigation conduct under this same rule – conduct which, unlike mine, qualifies as multiple violations of RPC 4.4(a) because it actually occurred while both representing a client, obviously, and in representing his own interests, since his nonsense litigation advanced his own interests of having more money (despite that it certainly did not advance the interests of his client). This letter includes an extensive list of activities engaged in by Mr. Miller that violate RPC 4.4(a). More on that in a bit.
Next, I’ll address the fact that Mr. Miller reads things I write and assumes they are all about him.
B. Regarding Facebook posts and RPC 8.4(a)(3)
A lawyer shall not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s fitness to practice law.
I stand by everything I have ever written, although I cannot and will not share my sources. I will say this: Mr. Miller’s reputation for all sorts of damnable conduct is the subject of conversation all over Portland, and has been for years. Portland is, after all, a very small city. Because I am a well-known critic of his firm, people contact me all the time reporting all sorts of things. When I know I can prove something without a doubt, I will use names. When I do not, I don’t. It is possible people are feeding me bad information. Upon reflection, I realized that because Mr. Miller and the Stahancyk firm are so widely despised in this small city, they have made many enemies. It is possible some of those enemies are giving me bad information. I will take that into consideration going forward. It may be possible that Mr. Miller’s poor reputation for destructive legal tactics may drive people to make up stories about him – but I do not. I am not a fiction writer, and Mr. Miller provides plenty of material for non-fiction work.
About that reputation…
Mr. Miller’s reputation is why, when he applied for membership at Portland Golf Club (PGC) and numerous members threatened to leave PGC if he were admitted, he was rejected. I’m told that in the history of the club (over 100 years!), there had never been such an uproar regarding a proposed member, and that includes a proposed member who was a newly-released-from-prison convicted felon. I am told that the PGC member who sponsored Mr. Miller later apologized to the board for submitting Mr. Miller’s name for consideration, such was the angered response amongst the PGC members at the very idea of having Mr. Miller‘s face greet them at their beloved club. Perhaps that is not true, but my source was in a very good position to know, and I was in a very good position to know my source.
Mr. Miller’s reputation about how he conducts himself in divorce litigation is why, I’m told, he was apparently removed from his committees at Waverley Country Club a few months ago. That’s a very big problem for someone who wants to slither his way up the social and power ladder in a private club filled with influential and wealthy people. Garnering a reputation in a golf club community for being an overly-aggressive nasty litigator who never met a losing motion he didn’t chose to draft, bill for, and file is almost as bad as people thinking you are a sand-bagger.
Mr. Miller’s reputation is why there was apparently (I was told) a movement to have him expelled from Waverley Country Club, especially after some members found out he did not inform Waverley that he’d been rejected by Portland Golf Club when he sought membership at Waverley. I think the phrase that was bandied about was, “Why is Waverley now the dumping ground for Portland Golf Club’s rejected garbage?” I believe, but cannot prove, that Waverley management decided to remove him from his committees rather than kick him out, no doubt fearing a lawsuit would result if they terminated his membership. That’s just my opinion, of course. It could just be a rumor. I hate bringing it up here, but it’s important in the context of Mr. Miller alleging that I am engaging in online chatter that hurts his reputation (such as it is).
Mr. Miller’s boss is, of course, the notorious Ms. Jody Stahancyk, a woman about whom I have written extensively and at whose feet Mr. Miller was carefully trained and indoctrinated.
Ms. Stahancyk’s reputation is why, when she applied for membership at the Arlington Club, she was loudly rejected.
Ms. Stahancyk’s reputation is why, when she applied for membership at the Racquet Club, she was loudly rejected.
Ms. Stahancyk’s reputation may be why her “non-profit,” Child Centered Solutions, (CCS) was the subject of a lengthy investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice for possible fraud. That organization has the following statement on its website:
Child Centered Solutions works to protect the rights of children in high-conflict family disputes. As part of our goal to help parents and professionals give a voice to children, we host training seminars for judges, lawyers and other professionals about topics related to child representation. We also sponsor community education initiatives that raise awareness about the impact of family conflict on children.
When I first read that years ago, I nearly choked to death on the irony. If one were to interview the opponent in every single case with children that the Stahancyk, Kent, and Hook firm has ever gone up against, I would wager that at least 90% of them would tell you that the firm’s conduct caused incredible and irreparable harm to their children. The Stahancyk firm has mastered the financial concept of scalability here: they practice law in an emotionally and financially violent manner, children are horribly affected by that practice, and they bring in money from donations to an organization that is supposed to help those children (and yet, which does nothing to assist those kids). Brilliant!
I have studied the tax returns of that “non-profit,” and I strongly encourage the bar to do the same. While the Oregon DOJ chose not to proceed with charges against CCS, they told me they did so because the amount of money at hand was not enough to warrant a prosecution, especially since at the time they were dealing with a large uptick in fraudulent charities that claimed to help veterans. My review of the CCS tax returns, along with my analysis of what actions Child Centered Solutions took to help kids (none), showed that CCS is, in my opinion, akin to the Trump Foundation: a slush fund that takes in large sums of money in donations, which donations benefit Ms. Stahancyk financially, instead of benefitting those children the organization purports to help.
For example, the Stahancyk law firm has charged rent to CCS, even as the non-profit does not appear to have a paid staff or need for any space. Even if it did have a staff, who in the world would charge their own non-profit rent in a building that they own? It’s bizarre and compelling evidence illustrating the degree to which Ms. Stahancyk is driven by greed. Child Centered Solutions does nothing in terms of helping children going through their parents’ contentious divorce, with the laughable exception of some poorly-written articles posted on its website. According to that website, the organization has offered no events since 2015, and yet my understanding is that they are still soliciting donations. The 2017 charitable report shows a slush fund of $182,853 in a year in which, as in so many others, the “non-profit” conducted no activities toward its stated purpose. Things that make you go hmm . . . .
Ms. Stahancyk’s reputation is why so many in this small city hold their nose in her presence.
Ms. Stahancyk’s reputation is why, when such large numbers of divorce litigants sought to conflict her out of their cases, she invented a ridiculous solution to that problem: making prospective clients sign an agreement after an initial consultation, during which privileged matters would certainly be discussed. That document purports to allow lawyers in her firm to be retained by the other spouse, even after a consult during which a prospective client may have disclosed privileged information, if the prospective client decides not to hire the Stahancyk firm. I don’t think that agreement is enforceable, but that’s another issue for another day. Perhaps the Oregon State Bar should look into whether that agreement is violative of any ethics rules. You can read about that here: Good lawyers don’t have this problem.
Ms. Stahancyk’s reputation is likely why the article linked above notes,
There are only a handful of high-profile divorce attorneys in Portland, and most say they’ve been the victims of such strategies on occasion. But only Stahancyk has seen it happen to her with regularity (emphasis added).
While it seems almost condescending to point out the obvious to you, I’ll do it anyway: good lawyers do not get conflicted out of cases; they get hired. Lawyers who wreak havoc on families and charge insane amounts of money to devour their own clients, and the children of those clients, get conflicted out. Ms. Stahancyk wears her conflict reputation like a badge of honor, when in reality, it is a badge of shame. I fail to understand how anyone could take pride in such an unrelentingly atrocious reputation.
I believe Ms. Stahancyk’s approach to divorce, taught to and suckled at the legal teat by then-baby lawyer Mr. Miller when he began practicing law in 2007, has destroyed the lives of countless numbers of people in every community in which they do business. Many of these victims are children, and damage has been done to those children that can never be repaired. This is not merely my opinion, and my writing about Ms. Stahancyk’s conduct, and that of her underlings and partners, is not “harassment.” It’s stating well-known facts in an effort to educate the public. Mr. Miller, having trained under the poisoned dynamic of his boss, has become the equivalent of a “mini-me.” He may not have her heft, but he certainly mimics her style to a “T.”
I have never been sued for defamation by anyone, including my three biggest fans: Mr. Bradford Miller, Ms. Laurel Hook, and Ms. Jody Stahancyk. Why? Because I have never said anything specifically about Mr. Miller or any other lawyer at his firm that was not provably true. It is not my fault Mr. Miller and his cohorts have terrible reputations in this city. It is not my fault that when I write things about unnamed lawyers that are disturbing and unflattering, Mr. Miller and others at his firm see themselves in my words, even when what I have written may not be referring to them.
I know other lawyers who engage in bad conduct, and I write about them too. So why does Mr. Miller assume it’s all about him? Why is he spending so much time consuming my content, comparing his actions against my words, and whipping himself into a frenzy when he recognizes himself in a general post about a nefarious lawyer doing bad things? Nobody else who reads my social media would make the connection between some of my posts that don’t use names and Mr. Miller, so why does he? We don’t exactly move in the same social circles, or have mutual friends, Facebook or otherwise. He is creating connections that he claims are very upsetting to him, and has now put them in the public record. Odd.
Mr. Miller claims I have “emotional issues.” While I’ll discuss that allegation below, I will note that, with the exception of following Donald Trump on Twitter, at least I don’t spend my valuable time vacuuming up troubling and vague information in an effort to upset myself. I would encourage Mr. Miller to pick up a new hobby, because being one of my three biggest fans is clearly not bringing him any peace or joy (although it does bring him money, because I believe he bills his biggest client to review at least some of my online material).
Unlike Mr. Miller, I have never had a bar complaint filed against me for excessive and unnecessary billing, which is one of the policies of economic violence against his firm’s own clients I am known to criticize. Unlike Mr. Miller’s boss, Ms. Stahancyk, no client of mine has ever filed a bar complaint against me, or accused me of overcharging them. Unlike Mr. Miller’s partner, Laurel Hook (a woman whose “practice style” had led to not one, not two, but three, of my sources considering suicide), I have never been sanctioned by the bar for anything, including suspect billing and collection practices. Unlike Ms. Hook, I’ve never had my billing practices labeled “obscene” by a fee expert. Ms. Hook’s slap on the wrist, a diversion agreement, is not even available on the Oregon State Bar website, which seems deeply unfair to prospective clients who will search her disciplinary record on the Oregon State Bar website and come up with nothing. I wrote about that, too. You can read that work here: Laurel Hook Diversion Agreement.
As a side note, I admit I engage in a good deal of online criticism, much of it profane, of Donald Trump. I do so not as a lawyer, even as I may discuss legal issues. I do so not in my own personal interest, but in the interests of the country as I whole. Should this conduct warrant sanction by the bar? I think not. I, and every other lawyer in Oregon, enjoy free speech rights that are not trumped by my license to practice law.
Let’s move to the issue of my letter to Judge Amy Holmes Hehn.
C. Regarding letter to Judge Holmes Hehn and RPC 3.1:
You first asked me to respond to the complaint about my letter to the judge in reference to RPC 3.1 (Meritorious Claims and Contentions), which reads:
In representing a client or the lawyer’s own interests, a lawyer shall not knowingly bring or defend a proceeding, assert a position therein, delay a trial or take other action on behalf of a client, unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous, which includes a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law, except that a lawyer for the defendant in a criminal proceeding, or the respondent in a proceeding that could result in incarceration may, nevertheless so defend the proceeding as to require that every element of the case be established.
I fail to see how my letter to Judge Holmes Hehn violates RCP 3.1 in any manner. I had a good faith basis in law and fact for sending the letter, which Mr. Miller erroneously labeled “ex parte communication,” despite the fact he was copied on the letter and received it simultaneously when Judge Holmes Hehn received it. I ran the letter by my esteemed co-counsel before I sent it, and he had no concerns whatsoever. I note the bar has not asked me to respond to Mr. Miller’s silly allegations of ex parte communication, so I hope Mr. Miller has now realized that “ex parte” does not mean what he thinks it means.
Here is the background for the purpose of the letter:
In the one case in which we were adversaries, Mr. Miller’s client received a third extension of a FAPA restraining order in March, 2018. She prevailed even though she had already lost a prior trial in November 2017 in which she sought a permanent stalking order against my client, and when she appealed that loss, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision without opinion a mere 18 days after the appellate hearing (December 18, 2018). I won both the underlying stalking case (my first trial!), as well as the appeal (my first appeal!). We are still awaiting a decision on my client’s request for appellate fees.
In the time between the issuance of the FAPA order in March 2018 and present day, my client has done everything in his power to avoid Mr. Miller’s client. There has been no contact between the two of them for three and a half years, despite Mr. Miller’s client’s refusal to let go of work associated with certain financial matters that increase her chance of contact with my client.
Knowing Mr. Miller as I do, I assumed he would try for a fourth year of what is supposed to be a temporary order – even after his client lost such efforts at the stalking trial and the appeal. I believed, and believe today, there was nothing at all inappropriate about sending Judge Holmes Hehn a status update in the case. You will note Mr. Miller has not alleged that anything contained in my letter was false.
I believe it was entirely appropriate to have Judge Holmes Hehn consider my points, because I knew that Mr. Miller would appear at ex parte for the extension of the FAPA order, meaning I could not defend my client before a renewal was to be issued and served upon him. I have searched the Oregon ethics opinions and cannot find a case in which a similar set of facts resulted in an ethics violation. In addition, Judge Holmes Hehn did not take any action deleterious to Mr. Miller’s client: she issued the FAPA renewal at ex parte, my client requested a hearing, and that hearing was held on March 25th, March 29th and April 1, 2019. Judge Holmes Hehn did caution me about “litigation via email,” but she certainly did not admonish me in any way, or inform me that in her opinion, my letter was violative of any RCP. In any event, Mr. Miller’s client got the immediate order she wanted at ex parte and later at a contested hearing. No harm, no foul.
The allegation set forth by Mr Miller that I sent that letter in an effort to have Judge Holmes Hehn recused is far-fetched and spectacularly illogical. The case was specially assigned to Judge Holmes Hehn, neither party sought to disqualify her, and the time for seeking a change of judge expired long ago. Mr. Miller’s accusation requires no response beyond noting that, like Donald Trump, Mr. Miller has an annoying and gas-lighting habit of accusing others of dishonest and unethical behavior of which he himself may be guilty.
D. Regarding letter to Judge Holmes Hehn and RPC 3.4 (c)
A lawyer shall not knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal, except for an open refusal based on an assertion that no valid obligation exists;
I did not disobey, knowingly or unknowingly, any obligation under the rules of a tribunal, and the bar has not identified any obligations it believes I may have knowingly disobeyed, so answering this charge is difficult beyond this simple refutation. Therefore, I deny that I disobeyed any obligation under the rules of a tribunal. If you disagree, please provide me with the obligation you think I may have disobeyed. There was no ex parte contact, and I had valid reasons based in fact and law to send the status update letter to Judge Holmes Hehn, as discussed above.
E. Regarding letter to Judge Holmes Hehn and RPC 4(a)
It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.
I reiterate my points above, and note that Mr. Miller’s client got exactly what she wanted at ex parte: a renewal of the FAPA order, despite having no contact of any kind with her husband in years. My client then sought a hearing on the issue, as is his right under the law.
Further, Mr. Miller’s client complained in her petition for a renewal that my client would be abusing her if he exercised his statutory right to a hearing. I strongly disagree. FAPA defines “abuse” to be three and only three things, none of which includes the respondent exercising his or her statutory right to a hearing. To the extent Mr. Miller assisted his client with the renewal petition, filing a petition for a FAPA renewal order that includes that sort of specious and unjust statement amounts to conduct for which the bar should consider investigating Mr. Miller. A lawyer should not take part in filing a document with the court with the ridiculous assertion that one person’s exercise of a legal right to a hearing constitutes abusive conduct toward another. The FAPA statute requires an evidentiary hearing if one is requested by the respondent – period.
The bar should also investigate why Mr. Miller thought it appropriate to include a vague Facebook post of mine about the movie “Gone Girl” in the petition for another year of a FAPA renewal, as well as his closing arguments. He and his client argued that post constituted a major building block in the “reasonable fear of physical harm” claim needed for his client to obtain a fourth year of a restraining order against her ex-husband. I’m sure Mr. Miller knew this would require me to remove myself as counsel in the matter, since this absurd filing essentially transformed me from an attorney to a potential fact witness, and could prejudice the judge against my client if I stayed on the case. I felt I had no choice but to have my former co-counsel handle the matter without me.
Remember, there had been no contact between my client and Mr. Miller’s client in three and a half years. My client is happily remarried and starting a new business with his second wife. Even though the statute does not require it, one really should have some sort of contact and/or abuse to renew a FAPA order. Since Mr. Miller and his client knew they had none, Mr. Miller pored over the last year of my Facebook posts, found one written almost a year ago, and sent it to his client. They then included it in her petition for renewal – a post from a Facebook page that she swore in open court that she never, ever reads.
I can’t stress this enough: Mr. Miller is creating the evidence he needs to continue to bill this woman for legal services she does not need, cause my client to incur legal fees, force me to recuse myself from the case, and clog up the court system. Is that ethical conduct? I don’t believe it is, which is probably why that is the only Facebook post of mine he did not include in his bar complaint against me. It sure makes him look bad, doesn’t it?
To reiterate: Mr. Miller knew his client had no reasonable basis for fear of physical harm from my client as required under the statute, so he attempted to create a reason for her to either experience fear, or at least be able to claim fear. She testified at the renewal hearing that this Facebook post of mine, which I wrote after seeing the movie “Gone Girl,” caused her to fear harm from her ex-husband. The post was a commentary on how easy it is to frame someone. It was written long after we lost the FAPA hearing last year. It did not reference attorneys. It did not reference Mr. Miller’s client in any way. It did not reference spousal abuse. It did not reference divorce. Mr. Miller, desperate for any hook to hang his FAPA renewal request upon, sent that post to his client. How do I know this? Because when his client was asked at the recent hearing how she happened to see that post (needless to say, we aren’t Facebook friends), she and her attorneys jumped up like jackrabbits and claimed attorney-client privilege. Predictably, the judge ignored these ludicrous arguments that I am putting Mr. Miller’s client in fear of her ex-husband in her findings of fact.
If Mr. Miller’s client did indeed experience fear of her ex-husband because of a 10-month-old Facebook post of mine that had nothing to do with her, but which her own lawyers sent to her, I suggest she seek a protective order against her own counsel: a group of “advocates” who have done nothing but take advantage of her since the day she made the mistake of hiring them. If her lawyers had responded in kind to any of my repeated efforts to calm the waters and seek a peaceful mediated settlement, I estimate Mr. Miller’s client would have approximately four million dollars more today than she does. In my opinion, while Mr. Miller does engage in terrifically zealous representation, unfortunately, it is his own interests, and that of the Stahancyk firm, that he is representing.
Mr. Miller’s conduct in this latest FAPA renewal was outrageous, and I ask the bar to conduct a full investigation of his behavior. Regardless of his desire to churn fees at his firm, Mr. Miller should not be promoting statements that allege when a citizen exercises his legal rights, he is being abusive. Mr. Miller should not be combing through my Internet footprint to look for, and submit to the court, evidence bolstering his weak case and his “unique” style of legal reasoning. Mr. Miller should not be creating evidence and sending that evidence to his client in an effort to frighten and abuse her. Mr. Miller should not be taking action that creates the need for me to remove myself from a case, causing me financial harm. This FAPA renewal petition was shameful and embarrassing. I have not seen a better example of thinking in a logic-tight compartment since Mr. Miller filed a motion only appropriate in cases with minor children, in a case with no minor children. More on that below.
F. “Emotional Problems,” or “Where Mr. Miller’s complaint veers wildly from unsupported to downright obnoxious and offensive.”
Finally, I’d like to address Mr. Miller’s accusations, made twice in his bar complaint, that I may suffer from “emotional problems” that preclude me from practicing law. Beyond the fact that this is a blatant attempt to place the unfortunate stigma of a possible mental health issue in the public record, it is an unvarnished attack on every person in the legal profession, and every other person besides, who may not experience perfect mental health at all times (about 95% of us, I’d reckon).
As you can see from his complaint, Mr. Miller avidly reads everything I write. Not only does he obsess over my social media posts, but he also devours my blog every time I post, looking for something about which to become enraged, insecure, tearful, and upset. By the way, that blog is largely on hiatus right now, with the exception of my posting this response when I submit it to the Oregon State Bar. Now, I’m no therapist, but I do consider myself a top-notch purveyor of advice. I offer the following advice to Mr. Miller, and everyone else at his firm (except the staff, because I am told they love this stuff): if they become so conflicted, distracted, and hysterical when they read my words, perhaps they should not read them.
Because Mr. Miller and other lawyers at his firm are so unnaturally compelled to track my content, they know I have written extensively about the emotional impact upon me of certain events in my life, some more recent, and others more distant.
I have written about an excruciating time when I considered ending my life when my second marriage fell apart. You can read that here: The Plan. I have written about the long-term emotional impact of losing my virginity to rape. You can read that here: I am Christine Ford. I have written about fighting against my own physical and mental self as my body ages into something I do not recognize. I have written about my struggle with food and my weight, and the attendant shame that comes with those issues. For example, here’s a little ditty I threw together about agonizing over a pasty purchase: Frittering Over Nothing.
I write about these issues because I want others to know that it is normal not to be normal. It is OK to not be OK. It is honest to share your truth about problems in your life. And, most important, it is critical that we not be too critical of ourselves when we are feeling sad, lonely, depressed, old, unloved, useless, confused, and fungible.
It is shocking that a fellow member of the bar would feel it necessary to opine on the mental health of another bar member when making a complaint against him or her. As far as I know, the Oregon State Bar is not in the business of conducting psychiatric exams to determine whether a lawyer is, in Mr. Miller’s esteemed opinion, fit to practice law. However, it should be in the business of reprimanding lawyers for including speculation such as this in a public bar complaint.
My criticisms of Mr. Miller have generally been limited to the way he practices law. In my opinion, he is grossly unethical. It is my belief that his greed, and that of his firm’s founder, Ms. Stahancyk, controls the decisions he makes in his cases, rather than what is best for his clients. I feel strongly that the way he practices law hurts entire families, including his own clients. These are not vague and unsupported allegations by me. In addition to the bad experiences with Mr. Miller relayed to me by dozens of people, I have had my own. Herewith, please consider the following partial list of actions taken by Mr. Miller in the case we had together, all of which illustrate his practice style.
Scoreboard – Mr. Miller v. his own client:
1. Mr. Miller filed a motion to compel the deposition of my client’s therapist and participated in the hostile and aggressive deposition of that therapist. No useful information for his client was gleaned because, as was entirely predictable, the therapist cited the patient/doctor privilege throughout the deposition. Later, Mr. Miller filed a Rule 17 motion for sanctions, including a claim that my client violated a FAPA restraining order via third-party contact via the therapist’s testimony at the deposition he compelled. Did you catch that? I know, it’s confusing. Simply put, when the therapist testified in the small amount he did, which is what they ordered him there to do, and because Mr. Miller’s client was in the room when the deposition was held, Mr. Miller alleged third-party contact by my client, through my client’s therapist. Of course, the judge did not agree, and this (sanctionable) motion for sanctions was denied.
2. Mr. Miller filed a motion to compel my client’s then-girlfriend’s corporate credit card records, a motion that could not have possibly led to the discovery of relevant information in the division of assets in the divorce case. The motion was denied.
3. Mr. Miller filed a motion to compel the medical records of my client, a man who never put his medical records at issue. This was another motion that could not have possibly led to the discovery of relevant information in the division of assets in the divorce case. The motion was denied.
4. As mentioned above in point #1, Mr. Miller filed a Rule 17 motion for sanctions against me and my client that was legally impossible to win and unsupported by any facts, statute, or case law. In preparation for this motion, he drove up his client’s fees by Goddess knows how much, as he spent time and money investigating me, my family, my parents’ divorce, and sent someone (a partner, no doubt) to the courthouse to copy my parents’ decades-old divorce records. The motion was denied.
5. Mr. Miller filed a Rule 21 motion against a motion, not against a pleading, a motion legally impossible to win and unsupported by any statute or case. As any first-year law student who has completed Civil Procedure should know, most pleadings are motions, but very few motions are pleadings. The judge punted on this issue by asking him to withdraw it, which he did.
6. Mr. Miller filed a motion to quash his client’s deposition. I may only have been practicing family law a short time, but even I know you can’t avoid having your client’s deposition taken in a divorce proceeding. The motion was denied.
7. Mr. Miller filed a motion objecting to my client being in the same building during his wife’s deposition, after I had suggested a compromise that my client listen on a phone on another floor of the building (even though no such compromise was required, as FAPA orders do not preclude participation in litigation proceedings). The motion was denied.
8. Incredibly, Mr. Miller filed a motion for a psychological evaluation of my client and the sharing of records related thereto with his team under the authority of ORS 107.425, titled “Investigation of parties in domestic relations suit in cases involving children (emphasis added).” The case at hand did not involve children. Not only was this a motion that could not have possibly led to the discovery of relevant information in the division of assets in the divorce case, and which was made purely for the reasons of harassment and intimidation, this was a motion legally impossible to win and unsupported by any facts, statute, or case law. I believe the filing was so outrageous as to constitute sanctionable conduct. We did not file a motion for sanctions because unlike Mr. Miller, my goal was to get my client divorced with as little animosity, legal fees, and court time as possible. Needless to say, the motion was denied.
9. Mr. Miller filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against my client’s company (R&H Construction) while I was out of the country, making false allegations of violations of the dissolution financial restraining order. This motion, like so many others, was legally impossible to win and unsupported by any facts, statute, or case law. The motion was denied.
10. Mr. Miller filed a motion to quash his client’s second deposition, which was needed after new evidence showed she was making significant efforts to get my client fired from his job, among other actions that negated her claims for spousal support. The motion was denied.
11. Mr. Miller refused to provide medical records of his client made discoverable by his own statements in court, as well as his client’s deposition testimony. I asked numerous times for him to provide the records, but he refused, forcing us to take the issue up in a hearing, which he lost.
12. Mr. Miller filed a motion to prevent me from attending my own client’s real property appraisal. The motion was denied. At that appraisal (or it may have been the personal property appraisal; I’m not certain), I was met with a Doberman Pincher borrowed for the occasion. His name was Waffles. Mr. Miller’s client did her level best to make the dog seem threatening, as she jerked on his horrible pincher collar as if to hold him back, when he was just standing there looking at me. She made several statements about how vicious the dog was, but he was affable and sweet toward me, rather than being menacing. At one point Waffles ran up to me, nuzzled me, licked my hand, and sat with me, as Mr. Miller’s client seethed at the dog’s poor performance in his role of terrifying guard dog. What can I say – dogs love me and I love them!
13. At the appraisal I was followed and filmed by a photographer who accompanied a private detective, even after I made multiple requests for the photographer to stop filming me. The private detective, Bob Burtchaell, apparently investigated my family prior to the appraisal and determined that my uncle died from a heroin overdose many years ago. Mr. Burtchaell promptly raised the issue of my uncle during the appraisal. I responded that if he were trying to upset me, he’d have to do better. I believe Mr. Burtchaell works exclusively for Mr. Miller’s firm, following people around, hiding behind bushes, and serving legal papers. While I don’t believe this is much of a career to be proud of, it is certainly better than his former job, which I understand was go-between and money bagman between former Oregon Governor Goldschmidt and the woman he molested when she was a young teenager. Mr. Miller and his firm certainly keep good company!
14. Mr. Miller filed a motion to prevent me from attending my client’s personal property appraisal, after he lost the first nearly-identical motion above. The motion was denied.
15. Mr. Miller filed motions and forced hearings attempting to block, reschedule, and reduce my scheduled appraisal time. Those motions were denied.
16. Mr. Miller tried to have my client arrested for sitting in a restaurant at the Multnomah Club (MAC) when Mr. Miller’s client walked by and saw him through a window. He was unsuccessful. Mr. Miller’s client participated in a sensational interview with weekly rag Willamette Week, during which she insisted she was so frightened by seeing my client at the MAC that she immediately fled. In reality, she walked into the building and went about her usual two-hour workout routine.
17. Mr. Miller apparently forgot to depose my client during a case that lasted for well over a year and a half. When he finally realized that might be something he should do, as trial was quickly approaching, he filed a motion attempting to force my client’s deposition into the already-established time slot for his client’s second deposition. The motion was denied.
18. Mere days before trial, Mr. Miller filed a motion to compel the deposition of my client’s girlfriend, and sought all communications between them. If it had been allowed, the deposition could not possibly have yielded any information pertinent to the division of assets. That’s probably why the motion was denied.
19. Mr. Miller participated in efforts to have my client ejected from Waverley Country Club. He was unsuccessful.
20. Mr. Miller assisted with multiple efforts to have my client ejected from the Multnomah Athletic Club. Those efforts were unsuccessful.
21. Mr. Miller attempted to enter altered photos into evidence at a FAPA hearing. I admit that when he did this I was so stunned, shocked, and upset, that I used a colloquial phrase referencing feces when I realized what he had done. I would like to take this moment to apologize to Mr. Miller for calling him a “piece of shit.” While I know it is not the first time he has been called a “piece of shit,” I do regret making that statement. Back to the photos: Mr. Miller presented these wildly altered photos to the judge and to me at the same time. Before the judge looked at them, I examined the photos. I immediately objected under the “best evidence” rule and asked the judge to order Mr. Miller’s client to produce the original photos, which she did. I made that objection and request because the alterations were so garish, cartoonish, and obvious as to be an embarrassment to Mr. Miller and whoever assisted him with the preparation of this altered evidence. If you are going to cross all ethical boundaries and enter apparently falsified photos into evidence, you really should go the distance to ensure that even a layperson such as myself would not be able to spot the alterations at first glance, to say nothing of an expert. Interestingly, Mr. Miller came to court on the next hearing day and presented an entirely new set of the “same” photos, but they did not look the same. Not in the least. While I still believed them to be altered somewhat, they were nowhere near as obviously enhanced as the first set. Looking at each set next to each other was astounding and made me deeply angry. I lost my temper because I couldn’t believe, even after knowing the type of lawyer he is, that Mr. Miller would go this far to win a case and hurt my client.
Will Mr. Miller respond to the Oregon State Bar Association, asserting that this final notation of his bad behavior (in a very long list) is not true? Of course he will. He will deny this allegation, and perhaps assert again that I suffer from some mental disease or defect that has caused me to make this claim. His argument should fail, clearly. It’s obvious he had the photographs altered to increase his client’s chances of winning a restraining order. Otherwise, why produce the new and vastly different set in exchange for the first? All of this is in the hearing transcripts, if the bar would care to take a look. Our judge never looked at the first set, which is a disappointment, because if she had viewed them side-by-side, I believe we could have obtained a different result at that hearing in March of 2018.
This is a partial list. I can’t even go into the abhorrent conduct during the mediation process, given the mediation confidentiality agreement. I will repeat that I believe one of the mediators was so disgusted with Mr. Miller and Ms. Stahancyk’s conduct that he quit.
Why am I providing you with this list? Because to the extent I make comments about how Mr. Miller and his firm practice law, my critique is based in truth and experience. While my direct experience with the Stahancyk firm has thankfully been limited, I know dozens of people who have suffered tremendous harm because of Mr. Miller and his firm – many of whom are their own former clients. Again, I know of people who considered suicide because of Mr. Miller’s conduct, and those of others at his firm. This is not a normal way to affect your client’s spouse in a divorce. This is not helpful in the division of assets. This is not OK. And this may be why Mr. Miller put his malpractice carrier on notice with regards to this case. That fun fact came out in an email which I am not sure Mr. Miller meant to send me, but I did so enjoy reading it. I shudder to think what could happen if his client ever had a sit-down with a lawyer who specializes in suing other lawyers for malpractice and over-billing. I estimate at least 75% of her bills were incurred from frivolous filings and positions such as those noted above. At least. Probably more.
Mr. Miller instructed you to review the entirety of my social media posts and blog posts. While I am not sure that is appropriate under our governing system, I will admit to being a proud opponent of napalm-litigation tactics, most especially in family law cases. And I believe that is really why we are here: I’ve been an outspoken critic of Mr. Miller and his firm for years. They seek to silence my criticism, especially now, since they are aware I am publishing a book in June that describes how certain lawyers practice family law. It is not a flattering look at the industry and those within it who seek to ignite anger in order to increase fees. Therefore, please expect to receive another bar complaint against me from Mr. Miller and his firm in June.
Look at that list of 21 actions above and ask yourself: how many hundreds of thousands of dollars did all of those idiotic and fruitless decisions made by Mr. Miller cost his own client? Why was Mr. Miller refusing to discuss settlement, but instead focusing on non-stop losing litigation? Why did Mr. Miller ignore my repeated pleas to come to the table, end the war, and divide the marital estate? Why did his client get a far worse result after almost two years than she would have gotten if Mr. Miller had responded to any of my early requests for mediation and settlement? How many hundreds of thousands of dollars did his client pay in legal fees to obtain the result of losing millions in a settlement? And to the extent I may have “emotional problems,” are some the result of being compelled to constantly battle such ugliness, rather than focusing on achieving the simple goal of helping my client disentangle himself in a calm and equitable manner from an unhappy marriage?
I’m kidding, of course. I don’t blame Mr. Miller for any unhappiness from which I may suffer. I’ve lived a full life with many happy events and many sad ones (although I’ve never been rejected for membership at a club or removed from club committees), and it is difficult to put blame for my occasional melancholy and feelings of anxiousness on a particular incident or incidents in my life. I had a massive unibrow growing up and performed poorly in sports, which may explain at least 17% of my psychological status today.
In closing, the statistics on mental health in our profession are staggering: Lawyers are 3.6 times as likely to be depressed as people in other jobs, while the landmark 2016 American Bar Association and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation study found that 28 percent of licensed, employed lawyers suffer with depression. The study also showed that 19 percent have symptoms of anxiety and 21 percent are problem drinkers. I believe since the 2016 presidential election, those numbers have likely tripled.
Aside from lawyers, there are millions of people struggling with emotional health issues. I have buried two friends recently who lost their battles with depression, one of whom left two children behind – children who had already lost their mother to illness. We are in the midst of a national epidemic that is not to be trivialized in specious bar complaints in order to malign, as well as sideline, a lawyer who has repeatedly triumphed over the opposing counsel complainant.
For Mr. Miller to casually speculate on what’s going on in my head and suggest outright to the bar that I am unfit to practice law because of my mental state is both 1) reprehensible; and 2) embarrassing for him.
1. It’s reprehensible for the obvious reason: no member of the bar should allege that another should not be allowed to practice because he or she may suffer from any alleged health issues. What’s next? Will Mr. Miller notify the bar that opposing counsel suffers from cancer, and therefore is not up to the task of practicing law because the chemotherapy makes him or her forgetful? Will the bar allow me to complain that Mr. Miller, Ms. Hook, and Ms. Stahancyk are sociopathic narcissists, and therefore should have their tickets pulled? Will Mr. Miller now become the gatekeeper and arbiter of how his claims of non-perfect health should be used to force lawyers out of their profession? And since when does critique of an abhorrent approach to family law indicate that the person issuing that critique is mentally unstable?
2. It’s embarrassing for an also obvious reason: Mr. Miller seems to think that I am so incapacitated by emotional problems that I should be sanctioned by the bar and I should lose my license. If that is the case, Mr. Miller is admitting, in a very public way, that he is so incompetent that he suffered multiple losses against a lawyer who not only had almost no experience in family law or litigation (most of my career was spent in-house working for manufacturing companies), but one who is also, according to him, severely mentally incapacitated, or to use some colloquialisms:
• A nutter.
• Off her rocker.
• A few beers short of a six pack.
• Looney toons.
• Living in a home in which the lights are off.
• Non compos mentis.
• A nucking futter.
• Off her box (British).
For a lawyer like Mr. Miller with so many years of divorce litigation experience in a firm which claims to provide the most superior legal services in the domestic relations arena, suffering so many enormous losses against a lawyer without almost any family law or litigation experience must have been terribly difficult and humiliating. Add to this that I was able to prevail over him time after time when I am apparently batshit bonkers, and I can only imagine how embarrassing my triumphs over Mr. Miller must be for him. If I think about it long and hard, I feel great sympathy toward him. Each loss to me must have caused him to feel as the Indigo Girls did when they lost the Grammy for best new artist to Milli Vanilli. Being on the losing side of that many motions and hearings, especially when I have so little experience and I am mad as a March hare, must bring deep shame to not only Mr. Miller, but his entire firm.
Perhaps they are all so embarrassed and angry that they would draft a bar complaint for conduct that is not in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct: a complaint intended not only to harm me professionally and personally, but also to harm the entire community of people who suffer from anything less that Mr. Miller’s apparently perfect state of mind (notwithstanding his sadomasochistic constant monitoring of my social media).
With this response, I am asking the Oregon State Bar to investigate whether Mr. Miller’s comments in his bar complaint informing the bar that my health should preclude me from practicing are violative of any RPCs. In addition, I am asking the Oregon State Bar to examine whether any of the litigation choices described above warrant actions by the bar. The most obvious one that comes to mind is filing a motion for a psychological evaluation in cases with minor children in a case without them, but I believe many more of Mr. Miller’s actions may rise to the level of action by the bar.
I’ll close with these esteemed words of Justice Louis Brandeis, which I believe are pertinent to the bulk of this bar complaint response, and which explain why it is I do what I do:
Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.
Robin C. DesCamp
PS: This is a serious subject. My use of levity is not intended to imply I do not take this complaint seriously. I do. But humor is how I work through my problems, as any casual perusal of my Internet presence will tell you.