Sunday, December 10, 2023


By Tim Rohr

Pursuant to a 2018 Superior Court of Guam case, a father's parental rights to three of his biological children were permanently terminated.  On Nov. 29, 2023, after the father appealed, the Supreme Court of Guam affirmed the lower courts decision terminating the father's parental rights.

Things look pretty bad for the dad (A.H.), and for the mother too. In fact both of their parental rights were permanently terminated due to a multitude of problems including neglect, sexual abuse of the children, and both parents having criminal records. 

It is clear from the Supreme Court's opinion that both parents have lots of problems. It is also clear that both appear to be indigent (they were living in an abandoned house with the children), and neither parent speaks english. 

Yet, for someone with apparently little to no money, in prison at the time of his appeal, and unable to speak english, A.H. ends up before the Supreme Court in a sophisticated and probably very expensive case, wherein, as the Court opines, A.H. fails in his appeal because "A.H. has “fail[ed] to provide this [c]ourt with any cogent legal or constitutional analysis to support this argument.”

And this is the part that caught my attention. A.H. had counsel (a lawyer), and it was his lawyer's job to provide the "cogent legal or constitutional analysis to support this argument." It's what the lawyer was being paid to do (by who, I don't know). And it is quite clear that A.H. probably had no idea what was going on - as most of us, even if we speak english, would have no idea either which is why we hire lawyers. 

In issuing decisions, orders, and opinions, the Court always addresses the party and not counsel. And if counsel is negligent or even engaged in intentional malpractice, in the Court's eyes, that's the party's business and not the Court's. 

When a party is injured by his or her own counsel, the injured party can file a complaint for ineffective assistance of counsel, but good luck finding an attorney to represent you against another attorney. You're about out of luck as your bank account is out of money. 

After four years, four lawyers, tens of thousands of dollars, an empty bank account, and the loss of custody of my children, I decided I had no option but to go it alone. So I bought a book from NOLO titled REPRESENTING YOURSELF IN COURT and began to study. 

I also began to watch hours and hours of YouTube videos on how to do this, particularly videos put out by the channel titled THE PROPER PERSON. These videos were particularly helpful because in addition to much needed knowledge, I needed encouragement, and the guy behind THE PROPER PERSON had represented himself for eight years before finally getting permanent custody of his son - and this was against his ex who always had counsel.

I also subscribed to a course titled HOW TO WIN IN COURT WITHOUT A LAWYER. To be clear, it's not that I did not want a lawyer, I had four (and would ultimately have five), but what do you do when you're out of money and you've lost your children?

Lastly, I listened closely to certain close friends who I trusted, and without whom I'm not sure any of the knowledge from the books, videos, and courses would have mattered. 

In short, and as the resources I accessed maintain, everyone should have enough legal education to at least know how to find the right lawyer and how the judicial process works so you can keep your case moving forward even if you have counsel. Not knowing this in the beginning, and depending on my lawyers to do what I was paying them to do, cost me, not just money, but years with my children I can never replace. 

1 comment:

  1. As an afterthought. The number one demographic for suicide in America is not teens, but middle aged men who are going through or have gone through a divorce. I know of so many men who have given up solely on the basis of “the system failed” them. They go on and on about “the system,” “the judges,” the family court,” etc. I know what that feels like…though I never got anywhere near contemplating taking my own life. I needed to stay alive to save my children. There is a way. You can do it. You do not have to capitulate. The system, the judges, the courts…are not the problem. Your LAWYERS ARE!. They are the problem. So you have to learn how to FORCE your lawyers to do what you are paying them to do. And if you can’t afford a lawyer, then YOU CAN DO THIS YOURSELF! YOU CAN!