Sunday, May 4, 2014

An appeal to Maine's Supreme Court: Dalton Vs. Dalton CUM-13-521 - the Lawyers Debate

We welcome this chance to publish the final two steps in an appeal to Maine's Supreme Court, the Dalton vs Dalton case. Step II, which follows here, is attorney Susan Bixby's reply to Beth Maloney's original brief.  Maloney’s brief, published here earlier, got the appeal process started. Step III is Maloney’s rebuttal of Bixby.

Along with our presentation here of the final two steps, we offer our layman’s observations and reactions to the 'arcana' of legal strategy used by these lawyers for a family court appeal.  Our non-expert, "grass roots" response to both pieces of writing is philosophical and common sense - not legal.  The philosophical flaws we see in both documents are about the basic human assumptions, the investigative process and the judicial decisions behind the  classic lawyerly strategies for how the "contentious divorce” (and its appeal) gets played.  For what it's worth, here is our personal take on the final two lawyerly exchanges in the Dalton v Dalton debate:


As we read it, Ms Bixby uses an all too common divorce strategy: to communicate by strong  inference that suburban housewife and mother of three children, Sarah Dalton, is a dangerous woman around children.  You may note that Bixby carefully comes close to the line of actually charging child abuse, but doesn't ever  cross it.  In her well designed response to the Maloney brief, Bixby strongly hints that, if Ms Dalton were left alone with her kids, God alone knows what bad - but unspecified - things might happen.  In tone it is all very subjunctive, speculative and scary.  She never crosses the line dividing hints of possible abuse from actual charges of abuse - for good reason.  It would end the family court hearings and - after investigation, might place the charge in criminal court, where a trial by jury would probably clear Ms Dalton of the "hints" of abuse issue.

Clearly, Ms Bixby's client , Mr. Dalton, is indirectly represented as wanting an “exclusive” - all of his children all of the time. No sharing. No concern about the children's need for a maternal parent. It is a hardball, legalistic "abuse game" right out of the movie, "Divorce Corp". Take no prisoners! The Bixby presentation raises the question in this reader's mind: "What exactly makes Ms Dalton 'unfit' as a mother , and after all of these years as a mother is she suddenly ‘nouveau’ abusive?"  And, another puzzle, why is she presented as, so far, being  immune to corrective therapy?  It is so stereotyped a legal strategy of demonizing a custody opponent as almost to be out of the tabloids!

Bixby, by her numerous claims that Maloney has ignored the "Rules of Evidence" more than implies that her legal opponent is dim and ignorant of how to use the "Rules of Evidence".  Tut tut!  As non-lawyers, what can we say?  The always meticulous, compulsive, detail-oriented Maloney, it is implied, needs to go back to the "Rules" book and bone up!  There is also an unmistakable hint from Bixby that Maloney needs lessons in legal etiquette and propriety. "Aggressive lawyering" is the operant phrase but there is more innuendo of absent professional refinement.

But read Part II, the Bixby reply and see what you think: Dalton Vs. Dalton CUM-13-521 Bixby's response.

To read the initial brief that was filed in February 2014 please follow this link: An appeal to Maine's Supreme Court: Dalton Vs. Dalton CUM-13-521.

If you have had problems in Family Court with a judge or Guardian ad litem please contact us at of find us on Facebook.


  1. The reply from Susan Bixby is hard to read. It does not have the same readability that the original brief had.

    This response appears to try and dis-credit Ms Maloney and her abilities as a lawyer. To say that Ms Maloney is maybe a little more agressive than she needs to be is almost insulting - she has to be to get the point across that there is a problem with this court with this GAL. To not be would be of disservice to her client. Ms Bixby certainly has no issues with being overly agressive.

    This post makes an excellent point - why has the mother all of a sudden become an abusive parent when the parents begaan the divorce? If there was abuse as described why has it not gone to the criminal courts?

    This is an interesting read - even though it is hard to choke down.

    When will the response be published?

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on part 2. The third and final will be posted around the end of the week.

  2. There is an abusive tone in this brief. Ms Bixby does not (and maybe we don't need to know) what the abusive nature of Ms Dalton is. She indicates a couple of instances where Ms Dalton may have acted in a manner that was not appropriate as a parent - but then how many parents also act in a similar way? This is about maintaining control over Ms Dalton - keeping her under the thumb of her ex for what ever reason he may have. The courts are being used to punish a parent. Good for Beth Maloney for pushing back and pushing back hard.

  3. Seems that Maloney knows more about what is going on than Bixby.

  4. Thank you for reading and making a comment

  5. The loss of quasi-judicial immunity only happens when the GAL has operated outside of her role as Guardian ad litem. It may not be apparent at the time of the various motions being filed that the GAL should loose it.

    Quite often GALs operate with the idea that the immunity they have acts as a shield to protect them. They operate - doing as they see fit. If you read the initial brief there are many instances that are outlined where the GAL did things not covered by the rules. Endorsing the Yell therapy is one example.

    This is an issue that belongs to this case between Ms Dalton and Mr Dalton. The GAL was and is bound to this family. The GAL is supposed to know the children - develop a relationship with them and interview the parents so as to understand the dynamics of this divorcing family.The fact that this GAL left only indicates that the heat on her conduct was such that she could not stand it any longer.

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